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Babystepping on Banjo
We're Here
02/02/2013, Ponce, Puerto Rico

I was supposed to post daily on our four and a half day voyage here.


We arrived last Saturday at Boqueron, Puerto Rico.

The passage was OK. Terror and boredom. Boredom and terror.

Puerto Rico is a nice change after the Bahamas. Happy people, loud music, dancing, beer, food, great shopping and prices.

Meyka is loading up for our time "down island." We've learned when you have the selection and prices like this to load up.

Our original intention for our first year of cruising was to winter in the Bahamas and summer in the northeast. But once we got south it was easy to convince us to just stay.

We will be in PR for 3-6 weeks. Vieques and Culebra (the Spanish Virgins) are prime cruising grounds. Then we will work our way through the Caribbean chain.

The Garmin charts could be downloaded for here. What we lack for helping us plan are cruising guides. We may take a day trip to San Juan to visit West Marine and get some.

Where you plan to be during hurricane season is a big issue. Our thought right now is to spend a couple of months in Grenada and three in Bonaire from June-October.

Right now we are enjoying a week at the prestigious Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club. $200 for the week. Pool, tennis, sauna, etc. More beautiful boats than you could count.

Meyka is wearing the numbers off the credit card at Wal-mart and Sams Club. I'm taking care of a few boat chores.

The unlimited water (free) here is a real treat. We've been getting by on four gallons a day for the last two months. Letting the tap run seems frivilous. I washed Banjo today. She was so dirty. Maybe Wally will even get a bath.

The picture in this post shows Banjo at sea on our way here. Our friends Judy and Sherman captured her under sail.

Miss all of you and think of you often!

02/02/2013 | John & Cheryl
We know Banjo from the previous owner. We used to be in NW Creek.
Is Fairwinds, the boat you are traveling with, the boat owned by Bud & Bev from NW Creek? Bud retired a couple of years ago as the manager of the marina. Just interested if he finally made it out cruising.
We loved the Bahamas. Looking forward to going back cruising.
02/03/2013 | Douglas Paddock
We bought Banjo from Tom and Donna. She has a great legacy. Meyka keeps saying, "Banjo knows where to go...we are the newbies!"

Fairwinds is owned by an Australian couple who we met in the Exumas. We've been buddy boating since then.

Thanks for reading the blog and commenting.
Day Two Down...Two more to go
Douglas Paddock
01/24/2013, At Sea

We are underway from Mayaguana, Bahamas to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

This is our longest offshore passage. So far it has been our easiest.

It is amazing that we have been underway for about 52 hours and have only seen two boats. None in the past 30 hours or so.

We must be definitely "out there."

Yesterday was like being in a rocking chair. Light winds and gentle seas. Ah-h-h-h.

Now last night was a different story. Nothing life threatening. Just moments of peaceful lulling lapping waves and moonlit skies interspersed with chaos, rain, and slapping sails. It seems that we sailed through the effects that our weather guy called a "trough." I did go from extremely mild to wild at times.

We are traveling with a "buddy boat", Fairwinds. At one point when I was on watch and they were in front of us, I saw there starboard, port, and stern running lights in rapid succession. I soon heard a call on the radio that the squalls rapid wind shift had created a bit of drama for them. I immediately reduced sail and hung on.

Primarily most of this stuff is momentarily uncomfortable. Being pitch black in the squall is extremely disorienting, too.

Today we are on a course heading of 150 degrees and in the morning we'll make the turn to 180 degrees on the rhumb line to Mayaguez.


01/25/2013 | Mom`
Soounds like things are going well. It all sounds so beautiful. I have written emails but donn't know what happened to them. I am better, still a long way to go but very comfortable and happy so have fun. Love you, Mom
And We're Off
Douglas Paddock
01/22/2013, Conception Island

After a beautiful two night stay at the remote island of Mayaguana in the Far Bahamas, we are off to Puerto Rico.

We were told that there was "nothing there" at Mayaguana. Yep. 80 degree days/70 degree nights, crystal clear water, flocks of flamingos, coral reefs, shelling, and a supper's worth of conch under our boat just for grabs...nothing there.

It appears that we have three days of settled weather to go against the trade winds. Our course is to stay at 22 degrees north and head due east for 300 miles. At that point we should be able to turn south and head to the southwest tip of Puerto Rico. We should make land in Boqueron sometime Friday.

The relentlessness of the trade winds has to be experienced to be believed. Heading east from the Bahamas takes a "window". At this point, it appears we have one.

It will require far more motoring than sailing for the 300 miles east. Once we turn south, the prevailing easterly trades at 20-25 knots will be more than enough to sail into Puerto Rico.

This will be our longest offshore passage. Today has been an easy day. Tonight and tomorrow promises to be similar but you never know.

Meyka and I have a very loose watch schedule during the day. I probably spend most of the day at the helm but Meyka is ready and able to spell me when asked. The autopilot (when it works) does most of the real work. I just have to supervise and adjust as needed.

I typically take the first watch from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Meyka takes from 1:00 a.m. until I wake up. I'm usually up for Chris Parker's weather on the HAM radio at 6:30.

We had a difficult passage on the way down to Mayaguana and needed two days rest before resuming our trip.

