Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back in the United States - Fort Pierce, FL

Monday, March 28
Green Turtle Cay to Great Sale Cay
Distance Traveled: 54.09 nm
Miles to get Home:  387.68
Total Distance Traveled:  3080.41 nm

We listened to Chris Parker Weather and it looks like it should be a good day to go to Great Sale Cay with the winds predicted to be SE -S - SW 5-10kts - 15kt at times and should be decreasing as the day goes on.  They are predicting squalls for tonight - so we'll see what the weather is when it gets to tonight.

Since we have a long day ahead of us, we raised anchor a little before 7am and exiting the channel by 711am and near the exit of the channel saw 1ft of water under the keel.  We raised the main sail and then rolled out the head sail @ 805am - with course set at 315 degrees the wind is 8kt at wind angle 120 to port.  By 830am we were coming up to S/V Water Hobo who we chased all day but the winds also increased to 17 kts so we turned off the engine and sailed.  As the day went on the wind continued to clock until it was NW - NOT predicted and gray and cloudy. By 1211pm we rolled up the head sail and started the engine and were sailing into 17kts of wind at 41 degree angle to port.  We continued motor sailing until we rounded Great Sale Cay and went inside.  There were 5 boats that were anchored in the NW Anchorage completely exposed to this wind.  Why I can't imagine. But when we lowered the anchored at 525pm we were glad to be in a safe place.  The winds are predicted to be N to NE tonight so we will stay here instead of taking a nap and leaving.  We'll see what the winds are tomorrow to decide whether to cross the Bahama Banks or not.

Tuesday, March 29 to Wednesday, March 30
Passage Great Sale Cay to Fort Pierce, FL
Distance Traveled:  109.1 nm
Miles to get Home:  496.78
Total Distance Traveled:  3189.51nm

We listened to Chris Parker and he recommends to do the crossing to Florida tonight, but this morning the sky cleared, the wind clocked to S and we decided to leave this morning at 10am so that we'll get to Florida at dawn.  

in preparation for the crossing, I made sandwiches for us to eat during the passage and also prepared some fish hash to cook up later for supper.   A little early, we raised anchor at 955am with the Main Sail up.  The wind was light - 5 kts and there were no waves.  Quickly we got on our course of 279 degrees to make it to Little Bahama Banks waypoint.  We contacted S/V Water Hobo and we decided to keep in contact throughout the crossing.  Later in the day, they will download the Grib files (weather reports) and pass them through to us.  By noon, we had lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches since the last of the home made bread is stale, and canned peaches.  Most of the day the wind was from 70 - 100 degrees ranging from 3- 8 kts. By 530pm the wind increased to 10 kts and we were seeing small white caps on 1 ft waves and the wind angle gradually became down wind.  By 721pm we had made it off the Bahama banks and we lost depth sounder readings.  We are officially in the ocean.  During the day, we took 2 hour watches but starting at 6pm after we ate supper, we started the 3 hrs watches with me starting a 6pm.  Water Hobo has been behind us all the way on the horizion and the last that I saw her was at 8pm a dot on the horizon.  At this time our course was 290 - 295 degrees - 56.8 nm miles left with ETA 6am.  Once we get through the gulf stream we may slow down to arrive at light.  Throughout the night, we were not able to maintain radio contact with Water Hobo but we did hear her hail us. 

Crossing the Gulf Stream was as good as it comes, even though the current made if very bouncy, making it difficult to get sleep for the off watch person.  Phil encounter a few freighters during his watch and when I came on at midnight we saw one in the distance.  He decided to stay above to watch this freighter and I'm glad that he did.  The freighter didn't have a light on the bow and so it was difficult to determine the direction it was going - towards us it turned out.  Once we determine that we were on a collision course, Phil turned the boat in a U-turn (headed back East) until the boat passed.  My heart was pumping and I'm very glad that Phil was at the helm!!!  Phil went down below to get some shuteye and even though I saw a couple more freighters, there were too far away to be of any consequence.  Between 2-230am we got out of the Gulf Stream and I changed course to SW to head towards Fort Pierce being almost 3nm right of the rhumb line - as the Gulf Stream pushed us north.  The weather was very warm for the crossing and then cooled and got damper. 

Phil took over at 3am and I slept very well waking at 540am and coming out to join Phil.  Phil decided not to slow down our approach and so we were in the well lit channel coming into Fort Pierce.  We turned left onto the ICW and anchored at 615am just before and on the left of the Fort Pierce North Bridge.  Then we took down the Main Sail.

Phil went to sleep and I cleaned up a little and did some knitting after calling my Mom at 7am.  Our US phones are working, charged and on so any calls from friends and family are welcome.  The internet using our MiFi from Verizon is also on so I hope to make more regular postings to the blog.

We are sorry to leave the Bahamas but it's time now for us to be in the States.  Our plans are to get some rest and then go to Vero Beach Municipal Marina, pick up a mooring ball and stay there until we get mail from home.  Mail to us can be addressed to:
S/V Changes, Phil Dolsen, c/o Vero Beach Municipal Marina.
3611 Rio Vista Boulevard, Vero Beach, FL
Marina phone is 772-231-3829 

Both of us look forward to catching up with family and hearing people's voices we haven't heard in a long time.

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