Antigua Dream

We arrived Antigua from St. Barth’s after an aggressive bashing into the wind and found Jolly Harbor to be a very large and blissfully calm anchorage. Lowering the dinghy I headed into Customs and Immigration where check-in is very efficient via their online E Sea Clear service. Yes, I could have prefilled out the information but I completed the information in the office. After all the paperwork was signed and the entrance fee was paid, we were free to enjoy the country.

The morning view from anchor, Jolly Harbor

Jolly Harbor

This is a very nice place to sail into and there are many services in this harbor. The marina and fuel dock at Jolly Harbor Marina are really fantastic with a protected approach and full marine haulout. Danny, the yard manager will even take your propane tanks to town and fill them, returning them the next day. At the head of the harbor is THE CROWS NEST, the primary cruiser hang out and wonderful happy hour spot. Across the street is the large grocery store which has anything you need. You could easily re-provision here.  We really enjoyed the calm harbor, non-rolling anchorage, and the Crows Nest. I can see coming back here for more time in the future.

Lets go to “Town”

We like boating into towns, so we decided to head up to St. Johns. the capital of Antigua. It was an easy 6 nm run and we motored right into town and dropped anchor off the cruise ship dock.  We lowered the dinghy and motored in and could not find the dinghy dock. Well, this should have been our first clue. We tied up to a random dock, climbed up and off to town we went. Typical of all cruise ship towns there were the usual duty-free items and pubs and t-shirt shops and jewelry stores and more. Luckily, there was only had one cruise ship in port that day. As we walked around we could see that it would be a ghost town after the ship pulled out. We were beginning to question how safe it would be to stay here on anchor off this town. After ice cream in freshly made waffle cones, we decided that it was not that safe and that we would be far better back at Jolly Harbor. So, back out to the mothership, up anchor, roll out a jib and sail south. This is what we are looking forward to, the discovery of all these new places and where to go. We later heard that no cruisers sail to St. Johns. Well, now we know….

Island Spirit anchored in the harbor of St. Johns, Antigua

Onward to Falmouth

Safely back in Jolly we decided it was time to move on to the hub of Antigua, Falmouth and English Harbors. This was a simple trip around the SW corner of Antigua. As most will figure out, the East trades of 25 knots come whipping around the SW corner and so it is yet another beat into the winds and seas. Lucky for us this was only a two-hour trip and soon we were entering Falmouth harbor for our first time.  Tall ships have been sailing into here since the 1600s and we can see why. The harbor entrance is to the north, the winds are from the east, and once inside, the harbor opens up to a large bay where we dropped the anchor.

English Harbor and Falmouth Harbor as seen from Shirley Heights

Why Leave here?

We fell in love with Antigua now, as we began our discovery of the harbor side and the many services found here. The dinghy dock is at the head of the harbor along with coffee shops, pubs, chandleries, groceries stores and of course, the Antigua Yacht Club. This is our kind of harbor. It reminded me of what Annapolis Maryland must have been like 50 years ago. We could tell this was really going to be a fun place.

The Antigua Yacht Club Building
The Skullduggery Pub signature drink, an Espresso Martini
The Yacht Club docks accommodate the mega yachts

Across the street is “THE DOCKYARD”

What Dockyard?  The one and only Nelson’s Dockyard where the British Fleet of the 1700 and 1800s serviced and managed their powerhouse of ships.  Lord Nelson himself was here for 4 years. Today this is a World UNESCO site preserved forever and restored for all of us to enjoy. The most photographed placed is the PILLARS where the remains of the sail loft building of the 1800s still stands. On top of these pillars once stood a massive sail loft building where they would repair the sails of tall ships. The sails were rowed in via workboats under this building, between the pillars and then lifted up into the building overhead. The tall ships would be stationed out in the harbor.  The remaining pillars are so interesting and very well preserved.

The Pillars are now capped with concrete to preserve them
A fine restaurant now has been built around the pillars
Such a beautiful photographic site

Today, Yacht Races and More

The month of April IS the month to be here as the Classic Yachts arrive for their races and then after that event, the Antigua Race Week kicks off the last week of April. Hundreds of yachts from around the world come here to participate in the race. We have been here a week already and the races start in another week and last for two more weeks, so we decided to return next season for Race Week. We will be sailing on to Guadeloupe and continuing south. We have 6 more weeks until haul out and so many more places to discover. The yachts here are massive, 100 to 150 feet seems average and 50 to 60 feet most common. Out little 35 footer feels likes a dinghy down here. But, we are proud to be here!

The masts of sailing yachts
The Oyster fleet at the Dockyard for a race…”The World’s Your Oyster!”

Boat Buddies Make it all MORE fun

While here at Antigua, we bumped into sv TEMERITY owned by Chris and Laura whom we meet years ago in the Exumas. They stored in Puerto Rico as well and were lucky to not take damages from IRMA or MARIA. Our first night here, we all headed up to SHIRLEY HEIGHTS for the Sunday Fun Day event. What a great time with good friends!

Chris and Laura of sv TEMERITY
Selfie required when with “PhotoBOY”
One of the best steel drum bands

Denmark meets the United States

For many years, we have been following Judith and Haakon on sv TOUCHE, an Island Packet 380. Haakon is from Norway and Judith is from Denmark and they have sailed all over Norway, Scotland and even north to the island of Svalbard above the Arctic Circle. A few years ago, we hosted them on our boat at the Coconut Grove Sailing Center to give a presentation to the club about sailing to Svalbard. That same year, Judith presented at the Miami and Chicago Boatshows. In Dec 2018, they crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the Caribbean at Barbados. We departed Annapolis after the Boat Show and now we both have arrived at Antigua, with TOUCHE sailing north and ISLAND SPIRIT sailing south. We actually SHARED A HARBOR together!  They are very serious sailors and we were honored to spend time with them.

Island Spirit and Touche with IPYOA Battle Flags up
Island Packet 380 TOUCHE the Iceberg hunter in Antigua
First order of business…pop bubbly on Island Spirit

We toured Nelson’s Dockyard and enjoyed meals and of course a few celebratory drinks together. We attended Shirley Heights on Thursday night for a good time, with rum punches, steel drum music and a raggae band. Now, they are sailing north to Annapolis where they will store the boat by end of May and we will sail south, storing in Grenada. We all will be at the Annapolis Boat Show together for our IPYOA Noon Lunches, so Judith and Haakon look forward to meeting many IP owners there.

Judith and Haakon at Pillars
Judith and Haakon at Shirley Heights
Selfie with rum punches at windy Shirley Heights
The overlook at sunset

Our final bottle of Bubbly

After three days of fun, we popped one more bottle of bubbly on sv TOUCHE and we shared our charts and navigation information for heading thru the Exumas and up the USA east coast. We are excited to see them in our home waters of the Chesapeake Bay this fall.

