Thursday, 10 May 2012

Jamaica Mistake Dave?

The weather forecast was for squalls and stronger than comfortable wind, so our passage brought us to Jamaica, a quick pitstop. This was our first multi day passage and it started off horribly. This was mainly our fault as we were not feeling very chipper after our foray at the resort. We motored into light headwinds, which is never really fun, but less so in our current state. Finally we got to Long Island and turned south east, now we were sailing.

The winds were perfect the first couple nights, and non existent in the day. One day we tried to pull up the spinnaker to see how it works and it wasn't windy enough, or the wind kept changing direction. Finally we got out of the Bahamas, around day two. Upon our nearing the border we got buzzed by the Navy, pretty routine I guess. Then we headed towards Cuba and the windward passage. Here we expected to see lots of freighter traffic, there was very little. We did get circled and hailed by the US Coast Guard Helicopter, but they were really friendly. So for the most part it was a slow first two days getting comfortable with our shifts, by the third day we were into our routine.

The evening of Day three we got to see Cuba, but we didn't stop in, sorry guy not in our budget. Jamaica however is free to clear in. The windward passage has a current going north, and we had 10 knot winds from the north east. This was very uncomfortable as the waves were steep and short, and there wasn't enough wind to hold the boat steady. The last two nights we really got pushed around and the sails were not enjoying it. We really need wind indicators for night sailing, it would make life much more pleasant. One morning in the windward passage I woke up from my 3 hr nap and groggily went up front to try to put the wisker pole out for the jib, well as I had it all set up, the clip came undone from the end 6ft above my head. The boat was rolling and the sails flapping and Jennie was at the helm. I went down on a knee as the pole bounced off my head and I was worried I had bitten a hole in my tongue. No blood was found, so I decided to scratch the wisker pole idea, and we would change out tack 15 degrees and go to Jamaica. For those of you who are new to cruising, that best describes decision making at sea. At one moment everything is good, and the next you are semi concussed and rerouting your course. The last morning we encountered our first squall, Jennie spotted the lightning, and I turned on the radar. There it was directly in front of us. So I kept course to see where it was going, and then snuck in behind it. Then the south easterly trades kicked in and it was a sleigh ride down to Jamaica. 

We didn't make it to Panama, but we definitely learned some lessons about passage making, and have a really good routine/watch schedule down. I (Dave) sleept from 8 to midnight, Jennie sleeps 12 to 3, I sleep 3 to 6, and Jennie sleeps in till 10ish. This works great with our natural schedules and we were not even phased by the end of the trip. We also found out that easily made food is nice when it gets rough, or just snack food. 

So for those of you considering the windward passage, it was rough with a north easterly, there was way less traffic  (we could count the boats on our fingers), and the US coast guard is right there. It was really nice to be away from all the traffic.

So now for us to check out Jamaica, clearing in was easy. I figure if you can clear in with a beer in hand life is good. The real hurdle is quarantine, then customs and imigration. We just showed up to Errol Flynn Marina, tied up and they all came to us over a 2 or 3 hr period. Then we went to hook (as they are replacing their mooring balls) and at $15 per night for showers, pool, internet, and a safe dinghy dock, it is quite reasonable. Plus the lush green foliage and mountains are amazing. We are definitively in the tropics now.

 Lets try the chute
 Offshore bliss
 Sunset over Cuba
it's getting to hot to sleep inside
 Sorry Dex, no shore leave
 mountains!!!
Port Antonio Entrance

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