Saturday, November 27, 2010
Our next stop may or may not be Miami, enroute to Bimini. We're in no hurry to leave Ft. Lauderdale as we have friends in town and plenty of tasks to accomplish. Since we've moved to the river, I've mostly been catching up on provisioning, cleaning, and today, laundry. School for Quinn has temporarily been put on hold while we take care of some things, but hopefully we'll get back to it soon.
Thanksgiving on the boat was nice - we roasted a whole (6.5 lb) turkey on our little rail-mounted marine grill. It turned out beautifully. Kathy and John (Oceana) had intended to stop by for some Mexican Train after dinner, but we all needed naps.
Last night we went (with Kathy and John) to the "Get Lit" festival on the Riverwalk where the mayor officially flips the switch on the Christmas lights. The Riverwalk is particularly lovely this time of year. It was a fun night and Quinn even got to put in a couple requests with Santa. There are photos posted on the website.
I have been slowly working on the website as wifi here is terrible. I have added a couple more photos to our St. Augustine page and updated our position, in addition to the Ft. Lauderdale photos.
Well, off to the laundry.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The first day of our passage from Charleston, SC to Ft Lauderdale, FL went very smoothly. Quite literally smooth sailing (well, motor-sailing anyway). The light North winds that were predicted were overwhelmed by land and sea breezes generated by the heating and cooling of the east coast landmass so we generally had light wind on the beam mixed with 2-3 foot rollers from the north.
Today we are a little further out to sea and aren’t affected by the land and sea breezes so we’re getting the 5-10 knot North winds now. That’s not much to sail with so we’re motor sailing once again. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to pick up and by tomorrow night we’ll probably be in 20 knot North winds with 7-9 foot following seas building to 8-10 footers as we reach Ft Lauderdale.
All three of us are doing well and are looking forward to packing away the cold weather clothing.
We were visited several times by dolphin pods. On the first visit, the pod was especially playful. Several would jump clear out of the water beside our boat while others were swimming and playing off the bows. Then we saw something new to us. One of the dolphins would swim upside down beneath another dolphin and they would “tickle” each other’s belly with their fins. We’re not sure if they were playing or flirting, but it was fun to watch!
This morning Jen was greeted by a very large pod of dolphins. She estimates there were at least 30 swimming all around Mirasol. She grabbed the camera and took a nice video of some of them playing off the port bow. We’ll post that on the web site when we get in. Jen also saw a large sea turtle this morning.
One other remarkable bit of sea life we saw were thousands of globular brown and tan jellyfish. They were floating near the surface just outside of Charleston. For the first several hours of the voyage, you could look anywhere around the boat and see dozens at any one instant. I think it is a seasonal thing as I recall seeing something like this the last time we sailed south from Charleston in November.
That’s all for now.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
It was a whirlwind trip up the Chesapeake, stopping for just a couple days in Norfolk, then for just a few days in Yorktown (where we were fortunate to see our friends on Simplicity). From there we had an overnight passage up to Rock Hall and have mostly been settling into our spot there ever since. Gregg's parents were in town for a week of that time and we've been busy catching up with everybody at North Point.
As I write this, I am sitting (drinking coffee and recovering from last night's party) at the home of some good friends (the Krause's, for those of you that know them) in Cary, IL, which is a northwest suburb of Chicago. We got to see a lot of our Chicago-area friends last night, most of them for the first time since we left two years ago. They are definitely what I miss the most about Chicago.
Anyway, we actually drove out as it was cheaper to rent a car for a MONTH, than for the three of us to fly and rent a car here for a week. The added and obvious side benefit is we have access to wheels for a month - a huge treat when the nearest well-stocked grocery store is about 20 miles away and the only nearby small grocery is 1.5 miles away.
Our plan is to stay here until probably Tuesday morning then we'll make the drive back to Maryland. It's not a lot of time to spend here, but it's a little unsettling to leave the boat for so long.
