Crossing the Gulf Stream: From Key Largo to Bimini Bahamas

February 16, 2015

The weather window was finally open. Every point on our list was checked off.

  • Provisions
  • Engine Repair
  • Bottom Paint
  • New solar panels
  • New wind generator
  • Shakedown cruising along the ICW through the Florida Keys
  • Kayaks/paddleboards/windsurfing boards for all of us to share
  • Pet documentation signed off on by the Key Largo vet
  • Cash
  • Cameras charged Winking smile

Good-Bye Rodriguez Key!  Good-Bye Florida! Good-Bye U.S.A.


Byn: When it was clear that we were really, actually going to get to leave the U.S. I made sure to text Jazz’s grandma, Sprite and Kainan (&the kids texted friends/family) that we wouldn’t have phone/net access for a few days so they wouldn’t worry (as much).

I don’t have a ton to say about the actual crossing, because I took Dramamine and prepared to sleep most of the way. I had a pretty intense buzz of nervous energy about our first crossing. This is still fairly new to me, and the realization that once we got out there, we weren’t really going to be able to turn back was fairly terrifying. I wasn’t worried about sinking or getting lost or having some horrible thing happen… I was just worried that I was going to have an anxiety attack again or be vomiting my guts out for hours with absolutely no way to stop/fix it.

I woke up at 1:00am, maybe because that was originally our ‘go time’, but the window had changed to 4:00am. Patrick went out to the salon and sat with his alarm to wake him at 4:30.

I tossed and turned and couldn’t sleep. I was up reading facebook at 3:30. My last chance to catch up with my friends before we were offline for… however long it took to get a SIM card and figure out the costs/data capabilities we’d have. 4:30 came and went. The water was REALLY choppy still, so I figured that the weather window had changed again. 5:30 came around and the waves had calmed considerably. I decided to go out and see what the deal was. I was hoping that we hadn’t missed our chance to go, now that I was all geared up and mentally prepared to deal with it.

Patrick was asleep on the couch in the salon (this isn’t a big surprise). When I woke him up, he said, “Wow, the wind has really calmed down in this last 30 minutes that I’ve been asleep!”

“So, are we going to leave soon, then?”

“Yep, I had my alarm set for 4:30 so we could go!” he assured me, in that extra perky ‘I wasn’t asleep’ way that he does when he realizes that he actually did fall asleep.

“So, what time is it now?” I asked.

He picked up his phone to see that it was now… 5:30… hmmmmmm. But he was sure that he just dozed off for 30 minutes (yet another big surprise).

So… it was finally time to go. Jaedin got up and raised the anchor and we were off. Patrick came to let me know that since we had to go out around Molasses reef, it would be fairly choppy for the first hour. I threw my sleep mask on and put myself into a “calm, I’m not freaking out” semi-meditative state and that was that. We left Key Largo at 5:47 am.  I actually screencapped the time on my phone so I wouldn’t forget Winking smile.

After what felt like 5-6 hours of horrible rocking, waves slamming against the hull and the bottom of my bed, causing me to need to brace myself against the ceiling (ahhhh, that’s why ceilings are so low on boats!) I checked my phone. It was 9:50. Oh MY GOD. It had only been FOUR HOURS? Holy shit! This trip was supposed to take 12-14 hours. I still had at least ten hours to go. (Patrick isn’t known for accurately estimating the time it will take, either, so I wasn’t even counting on only 14 hours)  I just wanted to cry. All I could think was, “Nope, not going back to the U.S. EVER. We will just have to live on the boat forever.” I don’t understand my logic, but it wasn’t “get me off of this boat.” Instead, it was, “Okay, not going to repeat any of these unpleasant passages. If I’m going on a passage of ANY kind, I want it to be for a NEW place.

Four hours. FOUR HOURS. This was going to go on forever!

I also really had to pee. I was going to break something trying to get into the bathroom. Holy crap. If its this bad in a trimaran, I can not imagine being in a monohull. No way, no how is THAT happening. I managed to get off the bed, propping myself between the bed and the bathroom door until another wave broke. Then I launched myself backward and quickly threw open the bathroom door and was practically thrown in when another wave hit. Once I got into our tiny bathroom, I had to wedge myself against the walls to keep from flying off the toilet (ahhhhh, that’s why this bathroom is so damned tiny). I finally managed to make it back to the bed, feeling the edges of motion sickness creeping up and threw my sleep mask back on and ignored it the best I could.

