The sun sets, pink and pissed behind us as we motor out of the Lake Worth inlet leaving West Palm Beach behind. We head south almost immediately, hugging the coast; the Gulf Stream runs quite close to Florida in these parts and we want to steer clear of it.
Wondering about the Gulf Stream? It’s this crazy current that runs around/through the Caribbeans, Gulf of Mexico, and across the Atlantic. In order to get to the Bahamas, we’ll have to cross it. It’s about 25 miles wide and travels at a speed of 3-4 knots (with an average of 4mph) north. Everyone seems to have their panties in a bunch over crossing this stream. Apparently if the winds are blowing >=15 knots from any northerly direction, then the Gulf can get rowdy (wind coming from the north blowing against water going north= big waves).
Knowing what you know about the Gulf Stream now, you understand why we want to stay out of it as we head south – we would make very little progress going against a 4 knot current! So, we hug the coast of Florida and enjoy a very mellow, enjoyable night sail with following seas and a broad/beam reach. We are so close to shore that we can take advantage of wi-fi access, so we were able to get the AMAZING news of Tom and Melisa’s engagement!
So, our dear friends are engaged, we’re SAILING (not motoring), we’re not puking…what else could we ask for? It’s like the perfect sail! Except, when it comes to us, there is no such things as the perfect sail – there always has to be an element of epic (it just seems to be how we roll, unfortunately).
It’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m on watch; Stéphane’s below catching up on sleep. We’re approaching Government Cut – this is the big inlet that leads into Miami. It’s a HUGE shipping / cruise ship mecca.
We are sailing south of this inlet, continuing on to Key Biscayne so we have to cross in front of it to keep going. As we approach, I start seeing these small balls of glowing light all over the water. The light grows and grows and voila – a cruise ship! Make that four cruise ships. Oh, and over there? That’s a tug boat. Is it pushing or pulling the giant freighter that I can’t see because it’s too dark? Is the giant scary freighter in front of the glowing balls of light or behind? And what frickin’ direction are they going? I really can’t tell. This is freaking me out.
Thank goodness for AIS and radar. AIS is this system that tells you where other boats that have AIS are (all the bigger boats that will crush you have AIS so you always know where the monsters are). Finally I yell down and get Stéphane out in the cockpit to help maneuver through the night shipping traffic craziness. Never again will we do that in the dark. It was scary and probably not that smart.
We continue sailing until morning, safely maneuver into No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne, drop anchor, and pop a cold Dosarita in honor of Tom and Melisa’s engagement. Woo Hoo!