Tuesday, April 29, 2014

George Town to Puerto Rico

A typical Pacific crossing from Panama to French Polynesia takes 20-something days. So theoretically our seven day passage from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico (or specifically to the Spanish Virgin Island of Culebra) was about a third of a Pacific Ocean passage in time if not distance. Last year, when our longest passage was three days, spending almost a month at sea seemed impossible. Now after surviving seven days, it seems doable - not fun or easy, but at least doable. This is probably not welcome news to our parents, who noticed the unfortunate failed attempt by Rebel Heart.

Wahoo and a mahi--both hit at the same time.

Before we embarked on the so-called "Thorny Path" (so named because the easterly slog from the Bahamas to the leeward islands into constant trade winds from the east is like walking down a miserable, pain-laden trail), we talked to experienced cruisers who had done the trek last year. In addition to providing lots of valuable advice they would say things like, "Better you than me" and  "That was the worst." This is because not only can't you sail very much but you're also motoring and often slamming against opposing wind waves. So when the forecasts showed a very rare reversal of the trade winds due to strong low pressure system coming off of the coast of Georgia, I stopped being so obsessed with not burning diesel and began to appreciate the upcoming opportunity to sail a good part of the way and motor in more pleasant conditions.

Best sushi restaurant within 300 miles
Before leaving Georgetown, we had the typical discussions about routes with the other cruisers heading our way.  Everyone had a strategy and an opinion, and they would often change hourly as the forecast changed and predicted winds shifted.  In the end, we ended up having to stay a couple of extra days in Georgetown to fix our heat exchanger on the port engine, so we missed departing with our friends on Halcyon and Waterbug.  But this wasn't all bad as we got to spend a few more days with other friends that we wouldn't see again for awhile. 

On a side note, we really need to get better about bringing a camera when we go places. Matt, Paul (Shambala) and Ernesto (Taia) were fishing in Georgetown when a dolphin showed up and swam with them for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, no one had a camera. After a potluck bonfire on the beach with friends from Shambala, Taia, Good Trade, What If, and Music (again, no pictures), we sailed to Calabash Bay the following morning. The sailing was good and the bay is beautiful but the anchorage was very roll-y and uncomfortable.

We left Calabash Bay on Easter Sunday after waiting for some squalls to pass through. We pulled anchor not really knowing the destination.  We decided to see what the wind would do and either island-hop our way east slowly over the next month or, if the forecast would stay true, go all the way to Puerto Rico. Luckily, the forecast held, and the winds were mostly with us and we made it all the way to the eastern side of Puerto Rico. We flew the spinnaker for a couple days, sailed very slowly for part of the time, sailed very fast part of the time, and ran an engine about half the time. No one got seasick or hurt, our fixes held, and nothing new broke (unless you count Matt almost knocking himself out by hitting his head into the door frame as he rushed to fix the depth instrument as we approached our destination). And we caught lots of fish: 3 wahoo, 1 mahi-mahi, and 1 tuna.

We're relaxing in Culebra for a few days before we head over to Fajardo to re-provision, get a new bilge pump for our starboard engine, and do laundry. From there we'll hit Vieques and then move through the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands before turning south to slowly make our way to Grenada over the next couple of months.
Even more sushi!


  1. Remember that the 1st week of a 3 week passage takes one long week but the 2nd week will seem like a month and the 3rd week will last a half year.

    Comment by Bob TE

  2. Matt's head... ouch! Maybe tall people shouldn't be cruisers... just sayin'! So glad you had a good passage! Here's to many more!


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