Click on a tab to read gory boat details about our passages.
Dania Beach, FL, to Port Antonio, Jamaica (July 4-9,2015.) About 750 nm (We didn’t know how to check the log before we left.) Into the wind 15-25 knots around Cuba for 4 days, through the windward passage, then on a broad reach down to Jamaica for 1 day. Broken: scupper cracked, forepeak hatches leaked, grill broke. Found out our Wirie was broken out of the box. We think three matching custom-made pillows were stolen or went missing. No more fancy pillows for us!
Port Antonio, Jamaica, to Cartagena, Colombia (July 16-19,2015.) About 250 nm. Into the wind 15-25 knots with 6-10 foot waves, sometimes 12 feet. Broken: We learned the autopilot needs some help sometimes after cresting a big wave. Starboard engine got a vibration; engine mounts adjusted. Scupper still cracked, trampoline broke, drawer beneath stove flew across room but didn’t break, our boat decals started peeling. Greg installed the SSB and barometers and we got everything fixed. Our microwave broke after we had been docked a few weeks and we bought a new one in Cartagena. Also, Greg learned that when we switched our toilets over to freshwater, Just Cats failed to flush out the seawater, causing a terrible smell when you flushed the toilets. We fixed that. Mel has earned her “plumbing” patch. Ick! We become suspicious that our wind angle indicator is out of calibration, but this problem is transient, so we decide to just watch it.
Weekend trips to the Bay of Cholon (July 25-26,2015) and Isla Grande in the Rosarios (Aug 15-16, 2015). Forgot to check log, but each trip was about 40 nm. Broken: Nothing. First winch override; solved by putting a 1/4″ line via rolling hitch onto the jibsheet that was stuck, sending the line over to the other electric winch, and cranking on the line and resetting it about 5 times before we had some play in our jibsheet again. Just like the books say!
Cartagena, Colombia, to Santa Marta, Colombia (Sept 7-8, 2015). 105 nm, 21 hours. Variable winds, 15-35 knots, max 40.2 kts. Seas 5-8 feet. AWA 30 degrees, usually on port tack. Motor-sailed the whole way, double-reefed when approaching Santa Marta in 35 kt winds. Autopilot was better behaved. Broken: Scanner (in our printer) broke, something leaked into bathroom again even though our scupper patch held, dryer hose filled with seawater even though vent was closed, some new hatches leaked, starboard escape hatch finally started leaking, as expected. Our stern lights sometimes fade in and out for unknown reasons.
Santa Marta, Colombia, to Bahia Gairaca, Colombia (Sept 30,2015): About 12 nm and 2 hours. Didn’t pay attention. This is where we learned that the Rocna anchor cannot be used with a swivel attachment. It needs a shackle to restrict its movement. We had to tie a second line onto it to get it to set after two hours of anchoring attempts with the usual associated domestic bliss.
Bahia Gairaca to Oranjestad, Aruba (Oct 1-3,2015): About 260 nm in 45 hours. (Log is not right because the chartplotter and therefore GPS is disconnected from the network.) Motorsailing mostly with main and no jib for the most part. Wind was all over the place but very light overall. We encountered a thunderstorm for a couple hours, max wind speed 50 kts. Seas were uncommonly flat and wind was great otherwise on way to Aruba. See this post
Oranjestad, Aruba to Willemstad/Spanish Waters, Curacao (October 22-23, 2015): About 70 nm in 13 hours. (Our velocity indicator still reads 0, so our log is not right.) Wind was between 30-60 degrees on port tack, 15 kts as we went southeast down the coast of Aruba, so we motorsailed with full main and jib and one engine. The tip of Aruba was a bit “washing machine” with conflicting waves, but height was only 6 feet. After our turn toward Curacao, we had occasional swells of 5-8 feet and wind was 15 kts true in our face, so we furled the jib and eventually dropped the main and motored in to Curacao at around 5.5 kts on two engines. Waves did calm significantly once we were in the lee of Curacao, but that was only about 5 hours before we landed.
Spanish Waters to Kralendijk, Bonaire (Nov 19, 2015): About 35 nm in 6 hours. Wind was 15 kts typically with 3-4 ft seas, between 0-60 degrees depending on our position. We were able to get the sails out for an hour when winds were about 25 knots (put one reef in the main), but the rest of the time we motorsailed with just the main up.
Bonaire to Sint Maarten (Nov 30-Dec 3, 2015): 479 nm in 71 hrs (2 days,23 hours.) Apparent wind ranged between 20-30 kts, with seas up to 9 feet calming down to 6 feet after a day. Wind was at 20-40 degrees, usually 30 degrees, for most of the trip. We went south to get around Bonaire. Went through about 4 squalls of 15 minutes, winds usually 35 kts. We mostly motorsailed with 1 or 2 reefs in the main but were able to keep the jib out, usually with 3 turns in it, until just the last few hours, when the winds were at 10-20 degrees and we had to micromanage the autopilot to get any easting to keep us on course. We were more aggressive than usual with the engines, setting a goal sog of 7 kts, as we wanted to get to Sint Maarten before the last bridge opening at 5. Go Yanmars, go! Velocity indicator is working again, but we are not sure how accurate it is…
Porto Cupecoy Marina, Sint Maarten to Anguilla (Dec 12, 2015): Didn’t keep track. Something like 10 nm in a few hours. Motored as it was somewhat upwind.