Gregg is a better writer than I am, so I'll wrap it up here. I'm sure he'll post as soon as the muse is with him again.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Day two continued to be a motor sail with very mild seas well into the afternoon. Late afternoon found us off Cape Lookout, NC with winds increasing to the low teens and the waves staying moderate at 2 – 4 feet. As evening arrived, so did the “scattered” thunderstorms. They were marching one after another, right up the Gulf Stream to our starboard. We were happy that we elected not to swing further offshore to take better advantage of the lift from the current since that would have placed us in the path of all this rain.
As darkness fell it became evident that there was quite a lot of lightning activity, with many stunning ground (sea) strikes, making me even happier that we weren’t another 10 miles offshore. It was quite the light show.
Around 3AM this morning as I came back on shift, our luck dodging the squalls gave out. We found ourselves wet and nervously watching the lightning strikes all around us. My laptop, the sat phone, a spare GPS and VHF all went into the oven in the hope they would be protected in the event of a strike. Jen happily went off shift to catch some sleep while I sat at the helm running over a mental to-do list in the event of a strike on the boat. The lighting activity was so frequent and brilliant that I found myself using the light of the lightning flashes to look for passing ships since the after-images had ruined my ability to see anything in the dark.
After a tense three hours, the squalls moved off a bit and the lightning became a glorious lightshow again, instead of a threat.
The end of our second full day at sea found us just off the Diamond Shoals Light of Cape Hatteras in a minor thunder shower. After that the skies cleared up and we’re on a sunny downwind run up the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Tomorrow we should arrive in the Chesapeake Bay.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Day one was much less eventful than the first day of the passage from Ft Lauderdale to Charleston. Weather was as forecasted and quite mild. We motored and motor-sailed the whole time as the wind was consistently under 10 knots on the stern and we wanted to average a minimum speed of 5.5 knots. Seas have been extremely mild with a slight swell from the SE and wind waves under 2 feet, and while we had a good lightning show from a storm offshore, we stayed dry and had no concerns with thunderstorms in our vicinity.
I saw several pods of dolphins busy fishing and one small pod came over to swim with us for a little while. Early this morning Jen spotted a very large sea turtle with a brown shell. We passed within 15 feet of it and she estimated the shell to be almost 3 feet in diameter with a head about the size of her forearm. Quinn and I missed out as we were dozing.
As I write this we’re being investigated by a US Navy helicopter based either on a cruiser that is about 3 miles off our port or maybe an aircraft carrier nearby that we can’t see. We have several very large blobs on our radar that are too far away to identify. I was seeing a hit very close by behind us on the radar that wasn’t there a minute ago so I grabbed the binoculars to investigate. No ship, but one big helicopter heading straight for us. They veered off about a quarter mile away and headed towards one of the unidentified blobs. Nice diversion from an otherwise quiet day at sea.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The plan is to arrive at Waterside Marina in Norfolk sometime Wednesday. We'll stay there for a couple of days and then head to Yorktown, VA where we plan to celebrate Quinn's 5th birthday at Busch Gardens.
The passage is about 425nm and will be our third time rounding the Diamond Shoals off of Cape Hatteras. When we arrive in Norfolk that will have closed the circle on our Caribbean adventure of 2009-2010.
We spent a whole month in Charleston this time, and enjoyed ourselves quite a lot. While here we made a side trip via a rental car to West Virginia where we attended the wedding of my cousin Lindsey to Seth Tinkler. It was a nice wedding and we were able to visit with a lot of family we haven't seen in a long time so it was great fun.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
The trip north to Charleston, SC from Ft Lauderdale has been an interesting one so far. We left Ft. Lauderdale around 4:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday with the intention of arriving in Charleston in the early afternoon on Saturday. The weather forecast was pretty good with the exception of 10 – 15 knots of wind just North of East for the first few hours of the trip in the Gulf Stream. However, it was supposed to die down and shift south Wednesday evening. The Gulf Stream flows due North by Ft. Lauderdale, so we thought the very small northerly component of the wind would not mean much chop in the Gulf Stream. We were wrong. So was the forecast. What we found was 15-20 knot winds from the North-Northeast with 3-5 foot wind waves plus a steep fast moving ground swell from the Northeast. After about two hours of uncomfortable bashing and rolling about in the Gulf Stream, both Jen and Quinn were getting green and we decided we’d had enough. We turned due west to get out of the stream as quickly as possible and within about a half hour things were improving. Within a mile of shore we turned back north in much more comfortable seas but without the lift of the current.
