Downtime departed Grand Cayman at 2:00 on Nov. 26. Having gone through the clearing out circus, wich took an hour to find all the right people and get the right documentation filled out we were officialy cleared out and on our way.
We had a 350 miles in front of us to get to Ambergis Cay, Belize. With light winds we set the screecher and ran one engine at 75% power. This gave us a blazing speed of 7 knts/hr. This would give us a trip estimated at 50 hours!! It is amazing what a extra couple of knots of wind will do for you crossing times. Downtime likes at least 20 knts to get her going 8 – 9 knts/hr. We had 7 to 12 knts. That would only push us 3 to 4 without a motor running. Too slow!!
Well if the lack of wind was not the only thing that was going to slow the trip down… at 1:00 am I woke up and for some reason remebered the spear guns!! I forgot to retrieve them from customs when clearing out!! We were 60 miles out!! TURN THE SHIP AROUND!!
20 hours later and about 80 gallons of diesel less in the tank we were back to being 60 miles into our crossing. Talk about a detour!
The engine stayed on for the next two days. The 50 hour trip took 70 hours and 500 miles. Along the way we caught several fish. Three Baracuda’s wich one we ate, and one King Mackrel about three feet long and 10 pounds. King are really good eating fish!! Being preditors they have white flaky meat that is very lean. MMM good with a Japanese fruit citrus sauce that Daria cooked up!
Aproaching Belize we touk out the cruising guide and put in a few waypoints on the Furuno navigation system. The first one we entered was for San Pedro Cut off of Ambergis Cay. I pushed enter and the point showed up 100 yard on land!!! This is not good!! The waypoint through the reef is on land?? The chart plotter is off? The map is off?? who knows?
Lucky for us there was a navigation mark in the cut that “was” in the right place! We navigated through and set the anchor. When we backed down the depth guage showed 5.5 feet exactly what Downtime draws! We had to re- anchor in deeper water. Time for one of those Jamaican Red Stripe Beers that have been cooling in the fridge for three days!! WOW that tasted good!!
Watch out Belize here we come!!
Peace!! The Captain
November 30, 2010
Daria and I were just noticing that we have alot of viewers and not many people signed up as followers? It would be fun for us to see who is following the Blog. So please take a minute to sign up when you get a minute.
Peace!! The Captain
We sailed out of Jamaica Nov. 20 at 8pm. We had a nice 20 to 25 knot breeze blowing us to the north-east on our way to Little Cayman 165 miles away.
Downtime loves going downwind and riding the waves. We were only using the jib sail and going 8 to 9 knots!! OK so you are asking what is a knot? A knot is roughly 1.2 statute miles per hour. 6000 feet in nautical mile verses 5280 in a statute mile. remember that one it will be on the quiz!!
Needless to say wind blowing 20 plus knots kicks up some waves!! We had 7 to 8 foot following seas, this gives you the sensation of riding a wave. Occasionally we would surf down the front of one sending our speed to 10 to 12 knots! It doesn’t sound all that fast but in a sailboat it is like you put a zero on the speed and it feels like 120!! At least it does for me.
Sailing through the night is kind of scary at first. You do not use headlights like when you drive a car. You just have to hope there are no large floating he objects in your way? The other boats are actually easier to see at night, especially cruise ships! Also, Downtime has AIS (automatic identification system) AIS is a really great tool. It shows all the ships in a 25 mile radius that are larger than 50 meters and most private yachts. AIS gives you information that includes, Name of ship, ships speed, direction,bearing, closest approach, time to closest approach, and distance. This all shows up on the main navigation screen and sets off an alarm when ships come inside a preset range. Nice!!
We arrived at Cayman Brac Around 3:00 pm on the 21st. Cayman Brac is about 5 miles long with no natural ports or man made marinas. There were breaking waves all around the island and no place to safely anchor. We continues on to the next island. On our way to Little Cayman we were contacted on the radio that we needed to clear in on Cayman Brac. We told the official that we were not able to land or anchor so we would continue on to Grand Cayman, some 80 miles away. We un-furled the screecher!! The screecher is a sail about twice the size of the Jib. Two of them would cover most of a basketball court!! This baby pulls!! Our speed went up to 10 knots and we surfed down allot more waves hitting 13 knots on some of them!!
