Crossing the Gulf is a big milestone and right of passage for any sailor heading south. With a swift northern current churning up extra chop it can make for a bumpy ride. We’ve heard plenty of horror stories, but know to take all that dock talk with a grain of salt. Firsthand experience wins out every time, and we were anxious to be making our biggest, longest crossing yet.
We thought we picked a perfect weather window; either way it was our only option as we were on a tight timeline. Making plans with a sailboat is a dangerous game… It turns out we’ve still got a lot to learn about passage planning.
This overnight sail gave us plenty of time to ponder life’s biggest mysteries; whether the ocean makes a sound if no one is around on a boat to hear it, whether our boat will hold together long enough to get us safely to shore, and geometric algebra for off-shore navigation.
Upon arrival in the Bahamas, we contemplate our sanity for deciding to set off in the face of a cold front which had spawned deadly tornadoes the night prior, and face our fear of our first major squall on the water.
5:06 – Chapter 1: The Sounds of Sailing
8:30 – Chapter 2: The Boat is Falling Apart
10:50 – Chapter 3: Steer in The Wrong Direction to Get to the Right Destination
13:48 – Chapter 4: Reasonable Risk or Foolish Mistake?
Hope you enjoy!
Lauren & Kirk
FILMED: April 2019
NOTE: This was filmed well before COVID-19 was an issue. We’ll discuss the timing of our videos soon in a future episode.
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Thinking About Buying a Boat?
– Need more? Last time after finishing up some provisioning we said goodbye to Boot Key harbor and pointed our bow towards the Bahamas. We had five days to get from Marathon to the Abacos to meet up with my sister and her boyfriend who is planning to propose. We had hoped to be there already. But alas, our Bimini project had taken much longer than we thought. It’s a dangerous game to play, making plans traveling by sailboat. Fingers crossed we can make it. After a day of bashing into the wind and me fighting seasickness, we decided to drop the hook for the night at Long Key and take on the gulf crossing the next day. ♪ Your past let it all go ♪ ♪ Your pain let it all go ♪ ♪ Close your tired eyes ♪ ♪ Sleep for a little while ♪ ♪ Just put your liter down ♪
– Those are some big waves
– [Lauren] Yeah
– [RADIO] A few thunderstorms are possible on Sunday afternoon into Monday.
– [Lauren] You look like a professor At your podium
– [Radio Presenter] Chance of showers. The marine forecast for the following morning location Florida bay.
– [Kirk] Tell me about the trip so far.
– We’re just about ready to forget what we’re gonna say. We’re getting ready to cross the Gulf Stream, like in the next hour, so we’ve been hugging the reef, just off the coast of Florida the last whole day, pretty much beating into it. I think the worst was this morning. And now that we’re out more in deeper water, we’re in like 100 feet, probably 100 200 feet. The waves would become more rolly and less steep and a little softer. And now the boats more doing this instead of like smashing. So we if we can–
– [Kirk] Still moving around all over the place.
– Yeah, If we can hold that across the Gulf Stream it will be okay. I think we’ll make it. We both been a little bit nerve wrecked about this. Because this is the biggest, longest, deepest crossing we’ve ever done so and there’s horror stories about crossing the Gulf Stream and…
– [Kirk] They both actually been a little sea sick.
– Yeah. Oh, I forgot about these yesterday. I put them on this morning along with taking some Bonine I feel pretty good today I actually offered to go downstairs for Kirk a few times when usually I’m always the one saying, “hey, can you go upstairs “and get this or do this or whatever.” So, today’s been pretty decent
– [Kirk] I know
– Yeah, I felt a little woozy here and there. its always moving here and there. It’s always the worst in the sun. It’s always worse when the sun is like hot.
– [Kirk] The sun is what gets me the most
– yeah Captain’s log, 0800 4/16/19
– [Lauren] Ohhh nice so after 20 hours of beating into the winds across the gulf into like, four to seven foot waves,
– [Lauren] Beating like scrambled eggs, and a small craft advisory no less. And dodging multiple cruise ships and just all together, wasted blown out tired. I think we were the only dumb asses that made this journey last night in a sailboat. What do you think?
– Yeah. So I decided to pull out the camera and wax poetical about sailing, and about how loud sailing is, however, we made a technical error and plug the microphone into the headphone and got zero audio. And Lauren is checking that now
– [Lauren] Checking that right now
– Making sure its in the right spot.
– [Lauren] Okay, were good.
– I never considered or thought about how loud sailing actually was, you know, you think the engine is loud and you’re, you know, motoring out of the harbor and you Hoist the sails and flick off the engine and it’s just silence the hiss of the water moving under the boat
– [Lauren] And it can be. That’s downwind sailing for you.
– That’s downwind sailing when you’re beating into the wind. The wind is just whistling through the rigging
– [Lauren] I’d argue howling. Yeah it wasn’t whistling it was howling.
