MONDAY AND WIFI, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? April 21, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing the ICW.
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Very close to being done with the Virgin Islands. We left St Thomas this morning after a week weather delay. Went straight to Virgin Gorda, which is the furthest east before getting into the Leeward Islands. We will check in to the BVI tomorrow to checkout the next day. We hurried to get here in time to check in, but it is Carnival here and this is the last night. Big parades, lots of neighborhood bands, dancers, etc. The Customs and Immigration offices were closed this afternoon. Did not get to see much because of tying up at a marina so we could equalize the batteries. It has been only a month since we did that last, but who knows when we’ll have another chance. Also, the rate for the marina was reasonable. I am actually writing this in air conditioning. Cool…, in oh so many ways.
Actually the temperature is very confortable. The days are in the mid 80’s and the nights in the low 70’s. There is always a breeze, so sleeping is good. Seems I mentioned the rolling last time. Setting in Long Bay in St Thomas waiting a weather window was rollie.
Tomorrow, we will go to the Baths in the morning. These are large rock formations along the beach. I will snorkel alone, the mate has caught a cold she blames on the swimming in the cold water. It is cool enough that good Florida people would not get in it.
After the baths we will go to the north end of the island and stage for the next big overnight. We will be crossing the Anagota Passage. It is about 18 hours. That should help us get caught up on making water. We had got down to 50 gallons. Short of showers we use about 13 gallons a day. Not bad. Today’s trip we got up to about 100 gallons and Wednesday, we should get things topped off. We did shopping and laundry over the weekend. Everything is full, a good way to start off a new group of islands.
Well, I shall pounder my charts in my air conditioned saloon and try to figure out where I am to end up Thursday Morning.
WORLD WIND 9 DAYS April 17, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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My son left for home today, kind of. Had airplane troubles and is spending the night at the Charlotte Airport. He had a great time. He gets involved 100% in the things he does. There has been photography, 12 years of racing, and now fishing. He has become a fishing feign. We left Charlotte Ameil and spent the first night at Christmas Cove. The next morning we went to Trunk Bay and snorkeled in a beautiful area with all kinds of coral and hundreds of fish. That was a beautiful beach. After snorkeling, we headed to Jost Van Dyke in the BVI’s. After checking in we went to 2 world famous drinking establishments. First was The Soggy Dollar. You anchor right off the beach and swim in, hence the name Soggy Dollar. The other was Foxies. We ate dinner after too many Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar and proceeded to dance the night away. A great time.
The next morning we went on to Cane Garden Bay. The fishing was great with Tarpon all around. Hooked and touched leader on 1 during the day and 3 in the evening. International Tarpon Assoc laws say you only have to touch the leader and if it jumps free, it is a catch. That is part of the catch and release that is set up to preserve that great game fish. The anchorage there sucked. It was the rolliest place yet. Almost got the mate sea sick during the night, but didn’t.
The next day we went to Normans Island. Home of Willy T’s world famous drinking establishment. Also one of the more wild places to go. If you jump off there upper deck in the buff, you get a free tee shirt. We saw one guy and girl get there tee shirts. This was in the late afternoon. God only knows what happened late at night.
That night we ate dinner at Pirates. A very nice and somewhat expensive eating establishment. I had a tenderloin that had to be close to 4 inches thick. Very good.
Did I mention mooring balls. These are floats in the water that you moor your boat to, for $30 a night. If there is one available, you are to use it before anchoring. That adds up quickly as does the bar bills. The fishing here was non-existent.
The 13th we headed for the Baths. This is a beach with giant boulders standing up on it. You must use a mooring ball or leave. It fills up in early afternoon. We got a early start and ran direct into head winds and a heavy current that was also on the nose. This was to be a 3.5 hour sail. After 4 hours of motor sailing, we were about half way and it would be to late to get a ball. Therefore we went into Cooper Island. Pretty little town and only mooring balls. We did get one, and when the place filled up, it was crowded. We hardly got moored when a good size Barracuda took up residency under the boat. That curtailed swimming by the Capt. and Mate. Oh well. Our resident fisherman did catch the Cuda, let him go and he just moved back in under the boat. Now I am not really going in the water. Bad enough to have a curious toothy fish under your boat, but now add pissed off with a sore mouth.
The son did catch a nice size Jack Crevel.
