Saturday, 30 April 2011

Hallo and goodbye.

Well all we need now is the right weather window and it looks like Monday or Tuesday may be it...

The fuel and water tanks are full, we are just doing a bit of provisioning. The charts are ready the route entered in the GPS. All the laundry is up to date.

I have been checking entry requirements for the USA and hope(!) I have them right.
So farewell again for a couple of weeks until we ready land again, somewhere in Florida we anticipate.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Shake, rattle and roll.

Well we are waiting for a weather window in order to continue our voyage north. Of course as soon as you think the time is right in comes the wind- from the wrong direction!

A couple of nights ago a really nasty Southerly swell came rolling in to our anchorage making life onboard very unpleasant. Almost putting the rail in the water on each roll. We took to the sea berths and spent an uncomfortable and sleepless night trying to brace ourselves against each lurch whilst listening to the contents of each cupboard clatter wildly in the movement.
It was a little scary too as our mooring buoy was in pretty shallow water and the beach was rather closer than we would have liked. And just to add a little spice there was an old wreck close by too. It didn't make for comforting thoughts! As soon as the sun rose we were off, notified 'Port security' the all seeing movement authority here, and headed to the other side of the peninsula.

Actually it turned out to be more of a trip than we had thought, winds up to 20 knots and then a shallow entrance through the reef. It certainly was worth it though. We are now quietly at anchor in a very exclusive neighbourhood. All multi million dollar homes coming down to the waterfront that now have a wonderful view of our knickers dying in the rigging! Ah well we like to think that we bring a little realism to these folks lives...

Today we have walked over to the nearest mall.let me just say that there is a Sotheby's real estate office here and a La Prairie beauty salon and you'll realise that this place is well out of our league! Still it's nice to look....

Forgot to bring the camera to the coffee shop so you'll have to wait for pictures, some of them are great. The water quality here is superb. Best we have ever seen.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Land of Stuff.

The Caymans appears to be the ultimate consumers paradise and it has left me gasping for breath!

Just a short walk from where we dock the dinghy (free of charge on the Government Wharf) is a large USA style supermarket. It actually makes me go all hot and faint the moment we walk inside. Thank goodness that there is air conditioning or I expect that I would be lying on the floor at regular intervals. So much to choose from that usually we come away with very little. It is fascinating how so many years in central America has altered our buying habits!

As we woke this morning there were 5 cruise liners anchored just behind us. Their passengers already being ferried, at 8am, ashore so that they could spend, spend, spend. From the jewellers to the production line diver experiences to the pirate ship tour of the bay. Most of the occupants of these ships don't seem to know what to do when they get ashore, they wander aimlessly from store to bar and back again.... Sad really.

The water here is wonderfully clear and on a quiet morning, wave wise, it is possible to look directly to the ocean floor some 12 feet below the boat and see the individual fish swimming around. It is mesmerizing and on those days breakfast tends to be a little late. Yesterday 12 black and yellow cuttlefish drifted past and there were a couple of lovely blue fish swimming around the anchor. It is very impressive that the quality of the water here is so good with a town just ashore and many liners visiting every day.

We won't be staying here very long for a couple of reasons, one is that it's VERY expensive and the second is that the hurricane season is fast approaching. We need to head north before that starts in earnest, 1st June. So we are currently looking at the weather ready to depart for the USA. Another world of stuff!

Cooking is a joy with wonderful ingredients to buy. Fabulous beef from the USA at good prices so we are working hard to rectify the lack of red meat in our diets and gorging on steaks and beef. Sunday we had a real english roast. Roast beef with yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips(our first in 6 years), roast potatoes, broccolli and carrots with rich brown gravy. Slurp, sorry that's the sound of me dribbling!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hello sailor!

I can finally say that again as we have completed our first ocean passage for rather a long time. And it was hell!!!

I demanded a helicopter to take me off the boat at regular intervals and gave the boat away a number of times until....we got here. and then like childbirth it was quickly forgotten in the euphoria of land fall.

But I get ahead of myself. We left Guatemala on the 22nd march the first time, yup that's right, the first time.
Everything prepared for a 500 mile passage to windward and off we went. Straight into a nasty storm of over 35 knots straight on the nose. We were expecting 20k from the SE and got 35 from the NE. Ah well such is sailing!
It was OK until the engine ground to a shuddering halt with a lot of cursing from below decks from TBH, I was on watch, we switched everything off and looked at each other with resigned despair. Oh well it's a sail boat we'll just have to do a whole lot more tacking.

That proved to be easier said than done. The wind continued to rise. We now had two reefs in the main and just the staysail up. The waves were short, steep with no back on them which meant that we were slamming into the water on every 3-4 waves. Really nasty stuff. It's like tobogganing down a concrete mogul run, yucky!

By now we were only 20 miles off the barrier reef of Belize and getting concerned about our safety.
TBH went below to get some sleep and as I picked up the next weather forecast, deteriorating conditions, I decided that we needed to turn back. I gnawed on my nails as I waited the four hours for him to get some sleep. Finally he woke and immediately agreed with my decision. In light of the forecast, our position and lack of engine the wise decision was to return to the safety of the anchorage we had left from 3 days previously. We could repair the engine, get some rest and then set out again. The relief was tangible i can tell you.

We turned the boat around, reset the sails and settled back for a 36 hour run to safety. then of course the wind died! Totally and utterly! Not a breathe from any direction!

We wallowed in the swell, tried to be laid back, read, cooked, ate, talked, slept and then as TBH looked over the side he saw a BIG yellow fished net and rope, all around us! So that had been the cause of the engine failure, the whole boat was wearing the marine equivalent of a fishnet stocking. Doh!

As the rope cutter did it's stuff we gingerly fired up the engine again and voila! Off we went.

Two days later we left again this time clawing our way along the Honduran coast into the wind in an attempt to get as far East as we could. I cannot say that it was an enjoyable trip, on the nose winds again, short steep seas. Not pleasant. We even had rain showers. That's just not on I thought!
We stopped for the night to shelter from a strong East wind only to find that the bloody thing swung to the west at 1am leaving us on a dangerous lee shore. we went again. Finally arriving 24 hours later in the shelter of French harbour on the island of Roatan.

We refueled, re-provisioned, topped off the water, met up with some old mates and set off again. Determined to make our destination this time come he;ll or high water. 330 miles to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. And we did make it. Even though we had to motor sail ALL the way. A big blow to our diesel budget, we have used a years supply to make this trip, not a good carbon footprint.

We made a dramatic entrance into the bay here in 25 knot winds, reefed down and dodging the dollops of spray that were crashing over the boat. What a relief to hear the sonorous voice of the Port authority welcoming us in dulcet English tones.

What bliss! And now we are kicking back, enjoying the well stocked supermarkets, the restaurants, the bars and sorting out the post voyage mess.

It's great to be here in the Caymans!