The Crossing

A Rainbow Welcomed us to Peck Lake the evening of the 25th

A Rainbow Welcomes us to Peck Lake the evening of the 25th

We awoke the morning of June 26th anchored up at Peck Lake about 15 miles north of West Palm. The plan was to jump the Gulf Stream that night, the weather was right but it wasn’t going to stick around. We all knew if we didn’t make it out the inlet that night we could get stuck at Peanut Island waiting to jump.  After coffee and a quick breakfast we prepared to pull anchor, I fired up the diesel and realized something didn’t sound quite right…. pulled the kill switch and hopped down to investigate…

I’d lost a nut off the back of one of the bolts connecting the alternator, as a result the head of an opposing bolt had been sheared off leaving the alternator dangling….. hmmmmmm this is not so good, I don’t have the tools for this…. but I know a neighbor who might!!

The evening before a nice Aussie, Jeremy, and his friend Skip had dinghied over to introduced them selves and investigate just where 3 young ladies on a sailboat had come from and where they were headed. We chatted for awhile about our plans and theirs. Jeremy left us with one of his cards, a Marine engineer , couldn’t of written it better. So I buzzed over to see if I could possibly burrow some tools…. and some expertise?! Sure enough Jeremy was happy to help. With a little patience and a bit of tinkering we got the sheared bolt tapped out and the engine alternator secure enough to make West Palm. A big round of hugs and many thanks was showered upon Jeremy, and we were off down the ICW once more.

Sailboat community, got to love it, everyone is always willing to lend a hand, Thanks Jeremy!!

Sailboat community, got to love it, everyone is always willing to lend a hand, Thanks Jeremy!!

Jam and Roo Cheesin with Jeremy

Jam and Roo Cheesin with Jeremy

But we weren’t quit in the clear yet, I still needed to get some hardware to finalize repairs, we could make it down the intercostal, but across the stream was a different story… I put the girls on the helm and I busied my self below, stowing things away, preparing the ditch bag, collecting batteries, GPS’s, navigation devices, emergency gear ect. We cleared the last bridge into North Lake Worth about 4 o’clock. We pulled up to a fuel dock to top off the tanks and find a local hardware store. Guys on the dock were great and told us we cold stay tied up as long as we needed, I hopped below and searched for what was close by, grabbed my purse and got ready to go hail a cab. No need. The girls had made some friends standing on the dock, a father in son who managed the mega yacht tied up on the next slip. Pops, as he introduced him self was going run me wherever I needed. So off we went to Ace Hardware, Pops and I rummaging through the metric hardware drawers searching for what would work just right.  We talked about the crossing and Pops shook me down about route, navigation, equipment, provisions and what all we had on board. It was a good little run down that got me focused on just what I was about experience the next 24hrs. Back on the dock I made the final repairs, against all odds, time it seemed was on our side that day, we were going for it.  We decided one round of shots was needed to clam the nerves and have a proper farewell cheers with Pops and B. We climbed aboard Lynne Marie just about 7 o’clock and pushed off the dock for GOoD, waving good bye to our new found friends.

Our last Florida sunset... I totally missed it. Good on Jam for snapping the pic!

Our last Florida sunset… I totally missed it. Good on Jam for snapping the pic!

Now I can’t tell you what Lake Worth, Peanut Island or the Inlet there looks like… not even one bit. I had the girls on the helm again while I was down below in a fairly manic state. Once more pouring over routes, headings, waypoints, gps settings, and all those little details that suddenly come to mind as you’re headed out to navigate your sailboat home with two of your dearest friends onboard across the gulf stream…. Finally as the last light of day left the sky I emerged into the cockpit to see the lights of West Palm falling away behind us.  Jam and Roo did a great job all day moving us down the intercostal and now that’d moved us right out the inlet.  We had a compass heading of 120,  the GPS was programmed, and the chart was out below waiting to be plotted upon. I was finally confident I had it all worked out correctly and now all there was to do was hold a course, trust the compass and whisper sweet words to the sea that she may keep us in her favor.

It was a long night after a long day followed by another long day. We were bucking both the wind and the current motoring through the night and though the wind was light and the waves only about 3ft the ride was pretty jarring.  We spotted only a few lights from passing freighters, none that came close, but it’s amazing just how fast they actually move. Jam was the auto helm of the night, I swear, Good Tunes equals Rocket Fuel to that one, she bobbed along on the helm thru the wee hours of the morning till sunrise. Roo asleep down below, me taking intermitted naps in the cockpit between, giving breaks on the tiller, checking coordinates and plotting our course. When the sun came up we were with in sight of the Bahama Bank, just where we wanted to be. That navigation jazz, it works.  Jam went down for some sleep Roo got up to take over. Finally out of the stream and on to the bank the waves settled to a gentle roll. Roo and I took turns on the tiller catching naps in the cockpit as we could.

