Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Puerto Rico to Bahamas - Towards the end of this Caribbean season
Passage - 29 May to 02 June 2009
Leaving Boqueron in the morning the winds were good, ESE 15 to 20. Having the wind just on our back, at 180, we decided to set up the sails on second reef which works pretty well and were doing good speed. After 4 hours of good sailing we could see a very black cloud coming from land. It didn't look too bad at the beginning but soon a display of frightening lightning and loud thunders started, this activity was about 3 miles North from us but it seemed that our course was taking us straight into it.
We've read in Bruce Van Saint's guide about monster squalls crossing the Mona Passage from Puerto Rico and Oscar remembered his suggestion of running to the South, away from them. It was a very appealing recommendation and it is exactly what we did. We turned 90 degrees and run south with the 2 engines as fast as we could for about 1 hour and sure enough we avoided it. Finally the monster seemed to dissipate and we were on course again.
There was a funny episode when we turned. We found there was a big ship coming our way. Oscar called him on VHF and the guy very politely asked what were our intentions. Oscar told him we are running from that monster and our only intention is to get as far as possible from it. I think the guy found it funny but understood and said he would change course and give us way. Very nice guy and being big and heavy headed into the storm and disappeared in the middle of heavy rain and thunders.
The night was uneventful except for ships and supposedly a tug that did not answer the VHF radio call and crossed 1 mile ahead of us, which is a bit close for comfort. We are also having low batteries sailing at night and need to run the engines, which is a pity as the wind has been really good. At least we are happy we left when we did, because if this is lack of wind as the forecast predicted, we don't want to know what would be if there is wind!
Altering course from the rum line to get a better angle on the wind we keep going well. We did 140 miles on the first day.
Another 157 miles and we keep sailing quite well. Wind There was an area with a lot of garbage in the water, the worst being a lot of plastic. It is probably the tug that we crossed that may have discharged garbage from the islands. A real shame.
Oscar caught a beautiful, good sized barracuda but he sent it back to sea because of the ciguatera that it still can be dangerous in this region, specially with barracudas. Sadly, for us, the barracuda must have been thrilled as she swam away at light speed.
We feel better today. The second night at sea is probably the worst. Now we are in a bit of a rythm.
Another 150 miles and early morning we see West Caicos ahead on our starboard side. We decide to keep going. It's about 180 miles to Rum Cay in the Bahamas. Our thinking is that if it seems that we won't make it at daylight time we will stop at Mayaguana. At the moment the wind is good and we are making progress.
Later on we get light and variable winds for a while. In the afternoon the wind backed and increased to more than 20 knots. Winds were steady thru the night and we kept going fast. There was a ship ahead with navigation lights but it was not moving. We kept approaching and passed about 1/2 a mile from our starboard side, it was scary as the wind was blowing hard and we had no idea if all of the sudden she would start moving. We never understood what she was doing there.
We arrived at Rum Cay just before noon, very happy to have done a good passage with a total of 575 miles.