Category Archives: Captain’s Log

Indecision might be our problem but we are not sure

As a popular cruiser sailing saying goes, “Our plans are written in sand.”

While waiting for our supplies to arrive from the US and doing subsequent boat maintenance in Georgetown we have had plenty of time to think about where we want to go next.

Our first impulse was to head south through the Windward Passage to Cuba and then south to Port Antoni, Jamaica before sailing south to Cartegena, Columbia.  However the more we heard about Cuba the less interested we were in going there. We have a keen sense of fairness, and from everything we learned about Cuba from other sailors and our research, fairness does not prevail in Cuba. We also talked to and read accounts from other sailors who had sailed from Port Antonia to Cartegena and in short, no one we talked to had a good sail. The path is slightly into the prevailing trades and there is a three quarter knot west setting current which forces slower boats like ours into a close reach against trades that strengthen to 25-30 knots off Columbia.

We then turned our attention to the route along the south coast of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We figured we would get a better sailing approach for Cartegena if we left from the east coast of Hispaniola. However, after searching extensively for cruising guides we were not able to find enough information about this route.  There appeared to be some viable stops along the west coast of Haiti but we learned there was a real risk of piracy and/or violent crime at those ports.  The south coast of Haiti also did not look very promising, with a beat into very reliable easterly trades. One remote cape in particular, the aptly names Cabo Beata, looked particularly difficult to round against the trades.

Our bookshelves hold a plethora of  information on the traditional “Thorny Path”. We have no less than four detailed cruising guides and complete charts through to Grenada. The Thorny Path takes sailors through the Turks and Caicos, along the North coast of the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and eventually the Eastern Caribbean. However not only did this route look like an unappetizing bash against the trades, but we already find ourselves tired of the tourist dominated economy of the Bahamas and can’t see ourselves enjoying doing the traditional Eastern Caribbean sailing route which includes many economies dominated by Western tourists.

We turned our attention back to that big island on the south end of the Windward Passage. Jamaica. During our research into possible routes we learned about Port Antonio, Jamaica, a tourist port on the Northeast coast of Jamaica.  Jamaica sounded neat with it’s own indigenous culture that has not yet been overwhelmed by Western tourists.  Port Antonio seems also to have a boat maintenance facility we can make use of.

And then after Jamaica what next? A turn towards Jamaica means we are turning our back on the Eastern Caribbean. In the end, perhaps we just are not interested right now in a tour of beautiful islands with tourist dominated economies. Well not in the Caribbean, at least. The truth is we want to get to the Pacific sooner rather than later. Perhaps we are more “voyaging” than “cruising” sailors. So after Jamaica we will head directly south, via some very pretty but less visited islands and atolls to Panama. We hope to get through the Panama Canal and then evaluate whether we are ready to cross the Pacific this year.

So that is the plan. We leave when the weather allows… but we reserve the right to change our mind, because after all our plans are written in sand.

Georgetown, Exumas

N 23 32.05
W 75 45.53

We are anchored off Volleyball Beach after cruise through the Exumas with stops at Allen’s Cay, Norman’s Cay, Shroud Cay, Black Point, Staniel Cay Farmers Cay and Galliots Cut. The Exumas exceed our expectations and must be one of the more lovely cruising areas of the world. Pretty anchorages, friendly towns, crystal clear water, good snorkeling… the only thing missing was a good Internet connection, necessary for me to continue to work.

Here in Georgetown we join about three hundred other cruising boats. For most this is the final stop on their journey south before they start heading North again for the northern summer.  For others, like us, Georgetown is the last place to resupply and recover for quite some time. We will stay here until our mail comes which will include some parts including a marine head (toilet)  rebuild kit (yippee), some replacement running rigging and some zinc anodes not available here in the Bahamas.

It is time to catch up on our affairs. But first, tonight our friends Blair and Edith on “It’s a Kind of Magic” have kindly offered to watch Franklin while we have a small night out.

 

Marathon

N 24 42.332′
W 81 5.727′

Left Rodriguez Key at dawn as the winds built from the ENE. Nice  run to Marathon, initially under full sail and then ending the sail under a single reefed main. We chased down an English boat at the beginning of the day and then it pulled ahead of us and we reduced sail and were unable to maintain good sail shape dead down wind. The English boat poled out their genoa and was able to maintain good sail shape in the rolly conditions. The English boat is moored next to us in the Marathon mooring field and I hope to go and beg a look at their set up today. Arrived in Marathon around four and are now settled on ball T8.

 

Rodriguez Key

N 25 2.456′
W 80 27.387′

Left No Name Harbor to the Hawk Channel via the Biscayne Channel. There were a few heavy rain showers as we left so we waited until they cleared before transiting the Biscayne Channel. As we sailed down the Hawk Channel the rain cleared and we enjoyed a beautiful broad reach down to Rodriguez Key, arriving around sunset. We anchored on the south of the island. There was little protection from the ENE  breeze, but the anchorage is protected by an outer reef so it was not too rough.

