Chartering with Martina in Florida
Sunset in Florida
Many people dream of sailing into the clear blue yonder - and many do. I saw the movie "South Pacific" as a child and thought it would be great to sail in that environment. You may be surprised to know that about 10,000 people are cruising the Caribbean at any time - and many with small budgets - which surprised me.
During my trip around the Great Lakes I decided I really wanted to do more cruising on a bigger scale. So, after the Great Lakes trip I decided to do "the big trip" down south. I greatly enjoyed the cruise around the Great Lakes and felt confident of doing a bigger adventure.
I had talked with experienced sailors who had been south and they had told me to go for two years rather than one as it would be too rushed as it takes a few months just for the trip there and back. I had no constraints other than money so I would have to save longer but the incremental difference was quite small, most of the cost would be in the boat and equipment.
I sold my Pandora to my boss at work - it was hard to part with. I wanted to focus on saving and looking at which boat to buy for the Bahamas trip. I attended excellent seminars at our Harbourfront facilities during the winters which were invaluable and read many books about ocean voyaging.
I decided to charter a boat in Florida with my girlfriend, Martina. I thought it would be a fun trip for her as she was adventurous and a good swimmer and we would be able to visit friends of hers in Florida. The trip would give me a much better idea of what I needed for my trip in the future. We had a really good time, despite the fact that the boat was pretty beat up (though heavy and strong) - it was a really inexpensive charter in the middle of hurricane season. It proved to be a very valuable experience and I loved sailing down the Florida Keys.
I had read enough to know that it was a really 'good thing' to have a boat in very good condition for doing this kind of trip. I figured out it would take seven years to save enough to go for two years with a new boat.
I think you have to be a certain kind of person to really enjoy this lifestyle. I am very independent, realistic, practical, adventurous and love the outdoors and freedom, highly kinesthetic, very good with my hands, and have had a lifelong fascination with anything mechanical or electronic - useful attributes for cruising.
The Bahamas Trip Route...
I planned to leave early summer, sail across Lake Ontario to the Lake Erie Barge canal, take the Hudson River to New York, a side trip to Cape Cod and Nantucket, the ocean to Chesapeake Bay, and the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida. Then across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Cruise the islands down to Long Island in the Exumas and back via San Salvador. Then back to Florida, across the Okachobee Canal to the Gulf coast, then to the Dry Tortugas, and back to Key West. Then complete the trip by sailing back to Canada the way I had come.