Monday, 9 January 2012
Kings of the cruising world
Yes, yes, yes! It has positively and absolutely been worth it. We finally arrived in the Bahamas on January 8, after two and a half months of plodding along the east coast through hell and high water. We've encountered so many challenges and technical boat issues that had to be dealt with along the way, at times it felt like we would never get here. Each time we handled a problem another arouse. It took a month long maintenance stop-over in Florida, and a lot of hard work, to get the boat to the point where we felt she was ready for worry-free cruising. But more about that in another blog. I really just want to share the excitement of getting into the Caribbean. It marks the beginning of another journey altogether. A journey that will, without a doubt, present its own challenges, but it's the promise land we've been waiting to explore and we're intoxicated with the very idea of being here.
West Palm Beach, FL is where we spent the last 3 weeks getting work done on our boat, and helping our friends John and Kathryn with theirs. It was where we staged our crossing over the gulf stream and into Lucaya on the Grand Bahama Island. We made the passage overnight, timing ourselves so as to make it into Port Lucaya first thing in the morning. On that very still night, under the watchful eye of a nearly full moon, we thrust Rodeo into the tide of the Gulf Stream. With no wind to fill the sails we motored to the rhythmic mutter of the engine and the sputter of water expelled at the stern. It was blissful. Long and tiring, as the Gulf Stream made our progress sluggish, but we arrived on the other side exhilarated and grateful for the uneventful passage.
First order of affairs was checking in with customs to obtain a cruising permit for the Bahamas. The customs office was conveniently located at the Port Lucaya Marina, where we pulled up to the fueling dock and got busy, me filling out the paper work, Gabe fiddling around with the anchor windlass. The mechanism started acting up just as we pulled up the anchor to leave West Palm Beach. There is no end to the repairs required aboard a boat. No end. So much for worry-free cruising. But let's not dwell on that. We had immigration to contend with, and to be honest I was a bit worried that upon inspection, Bahamian immigration might demand more paper work for Pickle than what we had come with. Some cruising posts advised about an immigration permit for any pet brought into the country, which we should have acquired a month ago, as the process takes that long. This we didn't do and I was concerned that it might become an issue. After some research Gabe was fairly certain that the permit is required only if a pet is brought into the country to stay, but I was apprehensive about it nonetheless. Though after handing in the paperwork required and forking our $300 for the pleasure, we got what we came for without so much as a second glance from the immigration officer. Pickle enjoyed a very brief encounter with dry land, rubbing herself on the marina dock, and then we were off again. Having spent the day on anchor outside of Lucaya, we set sail for our next destination, Berry Islands, just before dusk.