Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Cuba to San Blass - Visiting Grand Cayman and Providencia
Leaving Cuba towards Grand Cayman - 26 January 2010 - (21.37.33N-81.33.87W)
We felt a certain relief leaving Cuba, the country has left us with the depressing feeling of nice people in a beautiful country living a miserable life. For us, it was just the inconvenience of not finding bread to buy or finding difficulties navigating intricate channels with inexistent or misplaced navigation marks. For the people there, lack of basic needs is the way of life.
The trip started with good sailing after leaving Cayo Largo thru a cut where the Red Buoy had been deposited by a storm (some couple of years ago) exactly on the opposite side of where it should be, and exactly on top of the coral heads. The marina had warned us about it but I wonder how you manage if you are coming from the seas and are not aware of this.
It was not difficult to get out, just a bit scary with the breaking seas all over the reef. The trip started with good sailing with some confused seas. We had just 150 miles to go and sailed most of the time over 7 kn. Around 3:00 AM seas got very confused again and Zenitude was banging with the swell. With an average of 6:00 kn for the trip we arrived in Grand Cayman early morning and even before seeing land we could see several huge passenger cruise ships.
Arriving in Grand Cayman
John had his ticket to flight back home and next day he was gone. We had gladly paid our big debt to him for all the help when buying Zenitude. Cuba had been in his dreams for many years, a place he hadn't been able to visit with his american flagged boat.
We enjoyed Grand Cayman for several days, it is an expensive place for shopping but everything is available here. We had things shipped from US thru Fedex and soon were ready to leave.
We started getting a bit impatient as a weather turned bad and there was not a window on sight for us to leave. The anchorage got really uncomfortable as the seas grew large and the area has no protection from the swells.
Finally, Chris Parker, our weather guru, gave us the blessing to leave behind the front, seas were about 6 foot but diminishing, we had a 3 day trip ahead and we didn't want to miss the small weather window.
John in George Town, ready to go back home
Grand Cayman to Providencia - Passage - 11 to 14 February 2010 (19.17.94N-81.23.09W)
We left Grand Cayman behind the front with 20 kn wind from the NE so we were sailing well on our way south towards Providencia. Conditions started to get settled and soon we were motorsailing and then just motoring with no wind and 3 knots current against us.
A good part of this trip is going thru a big area of offshore banks with shallow waters where heavy weather turns it very dangerous. In addition, there are many fishing boats and many of them do not have lights at night. So we are happily motoring with no wind and seas that look like a lake in the banks.
Most part of the year this route has strong winds and high seas so we are not complaining for this good break. But it is just the calm before the storm as Chris Parker advised that a front is coming our way from the north. His sailing plan for us is: stop where you are, turn off the engines, drift, relax, sleep and wait for the front that will bring some strong winds for a good sail as the wind will be on our back with following seas. His idea being that we will get the front no matter what, and we better slow down now as we do not want to arrive to Providencia before noon.
At exactly the time predicted by Chris there is a little wind increase and we can feel the front will be here soon. So, we have enough time to set the sails on 3rd reef and get ready.
Winds increased to 20 to 25 kn from the N and we are making about 6.5 knots in stormy weather but we are out of the banks and all is well. We arrived in Providencia at about 11.00 in the morning behind a squall. Cruisers at anchor were welcoming us with happy faces. They have all heard Chris on the radio and knew we were coming, everybody is curious to know how Chrisí plan had worked out, perfectly, no doubt.
Providencia - Colombia - 14 to 22 February - (13.22.82N-81.22.42W)
What a lively island. This is a stopover for cruisers going on their way either south or north. Together with San Andres these 2 islands belong to Colombia even if they are quite far from the mainland.
Most of the people going south are on their way to San Blas, which is where we were going. People going north are mainly going to the islands and reefs of the Western Caribbean, like the Hobbies, a place we are sorry to have missed.
Time here goes slow, and we are enjoying the pace. We rented a jeep to go around. The highlight of the day was the horse racing at the beach. Islanders takes it seriously and everybody bets for one of the 2 horses, it is 50% chance of winning, not bad!
A week is gone and we have to keep going. We decided to skip San Andres and sail directly to Porvenir, San Blas. This time of the year it is easier going south than north and we leave with a good window for a 270 miles trip.
The trip is good, we are motorsailing in 10 knots of wind, again we do not complain, this area is notorious for strong winds and high seas. Two days later in the morning, we land in paradise.
Providencia, Colombia to Porvenir, San Blas - Passage - 21 to 23 February 2010 - (09.33.50N-78.57.00W)
Jockey studies race track before the race
It pays, he wins
We had a great reception from George Town port authority as they send a boat to show us a mooring, completely free for as long as we want, courtesy of Grand Cayman. Later on the authorities came on board to take care of entry procedures, all very civilized and easy. Our first impression of Cayman Islands is very good indeed.