Alright, as you know by now, we’re in the Bahamas!
This is a pivotal moment for us & Tipsy Gypsy because it’s been our goal the entire time to explore the Bahamas together. Now that we’re here, it’s amazing & can’t wait to figure out what’s next. We’re ready to explore new terrain, experience the Bahamian culture, and slow our pace down for a while. Follow alongside Our Blog, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram for all the adventure!
Crossing the Gulf Stream
We left the States from our anchorage near the Lake Worth Inlet in West Palm Beach, Florida. A few days went by past our original departure date but officially left on January 3rd at 11pm. The weather window seemed to have been the best possible timeframe for our passage and witnessed many other boats leaving before us. We were reassured by the extra company and having Tharon’s younger brother Brennan alongside for the trip made for an overnight voyage a more feasible option for our window.
It was already late but we had adrenaline helping us stay up to make the Gulf Stream crossing. The weather was clear with 15 knot winds out of the South. Our hopes would be to make it to West End by 11am. Everything was in place for a smooth trip.
When crossing the Gulf Stream, it is crucial to follow GPS closely. As you transit across, the current pushes 3-4 knots to the North. It causes for some square waves if you are traveling with winds coming from the North (never a good idea). We continuously had to correct our path due to the current and because of our crossing being parallel from West Palm Beach. It might be better instead to leave from Fort Lauderdale next time with these said conditions. It also depends on your experience and comfortability. We did our research. You do yours.
By 2am, the winds blew stronger and the waves built to double the forecast. We were already 20 nautical miles out and decided to press on. We always plan for a bit stronger winds and rougher sea state to be safe. It’s laughable how inaccurate the weather can be and prepared for a wide-eyed night ahead of us.
Almost immediately, I fell ill comforting the dogs from the rocky inside. It was a bad idea to be down below and still decided not to have any Dramamine. Not sure why but I was almost entirely useless after that. I tried to sleep but it was impossible with the crashing waves.
Brennan and Tharon stood watch for the next couple hours until I felt decent enough to leave the dogs below and come assist with the excitement. Soon I found out the wind gauge was not working and was the reason we were not sailing. A few minutes later the auto-pilot kicked off. After that, our engine began chugging with disapproval. Suddenly it felt like the longest night ever hand-steering, surfing down hills of water, and constantly adjusting with the strong current. It was 5am and as the conditions worsened, we were desperate for daylight.
At first light, we were exhausted but relieved. Soon we’d be able to see the windex, pull our sails up, and ease into the remaining miles. We did not have our wind gauge but would guess the wind was at 25 knots. We put two reefs in and started to haul the main.
It was tough to pull the sail up because we were head first into the waves. The engine was chugging quite badly by this point and made it our goal to start sailing. We were successful but still had an uncomfortable rock to the boat. Ahh….just waves and wind now. The engine is so annoying!
At this point, Tharon went down to look at the engine. As it cooled, he ended up cleaning a filter (we didn’t have an extra) and diagnosed the chugging issue. We’d be good for the trip and that was great news. We’re always happy to be a sailboat because even if the engine isn’t working, we have sails! If our sails aren’t working, we have an engine!
Land Ho! We could see our harbor and couldn’t be happier! The Gulf Stream crossing was an intense time and were so ready for a smooth night at the docks. It didn’t stop there though. We still had to get our sails down. We turned into the wind but had troubles. While Tharon steered, I pulled the boom in, and Brennan let the sail down. It would be in that order that we’d need success but the crashing waves provided it an intimidating task. With us crashing over the waves, I pulled in the main sheet while Brennan let some of the sail down. The force of crashing pulled the boom back out some and made little progress. We needed to be faster about putting the sail down. I continued to pull the boom in but again the waves were a force to be reckoned with. Our new main sheet was slippery and gave me rope burn across my left hand as we were crashing down the next wave. In the next break, we managed to bring the boom in, settle the sail down, and turn back on track towards the harbor opening. It would only be few miles before calm, clear, turquoise, Bahamian waters.
We made it. Safe and sound and sleepy.
Cheers and thanks for reading!