I hear Paris and Jazz stumble out of their room around that point. They sounded a little… surprised, shall we say? They had been lying in bed, bracing themselves against the rocking and waves, when Jazz looked up at the hatch and thought, “maybe I should close that hatch,” and just as he reached up to do just that, a huge wave had washed over the deck and in through their hatch, dumping tons of sea water on them and all of their bedding. For a little perspective, here is where their hatch is on the boat:


So, that was quite the wake up call! I heard Paris say, “I wasn’t feeling motion sick at all until I got up and came out here” and that cinched it for me. I was staying in bed for the duration of the trip. I had NO desire to have a repeat of the Molasses Bay Vomit-Fest fiasco, especially when we still had 8-10 hours left to go!

Soon Patrick came in and shut the hatches because it was starting to rain. Thankfully it was cool enough out that it didn’t really matter. Dramamine makes me really tired, travel days make me tired even without it, so my body was ready to crash. I’m not sure how long I slept that time, but I woke up feeling hot and sweaty, like the temperature just rose suddenly by 15 degrees. It wasn’t raining, so I opened my hatch and portlight again and drifted off again.

I woke up sometime later when I rolled over and felt a wet spot on the bed. “Huh, the rain must have started before the hatch got closed… wait, no, it wouldn’t be all the way down by my feet…” I lifted my sleep mask to see three nice little piles of dog vomit surrounding Cinnamon’s little blanket nest that she made. She was very careful not to vomit on her bed, just ours. She hasn’t gotten sick before now, but this was an awfully bumpy ride. And it still was. There was no way I was going to be able to clean up vomit without just adding to the mess, so I just rolled back over and went to sleep. Oh, the joys of being incredibly sensitive to motion sickness and living on a boat. Wheeeee!!!

I drifted off as the waves calmed and actually allowed me to just rest without fear of flying off of the bed. We were back to the nice gentle rocking almost like being at anchor on a ‘just right’ night. I slept like the dead.

(Since I was sleeping from this point on, I’ll let Patrick fill in the technical stuff)

Patrick: So here’s the condensed version Smile The Gulf Stream Crossing, for the most part was uneventful. We left under clear skies and a 15 knot southerly wind. The day was forecast for scattered thunderstorms, and after cruising along for about 4 hours in relatively calm seas at 8 –10 knots, then we ran into our first squall. I had plenty of time to see it coming, so had reduced sail and started the motor by the time it hit. The squall itself only lasted about 20 minutes, but after it had blown over we were left with much larger seas and a wind that had shifted to mostly Easterly, despite the forecast of it being a southerly wind all day. This unfortunately meant that the remainder of the trip was headed straight into the wind, motoring instead of sailing and battling head on seas. Not the worst ride in the world, but not necessarily the most comfortable.

After a little less than 12 hours, we found ourselves anchored off the north east shore of Bimini… We even beat my estimate by about an hour!

(Byn) I woke up and stumbled out to the pilot house as we got to the point of sighting actual land. I was SO done with moving/sailing/whatever. I just wanted calm and peacefulness. I felt REALLY agitated and was feeling pretty damn grumpy. I remember thinking (or maybe saying, “At least on a shitty road trip you can STOP AND GET OUT OF THE CAR FOR A WHILE!!!”) I was not a fan of this long crossing idea… and this wasn’t even a LONG CROSSING!

Pretty soon I forgot everything when the white sand beaches came into view, fronted by gorgeous turquoise waters. Holy crap. It was so beautiful. I was mesmerized…

And he even got me there in time for the sunset. He knows me so well Smile


The kids went paddleboarding around the boat (but stayed off of the beach/land since we had arrived too late to check in at that point)


We put up our quarantine flag and settled in for our first, gloriously perfect, night in the Bahamas. Tomorrow would be figuring out the whole check-in process with Immigration and Customs!



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