Saturday, May 25, 2019

Isla Vieques

Vieques Island, southeast in Puerto Rico, was our kind-of place. Not many boaties there. Neither loads of tourists on land. But definately a constant flow of both. We loved Bahia de Chiva. The south coast is splashed with beautiful sandstone hills. Esperanza is a laid-back little town. GREAT affordable pizza at Lazy Jack's. Elblok hotel has intriguing blinds weighing 600kg each. Weather is warm and good. Not enough rain to fill the tanks. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Sailing from South Africa to the USA

SOUTH-AFRICA; Leaving South Africa, from Port Owen on the westcoast, mid June (mid winter in the southern hemisphere), was a strategic drama. The pattern between the winterstorms with their average 35-40knot winds, seemed to be two weeks. The lows came weekly but the strong ones only fortnightly. On every chart, all across the Atlantic from St.Helena to the Orange River (northern boarder of ZAR), was a band of blue, meaning - little wind. This band changed daily but was ever present. For us, using sails, that was a big concern in the stormy conditions of the south. The apparent perfect window always disappeared. We left with fog and onshore seas with 25knot wind during a two day gap in the weather. The two new jerrycans on deck with extra diesel came in handy whilst we motored away in the no wind areas to miss the next bad storm already approaching.

NAMIBIA; It was a surprisingly calm sail during the four days to Namibia. There were plenty - well lit - diamond mining dredgers from the Orange River up north. It was a wake-up call to suddenly be confronted with 45knot winds as we turned into Luderitz. It blows most of the time in Luderitz. Luderitz is an amazingly busy commercial harbour. And port-control is, in control. We stayed 4 months. According local source the weather is not as bad as it use to be. We left Luderitz the beginning of November with a light breeze.

ATLANTIC OCEAN; Aiming for St.Helena Island in the mid Atlantic Ocean, we were supposed to have 10knot winds from a big stationary high. It happened to be 20-25knots constant. Seas were on the couterback. There were plenty big ship traffic. The trip took 12 days.
St.Helena anchorage is ocean bound. Swell is of concern. Wind bullets came charging down the mountain alleys. We enjoyed friendly St.Helena.

From St.Helena we set course for Barbados in the Caribbean. Up to the equator we had light southeast winds and plenty grey skies. The little wind and solar were not enough charge for the batteries. Once we motored for four hours because there was no wind for half a day. We had two bad squalls, one south and one north of the equator. Southside was in daytime and northside during the night. Both had 45knot winds crashing into us like a wall. They were mighty serious and impressive.
We crossed the equator at 032.04.197 W
A couple of days later we turned into the west-flowing current.
The water changed. It was lifely and short. All the way to the Caribbean. And at times it was frightening high and chaotic simultaneous north and south swell.
We had daily squally rain weather all the way to North 10 degrees. From there-on we had tradewinds weather.
Our Atlantic crossing from St.Helena Island to the Caribbean took 34 days. Having been on the same tack with the wind from behind for so long, shaved our mainsail against the massteps.
We used 4 Litres of freshwater per day. Once we filled up the tanks with rainwater. And had extra for laundry.

the CARIBBEAN; We read in the cruising guide that one have to win the lottery ticket to find a good anchoring spot amidst all the yachts in the Grenadines. Therefore we skipped it. With a heart belonging to either the panorama of the Namib dessert or the Ocean dessert, we didn't need boatboys, overcrowded anchorages or criminality. Neither was the forecasted weather inviting.

We made landfall in Le Marin, Martinique, With more than a thousand boats on anchor. It was a culture shock for me.

Clearing in and out of the French Islands are electronic, easy, cheap and visas no problem. Customs control boat check the anchorages.
Wine (and cheese) is affordable in the French Islands.
Living is costly in the Caribbean.
We learned to drink rum because beer is so expensive.
Barbuda was my kind of space. There's nothing, other than nature. We stayed two weeks.
Antigua is extra expensive. Also paying for trash disposal and water. International cooking gasbottles can be refilled here.
At Nevis Island I found basic food in 'Best Buy', tax exempt, at a decent price. So we stocked up.
At Nevis one pay dubble to be on anchor. So we took a mooring. Garbage disposal no problem. Water tap on quay. is the caribbean equal of the Schengen. Open borders within the Caribbean but foreigners need to be registered. Also yachts.
Doef-doef vibration noise is called music and regularly doef-doef through the night everywhere.

PUERTO RICO is effectively the USA. We cleared in, in Isla de Culebra. The CBP officer was extremely helpful and informative.
With the Bahamas and Bermuda being part of the ADJACENT ISLANDS in the Caribbean, we have now a 6 weeks shortfall on our visas at the end. That means our neatly worked out agenda will have to change again with an interesting pricetag. We have to report in every district. The cruising permit is valid for 12months and our personal stamps for 6 months. We will stay around Puerto Rico till beginning of June. When we will set sail for the eastcoast of USA mainland - a 10-14 day trip.