We spent a few more days in the Palm Beach area, moving to a different marina on the 5th. Riviera Beach City Marina was closer to the Lake Worth inlet that we would use to access the ocean (to cross the Florida Gap and head to the Bahamas!). We were only at Riviera Beach for a night, but the people were amazing and friendly and helpful. Facilities weren't great, though, as they were the ones for the whole public beach and waterfront area.
A decent weather window opened up on the 6th, and we decided to take it. After lots of crazy actions to make sure we had the right covid tests (RT-PCR) within the right timeframe that we could apply for and get our health visas and clear immigration into the Bahamas (less than 72 hours from test to clearing customs in the Bahamas), we were ready to go.
We left Riviera Beach pre-dawn, in new moon darkness. It was our second un-assisted dock leave and our first ever nighttime undocking. It was helpful that the marina was well-lit, and I was also super thankful for our underwater lights (as well as the underwater lights from the boat next to us, left on from the night before). Had never thought of that use for them before! While we were doubling back the lines to the cleats on the dock, one of the lines unhitched from the dock, and left us with just two lines holding our big boat to the dock. This was not (yet) what we intended and it freaked me out because it sent us farther away from the dock and swinging closer to the boat behind us. Fortunately, we were never close to leaving the dock or hitting any other boats, but I was definitely anticipating those possibilities and trying to figure out ways to keep those from happening (engines were about to be turned on). In the end we got off the dock with no problem at all, but I had lots of adrenaline coursing through my veins! Driving a house around is weird. :)
Leaving the harbor and exiting the channel in the pre-dawn darkness kept us on our toes. We had our own track to follow (from when we entered) to aid us in leaving the harbor and exiting the channel, otherwise I would have been a bit hesitant to leave at night. Though the channel is well-marked for daylight travel, at night the un-lit buoys can be hard to see. To top it off, some sailboats that were on the move did not have their lights on and one was nearly invisible! When you are traveling at night and you’re at sailboat using your motor, you are supposed to have a “steaming” light as well as your port (red) and starboard (green) navigation lights on. Sheesh. I hopped on the VHF radio to let that boat know that that they were very hard to see. (They acknowledged and said “working on it”!)
After we navigated the harbor and channel out to the ocean, we raised our main and unfurled the jib. We got to sail only a little bit before the sun came up–the wind died shortly thereafter. So we drove/motored sailed (with the sails up for a bit of help) to the Old Bahama Bay resort at West End, Grand Bahama, arriving that same day. There were lots of boats taking advantage of the same weather window, on the same course as us, who arrived to the same place shortly before or after us.
When I say we, I should really say Ryan because I was down for the count on this little crossing. I did not feel good at all. I took some Bonine and put myself to sleep most of the time. Ah, well. Hopefully there are more crossings like the last few, soon, with no need for Bonine...
Arrival (and customs clearance) at The Old Bahama Bay Marina was friendly and uneventful. Ryan did a perfect job backing us into a slip. We have amazing company here even though the resort is pretty quiet.
There’s a nice beach to walk on nearby and the restaurant and Tiki bar here have unassuming, delicious food. Lovely service. The marina and resort are super clean. We are waiting here for a weather window that will give us time to get to some smaller islands in the Abacos–looks like that might even be tomorrow. Hoping so!