The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!
18 April 2019 | Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas
14 April 2019 | Clarencetown, Long Island, Bahamas
10 April 2019 | To New Horizons... and Beyond!
05 April 2019 | Exumas, Bahamas
02 March 2019 | Staniel Cay, Cat Island, Bahamas
07 February 2019 | Cambridge Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
25 August 2018 | Halifax, NS
28 November 2017 | Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean
20 November 2017 | Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean
22 October 2017
20 October 2017
11 September 2017
02 September 2017 | Winkler, MB
20 June 2017 | Aa

Don't Worry... 'Bout a Ting

24 April 2019
David & Alexandra
There's nothing even remotely fun about tee-tottering and be-bopping around the ocean for 231.63 nautical miles. Non-stop. Nothing. Except for the fact that as of right now? We're in Jamaica 'mon. And tee-tottering and be-bopping around the ocean for 46.5 hours non-stop is what got us from Great Inagua, Bahamas to here.

I mean, Jamaica! 'Mon! {{ goosebumps }} Fun!

Wait, what? Didn't I just write that it wasn't fun?

Don't get me wrong, as far as sailing weather windows go, this one was perfect. Sunny during the day.

So sunny in fact that we totally replenished our power banks during sunny hours, all sans engine. The sun set with the Cuban mountains in the distance, barely discernible in the dusky haze and horizon.

The stars were crazy plentiful blanketing the sky, only the darkness of nothingness peeked through between the bright twinkles. The bioluminescence in the water flitted about as Banyan left her wake, the flashing twinkles of light disappearing into the crashing waves behind us, as we surfed along. The adverse current? Not so adverse as we had thought. It was mild out. And later, an almost full moon rose, illuminating everything, leaving only the brightest of stars out to play.

There was plenty AIS traffic en route to keep us busy.

Not on our path busy, or do we need to worry busy, but keeping track of who's going where type of busy. Fun.

Our short time in Matthewtown was simply lovely. It being a long Easter weekend, it was quiet, and even the supply boat was late to the show, arriving Good Friday mid afternoon, to unload the supplies that the whole island showed up for. We didn't get much of a response for getting in to see the Flamingos or Salt Mill, and I guess we didn’t try too hard either, given the windy blowy weather. But we did walk to the Lighthouse, and the General Store and to Customs/Immigration. And for what it's worth, we would return to Great Inagua, to Matthewtown, to this very Dock in fact, in a heartbeat.

We still found ourselves with plenty to do. Worked on some boat projects. Made some meals. Got our ship into shape. You know, everything one needs to do in order to ensure the upcoming 240 nm passage would be as effortless as possible.

We waited at the dock for the weather front to pass, calm itself down. And watched and waited for the right window to materialize, collaborating with Chris Parker for a personalized routing. We had two options, Saturday departure or Tuesday. Saturday was looking nice and calm, the seas probably still disturbed if one were to venture out too early, but patterns were shifting. The sailing window wasn’t long, and too calm would mean motoring. All the way? Nope, didn't have the fuel for that and weren't keen on buying diesel from that ole closed gas station here in Matthewtown either. Tuesday was looking good, but much more brisk and boisterous, and although we would certainly make record times, *I* wasn't keen on boisterous {{ hello, funneling effects? }} and secondly, leaving Great Inagua on Tuesday, would put our arrival on Thursday, and now we’re almost a week later.

Then the wind died completely on Saturday but Sunday looking promising. So when all that was said and done, we cast off our lines by 10 a.m. on Sunday morning. It was a toss up, forecasts showed wind to sail early in the morning, but then we would run the risk of possibly being caught in a no wind zone. If we left late in the day, we'd catch the diurnal winds along Cuna perhaps, depending on our route, but still the same issue would develop. Somewhere in between lay the perfect angle if we could catch the winds at the right time, we could use them to carry us for most of the way, maximizing our sailing. Taking into account the funneling of winds that happens in the Windward Passage, the narrow waterway between two large masses of land, {{ Cuba and Haiti }} and note the wind shadow caused by Haitian lands. And all that trying to time our arrival in Jamaica for daylight hours. Now I remember why we took physics and math in high school.

