Dolce Vento’s bow sliced the butter soft sea Sunday night as a firm breeze from the south-east filled our sails, ensuring a smooth beam reach for the crossing. The new moon hid the sun’s reflecting light bringing to life Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night” all around us. At 7:00 AM, John and I watched as the sun rise brilliantly, back lighting popcorn cumulus clouds, framing them in jutting rays of yellow-orange. This 14 hour crossing made everything we had experienced to date small change in comparison.
The Gulf Stream is a tricky devil. Its current flows from south to north increasing its speed from 1 knot on the edges to 3 or more knots in the middle as its speed and flow path changes as the seasons and weather patterns change. If the wind is from the north, it fights the current, creating heavy seas, making a crossing uncomfortable to harrowing. Add in rain and heavy northerlies and a disaster is in the making for cruising boats. But, as you can read, our crossing was ideal with a light wind and current, both from the south with good clear air weather.
By calculating the effect of the Gulf current, we took advantage of it. Our calculated “constant heading” of about 78 degrees, put Dolce Vento’s course over ground (COG) at a spot-on 53 degrees, the direct rhumb line compass heading from Miami Beach to West End, Bahamas. This constant heading method cut at least an hour off our rhumb line crossing time.
We have six weeks to spend here in this land of many water colors. Each color, from the deepest indigo blue to the lightest translucent aqua, tells you the water’s depth and something about the land below the water. We quickly learn to “read” the water. If not, we might end up hitting a coral head, anchoring in poor holding slippery grass or running aground onto sandy shoals.
The weather window that allowed us to arrive on Monday morning, closed Tuesday. On Wednesday, today, we have 25 knot winds in the marina along with predictions of thunderstorms and squalls. We will stay put for the week, enjoy the Old Bahama Bay Marina beach, pool, and munch on the likes of conch chowder and spiny lobsters. Today we walked into the local West End settlement, had the best conch burgers ever made and picked up a few provisions to make Cindy’s birthday cake. We will move on only when the weather settles. That’s Bahama time. And, that’s what makes life better in the Bahamas.