Recently, I was emailing with a few colleagues as we made final preparations for a multiday sea trial. We exchanged messages about what sundries to stock on board. We reviewed when, exactly, we’d cast off lines in Southeast Florida and make the 60-nautical-mile run to the Windex-blue waters of the Bahamas, and what we’d do once we got there.
The plan appeared solid: A weather window would allow us to be off the dock at noon and to run the stout, semi-displacement vessel at 18 to 20 knots. We’d arrive just after 3 p.m. with enough time to check in with customs, grab lunch to go, and head back out to start the photography and fun.
The team was assembled at the dock by 9 a.m., caffeinated and ready to review our final preparations. There were just a few hiccups that could cause a slight delay.
A mechanical issue with our chase boat, now on the hard nearby, reared its head. No worries, we thought. And the weather forecast, not superlative, would improve as the day wore on.
At 2 p.m., with our chase boat still rendered to its asphalt cradle, we decided to split up and meet in the islands. We topped off on diesel and made a beeline for Port Everglades Inlet. I envisioned running along Honeymoon Harbor as the sun set over our port quarter, the photographer’s drone capturing it all for this very publication.
I was still feeling bold as we rounded the corner and the ocean came into view. The wind had turned it into a roiling mass of whitecaps. We blasted through at 18 knots, and the solid 4- to 5-footers returned fire. As we realized that this speed was not manageable in these conditions, the captain eased the throttles back to 9 knots. Time to settle in: There’d be no sunset photography session tonight.
Twenty minutes in, the captain made the decision to head back to port. It was the right move given the conditions. We had no reason to arrive in the Bahamas ridden hard and in the dark.
The next morning, we cruised across the Atlantic at 20 knots with our chase boat following. We were tied up at Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina by 11 a.m., ready to head right back out and make up for lost time.
Wouldn’t you know? The customs team had a system reboot happening just as we arrived. It turned our routine paperwork into a two-hour ordeal.
For the fourth time in less than 24 hours, I was reminded that the worst thing to have on a boat is not bananas, but a schedule.
This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 issue.