Judith has polar bears on her champagne glasses!
Fun times on sv TOUCHE
Yes, it is bubbly, NO it is not official French Champagne, we know 🙂

Onward south

We depart tomorrow, Monday for a 45 nm beam reach south to Guadeloupe and then onto Iles de Saintes. The French Islands await. Our course finally is 180 (south) on a wind of 090 (east) so this should be a real JOY. Yes, the winds are 22-27 knots gusting 30 knots, but we will sail, finally. Oui Oui 🙂

Live tracking:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Culebra to St Thomas USVI

We had one final push from Culebra, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas for us to call this loop CLOSED! What loop do you ask? The loop of us placing Island Spirit onto a ship here in St. Thomas, 14 months ago, with a broken mast and more from Hurricane Maria. It was temporary metal roofing held down with only cinder blocks that Marina Puerto Del Ray would NOT remove before the storm. Of course, the sheet metal would fly off in a hurricane, and it did, destroying 7 sailboat masts. The three staff lawyers at PDR had it all covered and our lawyer determined the marina could not be held responsible. Then FEMA came in to rebuild the roof properly with USA tax dollars!

The loop consisted of shipping our boat back to Florida and replacing the mast and rigging, followed by cruising the Abacos and Berrys in April, then sailing it home to Annapolis, MD in May. We left Annapolis in October and sailed back to St. Thomas. That loop has been a big effort and very expensive to us, all because Puerto Del Rey would not remove a 30-foot x 40-foot temporary shade roof! So, we are very glad to have closed this loop and crossed back over our route as we passed the Crown Bay Marina Shipping terminal on March 22. Celebration time! YAHOO! THAT  LOOP IS CLOSED!

There it is, the Crown Bay Shipping area. We passed it at 1700 so the loop is CLOSED. Hurricane Maria is truly behind us now!
Break out the bubbly
14 months, about 5,000 nm, and we are back. CELEBRATE!

St. Thomas, how we love it

We love being anchored in towns. We like all the available services. We like going to coffee shops, pubs, and easy grocery store access. We like going for walks around towns. We simply like the action of towns and all they provide and if we can be anchored out with zero costs, that makes it even better. St. Thomas was hit hard by IRMA and MARIA hurricanes. When we were here in December 2017 and January 2018 waiting for our rescheduled ship, we were sad to witness all the destruction. This year, the mega yachts have returned, the dinghy dock has been rebuilt and the town is recovering from the worst hurricanes in its history.  Great to see the recovery!

Brand new floating dinghy dock at Yacht Haven Grande
One of our favorite coffee shops in St. Thomas
Taking the tender back out to our anchored boat, we pass by the cruise ships and wave at the people on their balconies.

One Last Upwind Bashing

Of course, to reach St. Thomas from Culebra, it is one more 25 nm bashing or motor sailing into the wind with a staysail. Salt spray from the waves and the winds soak the entire yacht from the roof to the bow. We hate salt on our boat, so when we drop the anchor the first thing we do is take buckets and sponges and chamois to hand wash the boat. Deck, lifelines, windshields, hatches, portholes, cabin top, teak, etc. This takes about 30 minutes or more and uses about 10 gallons of fresh water. Lucky for us we have a Spectra watermaker which makes this possible.

This is what the “Thorny Path” looks like for 1,200 nm. Bashing into the trade winds and waves. Here we have 25 nm more to St. Thomas.
Salt spray over the roof, the entire boat is covered in salt water, then it dries and you are left with crystals of thick salt. The crystals act like little magnifying glasses and intensify the sun and focus it onto the deck, varnish, plastics. This is why we like to get it off. It is so harmful to the surfaces.

The Green House, our happy place since 1986

Our first visit to St. Thomas was the summer of 1986 when we came down to charter a sailboat with our dear sailing friends, Scott/Barley and Freddie/Gail. We flew in and ended up here at The Green House as we waited for the BOMBA CHARGER ferry to take us over to the BVIs to board our charter boat. This has become our first stop place as we sit at the open window tables and look out over the harbor. The greatest aspect now is to look out at our own boat on anchor in the harbor and reflect back on the many years and the many charter vacations and the great friends we have enjoyed in this special place. All those years of dreaming of eventually, maybe we can, maybe we will want to sail our own boat to here. And now, we have. This is a great place for us to reflect.

The Green House, our happy place in St. Thomas
Radeen is one happy GrL stopping here and remembering all the wonderful visits we have had to STT
Our boat anchored as we look over the Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas

St. Thomas Map

This harbor has been a dream harbor since 1the 1600’s and you can see why. The east trade winds allow for sailing in and sailing out on a beam reach. The harbor is deep and well protected. We can just imagine the days of tall ships all anchored here and offloading their goods to the many warehouses that line the city wharf. Today, these same warehouses now are full of jewelry stores and t-shirt shops. We like to anchor in the far east end of Long Bay where we find 15-20 foot waters (the entire harbor is about 25 feet avg) and we like to be near the dingy dock. The town is more in the center of the harbor and we can take the dinghy over to the USCG dock and tie up there as well. St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie is a wonderful place to sail into and to spend time. We love it.

Hayden and Radeen, happy to return to St. Thomas
Island Spirit anchored in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
The harbor is large, the Crown Bay Marina is the best fuel stop, and the east end of Long Bay is our anchorage spot.

We are here for school shipment

Our next mission is to help the children and teachers of the Jost Van Dyke Primary School. We shipped packages and Mpowerd.com LUCI Solar Lights here and bought supplies in Puerto Rico. We need to pick these items up and deliver them to the wonderful Principal, Ms. Blyden, on Jost Van Dyke. That will be our next post.

Topping up solar power for LUCI lighs,t gifts for the children on Jost Van Dyke
School supplies we bought to take to the Teachers on JVD.

Thank you for following along. Team Island Spirit is living and sharing a dream, and we appreciate this every single day! We are as proud and as happy as this Culebra Rooster 🙂

Rooster stiking a pose

Puerto Rico South Shore

There are many ways cruisers can run the south shore of Puerto Rico and  that is because, along the 92 nm coast, there are so many places to anchor, explore and dock! The south shore of Puerto Rico is a great section of the “Thorny Path.” You feel as if you have finally made it, and you have! You have made it to the Caribbean Sea once you round Cabo Rojo on the SW corner of Puerto Rico. The run we made this second time was similar to our last run in 2017, but we pushed a little harder as our destination is St. Thomas. Take a look at the run we made via this graphic and you will see the many challenges due to the consistent easterly tradewinds during the day time.

Running the South Shore of Puerto Rico

Katabatic Winds and Diurnal Wind Patterns

Puerto Rico is such a large island that it creates its own wind pattern and in doing so, it overpowers the east tradewinds. The island heats up during the day and then cools down at night. During this cooling the winds downdraft off the mountains and flow out to sea. This downdraft pushes the East tradewinds to the southeast and slows them down. These slower trades will be 5-10 knots, maybe 15 knots from the southeast. When the island heats up, the katabatic winds stop down-drafting and the tradewinds take over again blowing from the east 15-20 knots. The well-known solution to moving east into these trades is to run between 0300 to 0900 when the winds are most calm. Then by 0900, you need to turn into shore and anchor, waiting for the next day. Look at this picture of us pushing into the calmer katabatic winds as we rounded Cabo Rojo entering the Caribbean Sea.

Pushing east into the calm AM winds. Welcome to the Caribbean Sea

Here is our happy selfie at this SW corner of Puerto Rico. This is a big deal. We have been running from Annapolis, MD, 1,000 nm down the coast, and then 1,300 nm to here and we finally reached the Caribbean Sea! THIS is a point to celebrate. A lifetime goal accomplished, not once, but twice!

TAKE YOUR  OWN PHOTO HERE!

