Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aruba Arrival

We took our time getting into port, slowing down to arrive at dawn. On final approach we turned on our new LED spreader and cockpit lights to gybe the reefed mainsail and were soon spotted and hailed by the Aruba Coast Guard. They came along side and asked us to talk on the radio but their's wasn't working. So we yelled a few answers back at them (no firearms, two persons, coming from BVI etc.) and they left us alone.

We entered Barcadera Harbor at dawn (as required now by new regulations) and  instead of tying up to a nasty concrete wharf or some slimy trading vessel we dropped the hook 100 ft off (12d28.74'N, 69d59.85'W, 35 ft) so the Captain could dinghy in for immigration and customs (right there in the harbor complex). A hour later (no fees) and we were hoisting anchor and heading for Oranjestad to inspect our new home for a month: the Renaisance Marina and Resort. Our reservation starts tomorrow and the marina staff is off today (Sunday) so we will remain anchored just outside (12d30.58'N, 70d02.11'W, 40 ft) with six other cruising yachts. We'll give a full report of the marina amenities later.

The weather fax shows two possible cyclone formation areas within the next 48 hours: One similar to where Rafael started (the storm that threatened us briefly in the BVI) and one just north of us. Looks like we got down here just in time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Underway Day 3

With another squally night forecast and no reason to hurry into port for a night arrival, we shortened sail to stays'l and reefed main. With this combination we are still making a respectable 7 to 8 kn and can easily weather 25 to 35 kn squalls. The downpours have been spectacular though, keeping Interlude well rinsed of salt deposits.

There have been a few ships (mostly going east or west to or from the Panama Canal) and we have taken to fine tuning the radar to distinguish between hard targets and rain clouds.

Today is still overcast with scattered rainshowers and because we have been sailing without running the main engine for over 24 hrs, are now running the auxiliary generator and air conditioning (and charging batteries and making water). It is a little spooky how hot air can come out of those rainclouds and it is nice to be sealed up in our 'spaceship'.

1300 UTC position: 13d47'N, 68d39'W, course 232M, speed 7kn.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Underway Day 2

Motoring a few hours last night got us through some squally shifty rainy areas but on the whole it has been a pleasant sail in 10 to 20 knot East winds with slight to now moderate seas.

We are under full main and Genoa on a beam reach doing 8 to 10 knots. No fish yet. It is hot: 95 air & 85 water dictating frequent showering on the lido deck.

1600 UTC Position: 15d56'N, 66d43'W, course 234M, speed 10 kn. 280 nm to go!
Katie's sister and brother-in-law already have our Aruba itinerary planned with scuba diving, festivals, sight seeing, etc.
The Renaissance Marina where we have booked a slip for one month (not much cruising around Aruba) is in a resort complex which we will have full use of.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Underway Day 1

With no tropical storms forecast between the BVI and Aruba, we decided to make a run for the lower latitudes and get out of the Hurricane zone. A 'huka' dive on Interlude's bottom reveiled no surprises, only a few dings and wraps from Maine's maddening lobster pots. The 'captain' fired up our new dive compressor to top off the spent air while the 'owner' organized a few meals for the passage.

While heading out into the blue, cell phone reception from the USVI allowed us to catch up with friends and family before we go way 'down island' and incommunicado for a few days.

Sailing weather is great: beam reaching in 10-15 kn newly forming tradewinds with hardly any seas.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peter Island with Peter

With the safe passing of T.S. Rafael to the east of us, Kurt's brother Peter and his crew on their chartered motor yacht were finally allowed to leave their charter base marina and with only one day left on their charter took a trip to Deadman Bay on Peter Island. After a morning spent aboard Interlude diagnosing some fresh water plumbing issues and replacing a pump head, we meet them there for lunch at Peter Island Resort's Deadman Bay beach bar. All seven of us all piled into their big RIB and braved a surf landing on the beach.

Although Peter Island Resort is the corporate getaway for Amway and is quite upscale in amenities, service (and price), they do welcome well behaved and dressed (at night) yachties.

