We survived another Gulfstream crossing!
It is official – we are back in the States and at Coconut Grove! We initially planned to cross from just north of West End, Bahamas – west to the Lake Worth inlet in the West Palm area of Florida’s east coast.
We woke up Monday morning and prepped to sail the 20 mile leg to West End. Our new buddies, Mary and Theron, on s/v Tipsy Gypsy were already there, and we were looking forward to another visit – as well as being able to buddy boat across to Lake Worth the next day. We had an easy sail in light winds – pulling only 2.9 knots without the engine. It was a calm, beautiful and relaxing sail as we soaked up what was to be our last views of the Bahamas.
Soon enough, as we arrived in range of the BTC (cell) tower on West End, the phone started getting alerts. And while message alerts are all fine and dandy, we more importantly had access to weather again! Mangrove Cay (where we anchored Sunday night) was a barren wasteland of no internet, no beach (at least at low tide when we arrived) and no protection from the winds. And so an up to date weather report was a major reason we needed to get to West End.
Weather reports showed an excellent weather window to cross the Gulfstream the next day. The winds were light, and we’d likely need to motor the whole way. But that meant we’d not have a repeat of our West to East crossing from Thanksgiving… And that we could play with Mary and Theron! But further research showed that we could just as easily keep going – with winds out of the NE less than 10 knots. And so we did!
Traditional wisdom says not to cross the Gulfstream with any sort of North component to the wind. And we certainly thought we’d learned our lesson from the first crossing (poor weather report with much stronger than projected NE winds…). But further study helped us feel confident in our choice to head West with the winds.
As soon as we got into deeper water, our girl sped up to 6 or so knots, and she rode the winds silently for hours. Not until we reached the middle of the Gulfstream did we need to start the engine. Man – what I difference finally learning more about passage weather made! We breezed along, read books, lounged in the sun and just kept on towards West Palm.
Eventually we made the decision to keep keeping on – and diverted further south toward Fort Lauderdale, and THEN all the way to Coconut Grove, Miami! Yep. 32 hours after starting our planned 20 mile trek, we arrived safe and sound in Miami – roughly 175 miles in all. I am going to put this one in the books as a Successful Gulfstream Crossing for sure.
We were understandably exhausted by our overnight sail, and grabbed a mooring ball at the Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove. At $25 a night, and the promise of being able to process customs on site (at least that is how we understood the info on their website) we felt like it was a bargain. Unfortunately, when we headed into the office, they said that customs was actually at the port, and had no idea about the website claim of customs on site…
Mark attempted to check in via phone (we don’t yet have the Local Boaters thing set up that allows such easy check in) but were told that we still needed to make an in-person visit to Homeland Security within 24 hours. So while we needed to find our way to the ports, we had the option to head back to the boat for a good night’s sleep!
Wednesday morning we took our time trying to figure out the best way to get from the marina to the Port of Miami, via land. Eventually we settled on Uber, and dinghied into the office. Just so happens, we met TJ and Debbie from s/v Kintala – also on their way to customs! Because they have done this a time or two, we tagged along with them as they introduced us to the AMAZING public transportation system here! We took a few free trollies and BOOM – check in was easy breezy.
Now that we’ve had a few days to settle in, we are LOVING Coconut Grove! The free, clean, convenient Miami Trolley system is fabulous. The town is adorable. The shopping is a bit of a shock to the system after shopping in the US equivalent of corner gas station convenience stores for the past 4 months. And the highlight so far – we are meeting so many people! Thanks to Instagram, we’ve met both s/v White Pearl and s/v Lazy Geckos, as well as several other people as we paddle around the mooring field on our sups.
Friends are headed this way in a couple of weeks, so we even got crazy and secured this mooring ball for a whole month. We will be in the same place for 4 weeks! That is unheard of for us these days. Not only to spend the money when we could stay at anchor for free (our deep keel is proving to be a challenge here in Biscayne Bay) – but to be in the same town for so long! Something tells me the marina amenities (hello hot showers and laundry!), the bike trails, the parks, the grocery stores, the beaches, the walkable town and the nearby anchorages are going to keep us fully entertained for the whole month. It’s good to be back!