Leela Year Five - Heading to the Pacific

15 May 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
09 May 2019 | Medellin, Colombia
01 May 2019 | Medellin, Colombia
26 April 2019 | Medellin, Colombia
17 April 2019 | Cusco, Peru
03 April 2019 | Arequipa, Peru
23 March 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
17 March 2019
16 March 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
07 March 2019 | Gatun Lake, Panama
03 March 2019
03 March 2019 | Fort Sherman, Panama
19 February 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
11 February 2019 | Rio Diablo, San Blas
02 February 2019 | Combombier, San Blas, Panama
02 February 2019 | Nargana, Panama
02 February 2019 | Rio Diablo
28 January 2019 | Saladarup, San Blas Islands
27 January 2019 | Salaradup, San Blas, Panama
27 January 2019 | Salaradup, San Blas, Panama

Miami

10 January 2014
The ride from Fort Lauderdale was brutal but mercifully short. The forecast 21kt gusts turned out to be 35kts with a big stern quartering sea and lots of rain. It was the first time we managed to submerge the cabin port lights on the lee side. Way too exciting. After a three hour thrash we were very happy to sail up Government Cut and into Miami harbor. Still much more satisfying to arrive this way than plodding down the Intercoastal.

We have now been anchored behind Miami Beach for a couple of days, taking in the scene and doing last-minute chores. As befits Miami Beach the ladies managed to rent a red Mustang convertible. They assured us that it was the last car on the lot....... It certainly feels like the right car to cruise South Beach even if we are a bit long in the tooth for that pastime.
We are hoping to head for The Bahamas tomorrow morning - at last - two months to get here was a bit of a shock. We might need to brave the Bermuda run next time.

Well - That was Embarassing.....

06 January 2014
A lesson I should already know. When you change the plan make a new plan. We spent most of today plodding down the ICW towards Miami only to find that we do not fit under the last fixed bridge. Someone else can explain why ALL the other fixed bridges are 65' then the last one is 55' but the fact was not hidden and a very little research would have turned it up - oh well.....

So tomorrow it is back to Fort Lauderdale to set up for an outside run to Miami on Wednesday - more bridge practice - what fun! Anyway, there is no rush. The window for the Gulf Stream crossing opens on Saturday. Right now we have a great anchorage in Oleta state park with excellent shelter from the norther that is currently building up. We had a fine Mexican dinner on Kuivato, with dinghy service included, all is well.

A Change of Plan

04 January 2014
After a week in North Palm Beach that included great visits with old friends we tired of marinas, freeways and Malls and needed to be on the move. Unfortunately there were no realistic weather windows to cross the Gulf Stream. This is a non-trivial activity. We are getting a lot of northers at the moment and, in opposition to the Gulf Stream current, they produce extremely dangerous seas - short and steep. So we have looked at our plan, talked to a lot of people with more experience than us (not difficult...) and flipped things around. Instead of heading over to the Abacos from Palm Beach we are planning the following vague itinerary: Miami, Bimini, The Berry Islands, The Exumas, Eleuthera, The Abacos, home. This works better for the weather. Gets us clear of the northers sooner and sets up the run home well. The only downside at the moment are all the bridges on the ICW from Palm Beach to Miami ('outside' is ugly at the moment)h. Many of the bridges open on a schedule and our timing is not working great at the moment so it involves a lot of floating around waiting for a bridge to open. My theory is that this will condition our patience to get us ready for 'island time'. We need to work on it.....

Anyway we are on our way south again , three bridges navigated twenty two to go - argh!


End of the east coast run

28 December 2013
Made it to Palm Beach. It is much more developed here so it will be good to get to the islands. We are going to be here a while sorting stuff out and getting ready for the trip. This is likely to be a tad boring so we will be off the air until we make the crossing. Have a wonderful new year!
G&J

One more US leg to go

27 December 2013
We had a good day today and made it to Jensen Beach which is only about 30 miles from our jumping-off point of Lake Worth Inlet. As a bonus we managed to sail a good part of the afternoon which made a great change from all the chugging we gave been doing.

Dolphins for company

26 December 2013
The water is warmer now and there are a LOT of dolphins. They like to ride our secondary wave which puts them just alongside the helm - very nice but a bit distracting....



We are now rocking around in a windy anchorage just off Melbourne Beach.

Christmas Day

25 December 2013 | 28 50.91'n:80 47.55'w
Had a lovely day today. One of the best. Slept in, rare for us, then had a long lazy breakfast before setting off for a short journey to Mosquito Lagoon where we anchored about a mile from the back of the beach and dinghied over for a walk on the beach. We have just had dinner floating in this huge empty space. It is quite wonderful after the bustle of St. Augustine.

