Bimini, Fort Lauderdale and ship maintenance
Now it’s over, our time in the Bahamas. After almost three months, 5 island groups and 18 locations, Bimini was our departure from the Bahamas. We are left with the turquoise memories of abundant nature, extraordinary solitude and the crystal clear water – with rarely more than 1 meter water under the keel. But we will also remember the erratic weather and scary lightning nights.
The Gulf Stream
One last interesting stretch lay ahead of us. 50 nm from Bimini to Fort Lauderdale through the Gulf Stream. We were curious how the crossing would be like. This is a much discussed topic among American yachties. There are even some forums where Yanks are looking for fellow sailors for this “crossing”. Unfortunately, it is mostly motor boats and few sailors who call at Florida.
We had scheduled the 10th of May for our Gulf Stream Rendezvous. Early in the morning we pull up anchor in Bimini in complete calm and were amazed at the shallowest sea we had seen in three years. On this stretch, of all places. The forecast promised 3-5 knots of wind (i.e. none) and 20 cm of wave (you can’t get less than that either). We didn’t want to believe it, but this was actually our travel weather. It wasn’t worth unpacking the sails, the engines had to be busy.
Flat calm gulfstream
I have always found the Gulf Stream fascinating. Its importance for wildlife and its effect on the climate in Europe, 7,000 km away. Between 30 and 150 million cubic metres per second make their way to the north-east, which is more than 10 times more than all the rivers flowing into the sea in the world. An incredible amount of energy.
Every 10 miles I checked the current speed and temperature. 3.6 kn water speed was the maximum that moved our Rivercafe towards Fort Lauderdale. Leaving Bimini, we were heading to Miami, 25 degrees difference from Fort Lauderdale. The current moved us so strongly that we arrived in Fort Lauderdale with this bearing. The Gulf Stream turned our 6 knots into 7 knots and 7.7 at the peak. By the way: rhe water was 28.7 degrees C. Apparently also nice conditions for the last mahi-mahi, which we caught on the way.
Red: heading, yellow course, blue gulfstream
Water City Fort Lauderdale
Faster than expected we reached the channel to the port “Port Everglades” and we shared the entrance with huge freighters, cruise ships and mega yachts. The entrance to the city leads through a bridge that had to be opened because of our mast height. We missed the opening time of the lift bridge by 3 minutes and waited in circles for the next chance. At 2.45 pm the Rivercafe was moored in Marina Sixty-Six and our Caribbean/Bahamas season was officially over.
Miami from the distance, first sight was 32 nm away. Bridge 17th street in Fort Lauderdale
It has been 7 months since we were in a real city. We have to get used to the normal urban noise again. Or to waiting at traffic lights. To compensate, we enjoyed what a city has to offer, the numerous restaurants and shops to work off our long-piled wish lists. The highlight: a visit to the hairdresser. It’s been ages since we’ve seen a barber use scissors instead of a razor.
We are really looking forward to a few days without a vessel in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Superyachts next to sailing vessels, right is our slip in on of Fort Lauderdales channels
The shipyard is calling
After a few maintenance and care days for the crew, it’s the Rivercafe’s turn. On Monday we headed for a shipyard to remove all traces of time and use. There is a lot of maintenance to be done on a vessel, and at the latest every two years, it can only be done on dry land. A crane put the Rivercafe ashore to clean the lower hull and repaint it with antifouling. The saildrive gets new seals and the propellers new anodes. Rig check and engine service and a few more points, then the Rivercafe is ready to sail again.
Our further plans
Most of you already know from the last years that the Hurricane Season is coming up soon. That means we can’t stay here in any case. At the beginning of the season we had to make the decision how to proceed. Either to the left through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific for at least three years or to the right, to Europe.
We decided on Europe. Family reasons. The Rivercafe will leave Florida again in a few days and head back across the Atlantic to Europe. Ka and I will take a break from sailing and leave the Rivercafe to our friend and sailing pro Dave, who is joining three other experienced sailors on the five-week journey.
We need a break and some shore life. In a few weeks we will take Rivercafe back somewhere in the Mediterranean and sail on in the summer. Our destination is Montenegro in autumn. This will also bring us closer to family and friends.
Fancy sailing with us?
We don’t have a sailing plan yet, but at the moment we are planning to sail from Spain via the Balearic Islands to Sardinia, Sicily and Calabria, towards Montenegro. This is the opportunity for our friends to join us for a few days. So if you fancy a few days in the Mediterranean, let us know. /Holger Binz