By the time we reached Lake Worth, about 20 miles north of Ft Lauderdale, we were no longer able to avoid the stream as it runs right up along coast. Fortunately, the winds had decreased enough to make the seas tolerable in the 2 knot current. We didn’t get the predicted shift to the south until much later on Thursday. Most of the morning Thursday was spent with Jen and Quinn just holding off being seasick as the seas were still very lumpy and confused with a persistent and steep NE swell. The afternoon was an improvement, but still uncomfortable. When the wind did shift to the South on Thursday evening, it just about shut off.
All Thursday night was a motor as we were whisked north by a 3 to 3.5 knot current in glassy water. After all the washtub action of the previous 24 hours, this was a welcome improvement. It was also very eerie and beautiful with a clear sky full of stars.
At dawn on Friday the wind picked up from the West and we set sails and shut off the engine. With the current we were doing better than 8 knots with less than 10 knots of wind on the beam. Quite nice! This lasted for about three hours until the Gulf Stream started to set to the Northeast which forced us to beat into the west wind to compensate.
Mid morning on Friday we found ourselves being overtaken by a US Navy Aircraft Carrier going 20 knots and conducting flight activities. After a jet fly-by at about 200 feet, they called us on the radio and asked us politely to turn to starboard and maintain a minimum of 5 miles CPA (Closest Point of Approach). Well, we tried our best to get out of the way, but the best we could manage was 3 miles CPA by the time they were passing us. That earned us another fly-by, this time by a helicopter, but they didn’t call us on the radio to complain. I doubt we looked too threatening. We did get a fun show of several jets making training runs: taking off and landing on the carrier as well as a number of touch-and-go passes. If my Top Gun movie recollection is correct, it’s called a bolster. Or not. Anyway, it was fun, and worth the 5 mile detour East.
As I write this we are passing out of the Gulf Stream as it turns Northeast around South Carolina and North Carolina and we are heading due North towards Charleston. We could see the border of the Gulf Stream as we approached it. The wave action and color are quite different, and there is a fringe of seaweed and debris right at the border.
We are well ahead of schedule right now and may end up arriving in Charleston sometime very early tomorrow AM rather than in the afternoon. We’ve visited Charleston a couple of times already so we’re comfortable with a night time landfall. If it works out that way, it would be nice as that will give us an extra day in Charleston before we have to head north again. I’m already looking forward to the tasty rib dinner that has become tradition on landfall in Charleston.
Check our Current Position link on svmirasol.com to see where we are. I think Jen’s uploaded a lot of new photos for the Ft. Lauderdale visit as well.
It was a busy time and lot of fun in Ft Lauderdale once again. On arrival, we cruised up the New River enjoying the sights of the fabulous riverfront houses and mansions. What a fun place to live if you can afford it. This time around it was a lot less intimidating transiting the New River as we were familiar with the current, bridge protocol and heavy traffic. We were met by Matt the dock master at our slip along the New River between 3rd Ave and Andrews Ave. We like this spot a lot. It is close to the marina office, is two short blocks from a great supermarket and right across the bridge from museums, cinemas, restaurants etc on Los Olas Blvd. After one day on the New River, we moved up the river to the Lauderdale Marine Center where we were scheduled to haul out the next morning.
LMC is a massive boatyard and marina. The boatyard services modest yachts on up to mega-yachts. Since Mirasol's beam is over 24 feet, we had to use the huge (and expensive) 300 Ton travel lift to get hauled out. It was fun to be surrounded by 100+ ft mega yachts all blocked up on the hard, all getting our bottoms cleaned and painted. While on the hard we had the bottom and saildrives cleaned and painted as well as the shaft seals on the saildrives replaced. The seals seemed to be in good shape, but given the cost and inconvenience of a haulout, we decided it was wise to replace them anyway. While the pros were dealing with the messy work of cleaning and painting the hulls, I took the opportunity to remove, clean and reinstall the transom rub rails which have been slowly working themselves loose.
