The plan was to sail from Great Sale Cay to Jacksonville, Florida. 260 miles. Two nights and three days.
The plan lasted for 18 hours.
We first traveled northwest from Great Sale Cay, leaving the 20 foot deep water of the Little Bahama Bank for the 2000 foot deep water of the Atlantic Ocean.
We averaged four knots under sail for much of the day. Then the wind died. We had to fire up the engine and push the boat along using our precious store of diesel fuel. Hours went by and the wind didn’t return.
Our plan to get to Jacksonville had one assumption that we couldn’t work around. We needed to sail for at least 110 of the 260 mile voyage. We only carry that much fuel.
About 1 A.M., 18 hours after leaving, we were still only 50 miles north of Great Sale Cay. We should have been at least 90. Worse, though, was that the wind still wasn’t blowing and the weather forecast was light winds the following day.
We made the decision to turn the boat on a west-southwest course, to reach for Fort Pierce only 80 miles away. We motor-sailed until 4 P.M. the next afternoon, fighting against the northbound current of the Gulf Stream but pushed along by the 6-8 foot seas rolling in from behind us. Ocean swells that had traveled from as far away as Bermuda and the Azores.