Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Grenada to Bonaire

29 May 2007

On the way again

We left Grenada at 1600 hours 29 May 2007, the idea was to leave late in the day to start with the night sift periods after a days rest. We have a 72 hour trip ahead of us and it was going to be a test in settling down to watch keeping, we did 4 hours each about ( 4 on 4 off).

 (Single-handed sailor leaves port just before us)
(A tour boat at sunset)

It was not long before we found out that we were in for uncomfortable weather, with all the throwing about dinner was served out of a can heated on the stove. One good thing with Nancy being a chef she makes canned food taste good with a few additives, so dinner was served in a bowl.

We had a bit of company with sea traffic; there was another yacht on our port bow some four miles away traveling in the same direction as us.

The swell appears to come up with the moon, it was nearly a full moon and the night was very bright, so to make things more comfortable we threw plan A overboard and started a new plan, instead of passing Los Testigos and Margarita on their southern side we would pass them on the northern side and then head for Bonaire. We were still being tossed about this made it too uncomfortable to sleep below in the cabins, Nancy opted for the saloon lounge as I took the eight to midnight shift. We did not get much sleep a nap here and there, we can understand why yachts only travel east to west in the Caribbean Sea, the wind and the swell travels that direction, you would really be beating against it if you tried to go the other way. We were starting to curse the Caribbean Sea.
(Lumpy sea at sunrise)
(At one stage it poured rain we collected rain water off the bimini and put in our water tanks)

As morning broke and the moon disappeared and the sun raised the wind and the swell went away, we had now changed course for Bonaire on a heading of 270 magnetic we waved hello and goodbye to Los Testigos as we passed it. The next excitement was dodging fishermen in their boats and some flags that either meant they had traps, nets, or lines there. This added to the distance traveled. I started to play with the sails trying to get the best out of the wind and speed out of the boat. With the calmer conditions we were able to grab some sleep, I made up a skippers day bed in the cockpit for when I was off shift, this made it easier for when Nancy needed advice or help rather than tracking up and down to the cabin. It took nearly all day and part of the night to get passed Margarita it is quite a large island. We did plan to call in there as we were told it is very beautiful, however, after reading the requirements for clearing in and out of customs and immigration and the fact that we needed to keep moving we decided against it, plus the fact we were now on the northern side not the southern side.
(Passing Los Testigos)
(Skippers's day bed on the deck in the cockpit)
(Passing Margarita with a cargo ship passing it and us)
(End of another day)

Up came the moon and down went the sun and yes up came the swell and the wind, and was foolish enough to believe that the first reef in the main would be the way to go considering the lack of wind and seas in the day. (Wrong again John). We had the main at first reef and the wind was right behind us and pushing us into some scary speeds, the wind was howling and we were being thrown about a fair bit. I called Nancy up from the cabin that was just getting her head down for a few hours sleep. With safety harness clipped on out I went to reduce the main to the second reefing point, this was not an easy task, Nancy headed the boat into the wind to allow me to pull the sail down, this was not that easy either, the sail was hanging out the bag down the aft end so I climbed on the bimini, (the canvas cover over the cockpit), this has three bars across that supports the bimini cover, balancing across the two bars tucking the sail in the bag the boat lurched my foot slipped off one of the bars and my foot went through the stitching of the bimini right above Nancy’s head. I said a few harsh words like fire truck.

