We took the weekend off of work to load up my boat and head to the Bahamas to help drop off supplies. It was a hell of a trip but we were all very happy to have helped them. It was also our first trip over so, as you could imagine, some people were nervous.
We all woke up at 3:30 am and grabbed our things. We all decided to bring (at most) a single backpack so we could fit as many supplies as possible. By 4:30 am, we were at the dock and ready to leave.
The boat reached the loading dock at exactly 5 am. There were film crews, firefighters and a huge number of volunteers and movers. The support for the Bahamas was overwhelming and it made us proud to be a part of it.
As soon as we found a spot to tie up, volunteers were handing us everything you could imagine:
- Dog food
- Generators (we had to turn these away - they were too heavy for our boat. Safety first)
- Canned food
- The list goes on...
When the boat was filled (as safely as we could), we headed over to another dock to await the start of the run.
My fishing group OAPB (Offshore Anglers of Pompano Beach) had organized this run for us so we could all stay together and make sure everyone got there safely.
At around 6:45 am, all 14 boats were idling around the Hillsborough Inlet waiting for the run. At 7:00 am, the lead boat took us out and we were off. Or so we thought...
We had never made a trip to the Bahamas and we had never had so many supplies on the boat. These were two, big new variables in our boating experience.
At first, the boat had some trouble getting up on plane (required so we can get there as fast and save as much fuel as possible). My dad and I looked at each other a few times since we weren't sure we could even make the trip.
Our boat holds 85 gallons of fuel. The trip to the Bahamas is 74.7 miles. You can bet your butt I was doing math ALL NIGHT to make sure we could safely make it there and back since there is no fuel for us on the other side.
By my calculations, we had to keep our mpg (miles-per-gallon) above 2.5 for us to safely get there and back. That would give us a range of about 212 miles. The round trip is about 150 miles and I ALWAYS give buffer room.
But here's the problem... We weren't getting the boat on plane and since most of the boat was dragging in the water we were getting about 1.7 mpg. This was well below my 2.5 "hard-deck". Yikes... We could get there and a little ways home before we'd need to get towed. Not good.
Thankfully, after a little maneuvering, we were able to get the boat on plane but our mpg was about 2.6. I was really hoping for around 3 but, in my math I trust. We all breathed a little easier - for a few minutes.
It didn't take long for all of the multi-engine tournament fishing boats to absolutely blast by my little single-engine weekend warrior. Oh boy.
Alone in the middle of the ocean, loaded up with supplies and hoping my fuel math was correct. No pressure, right?
Surprisingly, the 3-hour trip went by pretty quickly. We saw some clouds, dealt with some BIG errant waves knocking us around and pushed the boat onward. It was SUCH A RELIEF seeing land - even though we had no idea what we were in for. We had read articles about pirates, looting, shooting and everything else you want to hear about on a trip like this.
But there was none of that. We got to the docks, found a spot to tie up and unloaded everything without an issue. The people there were very grateful and we had to get out as soon as possible so the next boat could unload.
The area of the island we landed in is West End. Thankfully, that area didn't seem too beat up. Trees and houses were still standing. But there was no electricity, water or other utilities.
After the drop-off, we buckled down and began the return trip home. We saw a few dolphins swimming and a little debris here and there. But overall, the trip back was fast and uneventful (the boat was SO MUCH lighter).
We were back in Hillsborough before 1:30 pm, safe but very tired. We all felt very relieved we were able to make it there to drop off supplies. Even though we couldn't carry as much as the other boats, we were able to do something.