Much to the surprise and delight of myself and Ken, Safari and ourselves have made it to the US ! It is really hard to comprehend that we have actually sailed all the way from Howth Harbour in North County Dublin to Cape Canaveral in Florida.
At 0950 on Monday, April 28th, we stepped onto the dock of Cape Marina, Port Canaveral after a 42 hour passage from the Abaco islands in the Bahamas and what a moment in my life that was!!!
The main excitement during the passage was actually getting out of the Abaco islands. We had to pass through a gap in the reef which was narrow and bumpy.
Trip from the Abaco islands in the Bahamas to Cape Marina, Port Canaveral
Safari makes final approach to Cape Canaveral
Thankfully, we got through it OK but it was touch and go. At one point, we considered turning back but then evaluated the situation once again and proceeded onwards. After a tense 30 minutes, we were clear of all dangers and settled down to an uneventful passage over 2 nights to the States.
Arriving in the States certainly equalled the thrill of arriving in St Lucia after crossing the Atlantic but this time we had done it on our own which added to the sense of achievement.
We got a heroesĀ welcome from the crew of other boats who were waiting to take our lines. The lady in the local bank thought we should be on T.V!! Obviously, they do not meet too many boats in these parts that have sailed all the way from Ireland !
The skipper prepares for entry into the US
(We had to go to the bank to change a $20 bill. The cost of a year long cruising permit is $19 and the Customís and Immigration office required the exact amount. They couldnít accept a $20 bill and keep the change!! That is why we ended up in the bank so soon after our arrival!)
We had no problems with the entry procedures. The CustomsĀ officials could not have been nicer or more helpful. In fact, the warmth of the American people and their genuine desire to help and support us in any way they can is nearly overwhelming. Here, I must mention the yacht, Enchantment in a very special way. We met Vernon and Michelle way back in Bequia and later in Grenada. They, too, came into Port Canaveral on their way home to Baltimore and upon recognizing our boat when we called up on the VHF radio, formed up the welcome committee for Safari on her arrival. We will certainly put Baltimore on our list of places to visit.
Off course, my brother, Nicholas and his wife, Ann (who live in New York) were thrilled that we had finally arrived as were the various Maguire relatives (my sister-in lawís family) who phoned to welcome us into the US. So there has been great joy and excitement all round.
Why didnít we go straight to Charleston as planned? The weather!! There was a front due in yesterday so we decided not to tempt the gods by staying another night at sea to make landfall at Charlestown which is a further 240 miles up the coast. The wind was due to go round to the North and blow up to 25-30 knots. The Gulf Stream is the very last place on earth one would wish to be in strong northerlies as it gets downright dangerous with wind against a very fast north-flowing current!
Typical houses in Hope town, Abaco, Bahamas
The weather looks perfect for another 2 night passage tomorrow (Thursday 1st May) which should take us nicely into Charleston before the next weather front hits on Sunday evening. At a cost of $96 per night in the marina here (and it is the only option open to us), we do not want to linger too long!!
We celebrated our first day in the States by visiting the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral. What a treat that was! Both Ken and I have very vivid memories of the Moon landing in July 1969 and of other achievements in space during those heady years of the Apollo programme. It was wonderful to step back into history and visit the launch sites and blockhouses (control rooms) from where those flights departed. We also experienced the thrill of a launch into space in a simulator. All in all, a very appropriate way to spend our first day on American soil.
The next part of our journey will take us up along the coasts of Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, the Chesapeake and finally into New York early in June.