Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 5, 2012.

The weather forecast has been changing dramatically from day to day so we went to bed hoping that it would stay favorable. So we rose at 0400 and rechecked the weather. The conditions are the same and the window is tight but doable so I took the outboard off the dink and secured the deck for travel. Christy had the rest of the boat sea ready and we sailed slowly north at 0500.

After 3 hours we turned more to the west and our boat speed picked up to 5 plus knots. It was a perfect couple of hours,
complete with a hitch hiker but by the time we had gone 50 miles we had to pause in the lee of great Sale Cay to double reef the main and furl a bit of the genny. The wind had built to 20 knots and we were on our ear skipping along at 7.5 knots. We were ahead of schedule and with nightfall coming on we wanted to slow down a bit for better control.

As the evening turned into night the wind continued to build until we were forced to reduce the genoa even further to keep the boat manageable. 25 knots with 2 handkerchiefs flying and we're still bumping 6 knots. The seas on the bank were steep, closely spaced, breaking 6 footers, the Streams possible conditions had us worried. At 0200 we were debating what to do when we overheard the Coast Guard talking to a boater who was getting his ass kicked in the Stream. The Coast Guard told him there was a weather watch in effect. There was a violent wall of weather crossing Florida from west to east packing 35 to 45 knots of wind with torrential thunderstorms. We heard Coast Guard sectors Miami and Key West warning all boaters of the impending doom. By dawn we would only be mid Stream. Shit, shit, shit.

So after 95 miles we tacked 180 degrees and started back towards the nearest possible shelter. Which unfortunately was 49 miles behind us at Great Sale Cay. 10 hours at 5 knots got us back to the relative safety of Great Sale at noon. We had a solid 30 knots for several hours as we were chased down by an ugly line of clouds.

So our forecast 10 to 14 turned out to be 20 to 30. Our small wind chop ramped up into an uncomfortable parade of nasty 6 footers coming at us from the beam. As much as it pained us to turn around I'm glad that we never found out the actual conditions of the Gulfstream.

So now we're stuck here at least through this weekend awaiting the horrid weather we were trying so hard to avoid.

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