The idea of spending the winter aboard our boat, cruising in the Bahamas, came to us after months of daily life during a pandemic. Inspired by our many adventurous clients and realizing that we could both live, work & educate our kids all from our own home presented us with a unique opportunity. If we can comfortably do this all from our house in Annapolis, Maryland, maybe we can do this from a boat in the Bahamas. We had cruised the Caribbean and Bahamas 14 years ago & we were ready for another adventure - this time with our 2 boys, Hendrix, 11 & Max, 9… and our dog, Augie.
We considered looking for a new boat, something already equipped for this kind of excursion, but we weren't sure we would or could actually do this or if the Bahamas would even stay open to travelers… so in the end, Forbes cleverly outfitted our current downeast, Matinicus, a Duffy 35 lobster boat named after an island in Maine. Unsure of how long we could really stay, though knowing that we wanted to be home by the spring led us to the idea of trucking the boat straight to Stuart, FL. We would fly to meet her, cruise south to Fort Lauderdale and then cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
Flying over the coast of Florida, looking out through my lightly fogged covid face shield & slowly beginning our descent into the West Palm Airport, I whisper to Hendrix, "Step 2 almost complete." Step 1, we decided was Ubering to the airport. Step 3 would be the next Uber to the Marina in Stuart - where we planned to meet our boat. Step 4 would be taking the boat to her slip for the night & step 5 would be crossing over to the Bahamas - where our adventure would officially start.
We arrived at the Marina within moments of Matinicus's arrival and patted ourselves on the back for our perfect planning and timing. Man were we good. Gas station snacks kept the kids occupied as the travel lift lowered our home for the next 3 months into the water. Forbes hopped aboard as the kids & I watched from the sea wall.
He turned the key once, but the engine did not come to life. Once more - but all was silent. It appears the adventure would be starting a little sooner than expected…
"You can rent a room at our Inn" the Marina lift operator offered. His concern was kind, but I found no comfort in the idea of starting this trip in an Inn next to the Marina. Instead we called Seatow - a membership that I will now never let lapse - and enjoyed the view of the treasure coast as we were pulled into our slip at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL. Our colleague's office was located there as well & his hospitality and local connections were instrumental.
The first few days in Florida were tricky with Forbes working on the boat. Access to tools and the motor meant that the boat was completely torn apart & everything we had so carefully stowed was strewn everywhere. Space was limited as is, but now there was barely room to stand.
The saving grace was the unbelievable Florida winter weather, the ease of the Marina and it's incredible coffee shop, Gilberts. I did my best to keep the boys busy and off the boat. Trips to the beach, biking through town, emergency lego purchases, a visit from my sister and excellent wifi proved to be entertaining enough & spirits were high as Forbes got the boat back together with help from Billings Diesel in Stonington, Maine. Matinicus is an odd duck here in Florida amongst the sport fish and huge yachts. It makes sense that she would find her remedy in Downeast Maine.
After 5 nights, we pushed off the dock & headed south to our next destination, Peck Lake.