Early April was getting close to the full moon, and as luck would have it, the long range forecast had little to no north wind in it. Yes, it’s still a little early to be making the migration north and most of us would agree, it been a pretty long winter for our northern friends.
Seizing our chance, I called my old friend Pablo and my younger friend Joel, booked three tickets on the SuperFast to Bimini, packed a cooler full of fresh food and headed up to Miami to catch the boat to Bimini.
This may well have been one of the easiest Gulfstream crossings I have ever done (at least by boat). You just walk on board, find a comfortable spot in the aft lounge to leave your stuff, make your way to one of the several bars on deck to have a cocktail as you cruise out of the Port of Miami, while watching the sunset. After the sun and cocktails have set, we made our way to the dinning room on board and sat down to a leisurely meal as we cruised over to Bimini at a steady 18 knots. After dinner and coffee we found ourselves getting ready to leave the SuperFast and make our way from North Bimini to South Bimini where Dr. Bob’s new boat was waiting for us.
Getting from North to South Bimini at 11PM had the potential to be the trickiest part the whole adventure but our luck was good. The shuttle took us from the SuperFast to the resort in North Bimini. There was a taxi waiting that took us to the government dock for the water taxi (we got the last boat of the day) The water taxi tried to call us another taxi at South Bimini but no one answered his call. Resigned to walk the mile and a bit with all our gear and food we set out on foot -by the light of the almost full moon- being thankful it was the cool of the evening and not mid day. After 10 minutes a taxi came down the dirt road, pick us up and all our gear then drove us the rest of the way to the marina.
After we stowed our gear, we sat down to take stock. Less than 5 hours ago we were in Miami FL. now here we are on board and almost ready to leave. The things you have no control of (like taxis and boat rides in the middle of the night on a small island) can really upset ones scheduling. But luck was with us, our first cab driver was able to contact the small ferry boat, and although the second taxi did not answer the hail from the water taxi, he must have heard the call as he came down the road looking for three tired sailors.
The uneventful deliveries may not be the ones with much to write about, but when you spend as much time offshore as I do, the deliveries that go without incident are considered the good ones.
After paying our bill at the marina and buying a loaf of Bimini Bread, we headed out the harbor and headed north. For two days the weather was as advertised and the Gulfstream was about as helpful as she could be. The wind was light and aft of the beam and by staying in the stream, we averaged over 8K. By trying to keep in the good current we were quite a few miles offshore and by late the next day we were off the coast of N Florida but too far out to get a Don’t NOAH weather forecast. By early the next morning, after a few midnight squalls that pushed us along at over 12k. we were approaching the coast of S Carolina and we could now here Don’t NOAH’s computer voice talking about a fast moving cold front that would be coming off the coast of the Carolinas later that day, bringing first north then north east winds.. Wind speeds of 30+knots were mentioned.
The thought of spending the next day or two beating straight into that kind of wind when the calm waters of the ICW were just over the horizon made the choice of putting into Charleston an easy one.
A 60 degree course change and six hours of close reaching saw us safely in Charleston Harbor making for a nice small marina about one mile north on the ICW. Tolers Cove Marina is well sheltered and a very friendly place to pull in for an overnight stop on your way north or southbound, or to hide out from bad weather. The location is perfect while traveling on the ICW and close enough to Charleston to be able to get anything you might need. Kevin, the dock mast is a wonderful host. He went out of his way to make sure we had everything we needed and even drove us over to the local West Marine and grocery store.
It blew pretty hard all that night making us all glad we had come inside and were not bouncing around offshore making very little progress. The next morning the wind was still blowing and we were considering going north up the ICW to Georgetown and possibly going out at Winyah Bay if the wind went around by then. So during breakfast we checked all our regular weather sources. The general consensus was that the wind would moderate by noon and veer into the south later in the afternoon before the next cold front arrived in two day.
I happen to think that the ICW between Charleston and Georgetown is very pretty but certainly not as straight as some other stretches. We could probably make Georgetown before sunset, but if the weather Gods were good to us and we went off shore we could be off Frying Pan Shoals by midnight and into Wrightsville Beach sometime the next morning. Of course that is the optimistic outlook. If the wind did not moderate we could be back offshore beating into some angry seas or motoring up the ICW looking for a place to camp for the night.
So we made a choice, hoping it was the right one. By Late morning we were motoring out of the Charleston channel on the ebb tide. The wind was still just north of east but had moderated to about 15 knots. As we came around onto our course we turned the engines off, sheeted the sails in and had a very pleasant sail. As the day progressed the promised wind shift materialized and we were able to ease the sheets. By early morning we sailed through the Cape Fear Slue and changed course north. Late morning saw us once again in the ICW making our way to Bradley Creek Marina where we were to meet Dr. Bob.
As I said earlier the uneventful ones whether by luck or design are always appreciated. We all had a great time on Dr. Bob’s new boat. Good company, good food and some wonderful sunrises and sunsets.
Oh, and by the way, some of the sailing was spectacular.