|Q Flag raised in Bimini|
The entire community of cruisers in Boot Key Harbor was alive with excitement that a weather window had appeared for a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas. Every boat seemed to be route planning, provisioning, topping off tanks and discussing the weather possibilities. It looked like many of the boats would leave Marathon on Friday or Saturday to head to Rodriguez Key near Key Largo. This is a good jumping off point for the crossing to Bimini. Others, like us, felt that moving to Rodriguez Key on Sunday followed by the crossing on Monday looked the best.
We knew we were going to travel with Don and Gail (Island Tyme - Endeavour 37), but for the crossing we joined up with Jim and Nancy (Amata Marie - CSY 44) as well. Jim and Nancy are experienced cruisers and just plain nice people. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know them better and learn from them as well. After a couple of sad goodbyes with some friends we dropped our mooring lines on Sunday morning at 6:20 a.m. to start our next adventure.
Marathon to Rodriguez Key is a 50 mile sail up the Hawk Channel. The boats all performed well and the crew of Wrinkles shook off their roots from Boot Key Harbor. We do hope to spend another winter there next year. We all arrived at the north anchorage of Rodriguez Key in plenty of time to enjoy a nice sunset and an even better moonrise. A number of boats there we already knew. A couple of them decided to join our little flotilla for the crossing at 3 - 3:15 a.m. the next morning.
We have both been fighting colds, so we took NyQuil and set two phone alarms to ensure we would be up before three. The v-berth was warm, so we turned on one of the 12 volt fans for some air movement and a little white noise. After setting out breakfast bars, a thermos of hot water and our sailing gear we crashed into bed. The next thing we remember hearing was our VHF saying, "I guess Wrinkles decided to sleep in rather than leave this morning." Crap! We jumped up, saw it was 3:10 a.m. and had Wrinkles moving in under 10 minutes. Not bad considering we had to dress, eat, gear up and raise the anchor. We had managed to sleep through two alarms chiming and even some hails on the radio. Mike can sleep through most any noise, but Brenda is normally a very light sleeper. Gotta love NyQuil.
|Moonrise at Rodriguez Key|
We left Rodriguez Key (Key Largo area) at 3:20 a.m. in the company of 5 sailboats for the 75 mile crossing. Two faster sailboats took a slightly different path which left us with two other boats to cross the Gulf Stream to Bimini. The winds were 12-15 knots SSE which worked perfectly for sailing. All three boats stayed within eyesight the entire trip, chatting on the radio occasionally. The waves were a bit big at first at 3-5' and a bit on the nose as we tried to make some southing before hitting the strong northerly Gulf Stream current. As the day wore on they settled into a nice 2-4' size that just felt like a sleigh ride. We had all three sails up and Wrinkles did herself proud keeping up with the two much bigger boats we were with. Gail later told us the bottom paint looked really good on Wrinkles as we heeled over far enough for Gail to see it most of the trip. Other than having to work our way around a few monster sized freighters (that were going to cross way too closely to our path) the sail was fun, exciting and interesting.
Jim set a trolling line out and caught a 48" Mahi-Mahi and announced we would all be having fresh fish for supper that night. All three boats set a good pace and still stayed in visual contact. We arrived at Bimini Sands Marina just before 5 p.m. The cut into Bimini Sands Marina is just plain hard to see for first timers until you get all the way up to the channel markers. We decided that rather than stress about the entry that we would follow Amata Marie in as they had been there previously. We all found a slip and cheerfully tied up our boats. After a short cab ride Mike cleared in with five other sailors at the local airport- we are official!
|Some of the flotilla sailboats.|
|Wrinkles tucked into her slip.|
|Q flag down - courtesy flag up.|
Each boat received a huge portion of Jim's fresh Mahi-Mahi to cook on their own for a celebration picnic ashore. All the boats prepared their own fish and a dish to pass. Brenda made some coleslaw and we took along a bottle of champagne that we had received as a gift from Roger and Peggy (Never Say Never). We all toasted our trip while eating some amazing fresh fish. Not a bad start to our trip.