Hayden and Radeen reach the Caribbean Sea for the second time at Cabo Rojo!
Cabo Rojo, the lighthouse on the SW corner of Puerto Rico. The North Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea at this corner!

Stops along the way

With the knowledge of katabatic winds and moving just 3 to 6 hours each day, the next question is:  Where do I stop? We have enjoyed some of the logical places.

La Parguera:
This is the place where you can first swim near the mangroves in the state park at Caracoles and play on a beautiful sand bar. If lucky, you can take the dinghy to one of the 5 famous bays in the world to look for the bioluminescence.  We were unable to see it in 2017 because of high winds and we were unable to go this year due to pouring rain. You can also take a fun dinghy ride along the shore to see all the cool homes built over the water.

Typical home on the water

Gilligan’s Island
On the weekend there is a real party with the locals which makes it even more fun. During the week, you can have it to yourself. Again, you swim, crawl, hike thru the mangroves and float with the tide in little rivers pushing out to the ocean beaches and swells. This is soooooo cool. Then you can hike the trails and relax on the many secluded beaches. All the while your boat is anchored in a wide open cove all to yourself.

Island Spirit anchored at Gilligan’s Island
Typical cove at Gilligan’s Island
Sharing Gilligan’s Island with Team TIGER, always much more fun with children!

Salinas, a must stop
We anchored all the way in past all the boats and past the marina to the head of the harbor in Salinas. There is plenty of room here and the holding is amazing. Our 55 lb Rocna came up with so much sand and grass and mud it was bigger than the hoop on the top. This is a hurricane home for sure. Many yachts are stored here on the anchor, just look around. From here we dinghied into the wonderful Marina de Salinas with their great pub and cafe. Sunday beers are $10 for 5 Coronas in an Ice Bucket. We enjoyed renting a car from Sidney, the marina will connect you, and from here we drove to Ponce and to tour the area. Lots of shopping, Walmart, Kmart, Walgreens, and a large grocery store. This is the place to reprovision.

Anchored out in Salinas with the wildfires blazing on the hills at night!

Meet up with NEW friends

We met up with mv/SMARTINI and their buddies Paul and Liz and we all had a really good time at the pub on Sunday afternoon. Fran and Butch connected with us via radio while off Big Sand Key. We talked about making the run directly to Samana or Puerto Rico in that weather window. They were only thinking of running south to Luperon. Well, we encouraged them to push onward to the SE and run toward Samana. Then, if all was good, they could keep pushing to PR, and they did. They were so glad they made the run. It was fun to meet them, especially since they are friends with Bill and Lauren on m/v Sea Star. Thanks for the beers! Good people and fun friends…

New boating friends, very fun

Long Push, 50+ nm to Culebra

For this leg, we pushed onward over 50 nautical miles into the east trades skipping Las Palmas and Fajardo and Vieques and onward to Culebra. Again, we like to take the weather windows and run as far as we can into the east when the windows open up. Of course, once out, this window was NOT like forecasted, typical. It was 15-18 knots and it was EAST, when it was supposed to be SOUTHEAST. Not ESE, but clearly SE. East is on the bow, SE is off the bow. So we powered onward and bashed our way into the 4-6 foot seas and winds. First with just a staysail and 20 degrees off the wind, then we added the jib when the winds were finally and briefly 45 degrees off the starboard bow. All the while motor sailing to push into the big seas. This is how we do it.

Pushing into trades with a staysail and 2700 rpms, running 20 degrees off the wind on B&G wind vane steering
Eventually, the winds moved to SE and we could add a jib, now making 7.5 knots

Arrival Culebra

As we pushed on to Culebra, our destination of St. Thomas could be seen on the distant horizon. Now that is a real thrill. We pulled into Culebra to enjoy the island for a day and to take a break. The winds are the same today and tomorrow, so we will move over to STT tomorrow, making our destination for now.

Rounding the corner of Culebra, we could see St. Thomas off in the distance!
We were treated to beautiful sun and clouds as we motored into Culebra
Celebrating the Spring Equinox, we were presented with the Super Moon rising over our bow at anchor off the town of Dewey, Culebra. What a day!

One more day

We have one more day, 20 nm, and we will have returned to St. Thomas and closed the loop since the day we shipped our damaged boat back to Colin Mack for repairs. Once we cross a line off the Crown Bay Shipping docks, we will call this delivery complete. Shipping was booked at $12,000, including travel costs, and Radeen and I now feel we have earned our money! Fun Fun Fun times.

Here are a few more photos … thanks for sailing along with us, we really enjoy sharing this adventure.

Rain day in La Parguera
Our mobile Whiteaker Yacht Sales office goes everywhere. Puerto Rican courtesy flag flying.
it is COLD offshore at 4 am, brrrrrrrr, even in the tropics
Santa Isabela Wind Farm east of Ponce
Sunset over our solar panels and wind machine
Radeen loves to travel and she loves to learn, check out the book 🙂  Bruce Van Sant’s “Passages South.”

LIVE Tracking here
https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Crossing the Mona Passage

The Mona Passage is the area between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This is a very well know passage with a reputation for being very difficult and rough. This was our second time crossing the Mona and once again the seas were kind and the current not too strong. The route from Samana Dominican Republic to Puerto Real, the harbor where we arrived, takes you right along the DR coast line until you reach the point of Cabo Engano and at that point, you turn more southwest to cut inside and across the “Hourglass Shoal” at the narrowest part. The reason you do this is that the current is flowing north and the 1,000-foot deep waters are pushed upward to 80 feet which can cause serious sea state at the Hourglass shoal. So, you cut across this at the narrowest point and avoid that sea state. Here is a chart of the route.

Crossing the Mona Passage

Get Off Soundings

Another situation that you need to address is the fact that the Dominican Republic fishermen run miles and miles offshore in their little boats setting out their fishing gear. This can be polypropylene line and milk jugs and plastic barrels, etc. This gear is floating on the surface and usually anchored as well. So the solution to avoiding these fish traps and fishing gear is to run out to the deep water and get yourself off soundings. That is where your depth gauge no longer can see the bottom. This is where the fishermen will NOT BE and you will also not run into their gear. This is especially important at night because you will never see the gear on the water.  So we ran out to deep waters and had no problems.

Fish Trap area and your course will take you over this area, head left, out to deep water
The Hourglass Shoal off the Dominican Republic, run south to cross the narrow area

Last Night in Samana, Dominican Republic

On our last in the DR, before we crossed the Mona Passage, Radeen and I had a “Date Night” and enjoyed a nice meal out at the marina. What a good time to reflect on our run from Annapolis MD to here. We count our blessings daily and we are so grateful for the freedom and skills we have to be able to run our boat on these long passages. We now look at 150 nm as a day trip and  300nm leg as just a little bit more than “a Block Island run” as we call it. We reference that 240 nm trip because di it 10  summers in a row and loved it. Now, here we are, running for the Caribbean Sea. Thank you Radeen, you are a great sailor GrL. 🙂

 

Date Night with Radeen

Course 130 degrees, winds 090 degrees, usually

It seems like the entire run from the Bahamas to the Caribbean Sea is a course of 130 and the winds are usually 090. If you are lucky they move north to 080 or south to 100 which still places the wind 30-40 degrees off the bow. Unless you have a J boat, you can not sail this course. You will be motor sailing with a reefed mainsail or a staysail or a partial jib. Then you sheet in hard and run your motor and power into the wind. What you are looking for is a calm wind, something in the range of 10 knots to 13 knots, because at 15 knots to 18 knots the seas come up too much. Now you are bashing into the sea state and beating 30 degrees off the bow. That is an ugly ride and with hundreds of miles to run, you do not want to do that.

