While most of this winter’s weather has been nicer than average (warm, hardly any rain, no squalls), the March winds have been a challenge. Between our engine repairs & the winds, we have made only baby steps on our journey back to Florida. Once in the northern Abacos, we needed a 2-day low-wind window to make our last 175 miles to Florida. Just as crossing over, the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic is the biggest challenge crossing back. If there is or has recently been any northerly winds over 10 knots, the swells can build to 50% higher than the normal wind waves due to the Gulf Stream’s 3-knot northerly flow. Waiting at Green Turtle Cay the Florida offshore forecast often read: NW winds 15 – 20, waves 3′ – 4′, with 4′ – 6′ in the gulfstream – occasional to 8′.
After a week at Green Turtle Cay, we were ready to go! Packages were waiting, dentist appointments scheduled & a supermarket! A 2-day window opened up, closed, then opened up again. A new complication this year is Bahamas Customs & Immigration – while you always have had to clear into the country, a new requirement is clearing out. Not a hardship except there are very limited Customs offices (near the water – mostly at airports). We had been staying at the Green Turtle Club Marina mostly due to a temporary (after Hurricane Dorian) Customs office here, although limited hours & only Monday – Friday. When I attempted to clear out on Friday for a Sunday departure, I was told that was not proper as the minute we cleared out, we could be subject to arrest if we were to even “step on land”. Friday’s wind was too much to leave in or to anchor out nearby.
So … Monday AM we (& 2 other cruisers) patiently waited outside the Customs door, hoping & praying the Customs official arrived on the 9:00 ferry. Yes! In only a few minutes, we were cleared out & rushed to untie our lines & get underway. Grrrr … one of the other cruisers told me that over 8 other boats had disregarded the laws, had cleared out on Friday, yet had a grand time walking around Green Turtle all weekend & were able to leave 2 hours before we were. Are all immigration laws now optional??
All in all, our crossing back worked out fairly well & our record remains intact – “Never a bad crossing” (although parts of this one were on the cusp of bad)! Whew!!
We will be in Vero Beach for an extremely busy week or so, then onward north!