OP Panama to St Thomas
06 January 2017 | St Thomas USVI
The delivery of Optimus Prime from Puerto Vallarta to St Thomas can easily be divided into two halves....before and after Panama.
The downwind sailing on the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Central America were easy compared to the upwind grind of the western Caribbean. Our passing of the Tehuantepec and Papagayo went very smoothly. These areas are known for their high winds and rough crossings.
Leaving Colon our plan was to motor sail east toward Cartagena Colombia for two days, then tack north toward Jamaica. After 24 hours we decided to turn north early and began our 500 + mile beat to weather to Jamaica. The winds were in the high teens and low 20's. The seas were 6-8 feet. We were reefed, but the boat was still heeled over pretty good. It was great having Chuck on board as a third watch stander. We were 3 hours on, 6 hours off. The boat became covered in salt. It was a challenge to stay dry (not salty) during your watch. We left Colon on Monday December 12 and arrived in Kingston Jamaica on Friday December 16.
I cannot speak highly enough of the outstanding staff at the Royal Jamaican Yacht Club. We arrived and they brought down cold bottles of Red Stripe beer for us. We were required to stay on the boat until the authorities arrived and checked us into the country. A waiter from the restaurant came down with menus and we ordered dinner. They brought us the food at the dock! It was nice, because the last official left us at 2200 hours. Chuck was unable to commit to a longer voyage so he left us in Jamaica.
Our plan for the remaining 600 NM was to use the lee of the islands to avoid the big seas and trade winds. We left Jamaica on Monday December 19 and headed for Boca Chica Dominican Republic. We were only in Boca Chica for about 22 hours. Just long enough to get fuel and check in/out of the country. We fixed a few things too. The topping lift had come undone from the boom. We paid a very small dock worker to climb the mast to free the wayward line. I dove the boat to check the propeller for any issues and found none. We went to dinner and enjoyed a local restaurant expecting to pay the equivalent of $20-25 US dollars. They charged us $43 US! What a rip off. I mean, the food was ok, and we had a couple of beers. I asked the dock worker we'd hired earlier what he thought a dinner there might cost. His estimate was 30 % of what we paid. Then to finish up or stay the local version of the DEA searched the boat VERY thoroughly prior to our departure. It was NOT a cursory search, and it included a drug dog. Not a fan of Boca Chica DR.
We arrived in Ponce Puerto Rico just before Christmas. We had a quiet Holiday and ate a regular meal on the boat, no ham or turkey and fixin's for us.
We completed the remainder of the trip in three short hops. We motored to a mangrove about 24 miles east of Ponce and anchored for the night. Then we motor sailed to the west end of Vieques (the old Navy Gun Range). It was a very pretty anchorage. It reminded me of Gilligan's Island with the beach and palm trees.
We finally arrived in St Thomas USVI at the Crown Bay Marina on Thursday December 30. Here are the numbers for the delivery:
Total Miles: 3576
Miles sailed: 550
Days Total: 54
Hours on watch: 270
Engine hours: 512
Countries Visited: 6
We cleaned up for two days then we flew home on New Years Day. It was a great experience that will allow Melodie and I to decide if we want to head east with Starshine. Time will tell.