Gulf Stream Challenge
Cuba to Florida - World Record Paddleboard Expedition

BIG BLUE RIVER- NOTES ON CROSSING THE GULF STREAM 
The Gulf Stream, penned by Earnest Hemingway, as the "Big Blue River" is among the most beautiful bodies of water on Earth. When the prevailing easterly winds go up against the currents of the two branches or "rivers" of the Gulf Stream there is a battle of elements. It can be one of the ugliest and most dangerous bodies of water on the face of the earth. 

At times it becomes so rough that life long sea captains will not talk about their experiences when caught in this lion's mouth. It scares even the best of seamen. 

It's like crossing over mountains at sea when caught in the sometimes strong winds whipping up the oceans that can be found just off the 1000 mile long island.

Paddling a board across the stream takes much more than strength and courage, it takes luck, planning, pinpoint timing with currents and tides and weather. On our first 3 trips with a 4-woman team it's an all day and all night paddle taking between 17-19 hours. The best chances for a successful crossing is in the summer months, however it's like paddling in a frying pan with the sun cooking you.

The Gulf Steam is among the largest marine super- highways on the planet where Great Whites and whales migrate towards the North Atlantic. Havana harbor is home to the world record for the largest Great White ever caught.

Nothing compares to the beauty of looking up in a moon lit sky at the North Star for a compass bearing paddling towards home. Paddling at night brings out big sea creatures. Dolphins will surprise you and seeing their fins in the light of the moon can conjure up other images, for a moment making you question your sanity.Crossing the Gulf Stream and its cobalt blue waters at depths of 6,000 feet , with its vast metropolitan communities of animals makes this expedition and world record attempt the highlight of any persons paddleboard experience. 

The Gulf Stream will humble the proudest of men. It has driven great men to fall to their knees and call upon God for help. It is a great testament of the awesome power and fear that the ocean can drive into a person. 

In our first crossing in July at 2 AM the storms appeared from no where. It was as though a hand reached up from hell and cause the ocean to grow from a comfortable serene moonlit night to a silver screen where lightning danced nearby and the waves punched and covered the bow of what I thought was a vast vessel.  See the video, it was truly hair-raising electrical displays . 

My mind flashes back to when I first saw the yacht Princess Sterling and was so impressed with the quality and size. I felt no such comfort as the captain was quickly changing course in order to run from the storm. 

At one moment when I thought of the worst, the clouds began suddenly to part and the sea began to calm. My mind was once again at peace. Surely this had to be the end of the of the ordeal. But then like a boxer getting a second wind, the storm came back for another round. Panic could be seen in the crews eyes as the storms and lightning return. 

This time its darkness and rain came with more of a vengeance than the first round. Water began to fill the cockpit of the boat as sheets of rain came across the decks and then came cracks of thunder loud enough to jolt you while standing on your feet. There's something to be said for being at sea and feeling lightning strike the ocean around you. Sizzle! Unimaginable if you got caught under the bolts, which lit up the sky.

The biggest relieve was that the boat had been struck previously by lightning ( at the dock) so how could lightning strike this boat twice??? Then it happened, heavy rains and wind, temperatures drop nearly 15 degrees instantly followed by more sudden flashes of lighting. It screamed at us like demons raping the souls of the innocent.

I said to myself this surely has to be living on the edge. The end must be near. As fright was in the air on-board ship our captain maintain his position. Driven by a drug I have never experienced he guided the boat for hours out of the storms path with the skill of a surgeon. 

As dawn broke and the storm subsided we were still in the Gulf Stream. The light pierced my eyes as I emerged from what I thought was for sure my floating coffin. Adjusting to the light gave a view of the bluest water that I had ever seen with a pair of dolphins right off our bow as just to say "Hello,  Welcome back to safety! 

It's hard to believe the beauty that this body of water possess the power to kill you and the splendor to spoil you. It becomes an addiction , the Big Blue River, and it certainly lives up to everything that has ever been said about it, and more.

We went back for more and eventually set the women record. 112 miles in 28 hours 16 min. in an uneventful trip except for the dolphins under Cynthia. Highlight was  finally seeing the girls get the crossing under their belts, all beat up and exhausted after clearing through customs at 4 AM.

We still continue to go back for more of the Big Blue River, at times an experience like nothing else.