Being prepped is easy. Everything else is up to Mother Nature and The Universe.

The anxiety that hits me as we prep for departure always takes me by surprise. A healthy dose of it is normal... after all, these are relatively long distances, perspectively speaking. I would think after all these years and all these nautical miles under my life jacket, that it would all get easier, the anxiety less. Instead, it's more. Go figure. A personal demon that has reared its head that I don't know how to dissolve into nothingness.

I wonder, as I prep the ditch bag, if it's because I'm simultaneously envisioning conditions that will require us to use it? I wonder, as I prep the meals, if it's because I'm envisioning a heel too far to one side to make any type of cooking comfortable? I wonder, as I watch Dave do rounds, checking lines and rigging, talk to his engine, if I'm thinking about all sorts of dramatic fails in our boat which is leading to knots in my tummy that need untangling. The more I know? The more I know I don't know or is it the more I know that makes me worry? {{ sigh }}

And then, like this passage for example, once we settle into the groove, and get a feel for the motion of the ocean, breathe in the warm breezes, feel the sun in our skin, and the salty decks under our toes, then all of a sudden all feels well. At least we're not beating to Windward like the last few passages, a necessary but certain Not Fun evil !

Time passed by quickly on Sunday. Breakfast rolled into lunch (tuna sandwiches) and supper followed right after. Where'd the hours go? When I mention I prepped meals, all I did for the last few nights while we were in Matthewtown was make extra of whatever we were having each night, saving the extra portions. So all I would have to do while en route is reheat, add some goodies, and voila... one pot hash I call it. Simple. Or if conditions were too brisk, we could eat it all cold if need be. Tonight we had leftover rice, broccoli and BBQ chicken to which I added fried onions, carrots. Spices, soya sauce and Sri Racha. Yum.

We settle into watches. The Capt'N is keenly aware of the traffic separation scheme off the E coast of Cuba, at Mayo Point.

This is a designated large boat transit area, to stay out of. You don't want to get too close to Cuba either, or you may get hailed by their watchful eyes. I try and sleep but can't. He does for a bit. Then it's my turn. And why am I so hungry at night when we've not walked a single step all day?

We're sailing beautifully along, and Banyan's back in Caribbean waters. Water temperatures are 32 C.

A few milestones come to mind: for me personally, one of them was when we sailed by the Statue of Liberty. Sailing by the oil platforms on our way to Trinidad. But sailing on the southern coast of Cuba? On our way to Jamaica? Never wouldve imagined I'd be doing that! Fun!

Once we're out of the transit area, we turn to starboard, staying out of the line of the cargo and cruise ships. Traffic jams appear! And all along the breezes blow allowing us to downwind sail in, keeping us going at speeds that might require us to have to slow ourselves down {{ as we really don't relish the thought of arriving and anchoring in Port Antonio in the dark. }} Not Fun.

So for now, on reefed job and main, we're speedily moving along a 4.5 nm/hour, which, although the Capt'N is smiling, is not quite his cup of tea, because he KNOWS Banyan could be sailing a lot faster, in these conditions.

Tuesday arrival during daylight is best, so as not to have to enter an unknown to us anchorage at night, and avoid any holiday overtime fees for C&I.

I finally get my allotted thee hours sleep, but wake up with a wee headache. I stumble looking for Advil. The constant corkscrewing has rendered my body weak and my muscles constantly compensating for the rock and roll of a moving platform. My brain is still asleep because I forget to gimbal the stove, and the coffee brewing goes flying to the ground, brown liquid gold and grains everywhere! You don't need to be a sailor to curse, how could I be so stupid? Not Fun! No damage done except a mess on the floor, under floorboard, walls and carpet. There goes some of that water we just made. Not a fun way to start any morning. Especially because I only had three mornings of coffee rations left, and having to redo a pot? We're now a day short. Not fun.

In the afternoon Banyan had some illegal visitors! Three of them made us their home for a wee while,

getting a rest and getting a Birds Eye view of our destination, eh?

But he got a wee bit scared when he realized he couldn't fly through the Glass of the Dodger, and needed the Bird Whisperer to come to the rescue.

