Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recapping with words this time... Keys and Gulfstream Crossing

Now I have finally found time (and internet) to write a little for our thirsty followers! We had a great time in the Keys. After Key West, Andy’s Girlfriend, Titli and her mother Deeksha (or “Dee”) joined us for a part of the adventure between Key West and Marathon (Vaca Key). The plan was to sail them all the way up to Miami, delivering them to Dee’s brother’s family in time for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately the winds did not cooperate at all. Our headway was cut drastically by 20 knots of wind on the nose with seas to accompany such a blow. Not all was lost though. We were able to make an afternoon stop at Bahia Honda key which had a really nice beach. When we made it to Marathon we spent some good time in a marina. We talked the manager into a 50% discount on transient docking and free water/electricity! We’re awesome. Dee made us a GREAT multi course meal one night with lots of foreign influence. We enjoyed it on the beach and had a great time. Andy rented a car (again with the sweet hook ups from his sister, Emily, and drove up to Miami with Dee and Titli. I stayed behind with YOLO as she required (and deserved) some much needed attention. With all guests gone I had plenty of room to tear things apart and put things back together again. I was a busy electrician and plumber.
Lance and I relaxed one day and let Titli and her mom captain the vessel
Bahia Honda beach

Andy made it back to YOLO Friday evening with a rental car FULL of provisions and supplies to ready YOLO and crew for the 1st international passage. Extra food stores, maps and charts, guidebooks, spare parts and even a beautiful painting from Dee to add to the ships d├ęcor (Thanks Dee!). As soon as we had all things stowed properly we casted our lines and set off to the east.
Titli's mom entitled her painting "Gift to Poseidon" and gave it as a gist to YOLO!
The passage was only about 90 miles total and we wanted to assure a daytime arrival into port. So we left the Blackfin Resort & Marina at approximately midnight with our sights set on Bimini! This gave us the option to slow down, if need be, to make it by sunrise on Sunday. We also planned a strategic snorkeling stop at the famed John Pennecamp State Park off the southeast shore of Key Largo. It’s a protected reef with lots to offer curious snorkelers and SCUBA divers. Also it’s the only state park in the country that’s entirely underwater. We stopped there around 3pm Saturday and tied up to a mooring buoy and set out for some really cool snorkeling. It’s always fun to go to places like these with your own vessel and share the area with gaggles of tourboats full of tourists paying big bucks to do what you’re doing on your own for free!
Holding hands with "Christ of the Deep" at 20 foot depth

As soon as the sun set we swam back to YOLO, climbed aboard and set out to cross the infamous “Gulfstream” between Florida and the Bahamas. For those not familiar, the gulfstream is the steady (and strong) northbound current between Florida and the Bahama banks. It usually flows at around 2-3 knots. It doesn’t sound like much, but, it’s actually the largest ocean current in the world by volume of water moved. So vessels crossing west or east get broadsided, especially in boats as slow as ours. We needed about a 35 degree correction to our course just to maintain our track. This crossing, as long as you know what you’re doing can be very easy. But crossing when the winds oppose the current can be deadly. We had a calm window on Saturday night to make the crossing and the seas were dead calm. There were thousands of feet of water beneath us and not as much as a ripple on the water all night for our crossing. It was actually kind of eerie.
Taking advantage of the smooth crossing, we motored at a good clip across and made it way too early. We had to stop for a few hours just short of Bimini to wait for sunrise as we were obviously unfamiliar with the arrival into that port. Not a particularly easy task to stay put in a thousand feet of water that’s pushing you at 2.5 knots northbound. After a while I got the autopilot working perfectly maintaining a heading directly into the current at near idle speed on the throttle and we were staying pretty well put.
As the sun rose, I raised the Quarantine flag, or “Q flag”. (It’s a yellow flag that is raised upon 1st port of entry into a foreign country signifying the need to clear customs. After customs and immigration has been taken care of, the country’s flag in which you are visiting, called a courtesy flag, replaces the Q flag and remains up throughout your stay.) We expertly piloted into the port through some pretty shallow, albeit clear, water (Glad we waited for the sun!) We found a slip at a marina and went to clear customs. All was smooth and we returned to raise the courtesy flag and start our Bahamas adventure!
Hoisting the Quarantine flag to alert customs of our arrival at Bimini 

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