Happy Christmas!

25 December 2013
Happy Christmas from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. We hope this finds you all well and looking forward to 2014.

Best wishes from Graham & Janaki

A slightly humbling experience....

24 December 2013
So - there we were tearing down the Intercoastal with the Genoa flying, thinking "we have got this cracked" when the helmsman (G) fell asleep at the wheel and missed a turn. We learnt some stuff really fast, such as; it is really hard to stop a boat quickly when running under sail and you definitely cannot reverse....
Anyway we ended up hard aground. There was good news; first it was soft mud and second it was dead low tide so it was not going to get worse - apart from a brisk breeze trying to blow us further onto the mud.
We had read about it in the books and been to the Nigel Calder seminar so here was a chance to try it. We launched the dinghy and I rowed the stern anchor out into deeper water. I then ran it through a block to the masthead on a halyard and proceeded to winch Leela onto her side while Janaki reversed the engine. To our surprise she started to break free with only about 10deg of heel. At first she just pivoted round in the mud which at least had her pointing to deeper water (all 6' of it.....) but I had to derig everything and move it to the other side. That done we pulled her over again and Janaki managed to drive her off the mud so that we could put down our bow anchor and sort out the mess before moving on (without the sail up...).
Lots of lessons learned and we are now in New Smyrna Beach and heading out to dinner. Phew......

St. Augustine

20 December 2013
After a brief visit to Jacksonville we are now hanging off a mooring in the very pretty town of St. Augustine. The sun is shining, it feels warm, there are dolphins and turtles in the water - maybe we have arrived..... In fact there are a lot of cruisers who appear to have stopped here but not for us. We will spend a few days here relaxing and catching up on boat projects then head down to Palm Beach ready for the crossing to the Bahamas.

It was actually warm enough to dive this morning so I replaced the missing anode on our prop, a job that should get increasingly easy as the water warms.

We are in Florida....

19 December 2013
What can you say? Actually the waterway here is very pretty but there is a lot of expensive real estate - not always to our tastes....

Cumberland Island

17 December 2013
We have just spent a lovely couple of days on Cumberland Island. It was still cold and windy when we arrived but it cleared up and has been cool and sunny. The island is covered in wonderful live oak trees and the east side is a great beach. I have posted more photos in the album.

There are some pretty strange creatures on the island....


It is still COLD

16 December 2013
What is wrong with this picture? We have sailed over a thousand miles and we are still able to see our breath when we wake up.... Unpacking the sleeping bags for the third time now. I guess we just keep heading south.

We had a lovely restful day in St. Mary's GA yesterday waiting for the rain to stop then sailed over to an anchorage at Cumberland Island where we plan to go for a walk today then it is back on the journey south. The forecast is for gradual warming this week - bring it on! We were treated to a glorious sunset as the last of the front went through.

The Christmas Lights

13 December 2013
What can I say?..... Janaki is VERY happy.

Chandelier construction: Take one Home Depot solar garden light. Cut or break off stake. Thread cord through resulting hole in base and knot to secure. Hang to display. Invert to charge.

Anchoring South of Brunswick

13 December 2013
End of a pretty good day

Outside

13 December 2013
Well, we got a bit bored with the ICW and decided to go outside for the day and get down to Cumberland Island before the forecast rain. The first few hours were a blast with a stiff breeze



but now the wind has died and the swell has not so it is a tad unpleasant.... We are motoring with a close hauled jib to act as a roll damper which seems to help a bit. Only a few more hours.....

UPDATE
This is supposed to be fun. We have tired of this demented slow motion roller coaster so we are heading in for Brunswick. Cumberland Island will still be there tomorrow.

UPDATE 2
Suffering has its reward. The wind came up and we had a fabulous sunset sail into St. Simon's Sound (pic above).

Back to the wilds

12 December 2013
We had a good time in Savannah, We went for walks around the town, went to a great open mike at a funky little cafe and did boat chores. This time it was an engine service. One day we will have a chore-free stopover but not yet.

We are now rafted up on our anchor in a remote inlet on an apparently unending marshland. The sky is clear and the water so calm that you can look at the reflection of the stars. It is amazing but not photographable at least not with an iPhone.....

Heading onwards towards Jacksonville FL in the morning.

Savannah

09 December 2013
Another transformation - from the wilds of the low country to the city dock in downtown Savannah - surrounded by tourists, paddle boats, tugs and huge container vessels heading upriver.
We really like this town. It is more mixed than the pristine affluence of Charleston and generally more interesting. The city is laid out with a grid of beautiful squares filled with Live Oaks. The college of art and design occupies a good deal of downtown giving the place a funky feel. All good AND it is warm! Loving it.

