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Crossing the Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is a warm ocean current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico through the Straits of Florida (and beyond).  It is necessary to cross its width, off the coast of Florida, to reach the Bahamas.

This crossing can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous in certain weather conditions. Because of shallow waters it is best to arrive in the Bahamas in daylight. That means the Gulf Stream crossing is best done at night.  Our first crossing in May of 2001 was very uncomfortable with lots of rolling and pitching. The crossing this time (January 22, 2002) was very smooth and quite pleasant.

Unfortunately, that was to be the last smooth water for quite some time. I can't think of a more miserable time than that we spent in the Bahamas (except for our nice time in Nassau) . The wind in the Bahamas never, ever comes from the south, so I'm told. Why we had to be the ones to experience history in the making is beyond me - one time we have record temperatures the next time record south winds, making anchorages unbearable. When we say that we don't like the Bahamas, please bear in mind that we are not crazy; we just have tainted views.

The water in the Bahamas is without a doubt the clearest, cleanest water we've ever seen. We've easily spotted star fish on the bottom in depths of more than 20 feet. It doesn't have the deep Caribbean blue that you see farther down the chain, but it is still beautiful and so inviting -  EXCEPT when it is being churned by south winds; then it is the most miserable body of water I've ever seen.  For three nights the pounding from the ocean was so strong, we were able to sleep in short stretches only,  even at anchorage. On the fourth night we arrived in Nassau, Bahamas for our first full night's sleep since leaving Miami.

 

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Nassau, Bahamas

Some twenty odd years ago, Nassau was one of our stops on a Caribbean cruise. It was a dirty, run-down town at that time. We were not looking forward to stopping there on our trip south, but it was on the way. What a delightful surprise! The area around the waterfront has been updated and looks quite nice. We had a great view from our boat of the cruise ships coming in and out. 

Cruise ships entering Nassau Harbor with Escapades in the foreground.

We've heard many reports about the crime rate and having to tie everything down to keep it from being stolen in Nassau. We've heard those same reports about St. Thomas and St. Croix but have personally never had a problem in either place. The only problem we had in Nassau was that when we took the dinghy to the beach, we were approached by locals offering to watch it for us and then expecting pay ($5.00) when we returned. One couple we met there declined the offer and came back to find someone "joy riding" in their dinghy. After that, we took a good chain and lock with us each time ashore and secured the dinghy to a fence. That solved the problem for us.
 
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