Spanish Wells to Puerto Rico The 1000 mile beat
Spanish Wells to Puerto Rico – The 1000 mile beat!!!!
15th – 26th November 2018
Although we loved the quirky calm of Spanish Wells we had to head off into the Atlantic in order to continue our journey to Grenada. The weather forecast was for no strong winds but we were expecting a gruelling journey as the route is known as the “Thorny Path” because the track heads out into strong easterly winds in the Atlantic for several days before being able to turn south at 65 degrees longitude and make for the British Virgin Islands.
Farewell Spanish Wells
Our first issue was leaving Spanish Wells. Spanish Wells has two entrances, the straightforward route we took to come into the marina and a more tortuous route into the Atlantic. Guidebooks advised against navigating this without a local pilot. Luckily, we were able to find a local boat to guide us.
Just to reinforce that a pilot was not an easy option the local newspaper reported a boat hitting the reefs a few days earlier with 20 passengers on board. All were rescued safe and well but demonstrated how dangerous reefs can be even in benign conditions.
Our pilot out of Spanish Wells
Beautiful but harbouring dangerous reefs
Once safely through the reefs we made our way out into the Atlantic to face a long and tedious beat into the doldrums or horse latitudes. The light winds meant that neither the Aries nor Raymarine autopilots worked with any degree of accuracy. We had to hand steer for many hours which was very tiring. There was very little shipping, marine or bird life which made the whole 10 day journey which did little to break the monotony.
One of only three ships we saw on our 10 day + journey
The guidebooks we read cautioned against turning south too soon to avoid beating into headwinds. However, crew morale was a little low due to the light winds and it was felt that, as we were motoring, turning south early would not be too detrimental. As we turned south early Tortola was not a realistic destination, so we re-routed and headed towards Puerto Rico.
Peter getting a bit bored helming in the Horse Latitudes (Doldrums)
Despite a straightforward sail, things could have gone seriously wrong when we lost one of our backstays. The boat was re-rigged by Mack Sails in Florida but they did not replace a tired shackle securing the backstay, which then broke. Fortunately, we were able to take the load off the rigging and re-rig another shackle before continuing our course. It did however bring home to us that although we had more than enough provisions for double our proposed journey time, a rig failure several hundred miles from land and shipping lanes could have seriously taxed our resources.
Rule: Always over provision. Might cost a bit more but better more than less!!!
Miles from anywhere – a tug towing a barge which we had to give way to
A Lament To My Dear Departed Kindle
My Kindle, my true and trusted loyal friend
A lonely tear I weep for your unjust and untimely end
A captain fierce and with no finesse
Failed to appreciate your need for a tender caress
Thrown upon the floor, not once but twice or more
Caused you to exit this mortal coil
With no books to read with their comforting joy
One only hoped for the cry of “land ahoy”