07 February 2008 | Playa Caldera
We had over 80 nautical miles to cover today on the way to Tortuga from Margarita so we headed out early. We listened to the Margarita Cruiser net for the last time on the way out. There's an expat who lives in an apartment building over looking the harbor who does the weather in the mornings and he is fantastic. It is by far the best weather report I have heard on a cruisers net.
We had moderate winds in the 15-20 range during the morning. Unfortunately we were headed dead down wind. Swept spreaders, and in larger seas, the potential for ramming the bows into the wave ahead make it sensible to avoid sailing directly down wind in the ocean on cruising catamarans. In order to make 9 knots we motor sailed with one engine and jibed down our rhumb line on the way to Tortuga. Our VMG stayed over 8 knots giving us an ETA in the good light zone.
Hideko fished on the way across. As the bottom was coming up to the 300 foot zone approaching Tortuga Hideko's reel began to run. We had time to get into Tortuga without problems but not a lot of time. I couldn't see stopping the boat so we just shut the engine down and slowed her down to 5 knots or so. No one could reel this fish in. In fact when you tried it just ran, overriding the brake. When we finally began to reel it in it was pretty obvious that whatever it was it had gotten off. It was certainly the strongest thing we've ever had on the line.
Dejected we returned to 9 knots and continued on our way to Tortuga. The wind had come around a bit and we wee now laying a mark just outside of Playa Caldera. As we closed on the mark the wind and seas continued to freshen. We came into the anchorage with 25 knots or so of breeze honkin' and big seas breaking on the reef entrance and the beach. The anchorage is pretty easy to get into using the sounder but you need to stay closer to the beach side as you come in without getting involved with the breakers.
The anchorage is beautiful, enclosed by a 270 degree arc of clean white sand. We joined a large motor yacht (which looked a little out of place) and a couple of cruising boats for a wonderful night with a good breeze and only a little sidewise chop.