Daybreak is wonderful at sea.

We run Autopilot on Windvane steering

The way we run these long legs is on autopilot, of course. We do is set up our sail plan and that is usually a staysail or a double reefed main. Then we point the boat 25-30 degrees off the wind, sheeting in the sails hard. Now, set the autopilot to hold a given wind angle of 30 degrees. The pilot will keep the boat at this angle to the wind. As the winds move left, the boat heads left, as the winds move right, the boat heads right. Overall the course is good and the boat and the sails are happy. Nothing to do but stand watch and check your engine room and bilges and monitor the course.

The view over the helm from the port seat.

The Blue Ocean

We are always amazed at how blue the ocean really is. All these photos are cell phone photos and the ocean really is this blue. It changes as the sun is high or low and at night, of course, it is black. But when the sun is midday, 11-4pm the ocean lights up in this beautiful blue. Look at these photos…

Departing the Dominican Republic, Cape Samana
Full sail 40nm out of Puerto Rico, crossing the Mona Passage

Arrival in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico

The run from Samana DR to Puerto Real is 145 nm or 24 hours plus an hour or two at 5.5 knots. We departed at 1400 and we arrived in Real at 1400-1500. The Mona was very kind to us as the winds moved to 090 and eventually 080-050 and went very light. It was a port tack set the entire way. We ran a staysail and a full 110% jib most of the way plus the 2600 rpms on the Yanmar. We motor sail like this at 5.5 to 6 knots and we burn 0.75 gallons per hour. Once in Puerto Real, we went to the fuel dock, filled up 19 gallons and then moved dropped an anchor. We stayed anchored out for two days. Puerto Real is a great place to check in, as CBP is at this marina or you can use the CPB ROAM app which worked great for us. Welcome to Puerto Rico, a dream place to cruise along the south coast.

sv Island Spirit anchored out off Puerto Real
You can always find us with this 9 foot Gold Island Packet Battle Flag. We also fly the Whiteaker Yacht Sales flag as we are brokers for WYS team.

Live Tracking Map

Remember, we have a Garmin Inreach satellite communicator and this devices places a map pin down anytime the yacht is moving (provided we remember to turn it on and start tracking 🙂 The great aspect to this, is that it shows time, date and speed, so we can look back and study how long it took us to go from A to B. It is also a wonderful archive map of our travels. This map is showing the current trip ONLY from Annapolis, MD to our current position. We have other maps from our many years of cruising under our MAP menu link. Thank you all for following along with us. Here is our map:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Samana, Dominican Republic

We motor sailed out of South Side Marina, Turks and Caicos, southward to deep water running the 14 nm off the banks to French Key. There we turned SE to run outside the Caicos Banks to move the 75 nm around to Big Sand Key. This would be our staging point to make the 184 nm run to Samana, Dominican Republic. The challenge is getting across the 50 nm of Caicos Banks and not hitting a massive coral head.

Our Plan to run south, then SE to Big Sand.

A Bashing below the Banks

Well, the run south of the Caicos banks turned out to be one of the roughest passages we have had in many many years. Waves came up to 3-4 feet at 4-5 seconds, and the winds came up to 15-19 knots directly on the bow. We buried the bow light at least 50+ times. Now, that is really pretty at night when your bow light, that is 8 feet off the water, dives down into the coming wave, punches thru the wave and then illuminates the wave with red to port and green to starboard. WOW, that is beautiful, maybe once or twice, but when it happens from 7 pm to 5 am it is a real beating. It was not possible to sleep at all. We arrived at Big Sand Key at 6 am. What was to be a 14 hr passage turned into a 21-hour beating. Not fun. We dropped anchor, washed the boat, and crashed!

The view out the windshield at daybreak after taking salt spray over the roof all night long!

Big Sand to Samana, Dominican Republic

Now we were staged at Big Sand Key placing us 184 nm from Samana, DR. The forecast was holding, and that is good because there is no place to go from here except north to Grand Turk. The winds were to be calm, 10-15 from the SSE, of course, that is directly on the bow with a course of 130. So, we motor sailed again, a staysail and the engine on 2700 rpms making 5.5 to 6 knots. We ended up taking several tacks as we kept moving EAST. We knew the winds would shift and like clockwork, the EAST winds came in right on schedule and then we could tack back to port and run our 130-degree course directly to Cabo Cabron and then Cape Samana.

A very welcome sight, Cape Cabron at day break
Rounding the second cape, this is Cape Samana, DR

Docked at Bahia Puerto Marina, Samana

We sailed into here in 2017 on our first trip south with our fun “Team Six Knots” and we knew how lovely this place is. So, it was a joy to return to this five-star marina resort with infinity pools and cafes and pubs. This place is really amazing and at $1.00/foot, it is a real deal. Look at this clubhouse and condos!

The clubhouse with a gym, billiard room, pubs, and more

The pool is a big bonus here for Radeen, as she loves to swim. It is an infinity pool where the water is level with the edge and it flows over the wall to a lower reservoir overlooking the Bay of Samana. This makes for great photos looking out to sea and at sunset.

Radeen in the pool
Sunsets here are amazing

Rental Car adventures and Touring Samana

We rented a car with our buddies John and Darcy of 45 Ft Jeanneau KINDRED SPIRIT and hit the road. Within the first ten minutes, I nearly wrecked as cars were cutting me off and motorcycles passing on both sides. Welcome to Samana, DR. Drive like you stole it, and hope and pray you don’t wreck.

Typical downtown Samana and all the motorcycles.

Off to the Country Side

After a quick tour around Samana and a good 30-45 minutes to get a sim card for the cell phone ($2 sim and $5 for 5 GB) we now had coms to hit the countryside. We headed to a waterfall and hiked up into the hills only to not see any water as the riverbed was dry so we turned around and headed for the beach at Playa de Valle. This is where the real adventure began.

Typical bananas everywhere
Beautiful overlooks
Local transportation

Did anyone put gas in the car??

Well, we tried, and at our first fuel stop due to none of us speaking Spanish and the attendant not speaking English, we eventually were able to put in 300 pesos.  Great, we are good to go….WHAT? 300 pesos only gave us 1 gallon at best. Well, the next thing you know, we are in the middle of nowhere and nearly out of petrol. So, we stop in this village, horseman hauling bamboo, and locals having lunch, someone found us a gallon of gas! Really? Yes, the locals are so kind and so helpful. For $300 pesos, and of course, I bought some Brugal Rum off the little street vendor to help, and we tipped the local for helping us. By the end of this activity, we were drinking our Brugal with the locals and having a great time. WOW, how fun.

Local transportation and local casino!
Hoseman hauling bamboo home passes by
A local finds us a gallon of gas, pours it in

Gassed up, we can make the beach

With the car now fueled up, we can now push onward to the beach. By the way, this is all within a few miles from Samana. the rental car comes empty, you put gas in. Oh, thank you. We then found the Playa de Valle beach town with a beautiful scene, fishing boats and of course a great little pub. How about some Presidente on the beach?

