Cayman Brac to Jamaica Feb 28
I really had to leave, this mooring is untenable even in light winds, the reef is just behind me and I wasn’t too happy with the mooring tether rope it looked a bit frayed under the water. I hadn’t slept and just wanted to get away from there. I had turned the refrigerator off to conserve battery power and there was half a pack of bacon that needed cooking which occupied me for a while. Once it was cooked I took it off the stove and the rolling threw hot fat over a lot of things, including my leg and a couple of fingers. Ouch. I sorted my burns, which aren‘t too bad. Left the mess to sort later when it had cooled down and went to see about getting out of here. It was 6.30 and the mooring ball was in front where it should be, so no need to check the keel, forget the boathook, who wants to pick up another mooring ball anyway.
I had wondered why all this had happened, was I supposed to change my mind and go to Panama or Guatamala; there hadn’t been any bad weather. Oh well, who knows.
I sailed with the hydrovane, but took the wheel as well because the swell was strong and the angle to get away from the island was not generous. I took a photo of the end of the island, but look it up on the internet, scary.
I spoke to the traffic advisor, who had promised me a weather forecast yesterday. It will be like it is for 24 hours and should not be a norther until Sunday, not much to go on.
I sailed 30nm in 12 hours, but am 20nm too far north. It was the best I could do with the wind angle and the swell. The wind was 10-15 knots most of the day, except for the interlude at 23 knots when I was making 5.4, but this was too heeled over in the swell to continue for long and the wind dropped, but the swell kept thumping into me. I usually ask the question within the first 3 hours and today was no different – are we nearly there yet? 200nm, if I could go direct I should get in on day 4, but with all this tacking it is more likely to be day 6, I will be out here a while!
Because the email is not working I used the sat phone as a phone, for the first time ever. I got hold of Steve in the US and he is posting my position for me and providing weather info. It is expensive, but really good to be able to talk to someone, other than myself. If he posts anything dubious I can delete it when I get back to civilization.
Another trying day, trying to get somewhere near my course. The first 24 hours I did a lot of miles, but only made 35 miles in the right direction. Because of the wind angle and the current I cannot get nearer than 70 degrees which means I will be out here forever. Too long on one tack means that if the wind angle changes or the wind drops and I motor then the time and effort is wasted. Motoring dead into wind is slow and depressing, but 1 knot in the right direction is better than the alternatives at the moment. It was 5pm the wind angle finally became possible to sail at 40 degrees off the wind, plus the 30 degree further offset from Heading to Course Over Ground, to near my desired course. I was very happy and am making about 100 degrees at 2 knots, sometimes a little over both of those. This puts me up the middle of the sea between Western tip of Cuba and Jamaica. I have to keep this up as long as I can, but not cut it too close so that the boat tacks and stalls; which can be very tiring to get it all back balanced. 36 hours and I am nearly 60 miles from Cayman Brac and 75 to Montego Bay. I was heading for Port Antonio, but that will probably be day hops up the coast.
The wind lasted for 90 minutes and then died. I spoke to Steve and the wind came back, light, but from the other tack, so back out went the sails. It is tiring, but nicer to sail if possible. The oil and fuel filters now have an unbelievable 200 hours on them and need changing. It was also time to get out the big jumper and the blanket for the evening.
The wind was very strong, over 20 knots a lot of the time and I was making 5 knots. The wind direction changed and I did not have to tack until the morning when I was 40 miles from Montego Bay. There were two cruise liners coming in and they would be there in a couple of hours. I tacked and was doing 10 miles in 3 hours and then tacked back, effectively covering 10 miles every 6 hours, so I was expecting to be in tomorrow morning. Amazingly the wind changed direction again for me and I sailed for 24 hours, only turning the motor on to go into the anchorage.
1700 Anchored in Lucea, aqbout 156 miles short of Montego Bay. Eat, get weather from Steve and then sleep.
I had slept in the cockpit, seemed the thing to do, but I woke up early realizing it was very cold. I took the anchor up and was away before 0630. The wind was forecast to be 5-10 knots for the next couple of days, so it would be motoring, but I really want to get into Port Antonio tomorrow, about 100 miles away, nearly as far as I had done in 60 hours. The phrase to describe sailing passages is ‘long periods of boredom, interspersed with moments of sheer terror’. The moments of terror are certainly true, but I am not sure about the boredom. I certainly always want to arrive, but I think I enjoy the getting there for itself. Perhaps if there are more people then the jobs are shared and you have more time to be bored, but I wouldn’t say no to more sleep and reading or computer, if there is the electricity.
There is the sailing, tacking, checking course and electricity. There is the motoring, checking the engine, course, fuel. The heeling of the boat determines which side of the cockpit you sit on and cushions have to be moved every time I tack. Sit on port side up front to see chart plotter, on starboard side at back to see instruments on binnacle. Then there is picking up everything that moves from one side to the other inside the boat according to tack and roughness of conditions. At night the lights have to be changed according to sailing or motoring and I have to get some rest without getting into difficulties. The cooking and clearing up continues whether stopped or at sea. Seems enough to do to me.
Today was particularly busy. 0630 took up anchor and motor out of anchorage,I have a track to follow so this was not as stressful as coming in yesterday. There was a tanker coming toward me, AIS said he was ‘sailing’, so I didn’t bother to call them up on the radio as they didn’t seem to understand the English language. They came within ¼ mile of me, but I was ready to do a quick twirl if necessary. I took a photo, there are no sails evident, they were motoring. I had put a fishing line out, with a clothes peg to ping off if I caught anything. This usually works even when it is a piece of seaweed. I was very surprised to see a yellow flashing behind me, there was a lot of line out. I managed to bring the fish in and it was 30”, a record for me. I got 8 fillets off the fish and put the rest back, something will eat it and then cleaned up. I had several sport fisher boats ahead of me that had to be avoided, but they all went back to shore, the sun was up and good fishing time had passed. I cooked two fillets for a late breakfast, no guesses for what is on the menu for lunch and dinner – and again tomorrow. I sorted out the spare ropes at the mast, which interfere with the genoa furler if they are not loose. I epoxied the hole on the dinghy. I spotted that one of the poles connecting the sprayhood to the arch was unattached at one end. Luckily the wing nut was still on the side deck, so that was easily fixed. I checked the engine and fuel which I am transferring from tank 1 to tank 2 and must not overfill tank 2. I tried to motor sail, but the angle is too close to keep me far enough away from land, so I put the genoa away for now. I read some of my book and am able to use the computer because the batteries are full. Am I bored? Don’t think so. Need to rest this afternoon because I have the whole night ahead of me. I did have fish for lunch, but could not face it again for dinner, so tea and biscuits was the alternative. There was no wind and flat calm, so I motored. 1300 the wind picked up so that I could sail, so I tacked and I tacked all afternoon and into the night.