LAHOWIND » Just you, me, + the dog.

Gulf Stream Crossing, Take Two.

Well, we did it. Our very last overnight sail. Our trip was complete with a pod of pilot whales, lots of dolphin, a few close cargo and cruise ships, and our slowest sailing speed to date! Um, that last little tidbit is my least favorite.

Last Friday, we weighed anchor and waved goodbye to Bimini before crossing the Gulf Stream and making the 120-mile trek all the way to Marathon in the Florida Keys. We still have a two-leg trip to make it home to Naples, but it sure feels good to be back in the U.S.A.


^^love love love my new anklet from our friend Laurie at Salt Run Designs^^

We tried, and I mean tried, our hardest to soak up every second of this milestone trip. Because, let’s face it, it got a little tough to savor the monumental experience as we were gruelingly bobbing along at very slow 2 to 2.5 knots for the entire first day. There were a few times I glanced down at our chart plotter on day 1 and sighed when I saw our speed hitting a whopping 0.7 knots. Point seven! I could probably swim home faster. ;)) …We usually average about 4.5 to 5.5 knots to give you an idea of the lag here.

Our slow speed and delayed arrival time (stretching a 24-hour sail into a much longer 34-hour one) was due to the crappy combination of us fighting a strong northerly moving Gulf Stream current as we headed south, and much too calm wind conditions that left our sails luffing here and there for a good chunk of that first day.

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^^a final glimpse of that Bahamas water!^^

Thankfully, our wind-less passage was met by a wave-less sea which is a-okay in my book!

If we have to sail slow, I’d definitely prefer to be doing so in pool-like conditions. It was so utterly calm out there in the Gulf Stream that you could have easily jet skied from Miami to Bimini and been there in an hour. You know what the top of a water-bed looks like when you sit on it? Well, that’s basically what the ocean looked like. Teeny tiny swell and no real waves at all!

Regardless of how calm and comfortable it was, Oliver somehow still managed to get sick on this passage. Twice. Poor guy. He hasn’t experienced any real sea sickness since our first Gulf Stream crossing last April, where both he and I were out for the count during the initial 4 or 5 hours. I’m not sure what did him in this time, but he definitely wasn’t feeling so hot.

Oh, and hello…we saw WHALES!!!

Towards the end of the first day, I was lounging in the cockpit keeping watch, auto-pilot on, with Jer taking a quick cat nap on the other side of the cockpit when I gazed out towards port and noticed a few dark fins on the horizon. Dolphin, perhaps? My excited screams jolted Jer awake while I quickly grabbed the camera to try and snap a few photos.

As we stood in the cockpit watching the dark fins swim around, we began to realize that what we suspected were dolphin weren’t actually “rolling” like they normally would. They were kinda just floating at the surface, much much longer than normal. As a few of them swam closer to the boat, Jer and I kept questioning…dolphin? No whales? Huge Atlantic dolphin maybe? No, whales?

After a few of the pack swam right next to the boat, we concluded that these guys were much bigger than any dolphin we’re used to seeing, had a totally different shaped head, and were a bit darker than normal too. They must be whales!!! Pilot whales (thank you Google)! The group of about 20 swam around the boat for a few minutes before we headed in opposite directions. And I’ll tell you what, encountering a pod of pilot whales mid-Gulf Stream definitely boosts the energy level like nothing else. :)))


^^See what I mean? Totally different shaped head and overall darker color.^^


^^But almost looks like a dolphin which is why we weren’t sure at first.^^


^^And they were all around the boat. It was crazy!^^

We also ended up seeing the biggest sea turtle I’ve ever seen in my entire life and quite a few friendly dolphin who swam and jumped alongside the boat as we sailed down the coast of the Florida Keys towards Marathon.


^^This little guy flew out of the water and totally surprised us with a three massive jumps!^^

As usual with blue water passages, we encountered a handful of large cargo and cruise ships, along with a heaping handful of other fishing and recreational boats. Since we don’t have AIS or radar, it’s sometimes a bit of a guessing game on the routes of other boaters (especially at night before you can “really” see any navigational lights). Luckily, we only had one or two passings that felt a little too close for comfort, but always safe nonetheless.

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^^The closest call on our passage came from this massive container ship. Luckily, he diverted just as we were about to tack.^^

With this trip and our last two overnights in the Bahamas (Norman Island to Nassau and then Nassau to Bimini), I made a point to try and soak in some of what makes sailing (particularly on long overnight passages) so special. Sometimes, it’s cruising along at night and smelling rain an hour before it even hits. Or watching a huge blood moon rise in the quiet of the early morning hours. And the color of the water out there. Blue blue blue. So deep blue it seems unreal. And that sparkling star-filled sky. One of my favorites. I could gaze up a a clear starry night for hours on end. Do I even dare mention the amazing sunsets? Sunsets at sea have consistently been some of our very best!