As we journey over the next five days, I'll try to give a daily blog post. It can go from mild to wild in a heartbeat. Let's hope it doesn't!

So Long Bahamas
Douglas Paddock
01/14/2013, Conception Island

After a magical stay at Conception Island we reluctantly said goodbye this a.m. as we head toward the BVI's via the Turks and Caicos.

Yesterday the water got smooth as glass and I went for a last snorkel. Visibility was virtually unlimited. Climbing back in the dinghy I got a "drive by" by a big shark and his crew (remora and a jack). Cool!

Afterwards we were invited aboard a 56' Nordhaven for drinks and snacks. It was an amazing boat with paid crew. Definitely how the other half lives Nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to own it.

Home sweet home on Banjo, we had home made pizza and argued with Sherman and Judy about whether to depart today or not. I was on the"against it" side but this morning's chat with Chris Parker, the weather guy, led me to see that this was as good an opportunity as any to head to the eastern Caribbean.

We'll travel about 48 hours to the Turks and Caicos. Stay there overnight to break up the trip and then head on to Puerto Rico or ????

If the trip goes as planned, we are leaving the Bahamas. We've been here since after Thanksgiving. It has been wonderful and likely not the last time we'll visit.

There are exciting and different ports of call in the days ahead. No idea what to expect but happy to check it out for ourselves.

The only means of communication is our HAM radio and winlink email. We would welcome hearing from you.

01/22/2013 | Bill, Maureen Woodroffe
following blog- also presently enjoying Bahamas-came last week- traveling presently with Pandora and Sea Schell- SAFE TRAVELS TO CARIBBEAN M AND B
01/22/2013 | Bill, Maureen Woodroffe
following blog- also presently enjoying Bahamas-came last week- traveling presently with Pandora and Sea Schell- SAFE TRAVELS TO CARIBBEAN M AND B
Away We Go...Maybe
Douglas Paddock
01/14/2013, Conception Island

Our original plan was to head to Clarence Town, Long Island for fuel and water and immediately shove off for the eastern Caribbean. BUT the weather had a different plan. Weather trumps.

We ended up socked in at Clarence Town for over a week. Nice place but it was not our intention to be there so long. Also, it was "blowing like stink" the whole time we were there so we didn't get to enjoy it as much as we could have otherwise. But we got in some good snorkeling, rented a car and toured the island, got reprovisioned as best we could with the limited food stuffs available. It was alright.

We finally got a chance to escape a couple of days ago. After a rolly-polly start, we had a wonderful 9 hour sail to Conception Island. If we have to sit around and wait for the weather to change, we might as well do it in paradise. For the past couple of days we've walked the beaches and snorkeled. Enjoying not being blasted by 20-30 knot winds and rockin' and rollin' at anchorage.

As of this looks like we are finally getting a break to head east. Best guess is Thursday a.m. we'll head ENE for about two and a half days and then turn SE for about four to five days and end up somewhere in the eastern Caribbean. The weather is liable to be on the mild side. Maybe so mild that the old Perkins engine is going to be enlisted to aid the sails But mild vs. wild is OK with us.

This will be our longest continuous passage at over 800 miles. Exciting and scary at the same time.

Meyka is thrilled to think about hitting up a Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico. I can't say that I share her enthusiasm but the ship's larder is getting lower and the stores will be appreciated in days ahead.

The Bahamas has been fun. We have both loved the warm temps, crystal clear water, solitude and simplicity of hanging around here. We'll likely be back but for now...away we go!

01/16/2013 | Wayne Canning
Have a safe passage, the baby steps are getting bigger aren't they lol. You 2 will be seasoned sailors before you know it. Fair Winds!
The Best So Far
Douglas Paddock
12/28/2012, Conception Island

Conception Island is the best so our Bahamas cruising.

We arrived here on December 26th and have had an enchanted stay.

Our anchorage is a beautiful cove with the clearest turquoise water we've seen. And that's saying something! At night by moonlight the entire cove's water looks like it is mood lighted--glowing like swimming pool lights.

We are surrounded by some of the nicest snorkeling in the Bahamas. Literally miles of it. Most in 3-15' of water. Marine life is abundant and colorful. Elkhorn coral breaks above the surface at low tide.

Yesterday, we took our dinghy a few miles south and ghosted up a mangrove lined creek into a blue lagoon that stretched for acres and acres. Turtles come up into the creek to play and bask in the sun warmed water. It was magical to see them.

Today we hiked on the eastern shore following deserted beaches to rock walls with ropes to aid assent to the next beach until we had a vista that took in the cove with Banjo anchored to the west, the endless reefs to the east, the blue lagoon to the southwest, and a golden sand beach that stretched for miles to the southeast. Meyka forgot the camera but we didn't think we could capture it--it was that magnificent.

This afternoon we will get in one last snorkel here and prepare to head to Rum Cay in the morning. Conception Island measures up to whatever expectations we had for cruising in the Bahamas. It will be hard to leave but according to the cruising guides, the snorkeling here is 2nd best to Rum Cay. Wow!

12/30/2012 | Miss Priss
Sounds like you two are enjoying your holidays! Warm wishes for a happy New Year!
12/31/2012 | woodroffe- Maureen and Bill

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Who: Doug, Meyka, & Wally
Port: Beaufort, NC
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