Crocus Bay, Anguilla to Virgin Gorda, the BVI (Dec 15, 2015): 90 nm in 13.5 hours. We started out with 10-12 kts of wind at about 150 degrees starboard tack, 3-4 ft seas and were able to hoist our Parasailor for all but the last 4 hours, when the wind dropped to 8-10 kts, seas occasionally had swells of 6 feet, and the Parasailor would collapse and gibe if we tried to stay on course. So we motored that last part. Our 1.5 kt favorable current decreased to 0.6 kts in the end as well.
Virgin Gorda, BVI, to Little Lameshur Bay, St. John’s, USVI (Dec 15-Dec 24, 2015): Island hopping through the BVI with overnights at the Bitter End, Virgin Gorda; Machineel Bay, Cooper Island; Little Harbor, Peter Island; the Bight, Norman Island; Soper’s Hole Marina, Tortola; Little Lameshur Bay, St. John’s. We were able to sail a lot on beam reaches and downwind with main and jib, occasionally with a reef in the main.
St. John’s to St. Thomas, USVI (Dec 28,2015-Jan 1,2015): A downwind trip with the Parasailor. Just a few hours.
St. Thomas, USVI, to Spanish Virgins, and back again (Jan 1,2016-Jan 7,2016): Sailed downwind with Parasailor to Culebrita (where we fouled the prop with the spinnaker sheet,) then spent a few days on Culebra, then down to Vieques, then back to St. Thomas overnight over 6-7 hours, about 6 kts, wind 15-20 kts at 30-60 degrees starboard tack.
Sopers Hole, Tortola (we went there for a haulout for a few days after a few weeks in St. Thomas) to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos (Jan 31,2016-Feb 3, 2016) About 450 nm in 66 hours. We started with the spinnaker up with true wind 14 kts at 120 degrees, stbd tack. Had it up for 18 hours and we had to switch our route to going north of the banks (e.g. Silver Bank) because the wind was moving behind us and we didn’t want to jibe the spinnaker in the middle of the night. We took it down after that as the wind dropped to 8 kts true and the Parasailor just collapses like a noisy bag of chips in less than 8 kts apparent. We motored for about 24 hours until we realized that although the wind was only 8 kts, we were on a beam and could’ve been sailing. Ooops! Sails went up and slowly the wind increased to 15 kts but moved behind us, 120 degrees stbd tack. We kept the sails up, mostly without motors, and towards the end the wind was right behind us again. We crossed the bank at night exactly halfway between Big Sand Cay and Salt Cay, nervous the whole time, but just like the charts showed, it never got less than 45 feet deep. Then we turned northeast and were able to sail upwind for a while before we dropped the sails and motored into the anchorage by customs on Grand Turk, slowing down to 4 kts intentionally for the last couple of hours so we could arrive at sunrise. So you CAN do it in the dark with three different electronic charts and two paper charts for comfort!
Big Sand Cay, Turks, to Provo, Caicos (Feb 8, 2016-Feb 9,2016) Details are lacking, but we used the motor and sails, spent a night in the middle of the bank, and then made it into Bermudian Bay, Provo, as we arrived late in the day and the tide was lowish.
South Side Annex, Provo, Caicos to Southeast anchorage, Mayaguana, Bahamas (Feb 12, 2016) About 45 nm in 7 hours. We were tense and avoided the darker coral heads, but there really weren’t any problems with coral — the Sandbore Passage was plenty deep for our 5′ draft, but we left just after high tide anyway. Winds were around 19-25 kts apparent at 60 degrees starboard tack, with gusts up to 30, so we sailed with 1 reef in the main and three turns in the jib and typically made 7-8 kts with that; I think we had a slight favorable current. Waves were icky, 6 foot swells every 7-9 seconds.
Mayaguana to Clarence Town, Long Island (Feb 17-18,2016) 115 nm in 16.5 hours. The wind and waves weren’t much to begin with, 8 kts and 3 feet, but they gradually built up to 25 kts and 6-10 ft waves as we approached Clarence Town. Wind was at 60 degrees, and we had to motorsail for the first half of the trip before the apparent wind got above 12 kts. In the end, we were reefed. No breakages or screwups! Hooray!
Clarence Town, Long Island to Conception Island (Feb 22, 2016) About 45nm. Can’t remember this sail. Even though we were going northeast, I think we had good winds.
Conception Island to Stocking Island, off Sand Dollar Beach, near George Town, Great Exuma (Feb 25, 2016) About 40 nm. Shifty winds. We went through the eye of a low on the way there and the sea and wind were flat — very pretty.