We managed to extract ourselves from the bar and beach, said goodbye to our buddy boat and headed for Norman Island and the Willie T. With the wind now strong out of the SW, The Bight at Norman was a bit too rolly for us and we headed back to Soper's Hole on Tortola to prepare for our next passage.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Birth of a Hurricane

Last night the center of tropical storm Rafael passed 20 miles to the east of us (heading north to Bermuda). Most of the wind and rain was on the eastern side (40 kn) and we only saw 5-15 kn all night. The wind has backed from E yesterday to NW last night to W this morning and is forecast to go SSW soon. Gorda Sound is well protected all around and an anchorage can be found for any wind direction.

We were lucky that Rafael took a sharp right turn and left us on the side with little wind or rain. It continues to intensify and even though now moving away from us the barometer is still dropping.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Reunion & Rafael

We had a nice family reuinion afloat with Kurt's brother, nephew and the rest of the crew on their chartered 56 ft motor yacht. We hit many of the usual haunts here in the BVI but with it being early in the season many restaurants and bars were closed (opening next week).

Tropical storm Rafael now threatens the islands and we had to say an early goodbye with them being required by their charter company to go into a marina and us finding a safe anchorage.

We are anchored in Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda (18d29.69'N, 64d21.66'W, 60 ft) and have secured for around 50 kn winds. The storm should reach us tonight with winds from the ENE going N then SSW as it passes tomorrow. Stay Tuned.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Land Jo (st Van Dyke)

We arrived at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke at around midnight dropping the hook well outside the mooring field before moonrise in pitch blackness (18d26.36'N, 64d45.08'W, 50 ft). We had been there before many times and so knew the area well (the GPS chart plotter, RADAR and previous tracks also helped quite a bit). Inward clearance was fast and easy this morning at the police/customs/immigration building just across the path from the town jetty (to the left of Foxy's).

Surprisingly, our cheap prepay ATT cell phone worked to call Kurt's brother who was anchored with his chartered motor yacht in the next bay (White Bay). We arranged a rendezvous at Long Bay (Foxy's Taboo) for some midday cocktails and a hike to the 'Bubbly Pool' where we all had fun getting blasted off rocks by the surf and swirled around this big natural jacuzzi with 85F sea water.

Later in the afternoon we moved across to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola and anchored during a tropical downpour amidst the many empty moorings (low season). The rain augmented a much needed boat wash and we still needed to tidy up below to get ready for visitors.

We'll let those vacationers party it up ashore tonight and we will get some good sleep so we can keep up over the next week.

Passage Stats:
Distance (as the crow flies): 1427 nm
Distance (thru the water): 1392 nm
Distance (over the bottom): 1530 nm
Time: 7 days, 13 hrs (181 hrs)
Avg Speed (thru the water): 7.7 kn
Avg Speed (over the bottom): 8.5 kn
Max Speed: 15 kn
Best 24 hrs: 210 nm
Time Motored: 63 hrs
Least Wind: 3 kn
Most Wind: 25 kn
Coldest Seawater: 63F
Warmest Seawater: 86F
Fish Caught: 5 Dorado (Mahi Mahi)
Fish Taken: 3 Dorado

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Underway Day 8

We have been motoring for nearly 24 hours in light headwinds. Looks like we may not be able to lay our course sailing for the rest of the passage. In an optimistic moment we rigged the Code Zero (our biggest headsail) yesterday just to have it ready in case sailing conditions improve (and to make sure all the rigging still works).
Two more wayward canaries landed aboard yesterday afternoon but are now gone.

With constant power available from the main engine, we have done three loads of laundry and the new ice maker is working well (it likes to run longer periods of time, getting colder and making bigger ice cubes).

The captain got a haircut today, shaved and is ready for officialdom in BVI.

