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
Heading to St. Augustine
23 May 2016 | Culebra, Puerto Rico
I know, I know … we were supposed to head over to San Juan for a few days and hang out, but surprise! We’ve changed our minds. We’re looking at the calendar, feeling pressed to be moving north more quickly than we’d prefer, but hurricane season is soon upon us and the further north we are, the more relaxed we’ll feel. So … instead of a leisurely island hop north, we’re heading to Florida all in one passage, then head north to the Chesapeake from there. This passage looks to be 1100+ nm. The GRIBS show good winds and, of course, we’ll have the favorable Gulf Stream to help us on our way once we make the Florida coast.
Get ready for a passage to St. Augustine ... JustALittleFurther.com
Tarpons, Seagulls and Cold Beer
22 May 2016 | Culebra, Puerto Rico
Despite all the very appealing local restaurants we’ve seen, we really haven’t eaten out at all since we arrived in Culebra. Each morning we agree “Let’s have dinner out tonight” and every evening, it’s “Feel like going in to shore for dinner or shall we just make something aboard and watch a movie?” It’s not the budget so much as “what can we get at a restaurant that we feel like eating that I can’t make on board?” Reliable internet and cold beer was the answer this evening and we headed in to the Dinghy Dock Restaurant.
Come on ... join or for dinner ... or not
Blue View - Patching the Dinghy
21 May 2016 | Culebra, Puerto Rico
Our venerable dinghy is well into her ninth year aboard Nine of Cups. She's seen a lot of nice soft sand beaches, but she's also seen her share of barnacle encrusted, concrete jetties, rocky shores and coral reefs. On several occasions, she's gotten roughed up by an amorous fisherman's panga as well. Maybe it's her full-bodied figure or her soft sides that attract these rough characters, or maybe she just likes 'bad boys', but they always seem drawn to her and vice versa. Nine years of the sun's UV rays have also taken their toll. She's made of hypalon material, which is more resistant to UV damage than PVC, but not impervious to the sun's effects.
Nine years of living aboard Cups probably makes her about 80 years old in dinghy years. With a little luck, she has a few more years left in her, but no one is going to mistake her for a young, perky gal. Her color is faded, she's had some transom gel coat repairs and her bottom has been repaired and repainted a few times. She also has a dozen or so patches now – some to keep the air in the pontoons and some to keep the water outside the dinghy.
She's developed a leak and needs a patch. Read more about patching the dink at JustALittleFurther.com