06/26/2010, Passing Charleston, SC
We are doing well, although it is HOT here in the middle of the gulf stream. Winds filled in a bit, and we have been sailing extensively with our spinnaker, which is a fun novelty for us. It does really well in the light and downwind winds we've been experiencing. The current picked up to 3.5-4.0 knots, so we've been making good time.
Around sunset last night, a group of dolphins came to swim in our bow wave - got some good pictures in the fading light of day.
Had a bit of excitement at 4am (why always in the middle of the night??) when a metal shackle holding the top of the spinnaker blew out and the entire sail dropped into the water. Amelia called all hands on deck and we quickly recovered the sail (some of us in our underwear) and later today we replaced the part under the guidance of Grant, our Chief Spinnaker Officer.
We are now roughly even with Charleston, heading for Cape Hatteras. We are watching the weather carefully to make sure we past the Cape when seas and winds are calm.
Scott & crew
Saturday June 26
SOG 7.1 knots (nearly half our speed coming from the gulf stream)
06/25/2010, Even with Jacksonville, FL (90 miles out)
Making decent progress - mix of light air sailing and motorsailing throughout the last 24 hours. We hit the gulf stream at about noon today - we are motoring at a nice relaxed 4.7 knots through the water, but the stream is pushing us due north another 3.3 -3.5 knots for a speed made good of 8.0 - 8.3 knots! Very calm seas and (unfortunately) no wind. Given the latest forecast, looks like we will be motoring for the next 36 hours. Oh well, at least we're going fast in the right direction! Right now we are nearly even with Jacksonville, FL about 90 miles out.
Caught our first fish of the trip this morning on the green/yellow lure - it was a small Mahi - so small in fact, that we felt bad and threw him back. Maybe that will appease Nepture and he will provide us with the big bull Mahi we have been looking for!
Replaced our raw water pump this morning - our old pump was leaking pretty badly.
Everyone is doing well (including Bobo the autopilot who is doing most of the work) - we are planning on flank steak on the grill tonight for dinner.
Hope all is well!
Scott & Jen & Grant & Amelia
1325 June 25
SOG 8.2 knots
06/24/2010, On course toward St. Augustine and gulf stream
We had a good first 24 hours - we sailed 127 miles in light winds and moderate seas. So far good weather, clear skies and a nice moon to light the way for most of last night. For dinner last night, we had Jen's fresh conch fritters, courtesy of the giant conch that Amelia and Grant found in the Bahamas before we left.
Winds continued to lighten today, and the seas calmed down, so for the first time in a year we took our spinnaker out of the locker and are sailing very nicely with it now! Many thanks to Grant for his help getting the sail up - he's become somewhat of a sail expert at his job in Annapolis.
We think we spotted a big Mahi Mahi alongside the boat, but alas no nibbles on the fishing lines.
Our weather forecaster suggested that we head towards Florida to take full advantage of the 2-3 knot Gulf Stream current since the winds are expected to be very light for the next few days along the rhumbline to Newport. So right now we are pointed at a spot about 100 miles due east of St Augustine.
We'll update again tomorrow...
Scott, Jen, Amelia & Grant
At 1505 Thurs 24 June
SOG 5.0 knts
06/23/2010, Matt Lowe's Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
We are heading off to Newport today after sending the kids off to the grandparents in Cleveland. We picked up our latest crew at the airport last night, and we are ready to go! I found Anna's journal after she had gone with her final entry, and felt it summed up things better than we could. Next update from the US!!
June 21, 2010 Monday
This is it people - this is it! Man that went by fast, don't you think? It was only yesterday that we gracefully sailed into St. John with Roth and Matt...
First of all I'd like to thank my parents for making this trip possible. I'd also like to thank Matthew for being my opponent in Mario Karts. Mimi and Gimlet for taking care of us for a week. Noel, Roth Matt, Amelia and Grant for helping us with passages. Katie for letting me go for a year (I owe you one). All of our cruising friends for making it more fun, and all of the fish and conch that gave us their lives. And last but not least, the French bakery chefs that made baguettes and all the other wonderful things that are all so... wonderful! What a year!
After bidding a fond farewell to the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands, Safari Tu crew embarked on a four day passage to the Bahamas. At least that's what we set out to do. We had a glorious 3 day sail which got us most of the way there - the idea was to head to an island called Mayaguana. However, our last night at sea showed us how wrong we were. A huge thunderstorm hit right overhead, with loads of lightning, torrential rain, and big thunder boomers. Not being able to see where we were, or which direction the storm was headed, we opted to heave to until daylight.
Fast forward a few hours, and we're still hove to - surrounded by lightning, but at least we can now see. It's really wet everywhere. We finally make the decision to motor to the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales - our closest landfall. We managed to motor out of the storm, and into the beautiful calm waters of Turtle Bay - where the sun was actually shining.
