A Mini Tour of the Bahamas – Leg 1

March 4, 2011 posted by admin

We’ll do a post ever day and take you through all of the legs.  Here’s the first one.

In 2013 84 + 21 foot Mini 650s will race single handed across the Atlantic Ocean from France to Brazil. Yes, single handed. I’m going to be there. But to get there first I need to do a series of qualifying events. There are two things a competitor needs to complete to be eligible for entry application into the Transat Race. The first is a 1000 nautical mile passage. It must be nonstop and must adhere to a very strict set of rules including the use of a sextant and a GPS with no mapping capabilities. Plus a bunch of other stuff that would just make you shake your head! The second piece that must be completed is another 1000 nautical in race miles in France. So to complete the first task I figured, what better place to do a 1000 nautical mile passage than in the warmth of the Bahamas! Here’s how the story goes 🙂

Today’s the big day. I’m ready to go. The systems have all been checked. The electronics are working, the GPS waypoints are plugged in, the food is packed, the clothes are in great shape and the new gear sponsored by Guarantee Company of North America is ready to go. The rig is tuned and all the powers that be have been notified. The weather window is perfect. The breeze is out of the east and holding in a nice high that should last for a long time. We launched One Girl’s Ocean Challenge at Shake-A-Leg here in Miami and have been doing final preparations for the passage at Coconut Grove Sailing Club on a mooring. Everyone at both places has been particularly wonderful. Here at Coconut Grove I’ve become a regular tourist attraction…in a good way! People are just so incredibly helpful and supportive; I can’t tell you enough great things about them. So where were we….right, time to get off the mooring ball and out of Biscayne Bay and through the Biscayne Channel. Let’s get this show on the road. I’m just itching to get going!!! We draw six feet, but have a very under powered 4 horse engine. We’re heading out on an ebb tide that is pretty much slack, so that we’re fighting the least amount of current. It also times us to cross the Gulf Stream at night and enter into the Northwest Passage for daylight. Getting out of Biscayne Bay takes us (me and the mini) through Stiltsville and the Sand Bar.

People will pull up here and have a few cocktails and kite surf. So far so good. The seas aren’t too rough and the motor is plowing along. Just as we get to the last channel mark before exiting the channel, a small wave slaps up the stern of the boat and floods the engine. With a short hiss she cuts out. No problem, the main is ready to hoist……let’s get her up, filled and make a sharp turn north to head for the Miami Sea Buoy. Phew. Excellent recovery….No problem at all.

Feb 19, 2011
N25d 38.7 – W80d 06.3 – Miami Sea Buoy Start mark
1530 UTC
Log Reading 91M
Full main and genoa
Wind SE 10-15 knots
We’re officially off. The first waypoint is Great Isaac. It’s not a mark of my course, but it gets me into the Northwest Passage and over to Hole in the Wall for my first waypoint of the course. The Gulf Stream books north at 3 to 4 knots and the breeze is south east so it should make for a good fast crossing. It’s a simple task, but if you don’t calculate set and drift to get across, you’ll end up missing your mark entirely and having to work your way back up the stream. Although my calculations are perfect there are a few “added” factors. Did I mention that this is cruise ship alley! Lots of dodging and weaving and bobbing. If you check the spot tracker you will see that it wasn’t a dead straight run. That’s why….Not a problem though, the AIS is working and we’re making our way through….and in great time. We’re going to get there before sunrise! The full moon really lights up the night. Did I mention the rough chop? I don’t get seasick very often, but I’ll be honest…..I felt a fair bit queasy going across. Lots of short choppy wave action. At 0430 in the morning, we reach the Northwest Passage and make our turn East for Hole in the Wall. Bring on the sunshine!

One Response to “A Mini Tour of the Bahamas – Leg 1”

  1. john globemasterone Says:

    Great post Diane…lots of detail. The only question I would have is…will you have to get a more powerful outboard motor for the mini….and somehow protect it from wave action?
    I hope you’re enjoying the warm weather as you secure the mini for the trip home.
    Take care. john

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