Skinny Water

N 25 40.591′

W 80 09.753′

Note to self: avoid Coconut Grove Sailing Club during “bird season”. Within a few days of arriving in Miami our boat was covered in purple dyed bird poop and seeds. Apparently at this time of the year migrating birds eat a local fruit and then digest while sitting in the safety of the sailboat rigging at Coconut Groove Sailing club.  The purple color poop stains decks and is difficult to remove with water. Local boaters try everything to keep the birds off (Mark assured me CDs are the most effective method). We saw the writing on the wall and rather than spending two weeks battling with the birds we moved to a mooring ball in the Dinner Key mooring field.

Mooring ball #147 is way out there.  No birds but it is almost a mile from the dinghy dock and unprotected from the chop that builds during predominantly easterly breezes of December.  There are many better places to anchor in Miami but since Mary was to be gone to Australia for most off our stay we favored the security of a well maintained mooring ball. During the ten days we stayed on the mooring ball Frankie and I primarily took a shuttle bat that runs every hour between the mooring field and the land form 8am to 5pm. If the weather was relatively calm we took a wet dinghy ride.

Mary arrived back from Australia late on Friday night. A 15-20kt north easterly breeze was blowing through the mooring field so we slept over night at a picnic table before taking the shuttle back out to our mooring ball. Mary slept all day Saturday and until mid-morning on Sunday.

We were so eager to leave the remote mooring ball by Sunday morning that I decided to take a shortcut through Biscayne Bay to Cesear Creek where the chart showed a channel with enough water to carry us through to the Hawk Channel. The Hawk Channel is a stretch of relatively protected water along the east side Florida Keys protected by a barrier reef.

As we traveled south through the skinny water of Biscayne Bay I started to doubt the decision.  We were the only deep draft vessel travelling along the route and the only other sailboats we saw were shallow draft catamarans. We arrived at Cesear Creak at the perfect time,  high tide, and felt like we were in good shape to cross from Biscayne Bay into the deep channel of Cesar Creek. We circled a little and talked about the best way to approach the creek (umm… rocky entrance or mud-sand entrance… mud-sand…) and then promptly ran aground twice. Not willing to risk a third attempt we headed back to Miami and anchored on the west side of Key Biscayne.

This morning we moved to the No Name Harbor, a perfectly protected harbor in Key Biscayne just northwest of Cape Florida. We plan to stay here until Ruby and Darla join us on Saturday before heading down the Hawk Channel to Key Largo.

Miami, FL

N25 43.556 W80 14.279

Left Lake Worth at sunset and proceeded about two miles offshore.

We found ourselves in a 2.5 kt north setting current in with a 10kt northerly creatin steep seas. Moved back to within 0.5 miles off shore and plotted a new route, 0.5 to 1 miles offshore staying in 30-80 feet of water. Seas moderated significantly, but rain pesisted for the remainder of the trip.

Motored till midnight as north east seas overwhelmed light northerly winds then sailed on a pleasant beam reach until the wind died. Were well ahead of schedule and nearing the Port of Miami when the wind picked up again so sailed under double reefed main with engine idle until we reached the ship anchorage a around 05:30.  Waited for sunrise  and the last of the flood untio 07:30 when we passed through Governer’s cut in perfectly calm conditions.

Now on a mooring ball at Coconut Grove Sailing Club.

Palm Beach, FL

N26 50.296 W80 3.323

Last day on the ICW. Left the anchorage around 9am and rode the tide to the St Lucie inlet. Our luck seemed to stay with us most of the day, catching all bridges on time for opening. Enjoyed the company of Canadian boat “Kind of Magic”.

Towards the end of the day the engine ran irregularly and we stalled right before the last bridge. Managed to nurse the boat into the anchorage where we replaced the primary fuel filter on arrival. Also took the opportunity to clean the raw water filter and tighten the packing nut.

Now anchored in North Lake Worth in Palm Beach, FL. We hope to meet our friend Jukka in Saturday then sail to Fort Lauterdale on Sunday.

Jensen Beach, FL

N27 15.023 W80 13.321

Left Vero Beach at 11:30am in a blustery westerly and travelled down the ICW to Jensen Beach. Made a lot of leaway and needed to be careful to keep in the channel between markers. Pass by Fort Pierce inlet without incident. The shoal in the channel north of the inlet did not show on our depth sounder. Anchored on the southwest side on the Jensen Beach bridge in about 7′ of water. There are two liveaboards here and half a dozen cruising sailboats. Looks like it is east to take the dinghy ashore to a park,  but given the conditions are probably going to stay on the boat. The wind has started to move to the northwest as forceast, blowing about 20kts. The anchorage provides less wind protection than I expected but there is good protection from waves.

Herkiner, NY

Lat: 43.017082 N
Lon: 74.9967438 W

Long day motoring across Lake Oneida. Fewer good, free docking places along this part of the canal. Heavy rain most of the day. Now tied up at Herkiner, NY.