Day 91, Year 1: Day Three of Passage to Bonaire

Day 91, Year 1: Day Three of Passage to Bonaire
Date and Time: Monday, January 16, 2006, 1630 AST
Weather: Perfect Sailing Conditions, Winds E 10-20 knots
Air Temperature: 80 degrees F
Water Temperature: 80 degrees F
Latitude: N 12 degrees 24.36 minutes
Longitude: W 66 degrees 58.66 minutes
Location: Interior Caribbean Basin, N of Los Roques, Passage to Bonaire

We just finished listening to the weather with Herb on Southbound II and he says the weather will hold as is all through tomorrow. How nice. For this entire westward passage we have had winds out of the East never exceeding 20 knots and not going below 8 knots. We have also had a current going our way most of the time that has given us a knot and a half boost. Right now we are trying to slow ourselves down as we don’t want to get to the east coast of Bonaire during the night. We are sailing with just the mainsail up and we are still going 6 knots with the current. That will get us to our waypoint just north of Bonaire around 0400 where we will turn south. It will still be dark, but we can stay well off the east coast until daylight. We will then sail around the southern end of the island and back up the west coast to Kralendijk. Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles so the names of towns, streets, etc., that I mention in the log will be sounding very Dutch. The southern end of the island is salt flats and almost impossible to see until it is too late. There is also a current pushing toward that eastern shore, so that is why we have to be extra careful. Our guide books tell us many yachts have gone astray here.

Last night was another beautiful night with the light of the almost full moon making it seem light daylight. It was a little cloudy, but that moon found its way through. We only saw one sailboat during the night and another cargo ship today. Not much traffic in these parts.

Day three of a passage is just about the time you are finally settling into a routine. We tried 3 hours watches last night instead of the 4 we have been doing. I was on from 0200 until 0500 and found that I had to put on a long sleeve shirt. A LONG sleeve shirt! I had almost forgotten that these things exist. It was 78 degrees F, but the humidity level made it feel cool. I apologize to those of you in the north lands, but 78 can really feel cool here. Since I was on until 0500, I then slept until 0800. That is when our day begins. Breakfast during passage is usually cereal and banana or boiled egg and toast. Today was the latter. Sun showers are next and then I headed below to do some of those things that I mentioned yesterday—cleaning out the refrigerator, cleaning out the spice drawer, making a cole slaw that is supposed to keep without refrigeration, preparing a stew for dinner. By the time I finished all of this it was about 1300 and I heard Mark call out, “Dolphins!” I grabbed the camera and went on deck. There were really hundreds of dolphins all around us. They stayed with us for about 20 minutes and put on quite a show jumping and frolicking all around. I find it very difficult to get good pictures of fast moving wildlife, but I did get a couple that I will post. I used the digital camera to try and get short videos and that worked much better. I don’t know if I can post videos, but I will if that is possible.

It was time for lunch and then I usually spend some time answering e-mails. By the time that is done, it is time for the weather, time to write and post the log for the day, and then time to relax before dinner and the watches begin. We did set out a line and lure today to see if we could catch some fish. No luck so far.

So goes a typical day during a passage. Tomorrow all of that will change and we will go into ”tourist “ mode. As soon as we arrive in Bonaire, we will prepare to go to town to check in with Customs and Immigration and to begin exploring a new island. Thursday and Friday will be days to explore underwater and then we will decide whether to move on to Curacao or stay in Bonaire for more underwater fun.

060116 Day 91a Passage to Bonaire–Dolphin Videos
060116 Day 91b Passage to Bonaire–Union Island to Bonaire

Day 90, Year 1: Maybe Tomorrow

Day 90, Year 1: Maybe Tomorrow
Date and Time: Sunday, January 15, 2006, 1600 AST
Weather: Lighter Winds, Time for the Spinnaker
Latitude: N 12 degrees 17 minutes;
Longitude: W 64 degrees 33 minutes
Location: Interior Caribbean Basin, Passage to Bonaire

If you know me personally, laid back would not be a descriptor you would apply to me. But something is definitely happening as we move further south and west. “I really should clean out the refrigerator today since I had to do an unexpected cleaning of the freezer yesterday. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.” “We really should put out a trolling line and try to catch some fresh fish. Too late today. Maybe tomorrow.” And it goes on. We have had a lovely day today sailing under spinnaker with light winds. We are just lazing along enjoying the beautiful weather.