Island hopping through the Exumas, (March 11,2016- ) Starting in Georgetown, we did short hops to Lee Stocking Island, Rudder Cut Cay, Little Farmer’s Cay, BlackPoint (Great Guana,) Staniel Cay (anchored off of Big Major,) Compass Cay (we avoided the marina and anchored on the north side, near the waterspouts, just for the day), Cambridge Cay, Shroud Cay, Warderick Wells, New Providence (West Bay), Chub Cay (Berries), Bimini. Most trips were short, 1-4 hour hops. We just motorsailed with the jib out for the short hops. Wind seemed to either be right in our face or right up our butt, and either nothing or 20 kts. Go figure. Seas were never a big deal. We navigated the cuts around the tides and avoided hours 3 & 4 after each tide, when current is most brisk, and we were fine, regardless of whether wind was opposing waves or whatever. We have strong motors. Most currents we encountered were 2 kts max. With our five foot draft we sailed the Eastern, “Sound” side in the Southern Exumas until we hit Little Farmer’s Cay, at which point we could sail over the shallow western “Banks” side with some minimal maneuvering at times. There is not a lot of coral on the banks, so we were avoiding shallow sand, which is impossible to eyeball — we juggled four different charts at times, but it was probably overkill. We had some anchoring adventures here. See this post
and this one
We made it across the Gulf Stream from Bimini to Dania Beach, FL, just after a cold front blew through. It took us only 6 hours, and winds were from the north. Waves weren’t bad at all. We flew! See this post
(May 5 – May 11, 2016) A little over 5.5 days. The Gulf Stream was a bit rough with 6-12 ft waves, but after the first day our wind was a bit weak, no more than 15 kts true. We were able to fly the spinnaker for 12 hours. The last two days the wind was only 1-8 kts and so we motored a lot more on this trip than we had thought. See posts starting with this one.
(May 13-24, 2016). Final distance pending, but it took about 10.5 days. We motored only two days. Last three days we had 5 meter waves, 30-40 kts of wind, and we had to hand steer for about 30 hours because our autopilot couldn’t handle the waves, even with a warp out. The daily posts start here
(May 28-29, 2016) 151 nm in 21 hours. We left Horta around 1 pm and motored to get around the south side of Pico and then were able to sail in about 15 knots of true wind, wind angle 60-120, until the wind died 2 hours out of Sao Miguel. Waves weren’t bad, 4 feet max, but on the beam and a bit swishy and so Mel got seasick. It was really wet, rainy, and cold. We were able to find marina space easily.
(June 4-9, 2016) 829 nm in 5 days, 4 hours. This passage was more straightforward than crossing from Bermuda to the Azores, and we even had a period of dead calm. Posts start here
(June 20-21, 2016) 121 nm in 21 hrs. We sailed only 2 hours. We were headed right into the wind at the beginning, sailed a bit when the wind angle was 50 degrees, and then the wind was in our face. Waves were also in our face the whole time and got up to six feet. There is nothing worse than having the entire boat covered in saltwater even though you are just motoring! By the time we got into Cadiz, Spain, the wind was 40 kts in our face. We had a problem docking. See here
(June 25, 2016) 67 nm in 10.5 hrs. Winds were light and we motorsailed or motored. The winds were either dead or 10 kts true at 120-180 degrees, port tack, and waves were as predicted, less than 1 meter. In other words, the kids played Minecraft the entire time. Most guides will show you how much the current along the Spanish coast changes with the tides; the current was always in our favor and the charts were very accurate. We maxed out at three kts of current, but our overall pace wasn’t much different than typical because we really had to slow down with all of the traffic in the Bahia de Algeciras.
(July 8-July 12,2016) 766 nm in 5 days and 2 hours, averaging 6.2 kts. We sailed only for about 6 hours without engines the entire trip. We had wanted to avoid the Mistral winds, but we really shouldn’t have worried too much as Marvin can totally handle 25 kts. We did have an upwind slog most days, and even with only 1 meter seas the kids and Mel got a bit seasick. We broke a reefing sheave but nothing else and started to lash the boom down with a preventer to take the stress off the reefing lines. Posts start here
(July 20-July 22,2016) 232 nm in 48 hours, with rest stops. We broke this trip, which was mostly motorsailing, up with stops where we anchored off of La Piana and La Maddalena islands for a few hours. The La Maddalena island group was lovely, and we should have stayed longer, but we had to get to Rome for a haulout. The Alta Marea boatyard was one of the few we found that could haul out a Leopard 48. The passage from Sardinia to Rome was downright boring, with hardly any waves, traffic, or fishing buoys to keep one awake. Pics of the islands are here
(August 2-August 3, 2016) Something like 66 nm in 12 ish hours; an overnight. We were able to sail downwind, engines off, for most of this trip. We did have to go off course and gibed once. Wind died about 4 hours out of Ponza and we motored at only 4 kts on purpose in order to get to the anchorage around 9 a.m., hoping some boats would have cleared out. This is a great plan for getting to Ponza in August; we passed six monohulls leaving as we came in. We anchored in the bay across from Frontone beach. The only problem with this is that there is a constant flow of ferries from Ponza Town to the beach. Didn’t bother us, though. We parked fairly close to their path and were probably the farthest away from any boat — the monohulls fled to the periphery of the bay to avoid the wakes! Posts start here
(August 6-August 8, 2016) We hopped over to Ventotene and then had a beautiful sail across the Bay of Naples. Forget all wind forecasts here; our sail across the bay brought wind and sail changes every hour, and we saw everything from flat calm to 23 kts up our behind. However, it is just a beautiful sail/motor with Vesuvius in the distance! We stayed at the gigantic and expensive Marina di Stabia in Catellamare di Stabia. This marina did have a very nice pool, but the marina is so huge that we had to get in our rented car to get there! We were conveniently located to Pompeii. Special note: the Italian line handlers at the marinas have been the best we have encountered so far. Posts start here.