And since I took a ton of photos on our last three overnight passages, here are some of my favs…


^^Another amazing sunset on our overnight from the Exumas to Nassau.^^


^^More dolphin sightings. This time in the Exumas.^^


^^Always on guard when we see something cool.^^


^^Oliver’s been preferring to hang below deck for the majority of our sails ever since Puerto Rico. But he makes an occasional appearance in the cockpit to say hello.^^


^^Soaking it all in.^^


^^Shift work. My turn.^^


^^And my assistant.^^


^^Oliver’s exit route = through the zippered dodger.^^

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^^Our reward after a successful passage.^^


^^And one for Oliver too. Jk, he gets water whenever.^^

Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Gulf-Stream-Crossing-Bimini-to-Marathon-Florida-Keys-LAHOWIND-Sailboat-Overnight-Passage-2015-Pilot-Whales-Dolphin-Photos-eIMG_7070 ^^Almost back to Florida. That’s the Miami skyline and some duddy looking clouds that we luckily missed.^^


^^Back in the land of the free, home of the brave.^^


^^I think Oliver is always the happiest when we arrive. And this time, it’s back in FLORIDA!!!^^

So, we finally made it to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon nearly 34 hours after leaving Bimini. We secured a mooring ball in the infamous city mooring field just before the office closed, launched our dinghy in record-breaking time, had Oliver to shore minutes later, and were enjoying hot showers and cold beers shortly thereafter.

Now, I haven’t been grocery-shopping at Publix yet or gotten a much-needed mani/pedi, but those little luxuries are in my very near future. :)))

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

MickeyApril 20, 2015 - 12:30 pm

love all the pictures they are a treasure. Please pt them in a book!!!!!

Cassandra BreedenApril 20, 2015 - 9:35 pm

Although we are sad to hear that your adventures are coming to an end, we would like to thank you for sharing your experiences and inspiring us to follow our dreams. In March, me and my husband and our Pug, Dexter, sold our stuff and moved aboard a 30′ Morgan Out Island S/V Norm’l Sailing. We had one sailing lesson prior to moving aboard!! Most people think we are crazy, but the seas called us. We are on a mooring in Boot Key, learning to sail and plan to venture to the Bahamas next year. We have enjoyed following your blog and wish you both and Oliver the very best.

JanApril 21, 2015 - 2:00 am

I saw the article in the news press of your upcoming year long sailing adventure last year! I have been following your posts since you left Naples and I can say I am really going to miss following your daily adventure! It has been awesome!

DreamergirlJuly 1, 2015 - 12:02 am

We are just in the planning stages and ya’ll are heading to land. I have been enjoying your blog very much.

Being new. Bear with some newbie questions. .. is it not difficult caring for a dog on sailboat?

When home is at sea. .. How do you handle license, etc. ..If you have no land residence?

I keep reading a smaller boat 24 feet might be much easier than 50 feet. The hubby and I really like the thought of a bit more space. Thoughts?

Thank you in advance

RobertFebruary 1, 2016 - 11:39 am

You should park that thing and come back to Ohio

Soul of a sailor.

I cannot believe this day is here. This morning, we are weighing anchor to cross the Gulf Stream back to Florida. It kinda feels like we are crossing a finish line of sorts.

This has been a crazy, beautiful, sometimes difficult, but mostly awesome and totally fulfilling adventure for us.


I don’t think I’ve written enough about the magnitude of what we undertook on this sailing journey, mostly because we’ve been trying to live in the moment for the past year or so. But a few recent blog follower emails got me thinking about it all, and one in particular (thank you April!) really summed it up great. …Traveling by sailboat is so very different than any other means of travel. We have put so much thought, preparation, and actual work (blood, sweat, and tears even sometimes) into each and every leg of our journey. Every time we’ve reached a new destination, there has been such an intense sense of accomplishment. It’s hard to explain really. Other sailors get this of course, but I’m not sure if anyone else does. Or do they? Either way, it feels absolutely amazing to know we did it!


^^That water. I will miss you, Bahamas.^^

Now, we are almost home to start a new chapter of our lives. As much as I am trying to hype myself up for everything fabulous that (hopefully) lies ahead for us, let’s be real, I am mostly just trying to convince myself that we will be “okay” once we return to regular landlubber life. It’s nearly impossible to wrap my head around it all.

