Position: N 28 21.108 W 080 43.119
After dawdling our way up the Exumas we were faced with a weather 'situation'. A couple of nice days followed by several days of thunderstorms followed by high winds. We decided that while we had a couple of good days we'd travel from the Exumas to the Abacos in northern part of the Bahamas, both to make some progress back to the US and because the weather wasn't supposed to be as bad up there. We ended up having a lovely overnight sail.
As we approached the Abacos just as the sun was rising we needed to get through a cut we hadn't been through before. Julie called a big tanker (named “Ocean Energy”), and asked if the cut was straightforward. Capt. Richie responded, said he was going through the same cut, and told her he'd slow down so we could follow him in...how nice was that!!
We dropped the anchor in Marsh Harbour, checked the weather – of course the forecast had changed for the worse and our bit of nicer weather in the Abacos went away. So with a great forecast for sailing North and West, we decided to just continue on straight back to the US rather than hide from weather in the Abacos for the next week. So up came the anchor around 11am and we were on our way again for another 2 days and nights.
We poled out both head sails and had a great “wing on wing” trip back. We sailed the whole way and caught our second mahi-mahi of the season - a big 38” bull good for lots of meals.
We arrived at Cape Canaveral just as light was dawning. Wow - all those lights from the port after 4 months in the Bahamas were slightly overwhelming! Normally, we would have waited for the sun to come up but we had to get through an opening bridge and into a barge lock before 6:30 or sit and wait until after 9:00. The bridge and lock do not open during rush hour traffic. So we increased our speed and entered the port just as it was starting to get light. We had never been in here before and there was a cruise ship following behind us and a dredging operation taking up half of the entrance channel. Yikes! And we were pretty tired, having just been at sea for 3 days and 3 nights.
Everything went well, however, and we made the bridge and the lock with 5 minutes to spare. As the lock was closing behind us we heard another boat calling them on the VHF. It turned out that the lock was going to be closed for construction for the rest of the day. If we had not made it through when we did we'd have been stuck waiting in Port Canaveral with no place to anchor until 5pm when the lock reopened. Must have been our lucky day!
After emerging from the lock it was like we were in another world. We entered the 'Barge Canal' which meanders through several miles of marshland crammed full of wildlife. It was hard to believe that just minutes earlier we'd been in the middle of a bustling major port. Now we were seeing cranes swooping, herons dipping into the water and scooping up mouthfuls of fish, meandering dolphins, and wallowing (as they tend to do) manatees. Plus families of buzzards, ospreys, and many other birds, and jumping fish. It is a vibrant ecosystem. Because there was another bridge that was on restriction until 9:30am and there were no other boats behind or in front of us, we were able to just noodle along slowly, enjoying all the wildlife.
Then we were through the last opening bridge and out into the Intracoastal Waterway, the inshore passage up the east coast of the US where boats can travel in relative safety away from the vagaries of the Atlantic ocean. We went a short way South and anchored at Cocoa Beach next to a high rise bridge We had been transported back into 'The Land of Stuff'. Cars and trucks zooming across the bridge, the sound of jackhammers making repairs to the bridge and lots of chatter on the VHF, what a difference from the peaceful Bahamas!!
And this wasn't all of it. We enjoyed a quiet relaxing remainder of the day aboard Rachel and made an early night of it. The next morning we headed in to shore to find the grocery store and some fresh vegetables. We had to walk about a mile up the busy 6 lane highway, passing fast food restaurants, gas stations, shops, shops, shops.
Upon entering the grocery we were on overload. So much stuff, so many choices, not just cabbage or carrots, which were often our only choices for the last 4 months. Mmmmm, what to buy? We stacked the cart with yummy vegetables and fruit we had not seen for ages and were salivating and trying to decide which of these delicious choices we'd eat for dinner along with a big grilled slab of our freshly caught mahi. We're back to the land of stuff where, as long as you have the money....you can buy anything you want. What luxury!
We've decided to spend hurricane season traveling around the US and Canada a bit. This Wednesday Rachel will be hauled out of the water and will spend 4 months on land. We're going to fly to California, buy a truck or a van, and visit family and friends on our way back to the East coast. It will be strange after 6 years on the boat but we're looking forward to this, our newest adventure.
Missing that clear azure water already,