Second Star to the Right

S/V Agua Dulce sails around the world in search of Neverland

Vessel Name: Agua Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Hylas 54
Hailing Port: Park City, UT
Crew: Charles & Gretchen Cunningham
About: Charles is a retired lawyer from Dallas who started sailing Sunfish in Corpus Christi, TX when he was a boy. I'm Gretchen, and I was a stay-at-home mom who doesn't stay at home much anymore. I fell in love with sailing on our first bare boat adventure in the Caribbean 30 years ago.
Extra: Special thanks to Peter Pan for inspiring generations to stay young and keep searching for their own Neverland.
12 December 2019 | 14 18'N:59 07'W,
11 December 2019 | 14 39'N:56 13'W,
10 December 2019 | 14 56'N:53 33'W,
09 December 2019 | 15 15'N:50 25'W,
08 December 2019 | 15 31'N:47 45'W,
06 December 2019 | 16 15'N:42 29'W,
05 December 2019 | 16 41'N:39 38'W,
04 December 2019 | 16 54'N:37 13'W,
03 December 2019 | 17 31'N:34 13'W,
02 December 2019 | 17 51'N:30 58'W,
01 December 2019 | 18 12'N:28 13'W,
28 November 2019 | 22 18'N:20 41'W, Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
28 November 2019 | 23 36'N:19 48'W, Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
28 November 2019 | 24 49'N:18 12'W, Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
28 November 2019 | 26 12'N:16 25'W, Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
28 November 2019 | Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
27 November 2019 | 23 28'N:19 54'W, Between the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands
Recent Blog Posts
12 December 2019 | 14 18'N:59 07'W,

Log Day 19 Ð Last Full Day at Sea

All of us are extremely excited to get to the marina in St. Lucia. We've been talking about what will be the first thing we are going to do after we arrive and get the boat tied up. It's hard to say right now. Agua Dulce has been our cocoon for the last three weeks, and she has seen us safely 3000 miles [...]

11 December 2019 | 14 39'N:56 13'W,

Log Day 18 Ð Two more night watches to goÉ

12pm

10 December 2019 | 14 56'N:53 33'W,

Log Day 17 Ð Are we there yet?

10am

09 December 2019 | 15 15'N:50 25'W,

Log Day 16 Ð Counting down the miles!

We have broken the 700NM to go mark, and at 750NM to go, we were three-quarters of the way to St. Lucia. During my 11pm-1am watch tonight, we should break the 600NM mark as well. We're all getting excited to be in the Caribbean! I wish I had downloaded some steel drum Christmas music to get us in the [...]

08 December 2019 | 15 31'N:47 45'W,

Log Day 15 Ð Squalls + Swells Lack of Sleep

It was a wet and squally night. We had lots of rain and gusts in the 30's, but it was all manageable. The worst part about squalls is that when they pass they suck the energy out of the air, and we have practically no wind for a time. In addition, the seas were extremely rolly last night and they have [...]

06 December 2019 | 16 15'N:42 29'W,

Log Day 13 - Star Gazing and More Bruising

I really enjoy star gazing during my night watches, and since my watches are six hours apart, I get to see different constellations and how they move across the sky. So far, I have identified Orion Ð my constant companion, the Southern Cross, Taurus, Gemini, Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor [...]

Log Day 19 Ð Last Full Day at Sea

12 December 2019 | 14 18'N:59 07'W,
All of us are extremely excited to get to the marina in St. Lucia. We've been talking about what will be the first thing we are going to do after we arrive and get the boat tied up. It's hard to say right now. Agua Dulce has been our cocoon for the last three weeks, and she has seen us safely 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. It will actually be a little strange to leave her.

Of course, we'll head for a bar for the obligatory rum punch to herald our arrival to the Caribbean. Then, we'll probably all take naps and try to get our body clocks adjusted from UTC to AST time (4 hours earlier) and see if we can sleep through the night without waking up for watches. We all need to be sure to cancel the alarms on our phones waking us up for our night watches or the rest of the crew might mutiny at dock!

I know that one of the first things I want to do is LAUNDRY. Our lovely sailboat is starting to smell more and more like a high school boys' locker room after a football game. It's a little gamey is the best way I know how to put it. It doesn't help that we have to keep the hatches closed and not have the nice breeze blowing through the boat.

I also want to go for a long walk and really stretch my legs. I know we've been using all kinds of muscles that we don't use regularly just to hold ourselves upright, but I'm ready to put in some miles on the ground.

As I write this at 1:30pm UTC, we are 166 miles from St. Lucia. We count on about 160NM every 24 hours if we are making 6.7 knots. Our speed is currently averaging about 7 knots with winds from the east at 18-21 knots. So, if the winds continue, we should be there a little over 24 hours; however, the forecast is for the winds to abate somewhat, so it might be a few hours later. It is 9:30am in St. Lucia right now, so I am hoping that we will arrive in time for a late lunch. Charles still says it will be 4:30pm, but either way, we'll be there tomorrow for happy hour.

