I am in Stuart, Florida tonight where I have rented a slip for up to a month to regroup before attempting a crossing to the Bahamas. The Lovely Laura Lee rented a car today in Fort Pierce and headed home for her work, and to care for our two precious dogs. I will work on a few projects on the boat and probably return home by Friday. For stays of more than about eight days, it is cheaper to get a slip for the monthly rate to give us time to figure out next steps.
Fortunately, I recalled this week that I had never purchased add-on coverage for boat insurance to cover the Bahamas. I logged on this afternoon and added the coverage at a minimal cost, so we are ready to go.
Internet access has been a problem for us this last week. We have a hotspot with an external antenna on the boat, and while it is part of our "unlimited" data plan with Verizon, it reached the limit where our speed was "throttled" so that nothing worked well. We have a smart TV, laptops, phones, and iPads all using data, so we are learning that we need to make other arrangements. I have found what I think is the only U.S. company offering totally unlimited, un-throttled data and we will get a SIM card from them shortly for our boat hotspot. The company is called finallywifi.com and the service is available using the AT&T network for $110 a month. We are addicted, so it is worth it. They have a sister company called My Island WiFi that we plan to use in the Bahamas while we are there.
The weather for crossings of the Gulf Stream to Bimini has been terrible, although probably typical for January. The forecaster I follow had the following to say today:
TODAY: Frontal TROF along with remnant IMPULSE energy enters Grand Bahama/Abaco this morning, then arrives in Nassau-Eleuthera around midday with W<N wind as the TROF passes. Squalls are found along and ahead of the TROF. Areas in SE Bahamas have very little wind today, mostly from S<W. N<NE-E wind settles tonight along FL and NW-C Bahamas as Frontal TROF mostly stalls in C Bahamas and weakens.
WED29: Another IMPULSE of energy develops in N GOMEX Wed29, surging SE-S wind along FL. The NW & C Bahamas see building of E<S wind Wed29 afternoon-evening, while the rest of the Bahamas remain very mild. The IMPULSE or LO likely exits NFL Wed29 night (between sunset and midnight) with variable wind and squalls...squalls also develop ahead of the IMPULSE Wed29 in areas of warm, moist S flow.
THU30: The IMPULSE rapidly moves E along 30N Thu30, trailing a ColdFRONT thru SFL and the NW Bahamas Thu30 morning. This initial FRONT veers mostly S wind to W-NW before slowing across the S-C Bahamas Thu30 night. Meanwhile, a second FRONT is along NFL Thu30 morning with brisk NE wind. This second FRONT has uncertain implications, but there is the potential for the FRONT to provide stiff NE<E wind for some of the FL Coast. The location of this FRONT and the strength of the wind in the region is dependent on the next developing system...a brief moderation of all wind is possible (around late Thu30) before flow increases into the next system.
FRI31-SAT1: A messy and disorganized area of low pressure develops in the N GOMEX Fri31, dominating the wind pattern. The main piece of energy likely lifts NE thru the FL Panhandle before either riding along the SE US or ejecting offshore. In either case, it appears likely that the Bahamas/FL see a strong ColdFRONT and perhaps an area of tightening low pressure along the frontal boundary. Forecast details cannot be determined with confidence this far in advance, but it appears likely that the most inclement conditions along FL are late Fri31 into early Sat1 before the FRONT pushes into the NW and N-C Bahamas by the end of the day Sat1. Very brisk winds may accompany the initial FRONT or behind a secondary FRONT late Sat1.
This whole messy winter weather pattern gives us a good reason to regroup before attempting further travel.