Day 8. Thursday March 3rd.
The day started off on a positive note and stayed that way!
Walking Bella through the Nettles Island neighborhood someone told Sian that she could take Bella over to the beach and let her off the leash! So off she went and came back with Bella panting heavily and Sian (not panting heavily) with a big smile on her face. Bella had run in and out of the water, letting the waves chase her and played with a number of other dogs also running free on the beach. They had a great time. Sian only wished someone had told her that dogs could run freely on the beach as soon as we got there. We will be adding this information to the WaterWay Guide for other boaters.
We had a leisurely breakfast at the marina and then were off by 9:30a.m. We ran through the Crossroads (the intersection of the AICW, St Lucie River and the St Lucie Inlet), and down through the big mansions on Jupiter Island. We exited the AICW in North Palm Beach and tied up without issue at Old Port Cove Marina.
This evening we went for dinner at Belle’s, the marina restaurant and had a table right by the big window overlooking Privacy, Tiger Woods yacht, which he keeps at the marina.
Day 9. Friday March 4th.
Today is a down day for us, which means doing some chores on Sonas. Sian did some housekeeping, we started to store some “stuff” ready for the crossing whenever we have a weather window, and Paul took the hose to the decks.
And Bella got a soapy wash on the swim platform and her toe nails dremelled!
We also received the box of parts that our mechanic in Jacksonville had sent. We stored the spare first and secondary filters, impellers and belts. We also got the tensioner pulley that we wanted to replace.
Paul called three different diesel servicing companies who all told us that they did not work on our engines. He tried to explain the the one hour job was not engine manufacturer specific, but was having a hard time getting the concept across. Then he saw two mechanics getting off the boat next door, and called them over. He saw by the company name on their t-shirts that they worked for one of the companies he had called this morning. Paul explained the job and the mechanic said he would talk to the service manager about it on Monday morning. As they were leaving later in the day Paul reminded them to have that conversation!
However we have now decided that if we cannot get a mechanic Paul feels confident he can do the job himself on Tuesday before we cross.
Sian had retrieved some seafood out of the freezer for dinner as it was a Friday in Lent. But as dinner time approached we decided to go grab quick showers and go back up to Belle’s Restaurant for a seafood dinner! Our argument was that we would be without restaurants for the next three months, so better to get them in now while we can!
Day 10 and 11. Saturday and Sunday March 5th and 6th.
Today was the day we had been hoping to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. But the forecast was calling for 6-8 foot seas all the way across. We had known this for a few days so had booked into Riviera Beach Marina until Wednesday when it was forecast that we should have a weather window. As the morning progressed and the wind gusts began to reach gale levels we decided that there was no advantage to moving the boat just four miles down the AICW today or tomorrow in these winds. Paul walked up to the Old Port Cove marina office and confirmed that we could have our existing slip for another two days. Then he called Riviera Beach and changed our reservations to Monday through Wednesday. It did look like a window was opening up for a Wednesday crossing.
We also booked a rental car for Tuesday so that we could get fresh food and also buy some items that we were missing. The rest of the day was spent at rest!
On the second down day we started securing some of the looser items for the crossing, for example bungee cording the bags holding the paddle boards on the flybridge.
Before we depart for the Bahamas we top up the fuel tanks. Even though prices are climbing here in the States they are even higher in the Islands. We used our fuel transfer system to move fuel to totally fill two of the tanks, so that when we pull into the fuel dock at Riviera Beach Marina on Monday we would only have to top off the one tank.
So tomorrow we run the short 4 miles south the Lake Worth, and then watch the weather for a good crossing window.
And Paul’s cruise beard is coming in!
Day 12. Monday March 7th.
The day started as the previous few days had been, with vey strong winds. We asked the marina to send down a couple of guys to hold the lines as we left the slip successfully heading south to Riviera Beach.
We pulled into the fuel dock and filled up the port tank with 140 gallons of diesel. We then went to our slip in S12. Paul spoke to the company we hoped could help us with our engine issue, and they could not. He contacted a mechanic we were referred to who could potentially help us with the starboard engine pulley. He told us he would be over this evening to work on it.