Come on wind! Give us a nice push home!

Log Day 18 Ð Two more night watches to goÉ

11 December 2019 | 14 39'N:56 13'W,
12pm
The Sargasso weed is increasing greatly. (Who knew that there would be more weed in the middle of the Atlantic than in all of Jamaica?) Instead of all small pieces less than 12 inches in diameter, we are seeing long stringers that are up to 20 feet in length and a few feet wide. We are concerned that it might be getting wrapped around the hydrogenerator propeller. The hydrogenerator is a fin with a propeller blade on it that we lower into the water and attach to the stern of the boat. As we move through the water, the blade turns and powers the battery bank, so it is another means of charging even during the night when the solar panels aren't receiving any power from the sun. If, however, the propeller is tangled with seaweed, it won't turn and provide any power. It will cause drag on the boat and slow us down. Our speed is still consistently over 7 knots, so if it has seaweed on it, it doesn't seem to be slowing us down much.

Currently, we expect to arrive in St. Lucia on Friday before dark. Sunset is at 5:30pm, and it is always easier to come into a marina in daylight. We are currently at 331NM to go, which is approximately 48 hours. If we continue at this pace, we could arrive by noon. The weather forecasts, however, call for lighter winds beginning tomorrow, so we probably won't be able to keep up this pace.

Speaking of pace, we surfed down a BIG swell this morning and the boat speed actually hit 12.8 knots Ð probably a record for Agua Dulce! Obviously, it didn't last, but what a ride!

On the SSB Net today, all the boats are talking about their predicted arrival time. You can tell people are all getting excited about landfall in St. Lucia. We hear from the ARC organizers that 26 boats have already arrived, and they are expecting 30 boats a day for the next couple of days.

7pm
The Sargasso weed has diminished again with just little bits floating by occasionally. I wish I had a tracker to see where it has come from and where it is going.

We're seeing more boats on AIS, and we've even seen a cruise ship headed for Barbados. Right now, we're watching out for a weather buoy that is very near our path. It is in an area where the depth is over 16000 feet, and we understand that they swing a fair amount. I hope we see it because I am curious, but I also hope we see it well in advance and from a fair distance!

280NM to go now! We are fairly confident now that we will be able to arrive in St. Lucia before dark on Friday.

Things are getting real!!!

Log Day 17 Ð Are we there yet?

10 December 2019 | 14 56'N:53 33'W,
10am
No, but we are now past the 500NM to go mark Ð 83% of the way to St. Lucia! (Thanks to Captain Charles for the constant statistics)

We are starting to see boats appear on AIS again as we all converge on St. Lucia from the various courses we have chosen. We are headed straight for the island at a course over ground heading of 282¼M (M stands for magnetic versus T for true. Google magnetic deviation if you don't understand what that means. I understand it, but would have a hard time explaining it succinctly.)

We passed the point where the Mini-Transat abandoned boat was adrift. It is right in the path of many of the boats in the rally, so I hope everyone is keeping a very sharp lookout. We never saw an AIS signal from it even though we passed maybe 16 miles away from it. I hope it is showing up on AIS for boats that pass closer!

Yesterday was a great day in terms of mileage. We think we sailed 180 miles. We generally consider 160 a good day. We sailed between 7-8 knots for most of the day. Currently, we are sailing at over 8 knots. The winds are good right now at 23-25 knots from the east. We expect these winds to continue for another day or two and then lessen slightly as we approach the islands.

This boat continues to move around more than the Fun House at the State Fair, and my bruising is getting comical! I happened to glance in the mirror after my shower, and let's just say that my backside looks like a map of the Caribbean islands.

Update 9pm:
Looks like we will be under the 400NM mark later tonight! Not many more milestones left!

Log Day 16 Ð Counting down the miles!

09 December 2019 | 15 15'N:50 25'W,
We have broken the 700NM to go mark, and at 750NM to go, we were three-quarters of the way to St. Lucia. During my 11pm-1am watch tonight, we should break the 600NM mark as well. We're all getting excited to be in the Caribbean! I wish I had downloaded some steel drum Christmas music to get us in the island holiday spirit. I will have to be content to listen to Kenny Chesney's "All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan".

We had a much more comfortable night last night. This morning, the size of the swells dropped dramatically and so did the terrible rocking from side to side. Unfortunately, the winds have also died down so we are not just flying along toward our destination. We could probably fly the spinnaker if squalls weren't threatening, but they've been a constant companion for the past few days. In any event, we are making steady progress.

This afternoon, we noticed quite a bit of seaweed in the water as we were sailing. The pieces were spaced 10 yards or so apart, but it continued for quite a while. I know the Caribbean has been afflicted with large amounts of seaweed rolling in on their beaches in recent years, and I wonder if we went through some that will end up there eventually.