(August 8-August 9, 2016) We did this in about 27 hours. It took longer than it should have. We heard that the current could be brisk in the strait of Messina, and you had to time your entrance with the tides. We arrived at the entrance at the wrong time tide-wise, and so we tried to stop outside the cute town of Scilla to wait out the current. A review in ActiveCaptain said there were mooring balls you could use there. Unfortunately, the mooring field in August was packed with little local powerboats. Not sure if a 48-ft catamaran could ever use them! We went ahead and braved the straight anyway, ala Odysseus, whirlpools be damned, and it ended up being a non-issue, even with 10 kts of wind opposing the 3 kt current. No whirlpools, beautiful dragons, or anything! Note that the winds can change dramatically as you pass through the straight, but a modern boat with a motor (or two 57-hp Yanmars — even better!) should not have the same problems as Ulysses here! We refueled at a fuel dock on Paradiso Bay that looked like it only served little powerboats, but Marvin fit just fine. You don’t need fenders out; it has plenty of padding, although you end up frightfully close (like 20 ft) to shore. Here’s our Sicily post
(August 18, 2016) 7 hours, 42 nm. We backtracked and went back up to Stromboli, then Panarea. We motored most of the way, unfortunately. So far in the Med, the wind has either been on our nose or right up our stern. Not good for fuel efficiency. Very pretty sail. In fact, we got to Stromboli around sunset, just in time to motor around to the back of the island to see the eruption before the moon came up. We floated near Stromboli overnight, as described here.
After Panarea, we spent some time in Lipari in a mooring field to keep us secure in a blow. The mooring procedure was interesting — we initially were tied to a giant ball at the stern, with the line attached to both of our aft bridgedeck cleats. They also attached another, smaller ball to both bow cleats. As usual, the Italians got on board and took care of the lines for us, as Mel could not understand Italian and the setup was confusing. Also as usual, Greg redid all of their cleat hitches.
(August 24-26, 2016) 329 nm in 2 days, 7 hrs, averaging 6 kts. The word for this passage is: fickle. The first night we dodged thunderstorms to the south around sunset, right when Mel was making dinner. We had to turn 180 degrees once we saw lightning and motor the wrong way for an hour, but it cleared up quickly. The second night, also around dinnertime, we dodged thunderstorms to the north. We just jogged a little more south this time. Winds were all over the place, too. We ended up anchoring outside of Katakolon, Greece, although if we were more confident with med-mooring we probably could have found a spot in the small harbor. More info here
(August 27 – Sept 13, 2016) We made our way from Katakolon to the Corinth Canal by hopping up to Plaka
on an overnight where we mostly motored — we did the 67 nm in about 10 hours and we left at midnight. We stayed in Plaka several days at the marina there. We were even able to pay our Corinth Canal fees ahead of time through our customs agent. He is expensive though — 250 Euros! There’s not much to see in Plaka, but the marina staff are wonderful and we had a good time with them.
We left Plaka September 4 and motored our way into the Gulf of Corinth, fitting easily under the middle span of the bridge. The wind there runs right through the strait and is therefore right on your nose — everyone just motors it. We just spent a few hours anchored in squishy mud (not the best holding) outside of Nafpaktos so we could catch the amazing views from the castle there and then motored some more to the abandoned marina at Trizonia, easily finding a spot alongside the dock.
From Trizonia we went to Itea, mainly because we heard you can dock alongside instead of med moor. We explored Delphi from Itea. We then went through the Corinth Canal (wait in the harbor was approximately 1 hour and we went through at 8:30 a.m.). Speed limit in the canal is 6 kts, but the operator told us to speed up so we blazed through at 7.7 kts with our motors and didn’t get in trouble. We had prepaid our fees three days earlier through our customs agent so we wouldn’t have to dock once through, but we had to float around at the eastern end of the canal for about 15 minutes while they located our payment. We ended up docked at Zea Marina in Athens. Very expensive. Med mooring, but they have mooring lines and we didn’t have to anchor.
(Sept 13 – Oct 5, 2016) We anchored out near the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
for a night and then mostly motored to Kythnos
. We spent a couple of nights anchored east of the sandbar in Fikiadha, surrounded by charter boats that didn’t bother to set their anchors and didn’t have any scope out. Luckily there was no wind. A charter boat pulled up next to us and dropped their anchor just 10 feet away from our boat. Since it wasn’t set or anything, Greg moved the anchor farther away (and set it for them, thank you) while he was down cleaning the boat on the scuba hookah. They apparently never noticed. We then headed to the quay at Merikas (or Merichas), med mooring for the first time with our anchor out. We also made use of our passarelle here. The water at the quay was very rusty-looking; we cleaned with it but did not fill our tanks.
After Kythnos, we motored along and anchored out at Platis Gialos (or Platis Yialos), Syfnos, with plenty of room. The west part of the anchorage has the least seagrass. Next, we had to motor upwind to Milos and spent a few nights anchored out just east of the quay in Adamas (or Adamantas). We then sailed through the bay and then downwind in about 20 kts with 6 foot seas in about 3 hours to Kleftiko beach on the southwest corner of the island. The usual flotilla of tourboats did not join us; guess they thought conditions were too rough that day! We anchored far from the caves and had to throw out a stern anchor, as the swell was from the east, but the wind was swirly and from the northeast. The stern anchor really helped calm the rocking of the boat. A monohull found some peace anchoring really close to the far north cavern, but there are lots of rocks in the water there. There are weak moorings for dinghies at Kleftiko, and we tied up to one and snorkled through sea caves. We spent the night and the next day we mostly motored back into 25 kt winds to get back to Adamantas/Adamas, med mooring with our anchor at the marina for 8 euros/day this time. Water was good.