The next day we headed for Cruise Bay to get the son check back into the USA. We used the governments Float plan program that you get off the internet. It was set up by the same people that did Obama Care program. It does not work. It is a riot to here the stories people tell about using the system. First you are to call in when you reach the US. You have to have a phone for the government. Ah, You have to go ashore to get your phone set. But you can not go ashore because you did not check in.
After checking in we went to Caniel Bay St John’s. We went ashore and ate lunch at the resort there. This is a very nice place. Lunch for 3 was almost as expensive as dinner we had at Norman’s island.
Tuesday we had to get back to Charlotte Amiel because of the kid’s flight Wednesday morning. He wanted to do some deep-water fishing, so we headed out into the Caribbean to check out the deep-water fish. That barracuda is back, maybe grew some, but got caught. Also a mid size Spanish.
Got in, went ashore to check email and get our tracking device set up. I think it works. Those of you who have Facebook are to be able to go to my sight and see where we are at. Neat thing. It allows us to pair our iPad and this thing through satellite. We can then send 160 character messages. They are for your relatives so they can communicate in times of stress. It also allow you to publish our location. Something that has been very problematic, if you have been trying to follow us.
This AM, put the kid ashore to go home. Then the mate did laundry and then we went to a marine store on the other side of the island. Tomorrow in the wind and rain we are to go grocery shopping. We will be here for a few days waiting for a weather window across Anegada Pass. That is our next big overnight. We will stage in the east end of the BVI’s and then go to St Martins in the Lee Wards. Will try to get this posted before leaving.
THINGS CHANGE April 7, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Culebra has some of the better snorkeling area there are in these parts. I had scoped out some of the locations on the day we arrived. All prepped and ready to go in the morning. Then we are listening to the weather guru always thinking we have to be in St Thomas by Tuesday. Well he says that the trade winds would build during the day to the high 20’s and last till Tuesday. The mate and I look at each other and start the scramble to head the 25 miles to St Thomas. So much for my nice day snorkeling.
Since Thursday afternoon we have been in the middle of St Thomas harbor with about 50 other cruisers. It is a pretty harbor, very hilly with the city surrounding it. Cruise ships come in about every other day and dumps about 3000 people into town for the day. A good day to hide and do boat projects.
Today is laundry day and 2 cruise ships just got in. The laundry is straight across the path of the passengers. Fun.
Tomorrow our son arrives and we will head to the east end of the island and then on to St John’s Wednesday. Thursday we will head to the BVI’s and spend several days there before heading back to St Thomas. Really looking forward to some good snorkeling and fishing.
Should be a good week. Seas should be down and wind calming during the week.
HELLO FROM CULEBRA April 3, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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This is our second island in the Spanish Virgin Islands. The first was Palominos. It is a small island with beaches, mooring balls and a commercial beach with restruants, bars and other concessions. One of the concessions is a pony ride for the kids…. The resorts on Puerto Rico have ferry boats running back and forth all day long. Did some snorkeling on both sides of a small island a 100 yard away. The shallow water on the north side of the island is covered with broke up coral. It is nice to have those little booty shoes to walk on stuff like that. The south side had a lot of broke up coral, but not covering the bottom.
Well, we did Gillian’s Island in about 1 hour max. What a bust. It is a mangrove island. That means it is hardly above sea level and covered with Mangroves. They have ferry rides from the main land to the island constantly. You bring your picnic lunch and find a place among the mangroves to eat and take a dip in the little lagoons that surround the island. We did not snorkel, but some of our boat buddies did and said the snorkeling was great. We went in the dinghy to a resort on the main land and got a wifi weather forecast from our weather guru. It said our weather window was closing as we drank our beer. Back in the dinghy and back to the boat to get to Ponce that afternoon.
Ponce is an industrial town with an active port. I grew up in the Gary Indiana area. It reminded me of that industrial area. I did not realize that the south shore of Puerto Rico was so heavily industrialized. A lot of petro/chem industry, large ports, and other assorted large factories. Lots of bad smells and thoughts of “what am I breathing”.
We went shopping at a real mall, large 2 story mall with every store you had ever heard of. Also went to an electronics store that would rival any, anywhere. From there to a real Walmart for groceries and other items. Large cities do have some advantages.