– [Lauren] It was like It was eerie. Almost.
– Yeah Canvas on the dodger and the Bimini is fluttering, the wind in your ears is just It’s just loud. The boat is creaking and groaning and making noises like everything is just so loud. I never thought about that before. And so the ironic thing is, while recording all of this, it’s absolutely dead silent because we had no microphone. I started by thinking, wow, look, the ocean is just so loud. But then it’s really not. It’s really just the effect of our us and our boat being there. That makes it so loud. Because if we weren’t out there in a boat yeah, the waves would be breaking and toppling over but they wouldn’t be slamming into the side of the boat and the boat wouldn’t be slamming down in the water and pushing the waves back at other waves to have them slap against each other and like it probably would be pretty calm. But we can’t experience that because as soon as we’re there, it’s loud. Sort of like if the tree falls in the woods, no one will hear it. So does it really make a sound? I think it does. I think a more apt question would be, if there was no boat out in the ocean, would it really make a sound? I think that might actually be no. The other thing that I thought was really interesting was we had just broken or topping lift. We had water coming in all over the boat from just beating into the seas all night long. Our starboard side navigation light started flickering ’cause it probably got too much water just blasted in through the side. I was really concerned about the rudder posts ’cause it was like banging up and down and the boat was just taking a beating. So I was thinking about the scene in “Pirates of The Caribbean.” Jack Sparrow is riding in to the dock standing atop the crow’s nest The boat is just like slowly sinking and sinking and sinking because it’s basically just falling apart and like holds together just long enough so that right as the crow’s nest goes underwater he steps off onto the dock. Here we are making this crossing and I’m just like please just hold together just make it to land
– okay we had one taping lift break and a little bit of water coming through these
– No they were coming through here. They came in through the bow. There was water down there was water on the floor down here.
– Yeah, but we don’t know if that was from our
– Yes but come on your imagination runs wild. And…
– You know if we look at in– Yes, it was like not bad at all, which we can look at it now ’cause here we are floating in the Bahamas. And the other time we were in the middle of the Gulf in the middle of the night, a small craft advisory warning water coming in through places we never seen before. bashing into the waves the bow going onto the water like every
– [Lauren] Yeah
– [Kirk] ten seconds.
– [Lauren] See the inability to do much about it if we had to.
– [Kirk] Yeah, because we’re so exhausted, the Gulf had us. It had us good. And the other thing that was really interesting while we’re doing Captain’s log notes here, we left because we had winds forecasted to be out of the southeast for the whole first part of the trip and then they were gonna shift slightly east. For a little bit, but we’re like, oh, that’s okay, ’cause we need to make some north. And then we’re going to go more southeast and almost south towards the end. So we thought as we rounded the keys and through Miami, we’d kind of take this nice S curve over to West End. So we’re like, that’s totally fine. We’ll have south winds it’ll be totally easy, but we were beating into it pretty much the entire time. It wasn’t until the middle of the night that I really looked at the compass because it’s pitch black. You can’t say anything. There’s no no lights of Miami anymore. No lights from anywhere in the Bahamas.
– What kind of tea do you want? That mint one that you pulled out the other day. So we had no reference points. But as we were like, cursing the wind saying, Why aren’t you coming out of the South like you’re supposed to. I looked down at the compass and realized we were pointing due east but we were making our course overground was like 40. So our boat was pointing in our sails were set like we were sailing 90 degrees east with a South southeast wind. So it makes sense that we were close hold, even though we were going almost 50-60 degrees north of that, because the current was so swift pulling us north, it occurred to me if we actually fall off a little bit, instead of trying to constantly just beat into the waves and have the current carry us north, there’s actually a sweet spot where if we turn north, we’ll actually go more east. And that just like, was sort of a mind in the middle of the night. You actually had to turn north to sail more east. So it was interesting. It was an interesting experience.
– [Lauren] Normally, after a tough overnight sail, we take a rest day. We don’t turn around and take off again , especially when there’s a front moving in. Are you ready for breakfast?
– I’m so ready. We had in fact never intentionally gone out sailing in inclement weather. Thing was the wind was forecasted to die. If we didn’t leave now, we were looking at motoring over 100 miles in less than two days to meet my sister. But we didn’t know was if we were just making a big deal about this front. Or if we were being complete fools to leave port with this forecast. This front had gone through the southeast of US and I had read a news report like right before we left that this frontal system spawned a bunch of tornadoes and a bunch of people had died and like, here we are. She’s gone off sailing.
– [Lauren] How are you this morning? Feeling better? I think the weather is breaking up a little bit. I was super nervous. Just like God what are we doing? Did we make a terrible decision? And we hadn’t really seen any boats all morning. Well, one boat coming into the harbor, right as we were leaving, and I felt like they were probably looking at us like you guys are dumb asses. We just came out with a Gulf and you guys are leaving right now I’m like, oh God, we’re gonna be the only idiots out here like this front
– Just like we were…
– the previous day.
