Aaaaaannnnddd … We're Off
28 February 2016 | Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, Mexico
Beth / sunny days and cool nights, little wind
I’m writing this on Sunday evening, Feb 28, with the expectation that tomorrow the title of this post will be true!
The forecast from every source we can find is for benign winds for the next 4 days. It will be ENE on Monday and Tuesday but with wind speed about 10 knots and seas 3-4 feet, and then moving between NNE and NE and then E over the next 2 days. We will plan our northing and easting according to the wind, and take as much advantage of the north setting current as possible. There is still not much velocity to help us sail, but, as Chris Parker says, “This season there seems to be wind on the nose – and too much of it – or no wind.” And we will take the latter thank you very much. He even went so far as to say, “It might be a boring trip.” That will be just fine too!
By the way, Chris’ forecasts are delightful. Besides giving the numbers, he gives a sailor’s narrative, “The wind will be a bit sporty!” “It’s going to be really ugly out there.” “You could go tomorrow if you don’t mind sailing in this – I wouldn’t.” “You’ll have a nice 20 knots on the beam.” When a caller on the SSB asks for his opinion on going 10 nautical miles, or when someone asks for practically the same direction as the previous caller, I have never heard him lose his patience. He is a blessing to cruisers indeed – for his forecasts that are far more often right than not, and for being such a warm, helpful voice on the Single Side Band radio and on the webcast. His fees for being a sponsoring vessel and thus able to ask questions on the broadcasts, and for receiving custom forecast and planning information are very reasonable. We are grateful to have him on our side.
We have been wavering between heading NE to Key West, a distance of 335 nautical miles, or not quite as much NE to Fort Myers on the west coast of Florida, 406 nautical miles. If we went there, we would take the Okeechobee Waterway across the state and end up in Stuart. That would be interesting and we wouldn’t be quite so much at the mercy of the wind, and our mast will fit under the bridges. But … it is a longer passage. Today, we are leaning toward Key West, but we will see when we get out there. The Dry Tortugas offer another possibility, and we would have liked to see that anchorage, but we will probably use this opportunity to press onward. If we are very lucky, we could be into port somewhere by Wednesday night – otherwise on Thursday.
We enjoyed a wonderful Moroccan dinner at Olivia’s last evening to celebrate our imminent departure (thanks for the recommendation, Tom) and took a long walk around the island this afternoon (to see if there were whitecaps on the water – there weren’t). We have stowed and tied down everything that could come loose, and filled the water tank – the fuel tank gets topped up at the Pemex station on our way out. (Interestingly, Pemex is the only fuel brand anywhere here – maybe in all of Mexico?)
I’ve got black bean soup in the fridge with more in the freezer (Jim is not thrilled about the extra supply!), pork and sweet potatoes all set to roast together, sandwich supplies, hard boiled eggs, and lots of nuts and raisins and peanut butter and apples. And just in case we are stranded somewhere for another week, we have canned ham and instant potatoes – the things I put in the locker at the beginning of every season and usually take off and give away at the end!
We will see the agent here to get our Zarpe (exit visa) first thing in the morning, check in again with Chris, and then, following Mark Twain’s advice, we will “throw off the bow lines, sail away from safe harbour, catch the trade winds in our sails” and head for blue water. Judging from comments we’ve heard from other boaters, we won’t be alone out there.
“Catch ya on the flip side!” (and thanks for that one, MBB)