I came on watch at 0200 last night. The full moon was overhead and the light danced on the midnight blue water. We were no longer sailing wing and wing and the winds were settling, so it was an easy night of sailing. Mark took over once the sun came up. I got a couple of hours sleep in the early morning and when I got up, we decided it was time to raise the spinnaker. For those of you who are not sailors, a spinnaker is a light weight sail used in light winds and is usually very colorful. Ours was designed to include the colors of the parrot that lived aboard when we bought the boat—yellow, green, blue, and red. It is an asymmetrical which means it flies off to one side or the other. True spinnakers billow out from the bow of the boat with an equal amount of sail to port and starboard. But whether a true spinnaker or asymmetrical, the sail area is big and you have to handle them with care. For this reason, we don’t usually leave the spinnaker out at night, but in these calm conditions, we probably will and all should be fine.

We’ve not seen many signs of life since leaving the Windwards. Yesterday I saw two pair of brown seagulls and no boats, not even during the night. This morning a tanker passed in front of us heading south and at about the same time, two very large white birds were flying west in the distance. They were too far away to identify. We are currently just north of the chain of islands off the Venezuelan coast that lead us to Bonaire. In the last hour, I have seen an increase in the number of sea gulls as we get closer to land. Other than that, we are it. It looks like we have the entire interior Caribbean Basin all to ourselves today. Maybe tomorrow we will see signs of human activity, but until then, we’ll enjoy the peace and quiet and beautiful weather.

And now for the really important things in life . . .

Day 89, Year 1: Somebody Left The Porch Light On

Day 89, Year 1: Somebody Left The Porch Light On
Date and Time: Saturday, January 13, 2006, 1900 AST
Weather: Blue Skies and Sunshine, Winds E 10-20 knots
Latitude: N 12 degrees 27 minutes
Longitude: W 62 degrees 40 minutes
Current Location: Interior Caribbean Basin, Passage to Bonaire

We awoke to blue skies and sunshine and left Union Island for Bonaire at 0630. We knew the winds would be behind us today and that they have been. We have sailed downwind all day with winds between 10 and 20 knots. We are sailing wing and wing with the headsail poled out starboard and the mainsail held out to port with our boom vang which serves double duty as a preventer. We are traveling along at about 6 knots with a current that is giving us a little boost. The waves are about 4-5 feet coming at about second intervals. Not totally smooth, but good sailing.

When the sun dipped below the horizon around 1800, there were banks of puffy clouds on either side of us. The tops of the clouds looked just like cotton candy tonight, but underneath the clouds were gray. We could see rain falling to our south, but Windbird was headed directly west into a break in the clouds. I am on first watch tonight and am sitting in the cockpit writing this log. I keep looking behind me to see who left the porch light on, but it is that full moon following right along behind us.

So the high point of today has been the cooperative weather and the beautiful full moon, but there was a low point. Anytime you are sailing downwind, you bounce around a bit. This means you have to be on guard constantly. If you sit something down that is not properly secured, it will surely fall. Late in the afternoon I got into the freezer to get a drink and thought I should put a couple of Cokes in for tomorrow. The top part of the freezer serves as our drink cooler on one side but is cold enough to keep our ice trays frozen on the other. Below that, we keep all of our frozen foods. Now when I say I am putting Cokes in the freezer, you have to understand that in Union Island they do not sell Cokes in cans, only in ½ liter glass bottles. I put one Coke in and left the other sitting on the counter. A wave hit us about that time and the second Coke went flying into the freezer and burst into a million little pieces. And that wonderful sticky brown liquid was everywhere. So much for a perfectly quiet, uneventful day. I was not a happy camper as I knew this meant taking everything out the freezer and washing it off as well as defrosting and cleaning the entire freezer. Oh, well, so goes life. Mark came to my rescue and the freezer is now clean and defrosted, and I am learning the hard way to secure everything, no matter how calm it seems one minute. The next may not be the same.

So as I sit here listening to the waves roll by, I’ll bet a lot of you are sitting in front of your television sets watching the Patriots play the Broncos. At least, I think I understood from an e-mail from my sister that the game is tonight. And I’ll bet the gang at Shipyard Quarters is gathered together at the Bistro to watch the game. Right? We’ll be thinking of you and I’ll be routing for the Patriots, but I’ll spend my night reading more about the Galapagos and start Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific during my middle of the night watch. It’s a whole different world out here!