We left Provo, Turks and Caicos on Thursday morning for our longest passage yet, 350 miles in 55 hours to Port Antonio, Jamaica. And what a trip it was! The first day, we sailed out the Caicos Bank past West Caicos and then South past Great Inagua, the last Bahamas Island. We had great wind on a broad reach and flew at up to 7.5 knots. By Friday morning, we were in the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba. The wind continued to blow all day Friday at up to 35 knots. With a reefed genoa and mizzen (jib and jigger) we flew past Cuba and Guantanamo Bay, but about 50 miles off shore.
Port Antonio is one of the most beautiful harbors I have ever seen. We are definitely in the tropics now, very lush with lots of mountains after months in the flat Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The locals are very interesting. This morning, a dread-locked local rowed over on his bamboo raft and we bought some neeseberries (sp?) and coconuts for $100 Jamaican. Don't be alarmed, this is only about $1.15 US dollars. The Erroll Flynn Marina is quite nice and not expensive, only $.75 (US) per foot per day. And yes, Erroll Flynn's widow actually still lives nearby.
We plan to go to the Cayman Islands where Matt and Shannon will join us to sail to Central America. We hope to cruise the Bay Islands of Honduras, Belize, Cozumel and Cancun. Then we are considering returning to the states (Texas) and having the boat trucked out to CA before hurricane season.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The journey continues as we left Clarence Town on Long Island and headed to Provo at Turks and Caicos. However, we made a pit stop at Landrail Point on Crooked Island which was a 40 mile sail. The snorkeling on the coral reefs was fun as we saw a sea turtle among the myriad of fish. He was content to hang out until Dave tried to dive down for a closer look. That turtle then took off like a rocket. It is amazing how fast they can swim.
Landrail Point is primarily settled by Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) and at Gibson's Lunchroom we met the owner, Willie, who is SDA. She was hosting the Bahamas' conference president, Leonard Johnson, as well as the local pastor, and Gail got to meet them all. As always, the SDA hospitality was very welcoming.
From here, we met our guides who took us to the other side of the island via skiff boat for a tour of some caves. Of course, their boat would not start on the return trip after the tour and we were on a tight schedule as we needed to leave the anchorage due to weather. It was a nervous thirty minutes, but the boat finally started and we were were able to just make our next anchorage.
Our next passage to Provo was the longest so far at 170 miles which included an overnighter. It is fortunate for me that Dave can get by on one hour of sleep, but we were both tired after arriving at Provo. We had a great sail though since it was almost all downwind at fifteen to twenty knots. It was a hair raising experience getting into the marina though as there are so many coral heads and reefs and narrow cuts. It was still challenging even following a guide boat into the marina, but Dave did an outstanding job. We now have to wait for the swells to subside to leave as we do not want to crash on the reef as our next door neighbor large fishing yacht almost did last night!
Provo is definitely the tourist attraction with the long stretch of beach with the many resorts and restaurants. With the many reefs and coral heads, it is one of the top diving spots in the world. We are going to check out the snorkeling here this afternoon. Dave is also itching to do some diving. Yesterday we checked out the town which definitely has more businesses than what we have been used to.
When the next weather window allows, we still plan on leaving for Jamaica via Mathew Town at Great Inagua. This will be the greatest test yet as the longest passage for either of us at over 200 miles and encompassing several nights with little sleep. I am sure seeing the land of Jamaica will be a welcoming sight, but as Dave says, "One day at a time!" Yes, we are taking it one day at a time and having an amazingly awesome time! Now, off to do some snorkeling....
Sunday, February 7, 2010
We are officially in the Tropics as we passed the Tropic of Cancer latitude of 23 deg 27 min and no complaints here as the weather has been in the high 70s, humid, and sunny every day. Our thoughts go out to our friends in D.C. area which we understand received two feet of snow this weekend! That is why I have enclosed a beautiful sunset that was taken a few days ago from Cape Santa Maria for everyone to enjoy. Oh well, snow makes for a great Superbowl Sunday, right? Actually, to our friends in California, we will be thinking of you outside with the outdoor grilling of carne asade on a beautiful day as Super Bowl plays... As for Dave and me, we will try to catch the game on a sports bar around here in Clarence Town.
We are still on Long Island comparable to the last blog, although we have been busy in the interim. Because we needed to leave from the other side of the island for Turks and Caicos, we have basically been navigating around the island. From Salt Pond, we left and sailed to Cape Santa Maria on the north side of the island and arrived about 3:00. We snorkeled on some coral heads and saw a wide assortment of beautiful fish. There was even a large fish (grouper?) that was hiding out in the bottom of the coral which would have been an easy catch for Dave. Alas, he did not have his spear with him. Cape Santa Maria has apparently been listed as one of the top five most beautiful beaches in the world and it was definitely gorgeous, but basically deserted! There were two other boats anchored out with us.
The next day we sailed to Rum Cay which should have only been about thirty miles. However, that was a brutal day as we were beating in the wind the entire day and had to motor sail the whole way even though Dave tacked out another ten miles. We barely made it there in time before sunset which is always a consideration when keeping a lookout for coral heads and reefs, so unfortunately did not get to explore much of the island.
The next day we came back to the other side of Long Island at Clarence Town. It was a beam reach sail and made great time with 17 average knts which made up for the previous day. We decided to stay at a marina for the weekend which is where I am currently posting this blog. Oh the luxury of it all! We have not been in a marina for about a month and the things that we normally take for granted. This Flying Fish Marina is definitely my favorite so far! It is relatively new having being built ten years ago and seems to have it all. The appreciation of a nice, hot, flowing shower with electricity in the bathroom (a first), along with laundry facilities ($16 for two loads which is standard price here in the Bahamas), free internet, and a small restaurant with a comprehensive menu (something other than cheeseburgers and conch fritters). There was even a decent grocery store up the road (decent being relative) which I went crazy in.
The best thing that Dave would say happened yesterday here at this marina concerns tuna. A couple of fisherman that were down on their fancy fishing boat for vacation had just caught some rather large fish (tuna and wahoo) and were on the dock filleting them. They had so much fish that they gave us some wahoo steaks and tuna fillets. Dave and I went immediately to the boat and had sushi a.k.a. fresh tuna in soy and wasabi sauce which was amazing! The tuna basically melted in your mouth and obviously doesn't get any fresher. Dave was in heaven!
Tomorrow we are continuing the journey to Turks and Caicos through a few more island hops. Not sure when internet will be available but will keep you posted as able.