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Port Antonio, Recap

@ Errol Flynn Marina

@ Errol Flynn Marina

We spent three weeks in Port Antonio, Jamaica. One week getting our act together and then another two weeks waiting for a good weather window to cross to Panama. Port Antonio is a pretty spot, a perfectly protected harbour with a backdrop of lush, tropical mountains.

The Jamaican customs, immigration, police and quarantine officers are also friendly, professional and efficient. Checking in cost nothing and took less than a day.

Port Antonio Marina (AKA Errol Flynn Marina) is a good value stop. Marina manager Paul Dadd does a great job. Dockhand “Flower” is darn good at his job. Boatyard manager George is helpful and informative. Marsha does a great job keeping the facilities sparkling. With good staff, Internet and clean facilities at a $1/foot it was easy to justify staying at the marina while we caught up on maintenance and work. The marina has an affordable Cuban run poolside bar – the $2.50 beers and $4 hamburgers added to our enjoyment and waistlines! We went to Cuba after all.

John (The Hulk) and Rudy, a husband and wife team, polished our stainless steel, scrubbed our topsides and rinsed our hull for less than US$100. Visiting boaters who need the same service can call them on 1 876 429 3007 or email hulkjb@yahoo.com. Presley is another friendly local who is willing to help boaters out with Jamaican courtesy flags, manual labor, propane refills and other services. Presley’s phone number is 572 3959.

Port Antonio has a reputation for being relatively hassle free compared to other Jamaican towns. Most vendors were respectful after we firmly said “No”, but some were annoying persistent. Three vendors to avoid in Port Antonio include Clive the Banana Man; Randal, fixer and pimp; the CD Man and the Lemon Grass man. No you did not suddenly become more likable, attractive and charismatic the minute you stepped foot in Jamaica!

Highlights of our stay in Jamaica? The poolside bar where Franklin started really swimming, good Jamaican patties, trying out real Jamaican jerk in Boston Bay, Reach Falls with Andre and Christine, wonderfully fresh fruit and vegetables, friendly people and the generally friendly and helpful staff at the Port Antonio Marina. Thanks Jamaica. Yeah Mon.

 

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Caught a cold (front) to Jamaica

Our last day in The Bahamas- Matthew Town, Great Inagua.

Our last day in The Bahamas- Matthew Town, Great Inagua.

After our months long slog against the prevailing winds down the east coast of North America our sail to Jamaica from Georgetown was ideallic. We caught the tail end of a cold front out of Georgetown.

In the Bahamas cold fronts are sailing opportunities because during the passing of a front winds clock from their prevailing south easterly set to the south, then southwest, west, northwest, north, northeast and east before blowing from the southeast again.

As we left Georgetown we caught the tail end of a strong northwesterly sailing north east to the top of Long Island. The wind turned to the north with perfect timing as we rounded the north end of Long Island, then to the north east as we sailed through the far Bahamas and finally to the east as we sailed through the Windward Passage.

The just about perfect timing of the front allowed us to sail in the same tack (wind blowing on the same side of the boat) for more than three hundred miles at five to seven knots. It was not until we were a hundred miles from Jamaica that the wind died as it

Jamaica, view from about 10 miles out.

Land Ho!  Jamaica, view from about 10 miles out.

to do there in protected in three sides from Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba.

The sailing could not have been better. The week at sea has also given Mary and I time to work out our passage schedule. We keep a constant watch, which means some one needs to be awake 24/7 while we are at sea. We also have some ideas about cabin arrangements that we hope will make long passages easier.

Little Birdy

Our little Jamaican Welcome Swallow.

Our little Jamaican Welcome Swallow.

It wasn’t until I stood up to scan the dark horizon that we noticed each other, sixty miles North of Jamaica, in the early morning. He flew away and circled the boat and then, exhausted, landed back on the cabin top. I wonder what he thought of me, on this strange little rolly island. He probably wondered how I came to be here too. Safe at last floating to a destination unknown upon the wavy sea.

Herd Mentality

An evening stroll on the beach, Stocking Island, Atlantic side, (Georgetown).

An evening stroll on the beach, Stocking Island, Atlantic side, (Georgetown).

A view of (one little part of) an anchorage near Georgetown.

A view of (one little part of) an anchorage near Georgetown.

If there is anything that defines Georgetown as a sailing destination it is herd mentality. Don’t get me wrong Georgetown is a great cruising destination, with well protected anchorages, good holding, half a dozen beaches and organized activities for young and old alike. There is good reason almost four hundred sailboats joined us there. Sailors tend to be independent types and non-conformers so there must be a draw.

But by the end of our month long stay we were itchig to go. As it happened the weather window looked good for our run to Jamaica also coincided with the Long Island Rally, an organized event where about sixty sailboats head to neighboring Long Island for a few days.

