This young couple had bareboat chartering in their future, their near future. In fact, they planned to step off from our training trip and step on to an unfamiliar, bareboat charter for an additional week. With almost a year of prep time to plan this adventure, Todd and Lori wanted a cruise to remember.
(NOTE: We no longer charter our boat but are pleased to come aboard YOUR boat anywhere for personal training with you and your mate)
Todd emailed us asking how reasonable it would be to travel to the Bahamas in our boat. Very reasonable! we've done it aboard SANDY HOOK many times in the past...but not on a schedule because the weather can collide with a well-planned calendar and create a cruising situation that is not what we'd call pleasure cruising.
Before they even flew into Florida, we helped this couple understand that a schedule is the most dangerous thing to bring on a boat. After much discussion we agreed to train them as we traveled toward Miami, weather permitting. In Miami they planned to charter a boat without a captain aboard and take that boat over to the Bahamas and back inside of the 10 days or so that they had it chartered. They found a company which would allow the charter boat to leave the country and everything seemed to fall into place.
We suggested a number of Bahama cruising books and chart kits to purchase and review before they arrived which resulted in many email question/answer sessions before coming aboard. But oops! they left the books at home and didn't realize it until they were in the air on the way to Florida. No worries! We made a quick run to West Marine so they could make notes when we included the Bahamas in addition to our traditional ICW navigation training.
We had a lot to cover in the 5 days between Fort Pierce and Miami and the intracoastal route exposed them to most of what they might encounter after leaving us...all but the actual ocean crossing. Weather is often a deciding factor in making a crossing like from Florida to the Bahamas so we kept a keen eye on a few systems that were brewing. Everyone fell exhausted into their berths each night, heads full of new and important items to remember.
Something we always recommend to clients who are planning a Bahama crossing is to consider the Keys as a plan B. The Florida Keys option works well if time is limited and the weather is not cooperating. The closer we came to Miami the worse the weather forecast became. The Keys were rapidly becoming plan A so our trip planning had to change directions equally quick. By our last night aboard Todd and Lori were charting out their route from Miami to Key West with a new found confidence, even if their hearts were still in the Bahamas.
After a bon voyage at the docks of the new charter company, we headed back to our home port wishing them well on their next adventure. We received a few emails during their excursion through the Florida Keys and couldn't help but feel their excitement as they experienced the schedule of a true cruiser...time and tide wait for no man as the saying goes. Next time maybe the Bahamas will be their final destination, that is, if mother nature cooperates.