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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Day 15: Escape to the Bahamas—Inside or Outside?

7-second video sailing clip: what it sounds like,
motor off, to sail down the ICW at 7 knots.

 Did it make more sense to blitz from Vero to Miami? or head outside?

Outside—Along the Atlantic Coast

Outside was efficient. There were at least a few places we could tuck back, and take an inlet back to the protection of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). At 150-160 nautical miles, Miami was within a day to two days of 24/7 sailing.

But . . . 

The waves were 5-8' at 5-second intervals, with winds 15-20 knots, with gusts to 25, then to 30 overnight. 

So far, we've only sailed s/v Gallivant for a little over two hours on the outside, in good winds and relatively flat seas. She was f*cking awesome! You could hardly wipe the sh*t-eating grin off Wayne's face.

The ICW

Slow and dull.  LOTS of bridges—over 20 that required an opening between Vero and Miami. Some might open only once an hour. Our Skipper Bob ICW guidebook was outdated so we weren't sure what in it was still current on which bridges required opening, and if so how often and when they opened, or if they opened "upon request" (which still didn't mean "immediately").

Yet another bridge this in the Jupiter area.
Our sailboat mast goes up a lot higher than the boat in from of us.

We hadn't bothered to check the tides ahead of time to see if they'd drag us down. From Daytona to Titusville, the current often knocked us back from 6 to 4 knots. 

ICW day route: over 60 miles from Vero to Lake Worth with 10 bridges in between.

If we took the ICW, we'd be traveling over 60 nautical miles today, and we needed to do it all in winter daylight hours.

But . . . 

The ICW is a relatively protected waterway. The chop rarely gets very big. We didn't know how Gallivant would behave in gusty winds, getting slapped around by close sets of waves.

Decisions, Decisions

Like Who Wants to a Millionaire? Wayne called our lifeline,  C2 (c-squared) Chris(topher), and Chris(tina) of s/v Scintilla. We met cruising in Vanuatu in 2016, but they hail from Seattle and we've seen them more than any of our other cruising friends since we returned Stateside in 2017. Chris(topher) likes to remind us he has 50 years of boating experience—though he's not much older than we are. Chris(tina) as she's traveled with him for quite a few of those years is the quieter of the two, but no slouch, either.

Chris(topher) said, "Go for it!" Chris(tina) said, "I'd take the ICW."

Today is Saturday. Current forecasts point to Wednesday as the best day to cross the Gulf Stream to Miami. Even with a slow-go, we had plenty of time.

We took the ICW. 

"Godspeed and enjoy the boredom," Chris(topher)wittily texted back. He also complained that at his anchorage at Miami's Marine Stadium, the music didn't pipe down until 4 am.

By adding the wind speed to our boat speed, the wind was likely 25 knots, but on the ICW
the chop was minimal. We considered 7 knots zipping.

We got lucky on the current—we couldn't have timed it better if we planned it. The current gave us a gentle boost along with a steady tailwind. We glided along at about 6 knots on the jib sheet alone for a good portion of our trip.

We love sailing with just a jib sheet out.

What made this warm, sunny Saturday more interesting: it appeared we were not alone in deciding to stick to the ICW—there was a LOT of boat traffic. It kinda reminded me of the Panama canal area, except the boats here were a lot faster and likely with captains fueled more by alcohol than their boats were fueled by diesel and gasoline. It felt like a blend between a fisherman's frenzy and Spring Break on the water.

How the top 10% live: Jupiter, Florida area on the ICW.

We got also lucky with a minimal delay on the bridges. There were 10; two 65-footers, tall enough for us to pass under. Of the remaining 8, half of them opened "on request" and the remainder not more than twice an hour. We never waited longer than 10 minutes.

Parker, our last lift bridge of the day. West Palm Beach/Lake Worth area, Florida.

Once again, Wayne made a brilliant choice. 

"You know, we'd probably be fine if we'd gone outside. Maybe I'm just chicken," Wayne said midway through the day, with a self-deprecating shrug.

I told him when it came to taking the more conservative versus the risky route, my brother said "Chickens live longer." That philosophy may make for less impressive stories, but it's served us well.

Tomorrow, thus far it looks like a similar set of circumstances to choose from, but a lot more bridges on the ICW.

What would you choose?

Location Location

A tour boat cruised past us in Lake Fort Worth this eve. At least one guest was wearing a suit.

We're anchored in the West Palm Beach area of Lake Worth, 26 45.587N 88 02.587W.

We watched the sun drop between two ugly skyscraper buildings amidst a nondescript treeline. No sunset photos worth taking tonight. However, thanks to our sleep-well-at-night large Rocna anchor, we're secure, despite the gusty winds—I'll take that.


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