And since yesterday was our last full day in the Bahamas, we decided to make it last. As in, we’re bringing home as many pretty Bahamian conch shells as I could manage after going slightly overboard conch-picking the massive shell piles in Bimini. ;))

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^^Check out our haul!^^

Okay, who am I kidding. We went crazy. We picked as many pretty pink conch shells as our bucket could hold. And scored a few rare ones in the mix! (No hate email please, we didn’t harvest these ourselves.)


^^That’s a small queen helmet conch. She will have a good home back in Naples.^^

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^^The other different looking big shell is the king helmet conch. We “picked” two large king helmets and the one small queen.^^

Here’s to hoping that the crossing today is nothing but an easy breezy sail (preferably with no sea sickness for me) and that every time we look at one of these beauties in the future, we will be instantly transported back to “that time we lived on a boat and sailed around the Caribbean.”

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Skelton CrewApril 17, 2015 - 1:40 pm

Gosh, I hope we can have as much of an enjoyable cruise as it looks like you guys did! Of course, the end of your journey makes me a little sad…for purely selfish reasons you know 😉 Now who am I supposed to blog stalk?!?! Here’s to a smooth final crossing! ~Jackie

AndyApril 17, 2015 - 10:43 pm

Always enjoy reading your blog posts. Sad to see it coming to an end. Best of luck in whatever life has in store for you in next adventure.

Rgds – Andy

AllyApril 22, 2015 - 8:32 pm

What an incredible adventure! I will really miss your posts, but we are excited for your new life ahead. Cheers!

Back in the Bahamas! | LAHOWINDJuly 23, 2015 - 4:08 pm

[…] some of our extended family in Paradise Island for seven days of fun in the sun!!! Even if we were just there in […]

Life is better in the Bahamas.

This is why we oh so love the Bahamas…


And this.


And this.


You get the picture. Pun intended. ;))

Just culling through a few more photos from our time in the beautiful Bahamas, and I couldn’t not post at least a few of my favorites from the past two weeks! I’ll tell ya, as much as other cruisers/bloggers hype the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas are where it’s at people. In my humble opinion at least.

Pristine beaches. Comfortable anchorages. Friendly people. The list goes on and on.


^^This^^ particular slice of paradise just happens to be right around the corner from Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort where we spent a lovely Easter weekend!

While staying at the resort, we would launch the dinghy every day (multiple times a day) and take Oliver to this secluded stretch of white sand and turn him loose to go crazy, poodle style, on this pretty shoreline. I know I’ve said it before, but Oliver seriously acts like a crazed, rabid animal when we find a nice stick to toss around on a sandy beach or, better yet, he finds a starfish or something equally delightful to sniff! He’s nuts!

I think Oliver is really going to miss his daily beach play time when we return to land life in a few days. (Although, let’s be real, having regular access to land will be pretty awesome for him, and not having to clean a sandy poodle post-beach romp will be just as awesome for us.)

Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6343 Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6366 Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6317 Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6290 Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6303

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Molly GruubsApril 17, 2015 - 2:24 am

Your images are gorgeous! Love how blue it is there.

Escape to the Cape!

Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_5991 This gorgeous slice of paradise seriously holds a piece of my heart. A nice size piece at that. So much so that I told Jereme we’ve just found our little annual vacation tradition from here on forward. Let’s hope we can make a trip to the Cape a regular occurrence of some sort.

And seriously, how has almost one year passed since we got engaged on this perfect white sand beach? (And yes, I know we need to plan a wedding. Lol. That is coming soon!)

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Jereme and I (okay, Oliver too) were so thrilled to have the opportunity to stop at our favorite place in the world on our route back through the Bahamas. And as much as I feel like a broken record for calling Calabash Bay, Long Island our favorite, it just is. #sorrynotsorry

This place is the cat’s meow. The icing on the cake. The whatever-other-clever-names-you-can-think-of. ;)) It’s just perfect.

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We rolled into Calabash Bay after a quick stop in Clarence Town (on the other side of Long Island) and quickly dropped anchor before dinghying into our favorite little beachfront resort…Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas!

We just knew we had to squeeze in a little fake-cation (ya, that’s “fake vacation” since we’ve kinda been on a perma-vacation for the past year) while we were in Long Island. So for three awesome nights, we enjoyed the comfort, beauty, and hospitality of the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort. And let’s not lie, we mostly took advantage of the endless hot showers, big comfy beds, and air conditioning. Lol.

Oh and free laundry. Gotta love that little perk! ;))

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Wanna know what else I love about Cape Santa Maria??? (In no particular order, that is.)

