It’s still dark out. My alarm is about to go off but I wake minutes before. Two hours of sleep later. Somewhat tired yet a tinge of excitement runs through my body. Today is the big day. We head off into the blue yonder. No more marinas. No more sweaty boat work.
Everything is ready. All is tucked away. Lines are coiled. Hatches are shut. We’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. The twin diesels start up. We must look like salty veterans I think to myself. Organized as can be. We toss the dock lines and we’re off. Well sort off. I can’t seem to get this beast off the dock. The slight breeze is pushing me onto the dock and I don’t have enough room to put in a turn. Voices are raised. Reverse. Forward. Reverse. Forward. No luck. One engine forward, the other back. With a bit of trickery and a push from Ash, we’re actually off.
A sweet feeling. Steering our mighty ship. We’re now maybe 30 minutes away from entering the gulf. I cruise down the Intracostal waterway. One radio on channel 9 for the bridges. The other on 16. A few weaving turns thru the various channels and we pull into the fuel dock. Gotta top off. With a timid touch on the throttles we tie up. Pop off the fuel caps and are about to be handed the hose when the manager comes running out. Fuel dock is out of service for likely another 2 hours. Crap! And we just missed the scheduled bridge opening. Now we’re behind schedule. We scramble to find another fuel dock. Quickly locate one albeit more expensive. It comes with free coffee. Well worth the extra 20 bones.
Finally back in queue for the next Bridge opening. Now it’s on. Nothing else much that can go wrong. Bridge master radios a chirpy comment wondering where we’d disappeared to. I thank him for his patience and we finally we pass underneath 17th Street Bridge, Fort Lauderdale. We’re outta here baby!
But where do we go? Which heading do we take? I guess that would have been good to look up a couple nights ago. We frantically read some blurbs in cruising guides. Stuff about how strong the gulf stream is and how much you have to account for being pushed north. A bit of humming and hawing and we set a course. The auto pilot does it’s thing. We can relax finally.
I’m down below. Just finishing a quick pee or something when I hear a frantic “BEEEENNNN!” from above. In one continuous motion I’m on deck. Fuck! Shit! We just about crashed into a fishing boat. We got so close they were frantically reeling in their lines as we passed 30 feet behind them. Only reason Ashley changed course is because she heard their engines. We are now on highest alert. Code Maroon. I do security checks by walking around the boat every 10 minutes. That can’t happen again. Ever. Ever again. And so goes the crossing. Checking the computer for incoming AIS ships. Visuals. Listening to the radio. Not much wind. Just large waves. Just the humming of the diesels as we boringly cross the gulf stream for a solid 10 hours.