We then did a 9-hr sail to Santorini (Thira), with about 15 kts on a reach from the north, making between 6-8 kts. The waves kicked up around the southeast side of Folegandos to about 6-8 feet, and Allie barfed without much warning. After that, the wind was blocked as we hit the southwest side of Folegandos (we were about 1 nm offshore), but when we were free of the island the wind returned and waves were only 3 ft. We anchored at White Beach in Santorini, and the anchorage was not rolly at all, with the wind calming to 8 kts from the north the next day. Lots of tourist cats come for the day and leave. Note that the anchorage has sand but also a lot of rocks and seagrass patches.
A few days later we got a spot in the Vlychada marina, packed in like sardines. Cristos, the Harbor Master, is a pro that manages the marina like an air traffic controller. Our depth sounder read 0 at the entrance to the inner breakwater at high tide and also at spots inside it, and our draft is probably about 5 feet now (we are overloaded!) We did not ground, however. A little engine power helps here. The bottom is pure sand, though, and one night we watched a monohull leaving the inner marina ground and back up about three times at low tide and eventually give up. The water in Santorini is technically drinkable but smells terrible (desalinized), so we didn’t fill our tanks here. We were asked to move once to make room for a fishing boat. We later moved to the small anchorage just east of the marina for a few hours to finally run our watermaker and prepare for an overnight departure for Crete.
(Oct 6-23, 2016) We made the 70+ nm passage from Santorini to Spinalonga, Crete, as an 11-hr overnight, leaving around 10 pm. The wind was dead so we motored in pretty flat seas with hardly any traffic. The marina at Agios Nikolaos was full as most slots were reserved for wintering boats, so we ended up anchored inside the lagoon by the Spinalonga peninsula in pure sand, as winds were supposed to be light. After a few days we left at 6:30 pm for Chania, Crete, about 100+ nm west, getting there around 11:30 a.m. the next day. Winds were higher than predicted by 5-7 kts, and they blew extra hard, up to 35 kts, coming out of the lagoon. We had a full moon that was up most of the night! Wind was in our face at 20 kts for five hours before moving behind us and settling down, so we were able to make 8.5 kts for a while sailing with 17 kts true on the beam for a while. As we neared Chania the winds went directly downwind about 1 hour from our turn, so we just dropped sail and motored in. We’re so sexy, aren’t we? We ended up finding a spot in the harbor, which was lucky, as there were only two spots that could fit us. We med moored stern-to with our anchor by some tour boats and had to use our passarelle, as the concrete harbor was four feet above our transom.
(Oct 23-26, 2016) 501 nm in 77 hrs, avg 6.5 kts. We had to gibe a few times to start as the wind was directly astern. The wind moved forward a bit the second day, but it was light, 6-12 kts, and so we motorsailed most of the trip. Waves weren’t bad, less than 3 feet the whole time, but jumbled, as usual for the Med. This was good; the Ionian gave us trouble with thunderstorms last time we crossed it, but not this time! The marinas in Valletta, Malta, were all full due to a recent regatta and so we checked in a Mgarr Marina in Gozo. This is apparently an easier place to check in anyway. See here
for the story of what happened to us at the marina there.
(Oct 30-Nov 1, 2016) 316.5 nm in 47 hrs, avg 6.7 kts. This was a pretty straightforward passage, with motorsailing at the beginning and end, with some nice beam sailing with true wind 16-20 kts starboard tack in the middle. It was a bit bumpy then, with waves up to 2 meters on the beam, but it only lasted about 16 hours. See this post
for the story of the Pan Pan we heard on the VHF. We ended up at anchor just outside of the pricey (117 Euros a night!) Marina Piccola, our wallets just worn out after the tourist trap that was Malta.
(Nov 7-Nov 9, 2016) 255.9 nm in 40 hrs, averaging 6.4 kts, but we slowed down on purpose at the end as we motored upwind. Motored and motorsailed for first 24 hours, with wind around 20 kts true, close reaching on starboard tack. We sailed for 12 hours on the beam in 26-35 kts of apparent wind, going off course to keep the wind angle around 75 for speed. The waves slowly built and the wind got gusty. It was rough. Lots of squalls and rain. See this post
. Eventually, lightning storms got in our way, so we dropped sails and motored the rest of the way in the rough seas. We arrived exhausted in Menorca after dark, so we anchored just overnight on the south side, Cala de Binibeca. It was protected from 6 ft swell from the northwest overnight, but by morning the swell was bigger, 9-12 feet, and had changed to be from the west. It got too rolly, so we sailed on the jib downwind and downswell to Cala Teulera, the small bay next to the La Mola fort. Cala Teulera is apparently the only Cala in the Mahon Bay they let you anchor at. The bottom is mud, and so we only backed on the anchor 1200 rpm to set it. It held in 35 kt winds, but no swell there. After one night there, we went to Marina Menorca to rest and provision. Nice marina. Docked stern-to with mooring lines picked up on the dock.
