2012 Caribbean Cruises
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
1: Saturday, 17 March:
Following lunch, we spend
time on deck inspecting the standing and running rigging, rig the storm trisail,
set the whisker pole and hoist the spinnaker.
We check engine and generator, finding all in order.
Pre departure equipment inspection is critical when cruising especially
when planning overnight cruises. Better
to find and correct maintenance issues before leaving the dock than having to do
so underway. It’s St Patrick’s Day, so after a full day we head up to Tickles
to enjoy dinner and a unique St Pat’s celebration.
For most of the crew it’s an early night but some stay on to enjoy the
music and refreshments.
Day 2: Sunday, 18 March:
securing the boat on one of the few open moorings, we have time for swimming and
snorkeling before settling in to prepare dinner and put the final touches on our
navigation plan for our overnight sail around St Croix and on to Vieques.
Today we determined the engine charging system is not working properly
but our generator is able to keep the batteries topped off.
Redundant systems are essential for successful cruising.
Tonight we enjoy a truly great meal prepared by Rob, a very resourceful
cook, followed by a quiet night on our mooring under a star filled sky, each
thankful we are not at home in the cold.
Day 3/4: Monday, 19/20 March:
We round a distant St Croix as evening closes in and we cross courses and exchange info with a large yacht also under power headed to pick up a charter in St Martin. With the exception of this boat and a motor yacht early in the trip, we have had the ocean to ourselves. Throughout the evening and night we rotate watches and monitor the passing of the occasional power vessel headed to St Croix. After rounding the western end of St Croix, we conduct an MOB drill in a very dark night. After securing our MOB equipment, we discuss the difficulties of recovering a MOB at night. Even in tonight’s calm seas and light winds, without the strobe lights it would have been very difficult to find someone in the water. Better to stay hooked in and stay aboard than in the water. Before sun up, the wind finally picks up; we have a great reach north toward Vieques and the town of Esperanza. Along the way we see numerous flying fish and are visited by several dolphin. By early afternoon we are anchored, boat secured and cleared in with Homeland Security.
Despite the lack of sleep, all are ready to explore
this less traveled cruising destination so we head ashore to see what awaits us.
Over some cool refreshments, we congratulate ourselves on our overnight passage
and excellent navigation. After a walk about town dodging numerous rain showers,
we return to the boat in the slowly filling anchorage and later go ashore for a
well-earned dinner at the El
Quenepo Restaurant. While waiting for dinner, we watch a water spout
churning just outside the anchorage –interesting to see but glad it does not
affect the anchored boats. After a
long night at sea and a great meal ashore, it’s early to bed under a star
filled sky, confident in the knowledge that our 140 nm overnight passage has
given us new skills to be further developed and utilized.
Day 5: Wednesday, 21 March:
We retrace our course and head into what turns out
to be a very secure anchorage in Ensenada Honda.
A little tricky getting past Punta
Carenero but an alert bow crew and careful piloting by Bruce gets us
into a mangrove lined anchorage with one palm tree – so named by Lou as
“Lone Palm”. There is no sign
of human life except for one other boat that quickly ducks into a small cove
well away from us. We have this
beautiful spot all to ourselves and feel isolated from the rest of the world.
Swimming, catching up on sleep, studying and reading fill out the afternoon. We
find we are surrounded by 2 to 3 pound Spade
fish (known to be good to eat) schooling around the boat
After dinner, Rob leads a discussion on the brightly lit stars that,
without any outside light, fill the clear sky.
A quiet night in this very secure spot finishes out this great sailing
Day 6: Thursday, 22 March:
The weather forecast is calling for numerous rain showers to include thunderstorms and we see them building all around us. Showers are heavy at times. The sky gets darker and visibility becomes significantly reduced. Entrance into the channel leading to Dewey needs to be done with an eye to the changing water colors because of the numerous reefs so we decide to heave-to and allow the rain to pass and visibility to improve. We appreciate the comfort of a good dodger, bimini and foul weather jackets as we are pounded by heavy rain and high winds. Finally, the rain lets up and the visibility and improves.
under way, we make good time in the fresh breeze and quickly reach the outer
marker into the Sound. By the
time we have the anchor down and boat secured, the sky has cleared and the sun
is out; a nice change. Our first
stop ashore is the Dingy
Dock Restaurant and Bar where we find some liquid refreshment and plan
our strategy to explore the area. Most
head off in different directions but Rob strays and makes friends with some of
the locals who point out several good places to eat.
Unfortunately, today is a Puerto Rican holiday so many places are closed. We split up for dinner, three eat at the Dingy Dock and three go
for pizza at Heather’s near the ferry dock; both provide excellent meals.
We spend a quiet night at anchor in preparation for our return to St
Thomas and for Rob and Scott to take the ASA106 test.
Day 7: Friday, 23 March:
Day 8: Saturday, 24 March:
Captain Steve Runals