Fog on the Savannah River

09 December 2013
Using our radar to good effect today but the sun is trying to peek through.

09 December 2013
Diane took this photo of us from Kuivato.

On towards Savannah

08 December 2013
The cold front had consequences. Today was as unpleasantly cold and damp as any we have had so far. All our optimistically packed cold weather gear came back out and we ended up popping into Beaufort SC for lunch and a warm up. We are now anchored near the mouth of the Beaufort River and we should get to Savannah tomorrow afternoon.

South from Charleston

07 December 2013
We really enjoyed Charleston but the hot weather was not going to last and we needed to keep moving south so we set off into the South Carolina Low Country. Again, it was beautiful, sparse and remote. At times the indigenous palms gave it an almost tropical feel. We found a great sheltered anchorage on the Ashepoo River where we slept peacefully as a cold front passed through.

Charleston SC - warmth at last

04 December 2013
We were hoping for a change after re run from Beaufort but this is way better than expected. We have gone from bibs and foulies to tee shirts and sunglasses. It won't last but we sure are enjoying it for now and we don't expect the deep cold of the past couple of weeks to return. We will spend a couple of days here then head down the ICW toward Georgia. Dawn today was beautifully misty.

Dolphins at Dawn

03 December 2013
We headed out of Beaufort yesterday morning for an overnight run past Cape Fear to Charleston. We were rewarded with an escort of dolphins as the sun came up. That happened several times during a dark and moonless night. One one occasion there was photoluminescence in the water and all I saw was these pale green glows streaking by under the water. It was very surreal. Actually sailing fast at night is pretty surreal in its own right.



Now, after some great sailing, we are motoring through a completely windless second dawn (photo above) and expecting to get to Charleston at about 3pm. Close to the 36hrs we anticipated.

Hanging out in Beaufort

01 December 2013
Graham
This feels like vacation! A little shopping, sitting in caf├ęs, chatting with other sailors. We had a lovely dinner last night with Tim and Diane from Kuivato and Scot and Jenny onboard their Bristol 47.7 Strider. Thinking about heading out at 4am tomorrow to catch some wind to Charleston.

The Sail to Beaufort

01 December 2013
From Bay River we had an awesome sail down the Neuse River. The wind was brisk from the NE and we averaged over 7kts down to the canal leading to Beaufort, arriving there several hours earlier than planned. It was fun tying up beside a restaurant after the remoteness of the previous few days. It actually feels a bit warmer here with flowers still in bloom so I guess we really are heading south....

Pongo River and south

29 November 2013
Graham
A delightful couple of days spent in the backwaters of NC. It was incredibly remote and quiet with only a few other sailboats for company. The first night was an anchorage at the head of the Alligator River. It was desolate and beautiful. After leaving the Alligator River canal we sailed down the Pongo River, across the Pamlico River and on to a very quiet anchorage in Bay River. Again we tested our anchoring skills by rafting our friend on Kuivato.

To the Alligator River

28 November 2013
Graham
Woke up to a hard freeze after two days of rain. It was interesting trying to undo dock lines that were stiffer than our boat hook as you can see in this picture of Tim from Kuivato, our partner boat. Once we got going with the wind behind us it felt a lot warmer although the ice has still not melted. We are heading for an anchorage at the end of the river and should get there just after dark - another new experience, anchoring in the dark. The trip continues to stretch us in many different ways.

The ICW to Elizabeth City

27 November 2013
After the excitement of our run to Norfolk we enjoyed the relaxing pace of chugging down the ICW with Kuivato. We got the hang of bridges and locks pretty fast and then it was cruising. Another bad blow was forecast so we took refuge in Lambs Marina in Elizabeth City. It was a great experience; a berth, power and a courtesy car for $35 per night was a VERY different experience to the pricy joints around Norfolk.
Graham

After passing under the first of the lift bridges south of Norfolk, we took a right turn into the Dismal Swamp. Water the color of black tea, old forest trees leaning in on each side, the occasional eagle or formation of geese overhead, we proceeded for the whole day, docking for the night at the North Carolina visitor center. Five boats were tied up there that night so we rafted up with Kuivato, and enjoyed a cozy dinner together while the night cooled down to below freezing again. Waiting out the storm in Elizabeth City was the perfect opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving, if a day early. Kuivato provided the turkey, stuffing, delicious cranberry sauce, potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie ( actually that sounds like just about everything, sorry guys). No wait, we contributed green beans, baked parsnips, appetizers, mussels, tofu and mushrooms, pecan pie. What a meal. Transporting the various dishes between boats in the rain and across the uneven docks proved eventful at times but all was well in the end, and a good experiment in shipboard dinner party planning.
Janaki

Hanging out in Virginia

23 November 2013
We spent a few days in Hampton VA and Portsmouth VA waiting on a storm to pass. Here we managed to meet up with Jeff and Molly onboard Chanticleer and Tim and Diane onboard Kuivato so it was a little home gathering.