(Nov 11-Nov 15, 2016) 529 nm in 85.5 hrs (3 days, 13.5 hrs), average speed 6.2 kts (we slowed down on purpose to hit the Gibraltar strait 3 hours before high tide.) Some details on our passage are in this post
. We were able to avoid the worst of the predicted 40-kt blow from the east the last day by staying close to the coast of Spain. This had the advantage of keeping us out of the busy shipping lanes, and the other sailboats on the same track as us agreed. It was like we were in a special “sailboat” lane. The current and tidal flow was a factor here in boat speed. PredictWind was really accurate regarding the weather on our journey. The last day, when the wind picked up to 22-30 kts true, we sailed with main and jib initially but then dropped the main and went jib only, as we wanted to go slowly, between 5-6 kts. We can “reef” the jib by furling it, and putting 6-10 turns in it allowed us to to get down to that speed when we had 20 kts of apparent wind at 150 degrees apparent, port tack. These maneuvers allowed us to learn that the jib alone is plenty efficient at 150 degrees, but as the wind moves forward to 120 degrees, the boat speed farts out dramatically. We don’t like it at greater than 150 because of the possible jibing, and jibby isn’t happy there anyway. Once the waves got big, around 9 feet, our overall speed slowed down no matter what we did with the jib, so we began motorsailing and added one engine — always comforting in big waves anyway! Because the waves were so big and the wind was so fast, we really wanted to time our entry into the Gibraltar strait so that wind, current, and waves all coincided, and that went well. In fact, Mel saw the current reverse (to be in our favor) over just a few minutes five hours before high tide, just like the charts say! We are always learning!
(Nov 29-Nov 30, 2016) 158 nm in 27 hours. We had only a small window to get out of Gibraltar, as the eastern winds were going to pick up to 35 kts the next day, with 3-4 meter seas. So we left and had 25 kts and 2-3 meter seas up our rear, which was mostly tolerable except for a few hours, as described here
. We timed our exit from the straight a couple hours before high tide and stayed just outside the busy shipping lane, crossing south at the far western end of the shipping lane. Wind and waves calmed significantly after we got in the lee of Africa. Our plan was to stay at least 5 nm off the coast to avoid fishing nets at night, which worked — we were either smart or lucky. Near Rabat we had to slow down a bit to time our entrance into the Bouregreg River — it was best to show up within a few hours of high tide. Despite our charts not showing much happening along the Moroccan coast until Rabat, fishing boats were active along the entire coast, from 3-10 miles out. We did not see any free-floating, buoyed nets, but Greg witnessed a lot of floating trash at the mouth of the river. We managed to get the pilot boat after several calls on the VHF, and we were escorted in along with another sailboat with Americans on it. The Bouregreg Marina is nice, and WiFi is spotty but fast when it works.
(Dec 11-Dec 14, 2016) 482 nm in 3 days, 0.5 hrs, avg 6.6 kts. We motored all but 4-5 hours, when we flew our new spinnaker as wind was 160-180 apparent at 10-11 kts. After that, the wind died. We all walked around the cabin, almost like normal! We picked the Puerto Calero marina based on Active Captain reviews, but they weren’t that great. Every day we had to call them because our power went out, and they gave us grossly incorrect info regarding customs and immigration, their hours and location.
(Dec 19-Dec 20, 2016) 107.4 nm in 17.5 hrs. We tried to get into the giant marina in Las Palmas. Even though the ARC had left two weeks prior, there was no room and we had to anchor out. We were NOT impressed with the Marina de Las Palmas. One guy was young and nice; the other was a grumpy ASSHOLE. We weren’t put on the waitlist when we checked in (per GRUMPY ASSHOLE), but Mel personally showed up daily and worked with nice YOUNG GUY and that went well. Overall, the marina was GROSSLY UNDERSTAFFED by American standards, and WiFi was nonexistent. Ugh. We DO NOT UNDERSTAND how the ARC leaves from here! The only saving grace was the incredible competence of the rigging and Yanmar guys we hired…We had some drama with anchoring and docking here. See this post.
(Jan 10-11, 2017) We sailed for four hours before we hit an unlit, floating fish farm at night. Posts of “The Disaster” start here
(March 28-April 15, 2017) 2808 nautical miles in 17 days, 23 hours, average speed 6.5 kts. We checked in a Port St. Charles and then the next day went down to Carlisle Bay (Bridgetown). Very boring, typical trade-wind crossing without any major disasters! Daily posts start here
, and an overall summary is here
(April 22-23, 2017) 104 nm in 17 hours, averaging 6.1 kts. We did this as an overnight, leaving Carlisle Bay around 6 pm and shooting for the north end of St. Lucia, as Rodney Bay is on the northwest coast. This meant we had to skip the beautiful cruise along the west coast and leave it for a future date when we would have more time. We used the spinnaker for most of the downwind sail and initially had a mostly favorable current of 1.6 kts in wind that was 11-16 true. We took the spinnaker down in the morning and replaced it with the jib , as the current got stronger, up to 2.5 kts, but was moving directly north about 20 miles off of the St. Lucia coast. Seas weren’t bad, and Mel regretted dosing everyone with meclizine. Post is here
(April 26, 2017) 25.5 nm in 3 hrs, 15 minutes. We had a good close-reach/beam sail from Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia, to Sainte. Anne, Martinique, at around 70 degrees with a single-reefed main and jib in winds that were variable, 10-21 true. For most of the sail, we made 8-9 kts over the ground. There were a few squalls and rainshowers about. There was a current pushing us west the entire time that increased as we approached Martinique to a max of 3.7 kts, so we ended up west of Ste. Anne and motored on in, into the wind, for the last 30 minutes. We saw a lot of sea birds diving in for flying fish, and at the start, Greg saw an unidentified whale breach in front of us. Mel is sooo glad Marvin didn’t hit it, as she would have lost it.
