As the end of our stay in Puerto Rico approaches, it's time to wrap up our Eastern Caribbean circuit... we had a wonderful four months of cruising up and down the islands and were lucky enough to also to share this with friends. On the sail from Anguilla to Culebra we brainstormed our personal little "best of" list for the Eastern Caribbean which can be found here
. We also added a new album to the photo gallery
, covering the stretch from Antigua to Puerto Rico. It is sad to leave these lovely, friendly islands behind and face the long haul north now, but as a friend advised, we are trying to avoid "protracted Sunday night blues". After all, we still have 3 months of our sabbaticals left and more islands and ports to explore ahead.
During our first week here in Puerto del Rey on the east coast of Puerto Rico, Nana's mother visited and we got to see some of the island by rental car, including a ferry trip to Vieques (Markus also paid a visit to the Bahamas to get a visa for the US, see previous post). The second week here has been mostly taken up by getting the boat ready for the trip to Maine, working down the to-do list that we had postponed until we were in a marina again (rigging repairs, re-aligning the engine, ...). Luckily, our friends from Arearea caught up with us again this week, so got to enjoy some time with them as well. It is wonderful to see Nicky reunited with Dante as we are still very lonely for Sea Bright (they are currently in Panama, awaiting a slot to transit the canal).
Our friend Bill who will join us for part of the way north will arrive here on Saturday May 3rd and - weather permitting - we plan to set sail on Sunday. Rather than going via Bermuda to Maine we now plan to go roughly northwest from here, along the Turks & Caicos and Bahamas to make landfall in Beaufort, North Carolina. From there it will be a couple of shorter hops (200-400nm) up the East Coast to get us to Portland, Maine, hopefully by the first week of June. While May is generally considered a good month for a passage to Bermuda, the second leg from Bermuda to Maine would likely have been a game of luck, especially since it also involves crossing the Gulf Stream at its widest point. We looked at some historical data (hourly observations from weather buoys) for May 2005 and 2006 and in those years it would have been a real challenge to find a suitable weather window for a Bermuda-Maine passage on our little family cruiser (we've posted the data here
if you're interested). While the alternative route along the Bahamas and up the US East Coast is considerably longer than the Bermuda-Maine option, it does provide a number of ports along the way that we can pull into if we need to wait out some bad weather.
We'll keep you posted along the way - stay tuned...