I got back into the cockpit and Nancy went back to bed, we were still scooting along at about 9 knots plus at times. I was a little concerned with the wind that changed regularly a few degrees and the boat was doing the same surfing down the waves or swell. I put a preventer on the boom so that it would not go into an unplanned gibe, which is frightening when that happens and is also very hard on the equipment. I was soon pleased that I did not long after the wind did a sudden shift by about 15 degrees sending the wind on the other side of the main and kicking the boat off course, this totally confused George, the auto pilot, alarms went off and George was trying to set a different course to where we wanted to go. At this very moment I was passing a freighter some miles off the starboard beam, if he had been seeing my green starboard nav-light and then he would have seen the red and green together as we started to head in his direction. I hit the engine at the same time sacked George and brought us back on course, then the wind turned to his original direction and we were back on track and I reemployed George the auto-pilot. Nancy said later she heard the commotion but she thought if I needed her I would have yelled out. By 2300 hours I was getting tired to the fact that I had to do something to keep myself awake, I did not want to get Nancy up early as I had already taken an hour off her sleep time when adjusting the sails. I stroked my chin thinking and it came to me straight away, I had not had a shave in three days, so I poured some hot water out of the kettle into a bucket grabbed my gear and sat in the cockpit having a shave under torch light whilst keeping an eye on everything else. I woke Nancy at midnight to take the shift and she returned the favour at 0400 hours. We had decided on four hour shifts and it appears to work well as you have the chance to have a good sleep. We have settled down to a routine and we are getting used to the conditions of the seas. Last night Nancy cooked a nice dinner before the sun went down and the swell came up. It is a big learning curve in everything that we are doing.

01 June 2007
It is now 0600 hours  just finished the hourly reading looking around I noticed a ship approaching on starboard side aft, as it got closer I noticed it was an oil tanker, it passed by fairly close within half a nautical mile, I bid them good morning on the radio, there was silence for a moment then a voice with a strong accent replied, “Good morning to you sir, where are you heading? I replied Australia and he replied good luck” and after followed by a “Goodbye”. The wishes of good luck I think meant that he knew it is a tough battle in a small boat, he probably watched me for sometime with my stern light disappearing below the wave heights out of his view now and again. I also got the impression from the tone of voice that he thought we were mad. He’s probably right.

Nancy got up at 0730 hours and made breakfast, I asked her how she was going and if she had any regrets with the experiences we had through the night and what was looking at no better for today. She said that she had not, she had been frightened a few times, to tell the truth so had I but I think that’s the reality out here, being frightened is healthy, and you cannot feel too comfortable with the sea. We still have the tough part to go yet, we have another six day sail to the Panama. They say that is where it can get rough.

The document below is what I made up for when we clear into a country, I would take two copies one for the official which I placed on top of the ships papers and passports and one for me in case I had to fill out documents, this saves having to search through everything for the information. The officials also appreciated this. It also had a picture of the boat. (It is a little squashed here as I did do it in landscape which was too wide for here.)

Crew List:

Name of Yacht:   Alana Rose                    Registration No. 00000                    Home Port:  Brisbane            Flag: Australian

Last Name
First Name
Middle Name
Birth Place
Birth Date
Passport No.
Master and Crew Address: 36 Place, Forest Plain, 4000 Queensland Australia
Contact:          Satellite phone: (0011) 61 147 16 2000           

Boat Call Sign: VMQ 0000     - Alana Rose 

Alana Rose
Leopard 12.62 m Catamaran, Weight 10.5 tonnes
Firearms - No
Outboard Motor – 15hp Yamaha
GPS – Yes, 1 chart plotter 3 handheld GPS
Drugs – Prescription medication only
Radios – Yes, HF and VHF
Animals - No
Radar - No
Tobacco - No
Epirb – Yes  (406 registered)
Alcohol –
Wine           _______
Beer            _______
Spirits         _______
Engines – 2 x 40hp Yanmar Diesels

Master. John William Smith

Owners. John William Smith & Nancy Joan Smith

After breakfast and a shower we did some calculations, I felt that as planned we needed to be in Bonaire today before dark, I have not got detailed charts of the island; we have the larger scale and the pilot guides that have small sections of the island in detail. I want to get the bimini fixed or replaced so we may have to spend a few days there. We still had the big seas a little change from previous, I noted in the log, “moon down sun up the swell has stayed up”,  Although the swell is up the wind has died down, we are adjusting the course continually as the wind and the current is steering us away from where we want to go. Nancy said it would be nice to get to Bonaire today, so I started both engines sat them on 2000 rpm that combined with the main we were traveling between 7 and 10 knots depending whether we were traveling on the waves back or on the front.

 (Arriving at Bonaire, those huts is where the slaves lived in the old bad days)

We entered the marina at Bonaire and settled at the fuel dock and took on fuel before going to a marina berth. Once berthed we cleaned up before going ashore.

Our first job was to find someone to sew up the bimini, which we did it will be ready tomorrow afternoon.

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