...looking for some peace and quiet, maybe keep her dreams afloat." - Jimmy Buffett, Fins
WELL...in reality, we sailed back from Antigua, and it took us more than three days, as you know. But this very last passage, well, it was indeed three days! With another nice weather window beginning to open, we decided to keep moving. While it would have been nice to relax a little and enjoy revisiting old haunts here on Provo, when a weather opportunity beckons, you don't ignore it. The best cruising is when it's gorgeous out! After heartfelt goodbyes to all in South Side Marina, we cleared out and headed west from the Turks & Caicos. Starting out, we had the northeast winds pushing against our starboard quarter, with seas slightly abeam, so enjoyed rather nice conditions. With the winds forecast to clock around behind us, it promised to become even better, so we kept to the course as we plotted it and simply enjoyed being out there!
|Our chart plotter, showing our progress from the Turks and Caicos|
as we headed south below the Bahamas.
|Another gorgeous sunset at sea|
Our course was basically due west and then south through the Old Bahama Channel between Cuba and the Bahamas; we wanted to ride the weather window as far as we could without stopping. Equinox was in her stride as we ambled along, and after passing the elusive Hogsty Reef during a magnificent night watch, Wednesday morning arrived with gorgeous conditions as well. This IS what cruising is all about: blue skies, calm blue seas, aboard a well-found boat! Glorious!
|All shades of blue ahead!|
|Our course, as we made our way north in the Santaren Channel|
between Cuba and the Bahamas
We took turns at the helm as usual, trailed some fishing lines and feasted on the good weather. We were well settled in by then, familiar with the rhythms found during passage: the movement of the boat on the seas, the faint rumble of the engines moving you along, the turns at the helm on watch, the turns in the galley, the time spent enjoying the view and the seas. We did encounter some current against us as the tide moved off the Bahamas Bank, along with the resulting snappish waves that came from current opposing the wind, but seas were so quiet overall that it was merely an annoyance. It soon passed.
I find passages allow time for reflection, introspection, and time to simply be. I appreciate being in the now: the sheer joy of being there, in that sliver of space at that specific moment in time. A moment that will never come again, and yet one that seems to last as it is savored. There is no intrusion of the land-based life, there's just the sky and the sea, the vivid cobalt color of the water, the salty white foam against Equinox's hull as she surges forward through the seas. So I soak it in, a moment alone, or perhaps shared by a seagull or cormorant sailing the skies as we push through the water.
And so it continued, three days in a boat! Ron had a magical evening in the Gulf Stream during his night watch, when it was so preternaturally calm that the seas reflected the stars above, in water clear as a mirror. He very nearly woke me up to see it, it was just so spectacular....he'd never seen anything like it in the Gulf Stream before! (I admit, I probably wouldn't have appreciated being woken up either, but I'm sorry to have missed it nonetheless!)
My watch was a bit more exciting, as the wee hours brought us to passing Port Everglades and the many ships coming and going from that busy port. The AIS was lit up like a Christmas tree, with all the signatures from the shipping containers, tugs and ships moving about. Vigilance is key, and I sure was grateful to have both the AIS and the radars helping me ident the lights of different vessels outside!
|Grand Central Station at sea|
By mid-day on the third day, we were coming in through the St. Lucie Inlet and officially back in local waters. Landfall at Outrigger Harbour was shortly thereafter....and as always, a passage ended well is a cause for celebration! But this time, though.... our home-coming was a bittersweet moment. There was gratitude for the incredible journey, and sadness as well, knowing it was the end of our last passage aboard, and our last landfall. Our hearts are full.
|Ron at the helm station starboard, me at the stern rail|
ready with the lines as we backed into our slip.
Last landfall...there are no words.