The anchorage had a large yacht club on one side, the port on one side and 3-4 bars in a row on one side. They played Puertor Rican music till 4 am every night. Very loud. Like the battle of the bands, all at once. The only good thing was that I like their music. We could have had rappers all night. We were waiting a weather window or would have moved on sooner.
Four days and then off to Salinas at 4 am. Salinas is the total opposite place. Had one large marina and a small town. The marina had a bar and grill, and there was a bakery in town. We left Salinas at 2 am trying to beat the afternoon sea breeze that blows from the east in the mid 20’s. The strategy worked. Not only did we get to where we had intended to go, but the weather turned out to be better then forecast and we ended up at the island with a pony ride. We gained a travel day.
Next Tuesday we get company that is flying into St Thomas, USVI. It is only 15 miles, but a bad 15 with currents and on the nose trade winds, but our weather window is closing tomorrow. Culebra looks like a nice place to be stuck through the weekend.
ANOTHER RACE ANOTHER 3 FREE DAYS March 25, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Yep. They had a 1 day regatta Saturday with 3 races scheduled. They only did 2, I withdrew from the second race because of the 3+ chop was making my passage so slow, the race committee would have died from exposer before I got finished. First race I was last, but with my rating, the real racers are afraid. Even with a withdrawal, I finished 8th out of 9. Who ever the 9th, he had to be really bad.
We ended up staying at this 5 star resort for 9 days and had 7 days free. We spent $270 which included a few meals, several drinks, a hair cut and god only knows what else. Not a bad deal. I figure the rooms at the hotel were probably cost several times per night what we paid total. Life is good…,at times.
We left Sunday morning for Porto Rico. It started fine for the first 6 hours and then deteriating to the second worse sailing experience so far. That is why life is not always good. The Mona Passage is known as being a bad place, well it gave us mid 20 winds on the nose and 4-5 with occasional 6’ seas. The outside of the boat and us were covered in salt. The inside looked like a bomb went off. One of these day we will have another nice day of sailing. Not motoring, not motorsailing.
Today, Tuesday we went to the absolute SW end of PR. It is called Caba Rojo. I do not know Spanish, but I think rojo means rolly. It would be a good name for this anchorage. Tomorrow we are going to Gillian’s Island. Yep, that Gillian. It is where the series was shot. It is about 20 miles away. We will leave at 6 am and hope to get in by 10. That beats the sea breeze, we hope.
When they say sea breeze, with mountains around they are talking serious wind. In the 20’s. That builds up a sea very quickly. Therefore, we move across the south coast of PR at first light. Hope to get in by 9-10 am.
ANOTHER SURPRISE March 17, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Racing, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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As we got ready to leave, over an hour late waiting for the Navy to give us our dispatch papers and collect there $20, we found that our buddy boats decided they had seen enough and were going to Samana with us. Because of check out, we got rather stretched out during the day and night but still got to the marina about the same time. What a pleasant surprise this place was. It is a 5 star resort and cheaper then Ocean World Marina. It is really beautiful. It has 3 restaurants, 2 infinity pools and another pool. The marina is much smaller, but very nice. There is a hotel, condos and individual homes in the development. It is struggling to make a go of it.
The next surprise was that they were having a regatta Saturday and Sunday and if we participated we got 4 days free docking, a cocktail party Friday night, Another one Saturday night with a band and dancing. An awards dinner after Sunday’s race. The Saturdays race was cancelled because of no wind. The Sunday race was held, but a large yacht came in and it blocks my way out of my slip. I had to sit up at the pool and watch the race. There is another race this coming weekend with the same deal. We are currently stuck here because of weather. We may have to do this again. There may be a window Sunday where we could move 85 miles down the coast and stage for our trip to Porto Rico. So we will see. In the meantime we are enjoying the resort.
We went into the town of Samana today. It is a fairly small city and very poor. We spent about 2 hours there and decided we had seen all we wanted to. We rode back in a motorized rickshaw. That was an exciding ride. There are no centerlines on the streets, so it is guts to drive. Over 50% of the vehicles are motor scooters. You can have 2,3,4 or more lanes of traffic at a time. The biggest vehicle rules. That does not mean people do not try to pass when there is no room, they do. And they will play chicken with you. As I said this is a guts game. Everyone has a cell phone, but nobody talks and drives. You have to be 100% engaged in driving or you will not live long. Plus the roads are narrow and have deep 1 foot wide ditches at the edge of the pavement. That is for the open sews.