So, while it was not on our itinerary, we made the most of our stay by enjoying the great food available on the island, rented a car for the day to explore, and provisioned up for our real trip to the Bahamas.
Post - storm, winds were very light, and we set off in the direction of Rum Cay - a good name for our first Bahamian island! We anchored in a huge bay with only one other boat in it - and truly enjoyed the absolutely crystal clear blue water which surrounded us! Scott thinks he saw a hammerhead shark pass right by our boat - and we were only in 7-10 feet of water! We had a lovely reef to snorkel around, including a sunken sailboat - a bit ominous!
In any case, it was a bit quiet, so we headed off to the "metropolis" of George Town in the Exumas. This is the social center for cruisers in the Bahamas - and we managed to meet a bunch of new family boats while anchored there for several days. One family on "Sea Gypsy" had been out cruising with their kids for several years - and had a lot of good information for us. They also introduced us to a German family on board the catamaran "Pacific High". Their kids are the same ages as ours - and we all hit it off immediately with a game of volleyball on the beach. They have moved permanently onto their boat - and have wowed us with all the comforts of home which they have on board. We decided to travel as far as we can with them, as they are making their way through the Bahamas and north to the States as well.
We now find ourselves in Staniel Cay - the home of Thunderball Grotto - of 007 fame, and of all things, swimming pigs. See the photo album for documentation.
The water continues to amaze us here - and the shallowness of the Exuma Bank! Navigation has taken on a whole new meaning - but we are getting the hang of things. We plan to spend another couple of weeks exploring the Exumas and Abacos before making the big jump back to Newport!!
We are lucky to have former ASTA intern Amelia along with her boyfriend Grant join us as crew on our journey home. Just to make the passage even smoother, Scott's parents have agreed to host summer camp for the kids while we are working our way up the coast. So plans are in place, and the trip is coming to an end. Unbelievable.
We'll have another update prior to our departure - and will try to enjoy every last minute of this wonderful year!! Thanks for sharing it with us!
Sorry it's been a while since our last posting. Luckily guest blogger Matt Maples came through with his blog in early May, but it is time for an update.
We returned to the US Virgin Islands in mid April planning to do some major provisioning and repair work. We enjoyed a few days back in St. John before heading to relatively busy St. Thomas to take care of our ailing autopilot and some other key mechanical things. While St. Thomas isn't our favorite place, we still managed to harvest some conch off Water Island, we enjoy watching the seaplanes take off and land just about every hour right next to our boat, and rum is only $9.95 a bottle.
We then headed west about 20 miles to the Spanish Virgin islands - for those who don't know, there are about 3-4 small islands off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico that are relatively undeveloped with beautiful beaches and great snorkeling. We really loved the tiny island of Culebrita, with its old 1850's era lighthouse, gorgeous beaches and calm protected anchorage. The kids and I went trolling in the dinghy one evening around sunset and we caught a nice sized jack for dinner.
On May 2nd we had our second visitors of the trip - Scott's Mom & Dad flew from Ohio down to San Juan for a mixed land/sea adventure. Boy did we have a great time, and we ate & drank especially well the whole time we were together in Puerto Rico! Seafood mofungo (made from plantain or cassava), authentic mojitos, spanish sausage, calamari and lots more. We cashed in on Scott's hotel points and stayed at the chic La Concha hotel on the beach in San Juan - the kids were thrilled to have TV and room service, while Jen loved the showers and the extra large bed. Upon entering the room, the kids exclaimed "it's an awesome ocean view room!" which we thought was kind of funny, since they've been living on a boat for 9 months now.
We toured the big 300 year old fort at the entrance to the harbor called El Morro - very impressive and huge - it played a key part of ensuring that Puerto Rico stayed Spanish while lots of other islands fell to the Brits, French and Dutch. We also toured the Bacardi factory where we learned about the bat on their logo and the history of the family (originally from Cuba) who still own the company. We toured the El Yunque rainforest and swam in yet another waterfall; Dad also signed up to go ziplining through the treetops with Anna and Scott which was great fun.
The best part of the trip was probably sharing a bit of the cruising life with Mimi and Gimlet (as we call them) including the excitement of catching a big mutton snapper on the way to Vieques island, being forced to change anchorages due to rough conditions, taking the dinghy up a creek to a true cruiser's place called Mamacita's in Culebra and soaking up the sun, sand and surf at Culebrita. Oh- and Mom & Dad are now confirmed Ti Punch aficionados. What a great visit!
Looks like the weather will enable us to make the 520mi sail north to the Bahamas starting tonight (Sunday). This will be the longest sail we've done as a family without additional crew. The kids will no doubt be watching lots of Hogan's Heroes.
Our plan is to cruise up the Bahamas for about a month or so, before jumping off from there for somewhere along the east coast. We hope to arrive Newport in the middle/end of July.