Double the Fun. A card game before supper? Sure, and I won, FUN! Followed by a One pot supper (pork tenderloin, potates, veggies). And then the winds died and we had to resort to motoring. Not enough wind and flat calm seas surround us as we try to avoid the biggest of the sargassum patches. We were anticipating some evening winds, but they never showed. Thankfully we motored at 3.5 nm/hour and the current pushing us at 1 kn, helped keep our speed at 4.5. Talk about efficient fuel consumption.

The sunset a great ball of red fire. The stars, even brighter than the night before. The moon-rise in hues of reds and oranges. We do two-three hour watches, grunting and mumbling the passage info to each other as we tiredly pass in the companionway, shedding our lifejackets and embracing our pillows down below. And the person left in the cockpit watches for signs of life out there. Only one non-AIS relatively small cargo ship crossed miles off our bow, headed to Haiti, by the Marpa tracks its radar pings left on the chartplotter. Interesting to see old radar technology at work, fun!

In the distance, heat lightning illuminates the skies every now and then. Not so fun to think about lightning strikes as I look up at our mast. I watch the miles count down, fun.

See the twinkles of Land off in the distance? Land Ho?

I wake up the Capt'N just half hour short of sunrise.

As I know how much he wanted to see the sun rise as we're pointing towards the lush mountains of Jamaica.

We're heading in like Flynn {{ play on words since we're expected at the Errol Flynn Marina ! }}

A new Island awaits! Jamaica, 'mon!

Land ByeBye and Land Ho

18 April 2019 | Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas
Sometimes we play a game while on Passage. Who will be the first to spot land and shout ""Land Ho""? We don't really win anything, except bragging rights dutifully debated over Arrival Beers as we enjoy the new sights, sounds and smells that is our anchored home for the night.

We spent a few days in the surprisingly protected anchorage that is the bay in Clarencetown, Long Island. While out there the winds blew (20+ knots, SE), we could hear the howling, see the surf pounding the reefs. Anchored in close by Strachan Cay we were quite comfortable in the very mild chop and an occasional surgey swell.

No conditions that either one of us needed to make mention of. Which was a relief given the negative comments this place received. Which annoys me to no end. Many cruisers take the time to write a comment, but neglect to mention the weather details, which is OhSo important! One review wrote it was the worst place ever, and they actually escaped to the seas out there as it was better and safer for them than in here. Wait, what? We were left wondering what type of weather this poor sailboat was being exposed to. Was it going to be the same coming conditions that we were going to be seeking refuge from? The posted comment held no information whatsoever, all we had was our own experience given the charts we were looking at, the weather details that were being forecasted, and hope for the best. We had nowhere else to go, and the Flying Fish Marina was full.

We were busy planning our next passage, this time to Matthewtown, Great Inagua. Route details revealed a distance of approximately 150 nm, and at our anticipated 6nm/hour, we calculated approximately 24 hours of sailing time. All depending on how the winds blew, and the currents would run.

The front has passed and the trades were slowly coming back. Time for us to leave. This time we were a little more vigilant. We had towed our dinghy {{ minus the outboard }} during our last two passages {{ from Georgetown to to Conception Island, and there to Clarencetown }} in the hopes that we would get ashore, but that didn't come to pass. This time though, when the winds abated, the dinghy went on deck.

We sorted the lazarette and made the life raft and ditch bag more accessible. Tightened the rigging. Prepped a meal {{ split pea, ham and pasta stew }}, baked some oatmeal shortbread {{my son-in-law's famous recipe }}. We washed some laundry, bucket style. And we responsibly filed a Route Plan with our friends and family. And that my dear family, friends and followers, is how the winds for our passage died.

Because, you know that the more ready you are, the calmer the sail is, right?!

We thought about leaving sometime after lunch, confirmed by Chris Parker's E-mail {{ our SSB was still not working }}. He clarified that the winds would be calm to non-existent in the morning, and were supposed to pick up in the afternoon sometime. As our morning coffee was perking, we knew we had to make power and water anyway, and no sense running the engine for 3 hours while staying still in the anchorage, right?

