That iconic moment when you see land after an offshore crossing. After anchoring off Little Bahamas bank to rest, we had a refreshing and uplifting sail the next day towards our first island, Great Sale Cay . At this point the crew was relieved that we would be anchoring in protected waters and not bounced around as much. This was at about 16:00hrs on 10March. We had left Lake Worth on 8March at 18:00hrs. We anchored in 24ft of water in Little Bahamas Banks on the 9thMarch at 12:55 , exhausted and a little demoralized that we had drifted so far North . We later learned this was expected and normal with those conditions in the Gulf Stream.



Leaving Lake Worth at sunset was a little disconcerting. The captain had decided we would sail all night and arrive at daylight around 6am at Memory Rock Bahamas which is basically just a marker to anchor and head to our first island which was going to Mangrove Cay. Lake Worth is a huge inlet with a lot of room for anchoring and waiting out a weather window to cross the gulf. There is tons of traffic on the water at high speed and lots of fetch as the inlet is close and large so it makes for a very bumpy anchorage. This, I think, played a part in our decision to rush the crossing a little. 



After leaving Vero Beach, we motored to Peck Lake to overnight. David and Ed went ashore to catch the sunset and for Ed to see Jupiter Beach. As the dinghy was strapped tight on deck, they went via kayak. I stayed onboard and enjoyed some quiet time and dinner prep. 

After anchoring off Great Sale Cay we decided to celebrate with a steak dinner and set up our fancy table. Rum was served. 


After spending about 2 weeks looking at the weather windows coming up, we saw a slight opportunity to cross on the 8th of March. David had finished sewing our new cover for the cockpit and the hatches. Ed was settled in and we had provisioned and loaded TC with tons of food – more than we’ve ever loaded into the bilges. We had canned over 48 cans of meat as we are pretty well -“meatarians” along with vegetables. These are the hardest foods to store and to purchase in the remote islands.  We should consider becoming vegetarians.  So much easier to eat rice and beans. You could carry a year’s worth on TC but we’ve learned that — our bodies don’t do well with that type of diet. 

We said goodbye to Vero and our good friends Bob and Carol  and headed down the inter-coastal. It would take 2 full days of motoring with a stop at one of our favourite hangouts, Jupiter Beach, at Peck Lake anchorage. It is just a wide body of water on the other side of the Atlantic. We have photos of the beautiful beach in last year’s posts. As Ed had not seen it, David and Ed, went on the kayak and crossed over while I stayed on the boat and worked on dinner. We were a little excited and a little anxious to cross over the Gulf. The weather would not be perfect but we were looking at crossing potentially the next day with 30km hr.3 winds from the SE and S. We figured this would propel us eastward. The problem with waiting was that the weather window would not be open for another week after the 8th. 

The next morning we left Peck Lake and arrived at Lake Worth (or West Palm Beach). Wider bodies of water seem to be referred to as lakes but it really is a wide inlet where many of the sailboats and boats waiting to cross into the Caribbean wait for weather windows. 

Our plans were to leave at 4am but our fearless captain decided to leave that evening at 6pm. Lake Worth is an awful anchorage. We had trouble anchoring due to the bounciness of the waves and the wind . Further there are tons of anchored boats everywhere and fast boats buzzing by you with no care about waking sailboats that are anchored. I wasn’t too happy about leaving at 6pm as this would mean a night crossing but the prospect of a long evening and night at Lake Worth was not appealing. 

We knew the winds were not ideal for crossing as South winds adding to the south current (S on S as I’ll call it) means we have to counter the gulf even harder.  David asked us, I was undecided and so we called our friends Libby and Grant, very experienced Bahamian crossers who gave us the same advice, the conditions were not great but not really bad. Chris Parker’s very expensive weather advice said not to cross,. AND in hindsight he was right. 

As we pulled anchor north of the bridge and entered the inlet at sunset, we should’ve taken it as a big clue that we were the only ones leaving! People on the docks at the inlet took videos of us, probably to give to the coastguard to help identify the crazy Cdn. boat that left when Chris Parker said not to. 