We had a great run! Covering 80 miles in just under 7 hours!! 5 miles from George Town the weather turned, wind died, shifted and the rains came down! On with the motors and down with the sails. Soaking wet we drooped anchor at 1:00 am.
Port Security was by a 8:00 and offered to show us to the clearing dock. Up with the anchor!! Well we got the chain coming in an then clunk!! The anchor would not budge? It took some time and maneuvering around to get it freed off whatever was holding it down there. When the anchor finally surfaced it had a funny “S” shape in the shank!! ARG!!! Bent Me Anchor!!!
Clearing in was a straight forward process. Officials came aboard and we filled out the necessary documents. Surrendered our spear guns (no spear fishing in the Caymans) and then it came to getting Daria cleared, Russian Nationals need a Visa! All of our research said different, but hey why argue. The official was nice offering a ride to the airport and an hour later and $110 lighter we were official! Port Security showed us the way to very nice “Free” moorings!! Nice! They showed us where to land the dingy and told us where the local shopping was, nice Guys!! Getting settled we find the customs stamp ling on the table? Anyone else need cleared in?? We got a stamp!!! We hailed them on the radio and gave it back.
On the 23rd we rented a car to see the island, and to find a place to make the anchor look more like a” I “than an ” S ” . We found Superior Machine. They did a awesome job with their 100 ton press. We also needed a little welding done since the anchor also had a crack. Repairs done we set off to see the sights. We went to a dolphin park and turtle farm, apparently the main tourist attractions on the island. I prefer my dolphins and turtles in the wild.
The rest of the island is pretty flat and covered with vegetation, not really jungle mostly thick vines and bramble. We did not see any agriculture to speak of? A few horses for rent and allot of wild chickens. It seems like any other place these days, for sale signs on every corner. I drive around and wonder what every one does to survive? There is little or no new construction, hotels are struggling with low tourist numbers, so what does everyone do? Struggle!
Wednesday Daria and I went out on the town and visited the Ritz Carlton to see how that was! Diner was nice but WAY overpriced. $20 dollar cab in the lobby and $10 cab on the street, same ol stuff. Honestly we have better food on the boat!!
Daria cooked a amazing Thanksgiving dinner aboard Downtime, perfect turkey,mashed potatoes, mashed parsnips and fresh cranberry dressing!! Butterball is everywhere!! Thanksgiving day is when the Christmas lights come on! We took a cab and say some nice displays. There is a annual contest and some go all out here. The winner gets free utilities for a year!!
All the people we met here are happy and friendly. They all see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel like things are getting better. The Caymans are a beautiful place to visit and have some of the best reef diving in the world. & mile beach is lined with amazing hotels and white sand beaches. Weather is perfect every day and the water temperature is just right!! A great place to visit!!
We will setting sail for Belize tonight! The passage is 370 miles. We hope to arrive sometime Sunday.
Until then, Peace!!
November 23, 2010
Hello again after surviving Jamaica!!
We arrived in Port Antonio on the south east end of Jamaica around 2:00 am on the 16th. We had thunderstorms and rain after catching the fish south of Cuba. We pulled into the designated anchoragewhich is apparently fed by several rivers. The water turned from clear blue to a muddy brown with trash and bottles floating by, Yuck!!
We woke to the sounds of crowing roosters and the sounds of a small town waking up. Car horns honking and the noises of trucks and buses.
A boatboy named Pressley showed us the way to Errol Flynn Marina. This is a nice little marina with lots of history from the old movie days. Nice docks at reasonable prices.
The Marina lets several “boatboys” work on the docks. Little did I know I should have printed contracts with prices to have any work done! the $50 boat wash turned into a $80 boat wash! And the guy was still acting unhappy?
Daria is Coo Coo for coconuts so we asked a local to go pick some for us. We negotiated a price of $1 a piece. When he arrived with the goods, the price went to $2 another strange deal!! We were not buying!