Roo chessin in calm waters crossing the bank

Roo cheesin in calm waters crossing the bank

Jam catching some ZzZ on the bow

Jam catching some ZzZ on the bow

We pulled up to Great Sail about 5pm and threw out anchor. We had made it, with a lot of help & guidance from friends old & new,  we had successfully navigated the Gulf Stream and landed our selves in northern Abaco.  Break out the Champagne!  A good nights sleep quickly followed dinner. Tomorrow new problems would be waiting, but that’s a story for another time…

Fair winds till then,


Cheers WE MADE IT!

Cheers WE MADE IT!

Dinghy <3, Shooting Stars & Bioluminescent Waters

Every Girl Deserves A Good Dinghy, or so Jes-sea once told me, well this sailing girl has finally found hers. After months of research and scouring craigslist I finally took the plunge settling on a 7’11” Dyer ‘Midget’ with a sailing rig and pair of oars.  A little fiberglass beauty with solid design, hand laid fiberglass construction, and bronze hardware details, Dyer dinghies are classic tenders that surprise, are still being built to this day. I figure a company that’s been making and selling handcrafted dinghies for over 80 years must be doing something right.  The real kicker? It was in St. Augustine in the possession of an acquaintance I knew from my time teaching sailing camps there. So off I went to St. Augustine for a night. I got to catch up with my ‘sailing sisters’ Rachael & Jes-sea, then picked up the dink before getting back on the road the next morning.  A trip to one of my favorite places, a chance to catch up with two of my favorite people, and a new sailing toy all wrapped into one?! Yes, yes, and yes.  So home I came happy as a clam ready to try out my new dink…only life and weather was uncooperative.  Between work and afternoon thunderstorms I didn’t have an opportunity to take her out for another four days.

Finally Thursday night the clouds had cleared and there was a bit of steady wind stirring around the marina, I wasn’t waiting any longer. I grabbed a headlight and rigged up the sail. Tommy came along for ride and we slid silently out of the marina into the barge canal headed for the river.  It’s August and the bio-luminescent algae in the water is at its peak. The water was ALIVE, all around us fish could be seen darting in ever direction. Their rapid movements illuminated from the stirring algae.  Behind us my little dinghy’s wake looked like clouds of pixy dust floating through the water.  Above us the sky was dark and starry with no moon in sight.  I spotted several shooting stars streaking across the horizon, the first of many to come from a meteor shower that would peek over the weekend. We reached the river and sailed out of the channel into the shallows of a small mangrove island. BIG glowing silhouettes of fish started streaking out from beneath us. My dagger board hit bottom and so I headed back for deeper water.  My little dinghy sailed pretty good with two us on board.  It had been a long time since I’d sailed a small boat and just as my heart was filling with joy about how this moment seemed so perfect it got even better. I heard the distinct sound of a dolphin exhale. On the other side of the channel were pair of dolphins herding schools of fish onto the shallow riverbank.  We sailed right up to them, the water boiled with fish, the dolphins in quick pursuit, the entire dance illuminated right before our eyes.  We came with in about 10 feet of them and for a moment the action was all around us, then swiftly they had continued their hunt up the riverbank.

I tacked around and headed us back toward the Marina but once we got into the barge canal the wind became shifty and I was unable to make any headway. No problem, break out the oars….this should be pretty straight forward right? Not quite, who knew rowing was such a highly refined skill!! After about 20 minutes of laughter, frustration, some serious concentration, and still no headway Tommy finally agreed to take over. Thank goodness cause well I’m sure I would of made it back eventually, it would have been a long sleepless night and I think I would have returned as one giant bug bite.  I have since been working on my rowing skills and I’m happy to report they’re coming along nicely.  I’m growing to love my little dink more and more every day.  I was on the fence about a hard dink vs an inflatable, which is what every cruiser seems to recommend these days, but I am so happy I ended up with a little sailing/rowing dink instead. I even found an old school 2hp Evinrude outboard, so I can motor as well, if I like. I’m sure that there will be moments in the future were, weather, or distance, or who knows what may cause me to look at an inflatable roaring by me with envy from my hard little dink. But I also know there will be many more moments of wonder like that of the dolphins hunting in the bio-luminescence of the Indian River. It was a moment that could of easily slipped by unnoticed if it had not been for the silent mobility, that sailing affords.  It is that silence, or rather those sounds you can hear, the creak of your boat, the water against your haul, the dolphins exhale, that allow your senses to come alive and in tune with the world around you.  It is a huge part of my love for sailing; I live for that moment when the sail goes up, the engine goes off and peace floods my senses.