The Bahamas require a negative antigen COVID test taken within 72 hours of our entry. We got an Uber to the testing site and did the nose swabs. Two hours later we got the negative results. We will enter those into the online health visa site tomorrow and receive our OK to enter. All we need now is for the winds to subside so we can actually cross the Gulf Stream on Wednesday or Thursday! Unfortunately the recent weather updates were still not looking good for a crossing this week.
Dennis the mechanic arrived shortly after 6pm. It wasn’t as easy a job as we were led to believe. Paul spent some time with him in the engine room and after a couple of hours everything was resolved, with an admonition from the mechanic of what to watch to watch for, plus a couple of projects to be worked on once we got back to home dock.
We went up to RafitiTiki restaurant by the marina for a very late dinner.
Day 13. Tuesday March 8th.
We had a car hired for today. After breakfast Paul took an Uber and picked it up. We used it to go to the hardware store and Publix and had lunch at Frigates.
Our biggest issue right now is the weather forecast for the crossing. After we couldn’t go last Saturday our hope was for tomorrow, Wednesday. But the latest forecast was not good. There was a possibility of a Friday crossing. But if that did not work out then the weather was closing in, meaning the whole of next week would not be possible. We already knew that the COVID test we had last Monday would be no good as they had to be within three days of entry.
When we had arrived at the current marina we had asked if it was possible to extend our stay if we had to and were told no. We decided to start looking for a marina to hole up in. The issue is that the Palm Beach Boat Show is coming up. The marinas that they are using are kicking out a lot of their contracted slip renters. The other marinas in the area have been booked up by these displaced boats. We finally called the marina office again to see if anything had changed and miraculously the slip we were in was available for another two nights – that would take us to Friday. If a weather window did not open up by then we would have to start scrambling for dockage again! We even identified a couple of nearby anchorages with places to get to shore in a dinghy for Bella if we had to, but given the wind levels we hoped Friday was going to give us an opportunity to cross.
Late today our Queens Harbor Neighbors John and Angela came in on Joie de Vie. The only spot they had for them was the fuel dock, and they have to be off early the next day. They too are trying to managing the weather as best they can. We used the rental car to get their fresh goods from Publix.
Day 14, Wednesday March 9th.
The forecasts are starting to firm up showing a possible Friday crossing! So first thing today we went on-line and booked two more COVID tests. We used the rental car to get to the test center soon after they opened and within the hour we had a pair of negative results again! After Paul took the rental car back we started to prepare the boat for a crossing, Paul did some tidying up in the engine room and Sian in the living quarters.
We again went up to RafitiTiki for dinner.
Day 15. Thursday March 10.
A Friday (tomorrow) crossing is now becoming more likely. Since Bella would be stuck on a boat for most of the day we took the little ferry across to Peanut island and let her run on the beach.
When we got back Paul started the rather tedious work of using the Bahamian systems to generate our Health Visa using the negative COVD tests and then the Click To Clear system to set us up for customs and immigration. After a couple of hours struggling with this he was finally able to pay our entry fee and print out our cruising permit. This would save us a ton of time once we got there.
We also called the Bahamian Yacht Club in Lucaya and booked a slip for three nights beginning Friday. We usually just stay one night to check in and then set off for the Berrys the next day. But the same weather system that was affecting Florida over the coming days was also hitting the Bahamas so we planned to sit still for a few days.
During the afternoon Craig from Lady C, the boat two slips down came by for a chat. We were both MTOA members and found lots to yarn about. Later in the evening both Craig and Cathy came by for a cocktail. They are on their way to the Keys in the new to them Tollycraft.
Sian also packed the Ditch Bag. This is a bag with items that we would require if we had to ditch – that is leave Sonas and go into the life raft. While the life raft does have many of the items, such as flares and water, we also like to have the ditch bag with flares, extra Type 1 PFDs, bottled water, handheld radio, etc. We each also have Personal Locater Beacons which we were wear when crossing. Sonas also has an automatic deploying EPIRB, which will grab if we have the time.
We were as ready as we could be if the weather holds for tomorrow!