It was finally time to leave the Eastern Caribbean and everything we know for unexplored (by us) waters. Sailing to Bonaire would be our longest passage ever. And the wind was going to be on our port side stern. We don’t have any experience with downwind sailing. Getting to the Eastern Caribbean was all upwind and moving island to island varied. We needed to prepare the boat for possibly five days downwind. We needed our gennaker. So far we hadn’t had much luck with it, but we thought now was the time. Yeah, sure.
Dave and I wrestled to get it up. Twice we previously tried to use it and twice we could not get it furled back up. So the sail was a mess and needed to be furled to use it. There was no wind, so we thought we could do it. Then a small breeze picked up and it was already too much for us to handle on our own. So Steve came over on Slow Flight and rafted up to us, a first for us – rafting up.
Steve and Marie came onboard Livin’ Life to give us a hand. We struggled some more with the sail, but the wind was definitely picking up. It is such a big and light sail that it can lift us right off the deck with little wind in it. It was too dangerous; we couldn’t get it up. A squall had picked that moment to go through. Perhaps if we waited an hour we could try again, but it was time to go. We just stuffed the gennaker back into its bag and determined to mess with it later. We need a zero wind day.
We bid goodbye to Martinique, the last we would see of the Eastern Caribbean. Not only did we not have to worry about a hurricane, we didn’t have enough wind to sail much. We weren’t in a hurry, however, sailing at 1.8 to 2.6 knots was really going to add time to the trip. We hoped we could make some of the time up whenever we found the wind, possibly 1/2 way to Bonaire. We didn’t want to motor the whole way. Not only does it get expensive; it is noisy, annoying, and less comfortable. There is nothing like that moment when you can turn off your engines and just sail! Wonderful.
Our first day out, we caught a small dorado. We thought this was a good sign for fishing our way there. Our meal that evening was fresh caught mahi mahi, baguettes from Martinique, and the last of our Grenada vegetables. No canned or microwave meals on this boat!
We had a late start. It was after noon before we left Le Marin. So the sailing day was short. However, we timed the trip to coincide with the full moon and nighttime visibility was fantastic. I think this is the first time we ever sailed in a full moon. What a difference it makes! Dave had a horizon to focus on all the time and he didn’t feel sick at all.
What are the two most common sights while sailing in the Caribbean? No, pirates aren’t one of them and neither are dolphins. They are boobies and flying fish and they go hand in hand. On nearly every sail, we are accompanied by boobies. Our boat scares out the flying fish and the boobies swoop in and pick the fish off mid-flight. The boobies miss a lot, though. I think terns are much more accurate fisher-birds.
Their flight pattern and body position changes when they spot the fish, so I typically know when they are going to dive. They are so fast, though, that by the time I click a shot on my camera they are already under water.
But frequently they miss and try hopping across the water after the fish. I can watch them all day and Steve did have a boobie that hung with him for more than five hours. That’s a lot of flying.
The boobies came and went, but not a day passed on this passage that we didn’t see boobies. They don’t cooperate with the camera and fly in and out of the scene. But this video shows how calm the water was for this passage.
I think it was the third day that we saw gannets, white boobies. These birds are beautful with the striking contrast of black and white markings.
They are shaped exactly the same as the brown boobies, but they somehow manage look more graceful. I can’t wait to get to the Pacific and see blue footed boobies. I just need to convince Dave that we need to cross the Pacific.
Those poor flying fish have no chance, yet there are so many of them. They must breed quickly. I say this because we have seen dolphins, pelicans, boobies, gannets, and terns all feeding on the flying fish at one time. It’s an amazing sight. Our fishing wasn’t going so well, though. We hit a dry spell after the dorado on the first day.
Because the wind was so calm, we got up the nerve to try out the whisker pole. It’s been so long since Jeff and Jean from Two Can Sail showed us how to use it that we can’t remember how they rigged it. We got it to work, but it seemed rather dangerous to put up and down. (We found out later that it was dangerous the way we rigged it and have since been shown how to rig it properly.)
Even in middle of the sea chores must continue. I cooked and Dave did dishes. We cleaned, made water, and kept up our ship’s log.
Land and objects help to make beautiful sunrise and sunset pictures, but there was nothing out here but water and sky. No land in sight. Sometimes the effect was still dramatic because of rain, clouds, and/or sun rays. I think the Saharan dust in the air also created more color.
One night we had a stowaway. Around dusk we had a bird started flying around our boat. It kept circling and paced us for about 30 minutes before it attempted landing. It finally did land on the stern arch. Once there, it stayed for the night. I really wanted to take a picture of it up there, but didn’t want to disturb it with the flash. In the morning the bird flew to the bow pulpit and hung out there for a while.
Now I could snap some shots without flash. I don’t know what kind of bird it was. It was colored like a seagull but was the size and shape of a tern. Is there such a thing as a black tern? Actually, it can’t be a tern. It had webbed feet. Hmmm. As soon as the sun shone on it, the bird flew off and we never saw it again. It just needed a place to sleep. Unfortunately, that was directly over our dinghy, which was covered in poop by morning. Oh well, it cleaned off easy enough.
After the third night, the moon was no longer full, didn’t come up as early, and wasn’t as bright. On our fourth night was starting to feel long and we were happy to see the sunrise. We didn’t have any problems and there was very little ship traffic the entire passage, but it is always great to see the sun come up in the morning. About half way to Bonaire, the wind did pick up and so did our speed. Some people make it in three days, but it took us 4 1/2. It was a fantastic passage and if they all go like this Dave may agree to crossing the Pacific. Next up, we arrive in Bonaire and go exploring.