– For about three minutes I was seriously considering hawking over like $1,000 to leave the boat in the marina for a week rent a car drive to a ferry. Take the ferry to Chris & Kelly’s Airbnb This is the last time we’re meeting anyone anywhere. So, Chris and Kelly, by the time you see this, you’ll probably be married. Congratulations. Just know that we worked our asses off to be there for the engagement. We’ve been sailing back to back to back for what… It’ll be five days now of like full day sails. This is our fourth day. So it’ll be five tomorrow. It’ll be six by the time we get there I think
– [Lauren] Yeah.. So we left West End this morning, went through a little bit of a channel and a pass here. We are headed east northeast to get around this point here. And then gonna continue on East to Great Sale Cay over here until about 11, which is about where our way point is, we have wind’s coming out of the South, which will help us because we’re going north a little bit. But at 11 we have an abrupt frontal shift, which is gonna bring wind in from the northeast or the Northwest. So we want to try and get far enough North that we can then be kind of pushed down to Great sale Cay. And it’s a race against the clock. We’re favoring the North just a little bit so we’ve got a little bit of sea room if it does turn early, but we can definitely see it chasing us
– Kirk’s calculated that we have about 15 minutes until that’s gonna sweep over us Its about four miles away right now. ♪ Your mistakes ♪ ♪ Let them all go ♪ ♪ Your broken dreams ♪ ♪ Your high hopes ♪ All right, I want to furl that up. Most of the way. ♪ Sometimes it takes the people ♪ We gotta be ready to jibe.
– Temperature just dropped like 10 degrees.
– Yeah You need more?
– The wind just shifted about 80 degrees. There it is there’s the rain. We need to furl in a little bit more Look a this wind Let it out Glad we have a Bimini We’re through the worst of it Now its light on our tail And Kirk now loves radar
– Yeah radar’s pretty freakin’ cool We really haven’t had a need for it Up until now We’ve had internet access
– whenever we’ve been out sailing before, I always use weather Underground’s radar.
– We also haven’t been sailing
– In bad weather
– In storms That was pretty awesome to see the storm That’s what I love But I kind of got this one dialed in since we’ve been far enough away from land to figure it out, With all the sensitivity settings to just see the clouds. It was so nice to be able to say, okay, its six miles away. It’s five miles away for it kind of like guesstimate how fast it was moving closer to us. So we knew almost exactly when it was gonna hit. And then once it hit, we could kind of see the backside of it. So we knew how long it was gonna be around. It was so nice. So radar Two thumbs up for radar Today, we made a run of 77 miles, we timed the Squall perfectly.
– We were out of the channel, and in the middle of fairly deep for Bahamas water, so we felt comfortable.
– And past the point where we could just run down wind when it hit. It was so nice. And we’ve been downwind sailing all day today. We really needed that after yesterday and the day before.
– So it’s funny ’cause you just said 77 miles. And I was thinking, dang, we did 77 miles today, it felt like–
– It felt like a 30 some mile day sail. It felt so nice. You could think about other things besides your survival and take care of the boat. ‘Cause that’s how it felt crossing the Gulf Stream. It felt like okay,
– It felt like we’re destroying the boat
– That Yeah, I need water but the water But the water bottle’s empty. Do we have to go down below to get water? Can I do it?
– No, no anything but that Yeah, today was glorious. I think it was the first time ever that I’ve read on the boat while Lauren was sailing.
– I chilled. It’s cold right now. I think I remember saying I’m over it.
– Oh, yeah You said “I’m over sailing”
– When we got into
– West End.
– Yeah, that’s right. But that’s the weird dichotomy of sailing, like the super highs and the super lows, ’cause here we are bobbing away all night long with beautiful clear water beneath us and in a wonderful sail yesterday
– [Lauren] and a wonderful sail yesterday even the squall
– Getting through our first front. Yeah, that took a lot of I don’t know, what was it?
– It’s just the fear of the unknown.
– Yeah, exactly. ’cause it we just we hadn’t done it before. And I think we got Lucky. I mean, I think the trade winds kind of broke it up.
– [Lauren] Yeah.
– I think the gulf stream kind of broke it up.
– So it wasn’t as intense as it was over the…
– Yeah . And that’s why it maybe wasn’t quite as bad. But clearly it’s, it builds up in your mind.
– [Lauren] Well, when you wake up and it’s literally Red Skies in the morning.
– [Kirk] Yeah.
– [Lauren] It makes you wonder if you’re taking a calculated risk or if you’re just being fools
– And we don’t have enough experience to know.
– but we’re gaining it.
– Were gaining. Cheers Love.