Wednesday, June 17, 2009

06-17-09 Crossing the Atlantic (Abacos to North Carolina)

Time to leave the Bahamas! Very Sad! But, what a beautiful departure. As we motored out of the Abacos from Spanish Cay, the ocean looked as if it were made from glass. The sun was setting over our buddy boat and good friends on "Aly Cat". Dolphins played along our bow as if to say "so long" and we caught our last fish, a King Mackeral, just as we left the cut. I find it interesting that we caught our first fish just as we entered the Bahamas six months ago. Now, just as we leave, we get a parting fish.

We had great weather but little wind. Once in the Gulf Stream, we really got cruising. It is great to see 9's and 10's on the GPS. Eighty miles off Cape Canaveral, we were reminded what we had been missing for the past 6 months.

First, we started hearing "Radio Check" for about 1,000 times on channel 16. The funny thing is that we only heard the responses from Sea Tow or Tow Boat US. They must use the Coast Guard's buoys for transmitting 60 plus miles off-shore. It might not have been so bad, but we seemed to be getting the responses from the entire East Coast of Florida. Between "Aly Cat" and "Miakoda", we took turns listening to channel 16.

Good thing we were listening, because the next call we heard was the Navy announcing their coordinates and that they were preparing to engage in a live fire exercise. Quickly trying to calculate how far they were away, we realized that it was too close for comfort. We raised the warship on the radio to make sure they had us on their radar. No bullets, missiles or bombs landed in our vicinity.

Next, we start hearing warnings about the 80 mile downrange danger zone for the space shuttle launch. I guess that after it takes off, they drop the solid rocket boosters into the water for recovery. We were right on the border of the danger zone and hoped to have a front row seat for the launch. Too bad it was scrubbed for the night.

The launch was scrubbed because of thunderstorms. It seems like they all congregated on top of "Aly Cat" and "Miakoda". The lightening strikes were so intense that we disconnected everything electric except for the very basic instruments. "Aly Cat" was only a 1/4 mile behind us, but we could not see them on radar or visual. The storm lasted about 30 minutes and then moved off.

There is something nerve racking about having a 64 foot aluminum lightening rod on your boat in 5,000 of water 100 miles from shore. But the gods were kind to us and let us continue on our way.

Finally, 'land ho!' We arrive at the Cape Fear river and head up to Carolina Beach where "Aly Cat" has been kind enough to arrange for a slip. It is 10 o'clock at night and most of the restaurants have stopped serving food, so our first meal in the USA is ------- McDonald's. Boy did that Big Mac taste good. It has been a long time since we had fast food.

Our friends on "Aly Cat" invited us to stay in a real bed and take a real shower at their beach house. Wow! A shower never felt sooo good. After several fun days in Carolina Beach, it is time to say goodbye. We are leaving today for Moorehead City.

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