(May 4, 2017) 32 nm in 4 hrs, 45 minutes. Just a day-hop from Sainte-Anne to Anse Turin, a small beach right near St. Pierre. We did this to avoid an overnight to Dominica. St-Pierre is famous for poor holding, but our 55 kg Rocna caught in sand and sea grass just fine in Anse Turin and held despite brisk and changing currents all night — our anchor app that tracked our boat’s location looked like a rat’s nest in the morning. We called Anse Turin “cat corner”, as the cats seemed to collect there, even though we anchored with a good 12 feet under our hull about 100 feet offshore.
(May 5, 2017) 56 nm in 7 hours, average 8 kts. We left St. Pierre for Portsmouth, Dominica, and sailed across the passage with a reef in the main in 17-22 kts of true wind at 110 degrees starboard tack, making up to 8 kts through the water that way. We had a brisk current in our favor of up to 2.2. kts. It was a little rough with waves 4-6 feet tall on the beam, but we didn’t need our seasickness meds. Once we got to Dominica, we were able to sail 15 nm along the coast of the the island 2 nm offshore until the mountains blocked the wind and we motored. We took a mooring ball through PAYS and we highly recommend calling for Alexis on Channel 16 once you get into the harbor.
(May 10, 2017) 21.5 nm in 2.75 hrs, average 7.8 kts. Another brisk beam sail with a single-reefed main in 20 kts of true wind at 80 degrees apparent, with 1.5 kts of favorable current. It was rainy and a bit chilly. We took down our sails before making the turn to Terre de Haute. We took a mooring ball just outside of Bourg des Saintes, and we were lucky in that it wasn’t too busy.
(May 14, 2017) 35.4 nm in 5 hrs, average 7.1 kts. From Les Saintes to Deshaies, Guadeloupe. Gory boat details of what it is like to sail the west coast of Guadeloupe can be found in this post
. We had to anchor; unsurprisingly, the mooring balls were all taken by 5 p.m.
(May 15, 2017) 48.1 nm in 6 hours, average 8 kts. We shot up to Antigua with a single-reefed main and jib on a beam reach in 16-18 kts of true wind. The waves were a bit up, sometimes two meters, but current was again in our favor of up to 1 kt.
(May 19-20, 2017) 170 nm in 26.5 hrs, average 6.4 kts. We had the spinnaker up for most of this, but the winds were light, typically 10-15 true, 8-10 apparent at 130 degrees. This put us at 5.5 kts through the water, and our favorable current that started out at about a kt disappeared after we passed St. Martin. After a night in Virgin Gorda on a mooring ball near Saba Rock, we then sailed 15.6 nm to Anegada in maybe 2 hours and 15 minutes (forgot to time) on a full main and jib with an apparent wind angle around 60 degrees with minimal waves and perfect weather. We behaved and went through the marked channel into Anegada (our Navionics chart on our chartplotter was accurate regarding the buoy positions, BTW) and deposited ourselves into a very crowded mooring field near the Anegada Reef Hotel. Lobster, anyone?
(May 23-26, 2017) 543 nm in 3 days, 4.75 hrs, average speed 7.1 kts. We went to Abraham’s Bay again. This was a downwind sail with the spinnaker up almost the entire time. We had 0.5-0.8 kts of favorable current. Most of the wind was 10-14 kts true, but we did have around 12 hours in the 16-23 kt range. The wind was basically up our stern, so we had to veer off course a little to get good wind angles of around 160 degrees. We gibed the spinnaker once to avoid the Turks. On a long passage like this, the Silver Bank (“Reef Surprise!” in the middle of the ocean) can creep up on you if you do not cycle your chartplotter through the various zoom levels once in a while. About two days into the passage, as Greg stood on the trampoline preparing the spinnaker for gibing, the windward guy, block still attached, popped up in the air. Despite daily tightening rounds with pliers, the pin securing the shackle attaching the block to the boat had worked itself open just enough to set the guy free. Mel released the guy and the sheet and Greg quickly doused the spinnaker, which was a little harder than usual, when we normally just release the sheet and keep the guy taut to keep the sock vertical. The shackle pin, which went into the sea, was replaced and we went merrily on our way. Once in Abraham’s Bay, we were happy to follow our old track through the reefs to our anchoring spot, which is always alarmingly far from the dinghy dock here. We also relied on Greg’s entry to Active Captain regarding the approach to the dock with the dinghy, and we accordingly veered south to avoid low water and reefs before turning north to hug the stakes marking the channel to the dock. Mayaguana: Not For Amateurs.