Fishing boats on the beach

Local Services, Schools and Health Care

On the drive home, we noticed the health care building and we also noticed the local school. These government buildings are well cared for and provide services to the locals. Here are two buildings, a health care building and a school.

The local healthcare building
The local school

Back at the Marina….ahhhh

You can see why this marina is so amazing as it is beyond anything you will see anywhere else in the area. Yes, there are many 5-star resorts in the Dominican Republic, but only a few marinas like this. We enjoyed our time here and we really admire the Dominican people as they are so kind and so polite and so helpful. They really want us all to visit this amazing island.  I hope you can visit some day.

Down with the Q Flag and up with the Dominican Republic Flag
Hayden and Radeen at the Puerto Bahia Ocean Club pool. paradise.

Onward to Puerto Rico….

Live map and tracking here:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Season 2018-19 Begins

Our summer at Saltbox 13 flew by and it is always a comfortable retreat and change of pace and activity from the cruising lifestyle.  We find the contrast of life on land vs life on a boat to be so interesting. On the boat, we live off solar power, wind power and a 100 amp alternator and a little diesel fuel. We make fresh water out of salt water, we walk for all groceries. At home, we live in a passive solar home but have endless water (38 gal/minute well) endless power 120 volt, 24/7 internet, cable TV, cars, bikes, and a large Weber grill. Life on land is soooo easy, life on a boat is soooo simple. The contrast is interesting and we enjoy both equally.

Required selfie as we start off in Annapolis MD 2018

Our first two weeks aboard find us in Annapolis Maryland as we stow and store all the items we moved onboard. We are adjusting to living without a car for the next 8 months. We are working thru the yacht systems, some need repairs, some need adjusting. Solar and wind are working great, and we have found once again, our new B&G 4G radar is not working AGAIN. So we are focused on that major system which allows us to sail offshore safely at night. We need to fix it as we are heading offshore 5 days after the boat show!

Living on the mooring ball for a week off the Annapolis Yacht Club

We spent one rainy week on mooring ball 50 in Annapolis and then a fun 3 days at the Seven Seas Sailing Association SSCA gathering at the Maryland Yacht Club in Rock Creek, near Baltimore. Now we have moved back to Annapolis where we are attending the sailboat show, as we have done for over 25 years. We really enjoy seeing so many cruising friends and Island Packet Yacht Owners. We created and host lunches at the Fleet Reserve at the 2nd-floor roof tent every day from noon til about 2 pm. It is a great way to meet up with buddies. We also look at all the new gear and rigging ideas, most of which we either have or don’t need. We go to seminars and learn new ideas and hear about other sailors’ adventures. It really is a great way to spend a long weekend. We can’t imagine missing the Annapolis Boat Show.

We along with Whiteaker Yacht Sales host our IPYOA.com Noon Lunches

So, we will return to blogging and we will share our photos and adventures once again. Our destination this year is the Caribbean Sea once again, but this time we will push onward past Puerto Rico and make it to Grenada by May 15, 2019. There we will haul out and store the boat from June 1 to Nov 1 for hurricane season. Between now and then, we will have much to share and many photos to capture. Thanks for sailing along.

This is the way we made it to the Caribbean last year, here we go again
This time, we WILL push onward and make it to Grenada for storage. 

Our New 2018-19 cruising map is active here. It will be updated as our boat moves. We use the Garmin InReach tracker and the Spotwalla service to archive our trips. This way you can always see where we are. It is interesting to see the creeks and rivers we run and the ocean passages we will make.

https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=1b7bf5bb462b62d758&hoursPast=0&showAll=yes

Hayden and Radeen.…docked at the Boat Show, let the FUN BEGIN again!

Radeen and Hayden, Oct 3, 2018, at dock, Annapolis Boat Show time

Stuart FL to Rock Hall MD

It is very difficult to blog and post while moving the boat 10-14 hours a day, every day, 1,000 nm.  Twelve days after departing FL, we finally are getting a chance to catch up on photos and blog postings. We have had a fantastic run from Stuart, going offshore direct 525 nm in 3 days to Cape Lookout, NC. There we entered the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway, and worked our way north to the Chesapeake Bay. Once in the Bay, we blasted north in 2 days. We never did that before, running the bay in 2 days. We count home waters as Annapolis to Rock Hall, Maryland, with the Bay Bridge as our defining landmark signifying we are home.

This 2017-18 cruising season has been an unusual one, starting in Puerto Rico with a damaged mast from hurricane Maria. We shipped the boat to Florida and had it repaired by Mack Sails. We tested the rebuild out by sailing a loop around the Abacos and the Berrys. With it being so late in the season, we decided to sail for home where we could use our boat for the summer and wait out the next hurricane season. We will sail back to the Caribbean next season and resume our adventures there. For now, we will enjoy the boat here on the Bay for the summer of 2018.

Here is a graphic of our season.

We departed Stuart on Monday, noon, May 21

Heading out the inlet in a near squall that caught up with us about 3 miles offshore, we were out and heading north. There was a nice 3 to 4-day weather window with forecasted southeast winds of 15-20 knots and no threat of thunderstorms. We liked the forecast so, even with the squall, we left. It was a bit exciting, but we kept telling ourselves the forecast was great. Let’s keep going. Well, we took a beating for about 4-5 hours out of the inlet and we actually thought about turning around, but we pushed offshore to the Gulfstream.

The calm after the squall

Our passage was great

We had it all, broad reaching full sails, all three, we reefed 4 times, had 3 squalls, lightning and rain, and even 4 hours of code zero offshore. The sailing was really wonderful for days. We both commented many times how amazing the sailing was. Endless sailing. This trip was the longest offshore trip we have made. 60 hours 525 nm. We had two days of 200 nm which was due to the 3-4 knots of the Gulfstream. Making a 200nm day is a great day on any sailboat, let alone a little 35 footer. We were pleased with our speed and the push of the Stream.

On our second  day, we were 400 nm from St. Lucie Inlet, near Stuart
Here we are 24 hrs from our last 24 hr point, it was 200.1 nm

The days rolled on and we enjoyed the passage. Radeen and I are not always thrilled about ocean passages, but we do them when we can to cover longer distances. For us, we would rather anchor and rest at night, but sometimes you just have to go to sea and do shifts and keep running 24/7. This was a great time to go offshore, to go north, and we are very glad we did it. Here are the photos from offshore…

Code Zero sailing for about 4 hours
Radeen keeps our logbook up to date
This is the coolest sail, so easy to use. We use it when winds are under 15 knots.
Sunset on the port side, heading north
Full mainsail, we reefed down 4 times.
Sunset at sea, Day 2
Radeen keeping the sun off her face
Calm seas 100 nm offshore
Hayden hooked in and on watch

Arriving Cape Lookout at 0400

We arrived Cape Lookout before daybreak in a thunderstorm. Our new radar went out the afternoon of the second day so we were running blind all night, a very uncomfortable situation. After making the Cape straightaway, we decided to not go into the harbour until daybreak because it was so dark. With no moonlight, no radar and one lighted buoy missing, it was best to wait. We simply put away the jib and, with a reefed main, we sailed along the shore until 0530 when it was light enough to go in and drop the anchor. We slept until 0800 and then headed out using our code zero for the Beaufort Inlet and into the ICW in beautiful conditions.

