It is not necessarily a bad thing to wait a week or two (or four) for a weather window to sail. The worst part is the mental factor: the impatience we feel when we are ready to move, and have prepared The Fox to move, yet it's prudent to stay put. Analyzing and discussing the weather forecasts from 4 different sources, every morning, and repeatedly reaching the same conclusion to stay in port, can make you a little crazy after a while. Tom Petty was right: the wait is the hardest part.
On January 10, 2014, after about 2 months of watching, waiting, and inching The Fox southbound, we finally got a forecast that looked like a good weather window to escape Florida and cross to the Bahamas. We had kept our water and fuel tanks filled; we'd even spent 2 nights at Lake Worth's most excellent Old Port Cove Marina, the better to do piles of laundry and some final provisioning/boat cleaning. Palm Beach marinas aren't exactly cheap, but we were well taken care of at Old Port Cove Marina and got very good value for our dollars. Leaving there, we positioned The Fox 5 miles down the way at a handy anchorage just inside the Lake Worth/Palm Beach inlet. Early the next morning our favorable forecast was reconfirmed, and we were outta there with the morning tide.
See ya, Flo-ri-DA.
Winds were fairly light upon departure: easterly to SE, topping out at 12-17 knots in the morning, tapering to SE 10-12 in the afternoon. These were the best conditions we'd experienced in months, but the seas were still a choppy/rolly 4'-5' at 5 second intervals. Poor GB fed the fishies, and I developed my usual headache-behind-the-eyeballs. The sea state made for a relatively uncomfortable trip across the Gulf Stream (30 miles wide in this area at this time of the year), but both the wind and the seas diminished the further we traveled. However, as the wind eased it clocked to the south. Not wanting to risk being caught offshore and unprotected if the weather changed drastically to the west, which it sometimes does, we motor-sailed at 2600 rpm on the engine, with our staysail fully deployed.
Light conditions continued into the evening and the next day as we crossed the NW corner of the Great Bahama Banks at Great Isaac Rock and aimed SE toward New Providence Island and Nassau - our first safe harbor if the weather deteriorated or shifted to a less favorable direction.
We saw continued light conditions during our second day underway. It became rollier and choppier again as we dropped off the Great Bahama Banks and crossed the New Providence Channel to the north of Nassau, an area where several currents converge. Pyramid-shaped waves (fortunately, no higher than 3') were the order of the day. Because the decent weather continued The Fox bypassed Nassau in the middle of the night and pressed on, eastward, to Eleuthera Island in the Far Bahamas.
[more to follow...]