19 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
18 April 2015 | West Coast, South Africa
17 April 2015 | St Helena Bay, South Africa
16 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
15 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
14 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
13 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
12 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
11 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
10 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
09 April 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa
08 April 2015 | Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
07 April 2015 | Simon's Town, South Africa
06 April 2015 | Simon's Town, South Africa
05 April 2015 | Simon's Town, South Africa
04 April 2015 | Pringle Bay, South Africa
03 April 2015 | Cape Agulhas, South Africa
02 April 2015 | Mosselbaai (Mossel Bay), South Africa
01 April 2015 | Mosselbaai (Mossel Bay), South Africa
31 March 2015 | Mosselbaai (Mossel Bay), South Africa
Blue View - When It All Goes Wrong
29 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
Most of our passage from Puerto Rico to St. Augustine was idyllic – a nice broad reach with 15-20 knots of wind, a kindly following sea, warm sunny weather, a 0.5 to 2 knot favorable current, and a full moon to sail by at night. The prop shaft generator and solar panels were producing more power than we needed and nothing major had broken. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect passage – at least for the first six days.
Get David's perspective on the last couple of days of our passage ...
Culebra to St. Augustine - Day 9 & Arrival
28 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
By all calculations, we should have reached our destination by early this morning, but we haven't. The sea gods, in their ongoing quest for amusement, had some tricks up their proverbial sleeves and provided a few challenges before allowing us to reach St. Augustine.
First of all, the weather forecast (all of them) has been all over the place. The predicted light S/SW winds were in fact northerly and right on the nose. We were concerned that crossing the Gulf Stream, wind against current, would pose some problems. We opted to motor due west across the strongest part of the current.
We noticed the intermittent “racing” of the engine at the same moment … just after dinner. It only happened a couple of times and we figured perhaps the wave action might be causing it (wishful thinking), but to be prudent, we killed the engine and David checked out the transmission fluid, previously checked just before leaving Culebra. The level barely registered on the dipstick. Why? He prodded and poked and checked and narrowed it down to the heat exchanger which was overdue for replacement. He had, of course, a spare aboard. We hove-to while he located it, removed the old and installed the new and wiped down the engine … all in a record 90 minutes. We topped up the fluid and resumed motoring for an hour.
We killed the engine once again to check the transmission. The fluid was down more than half. A more careful examination of every hose and clamp and he found some oil and a tiny split on the back side of the prop brake hydraulic hose. We've got at least 10 spare hydraulic hoses aboard, but none that would fit. Luckily, this was one we could do without and David fashioned a plug that worked like a charm. We
resumed motoring and stopped in an hour to check the fluid. Still down some, but not as much as before. We topped up and motored another hour. There was no sleep to be had.
Another hour … another stop. The fluid level was down a tiny bit, however, the engine sump was filled with water! Just as David commented on the water situation, the hi-water alarm sounded. This was concurrent, of course, with lightning and an increase in wind to 25+ knots on the nose. I put the bilge pump on and commenced working the manual pump while David bailed in the engine room to find the source of the leak. He found it, corrected the problem and we continued to trudge on. At 0600, we were still 40+ nm out and exhausted.
Ah, but there's a happy ending. By Noon, the wind and sea began to calm. The transmission fluid was holding steady. There was much jubilation when the St. Augustine sea buoy came into view. We followed the well-marked channel through the St. Augustine Inlet and into the Matanzas River. We hailed the bridgekeeper and passed through the Bridge of Lions bascule bridge at the 1430 opening. Mooring #35 was waiting for us. Another safe landing … what more can you ask for? A nap and a cold beer!
Total passage miles: 1131 nm
Culebra to St. Augustine - Days 7-8
27 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
Day 7- 278 nm to go
Thick clouds on the horizon made for a blazing, orange-pink sunrise this morning. The sun only peeked through a small hole of the dense clouds to check out the day, then disappeared altogether, as if deciding whether or not he would shine today ... evidently not. He left us with a grey, overcast day.
The wind god is on holiday. I watched he wind indicator needle trying hopelessly to settle on a wind direction, but with 0 knots, it plays spin the bottle with the compass directions, but finds no direction to kiss.
We've been motoring the past 24 ours with nary a breath of breeze other than what wind we're generating ourselves. The mighty Atlantic is as calm and benign as a duck pond and Cups cuts through the water like the metaphorical hot knife through butter.
A white-tailed tropic bird, its long, graceful single white-feathered tail distinguishing it from all other sea birds, circled the boat several times. I was hoping it might land (versus a poop-filled noddy), but after careful surveillance of Cups, it flew off looking for a better ride.
The moon is full now and she's glowing brilliantly when we can see her. There have been showers and some lightning to the west of us and the clouds obscure our view.
Day 8 - 126 nm to go
We've been checking the tide tables for entering the St. Augustine Inlet which tends toward shoaling. With the full moon, the high will be higher and the low will be lower. We're hoping it will be calm for entry. We have two different tide predictors and they disagree significantly ... by about 6 hours. We had to email a cruising friend in Florida to verify which tide table was correct.
I won't bore you with too many Day 8 details, other than to say "Only 126 miles to go - Hooray". We alternated motoring and sailing throughout the night and day with fickle winds that blew and stopped as if on a timetable. There were squalls during the night and lightning cut through the skies all around us. Our days begin and end at 1000 when we consult our log and calculate the daily mileage. I usually collect our thoughts and impressions on the past 24 hours and those become our passage notes. Little did we know that the last day of this pleasant passage would be the most challenging. Stay tuned!