Leaving Lake Worth inlet, the massive yachts , the open water in front of us. We barely made it out of the inlet before darkness fell. It’s one thing to do our first crossing and have to confront the Gulf Stream and it’s another to do the whole thing at night. 


We were expecting winds winds of about 30km from SE and S. For TC these are great winds and not so bad for heading east . We started sailing and all was going well, heading almost due east.  I went down below and then David called up and said he was having trouble keeping the course. This was strange so I came up and tried to set the course on Aqua Map and Navionics. We also had an independent compass plus paper charts. I tried to steer into our heading but no matter what I did, TC headed either north at 120 or got turned back towards the coast of Florida. It was so strange. We tried to correct. We took it off our Auto Pilot and manually steered but we could only point north of due east even if we tried to correct south. We’ve never experienced that and we originally thought something was wrong with our digital charts but both separate apps would have to fail and it made no sense.  If we tried to correct southward, we crawled at less than 2knots. I remember a motorboater at the laundrymat at Very telling me, just head as fast out of the Gulf as possible then worry about correcting. That’s what David did and we landed north of our aim (Memory Rock ) at Little Bahamas Banks. We realized that as soon as we were out of the Gulf we could then steer south but this is where the south wind hurt us. Waves were 5-10′ and hitting us on the port bow making for a very uncomfortable rocking motion. We motored for a few more hours and made it after 19 hrs to Little Bahamas Banks where the depth was 24′. We were exhausted after being up since the night of the 7th to the 8th . We anchored in the bumpy , deep banks and we all took some sleep aids and crashed. 

The next morning was a gorgeous morning with perfect winds from the north and we sailed to Great Sale Cay – an uninhabited island that offers some protection. We were looking for a quiet anchorage where we could stop moving and TC would be flat. The sail was amazing and we arrived and anchored near Pelican a 42’Leopard catamaran. We met their owners John and Louise and went ashore to walk on solid ground! What a feeling of having solid ground that doesn’t move under your feet. Great Sail is a small rocky island but the water was crystal clear. We celebrated with a rib-eye with red-wine and biscottis.  It was our celebratory meal to commemorate our first real ocean crossing to a different country. 

Later, as I read the charts and guides I learned that what we experienced was an exaggerated normal phenomenon especially when you cross with south winds. The experienced sailors either make corrections to head south of their destination or you accept that you will land north . But we could not head south as our angle would have been to tough with the combined south wind and we would hardly move. Next time we just cross as fast as possible and correct south after the Gulf is crossed. 

Well, The Bahamas are amazing. The water is a combination of indescribable colours and the Abaco Sea is shallow, with very  little “fetch” or wave movement from winds. It is surrounded by islands, some uninhabited. We made it in one piece and we learned that crossings can be tricky and challenging but that our digital charts are trustworthy and undercurrents are not to be ignored. Also, another lesson, is not to cross currents with same wind directions if you can help it. 

I must say our captain showed amazing leadership and stamina. He helmed all night and half the day until we were anchored safely in the banks. Ed was amazing. If he was nervous, he never showed it even when David and I were trying to understand the boat’s movement and the digital charts information that didn’t make sense with our compass settings. Sailing , especially open ocean reminds me that life is meant to be experienced. You can’t take your possessions with you but you can experience the beauty of God’s creation and challenge your self and break through your boxes of who and what you think you can achieve. David built TC from an empty vacant hull half buried in a mountain and after 20 years with the help of our good friends Tom Wroe , Andy Soper and many others , this empty hull is a striking vessel that draws admiration and curiosity from most of the sailing community as it is rare to find an aluminum cat ketch with carbon fibre masts that stand alone with wishbone booms.  One lockmaster called it “Badass” and it certainly lives up to that description.  David, well done captain!

Crossing the Gulf 



5Night crossingA night crossing. Ethereal

Our celebratory dinner at Great Sale Cay-Our celebratory dinner at Great Sale. Relief, rib-eyes, red wine and biscottis.

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