Arriving at 0400, we waited until 0530 to go in and anchor

Up the ICW, Cape Lookout to the Chesapeake Bay

This is always an easy and interesting section of the ICW. We have run this 10+ times and know the route well. We also know the stops and the anchorages. We have stopped before at Oriental, River Dunes, Manteo,  Edenton, Elizabeth City, Dismal Swamp, Norfolk, etc. but this time we were on a delivery running for home. So, we followed our dear friend Reuben’s route into Coinjock. There we made reservations for a prime rib dinner and a dock. What a treat that was after days at sea and on the hook. Coinjock was a welcome relief and we may always go this way from now on. It also saves one day of travel so that was another reason we went this way. Very fun stop. Thank you, Reuben.

The Coinjock Restaurant
Date night since we did not kill each other offshore 🙂

The next stop PORTSMOUTH, VA

We never ever miss this stop at the Portsmouth, VA ferry basins. We dock  along the waterfront and walk into town on High Street, taking in the Bier Garten, the Commodore Movie Theater, and the local coffee shop. What a great stop to see the new Star Wars movie, “Solo.” So much fun for sure.

South Ferry Basin, Portsmouth VA, our 11th stop here!
Thank you to the US NAVY and all who serve!

Photos of the ICW…

Shrimp boat, NC
The clear brown waters of the Pungo River-Alligator River Canal
22 nm long canal, the Pungo River-Alligator River Canal
Water stained tea colored from the cypress trees
Biting flies are numerous and massively large  in NC
Beautiful trees in the swamps
One lone tree as we turn into the canal

We reach the Chesapeake Bay….HOME waters

These are our home waters! When we reach the Bay, we feel at ease and safe. Starting our sailing here in 1986, we have anchored in nearly every creek and cove. First stop, Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. and one of our favorites. It was an unexpected pleasure to have dinner with Mary Ann and Ron of IP380 CAVU and Sharon and Greg of IP40 Dreamcatcher, but we have no photo of the fun to share.

We love to sail past Thomas Point Lighthouse
HOME, Thomas Point Lighthouse

Annapolis Maryland

Our HAPPY PLACE, St. Mary’s cove under the Spa Creek Bridge
Our favorite alley in Annapolis where we always take a photo with the Maryland State House

Chesapeake Bay Bridge, NOW we are HOME

We have not been north of the Bay Bridge by boat since 2015. We stored our boat in Stuart FL two years ago to prep for sailing to the Caribbean Sea. Then last season, we stored in Puerto Rico. Now we have returned and it was a fun run to cross under the Bay Bridge again. We always cut the corner and that presents these great photo shots looking back into the center span of the bridge with the perspective vanishing point. Very cool photo.

Looking east into the center spans from in between the bridges

Rock Hall, MD tower

From the center span of the Bay Bridge, we ran for the Rock Hall tower which is a range marker pointed to the main ship channel. Once we reached this, we were home. We motored into Swan Creek and around the creek to Spring Cove Marina. We have been at this marina since 1991. It is the special place where we built all our sailing and cruising dreams. We spent many summers planning and dreaming of going off cruising. For now, we will base here and enjoy our boat.

The Rock Hall tower and the way into our creek
Docked at Spring Cove Marina, sun setting over our bow

CHEERS, it is a great life cruising on a sailboat

A little tired after all these miles, but we were happy to pop the bubbly…CHEERS

We celebrated our arrival at The Harbour Shack with great friends, Sharon and Jeff of IP35 Lucille and Ray of IP 27 Wye’s Guy. Again, no photo of the fun.

Thank you all for following along. Your comments arrive in our email box and we love to hear from you.


OUR MAP. Where we have been and where we are now. If our boat moves, this map updates. How fun.

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Code Zero sail added

We added a new sail to our rig, a CODE ZERO. After repairing and rebuilding our new mast and rigging, we finally got the boat back to where it was when we stored her in Puerto Rico. Then Hurricane Maria damaged us and we came back to Stuart Florida for repairs by Mack Sails. Once finished we really had nothing to show for all this work and money, so, we bought Island Spirit a cool new CODE ZERO furling spinnaker. These sails are good with a wind angle of 40 degrees down to 140 degrees but the best angle is 50 to 110 and apparent winds up to 20 knots.  The true beauty is that the sail simply unfurls and out it comes. Then when you are finished with it, you simply furl it up and it stays in place forward of the jib. To accomplish this we added a masthead crane extension and a new halyard. We welded a new attachment point between the anchor rollers and we added a new self-tailing winch to the mast. Here is a photo of the first day we hoisted the sail:

Sailing 2 knots in 4 knots of wind, Code ZERO only!

Welding the Bow

We needed to add an attachment point on the bow, so we hired the best welder in Stuart, Florida, Mike Davis of Native Welding. We moved the boat to the docks and placed the bow over the dock and Mike was able to modify our bow rollers and we added a new arch welded between the two rollers. This places the Code Zero attachment point dead center and well forward of the forestay. On the newer IPs, with the larger bow rollers, they can simply shackle to the existing roller structure. This mod, we are now pulling up on both anchor rollers which are thru bolted with larger bolts than our forestay uses, so we have no worries about strength here. Take a look at the welding process photos. Very nice work.

We docked and then lowered the anchors, then moved the bow over the dock
Mike Davis is an artist and a talented welder. We added a new arch between the rollers
This is stainless steel welding which needs argon gas and 100 amps of power
Mike’s helmet is a digital welders helmet with fans, exhaust and it records the hours welding
Mike Davis welding stainless steel on Island Spirit
The added bow between the rollers
The two outer bows are simply bolted on, we wanted something stronger so we welded the center bow.

The Furling Rig

Code Zero sails use a continuous line furling rig. This rig is the Profurl NEX 2.5 which has a working load of 2.5 tons, or 5,000 lbs. The idea is that these sails can be rolled out and deployed easily and they can be furled back up just like a jib. The furling line is continuous and comes off the drum back to the cockpit where it returns to the drum via a ratchet block. This helps with furling by allowing the sail to roll out easily.  To see, watch this YouTube Video here by Profurl: https://youtu.be/rcgc5CnJbl4 

 

The Profurl NEX 2.5 Flying Sail Furler

The Code Zero forward of the Jib

The Code Zero stays furled up and forward of the jib. This becomes one of the most used sails on the boat because it has such a wide range of uses. Unlike a spinnaker, which you have to get out, hoist with the sock on it, rig up the tack to the bow, set up the sheets and pull up the halyard. Then set up the boat on the course, pull up the sock and then set the sail. With this, you get on course, roll out the Code Zero and sail. When finished, roll it back up and leave it right there. For the spinnaker, you go up on deck as the wind builds (oh great) then pull down the sock, now this big tube of sail is hanging there, now lower it to deck or down a hatch and good luck finding a place to store it. Code Zero, furl it, forget it. DONE.

Here is the Code Zero in its place, ready to go. ready to sail

Sailing Photos, Fun Fun Fun

Our second day we sailed 3 times up and down the river and sailed from 40 degrees down to 140 degrees. This sail loves 50-110 degrees. We have a whisker pole and a topping lift so we can rig this for dead downwind as well. Enjoy these sailing photos.