Usually I fastidiously study tide and wind patterns before leaving or entering any unfamiliar entrance. But with sixty other boats, countless meetings and weather delays these things must have been considered by organizers, right?

After we weighed anchor at 7am, Mary suggested we raise the main. “Let’s motor a little first, eat our porridge and charge the batteries”, said I. With porridge in tummies I started to look around for an opportunity to raise the main. But by this time we were in a narrow channel, surrounded by sixty other sailboats. Who would have guessed it?

Later, I would watch jealously out of the side of my eyes as our friends on Fata Morgana sailed passed us, while Franklin puked in a bucket, green water came across our beam and our belongings were rearranged in our cabin. And I would wonder why a fifty catamaran chose a seemingly crazy moment to slip between us and another monohull.

Lesson learned. The herd does not always know best. Study every entrance, don’t get accidentally caught in other people’s races and raise that main early for goodness sake.

Nassau

N 25 04.50
W 77 18.77

Left Bimini yesterday just before lunch in light conditions. Nice beam reach to Triangle Rocks then east across the bank. Wind died early in the afternoon and we motored in calm conditions across the bank to the Northwest channel. Went passed the Northwest Channel light just before midnight and continued motored at about 5kts into light headwinds to Nassau. Beautiful clear starry night in good company (Alice Mae, Cay Pariaso and Solas.). Arrived about 0930 and staying one night at Nassau Harbor Club Marina before heading to the Exumas tomorrow.

Bimini

N 25 43.39′
W 79 17.86′

Got into Bimini after a beautiful overnight sail from Marathon at midday today. Winds were on the beam most of the trip, up to 20kts from the northwest, dying down from midnight to dawn then piping up again at dawn to about 15kts from the west. Apparently you can comfortably cross the gulf stream in breeze with a northerly component we were not expecting it but made the most of it. I think our angle from Marathon made it possible. We the current gave a 1-3 knot boost most of the passage. It was a good trip in the good company of Alice Mae, Solas and Cay Paraiso. Will wait out the next front here before moving onto Nassau.

Cay Paraiso and Solas as we leave Marathon.

Cay Paraiso and Solas as we leave Marathon.

 

Sun setting over the Atlantic.

Sun setting over the Atlantic.

It was a nice moonlit passage.

It was a nice moonlit passage.

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Shane retires the US courtesy flag as we leave USA territorial waters.

Shane retires the US courtesy flag as we leave USA territorial waters.

A yellow "quarantine" flag is flown until we've cleared customs.

A yellow “quarantine” flag is flown until we’ve cleared customs.

All cleared in and flying the Bahamian flag.

All cleared in and flying the Bahamian flag.

A Few Pictures

In Southport, SC with friends Cordelia and Cara.  Nov 5, 2013.

In Southport, SC with friends Cordelia and Cara. Nov 5, 2013.

 

Cruiser party in the tiki hut - Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL.

Cruiser party in the tiki hut – Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL.

A cool sunset, St. Augustine, FL (I think).

A cool sunset, St. Augustine, FL (I think).

Sunset on the Atlantic, passage from Charleston, SC to Brunswick, GA.

Sunset on the Atlantic, passage from Charleston, SC to Brunswick, GA.
Franklin clowning around (as usual) at Johnny Rocket's, Miama, FL.

Franklin clowning around (as usual) at Johnny Rocket’s, Miama, FL.

Ruby, Franklin & Darla - beach day at No Name Harbor, Key Biscayne, FL.  Dec 23, 2013.

Ruby, Franklin & Darla – beach day at No Name Harbor, Key Biscayne, FL. Dec 23, 2013.

Kids catching some rays - Key Biscayne, FL.

Kids catching some rays – Key Biscayne, FL.

Sunset, Key Biscayne, FL.

Sunset, Key Biscayne, FL.

The consensus?  White Christmas is over rated!  December 25, 2013, Key Biscayne, FL.

The consensus? White Christmas is over rated! December 25, 2013, Key Biscayne, FL.

Sunset in the mooring field, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL. Jan 15, 2013.

Sunset in the mooring field, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL. Jan 15, 2013.

Key West - playground fun.

Key West – playground fun.

Franklin enjoys his first "coco frio" (drinking the coconut milk right out from a chilled coconut.  Marathon, FL.

Franklin enjoys his first “coco frio” (drinking the coconut milk right out from a chilled coconut. Marathon, FL.

Full moon, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL.  Jan 16, 2013.

Full moon, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL. Jan 16, 2013.

First manatee sighting of the trip!  Titusville, FL.

First manatee sighting of the trip! Titusville, FL.

Manatee - drinking fresh water from a rain gutter spout on a rainy Florida day.

Manatee – drinking fresh water from a rain gutter spout on a rainy Florida day.

Manatee.

Manatee.