Maiden Voyage- First Offshore Sail- Crossing the Gulf Stream

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The Gulf Stream is well known in Florida and has quite a reputation. It runs northward up the coast at varying distances from shore. The current at the strongest point in the center of the Stream can be up to 4 knots and is around 20-25 miles wide. The current against opposing forces from wind can create a washing machine effect seen from the shoreline as “white elephants” on the horizon off the east coast.
Seagull Sunset- Bahamas

With its reputation, it has my respect and also a healthy bit of fear.  It is highly recommended to watch weather and wait for a weather window of winds and waves of ideal conditions before taking on the stream. Wind direction should be south for several days prior and the sea conditions we were personally looking for were 2-4′ with at least 5 second wave intervals.
The ideal conditions came and we hauled anchor at 6 a.m. to depart No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne. This was the first “offshore passage” for both Tomas and I and we both (along with many of our loved ones) had a bit of anxiety around the passage with our babies aboard. As we headed east in the early morning rising sun, our anxieties quickly dissipated. We settled into the rhythm of the sea as we set sail to windward.


Cat Cay- Bahamas “Titi Heather” and Milan

The well known book,  The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South: The Thornless Path to Windward, by Bruce Van Sant was recommended to us a few years ago. I have read the book a few times and studied his advice on island hopping through the Caribbean against the trade winds. His “gentleman’s” guide describes how to protect yourself from the winds by sailing in the lee or behind the islands when possible and basically how to navigate windward without getting beat up. It’s the “how to” book to be safe, at anchor, daily in time for a sundowner.

We are using his advice to plan our navigation and have also subscribed to Chris Parker’s weather updates. We are using PredictWind as well. After an uneventful 48 nautical mile – 8 hour journey we arrived at Cat Cay just south of Bimini around 2:30pm. We set anchor and hoisted up our quarantine flag while we had lunch.
In the Bahamas, just the captain goes to shore to clear customs bringing along all the passports and documents of all aboard.

Nauti Mermaid

I paid the $300 cruising permit cost (which gives you up to a year to cruise around) and cleared us in after we finished lunch. I returned back to the boat, took down our Q flag, and we hoisted up the Bahamian courtesy flag.
We played around on the crystal clear beaches on Cat Cay as sea planes landed and took off in the distance. We then moved on and jumped over to Chub Cay (12 hrs) before heading to Nassau. We had a sigh of relief with our first offshore sail in the Nauti Mermaid and we gain a bit more confidence everyday as we get into a new pace of our life aboard.