Update @7pm
The swells are back, and they are very confused right now, coming at us from several different directions. So, we are back to rocking side to side, again making all moving around (cooking, showering, walking, putting away things in cabinets, making a cup of coffee or tea) challenging. But, the winds have picked up as well and we are sailing at 7-8 knots. The weather forecast for the rest of the week looks good, and we hope to make some substantial forward progress in the next 2 days.

We should be in the vicinity of the drifting Mini-Transat race boat in about 90NM. Unfortunately, that will probably be when it is dark outside. From reports, we believe it will show up on AIS (which means it is equipped with a device that sends a signal to boats within VHF range Ð or basically line of sight Ð that shows its location.) Other than that, we will be keeping a very close watch on the radar and on the sea itself as best we are able in the dark.

Time to go get ready for my night watch!

Log Day 15 Ð Squalls + Swells Lack of Sleep

08 December 2019 | 15 31'N:47 45'W,
It was a wet and squally night. We had lots of rain and gusts in the 30's, but it was all manageable. The worst part about squalls is that when they pass they suck the energy out of the air, and we have practically no wind for a time. In addition, the seas were extremely rolly last night and they have continued to be today as well. All in all, it made for a very bad night's sleep. Charles sleeps sideways in our bed in the aft cabin wedged in between the wood cabinets at the head of the bed. I sleep in the man saloon on the settee wedged between it and the dining table. Tracy and Keith sleep wedged up against each other in the forward cabin. I'll be glad to leave this Atlantic swell behind us.

The good news is that we have now less than 800NM to go! We hope to arrive Friday if the winds are good or Saturday if they drop off. When we do sleep, I think we are all dreaming of rum punch and steel drum bands.

I hear that other boats are still catching fish, but we don't want to risk trying to clean one as long as the seas are pitching and rolling. If this swell dies down, we'll try our luck again later.

We're monitoring the drifting of two abandoned mini transat race boats. It looks like one of them will be drifting near our course in the next 36 hours, so we'll be keeping a very close watch for them as we approach their last known position.

We used some cabbage to do a Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner tonight so we wouldn't have to turn on the oven. It is extremely stuffy down below as we can't open hatches due to the errant waves splashing inside when the swells are rolling us so much.

Charles and I both finished the books we were reading. Unfortunately, he didn't plan well and download another book or two on his Kindle. Tracy is watching our well-loved DVD "White Christmas". We've all been listening to Christmas music on the stereo and trying to get into the holiday spirit here. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" just doesn't work for me right now. "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" is more like it!

Log Day 13 - Star Gazing and More Bruising

06 December 2019 | 16 15'N:42 29'W,
I really enjoy star gazing during my night watches, and since my watches are six hours apart, I get to see different constellations and how they move across the sky. So far, I have identified Orion Ð my constant companion, the Southern Cross, Taurus, Gemini, Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper), Polaris (north star), Sirius (brightest star in the night sky), and my new personal favorite, Pleiades. I saw a fuzzy group of stars in my peripheral vision and looked at them through the binoculars to see a clear group of stars. My Star Walk app helped me identify these as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. I love the description from Star Walk Ð a group of seven hot middle-aged B-stars. Sounds like a description for a bad reality TV show about aging Hollywood female stars.

Weather-wise, the main thing that has changed is that there are lots of squalls around. We still have good wind from the east between 18-24 knots, but before a squall hits, we've seen gusts close to 40 knots. On the positive side, the boat gets a nice rinsing with fresh water during a squall and they only last a few minutes. In addition to the bigger winds, the seas last night were big and confused and loud. One wave hit us broadside while I was on watch that was so loud that Charles came running upstairs to see if I had been thrown down. I hadn't, but the wave crashing into the hull of the boat sounded as if someone had.

The other problem with these rolling seas is opening cabinets. This morning, I added a couple more bruises to my growing collection when I opened the cabinet to get a pan to heat some milk to make a latte for Charles. The boat lurched to port just as I opened the cabinet, and the big heavy dutch oven and skillets on the second shelf shot out against my shin and landed on my foot. Lovely.

As far as food goes, we still have lots to eat. We did, however, eat the last of the lettuce for lunch, and overall, our produce stores are getting low. We still have a cabbage and two butternut squash, some apples and oranges, and onions and potatoes. The main problem right now is preparation and holding the meal steady while we eat. When preparing the ingredients, you must be very careful where you put the knife down as that is one object you do not want to go flying around the galley. We've become masters of One Pot Wonders which is a good thing, but we are really missing side dishes and salads. I'm looking forward to going home at Christmas and cooking some multi-course dinners for a change and eating them from a plate that is stationary on a table instead of in a bowl that I must hold so my meal won't end up in my lap.

My son says I talk too much about food in this blog. I guess that's because planning what we are going to eat is one of the biggest decisions of the day. Sorry, David!
Agua Dulce's Photos - Main
21 Photos
Created 1 April 2019
10 Photos
Created 6 December 2018
9 Photos
Created 13 June 2018
8 Photos
Created 17 April 2017

About & Links

Photo Albums
01 April 2019
21 Photos
06 December 2018
10 Photos