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Old March 24th 04, 03:32 AM
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Default Gulf Stream Myths and Worse

On 17 Mar 2004 11:39:32 -0800, (anchorlt)

I agree with anchorlt insofar as he speaks of crossing from Ft.
Lauderdale, Miami or the upper Keys to Bimini. In the 60s when RDFs
with their little loop antennae were state of the art in navigation
and few sailors had them I used to go to Bimini frequently (The
Bahamanians were not charging a visitor tax back then). I probably
made 20 or more trips across, every single one without incident other
than occasional mechanical problems, i.e. dead starting battery when
needed for getting back into Port Everglades). My little sloop was a
medium displacement 30 footer. Always left Ft. Lauderdale around
midnight in order to get a daylight landfall as these islands are low

Now, as for the Gulf Stream itself. Yes. It can be unbelievable.
When I was 16 (a very long time ago) I spent one summer working on a
Standard Oil tanker. On my last trip of the summer from Venezuela to
the refineries of New Jersey we were caught in a hurricane off Cape
Hatteras. Back in those days we did not have satellites and the
advance forecasting that exists today. The barometer began to drop
and the bosun ordered us to begin securing everything. The older guys
were kidding me, telling me what a blow we were in for, and how I was
going to see some real weather. I thought it was going to be a great
adventure and actually looked forward to it.

When it started ripping off our life boats and when I began to observe
real fear in the old salts I knew we were in trouble. At first I was
really seasick but in a short time the fear became so great I forgot
all about the seasickness and have never experienced it since. I was
an ordinary seaman (lowest possible rating) and because of the
building weather I started my watch on the flying bridge rather than
ont he bow (ships were required to keep lookouts in those days)which
in a tanker is midships where the officers are quartered and where the
wheel house is and the midships house is connected to the officers'
mess and crews quarters by an exposed catwalk running from midships
to the stern house.

Hurricanes didn't have names in those days and I don't believe they
were categorized as 1 through 5 either. I do know the waves,
according to the captain who spent the entire time in the wheelhouse
(They took me off the flying bridge and into the wheelhouse when the
waves began to crash over it) were 100 ft. high. The particular ship
I was on had been torpedoed just out of New York harbor(I was not
aboard when that happened_. It had broken in two and the bow and
stern sections had actually drifted apart. Tugs were sent out to
recover each section and the separated sections were welded back
together and had heavy straps riveted to the hull. There was fear of
it breaking apart in the beating we were taking. There was no food as
there was no way of moving to the after section where the mess was
located. Two of the giant lids that cover the wells were ripped off.
Fellows, it was real scary and when I think that people have been
through storms like that on small boats I am absolutely in awe.

Hope I haven't bored anyone with my story but my point is this: There
is little to fear in a crossing from So. Florida to Bimini and back in
a well found sail boat outside of hurricane season or a severe norther
(which are pretty well forecast today and are cyclical in Florida in
the winter). But, there is a hell of a lot to fear in the Gulf Stream
if you are more than an 18-hour or so run to safe harbor. There are
not a lot of all-weather inlets on Florida's east coast with some of
them being incredibly treacherous in any sort of blow. Just listen to
your weather reports and use a little judgement and you'll do fine.
There are no sea monsters and the Devil's Triangle thing is just a
myth to keep the advertising dollars rolling into the Discovery

Just remember this only applies to a So. Fla.-Bimini trip and does not
apply to anyone leaving the NE or N. Carolina sailing to any of the
Windward islands or to Bermuda. We all know of the disasters that
occur regularly to small-boat sailors

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