Good bye Elsa next stop Isla Mujeres
06 July 2021 | El Milagro Marina
gg | sunny and hot !
The busy land, air and sea is slowly fading into the horizon as Viento Azul departs at noon through Snake Creek bridge on July 2, 2021 . Calm seas with light air and four aboard. Next stop is Mexico. Hurricane Elsa the first storm of 2021 is brewing up in the Caribbean. We will be sailing to the west to be out of her path. All in all it's been a peaceful day but super hot. A good day for a nap. The waters are busy filled with boats of all types. The holiday weekend is only going to get crowded with visitors. Since the covid restrictions have been halted it feels as if a large part of the world is taking a vacation in the Florida Keys. It is nice to be off the dock away from the overwhelming busyness. We were able to test out our new spinnaker rigging, a continuous roller furling system. A few glitches but ending in success. Sea life was quiet with a sighting of bait fish jumping about on the surface as we motor south towards Key West. The sun set refection, sent silver light, shimmering sparkles, across the water as the clouds lite up and the grand ball of fire slide out of sight.
It was an overwhelming time of preparation for this trip. Last year I thought we were over loaded with a washing machine on the back deck . This year we have an outboard and a pneumatic pile driver. Watching the loading of these monstrous items was very stressful. Leaving the dock we were piled high with other various supplies for Casa Agua Azul which will be our final destination in Guatemala. A few hours later we finally looked like a sail boat again with everything stowed nice and neat.
Night watch is on . Captain Ted has first shift, I follow with midnight to 2, then Trevor, and Greg is awarded the early morning 4-6! Venus is intensely shining bright above with the big dipper to our starboard side. On the horizon remains a light faded orange hue where you can see a few dark clouds painted across the horizon line. As the night progressed the moon appeared as a slice of a cantaloupe melon with a path across the water to our stern. The seas were so calm that the reflections of the stars were glowing upwards. The seaweed has been thick which caused the motor to start to overheat for a moment, which we were able to shake loss by going into reverse. Your eyes may start to play tricks on you. We were watching a few lights on the horizon and suddenly the red light appeared extremely close and it was. The night fishermen gave us a warning to alter course by flashing their spot light on us, it was a close call. For these and other reasons it is important to stay awake and monitor ships progress while on night watch.
One more day and it will be independence day with fire works in the sky. As we continue to motor on it is hot and humid with out a breath of air . On the Beaufort wind scale it is a 1, the sea is as a mirror making spotting sea life a 10. Off in the distance a marlin was free jumping but ignoring our lines. Later a 300 pound turtle was sunning himself on the surface with a mahi-mahi taking shade underneath him . Still no interest on our lines out, which is our hope of dinner. The most spectacular which I missed was a 30 foot whale who breeched four times. Ted and I were working on a leaky head down below which was no way nearly as exciting. By the end of the day wind and sea conditions were maybe a 2 on the Beaufort wind scale, there was a tiny ripple on the surface of the water . Temperature inside the boat was 95. Just about dinner time off in the distance seabirds were working the water, it was looking like we may catch a fish after all. This time thinking it was a black fin tuna, but turned out to be a skip jack. He was a pretty sight coming out of the water, after admiring his handsome colors he was released to go back to his school. Ending the day a pod of pilot whales were off our starboard side. This was an amazing sight that we often do not see.
Our position in the Gulf of Mexico on this day of July 3, 2021 is 23' N: 83' We are traveling at 6.6 knots with the main sail up and under motor. Last night our speed was down to 4 knots. Putting the roller furling out we hoped to pick up speed . There was no noticeable difference. It appears the current is with us at this time as the gulf stream curves past here, but in the next 30 minutes or so we are expecting the current to switch. This is what we call the dreaded Mexican current which can really slow you down and when windy make for a Maytag special sloppy seas.
We are in a shipping lane as sunset approaches. Three ships have passed behind , this is more of the reasons why you stay awake on your night watch. I am reminded of the faithfulness of God as the burning ball of fire sets in the west, again painting the clouds in pink and the foreground an orange, changing into a pale yellow fading out to glowing amber. Then Venus appears hanging in the sky as a bright light. One by one the stars appeared until they filled the entire sky countlessly and strikingly beautiful.
Happy 4th of July America! Viento Azul is off of Cuba 22.33'N : 84.34'W close to making our way point to tack over to Isla Mujeres! On the Beaufort wind scale we are looking as a 3, small white capes with a following sea. The wind is filling our spinnaker and main sail moving us across the ground with a top speed of 7 knots. The current is with us making for a beautiful sail.
Butterflies, flying fish and ships are on the horizon. The sky is spectacular blue to the south west with cotton ball clouds that reach towards the heavens, I will say my polarized glasses enhance the beauty before me. It is looking as if a light is shining from within the clouds. We have a big cheer at lunch time, mahi-mahi finally showed up and will be in the pan for dinner.
The night is calm and quiet expect for the ship traffic. This is where AIS (automatic identification system) comes in handy . Our advantage is, a large ship is able to see us a small vessel at 20 or 30 miles off, other wise on radar they may not see us for 6 or 7 miles . This also all depends on weather, atmosphere conditions and the materials your boat is made of. Just as in a car it is unwise to pull out in-front of a tractor trailer truck, you do not want to be in the path of a freighter, cruise ship, or tanker by any means. AIS also allows you to see the name of the ship, where it departed from and what its destination is. We have noticed on this trip that many of the ships have the destination of "the sea," meaning no destination or port entry. It appears to us that they may be waiting at sea for hurricane Elsa to pass. Last night one cruise ship was just circling around. It is hard to judge the distance they are from you. One cruise ship was directly in our path traveling at 11.6 knots while we were moving at 6, as the lights came closer and closer it was difficult to judge the distance by the naked eye.
Monday July 5, 2021 Viento Azul is 30 miles off the coast of Isa Mujeres 21.31' N: 86.19 W
The current has an ebb and flow holding us back at a greater rate intermittently. Our speed has gone as low as 1.7 fluctuating to 6 , this makes our last leg very long. The ocean topography has gone from 6,000 feet to 1,800. Apparent wind was 8-9.2 knots, at 160 degrees. We are on a starboard tack. The seas have small white caps at about 2- 3 feet with many golden islands of sargasso weed hiding often hidden treasure beneath, our lines are out in hopes of catching the treasure of Mahi- mahi.
You have heard of the slow boat to China, well we are the slow boat to Mexico, the current is really holding us back. At some point we were down to 1.7 mile per hour. With light air and fuel down to 10 gallons and a ripping current it may be a while to make the last 15 miles. The thought of another night watch is tiring! The fuel held out anda 5:30 p.m. we were able to drop anchor at the north end of Isla Mujeres