Grand Cay, Abacos, Bahamas — 05•14•22
0800 hours, anchor up and underway. Today we are leaving the Bahamas crossing the Gulf Stream to St. Augustine Florida. The original plan was to follow the Barracouta Bank (Yes it’s spelled that way) to the Gulf Stream. I was following a couple of other sailboats that went north into the Atlantic. I elected to do that, but it ended up being pretty bumpy, so maybe next time I’ll stick to my original plan.
The trip was 253 nautical miles. The wind was very light, but I sailed slowly as to get into St Augustine in daylight. I did end up running one engine just to keep Trouble moving forward.
The Gulf Stream should be avoided in a northwind as you would have the wind against the current. This would make for some very large seas. I would have a nice southwest wind most of the way.
A few thunderstorms were seen around me. But so far most of them were missing me. Mer De Jour was leaving Grand Lucayan about the same time as I was. I was a little further north than they were but since I was basically just letting the Gulf Stream push me to St Augustine, they caught and passed me in the early morning. The Gulf Stream current runs about 4 knots, and Mer De Jour was showing some impressive speeds on the AIS. They were headed further north to Cumberland, GA, so they didn’t need to be a slowpoke like me.
Somewhere in the Gulf Stream — 05•15•22
The sun came up and it was going to be a nice day. The wind was still light and I had a motor on. At 0950 (9:50 am), while scanning the horizon, I spotted something off in the distance, in the water. I had time to kill so I motored over to it. It turned out to be a capsized roughly crafted wood sailboat about 19 feet long. The mast and sails were visible underwater.No people of course. I suspected it to be a Haitian or Cuban Refugee boat. I tried to call the USCG on the VHF, but they didn’t answer.
The overturned boat had faint markings on it that might have been from the USCG. I moved on back onto course and radioed a boat behind me as to its location so they wouldn’t hit it. I did see them go over and inspect it.
One more night then and I should into St Augustine. I could see some raging thunderstorms just inland on the Florida coast. I was hoping they would stay there. But about Midnight a huge one just jumped off the coast and came straight at me fast. I dropped all my sails fast and as a precaution, I threw a cell phone and a handheld VHF into the oven. The theory is if struck by lightning they might survive being in a “mock” Faraday Cage. I also make sure to record my position and heading so I would at least be able to Dead Recond to St Augustine if all my electronics go out. It was violent with lightning all around me and thick rainfall. The storm left as quickly as it came. Trouble and I faired well and we kept moving forward to St Augustine.
Clearing Into The USA — 05•16•22
To clear back into the USA, we use an app called CBP ROAM ( Customs and Border Protection ). Basically, Trouble has a vessel number registered with them and I or any crew would have their passports and info uploaded into the app. You need to dispose of all your leftover fruit, veggies, and opened meat, offshore, per the rules.
When I’m within cellphone range I open the app and request clearance into the US. It sat there saying pending for hours, then I was busy navigating the channel into St Augustine when I saw on the app they wanted to do a “Video Call” which is something they sometimes do. I was too busy, to answer. When I would have a few minutes I would try again, but kept getting “Pending” then them wanting to do a “Video Call” when I was busy with boat stuff. I will have to deal with it after I get settled.
St. Augustine, FL
0835 (8:35 am) I pulled into the fuel dock after passing under The Bridge of Lions which is the gateway to St Augustine not including the Fort. Trouble took on 33.9 gallons of fuel at a cost of $217 dollars. The last time I added fuel was in Georgetown. I got my mooring assignment in the North Field on ball 13. I’ll spend a week here doing laundry, provisioning, oil changes on the diesels, and prepping the boat and me for the next passage up the East Coast to the Chesapeake.
Oh, by the way, CBP ROAM finally excepted me into the US without a “Video Call”.