Reaching
Close reaching
no main sail, just the code zero
Our sailmaker is www.MackSails.com We really like this family run USA Stuart Florida company
so much fun
Looking aft, this is about a 165% 170%
Fun Fun Fun

Captain Photo Required

Hayden with his new code zero, way more to follow, just wait til we get to sea with this sail

Hayden with our new Code Zero Sail

Tomorrow we hit the OCEAN

.Tomorrow we will take Island Spirit out to the ocean and test this sail out in 10-15 knots with the full mainsail up. This will be very exciting. We will have a drone flying and our friend Ed taking video from a chase boat. We are working with Mack Sails on a video, this should really be fun.

We really like Mack Sails Company. Thank you, Colin and Travis www.MackSails.com

Lucaya to Lake Worth Inlet

This sailing motoring passage of 79 nm from Grand Bahama to Florida gave us everything from flat calm seas, to beam reach sailing to marine warnings over the VHF to thunderstorms, lightning, rain and reduced visibility. Overall, with 8 crossings of the Gulf Stream, this one was by far one of the calmest and smoothest sea states we have seen.

First, we exited Port Lucaya on Grand Bahamas where we ran out a very narrow rock-lined channel. There is zero chance to turn around and no opportunity to pass another yacht in this channel. Any SOUTH winds blowing into this narrow channel would create a serious problem.  We departed at 7 am with the 10 knots of crosswinds. It looked like this.

Departing Ocean Reef Yacht Club, the narrow channel
The rocks are half a boat length off your beam!
If a sea is running into this or across this channel, it could be a no go!

Here we go

Radeen and I keep out boat moving at full speed whenever we are on a passage. We are not out here for a day sail. We want to make the passage as short as we can make it, so we do whatever it takes to keep the boat moving at or near hull speed which is 7.2 knots. With the motor in flat calm water, we can motor about 6.2 knots, add some sail and we can motor sail at 6.5 knots. Give us 10 knots of breeze and we can motor sail at 7 knots. That is what we do. We find that in the ocean, Island Packet Yachts need 15 knots to push the sea state due to their beam and weight. If the winds are 15-20 knots then these boats sail at hull speed. We can always sail faster than we can motor, but we need 15-20 knots of wind in the ocean. Here we are with a reefed main and a staysail because the winds were only 5-8 knots that morning, so all we wanted to do was stabilize the boat in the seaway.

Motor sailing with reefed main and staysail doing 6.5 knots

Then the Winds Die

AS forecasted, the winds died. This weather situation is what is called “diurnal” which means that the winds are based on the thermals off the land. So, while we were near Freeport Bahamas, we had the land pulling in the wind from the sea. Then once we got out to sea, no more thermals, so no winds. Flat calm sea. This was the situation until we reached the south winds blowing along the Florida coast. Look at the ocean, this is amazing, it is never this calm!

Gulf Stream Crossing dream, calm calm calm

Gulf Stream 3 knots

When crossing the stream, we need to plan for the 3 knot current that is flowing north. With a 36 mile wide stream and our boat speed at 6 knots and a 3 knot flow northward, that means we would be in the stream for 6 hours (36/6) Six hours drifitng 3 knots northward will move your boat 18 nm northward. So, that means when you come out of the stream you will be 18 to 20 miles north of where you were heading, Planning for this common set and drift navigation challenge, you need to point your boat 15-20 degrees south of your actual rum line.  In this example, we were pointed 270 but we were going course over ground of 300. This ran us right to our destination. In the next photo you can see the effects of the Gulf Stream flowing northward at 3 knots. Look at the compass and then look for COG on the B&G screen.

Heading 270, COG 303, speed 7.4, Gulf Stream crossing to Florida
We were under full sail with motor doing 7 knots, beam winds at 8-10
Blue Blue Blue ocean, but the fish beat us today, zero

OH NO, Thunderstorm ahead

As forecasted, the late afternoon thunderstorms would develop over South Florida, and sure enough, there they were. The VHF radio was going off with NOAA weather alerts and severe weather warnings. We were 20 miles offshore when they said…”BOATERS SHOULD SEEK SAFE HARBOR”….great, we are 3-4 hours out at sea and there is no safe harbor. The next thing you know, the temperature dropped rapidly and the winds shifted. We moved into a full out Chinese fire drill, reefing the jib and dropping the full mainsail. The winds picked up rapidly to 25 knots. They were forecast to be 40-60 knots with hail. The most we had was 27 knots, thank goodness.

Trying to make time, we have full sails up while watching the front approach
Radar shows the front and the rain, we knew this was coming
Winds were on the beam, we could have easily sailed this, but we dropped sails expecting 40-60 knots
Hooked on, no one is going overboard
Happy Radeen, the rain and storm have passed
With constant storm warnings on the VHF, with lightning all around, we powered on with no sails

LAKE WORTH INLET, a CLASS A….ahhhhh

We really like CLASS A inlets, they are deep, they are wide and they are straight in and easier than non-class A inlets. In this area we have Lake Worth and Fort Pierce as class A inlets with St. Lucie in between. We chose to come into Lake Worth in case we could not make it in daylight, then we knew we could enter this inlet at dark and via radar. Lucky for us, we arrived at 7 pm and sunset was at 7:50 pm so we had daylight to enter. Just inside the inlet and to the south we dropped anchor and enjoyed watching this old cruise ship heading out. It was nice we did not meet it in the inlet. Welcome HOME, we are back in the USA.

A cruise ship heading out the Lake Worth inlet as seen from our anchor

Welcome to West Palm Beach, Check in with CBP

Since 2011, we have been checking back into the USA from the Bahamas using the LBO, Local Boater Option. We also use the SVRS, Small Vessel Reporting System. Both of these systems have all our biometrics, passports, photos and all info about our vessel. While in the Bahamas, we filed and processed an SVRS/LBO float plan and activated this plan when we’re ready to depart which then gives us a Float Plan number. This float plan number is all that Customs and Border Patrol needs. When you call, they enter your float plan number and you are checked back into the USA.

Surprise! NOT anymore.

You are supposed to use the CBP ROAM app on your smartphone. When you go to download and to use this app, it tells you straight up that it is in BETA form and is experimental to use. I downloaded it but was unable to log-in. So, I called in with my float plan number and the officer refused to take it, he said I must use ROAM. I called back in 3 more times getting a different CBP officer each time. I explained my problem and kept trying to use my float plan number. Finally, on the 4th call, the officer believed my difficulties and asked me for all my data, never using my float plan number. He then cleared us in.

CONCLUSION: You need to use CBP ROAM app, enter all your personal data, your yacht data, your passport, home address, LBO numbers, etc, then you can check in via your cell phone on a conference call with the CBP officer. Other friends have used it successfully. I just wish our government would perfect the APP and get it out of BETA because I never use beta software. I do not trust it at this point in time. The float plan filing website should be discontinued since the Float Plan numbers are no longer used. Filling it out was a waste of time.

Sunset as I call and deal with CBP and LBO and ROAM

That is a WRAP

Year # 7 to the Bahamas is now a wrap. Yes, we were supposed to be in the Caribbean, but the Bahamas are a dream as well. So, it was down with the flag, and store it till next year, when we will once again be on our way to the Caribbean Sea!

