I sailed across the Gulf Stream in a small boat for the first time in 1988, the year Andante was born. I was an undergraduate working on an oceanographic project in the Abacos and our base of operations was the chief scientist’s sailboat. He had just completed a circumnavigation with his family and had much to share about sailing and island life. It was great living aboard that summer in a tiny Bahamian cove eating the fish and lobster we caught and doing cool science. Later, while in graduate school, I crewed on several sailing races from south Florida to the Bahamas. I even served as navigator on races to Bimini and Great Issac because somebody thought I knew something about ocean currents. We did ok anyway. That was 30 years ago.
Yesterday I finally made the short trip myself in my own boat. It was a very satisfying accomplishment — even though there wasn’t much sailing because of the light headwinds. The mechanics of the trip were no different than before though technology has changed the stressors. In the before times if you couldn’t see the container ship bearing down you just assumed all was well and you could relax for a bit. Today with radar and AIS you can see where everyone is all the time and can visualize in graphic detail exactly how and when you will collide. So there is never the chance for ignorant relaxation. I was thinking last night that the Miami-Bimini trip is less about sailing than it is a giant game of Frogger. After about 10 hours of dodging traffic and constantly updating our heading to stay on course we arrived offshore of Alice Town, North Bimini, around 0400. I anchored just off the beach for a few hours to take a nap and wait for sunrise to pick our way along the shallow channel and enter the narrow harbor.