Jen and I discussed doing the painting ourselves, but it didn't make much sense. We don't have the vacuums, sanders, ladders, and other materials required to remove the old paint and put on new. Plus, since boatyards and 4 year olds don't mix, Jen would be watching Quinn and unable to help with the work so it would have taken several days. Given the cost of renting the equipment we needed and the additional cost of lay days in the boatyard, hotel and rental car expenses, it was only a little more expensive to pay someone else to do it. Oh, and a lot more fun for someone else to do it too...
While the pros were working on the hull and I was working on the transom, Jen and Quinn went to see Shrek 4, visited a Children's museum and did some shopping. On the third day my work on Mirasol was finished and I took Quinn to the beach. Everything went well and we had no rain delays so Mirasol was splashed only three days after being hauled out. We motored back down the New River to our spot by Andrews Ave where we stayed for about two weeks.
While on the New River we took care of a lot of chores that needed done such as doctor appointments, cleaning, provisioning and maintenance. We also sampled some of the local restaurants and spent a wonderful day with our friends Brian, Shannon and Connor Hermann in their backyard. Conner is about a year younger than Quinn and they got along very well.
Maintenance items we accomplished while here include replacing the fresh water pump on the port engine, replacing coolant, thermostats, belts and raw water impellers on both engines, replacing the starboard engine's exhaust mixing elbow, clearing out a clogged head (what fun!), reprogramming a malfunctioning Raymarine ST70 instrument, and replacing the broken Raymarine VHF. Quinn got to visit another museum, a couple of parks and did a lot of bike riding. Maybe we'll take off the training wheels in Charleston.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The past 24 hours have been a pleasant motor-sail through the Northeast and Northwest Providence Channels of the Bahamas. The winds clocked from East to Southwest so we went from a dead run to a beat, but winds were mostly under 10 knots, so it was a motor-sail the whole way. We were frequently able to see land during this part of the passage, which is a treat after 5 days of an unremarkable horizon.
We also saw lots of ships while transiting the Bahamas. The New Providence Channel is a busy shipping channel for both cargo and cruise ships. We always had a ship in view or at least on radar. At one point last night around 3AM Jen commented to me that she felt like an air traffic controller as she had 5 ships on radar, all in close proximity to Mirasol.
At about 5:00 AM this morning we rounded the northern tip of the Great Bahamas Banks and entered the Straits of Florida. We set our course for Miami so that as we drift north with the Gulf Stream during our crossing we should end up somewhere around Ft Lauderdale by the time we get to the Florida coast. As I write this, we have a 3.4 knot northerly current and a whopping 4 knots of wind from the east. I am glad our port engine continues to behave itself.
We’ve seen quite a few sport fisherman fishing boats boiling across the Straits on their way to clear in to the Bahamas at Bimini for a long weekend of fishing. I must admit a twinge of envy knowing they will make the crossing in under 2 hours instead of the leisurely 8 hours we will require for the same distance. I do not, however, envy their fuel bill!
Once we arrive in Ft Lauderdale and clear customs, our plan is to find a slip for the night along the New River. Quinn will be excited to see the Jungle Queen – a brightly decorated double-decker river boat full of tourists that cruises up and down the New River. He would seldom let it pass by without running on deck and waving during our last visit in December 2008. All three of us will be excited to step foot on land and spend some time off the boat. Jen has already decided that she wants pizza for dinner tonight. Yummy.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Welcome to the Bahamas, Mon! Most of yesterday we were working our way up the Atlantic side of the south eastern islands and cays of the Bahamas. Just now we made the turn around Eleuthera Island and into the Northeast Providence Channel. The Providence Channel is a large body of deep water that runs generally East-West and separates the Abacos and Grand Bahama to the North from the rest of the Bahamas to the South. We can see Eleuthera Island to our port and it’s nice to be in sight of land for a little while after 5 days at sea. Jen and I wish we had time to make landfall here and enjoy a few weeks in the Bahamas, but we just don’t have the time. Between the haul-out in Ft Lauderdale for new bottom paint and the need to get north of the hurricane box we need to give it a pass this time around. If we return to the Caribbean next year I expect we’ll be sure to leave enough time in the schedule for several weeks in the Bahamas on the way back north.
