Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Voyage Home

As we are preparing to pull out we meet two young men that had come from Nassau to do a swim with bull sharks excursion. Unfortunately the excursion had to be rescheduled. The guys work training seals in Nassau and were looking forward to some interaction with a different species of sea life. Freddie gave each one a Jesus hat and pen. Meeting all of the new people will be one of the things I will miss most when we return home.
We pulled out a little after high tide around 10 am and headed west towards West Palm Beach Florida. We were later than I planned because we had pulled over to the fuel dock at Knowles boat yard to top off the diesel. Unfortunately the only employee present a the time  could not help us and did not know  when someone who could help us would be there. Since we were loosing the tide we took off without the extra 20 gallons of fuel. The distance we needed to travel before we would get into the gulf stream would take around 7 hrs to travel barely getting there before sundown if we left before 9 am. I had hoped that we could get into the gulf stream before dark so that I could see the conditions and about decide weather to go straight for West Palm Beach  (another 3-4hrs) or turn north and use the extra push of the gulf stream to take us further (2 1/2 days) north towards Fernandina Beach our first choice of ports to check back into the USA. The trip to Fernandina would be close to 300 miles and that would put us getting in sometime on Wednesday and would require around 70 gallons of fuel if the wind doesn't provide our propulsion. We motor full speed and hit the axis of the gulf stream around 10 pm, turn right and pick up an additional 3 1/2  knots of speed with a manageable amount of bounce. We are now traveling Northwest under a brilliant canopy of stars with a moon shining a path on the water before us like a giant torch in the sky. We were escorted from the indigo blue  Bahamas water by schools of flying fish until dark. Individual flying fish interspersed with large contingents resembling  students rushing out of class for recess. A hazy dawn broke and we found ourselves around 50 miles south of Ft. Pierce Florida in the familiar grey green waters of the South East US coast. Soon we were being welcomed back by a variety of ocean life including sea turtles, dolphins, jelly fish and a variety of birds. The light and variable wind necessitated keeping at least one engine running to continue progress toward our destination. The seas, that so many times caused Stray Cat to ride like a wild horse now were smooth. Stray Cat rose over gentle swells floating as if resting peacefully on the chest of a sleeping giant. Freddie was holding up well during the trip. I did extra cooking to help keep both or strength up and also required Freddie to take extra fluids and rest breaks. The trip continued through the day and our last night at sea. Around 5 pm on Wednesday we pulled up to the Fernandina Beach Marina, filled the almost empty fuel tank and cleared customs. We took off to cross the river and dock in St. Marys just as the sun slipped below the horizon. Home Sweet Home!
Freddie went to his Dr the next morning and had the catheter removed and is doing very well. We are already planning on next season's adventure.

Our latest Bahama friends

Posing proud of his new hat.

Freeport Commercial Harbor.

Waiting at Knowles fuel dock.

Sunset on smooth seas.

Early morning fog in US waters

Our last sunset at sea this season

Goodbye Bahamas blue water

Hello grey/green US waters

Jellyfish to the left of the clothes pins

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