Tomorrow is work on the boat day and some pool time. Got to enjoy this while we can. It will be back to anchoring in a little over a week. I do not think I would like to anchor in this country. It is nice having a lot of security people around.
OCEAN WORLD, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC March 11, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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This was another overnight. We got underway from 6 Hills Cays about 8 am and worked our way back out through the rocks to the Atlantic. Good by rocks for a while. We made ridiculously good time. Got in the area about 4 am instead of 7. We were supposed to have a 1 knot current against us all the way, but had a 1+ knot in our favor. We also had a perfect beam reach 10-12 knot breeze. We motor sailed to charge batteries, make water and make the best time in case we ran into fowl wind and current. About 5 pm a cold front caught up to us and we lost our good breeze and it changed to being directly behind us. That also moved our 3 foot beam seas to 3-4 foot astern by the time we got to the DR. Back to rolling 10 degrees each way. Very tiring.
Mary was standing about 1-1/2 hour watches which allowed me to get some sleep. It does not hit me till the next night, then I really sleep.
We are at a marina. It has both customs and immigration and the Navy here and the customs and Navy come to your boat. Immigration is in a building at the end of the pier. Very convenient and efficient. Great for a country like this. Monday we went into town to tour and restock groceries. This is a very poor country, but nothing when you compare it to Haiti next door.
We toured a Amber Museum, a cigar factory, the cathedral, ate lunch and then went grocery shopping. That was a pleasant surprise. The first store was a terrible. It has an arrangement with the marina because the owner ran up a big debt at the casino. It was small and under stocked. We went to another store that was like a mid size Walmart. Very nice and well stocked. And reasonable. Hard to shop when you are converting money on everything you look at. We got to check out having no clue what we were going to spend. We will not touch the water. The marina water is not potable. The bottled water is suspect. Kids will take empty bottles and refill them and sell them to the stores. That means it is a beer and wine country. That is why we motor sail and make water. Nice super clean water. Water maker was a good investment.
Today, Tuesday, I did projects. Met with a sailor who is heading the opposite direction and has made many trips through these parts. Got some great information. He is leaving for the Turks and Caicos and we are leaving Thursday for the east end of the DR. There we will wait a weather window to cross the Mono Pass and enter Porto Rico. Then on to the Virgin Island and the real vacation time begins. We will slow down and visit more islands and get ashore more often and tour. All our long stops have been weather related and other than Georgetown we did not get to do much touring. We knew it would be that way.
Thursday is another overnighter. 100 miles and then sit till the next window opens up. The 3 buddy boats that we tagged along with are staying here for a couple weeks so new friends will be in the offering. I am so ready for the Virgin Islands.
MOVING ON February 23, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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About time. We went to Georgetown just in time for a few days of squally windy weather. 30 knots and the anchor alarm set up too tight to wake you before anything really went bad. Well that means you spend the night in your rain gear in the cockpit with the chartplotter glaring into your tired eyes. Ah, better safe then sorry. It was only one night, the second night was not as bad and I set the alarm up for at least the length of our anchor set. I had laid out the second anchor rode on deck just in case we drug. I could trip the anchor and it would pay out by itself while I ran the engine to keep out of harms way while the primary re-dough in and the second also dough in. Or at least that is the theory.
The next 7 days started with 2 almost calm and then back to the 20’s for wind. So we were stuck. But we refined our plans for the next weather window.
We are in it we hope. The plan is to make it to the Turks and Caicos by Friday, as I say, we hope. To start, Saturday we went to Emerald Bay Marina. We have not been in a marina since Tampa. It is part of Sandals properties. A very nice marina, with free laundry. The water is expensive (40 cents/gal) but we fueled up, did laundry, got some water, and had a great dinner.
The dinner we needed. The night before we went to a talent presentation by cruisers as the kick off to race week in Georgetown. There was dinner for $10 per person. You got chicken, fish, hamburgers or hotdogs. By the time they had fed maybe half the people, they ran out of fish and chicken. The poor guys doing hamburgers ended up grilling hamburgers for over 100 people on a big 55 gallon drum grill. They ended up burning anything to keep it hot. Stick, cardboard, whatever. We were lucky we found out right a way the food was running out and shifted to hamburgers. We got warn half cooked hamburgers. Did not get sick so all was well. The talent was very good. Had a few acts that were retired pros. Also a few that were made up of musicians that were talented at putting together some very slick acts with some questionable talent. A Blues Brothers skit that had it down, and a group that sang a song from the 70’s but changed the word to make fun of the daily happenings in the Georgetown anchorage. Great fun, just worried about dying before sunrise.