We have been motoring for the past 24 hours as the winds have been under 10 knots directly on the stern, giving us only a few knots of useful wind. Normally we motor on only one engine to conserve fuel, but about 14 hours ago fuel became a secondary concern. I downloaded a weather update using our satellite phone and discovered that the winds are expected to pick up from the North mid Friday and continue blowing from the N-NE through Sunday. North winds will make the Gulf Stream crossing lumpy and uncomfortable, so Jen made the call: “light the fires and kick the tires, honey” and since then we’ve been making our best speed towards Ft Lauderdale. We have sufficient fuel to motor the whole way, but I’m hoping that won’t be necessary.
Those of you paying attention might notice that we are motoring on both engines. The problem with the port engine overheating has not reoccurred. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and a close eye on the exhaust water stream and with a little luck we won’t run into that again on this passage. As a precaution we’re running that engine at 2200-2300 RPM instead of our usual 2400-2500 RPM cruising range. Once in Ft Lauderdale I’ll go over the entire cooling system very carefully and if I don’t find anything I’ll replace the coolant temperature sensor. I’ve always wished for engine temperature gauges on Mirasol instead of lights that give you no warning that something is starting to go wrong (my Dad calls these “idiot lights”), so installing gauges might become a summer project.
We currently have about 185 nm to go so we are hoping for a Thursday landfall in Ft Lauderdale. All arrival times subject to change without notice!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Yesterday and today have been somewhat eventful. Yesterday was our 7th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a steak dinner of Steak au Poivre with sherry mustard sauce, green beans and basmati rice. Alas, no wine as we maintain a dry boat when on a passage. We’ll revisit the celebrations once we are in Ft Lauderdale.
With light winds, we had the Gennaker up yesterday morning until around 10AM when gusty winds and local squall activity prompted us to roll it in. We managed to get it in a “figure 8” while furling it, which is a bit of a pain. Of course I was quite collected about the whole thing and only shouted when necessary for her to hear me from the bow over the wildly flogging sail. Once we managed to clear up the mess and furl the sail, Jen mentioned that I was shouting at her. My reply that “you couldn’t hear me from the bow unless I shouted” was noted, and then I was reminded that I continued to shout when she was standing right next to me. Apparently I channeled Captain Bligh again. On our anniversary. Oops. Jen was pretty nice about the whole thing, though.
For the rest of the day and evening we made good time with winds in the mid teens and speeds of 6.5 – 7.5 knots. By 1AM this morning the wind died down and we cranked up the port engine to keep our speeds in the low 6’s. Sometime early yesterday we passed our halfway point.
At 7:30 this morning, the engine over-temperature alarm went off and we shut it down. After inspecting the strainer and finding no debris, noting that the coolant overflow was at the normal level and the fan belt is ok, I elected to restart the engine to see if we had raw water flow instead of opening the raw water impeller plate to inspect the impeller, which involves wrapping oneself around a toasty warm engine. The engine started, the over-temp alarm sounded and then shut off, and we noted that plenty of water was ejecting from the exhaust. Hmmm. Maybe it was seaweed or a plastic bag blocking the intake, which subsequently fell off. So we hoped.
