Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
At Sea - Curaçao to Puerto Rico - Fighting the West Setting Current
Passage - 5 to 7 December 2008
05/12 - (12.04.60N-68.51.50W)
At first light we left Spanish Water still not sure if we would continue all the way thinking that if conditions were not good we could always divert to Bonnaire, which is more to the east and a great place to wait for weather window.
It took us almost 3 hours to get to the South tip of Curaçao and start the hard NE reach against wind and seas. The seas were not too bad, still, it was a bumpy ride. The whole Friday was very uncomfortable but we found it was doable without pounding too much and decided to keep going. The worst problem, as expected, was the current. Our course was pointing towards the Virgin Islands but our displacement was towards Ponce in Puerto Rico, at least we were doing some easting.
A squall came at around 10:00PM, not a lot of wind in it but it was time to reef, it should have been easy, except that the jib got stuck and we couldn't bring it in. So here we were, in the dark, in the middle of the squall with a stuck jib. We couldn't see what the problem was.
The jib have been jamming from the top, so we loosened it a bit but it didn't help. Next thing was Oscar going to the bow to check it out. The jam was just there in the bottom part of the rolling furling, but hard to see and work in the conditions. He somehow released it and we managed to bring in about 2/3 of the jib before it jammed again. The decision was to leave it, just a 1/3 out, for the night and try to fix it in the morning. We put a second reef in the main and motor sailed for the rest of the night.
06/12 - (13.59.00N-68.18.88W)
Sunrise came without further events. We've done 133 miles in the 24 hours since we left. We were able to completely bring the jib in, raise main sail to the top and let the jib all out again.
Now, the seas are calm, the wind is good, just the current a nuisance.
Then we found a small amount of water in the port side bilge. Our deduction is that it came from the speedometer, after Oscar removed it to clean. We are keeping an eye on the water, it doesn't seem to be increasing much.
07/12 - (13.59.00N-68.18.88W)
When sunrise came on Sunday morning, having done a total of 290 miles so far, we were able to open all sails again. The wind direction is good now and the current a little less strong allowing us to keep a better course. Now, with less than 100 miles to go we realize we can make it to the South coast of Puerto Rico by midnight. The decision is then try to enter Boqueron rather than Ponce. We haven't been in Boqueron before but we know it is a wide anchorage, easy to enter at night, a nice place to rest during the week and a party town in the weekend.
During the day we talked to Dave, from Tortuguita on the radio and he confirmed weather forecast. When the wind started dying at around sunset we decided to motor sail with no jib towards Boqueron and we entered the bay in a very quiet night at around 11.30 PM. The channel is very well marked and when we were close to the coast the Marine Police stopped us and checked all our documentation. After confirming all was in order they let us go our way wishing us a good night. We are in Puerto Rico, USA, no doubt.
It is a full moon night, we just dropped anchor and are enjoying the peace of the moment before dropping to bed for a very sound night of sleep.
Sunday at sunrise, 100 miles to go:
Trying to land in Ponce, (red cross).
Heading towards St Thomas, (red line).
We'll end up in Boqueron, (green line),
if we can keep current course
while fighting the current, (blue arrow).
Sunrise at Sea
By sunset Zenitude was making good progress, very stable with all sails up and we decided not to reef for the night.
Reefing at night is our safety procedure so that we don't need to reef in the dark, in a hurry, usually having to wake up whoever is sleeping. Over the years we discovered that not following our 'reefing at sunset' rule is a sure thing for trouble. Of course this night was no different.
Around sunset we decide to bring the jib in. Surely enough it jammed again. We can't figure out what the problem is, it keeps jamming all the time.
Finally we were able to close it and decided to keep it closed for the night. This allowed us to motor sail with the full main closer to the wind, as at this point it looks like the current is pushing us so much west that we'll be lucky if we can land in the Dominican Republic, for sure not wanting to end up in Haiti.