We met Jeff and Karen of Airbender while we were in Vero Beach and after some conversation we agreed that we would cross the Gulf Stream together on our way to the Bahamas. We had a few days before there would be appropriate weather for crossing the Gulf Stream so we laid over at Peck Lake for a couple of days before heading for Lake Worth which would be our final stop before leaving the country. Peck Lake was an awesome stop right on the ICW and a very protected anchorage. A short dinghy ride and a shorter walk got us to the Atlantic Ocean and miles of lonely beach. There was a lot of debris washed up on the beach from the hurricanes as well as 100’s of Portuguese Man of War jelly fish. You definitely had to pay attention so you didn’t step on them.
From Peck Lake it was about a six hour trip down the ICW to Lake Worth. This is a stretch of the ICW with many bridges and fancy homes. There were 6 bridges with 5 of them opening only on the hour and half hour. We tried to time our arrival to be there for the opening but no so early that we had to hold station and wait. Waiting in a sailboat when there is wind and current is not always easy. We missed one opening because the bridge operator decided to open early for some reason but other than that it was a smooth trip.
The weather had been sketchy for crossing the Gulf Stream but we had a weather window to make the crossing a couple of days after arriving in Lake Worth. The crews of Noodin and Airbender made last runs to the grocery and liquor stores. Plans were made to raise anchor the next morning and proceed out the Lake Worth inlet and head for the Little Bahama Bank. We’ve now learned that a cruisers “plans” are really nothing more than ideas as things often change rapidly. This was one of those times. As we were putting things away for our crossing we noticed excess water in the bilge. The bilge pump float switch wasn’t working so we manually operated the pump. It moved water but it smelled hot. We made the decision to stay in the states and make repairs rather than cross the Gulf Stream with a marginal bilge pump. We reluctantly called Jeff and Karen and let them know that we weren’t leaving in the morning but encouraged them to go. There wasn’t supposed to be good crossing weather for another week or more so it was important to go now if possible. They were able to hook up with other friends to leave in the morning and we were happy for them. The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we diagnosed and repaired the float switch problem and determined that all was good with the pump. It was about noon by this time but we decided to haul anchor and head for The Bahamas anyway. We had basically calm weather and motor sailed for about 24 hours to arrive at Powell Cay in the Abacos. We had saved a couple of special passage beers for the occasion.
The next day we arrived at Green Turtle Cay just ahead of Airbender and cleared customs. We were officially in the Bahamas again!