The Blast to Norfolk

20 November 2013
Our first overnighter was an amazing experience. We battled out of Atlantic Highlands to round Sandy Point in a 25kt+ northwester. There was so much water coming over the boat that our Dan Buoy went off in the cockpit. It was truly horrible. Once we rounded Sandy Point it was another story. The wind was strong but steady on a broad reach. Our original plan had been to stop over in Cape May but conditions were just so good, with the wind rarely dropping below 20kts, that we decided to run straight for Norfolk. We made the run in 36hrs at over 7kts. It was an awesome experience sailing at that pace through the night with the lights of towns far off to the west. The wind swung NE during the night and the seas built up to produce an interesting surfing action but Leela felt as steady as ever and we got used to the motion - and the 2hr watches. Crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake in the dark of the second night was interesting. The genoa furler jammed and we had to drop the sail with it still blowing 20kts+ so we were extremely pleased to limp into Little Creek just inside the Chesapeake bridge/tunnel at 1am.

New York City

18 November 2013
We were pretty nervous about going down the East River but it turned out to be a great day. The weather was wonderful, the traffic was manageable and we had a good sail down the Hudson and then on to Atlantic Highlands for fuel and the night. AH was not a great experience, the berth was bumpy in the very strong northwesterly and the staff pretty unfriendly. Our only bad experience to date so no big deal. We were still looking at great conditions for the outside run to Norfolk, VA.

Long Island Sound

17 November 2013
Long Island Sound was pretty light and uneventful. We used the spinnaker for the first time on this journey but even that failed us after a while and the motor went on.
We stopped over in Mattituck and Port Washington. Mattituck was our first night at anchor but there was zero wind and I suspect we could have just drifted... I'm sure it will get more interesting later :-).

Greenport

14 November 2013
We had an awesome sail from Newport to Greenport. The wind was perfect and we managed to average about 7kts all day. It was still VERY cold but the sun shone and it felt a lot better than the previous day. We spent a couple of lovely days in Greenport with our Friends Anna and Sten and their kids Cairo and Aida. It was, as always, a delight, made better by having sailed there. After five days of hard work we had managed to get a five hour drive distance from home! This is a very strange way to travel.

Buzzards Bay

12 November 2013
This was a doozy.... We squirted through the canal at a great pace on an ideal tide. We were just congratulating ourselves on the pace when Buzzards Bay laid on its traditional welcome. The wind swung onto our nose and steadily climbed until it was gusting 35kts.


Not quite satisfied with this it started to snow - yuck. After a few hours of wet, cold and rough we dumped our plan for Block Island, turned on the engine and headed for Newport RI as quickly as we could. The shower at the marina was very welcome.

To the Cape Cod Canal

11 November 2013
This was a mix of great sailing and some motoring. We did short days to get settled in and took three days to get to the canal. It was largely uneventful other than snagging our mooring pennant in Scituate.... Our gratitude to Fran who messed up his day to help free us up and remained graceful despite our clear stupidity and trashing one of his pennants.

On our way

09 November 2013 | Portsmouth, NH
Graham
I guess we should have started this blog when we got the boat but I'm not sure scenes of (dis)repair and a smoldering credit card would have been that interesting. We purchased Leela in the summer of 2012 and have spent most of the intervening time getting her 'cruise-ready'. It has generally been a fun process. We spent more than intended and did more than intended but we are very happy with the result. When I get more time I will try and document some of the more interesting things we have done but right now we are OFF! Working on the 'JUST GO!' adage we finally threw all the things we thought we would need and all the unfinished projects onto the boat and headed out. Home was still very pretty when we left but we had enjoyed most of the fall colors (something we will no doubt pay for later...). Our friends Karin and Steve threw us a fun party the night before we left.
Vessel Name: Leela
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 38.8
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, NH
Crew: Graham and Janaki
About:
We are a Brit and an Australian now based in the wonderful community of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We have a delightful home there but a couple of years ago we began to feel a bit over-domesticated so we thought we would buy another boat and head south. [...]
Extra:
Leela, a Bristol 38.8 has turned out to be a wonderful cruising boat for us. Some might find it a little cramped by modern standards but it feels like just the right balance of living space and storage to us. She sails like a dream. She is remarkably well balanced and is comfortable in pretty [...]
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