1200 UTC Position: 20d37'N, 64d30'W, course 199M, speed 9.0 kn, 130 MTG

We hope to make landfall at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI tonight and clear customs Monday morning (10-8-12). Then we plan to track down Kurt's brother's charter boat for a rendezvous.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Underway Day 7

After two straight days of sailing we are now under power in light and variable conditions. There has been some rain and shifty wind all night and we may have to motor for a few hours until what is left of the tradewinds fills in. Unfortunately the wind will be from the southeast and not northeast as we had hoped for. A huge low in mid Atlantic combined with a trof to the west of us has killed the trades will bent them to be more southerly when they fill in.

1300 position: 24d04'N, 64d31'W, COG 180M, SOG 9.4 kn, MTG 315 nm
Looks like we will miss Foxy's Sunday Night Buffet BBQ but may get in some Bubbly Pool action Monday or Tuesday.

Katie's list of top five things she wants to do in the BVI:
1. Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke
2. Happy Hour Pain Killers, Saba Rock
3. Drinks & Dinner on the Willie T.
4. See Eric Stone perform at Pussers, Marina Cay
5. Lobster BBQ dinner on Anegada

Friday, October 5, 2012

Underway Day 6

We caught two more Dorado yesterday and so will have some in the freezer.

The wind has been picking up all night, the waves are getting bigger and there is now convective activity (rain) all around us (no more fishing). We are still wing & wing making good progress along the rumb line to BVI.

1215 UTC Position: 27d13' N, 65d16' W, course 190M, speed 10 kn

Will need to gybe at some point after 'the owner' gets some sleep.

500 nm to go!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Underway Day 5

Fish On! Landed a nice little one eyed Dorado after having the line in the water only fifteen minutes. Our first fish since some throw-back barracuda in the Bahamas in May. Of course we hooked right after setting the whisker pole (now going wing & wing) and after setting all that sail the captain did not want to take any of it in so the owner had to reel in hard with the fish fighting the whole way.

Some minor repairs to the whisker pole car control line blocks: A three part tackle came crashing down on deck yesterday when the locknut holding the block worked loose. Now all repaired with the two portside blocks getting new locknuts.

1300 UTC Position: 30d25'N, 65d 27'W, course 191M, speed 7 kn.

For those interested in hearing us, we are checking in every day on two radio nets:
Magellan Net, 1300 UTC, 8161 USB and Southbound II 'Herb' weather net, 2030-2100 UTC, 12359 USB.

Both tropical storms Nadine and Oscar appear to be behaving themselves and staying well east of us.

BVI: 700 nm to go!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Underway Day 4

We are having a very smooth sail with only the mildest nighttime squalls getting the wind up from 11 to 15 kn and just a few flashes of lightning in the distance. We started receiving Bermuda Radio on VHF 16 120 nm away (!) and they have a notice to mariners about the Kings Cup racing in the lagoon (along with numerous buoys missing and navigation lights out).

The possible cyclone formation west of the Cape Verde Islands is forecast to go northwest and be absorbed into a huge Low in the mid Atlantic.

So at this point we are on track to bypass Bermuda and head directly for the BVI to rendezvou with Kurt's brother and crew on their bareboat charter powerboat out of Nanny Cay, Tortola.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Underway Day 3

After some motoring last night thru rain (boat wash) we are now hard on the wind heading southwest in moderate south winds. A small bird (canary?) landed aboard yesterday but did not survive the night. We passed thru the gulf stream and even though conditions were calm it still created a small bouncy chop. The water and air temps are now almost 80d. Large rafts of sargasso weed.

1200 UTC position: 36d09'N, 67d20'W, course 145dM, speed 7 kn.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Underway Day 2

We are having a good sail so far with 15-20 knot winds on the beam all night. The seas are a bit lumpy but the current is favorable at about a knot. We did shorten sail last night to 1st reef and stays'l for an easier motion but were still making nine knots thru the water. Thinking of piling on more sail this morning.
0700 local position: 38d59'N, 69d25'W, coarse 170 M.

The sea water temp has gone from 65 to 75 and we are not even in the gulf stream yet. Tropics here we come!