This past March, just on the front side of the insanely-busy portion of our corporate tour season, I was presented with an opportunity to help out a friend and her adorable family and to disconnect from the stress of phone calls, texts, and emails. She was looking for someone to help them sail their CSY 44′ sailboat from Islamorada in the Florida Keys to Fresh Creek on Andros Island in the Bahamas. The biggest challenge facing us was not only to cross the Gulf Stream – but to do it with two children under two years old on board! My official title was “First Mate/Nanny.” The family was familiar with the environment because they live on the boat, but it would be the first time crossing the Gulf Stream for the kids and for me. Especially during the winter months, strong northern winds can make it difficult to cross the south-to-north-flowing Gulf Stream.
We left on a Monday evening to reposition the boat from its home in Islamorada to a spot further north near Windley Key, which is a better location to start the crossing of the Gulf Stream. We made it without any issues to Gun Cay in Bimini with a lot of clouds and just a little bit of wind by Tuesday at 5:00pm. We then continued on with the intention to anchor overnight at the northern tip of the Tongue of the Ocean, an incredibly deep channel between Andros and New Providence. Crossing the Gulf Stream was nerve-wracking for the parents, but the kids were awesome and asleep by 10:00pm so we decided to keep sailing. It was easier on all of us with the kids sleeping, so we took turns steering the boat throughout the night.
Even without sleep, the stars and bioluminescence in the water were amazing and worth the journey alone! Sailing through the Bahama Banks was a phenomenal experience. We could see straight through ten feet of water to the white sand, sponges, and sea fans for hour after hour – and that’s at night by moonlight! I imagine it’s an equally wonderful sight during the day. For my second shift, long after the moon set, the stars multiplied to an unbelievable number and the bioluminescence glowed below us as we slid through the water. As the sun came up and I reflected on the whole experience, I couldn’t help but be grateful; this is what life is lived for!
The next morning, after a brief pass by a fishing buoy to try and grab lunch, we made it to Fresh Creek by noon on Wednesday. Greeted by some old friends and the notoriously prickly Bahamas Customs agents, we tried catching up on sleep and relaxing a little with the kiddos as we finished preparing the boat for sailing charters for the following week. I was overjoyed that my long-time love of making Play-Doh sea creatures was matched by my tiny companions.
I am fortunate to have multiple memories of travel with good friends and what is best described as extreme closeness with the natural world and this trip is definitely one for the books! Whether you take a few minutes out of your day, go on an afternoon trip with Dragonfly Expeditions, or travel across the world, I hope that everyone takes a moment to embrace at least one equally-amazing experience this year!