(May 29, 2017) About 52 nm in 7 hrs. To stage, we did a quick sail/motor over to Betsy Bay on the western side of Mayaguana May 28. Our anchor went down into rock — the southern side of the bay is limestone that looks like sand, and so Greg had to get in and pull our anchor out of a hole before we could leave early in the morning and reach Samana at high tide. We hardly had any wind and mostly motored. It is a challenge to get into the anchorage on Samana; paying attention to tides gives one some piece of mind. See this post
for details on paths through the reef.
(May 31-June 1, 2017) 107 nm in 15.75 hrs, average 6.8 kts. We left at 4 p.m. and this was basically a nice overnight sail with the spinnaker in 16-18 kts of true wind and just 2 foot waves. We chose the southern entrance to Calabash Bay at the northern tip of Long Island, near the Cape Santa Maria Resort, which is run by Canadians. This bay is one of the most spectacular we have visited.
(June 4-June 5, 2017) 106.6 nm in 16.5 hrs, average 6.5 kts. We anchored in Rock Sound. This was mostly motoring or motorsailing with the jib as we only had 8 ish kts of wind downwind. We did this as an overnight, leaving Long Island at 8:40 pm and getting to Rock Sound at 1:15 pm.
(June 6-June 22, 2017) Hopping along the island with guests. Don’t know mileage, but trips were at most three hours long. Basically, we spent overnights in Rock Sound
, Governor’s Harbor
, and our favorite spot, Annie’s Bight
, near Gregory Town. After a massive provisioning run at a very nice supermarket, we started off in Rock Sound on a hazy, rainy day. We tried to anchor at Ten Bay or the Pineapple Cays
, but the wind and swell wasn’t having it, and after our anchor dragged on rock for the second time we called it a day and popped up to Governor’s Harbor
. Via Active Captain we learned of a submerged mooring block without any tackle sitting right across from the library, so Greg dove down and secured our mooring line to it. Aha! Free mooring! Doing something you have never done before with guests aboard is an easy way to ask for trouble, but the entire procedure went smoothly. After a few days in Governor’s Harbor, we wanted some good snorkeling. Mel read Rainbow Cay
was pretty good, so they anchored in a beautiful cove and went underwater exploring. Unfortunately, we only saw a few schools of translucent fish and some starfish. As Rainbow Beach was a little rolly in the western winds we had, we moved on to Hatchet Bay
. We went through the narrow entrance with our 25-ft beam just fine and anchored in the northwest corner per a tip received by a passing boat. Unfortunately, Hatchet Bay was hot, windless, murky, and filled with jellyfish, so we pulled up anchor and went to Annie’s Bight
, a little cove just north of Gregory Town
. Excellent snorkeling there, and we took the dinghy into Gregory Town and tied up to the government dock. From Annie’s Bight we went up to anchor just south of Glass Window Bridge
. This is a beautiful spot with clear, shallow water. We took the dinghy up to Two Sisters beach, climbed up to the road, and walked south along Queen’s Highway to the Queen’s Baths and then north to the bridge. We did not overnight there, but others have. We then went back to Annie’s Bight to drop off our guests at Gregory Town.
On June 13 we left Annie’s Bight and sailed across the sound, noting that the water in the northern part of Eleuthera is clearer than the southern part. We blasted through the Current Cut right at high tide, getting up to 3.5 kts of favorable current through there. The water is beautiful around the Current Settlement, with every color of blue possible. We finally dropped anchor on the western side of Meeks Patch Cay, watching the tourist boats explore Meeks Patch and its pigs all day long.
We then went to Spanish Wells on St. George’s Cay and picked up guests. Our itinerary is detailed here, but basically we spent a night in a beautiful anchorage north of Gun Point and then went through the Devil’s Backbone to Man Island, another lovely anchorage, and then to Harbour Island, anchoring right near Valentine’s. We did not use a pilot through the Devil’s Backbone but rather mapped out the passage with our dinghy sonar ahead of time. We never had less than 2 feet under our 5′ hull, and although Mel stood at front to watch for “reefs”, which are impossible to distinguish from the seagrass bottom anyway, she never had to divert the boat from our waypoints. Mel is not going to post the waypoints as she does not want to dismantle the livelihood of the handful of Backbone Pilots in Eleuthera, but if you want them, comment on this page and Mel can send them to you. Use them at your own risk, of course.
(June 22, 2017) About 61 nm in 9.5 hours. We left Harbour Island at around 9:15 am (we are not early risers!) by taking the southern cut. It was tricky but we made it with no less than 2 feet under our hull 2 hours after a high spring tide. Breaking out of the cut was dramatic, as we were suddenly head-on into 6-ft breakers. Our heavy boat (and salty stomachs) handled it just fine, but I wouldn’t attempt it in a small boat. We had 15-18 kts at 120 degrees initially with the sails up, but the wind dropped to 10 kts or less about three hours out and we motorsailed. Waves stayed sizeable at 6 feet on the beam. We initally aimed for hitting Little Harbor at high tide, but it looked awfully full of moored and anchored sailboats and trawlers, so we ended up anchored by one of the southern beaches of Lynyard Cay, making plans to go see the bronze statues by dinghy. The anchorage there is covered with thick seagrass, but our Rocna 55 cut through it with no problem.