Anchors aweigh 09:00 am. and once clear of the reefy bits, we raised the main, ousted the jib and with enough wind out there {{ isn't there always 5+ knots more than predicted? }} we motor-sailed nicely along on a close reach, with beautiful breezes in calm ocean swells, generating power and filling our water tanks. Noice!

After lunch, the Capt'N napped and the winds died, so I brought in the jib, and watched the crystal clear waters in depths below me too large for the depth sounder to record. Impressive. Countless flying fish. Some planes overhead. And one beautiful large shades of brown Osprey glide right past me, as curious about me as I was about him left wondering what he was doing out here in the middle of ocean waters, far from land, with nowhere to land. No Land Ho for him.

And then, sometime in the late afternoon the winds slowly reappeared, first as cats paws on the water, then becoming quite consistent and from the same direction. Is there hope? Slowly the speeds started to increase. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12... here we go. What a great sound when the engine gets turned off.

One of us is always gazing out. Watching for anything around us. Weather. Debris. Other travellers. Today though, we only encountered three other ships, two MotorYacht Vessels and one Cruise Ship.

We were flying along at 6+ knots for a few hours, nice! And bonus? Being in the lee of Crooked Acklins Cays, the motion of the ocean, and the current, were negligible. Perfect time to have our stew and grilled cheese sandwiches. With cookies for dessert.

After supper dishes were cleaned up and we noticed an increase in the wind. Prudent practice for nighttime sailing in these conditions had us discussing reefing the main, so while there was daylight we did just that. One reef in the main, check.

Came back on course, and what? Our speed had increased?! Definitely more wind than predicted, by 5 knots.

Dave turned downwind, as I spill the main, and pulled in some jib and then he pointed us back on track. And we watched that that maneuver did nothing to our speed. In fact, we were going faster.

Do you know how hard it is to slow yourself down with increasing beam reach winds? It took three tries to get the jib reefed to satisfactory night-time speeds!

Sunsets at sea though?

Never disappoint.

Lighthouse Ho! It was night-time and we couldn't discern land form sea, disappointed that we wouldn't get to see Castle Rock lighthouse in the light of day.

The moon however did its best to grant us our wish, and we could just make out the distinctive white building as it stood tall on Castle Island, no turning light visible to warn mariners of the dangers that lay around it. The seas got a little confused in this area, the current died, and winds were coming around the cape.

The minutes and hours tick-tocked the night away, and it was the absence of sound that alerted us sometime before sunrise.Banyan's movement through the water slowed right down. Squall!

Usually when a squall appears,the winds prep you into anxious action stations. This one had our winds die to nothing, and we floundered around as we checked radar, which depicted a bit of a conga cluster line of pink blobs. Rain! We were on the outer edges of it, our and thankfully the only casualty was a wet Capt'Ns butt. Engines On and OnOn!

Once clear of the disturbed air, the winds quickly re-established themselves and we were happy for the reef already in place. We were gliding though the water at 7+ knots, however making somewhere between 5-6 knots speed over ground. Damn Current ! {{ Sigh }}

With the sunrise, the Capt'N happily yelled "LandHo" and as I gazed out there, and saw nothing, I told him he was seeing things! Great Inagua was another low lying Bahamian Cay, and I was seeing nothing on the horizon or anywhere around me that I could even pretend to call land. It wasn't until after breakfast sometime that I confirmed LandHo myself, the tips of the cell towers just barley visible through the binoculars. I had to admit he won that call.

Then off in the distance we could see a mountain of white. And a conveyor belt. Wait, what? Morton Sea Salt comes from here {{ one of the stops we'd like to visit if our timing allows.}}

"I estimate we have another 12 miles to go..." Said Dave. Which is where and when I got cranky. Seeing land gives the mind a false impression that we are so close to our destination. And after 24 hours at sea, my dreams got squashed knowing we had two more HOURS left to go. In the grand scheme of life, it's not much, but cranky doesn't own reason or perspectives.

