And finally, our voyage back to the US. It took several hops, with our first stop at Lyford Cay on New Providence. New Providence is home to Nassau which was the last place we wanted to go, but Lyford Cay is much more away from the hustle and bustle of Nassau and made for a pleasant stop with only one downside. My god it was expensive. $5.25/ft Yikes! I think that's the most I've ever paid and cost almost as much for one night as I paid for a full month at Sea Spray on Elbow Cay.
Needless to say we only stayed one night and the next day made the run to Chub Cay which is part of the Berry Islands. At Chub we elected to anchor in the bay/cove outside the harbor and had a great afternoon snorkeling around.
Our next hop was a long one from Chub to Bimini so we set out at first light and arrived at Bimini mid afternoon. Originally we were hoping to anchor on the west side of the north island of Bimini, but the wind had kicked up and it would have been very uncomfortable, so we continued down to the south island to Bimini Sands which is a well protected harbor and development/resort. We didn't go by land to see the north Island, but from the water on our way down is looked like one large abandoned construction site with idle cranes and half build houses and condos. It was another reminder how hard hit the Bahamas were (at least parts of it) by both the boom and bust of the real estate market. Hopefully in time it too will recover.
We hung out in Bimini for a couple of days waiting for the weather conditions to improve for our final crossing back to the US. From Bimini it's a short 40nm or so across to Miami, but Miami is a good bit further south than our planned destination of Palm Beach Gardens. The more diagonal direct shot to Palm Beach is around 75nm, but has the advantage of the gulf stream helping to push you along. We were hoping for conditions favorable enough to make the direct route to Palm Beach, and sure enough we got them. It was a stark contrast to our trip over 6 weeks earlier, and was so calm that we decided to burn some fuel and just blast through it. By early afternoon we were working our way through the Lake Worth inlet and heading up the ICW to the marina where we would leave the boat for a couple of months before continuing the trip north back to Gloucester.
In summary, the trip was a great success, and we both really like having a waterfront home that we can more around and position wherever we want for the cold winter months. It's nice not to be stuck inside so much, and great to be able to extend the boating season to be year-round instead of the meager 6 months that we stretch out of New England. And I sure don't miss all the work associated with winterizing and recommissioning over and over again.