“People Plan, and God Laughs.” (Yiddish adage)
I was going to title this post “The Goal” but to me, a goal intimates that any deviation from it is some sort of failure. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve got my plan of where I want to go on this voyage and how I want to get there but also realize that sailing is not power boating. Nothing against power boaters but the name of that game is pointing the bow of the boat at the destination and throttling up. I’ll be working with, around and through the currents and prevailing winds (including trade winds) and vagaries of the weather. Deviations from the plan will be part of the adventure. As climber and founder of Patagonia clothing, Yvon Chouinard said, “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong—that’s when adventure starts.”
With those musings aside, the summary plan is to sail 1,100 nautical miles from Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach, Florida to the Virgin Islands. Explore the Virgins for several months, and then island hop my way home to be back before the meat of hurricane season in the summer. Quick aside, 1 nautical mile (abbreviated NM) equals 1.15 statue miles (a statute mile being the formal name for our land-based “5,280 feet” mile).
The more detailed plan to get to the Virgin Islands is to first look for a good weather window over the next week or so and initially sail south for 40 nautical miles along the South Florida coast from Hillsboro Inlet to Biscayne Bay (just south of Miami).
From there I may layover at anchor for a day or two in Biscayne Bay waiting for good weather or immediately cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Worthy of note, the Gulf Stream (a.k.a., “The Stream”) is the highest velocity open-ocean current in the world and thus requires a favorable wind for the 50 NM crossing.
Once in the Bahamas I may stop at the western Bahama island of Bimini and rest up or continue directly to the central and eastern Bahamas. The Bahamas consist of two “banks” (large expanses of relatively shallow water and dry land), Little Bahama Bank to the north and Great Bahama Bank to the south. Between the two lies the Northwest and Northeast Providence Channels and I plan to sail eastward in those channels for 130 NM to either the central Bahama island of Great Harbour Cay or the eastern Bahama island of Eleuthera—or stop at both. I’ll rest-up and top-off fuel and water prior to my sailing legs out into the Atlantic.
If one looks at a map, you’d see that island hopping from Florida to the Virgins appears to be the most straightforward route. However, doing that would entail long days and nights of upwind and up-current sailing. In an attempt to avoid that, I’ll plan to sail due east into the Atlantic until I’m close to the West 65 degree meridian (longitude line) and then turn south for a final 300 NM or so to the Virgin Islands. A picture is worth 1,000 words so see below*…
That’s the plan, and people plan and God laughs. While I might sound like I know what I’m talking about, I’ve never done anything like this before. Sure, I’ve done a lot of inshore and inland sailing, a lot of reading and studying on the bluewater, and a lot of preparation of Hazel James, however I can’t help feeling like Luke with the womprats on Tatooine. “It’ll be just like Beggar’s Canyon back home.” …we shall see and time will tell.
More updates and position reports to come as my initial weather window and departure date gets closer.
* Image above courtesy of https://www.bwsailing.com/bw/florida-to-the-caribbean/