Since we left off, we were still in the Bahamas, and heading back to the US. A front had stalled over the Carolinas, leaving us with a light and favorable SE breeze to carry us back to the US. Our planned route was to leave the Little Bahama Bank late in the afternoon for an overnight to trip to Port Canaveral, FL. The gulfstream would give us a nice push north, and make this the longest overnight passage thus far of 160 nm in about 28 hours.
As we were crossing the bank for departure, we had some extremely flat seas, and therefore, good motor sailing conditions. It gave us a great opportunity to study the bottom beneath us in crystal clear water. We had a pair of dolphins stop by to wish us well on our journey, here is one showing off for us.
Our trip across the gulfstream was nicely uneventful. The biggest problem was the gulfstream was a bit narrower and faster than planned. The result was that we weren't getting an even steady push north toward our destination. So, in the middle of the night, and the middle of the gulfstream, I jibed to head north and got to experience 10 knots over ground for a short while until we returned to our intended course toward Port Canaveral. Just so you know, it feels exactly the same going 10 knots with 3 knots of current as is does going 7 knots with no current (as I know it should). At 2 am, however, it can cause wild ideas to start popping into your head....things like "at this rate we could be in Charleston, SC by afternoon!" We thankfully diverted back to our original destination and found Port Canaveral to be a great inlet (no tidal current here, because they put in a lock between the ocean and ICW).
We safely made it back to US soil, and the most immediate and obvious change was the water color. The ICW along the east coast is full of mud and stuff, and visibility is about 1 foot on a clear day. The only times we would see nice clear water would be on our two short jumps "outside" where we returned to the ocean and the deep, clear water there.
The second obvious change was that we had returned to cheesy Florida and the only place in the world to find a space shuttle shaped hovercraft. Not sure why, but this guy buzzed around us three times, and I was not even making any lunar gestures in their direction...honest!
The trip up Florida's coast was a good introduction to the East Coast ICW, where tides and timing bridge openings become a major component of your daily planning. As would become a theme for our "delivery" trip to NC, we passed up many fun exploring opportunities in an effort to move the boat as quickly as possible along the coast. Our goal was to find a safe place in NC, or further north, to spend summer storm season, and to be there by June 1.
As we left Florida, and were looking forward to a two night stay at Cumberland Island, GA. We had backpacked on this island a few years ago, and were looking forward to exploring it again. It delivered as we remembered, with towering oaks full of Spanish moss and palmettos. It almost feels surreal walking these trails and exploring the island.
Thus concludes our first season of cruising. While we have not yet been living aboard full time for a year, it seems appropriate to end this season before we begin our second migration south for the winter. Some fun facts: since leaving Sale Creek Marina on November 10, 2015 we have been underway 75 days for a total of 2640 nm miles. Not too shabby for a couple of professional slackers.