About 2 hours later the over-temp alarm went off again. Same drill, only this time I went overside to visually inspect the raw water intake. It looked normal (and the surrounding water was the most amazing deep blue). We restarted the engine and it’s raw water flow is once again just fine. We’ve discussed our options and we decided to continue running on the port engine for a while to see if the alarm goes off again. When it does, we’ll check the exhaust for water flow prior to shutting down the engine. If water flow is not OK, then I believe we have some blockage inside the sail drive that is getting stuck in the seacock upstream of the raw water pump, and then falling back down the sail drive when the engine is shut off, effectively but temporarily unblocking itself. I feel the impeller and heat exchanger are not faulty as we have very good raw water flow when we restart.
If the raw water flow is OK while the alarm’s sounding, we’ll leave the engine off overnight to cool completely down and I’ll check the coolant level in the heat exchanger. The overflow tank is at the proper level but maybe something is preventing it from feeding the coolant back into the engine and we have a low coolant problem. That will be easily corrected. If neither of these are the problem, I’ll poke around the plumbing of the cooling system and coolant pump as best I can to look for a problem. Failing that, we’ll rely on the starboard engine for the rest of the trip, transferring fuel from the port tank if and as required. We’ll leave the port engine off except for when we need it for maneuvering. It’s nice to have two! (except when working on the maintenance list).
So, as I write this Jen’s showering (jealous of my swim, I suspect), Quinn’s napping, and I’m fantasizing about an ice cold beer. Mmmmm.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday (Day 3) turned out to be a very nice day and night for sailing. The wind moderated enough for the seas to settle down to 6’-7’ easterly swells and we made good time. At dawn we shook out the reef in the main and by 8AM we had the Gennaker up. Around noon we had to drop the Gennaker and switch to the Jib as the winds picked up into the low twenties. At dusk we tucked in a reef to the main and the overnight sail was uneventful with the exception of a few ships passing us on their way to Puerto Rico.
We saw a couple of ocean going tugs pulling cargo ship-sized barges loaded high with shipping containers. It always surprises me to see such a small vessel towing barges so large they dwarf many cargo ships. The towing cable appears to be between a half to a full mile long.
We’re expecting today, our fourth day at sea, to be the slowest sail so far. The winds have dropped down into the mid teens and are now nearly dead astern.
Our satellite phone either has 112 minutes left, or only 12, we’re not sure. So, if you don’t see any more updates, it’s because we’ve run out of minutes! Check our web page for our current position, about 60nm North of the Caicos Islands.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Our third day a sea finds the crew in good spirits. Everyone seems to have found their sea legs and no one is now suffering from mal de mare. I am still fighting the last of a chest cold, but Jen and Quinn are over their colds now.
Day two was a bit of a challenge as everyone was still getting used to being at sea and still fighting colds. The winds stayed in the mid 20's until early afternoon when they dropped into the high teens, still in the East. The seas remained in the 7-9 range, gradually abating to 5-7 overnight. We maintained sailing with a reef in the main until dawn as we were making decent time and there was still a risk of squalls.
Just when I came on shift at 2:00AM, the GPS data went a little haywire. Our position suddenly jumped 10 miles to the southwest, which caused François (the autopilot) to go into gyrations to get us back on course. Resetting the GPS and the navigation system did not help. After about five minutes, our position error jumped back to within a half mile southwest of what we thought was our correct position. Then, about 20 minutes later our position slowly drifted northeast, eliminating most, but not all of the remaining "error". This drift once again gave François fits as he tried to correct for what he was treating as a HUGE current pushing us sideways.
During both of these GPS position changes, our GPS showed that it was locked on to a minimum of 8 and sometimes 10 satellites. After considering the behavior of our navigation system, I've decided the error must have been in the data being received by our GPS antenna. Uncle Sam must have been making some adjustments in the GPS system. I've encountered erroneous GPS data on several occasions and have confirmed it using one of our backup GPS handhelds. The last time this happened we were just exiting English Harbor, Antigua and our position jumped a mile inland. Great Fun.
We did not have any more boarding seas yesterday, however last night we did have a boarding flying fish. He flew right over my shoulder while I was at the helm and landed in the cockpit. This was a big one, about 10 inches long with a 6 inch wingspan. I briefly considered frying him up for a late night snack, but it seemed more trouble than it's worth and so back to the sea he went.
