Day 107, Year 1: Headed to the San Blas Islands, Panama
Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Weather: Squalls Overnight Gusting to 40 knots, Winds E 20-25
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Water Temperature: 80 degrees F
Latitude: N 14 degrees 31 minutes
Longitude: W 70 degrees 56 minutes
Location: Passage to Curacao to Panama, Day 2

Miles to go-691. We are making good time and the wind and waves are settling a bit. We are sailing along in 20 to 25 knot winds from due east under a double-reefed main and the headsail. Overnight we got a few squalls with winds gusting to 40 knots so we had the staysail out and kept it that way until mid-day when we put out the yankee head sail. The weather reports are saying that the due east winds are more like summer winds than the typical trade winds that are usually ENE. I think there are no more “typicals” in the weather these days. Seems like there are many more “unusuals” reported. Herb is reporting today that we might not have to head as far north as he thought. But then heading due west from here means the wind would be right behind us, so we’ll probably continue NW a little further before heading southwest. Our goal for today was to reach 14 degrees 30 minutes N by 71 degrees W. We made it. Tomorrow the goal will be to reach 15 degrees north and back to 14 degrees 30 minutes N by 73 W. Since the seas are settling another option would be to take down the head sail and motor sail overnight so we don’t have to jibe back and forth. Right now things are going so smoothly I hate to change anything.

Last night was not terrible, but there were reminders of our passage from Hampton to St. Martin. The squalls started in late afternoon and continued until about 0200. Even though I had most everything ready for dinner, I tried to cook rice and spilled boiling water. I was able to get out of the way and avoided getting burned, but won’t try that again when things are rough. I still have so much to learn about how to cook with only 2 hands when everything is moving and you need at least 6 hands.. I’ve read books by the pros like Lin Pardey and it sounds so easy, or at least doable. Not so. I am definitely challenged.

With night watches last night, we got back to reading. When we are in port we are too busy to read. I am still reading South Pacific by James Michener and Mark is reading Yarns by Tristan Jones. These are short sailing stories. I’m also reading The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew by Lin Pardey. I read it a few years ago, but now that we are underway I’m learning so much from her more than 25 years of cruising experiences.

Here’s hoping that the next 24 hours are smooth sailing. Mark is getting ready to sleep and will come on watch at 2200. We will try 4 hour watches tonight. That seems to work best for us. And for those of you in cooler climates, the temperature got down to 77 degrees last night and I had to put on long pants and a jacket. I know, no sympathy, but just thought I’d share that.

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Day 108, Year 1: Day Three of Our Passage to the San Blas
Day 106, Year 1: Headed to the San Blas Islands, Panama