...which is bittersweet, at best, after the great time we've had during the past 6 months cruising the Bahamas. While we've totally enjoyed our time in the Bahamas, and were reluctant to leave...it was time to head back to the States. We were up at 3:30 am, in order to ride the high tide out of the Sands Marina. Ron left first, heading out in Equinox, while I followed in the tender. I have to say that it was a very different experience piloting Tingum in the dark, making my way out the cut and pulling up to Equinox's stern without much more than a quarter moon for natural light. Ron had the aft cockpit lights on, so while it enabled me to see where the boat was, it wasn't exactly easy since the lights were also blinding me a bit. Of course, adding to the excitement (um, fear factor) on my part was that the winds were higher than anticipated too -- so much for the "light and variable winds" that were in the forecast! (Definitely shades of the mild forecast but no-fun rough weather on our return from Bermuda!)
I made my approach as gently as I could, but I needed to use some power in the current and wind so that the boat would make headway and wouldn't swing back in the current and hit Equinox after I shut down the engines to ready the boat for towing. After I pulled up, Ron caught the prow of the tender and attached the tow line while I went about shutting down the electronics, switching to one battery, adjusting engine trim and making the boat ready, before scrambling forward to scoot over the bow onto Equinox's transom. I fended off the tender from Equinox as Ron went back to the helm , then I paid out the towline and ... we were underway!
We took turns at the helm in the morning hours, each napping a bit in turn to catch up on sleep. Unfortunately, it wasn't a smooth cruise; just after dawn we hit a squally area with clouds, high winds and waves, which was a bit stressful for me, watching the tender tow line pull and jerk as Tingum followed us wave to wave. I was definitely thankful for the high-tech tow line from Rope, Inc!! They make the tow lines for the large megayachts that go at much faster speeds, so the technology is sound for us to tow at our low speeds and smaller weight. Nevertheless, I hate towing in anything but perfect seas! Since it was hard enough to be heading home, I guess I just had to fret about something!
About 3:00 p.m., just prior to our arrival at the St. Lucie Inlet, we were contacted by a sailboat that wanted local knowledge of the cut. We'd been watching the boat meander all over the place -- apparently his dog was freaking out in the rough weather, and he was wanting to come in to the ICW to get out of the waves. We slowed down to let him follow us in, which was fine, since the St. Lucie Inlet is not one to taken lightly with its constantly shoaling waters. Plus, it was Grand Central Station inside the cut: not only was it Sunday, but Mother's Day, and everyone and his brother -- er, mother -- was out on the water!! We pulled Tingum in through the inlet jetties, and headed north on the ICW towards Outrigger Harbour. Once we were clear of the heaviest traffic, Ron slowed Equinox down so that I could pull in the tow line, release the tow line, hop aboard Tingum, and go. I then ran ahead, pulled in and tied off the tender so that I could help Ron when he came in with the big boat. Always exciting, making landfall!!
So, we're now in Florida, which is kind of exciting at it's our new home port! We have a bit of land-based business ahead of us between getting the boat registered in Florida (now that it's actually here), doctors appointments, preparations for Ally's graduation back in Maryland and tweaking out the boat systems for care and maintenance. We timed our return well, rather serendipitously, since we arrived just as the main engines are due for their routine scheduled oil and filter changes, with both gensets in need of care and petting as well. We have a list of little things on various systems we want looked at, inspected and adjusted, just for our own peace of mind after our time in the islands. You really feel far from servicing and amenities! From repairing gel coat scratches to a good cleaning, detailing and waxing, we're going to pamper the girl!