Time to Head Home!

Wednesday, March 13th
Leeward Yacht Club
Green Turtle Cay

After a wonderful month, it’s time to leave Green Turtle Cay.

It’s mid-March already!?! Where has the time gone? I was just getting settled in and used to being here in the Bahamas and suddenly I find myself preparing Mavis to go to sea again. 

Over the past few days I had begun to think seriously about the (very) long journey home.  As a loose plan was beginning to emerge for leaving the Bahamas and sailing up the coast, I found myself already missing this incredible place. I know that I’ll soon be longing to be back here and something tells me this isn’t our last visit to Green Turtle.

We had planned on staying here for another few weeks before sailing back to the USA but some rather crappy weather is expected to move in and stay most of next week so this afternoon we went from “staying for a few weeks” to going…  Like NOW.  Friday and Saturday look like good days to cross the gulf stream so tomorrow morning at dawn we will leave this island we have called home for the last month and sail to Great Sale Cay where we will anchor for the night before crossing back to Florida.  This will allow Willow to get one more bathroom trip in and we will get to feel some Bahamian sand under our feet again before crossing Friday morning into Saturday.

We want to be home in early May.  If we want to sail conservatively and still have some time to explore places on the way back we really need to get going!  We also prefer to do ocean passages on the weekend because when we are without mobile data we can’t speak to customers, handle emails, and deal with our normal day to day operations.  And if we stay past Friday, we really don’t know when the next good crossing window will open up and chances are it won’t fall on a weekend.  So off we go.

We are expecting calm seas for our overnight passage Friday morning into Saturday morning with winds at about 15 to 18 knots from the East.  We hope to be able to sail the entire way across the Straits of Florida and arrive at the Fort Pierce inlet around dawn on an incoming tide.

I’ve been paying careful attention to the weather patterns and poring over the charts again… plotting various courses and doing numerous calculations. I have worked out about 10 different hypothetical routes back to Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. But it looks like we’ll have a good window to sail from Great Sale Cay to the Fort Pierce Inlet.  We plan to dock at Vero Beach and deal with the Customs and Border Patrol process of clearing back into the country.  There’s a new app called ROAM that allows private yachts to check in via a video interview with a CBP agent instead of having to clear in at a port of entry.  Hopefully it works without any issues.

Once tied up in Vero Beach, I’ll get my car from my sister and hit a REAL grocery store and pack the boat up with all the things we need for the long trip home.  Food, paper goods and other provisions are quite expensive out here in the islands and lots of things we take for granted at home we just can’t get.  But I’m glad we won’t be buying any more $7 cucumbers!  So after a run to a Walmart, a grocery store and West Marine, I’ll leave Mavis, Cindy and Willow behind while I drive our car home and then fly back to Palm Beach.  Once I’m back on board, Mavis will begin heading back up the coast.  We hope to be able to do much more offshore sailing on the return trip.  Due to lots of poor winter weather and the need for internet on weekdays, we found ourselves stuck inside the ICW the whole way down. This is tedious and requires us to run our engine and to hand steer the boat. We’re hoping to run offshore more on the trip home so we can use the auto-pilot and cover 120 to 170 miles per day.   This is a lot better than the 40 to 60 miles a day we average on the ICW and it also gives us time to relax in more ports of call.  Overall a much more relaxing way to travel if the seas aren’t hairy.

Last sunset on GTC

We went into town tonight and enjoyed one last dinner while watching the sunset on the Sea of Abaco.  Although we are looking forward to being home Cindy and I both feel pretty emotional about leaving this place.  It’s not like the feeling you get at the end of a great vacation in a resort…  It’s different.  In the month we’ve been here we’ve fallen in love with this charming little island and its people.  After dinner we stopped by our friend Kyle’s house to say goodbye.  A group of friends had gathered there and it was nice to get a chance to say farewell properly as our decision to leave was pretty abrupt.  Last night we were having a few drinks with Kyle at Pineapples and telling him that we would be around for weeks and this afternoon that all changed.  Kyle’s lovely wife Novi works at the Leeward Yacht Club where Mavis has been docked for the month.  We only learned that they were married a few weeks ago.  It seems everybody is related on Green Turtle.  

So a little side story…  Kyle and Novi have a son Kyle Jr. who everyone calls KJ.  KJ is 8 years old and he’s a real personality.  He’s also really afraid of Willow… And all dogs for that matter.  I remember the first time we saw him before I knew who his father was.  He was walking on the opposite side of the street and went waaaaay wide to put as much distance between himself and the dog as possible.  One night while talking to Kyle he told me his son is terribly afraid of dogs because he was chased by one years ago.  I was pretty sure I knew that the boy who avoided Willow was KJ.  A few days later I saw the boy again and left Willow with Cindy and went over to talk to him.  I confirmed that he was Kyle’s son and I told him that his father really wanted to get a dog but wouldn’t because he was afraid.   I told him that before I left the island, I’d like it if he would be able to pet Willow.  He said “No way!”…  I shouted “Ok.  But think about it!” as KJ ran back to his house.  The next day as Cindy, Willow and I walked past Kyle’s house on our way back from the market the door flew open and KJ appeared on the porch and yelled “Hey!  I’m thinking about it!”  We laughed and walked on.  I figured we had 3 weeks or so to get him warmed up to the idea.  That was about a week ago…  Tonight we tied Willow up on Kyle’s front porch and after chatting with Kyle and some of his friends and family who we had become friendly with,  I went over to chat with the young man and to say goodbye.  I told him that Willow was a good dog and that she would never bite him.  I explained that just like there are good and bad people there are good and bad dogs and it would be a shame if he remained afraid of dogs his whole life just because of a bad experience.  He didn’t seem convinced at all.  Then I told him we were leaving the island early in the morning so if he was ever going to pet Willow it had to be now.  He said “Ok!  Just cover her eyes so she doesn’t know it’s me.”  I was really happy to see him get a few quick pets in…  If we had more time they’d be buddies.

KJ finally pets Willow!

At Kyle’s, we also got to see Brendan and Pearl who are fellow cruisers aboard S/V Sendem.  They’ve been to Green Turtle before and we actually met them through PJ and Jim.  Those guys all met up in Deltaville and while out for a walk one day with PJ and Jim we ran into them.  They all looked so shocked to see each other.  Imagine running into somebody you met in Virginia on this tiny little island!  That’s kind of what happens in this crazy community of cruisers.  Brendan and Pearl are really cool people and I’m very glad we met them.  They introduced us to some great people and gave us some tips and pointers about the island.  I wish we could have spent some more time with them before taking off.

Speaking of PJ and Jim from Hail Mary.  We love these guys and feel terrible for leaving the Abacos without saying goodbye in person.  I’ll call them tomorrow and I know they’ll understand.  It’s hard to sail on a schedule but I know our paths will cross with them again…  Perhaps in Florida. 🙂

I think Betty and Bill from Sea Mist will be also heading north soon.  I really hope we get to see them again too.  So it’s bittersweet to be leaving this amazing place.  It sucks saying goodbye to new friends who we were just getting to know.  It stinks skipping out on PJ and Jim.  We’ll always remember this time we shared in the Abacos.

Goodbye Green Turtle Cay.  It’s been a blast!  

Capt Frank