This morning at dawn we shook out the last reef on the main and raised the Gennaker as the winds are continuing to abate and clock to the South East. You can see our 8:00AM positions on the Current Position page of our website.
We did leave as planned on Friday around 8:30. As it was a Friday, we performed the obligatory counter-clockwise circle to ward off the bad juju of leaving on a Friday. I’m not sure where this tradition originated, but that’ll be something to look up when we get to Fort Lauderdale.
So far the passage weather has been as forecasted by NOAA and Commander’s Weather. Winds in the mid to high 20’s out of the East and seas 7-9 feet on the beam, which makes moving about the boat quite challenging. The winds are moderating slightly today and should remain in the low to mid 20’s for the next 24 hours or so. As the week progresses and we move north, the winds and seas are predicted to quiet down gradually.
We ticked off 157 nautical miles in the first day, which is a little slow for these winds, but we were sailing with an extra reef tucked in due to the forecasted fast moving and strong squalls. As we are sailing shorthanded we are being quite conservative with the sail plan. We did encounter a few squalls overnight, but the strong ones missed us.
We did have a few boarding seas , one of which broke well above my knees as I was standing at the helm (5’ above the waterline and 4’ inboard.) This is far and away the most water we’ve taken into the cockpit but the scuppers did their job nicely and no water made it into the salon in spite of the open door between the cockpit and salon . As usual, Quinn took it completely in stride and thought it was funny!
Check the Current Position page on our web site for our 8:00 AM position.
And we’re off! About 1000 nm, route will take us up the eastern side of the Turks and Cacios and then along the eastern side of the southern Bahamas. We’ll cut through the NE Providence Channel and then NW Providence Channel of the Bahamas and then across the Gulf Stream to Ft. Lauderdale. We’ll keep the blog updated as weather, technology, and the authors disposition dictates!
Our position updates can be seen on the Current Position page of svmirasol.com.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Hi all. We’re still in Tobago Cays and having a grand time. Today we started our day with fresh croissants (Jen’s was plain while I and Quinn indulged in chocolate filled) and a local papaya we brought with us from Bequia. Walter, our boat vendor of choice, stops by every afternoon to get our order and then delivers them around 7AM. He is a very nice guy and we’ll have a photo posted with the next update to the web site.
After breakfast we piled into the dinghy and motored over to the reef that protects the anchorage and snorkeled for almost 2 hours. Quinn is getting quite good with the snorkeling and I seldom need to give him any help at all. He still wears his lifejacket while snorkeling as he’s not comfortable being out in open water without it yet. It won’t be long though. He is experimenting with diving below the water like Daddy does, but doesn’t get far with the lifejacket on, of course. The snorkeling was very good, although the coral shows a lot of damage from being scrubbed and coated with sand by a recent hurricane. We saw lots of fish and on the way back to the boat we saw a couple of large sea turtles. It is no wonder they have been hunted to near extinction. Their shells are incredibly beautiful.
After the swim I lounged in the cockpit finishing up a book while Jen gave Quinn a hair cut on the transom steps. Many of the folks on the boats anchored nearby were quite amused as Quinn stood naked on the steps while being rinsed clean of hair trimmings and singing at the top of his lungs “I’m washing the stink off my BUUUUUTTTT, I’m washing the stink off my BUUUUUUTTTT!”.
After the haircut and lunch, it was naptime for all three of us. Jen and I woke up and played a few games of cribbage while snacking on some yummy French cheese and the baguette which was delivered this morning. Quinn woke up and joined us in the snacks and did his usual puttering about the boat before dinner. Suddenly we heard his panicky “Daaaaady!!!!” cry which always means he’s dropped something overside. This time it was his sweat rag, which he’s become quite fond of. Easily retrieved, and the unplanned swim was refreshing after a hot afternoon on the boat.
As we had snacked quite a bit, we decided against the fancy duck dinner Jen was planning. Instead she whipped up some pork and beans. Tomorrow we’ll have the duck.
