I left Oriental the morning after Nicole's departure. It was difficult heading north through the familiar territory. I remembered heading South through the same area ready for an unknown adventure with endless possible destinations. Each turn in the ICW I was reminded of the excitement that existed as we headed south. Now there was a deadline and a destination. I didn't regret turning back, but in hindsight I really wish we went offshore from the Carolinas to the Virgin Islands.
The Bahamas were great, but expensive. They also didn't provide the same cultural experience and opportunities as countries further from the U.S. I return with the belief that the thorny path is not impossible, just much harder than necessary. The offshore passage to the virgin islands would have provided much easier access to the Eastern Caribbean, but we lacked the experience (and some equipment like an SSB transceiver) to make that decision on the way south.