Dinner was at this restaurant at Grand Isle Vilas. It is built out into the biggest swimming pool I ever been around. It is like a big pagoda built out over the middle of the pool. We had pool side seats and could not see both end of the pool. The center area was an infinity pool across from us and during the day looked out on the Exuma sound. Cool. The mate had lobster and rice. It was to die for. I had a loin cut steak. Thick. Also to die for. We wanted a nice dinner after the previous evening, but did not expect to have the dinner and service and surrounding we ended up with. Yes it was expensive, but was real meals, not foo-foo stuff you get at some fancy restaurants, plus with the service and quality extras to go along with it. Nothing in Pensacola comes close. We have had some really good experiences at restaurants around the world and this one will always rank up very near the top.
Today we left the marina and motored into 2-3-4 foot seas with 13-18 kts of wind 19 degrees off the starboard bow. Up and down, spray flying over the bow and slamming into waves that would take you from 5.5 knots to 2.9 knots in a few yards. The big one were coming in set of 4 to 5 waves and almost bring you to a stop. It would take you almost a minute to get your speed built back up, go for a minute or to and then hit the next set. We got in about 3 pm after clearing the marina around 9 am. A long slog to weather. Today is why gentlemen are not suppose to go to weather. One of these days we will get to sail.
Tomorrow we will go to Clarence Town by Booby Rock also on Long Island. We will round the northern point of the island and head 2/3rds the way down the eastern side. Nothing between us and Africa to the east. Kind of freaks out the mate. She is learning. Still apprehensive about being out in the real ocean. She would call it SCARED.
CHANGES February 17, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing.
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Well we did not get to Little Farmers Cay. We had perfect conditions so we press on to Rudder Cut Cay. Scary place to enter because there are huge rocks all over the entrance. I mean like the size of big houses. You head for one get a couple hundred yards away with the swell pushing you in and hang a hard right and there you are. It is a private island with guard dogs on the beach. That was OK because we went over to a small cay, hiked, swam. Had a great time and met two couples that were doing the same thing. The beach was maybe 50 feet wide and was in the middle of the island. On either end of the beach were the rest of the island made of lime and coral rock. Interesting geology. You could swim on either side of the beach.
The next day went on to Georgetown on Greater Exuma Island. Town of a few thousand, has a grocery store about the size of Shoreline in Pensacola. There is also a small hardware store, 2 filling stations 2-liquor stores some hotels, restaurants and bars. Across the harbor is Stocking Island. It has several beaches on it and a bar and is like a big park. We did the Valentine’s dance at the bar call Chat and Chill. Had a blast. Went to Church on the beach Sunday, beside the bar. Get to dig your toes in the sand while I got eaten by no-seems. We were going to leave tomorrow for a marina, fuel up, do laundry, get water, but our weather window closed and we will be here till next Monday at least. Not a bad place to be. Have to get motor oil and do oil changes while here. Went to town to get oil this AM and the freighter just got in and there was no oil in gallons to be had.
The dinghy ride to town in 2+ feet chop was harrowing and very wet. Nice being in 80+ degree weather and 80+ degree water. Weather going to get worse through the end of the week. Blowing 20 knots now and going up to 30 knots by Thursday.
Mary wants to stock up on some groceries and I told her to take the water taxi. The dinghy ride would have scared her to death.
Pics. You probably noticed the lack of. Mary is writing on my Facebook page and putting in the pictures. They are down loaded one at a time and very slowly. We are using our hotspot, and therefore not doubling the effort. You can find it at Facebook.com/RalphKnoerr. Lots of Pics. The Mate is the official photographer for the cruise. She has also become trip planner and doing all the research to find where we are going. She has vested interest. She is trying to do the whole Caribbean without doing an overnight. Well only a few.
We are using way to much electricity. All into our stand up refrigerator. All the women love it including the mate, but it is very inefficient. It takes forever to recover when you open it up. We are having to run the generator 3 hours a day just to keep the batteries up. Not good and expensive. But it is one of those things we are stuck with.
More next time. This is a beautiful part of the world.