19 May 2010 | Indiantown, FL
17 May 2010 | Bahamas
02 May 2010 | Georgetown, Exuma
22 April 2010 | Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma
22 April 2010 | Georgetown, Exuma
08 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
05 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
02 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
26 March 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
19 March 2010 | Boqueron, PR
14 March 2010 | Ponce,P.R.
06 March 2010 | British Virgin Islands
06 March 2010 | British Virgin Islands
14 February 2010 | At sea
14 February 2010 | Nevis
05 February 2010 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
27 January 2010 | Portsmouth, Dominica
22 January 2010 | Portsmouth, Dominica
08 January 2010 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
08 January 2010 | St. Lucia

Staging for the passage

19 March 2010 | Boqueron, PR
We are sitting in the bay at Boqueron, Puerto Rico tonight (3-15) after arriving from
Ponce around 2pm. Tonight was one of the most impressive green flashes I have ever
seen. Three other cruisers came in this afternoon but they are all headed East instead of
North. It's looking like we will make that passage solo. Looking back at our first year, I
realize we would never have considered going from the BVI to the Bahamas by ourselves
back then. It has been a huge learning experience and a great confidence builder for both
of us. Once again I will say, "If we can do it, anyone can". I wrote that last sentence
yesterday evening. All the boats we heard on the VHF radio were heading East. Today
we met a Canadian boat headed North so now we have a boat to travel with on the long
passage. The boat name is "Sea Star eh". Canadian boats are not allowed to have the
same name so if there is already a Sea Star you can be Sea Star II or III or however
many IIIIVs are required to be an original name. He didn't want to be Sea Star VIII so he
decided on a slightly modified name. No one doubts he is Canadian and he is the only
one. Chris Parker (our weather guru) says we will have good wind, decent seas and no
squalls Saturday night thru Tuesday. Quite a few boats have come into the bay today but
we didn't notice which way they came from. We may get another boat or two for the trip.
Sea Star eh is a 36' C&C Landfall so she should be cruising about our speed. Boqueron is
a nice little town. It is a vacation town with a nice beach and every weekend and holiday
it parties hard. Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. What, you didn't know Puerto Ricans had
Irish heritage? Just like we all become Hispanic on "Cinco de Mayo". Any excuse for a
party. It's Wednesday evening and we just got back aboard from dinner at a local
restaurant. Everyone was wearing green and there was a tall gentleman in a kilt playing
the bagpipe. Sadly, I didn't have the camera with me because it would have been a great
blog photo. What I am going to describe next will be common knowledge to many of you
but for those who do not have experience cruising, this is part of the job. Navigation.
Cruising isn't simply going from one beautiful anchorage to another. You have to be sure
there aren't other islands or at a minimum, shallow places between where you are and
where you want to go. As I plan for this long passage to Big Sandy Cay from Puerto Rico
I take the charts and decide where if at all I want to stop and anchor along the way. The
rhum (straight) line between P.R. and B.S.C. isn't near any land so I decide on a long,
direct trip. I plan my route out of Boqueron Bay through some shallow water to a
waypoint on the chart where I will start the straight line to BSC. I draw a line from that
waypoint to one near BSC and make sure it doesn't cross shallows. Next I mark several
waypoints along that line so I can easily check my progress as we move along. I will
mark the time we pass those points to keep a record of where we were at what time. I will
estimate our speed (not easy) based on our known speed with the engine only in decent
seas plus wind speed and direction if we have it. The weather forecast says good wind
direction and speed. I estimate on the low end, six knots, but expect to do better, maybe
six and a half. Better than that is gravy. I plan the total time required for the passage and
decide what time I should leave so that I will arrive at my destination in daylight. Coming
up to an island in the dark is no fun especially if you are not familiar with it. If I'm lucky
my departure point is straight out into open sea and I can leave in the dark if I need to. In
this case there is shallow water along the west coast of P.R. so I need daylight here as
well. We will leave about noon on Saturday and 48-50 hours later we will arrive off BSC
about noon Monday. This gives me a daylight arrival if I am six hours early of six hours
late. Every passage gets the same treatment though many are simpler that this one. The
picture is self explanatory, my marked up chart for this passage.
Vessel Name: Unchained
Vessel Make/Model: 38' Beneteau
Hailing Port: Knoxville, TN
Crew: Bill & Sue Shafer
We have been sailing about ten years (lots of schools and bare boat charters in those years). Sue grew up in Midland, TX and Bill in Knoxville, TN where we have a home. We are members of Concord Yacht Club in Knoxville (Great people & very supportive). [...]
Extra: Unchained is a 1991 Beneteau Moorings 38 which was designed as a charter boat. We had to make many modifications to make her a reasonable long distance cruiser. She is light and small but very capable.