Blaine2Maine becomes Florida2Maine!
On April 8 we landed in George Town. George Town is near the Southern end of the Exuma Island chain in the Bahamas and features a small airport - the airport from which Sue would fly out and my son Jared and his friend Ben would fly in.
Jared and Ben arrived on the morning of April 11. Since Jules and Luisa would also be leaving us for another boat, Jules decided to go out in style by making Crème Brûlée for the entire crew. All that we needed were eggs, creme, vanilla, a Frenchman and the same Benzomatic torch that we use onboard to loosen Loctite from bolts. It was a delicious, welcome-aboard and bon-voyage treat!
Strong winds delayed our morning departure from the George Town Marina, but we were eventually able to slide over to Stocking Island and anchor on 4/12. We headed for Children's Cay early the next morning.
Children's Cay was remote, beautiful and shallow! With Traveler's six-foot draft, cruising in the Bahamas can be a challenge. We had heard that running aground was common here, particularly among monohull sailboats. Let's just say we joined the club by "resting on sand" for a few hours before the rising tide and a friendly couple of fellow sailors in a dinghy became our new best friends. By early afternoon we were floating once again and anchoring in deeper water.
The next morning we sailed to Staniel Cay. Staniel Cay is a classic Exuma Islands stop as it features a pair of unique attractions - Pig Beach and the Thunderball Grotto.
Pig Beach is, well, a beach with pigs. Of course there are stories that imply that the swines' circumstances are connected to pirates who left them behind, but in reality, they are domesticated pigs left to breed and feed on what the island has to offer and the appetizing donations from the many tourists who arrive daily by boat.
Thunderball Grotto is a fantastic underwater limestone cave system that is teeming with marine life and coral. Light shines through openings in the cave system above to create a kaleidoscope of color. It is also the set location for two James Bond movies: "Thunderball"and "Never say Never." It's a classic snorkeling location that Jared and Ben had to themselves, which is rare.
Unfortunately, Ben's work demands back home required a return flight from Staniel Cay, but Jared was able to stay on as crew to help us with our Bahamas-to-Florida crossing. It was an exciting three days from Staniel Cay to West Palm Beach that featured an exhilarating 25-30 knot wind squall, commercial boat traffic, landing a tuna (which became dinner and breakfast), night watches and a full moon that lighted our way across the Atlantic.
We entered the West palm Beach Intracoastal Waterway at sunrise on April 19. We were instantly approached by U.S. Border Patrol who allowed us to anchor before tying up to Traveler. A pair of agents checked our passports, asked about our trip and said, "Welcome home."
After 233 days of sailing along 12 international coastlines, Blaine2Maine just became Florida to Maine!