Departure to Panama! (by Conrad)
As tends to happen with these things, the mayhem of departure, the planning, and the prep ran right up until the moment the lines were dropped in Fort Lauderdale. Over the last 3 months, Team Vandal did battle with a Goliath-sized to-do list comprising everything from installing an entirely new 80 foot carbon mast and completing the install of our solar panels, to provisioning 1,500 diapers and an untold ballast of wipes and coconut water (Zelda’s favorite).
All this came to close at 10:00 AM Monday morning March 26th as we cruised out of Lauderdale under the 17th Street Bridge. After saying my goodbyes to Meagan, Zelda, Jedi and my Mom on the dock we got a chance to say a second more dramatic farewell as the ladies waved us off from 100 feet in the air on top of the 17th Street Bridge and we shouted back our affection through the loudspeaker mounted on the new rig. I am sure the bridge operator laughed and/or cringed at the cheesiness of it all, as we sailed beneath shouting “I love you!” for all of Fort Lauderdale to hear.
Our route was to take us directly east from Lauderdale, across the Gulf Stream and over the top of the Berry Islands (Bahamas), south through Tongue of the Ocean, over Hurricane Flats and between Cuba and Haiti, before turning southwest and bee-lining it for the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal where we would reunite with Meagan and the girls and begin the real adventure. We were off! We had many feathered friends trying to hitch a ride on Vandal to Panama....stowaways! If you can identify these birds, you might just earn yourself a voyage on Vandal.