Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13, 2009.

As they say in the Bahamas, Veranda done reach. We timed our arrival perfectly to coincide with the Lucaya Marina’s 0800 opening. We opted to come to Lucaya as there is a Customs and Immigration office within easy walking distance.

The trip over went fairly well. We were sitting staged at the inlet waiting to go and Far Niente, Solitaire and My Destiny made the 4 mile trip down to the inlet from North Lake Worth. We pulled our hook and fell into place behind them with Calypso dropping in behind us. The crew of Bi Bi were taking naps and overslept and had to really hustle to catch up with the rest of us.

Lake Worth is a crappy place to cross the Gulf Stream if you are headed south to the Exumas. Usually you would like to travel straight east or even a little north as you cross the Stream. But we’ve got to play the cards that we were dealt.

When crossing the stream you can’t just steer a direct line from point A to point B. Normally when departing to cross the stream you pick a target about 20 miles south of where you would actually like to end up. If the rhumb line to your intended destination suggests you will be steering 090 degrees what you’ll end up doing is picking a spot 20 miles south and setting out on that that heading. So instead of steering 090 you might be steering 115 degrees.

This enables you to get south a bit before the stream intercedes and starts to drive you north. Once the stream starts to affect your course you maintain the 115 heading and allow the stream to sweep you northward while you still make progress across it. The worst thing you can do is turn into the Stream in an effort to fight the current. At some point as you cross the stream the speed of the current slows a bit and you once again start to make progress towards your goal.

We started out with 2 strikes against us. Our real destination was to the south of us and we ran into the edge of the Gulf Stream about 2 miles offshore. The first strike meant that we would have to pick a spot 20 miles even further south which had us heading almost directly into the Gulf Stream. This means your boat is slower because of the current so you’re in the stream longer allowing it to have its way with you even longer and you’re making very little progress actually getting across the Stream.

When we got out the inlet we headed south to our chosen spot. The problem was that we started to encounter the Gulf Stream when we were only 2 miles offshore. This slowed us way down and we didn’t getting any of our “southing” done.

It took us an agonizing 4 hours to cover the first fifteen miles. The chartplotter was telling me that at this rate it was going to take us over 30 hours to cover the 82 mile trip. Finally I found a sweet spot and I altered my course to travel more directly across the Stream. The downside was that this allowed the Stream to drive us quickly northward but it did enable us to slip free from its grip a bit quicker.

Finally after about forever we were free of the stream and able to turn onto the correct heading for Lucaya. The side benefit of this was that we were able to shut the engine off and sail for almost 4 hours. The wind predictions were for light winds dead on the nose and we actually got a bit of wind so the trip wasn’t a total waste.

The entrance to Lucaya is somewhat sketchy. The charts put the sea buoy in one position while a pamphlet put out by the marina provided a different latitude & longitude for the mark. We found it and played follow the leader and made our way slowly inside the protected harbor. The harbor is a long winding affair with little room to maneuver but each boat proceeded slowly allowing the boat before it to get their slip assignment and get situated. Things went well and all the boats were tied up by 0845.

The check in with Customs and Immigration went smoothly. We’re planning to move over to the Berry Island chain tomorrow so we spent the day window shopping and getting ourselves re acclimated to the Bahamanian weather and accent.

is a charming little town that is built to cater to the tourist trade. There’s a casino and hundreds of shops and stalls selling local and imported crafts.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you made it across. What was the weather like? Wind?

S/V Veranda said...

The seas were calm and the wind was 10 to 12 knots. Very benign.