Saturday, July 2, 2011

Navigational Items of Interest

Now that we have returned to home port the Captain has had time to review the ship's log for information worth publishing.  The trip was a total of 1398 miles, from Longboat Key near Sarasota to Marsh Harbour, Abaco and return with island hopping in between. Normally the shortest route to the east coast of FL is to cross Lake Okeechobee.  This route shortens the trip by several hundred miles.  East Coast port of entry is Stuart or Palm Beach.  Since this wasn't possible due to low water in the lake because  of  the continuing drought in FL the route took Island Hopper from Sarasota to Fort Lauderdale via Captiva Island, Naples, Marathon, Key Biscayne and then to Fort Lauderdale where the crew waited for a weather window to cross the infamous gulf stream to West End, Grand Bahama about 85 miles.

Due to the gulfstream moving north at about 3 knots (like a river about 35 miles wide) any wind against this current blows up steep seas with waves that are very close together.  Having done this once before in a sailboat many years ago I knew it can be very unpleasant.  We waited only one extra day for  tame sea conditions and it was worth the wait.  The gulfstream was like a mill pond.  After all it is called "pleasure boating" !

From Sarasota to the port of entry in the Bahamas, West End it was 465 miles.  Total engine hours 32.6 for an average of 14.3 MPH.  This leg the crew guests were Ian and Joan from Scotland.  With them Island Hopper toured another 182 miles in the Abacos in 17.2 engine hours or an avg of 10.6 MPH.  Once in the Bahamas the daily runs are short so the cruising speed was about 10 MPH. 

Joan and Ian departed from Marsh Harbour to return via Miami to the UK.  We will be their guests in Sept on their vessel on the French Canals in the Burgundy region. 

The next crew from Cincinnati, Ed and Barb, reported several days later in Marsh Harbour. You will see on the blog the islands visited.  Total miles 87 in 10.9 engine hours for an avg speed of 8 MPH.  Laid back cruising and anchoring.

Again after a few days for maintenance, Aynsley's family arrived, Husband Tom and Granddaughter ELLA who was 27 months old.  Island Hopper stayed in several marinas more than one night so they could scuba dive, swim and tour landside.  Total Miles 57 in 6.7 engine hours for an avg. speed of 8.5 MPH.

They departed Island Hopper from Marsh Harbour for their flight to West Palm Beach after which the crew fueled Island Hopper with only  enough fuel to reach the US at $6.15 per gallon for diesel, ouch, and headed towards West End.

The return trip stops were the same though we elected to stay an additional day at Key Biscayne to enjoy the beach and the parks and also two nights at Naples to visit relatives.  In boating one must enjoy the journey as well as the destination!

Total miles from Marsh Harbour, Abaco to Longboat Key 607 miles.  Total miles 1398. the amazing thing is that we never experienced one mechanical problem or grounding.  Everything worked which is rare for a vessel that is 5 years old with 1400 hours on her engines.  I dreaded the thought of locating a mechanic or other service person in the Bahamas. All of the preparation work paid off with some good luck thrown in.

This trip was a dream of many years, it lived up to its billing.  The company of good friends and relatives made this trip very special with memories for a life time.