The Gulf Stream is hardly a stream but more like the worlds largest river without any banks. At Florida it moves north at about 2 to 3 knots. When the wind blows against the stream it sets up large, steep waves that can quickly become dangerous to one's boat if not quickly reduce one's resolve to continue.
There seem to be 3 general rules for crossing the Gulf Stream;
We set out at 4 AM, in the dark with about a dozen other boats. We dodged a few large ships including cruise ships and were greeted with a beautiful sunrise. The seas were still about 4 feet as the wind did not change to the expected south-west until late. We set a zig-zag course, heading more southerly for the first 10 miles before we hit the peak of the Gulf Stream. We then headed more northerly, turning south again once we approached the Bahama Banks. We made good time motorsailing. While heading more northerly, we were doing a good 7 knots over the bottom.
After we got over the spectacular changes in colours as we arrived on the Banks, we passed to the north of Bimini and set a course for a post in the middle of nowhere called Mackie Shoal. Unfortunately the wind did change to south-west and we were into it again. It was a long 100 nautical miles and a front was on our tail - expected the next night. We decided to follow our friends on Lady Margaret and head for Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, our destination for the next day and a very snug harbour.
We anchoured on the Bahama Bank for the night, calling it quits at 8:30 PM - a long day! There was a full moon and we could see every feature and creature on the bottom by moonlight. In the morning we were treated to another memorable sunrise with Lady Margaret in the foreground. We've arrived!
From here we head for the Berrys.