Thursday, February 4, 2021

Lake Worth, Departing for The Bahamas

Intermezzo is now anchored out in Lake Worth, not far from the inlet that leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow we set sail for The Bahamas after waiting patiently for our weather window.

Robin arrived arrived on Sunday around noon to join on as crew. She has quite a bit of experience crewing on other boats all around the world, including a recent trip to The Bahamas last year. She immediately set about to familiarizing herself with Intermezzo and asking me lots of questions.

Amy arrived later that evening, her flight having been re-routed. This is her first time sailing and stepping onto the boat was the beginning of a new experience, which started off with a dish of my "famous" Thai curry.

A windy cold front has been blowing here until yesterday. When I arrived in Florida, I stored the space heaters thinking that I wouldn't need them again, thank goodness. But I had to pull them out as nigh temperatures descended into the low 40's.

While the cold front kept us in port, we used the time wisely. We got tested for COVID, as required for entry into The Bahamas (all of us negative for the virus), we went shopping for a month's worth of provisions and I got Amy and Robin oriented to the boat and learn how we do things on board Intermezzo. I'm teaching at two levels. For Amy, it's all new. For Robin, it's either boat-specific equipment and procedures or taking her skills up a notch or two.

So far we have covered topside orientation (rigging, controls, etc.), safety equipment, below deck orientation (bilge pumps, seacocks, etc.), engine checks, checklist for getting underway, man overboard equipment and recovery, VHF radio procedures, basic knots, engine starting, docking and raising sails. Today they got some practical experience docking and anchoring. We'll move onto passage-related training when we get underway tomorrow.

Our plan is to leave Lake Worth inlet in the afternoon to cross the Gulf Stream to arrive at Memory Rock at the edge of The Bahamas Banks a few hours before dawn, a 53 nautical mile (nm) passage. We'll sail another 44 nm across the banks to Great Sail Cay to arrive there around midday, where we'll enjoy an overnight rest stop at anchor (we can't go ashore until we clear in with customs and immigration).

The next day we'll get an early start and sail 50 nm to Green Turtle Cay where we will clear in. We'll probably hang there for the next five days, as we are required to get a COVID antibody test then.

The weather is looking very promising for our passage with 10-15 knot southerly winds and 1-2 ft waves. We'll be crossing the strong 2.5-3 knot Gulf Stream current, so we'll be steering on a constant heading about 30 degrees south of our rhumbline bearing to counter the northerly set of the current. This is the longest passage with a strong orthogonal current I've had to navigate and I'm excited to find out how my chart plotting turns out.

We're all excited about leaving tomorrow. It's going to be hard not to jump the gun and leave too early which would have us sailing on the shallow banks in the dark. We'll fill up the hours with more training to avoid that. I might have to slow the boat down again, like on the passage from Doboy Sound to Port Canaveral, too.

One of our neighbors on the dock at New Port Cove Marina

Our planned route from Lake Worth to Great Sale Cay