1. Their conch fritters (free during happy hour from 5 to 6PM) are the best I’ve ever tasted. Not joking. The best. (All of the food here is pretty darn great, let’s not lie.)

2. Their beach has the softest, most powdery perfect white sand around. It feels like you are walking on pillow made of flour. Okay, fine, I’m not sure how a pillow would be made of flour but whatever. You get where I’m going with that. The sand is not graining or rough, it’s just the best white sand beach my toes have ever felt! Ever.

3. And speaking of their beach, the water is perfection. Perfect turquoise blue crystal clear bahamian water. With lots of fun sea life like (my favorite) red puffy starfish!

4. Oh my gosh and everyone is super friendly and helpful here. Super duper extra friendly. Cape Santa Maria’s staff might seriously be the friendliest around. For reals. Everyone knows your name (and even remembered that we got engaged here last May!). And what the heck makes us so special? Nothing. But they sure do make you feel pretty darn special and I love that.

5. The specialty frozen drinks. Need I say more? ;)) Hello mango daiquiri!!!

And the list goes on and on, but who has all day to read every awesome little detail about this place? Just know, it’s our favorite!

Sadly, this was probably the last time (for awhile at least) that we will arrive at Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort on our own little sailboat, but I sure do hope we can find our way back to this special place after we’re married and hopefully in the future with kids in tow. :))) We sure do love it here!

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Sailing-Blog-Cruising-Bahamas-Caribbean-Vacation-Travel-Cape-Santa-Maria-Beach-Resort-Long-Island-Calabash-Bay-Sailboat-Adventure-Hotel-Luxury-LAHOWIND-Young-Couple-2015-Best-Photos-eIMG_6227 >>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Caribbean.

Lara SpragueApril 15, 2015 - 3:41 am
Lara SpragueApril 15, 2015 - 3:44 am

Boo! Looks like my palm trees and tons of thumbs up didn’t show in my comment. Anyway, that was the gist;-)

LAHOWINDApril 15, 2015 - 4:10 am

I’m not sure what’s up with WordPress, it loves the smiley face emoticon, but nothing else. Anyways, we missed you guys this year at the Cape! Wish we could’ve had a little beach cottage neighbor reunion. …Maybe another year! :) -Kim

Lara SpragueApril 15, 2015 - 4:28 am

Yes! We will definitely be back! We’ve also found our beach at the Cape:)

Doug TreffApril 16, 2015 - 11:51 am

Just curious – what cool thing does Oliver get to do while you guys are chilling at the resort? Do they allow pets, or do you need to kennel him on the island somewhere?

Inquiring minds want to know – as we all plan our cruising escape and try to decide whether to bring our furry friends or not.


LAHOWINDApril 16, 2015 - 4:07 pm

Hi Doug. I believe there is a no pet policy at the resort, but they made an exception for us and Oliver got to stay in the room with us. :) Otherwise, he would’ve stayed on the boat that was anchored just off shore (since that is our/his home anyway). -Kim

David Coulson-LowesMay 4, 2015 - 7:46 pm

Amazing trip – very jealous!

Home is calling.

Home is calling. We’re just a few days away from Florida!!!


After hopping through the Exuma chain again, we just made our way to West Bay, Nassau en route to Bimini tomorrow. And then we will make the Gulf Stream Crossing once again as we head first for the Florida Keys and then back to good ole Naples!

It’s pretty surreal to think our sun-soaked island hopping life is coming to a close soon. Although we are beyond excited to see our amazing family and friends, we are also incredibly sad to wave goodbye to this floaty boaty life we’ve come to know and love. What a journey it has been! But you know what they say….with every ending comes a new beginning, and I can hardly wait for the next chapter to begin!

PS – ^^that^^ GoPro photo was taken sailing somewhere in the Exumas, Bahamas this past week.

And here are a few fav outtakes… ;))


carltonApril 13, 2015 - 9:30 am

I’m sure I speak for the rest of your faithful followers… I don’t remember telling you guys you could quit and return home. You have one of the best blogs going and I’m not ready for it to end.

JordanApril 13, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Absolutely lovely photos! Look at how gorgeous the water is where ya’ll are! It’s great that you’ll get to go home and show your family and friends all the fun you’ve had, but also a shame it’s ending too. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure!

Deborah wrightApril 14, 2015 - 2:02 am

Safe sailing on the crossing and best of luck starting the next chapter of your adventure together. Thank you for taking the time and sharing this one with us. I have been enjoying your blog very much. It is beautiful, fun, a bit useful, and a lot inspiring!

Deborah (sv Wrightaway)