Radeen drops our well worn Bahamas Flag

PS: We crossed Island Spirit’s Shipping Track

If you look at this live tracking map, you will see that on this trip, Florida to Abaco to Berrys to Lucaya to Florida, we crossed the shipping track that Island Spirit traveled inboard from St. Thomas in January. How interesting to study that. We really enjoy using this Inreach device by Garmin.
https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

Sailing Stirrup to Lucaya

Our 75 nm run from Great Stirrup Cay in the Berrys to Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island was a mix of sailing and motor sailing and then sailing again.  We had planned to depart Stirrup Cay at sunset, which we did, and we planned to sail all night.  One last look at radar showed storms coming. So, we smartly turned around and returned to safe anchorage and waited for them to pass. At 10:30. we were ready to sail again.  but Radeen was looking at the Weather Bug radar app and it showed severe storms and thunderstorms tracking directly across our projected path, just beyond our 36 mile radar. Well, these storms came all night long just inches north of us right up until the last storm passed us at 7:30 am. Needless to say, we did not get much sleep that night! So, as the last storm was passing, we hoised a reefed main sail and sailed out behind the storm with the lightning just past us to the east. Here is a map of our passage.

Scones Required

What would a sail be without scones? So, I baked 16 scones and gave 4 away and packed up the rest for the next few days of sailing and travel. These are very easy to make from scratch, we simply use the basic recipe from King Arthur Flour. It is fun to bake on the boat.

Cruise Ships Lease these Islands

Royal Caribbean leases Little Stirrup Cay (aka Coco Cay) and Norwegian Cruise line leases Great Stirrup Cay. The ships anchor off their private islands and then ferry passengers, 5,000 of them, back and forth. WOW, it is crazy how packed the islands are. We sailed past these ships the day before as we moved into Great Stirrup Cay to stage up for the sailing northwest. A cruise is a great option for being here because you really need to get to the Bahamas to see the beautiful blue, blue ocean waters and the powder sand beaches.

Sailing past Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean Ship
Anthem of the Seas, the hull is light blue and beautiful

Harness on and Hook in, it is off to sea

Radeen and I like to take these selfies as we head out to sea, it is something we do and cherish as we look back and remember the sailing trips we have taken. We wear harnesses and tethers which we hook onto the boat. The idea is to make sure no one falls off the boat, and if you do fall off, then you will not be lost. We have these on at sea all the time. Happy selfie as we head out after a sleepless stormy night on anchor.

 

Hayden and Radeen

Set Sails and Sail

After the storms passed, we had a perfect beam reaching wind for about 4 hours. We started with a reefed mainsail and then shook out the reef to a full main and even added the little staysail. Now under full sail, we were making 6 to 6.5 knots directly towards our destination. PERFECT. Here are some sailing shots.

Reefed main and full 110% jib
Beautiful beam reaching, perfect
Our B&G screen showing the SOG as 6.8. We had a port beam current

SHAKE out THAT Reef

With our new mast and our new “Strong Track” and with my new simple single line reefing system (I removed the boom shuttle cars), our mainsail is really easy to reef and also easy to shake out the reef. Here I am after a simple shake out and under full sail with the staysail out as well. This is one happy bluewater sailing captain.

Happy Hayden sailing under full sail…a selfie….Radeen is off watch sleeping

ERRRR, the Winds move FORWARD

WHY, WHY, WHY does the wind change direction? WHY? Especially when we are all set up, we have been sailing along for about 4 hours, all is perfect. We have a long way to go, and then, POOF, the wind moves from 180 degrees to 280-300 degrees and our course is 315. So, furl in the big jib, sheet in the staysail, lower the main back down to a reef and fire up the motor. We now set up for motor sailing with the wind 20-30 degrees off our port bow. We could sail this wind, we just would not get to our destination. When we are on passage, we keep the boat moving and we make sure it is moving towards our destination. Sailing is great, but we are not going to sail in the wrong direction just to sail. So, we motor sailed and hoped the wind would move back towards the south. Now it is waves and salt spray all over the deck and the windshield. One salty boat in a matter of minutes!

This is 6.5 knots, look at the water
These waves are relatively calm, 2 foot with no whitecaps, but still, we were bashing into them

Look out, SHIP! Radar has it

While on passage, we set up our digital radar to have a Guard Zone set to 2-3 miles ahead of us, 1 mile wide and arching about 140 degrees. If anything solid enters this zone, an alarm starts to beep and alerts us to the position. The radar will cast a line in the direction of the target and we begin our visual search for the target. At 2 miles out, that is 20 minutes away, and 10 minutes if it is coming at you the same speed, so we like to find the targets quickly. Here is what our radar guard zone looks like. Also see the pointer named ALLEGRO, that is a ship sending out its AIS info.

B&G Radar Guard Zone and a ship 6 nm away

Can you see the ship? Here is the view from the helm looking towards that ship. Do you see it?

Can you see the ship ALLEGRO?

Here, let me zoom in and NOW, you can see the ship. This is a calm day, and a ship is easy to spot, BUT, radar is still #1. it is your eyes at sea. We like AIS, but it is not #1 because many ships turn them off and some do not have AIS. So, radar is it. It is the only thing we count on to identify solid objects that we could hit and that could sink our boat. Look what radar found long before I saw it. Now that I know it is out there, 6 miles, I can watch it. Also, with AIS, I will be warned if there is any danger of a collision.

There it is on the horizon, the ship ALLEGRO, 6 miles away

At night, this ship would be lit and we would have seen it much more readily. We also would think it is much closer at night, because the sea is so dark and a light, any light, will seem like it is running you down. With radar and AIS these situations are far easier. We really like our B&G Zeus3 and our B&G 4G radar.

Powering on, we enjoy the BLUE WATER

AS we powered onward, (yes, fishing, but catching ZIP) we took in the beauty of the blue water all around us. It is amazing how the sea color changes with the sky color and clouds and sun angle. These photos are around 1400 hours and the sun was bright. Look how blue the ocean really is….

Looking into the sun, one color of blue
Looking down sun, aft, another shade of blue
Looking over the side, down into the ocean, bright blue
Looking at the contrast of the white spray and the blue water
This is mesmerizing and so beautiful

SALT SPRAY EVERYWHERE

On a trip like this, the salt spray is over the bimini roof. Everything is covered in saltwater. The decks are soaked, the lifelines, the bow pulpit, the mast and boom and the windshield, all covered in salt spray. Then it dries and it leaves behind all the salt crystals. When you get into port or when you drop anchor, your entire boat is covered in dried salt. If you don’t wash it off, it gets in your shoes, you track it below decks, you sit in it and your clothing becomes salty and damp. Your hands and feet get salty. It is a pet peeve of ours, so we wash it all off after every sail. It takes about 5-7 gallons of water and about an hour for both of to hand wash all the salt off the boat. The ocean seems 10 times saltier than the bays and rivers and creeks. So she was one salty boat today.

Looking thru the salt crusted windshield

BUT THEN THE WIND SHIFTS SOUTH

Near the end of this trip, the winds returned to the south and we were able to turn the motor off and set full sails once again. This was late in the day and the sun presented these great angles thru the rig as we sailed on.

Full sails once again with the sun getting low
Sun peaking thru the rig, full sails and a great end of the trip.

We arrived OCEAN REEF YACHT CLUB

At 1900, about 30 minutes before sunset, we arrived at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club and docked for the night. Job #1, hook up a hose and wash off this SALT.

Island Spirit docked and all washed off….a great 75 nm day

Thank you for sailing along

We will depart Ocean Reef Yacht Club in the morning for a direct run across the Gulfstream to the Lake Worth Inlet. Our next blog will share the beautiful yacht club here in Lucaya, Grand Bahama…