After dinner Jen worked on the photos we took while snorkeling today and Quinn and I played a few hands of UNO. To his delight, he beat me 3 out of 4 games. As Quinn was getting ready for bed, Jen noticed that we are now pointing northeast instead of southeast. Not a problem other than there is a boat on a mooring ball close to where we’re anchored and with the change in wind direction we’re way to close to them. I pulled in a little scope as the wind has settled and we don’t need so much chain out, but it’s still too close. Tomorrow first thing we’ll haul up the anchor and move over a little.
Randy and Susan left the anchorage yesterday to return to Bequia where they will pick up a couple of friends who have flown down for a visit. We expect them back here Monday or Tuesday, but no firm plans have been made. All three of us enjoy their company quite a lot so we hope they can make it back down here before it is time for us to move on.
Life is good in the Tobago Cays. We look forward to sharing some of our photos when we get high speed internet access back in Bequia or St Vincent sometime next week.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
We’ve made it to Tobago Cays, which at 12° 37’ North Latitude is as far south as we plan to venture this winter. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a short but fun day-sail from Bequia. The 15 – 20 knots on the beam with moderate seas made for a fun sail at 7.5 to 8.5 knots the whole way. When we arrived at the Cays, it was like being back in the Exumas with the beautiful turquoise waters. We are joined here in the Tobago Cays by Susan and Randy Williamson on Windward Passage who have been down here in the area for over a month now. Quinn is quite excited to have Miss Susan around to play with!
The Tobago Cays are now a designated marine park in the Grenadines, which is a group of islands south of of St. Vincent and Bequia. The anchorage we’re in is sheltered by a huge horseshoe coral reef and has good soft sand perfect for anchoring. The marine life is abundant, as the “no take” policy is strictly enforced. After squaring away the boat after the sail, Jen and Quinn joined me for a swim to cool off and we saw many reef fish, several puffer fish and a couple of large stingrays in the first few minutes of the swim. We also found a Heineken can which I dove down to retrieve and toss in the trash. Happily, we almost never see garbage of any sort during our snorkeling and diving.
I am really enjoying this anchorage. The big horseshoe reef protects the anchorage while leaving the view of the open Atlantic and the cooling trade winds unobstructed. The view out our front windows starts with the turquoise waters of the anchorage, then breakers on the reef, then Petit Tabac and open Atlantic. Petit Tabac is the small Cay which starred in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl” as the tiny island where Captain Jack Sparrow was marooned. Given the many sea turtles we’ve been seeing here, Jack’s tail of escape using sea turtles seems almost plausible.
This morning we breakfasted on plain and chocolate-filled croissants which were delivered by one of the boat boys that do a good business here. After breakfast we picked up Susan and took the dinghy across the anchorage to the beach that is popular with the turtles. Quinn practiced with his new fins, mask and snorkel (is taking to it like a fish), played with his new boogie board, and of course, played in the sand. It is a very nice beach. There are large iguanas hanging out by the beach, and a lot of turtles just out past the surf. I was able to swim right up to them without them being bothered. They put up with it for a minute or so and then swam slowly but deliberately away to munch on some more sea grass. We’ll have some photos posted soon. On the way back to the beach I swam up on a small (3’) reef shark. I didn’t have the opportunity to take pictures as we surprised each other and he made a quick exit.
As this anchorage is quite remote, we have no WIFI. Pictures will have to wait until we can get access to it. I’m posting this update via the satellite phone, which has a built in modem that transfers data almost as fast as I can type it! So updates need to be limited to text and xml files for the web site’s blog and “Current Position” sections. We hope the updates work correctly as Jen has no way to test the updates. If you encounter a problem, we’ll get it fixed when we are next in civilization of some sort. If you wonder what it looks like here and can’t wait for our pictures, watch the Pirates movie and you’ll see for yourself. (The palm trees seem to have recovered nicely from the rum bonfire, by the way.)
We plan to stay here a good while as there are many beaches and lots of coral reef to explore! Time to wrap this up as I need to flag down the boat boy to order tomorrow’s croissants and baguettes. Yum.