So while HE was having a grand ole time, using every puff of wind to round us up, keep us sailing, pinching us closer to our target. I was getting crankier from lack of sleep, from too much movement, from the heeling, from the water splashing on deck after the rain had rinsed us clean. Everything! And getting mouthier each time we heeled our fenders into the water. Thank goodness my Capt'N has sailor ears.

Gerry, our friend and Justice of the Peace who married us {{ on the boat, many moons ago }} had it right when he said that the true test of our vows and love for each other would be while we were out here, living our dream. I think he might've been right.

"Well, hello Banyan" said the very pleasant sounding Matthewtown dockmaster, promptly retuning our hail on VHF 16. "My name is George. I am sorry to let you know but the Matthewtown Port is closed to all vessels and traffic today. You cannot come in. We apologize, but you see, there are celebrations happening." He provided us with anchoring options, and mentioned that maybe later in the day, after 5, the port might reopen.

Our Land Ho, was a NoGo! We anchored in the north side of the bay, very close to shore, in about 10 feet of water. Organized ourselves, our sails, and the boat. Banyan's hull swaying in the slight surge and roll, bow to the breezy winds, in crystal clear waters, but when the winds died, we'd swing over and roll with the slight surge. Weather was incoming sometime during the night, and our tired selves didn't relish the prospect of being out here when it did. But, it's not like we had any other choice.

An Arrival Beer, lunch, and the Capt'N fell asleep before he finished either. He slept through most of the Sécurité messages from the Royal Bahamaiam Defence force, precisely timed at 30 minute intervals, enthusiastically voicing that "the Matthewtown Port is hereby closed to all marine vessels and traffic, I say again, the Matthewtown Port is closed all marine vessels and traffic".

Not tired enough, or perhaps too tired to sleep, I couldn't settle. I tidied up, prepped some dough for pizza, and listened to at least 4 planes fly over us as they landed.

We were near the airport runway but it still seemed unusual that this little Bahamian Island would have so much air traffic. All in one afternoon. And two of these planes looked pretty darn fancy. I mused that maybe there were some special visitors being flown in for whatever celebrations were happening in the Port that had the Port closed to all marine vessels and traffic?

Right at 5 p.m. the Sécurité broadcast again, but this time the Capt'N got up, and we discussed our options. Stay where we were or motor the one hour to Man O War Bay, a potentially better Anchorage for the night, and motor one hour back the following morning. Fuel was precious now, we were guarding every last drop, two hours of motoring was not on the agenda. We chose to stay put. LandHo was so close, yet so far.

Then the next broadcast at five minutes short of 5:30, had the voice announcing that the Sécurité was lifted, and the port was resuming normal operations. LandHo?

I had already prepped the lines and fenders, just in case {{ never underestimate the power of positive thinking my friends }}

The Mathewtown Dockmaster was far from port as the hails to come alongside started. We could barely make out his words in the static that is distance, but caught enough to know we could come in, and he would be there soon. There were two other boats anhcored in the south side anchorage and we surmised that they must've been asked to leave the docks earlier that day.

We passed by two Haitian boats as we entered the bay, noticed the large rocky wall was breaking some of the slight surge and swell, and were surprised that the whole port area, was both bigger and yet somehow smaller than we had envisioned. The brand new wooden docks immediately beckoning their empty spaces ahead of us, and the Defence Force boat cleaning up from whatever celebrating had been happening here.

The boat that had arrived before us helped us with our lines {{ sweet }} and just as the last fender was in place, George, having just arrived, strolled over to welcome us.

"Welcome... " he said, with a smile and a handshake.

LandHo! For real. For now.
Vessel Name: Banyan
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 40 Sun Odyssey
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: David & Alexandra
Welcome Aboard. I'm Alexandra, and if I'm not out Adventuring with Camera in Hand, or cheffing up a storm in my galley, I'm looking to pirate some WiFi to upload our latest tales (with way too many photos) about our most recent adventures. [...]
Extra: CHART YOUR COURSE: Our destiny is shaped by our thoughts and actions. We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.
Banyan's Photos - Main
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Photos from the first ever sailing Regatta to raise money for Breast Cancer research
12 Photos
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Photos from our cruise on Mahone Bay.
13 Photos
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Our baby
7 Photos
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The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!