Leaving the security of the marina, you find yourself in the heart of the small town. There are at least a 100 vendors selling fresh produce, souvenirs, tee shirts, and whatever other tourist junk you could think of. the vendors are hungry!! The cruise ships don’t stop by much any more? Go figure! Sad, but hey you are what you eat right?
After two days of putting up with vendors dragging you into their shops, I needed to get out of there!! We fueled up the boat settled our tab and headed up the coast to Ocho Rios, which must mean 8 rivers because there were allot of small rivers. We anchored in front of the Sandals resort. that night they were having their beach party. Just about the time everyone made it through the buffet line and the band got playing there came along a big ol Thunderstorm!! I think there was dessert served inside!!
From what we saw, most of the resorts are all but empty. We heard they were selling all inclusive rooms for $99 a night, ones that usually go for $250.
The next day we set out to see Dunn River Falls. We were bombarded by several people right off the dock with prices all over the place. We decided to walk into town to see what the deal was. A guy named Davidapproached us with the “story” we could walk there. He led us down the road and up this hill acting like a real guide. Well, He told us he had to get to work and wanted to get paid for his time, he got $20 out of one of us and $10 out of the other! And come to find out 10 minutes later we were not even on the right road!! We had been Had!!!!!!
After a 10 minute $30 cab ride we were at the right place. A “Real” tourist trap!! $4 beers at the gate going in along with $15 admission. ($5 beer on the way out!) For this you get the privilige of hiking up a man made waterfall! The vendors on the way out were so rude you just wanted to get out of there! Imagine 50 huts selling the same thing! All wanting you to buy their junk. They all have a sad story and guilting you into buying from them. Again, not buying it.
As for the rest of town around Ocho Rios, There is not much to say. It is a cruise ship town. When the ships leave the streets roll up. The only life is in the resorts, which are all inclusive for a reason. You do not want to go out at night! The people have grown accustom to the tourism and the money that it brings in. But now the tourists are not coming.
On the 20th we picked up anchor and headed to Montego Bay, sounds romantic? Well….same story, emptyhotels and jobless people. Olaf and Kristi jumped ship to continue their adventure in another direction. We done some grocery shoping, wich is in jamaican dollars (840 to 1) The ticket rang up $44,812!!!
Having enough of Jamaica we cleared out and weighed anchor at 8:00 setting sail for the Cayman Islands!
November 17, 2010
So after dragging lines some 800 miles We finally caught some nice fish! It seems you never need any thing until you throw it out, and you never catch fish until you buy fish the day before?
We stoped at a small cay at he bottom of the Bahama chain and traded some rum for a few nice grouper. The next day we set sail for Jamaica. The winds were light and we motored most the way. Just as we were coming up on Cuba’s south-east side the fishing reels started screaming!!!! First we brought in a nice sized dorado/mahi. then a few minutes later another pole zipping out line!!! This fish was MUCH BIGGER!!! Kristi gave it a try and conceded to let me finish the fight!
We had just finished cleaning the first two fish and wham there is another!! WOW what a run!! This one was a Huge Mahi!!! Dave grabbed the pole and did a nice job landing this one!!
Freezer full and life is good!!
November 9, 2010
After spending a few days waiting for better weather we are ready to resume our way south. Hurricane Tomas passed the Bahamas a few hundred miles to the east. The result was a north cool 25 to 30 knot wind here the last few days.
Tim flew home on Monday the 8th. He was aboard since the beginning of the trip. Hows the weather in Indy Tim?
We have beautiful blue skies and warm weather today with a great forecast to sail south.
There are currently 4 dolphins swimming around Downtime and they have been here all morning! Two mamas with their babies.
Daria went swimming with them this morning and was giggling like a little girl when they swam close to her. Just amazing!!
We have two new crew coming aboard today Olaf and his Girlfriend Kristi. They will be aboard along with David all the way to Belize. We are anticipating a trip of three weeks to get there.
Hopefully we can get a Internet signal along the way and tell you some more highlights!!!
November 7, 2010
We all heard the story there are more fish in the sea? Well I am starting to think there is something seriously wrong! I have fished the waters around the Bahamas the past three years. But the last two trips through, there is nothing biting my lures? I pulled lines some 300 odd miles and only picked up three barracuda. There must be some serious over fishing going on in this world.