Culebra to St. Augustine - Days 4-6
26 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
Day 4 – 675 nm to go
Another gorgeous day in paradise. The change in winds has been delayed, it seems, and the E/SE winds along with that half knot current, continue to move us along smartly. The current is a faint vestige of the North Equatorial Current that snakes its way along the northeast side of the island chain and eventually joins forces with the mighty Gulf Stream. We’ve seen nary a nasty cloud nor a raindrop since we left Culebra and we wonder when our wonderful weather bubble will burst. Maybe tomorrow.
It was a rather momentous day. Around dinner time, we marked 1000 miles sailed since leaving Trinidad. With no oceans to cross, it’s harder to get higher mileage. We keep bumping into land and stopping. Around 2200, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer (~23.5N) and officially exited the tropics. I slept through it (my off-watch) and woke to find I needed a fleece and blanket. Actually, the early morning hours between midnight and 0600 seem to be quite cool and we enjoy needing a long-sleeved shirt or light blanket for a change after the recent sweaty, humid temps of the tropics.
Typically, there’s a ring of thick clouds on the horizon that encircles us each morning with a clear blue sky above, like the tonsure of good friar’s head. The waves have increased in size to 6-10′ (2-3m) and we can feel their push as they pass under us. I sometimes contemplate the amount of water volume and force necessary to sweep 20-ton Cups along like a twig in a fast-flowing river. It’s the same feel as body-surfing a big wave at the beach when it surrounds you, picks you up and carries to shore with a gush.
Being in the Bermuda Triangle has conjured up all sorts of images in my mind. I half expect to see a huge, long, suckered tentacle reach out of the sea on my night watch and wrap itself around Cups and drag us down to the depths. I’ve obviously been reading too much BT lore which I realize has “mostly” been proven to be exaggerated and downright wrong. Still … we’ve seen very few birds and no dolphins or whales. Maybe they know something we don’t?
Day 5 – 534 nm to go
The winds diminished and changed direction to < 10 knots from the south between 0300-0600 and we slowed down considerably. It was still a pleasant ride, but we were noticeably off our course line. The wind god finally ran out of wind altogether late in the afternoon as predicted. When we fell below 2 kts/hr, we reluctantly cranked on the engine, knowing if the forecast was right, it would be on for the next 24 hours.
By the change of the 2100 watch, the south wind was unexpectedly, but thankfully, back. It wasn’t much, but enough to sail along at 4 knots on a broad reach. It prevailed all through the night, long enough for David to pick up the revised weather forecast which showed exactly what we’d been seeing. Thank you, Neptune.
We’ve been making plans for the rest of 2016, as well as contemplating short-term projects on Cups. The trim around the portlights in the saloon and aft cabin all need re-varnishing. In preparation, I removed all the window coverings, rods and hardware and have decided all the “drapes”need to be replaced. If the good weather continues, we might get the portlights sanded and prepped before our arrival in St. Augustine, allowing us a headstart on getting the project completed before heading further north. The usual number of things are breaking, i.e. the manual foot pump for the fresh water isn’t working and needs either repair or replacement. David also thinks it’s time to replace all the water hoses for the watermaker. He’s still pondering the refrigeration issue and tinkers with it daily. Always, always, always a list!
Day 6 – 418nm to go
It was a slow, slow day, but we were still sailing. We saluted Gentry, our web mistress, as we sailed by Gentry Bank off the Turks and Caicos. As we passed by the Bahamian islands, we reminisced about the time spent there more than a decade ago … Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Eleuthera, the Abacos … so many little islands, so many memories. Imagine how Columbus and crew must have felt when they arrived in this paradise.
The days are noticeably longer. Dawn’s first light is around 0530 and the residue of sunset is still on the horizon at 2000. There’s much to be said for heading north as summer approaches. The wind left us again just after noon and in a huff. A bit of a gust was followed by a drenching shower, the first rain we’ve seen since leaving Culebra. The downpour cleaned the dust and dirt off the decks and the cockpit looked refreshed. The rain seemed to wash all the color from the day. The blue, sunny sky we’ve grown accustomed to was sapped of its brilliance, replaced by a washed-out blue-grey, overcast sky that merged with the horizon and the now drab waters of the Atlantic. We expected more showers, but they never came.
Once our speed dropped below 2 knots, we cranked on the engine again. The seas were flat and calm with nary a wind ripple to disturb them. The wind indicator showed 0 wind speed … we were smack dab in the middle of a high pressure.
About the Bermuda Triangle
25 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
We’ll be entering the Bermuda Triangle soon, on our way north to the USA. Just Google “Bermuda Triangle” and you get over 3 million hits. I had to research carefully, because if we believed all the fantastic stories written about occurrences in this area, we’d never sail there. Check out some interesting facts about the Bermuda Triangle at JustALittleFurther.com
Culebra to St Augustine - Days 1 -3
24 May 2016 | En route Culebra, PR - St. Augustine-FL
Once again, it was a flurry of activity as we prepared to up-anchor and head out from Culebra to St Augustine. We woke with the dawn, checked the weather again, and after a cuppa and a few more checks, we were off across Ensenada Honda on an overcast morning and heading back into the Caribbean Sea. We’d rigged the pole and removed the sail cover last night to save ourselves from too much morning activity. 1130 nm to go … the first day out, it always seems that the distance is so long, but experience tells us, it goes by quickly. The days at sea seem to blend as we adjust to the passage and before you know it, we’ll be sailing into the St. Augustine Inlet and under the Bridge of Lions. In the meantime …
Read on JustALittleFurther.com
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