I know what I would have done.
Yesterday on a overcast, grey day around 11:30 am, I happened to be strolling along the jetty at Florida's Fort Pierce State Park Inlet, when I noticed a 45'- 46' catamaran slowly motoring out to sea against a swift 2-3 knot flooding current and a gusty 20-25 knot northeast breeze. Curious that any boat would venture out in these conditions, I wondered what direction she was headed once she exited the protection of the inland waterway.
I imagined that a northerly coastal route would translate into a rough into-the-waves journey with favorable current against adverse wind; an easterly direction would be a close-hauled almost perpendicular path cross the Gulf Stream; a southerly course would give them a brisk broad reach directly into an ever-increasing 2-3 knot current and gulf stream wave conditions known as northerly migrating "elephant herds" off the coast of Miami 100 miles or so south of Ft. Pierce. It was obvious any course on this day wasn't going to be fun. So I watched and wondered.
This isn't the same cat, but it could have been. Here's this cat's tale (tail?)
An ariel view of the Fort Pierce Inlet
While the vessel passed by, I could not identify the cat's name or home port, but I could clearly discern a couple on board - a man at the wheel and a woman crew member stationed near the mast. As the craft departed the relative calm of the breakwater into 4-5 foot white-capped waves, I wondered what direction the two would choose. Head northward into the wind? Head into the southerly current? Go off towards the southeastern Bahamas? And how would they make headway against the stronger ocean forces - use only their two engines? raise one or two sails? As I continued to watch, I also tried to imagine the possible reasons a couple would choose this midday time to travel. What could be so important for them to be on the water in these conditions at this time? What was so important that placing craft and crew in jeopardy couldn't wait until the weather was more favorable?
BTW, from my vantage point on the southern side of the inlet, I saw no other signs of ships or sails along the coast and 180 degree horizon. Only an opportunistic kite-boarder and a flock of over a 100 or so gulls appeared intrepid enough to face the conditions, but they all stayed beach-bound to the blustery blow and wild waves only a few feet away.
Within a few minutes the tossed vessel veered southeasterly out of the Fort Pierce Inlet channel apparently aiming towards the Bahamas. As I watched the boat pitch, yawl, bounce and hobby-horse at no more than 3-4 knots, I half-expected to see sails raised to enable more headway, stability, steerage and speed through the tumultuous seas caused by Gulf Stream current opposing the prevailing direction. It would be a rough and tumble ride to reach land for any small craft making its way towards the Caribbean. Again my mind wondered why this skipper chose this time with these conditions to cross the Gulf Stream. I imagined the boat's earliest arrival to the closest safe harbor, Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, almost 100 miles away would take the better part of 24 hours and possibly have them arrive in dark conditions. If that was indeed the destination, I could only imagine the possible human motivations and reasonings for attempting this venture: desperation? deadline? divorce? death wish? arrogance? ignorance? idiocy? glutton for punishment?????
When I later returned to the internet, I noticed the area's weather forecast was not promising for any boat crossing from this eastern part of Florida towards the Caribbean. In fact, stormy weather was predicted for the next two days from the northeast.
We all make choices. And while each decision usually has intended consequences, often some unintended ones surface as well.