Trying to put this whole trip together for a perfect run is seeming absolutely impossible. I am going to need to settle in some way, but in just what way I am unsure. The reason this trip is so tricky, and part of the reason it is so appealing is that a oceanic river, the gulf stream, runs directly through the middle of it. Currents from the Atlantic pump into the Gulf of Mexico, pump around for a bit and then swoop south and race by the keys on their way by and up the coast of the United States. At its fastest this current moves at four knots, a speed that is felt by all vessels, big and small. My trip is especially tricky with a small target and only human power and a little bit of wind.
However, what looks like a sailors worst nightmare, winds coming from the east and ramming head on into the gulf stream which picks up gnarly waves, may prove to be my best hope. It is not ideal, no doubt, but it may offset the effect of the current and allow me to launch not from Key West at a whopping 95 miles away, but rather from a more convenient location in the middle keys just over 60 miles away. In fact, I could launch from Miami and pop over 45 miles to the Bimini Islands with a wind like that and get there in a few hours. With that said, the conditions of the wind ramming the current are less than ideal and I’ll be pounded by waves on my port side the entire time.
But for the upcoming forecast, the wind is looking to be either coming from the northeast or the east. It is either go in the next 36 hours or wait over a week. I haven’t decided.
Additionally, if I choose to, I can concern myself with the amount of natural light I would receive while paddling in the dark. Between the 10th and the 20th the moon will be at its biggest and also will be up most of the night, a friendly companion in a desolate ocean. If I leave in the next thirty-six hours the moon will be shining its light on the other half of the world when I need it most.
However, with my bullet run to Cay Sal from the middle keys that I am considering, instead of paddling from midnight till sunset the next day, I may be able to hop down there in daylight. Whatever the case it is all a very complex math problem with no right answer. Very likely I will take a chance, make it a few miles and turn around to try again another day. The brilliance will be in me refusing my stubborn impatience from getting the best of me while simultaneously denying the perfectionist the wait for the absolute best conditions. At some point both of these opposing sides will have to settle.