compass rose

 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Plan B
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.

Ambergris Cay, Bahamas 05.08.07

Montserrat: Smokin'
Electric dock carts at Fajardo

Plan B

email sent: May 1st:

Eaux Vives is packed up for the summer and "on the hard" in the boatyard in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. We have flown up to San Juan and are currently in an enormous marina called "Puerto del Rey" in Fajardo Puerto Rico. We are joining our friends Dick and Liz Wood on their catamaran, Kia Orana (a PDQ 36) for a trip north to the US. The general plan is to sail out the eastern end of Puerto Rico and then head North North West along the Atlantic side of the islands and cays which stretch up to Florida. At roughly Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco, we alter course to almost due North and head for Beaufort, North Carolina. Thereafter we will go up the coast to the Chesapeake where Kia Orana is to be based. Exact routing and timing will depend on the weather but we expect to be back in email range in a couple of weeks. Just under 1400 nautical miles and our longest passage to date.
Should be fun,
Lance & Susie

Susie and Lance on night watch
2 am to 8 am watch

When last we were in contact with you, we were heading out on a rhumb line from the southeastern corner of Puerto Rico northwest for Beaufort North Carolina with a possible stop in the northern Bahamas. We left our anchorage at Los Palominos Islands on the east coast of Puerto Rico under overcast skies and moderate breezes. We passed a beautiful light house marking San Juan and headed out with high spirits into the vast blue. We set up a simple watch system: Susie and I on from 2 to 8 (am and pm) and Dick and Liz on from 8 to 2. We were making good time, as the winds built they backed and by the time we had rounded Puerto Rico, we were under double reefed main and partially rolled jib. The seas were from behind on the starboard quarter. This imparts an awkward corkscrew motion to the boat which in turn imparted a debilitating case of mal du mar in a very important member of the crew of Kia Orana. It also defeats the autopilot, so hand steering was required.

The members of the crew not feeding the fish were rejoicing in the speed and great progress. The catamaran sets up quite a racket as the waves strike the hull sounding like a wrecking crew trying to dismantle the boat from below with a sledge hammers. By the end of our watch, we were alternating between a broad reach and running wing on wing with winds of 20-25 knots from behind. We adjusted our watch system to give Liz a break and Susie and I decided to split her watch with Dick. When I faded, Susie was asleep below, and I left Dick alone with a promise to wake Susie if he needed help. About an hour later, Susie came in to wake me. Everyone was up and the boat was not moving. It was raining by now and it appeared that the jib was hour glassed around the mainstay. I went forward to try to bring it over and after a little flailing around realized that the best I could do was to wrap the tatters of the jib with the jib sheets by hand rotating the drum and then taking the sheets forward and wrapping them around the blowing bits of sail.

click for next column>>

Torn jib repairs

Kia Orana gets a new Jib
Kia Orana gets a new jib

Gloom but no fear descended on the captain and crew. I went back to bed. In the morning we were steaming due south for Mayaguez on the north western corner of Puerto Rico. Plan B: stop in at the northwestern corner of Puerto Rico, get the sail repaired and continue north. As it got late enough for businesses to open, we were within cell phone range of Puerto Rico again and started dialing for sails. We had no idea if it was a repair job and/or how much it would cost but it was clear we didn't want to sail that far with no headsail. As we motored back in to Mayaguez, we got everything ready, bring down the jib. set up an appointment with Chuck of North Sails and prepared to leap in the dinghy and rent a car and drive to Fajardo before closing time. The anchor was down at about 12 noon on Thursday and we hurriedly got the dinghy down, the jib in the dinghy and Susie and I sun screened, shod and armed with money. Dick delivered us to the dock where a taxi was conveniently waiting. We negotiated a price to the airport in broken Spanish, loaded the jib in the trunk when the people who had actually called him arrived by dinghy. We had stolen their taxi. As the taxi driver tried to save both fares, we were getting progressively more nervous about actually making Fajardo by closing time. We finally got going and in the car by about 2 o'clock and commenced on the road across the northern edge of Puerto Rico. In the end, it took 3 1/2 hours to make the 150 mile drive but Chuck was willing to come back to the loft after his "appointment" at dinner time.

We found the sail loft fairly easily and located a restaurant across the street. Decorated with pictures of the fisherman owner and his catch and occupied by the fisherman's charming two year old son, we got excellent and friendly service and an excellent meal. By 7:00 we had hauled the jib up in the loft and were stretching it out on the floor. Chuck described it as looking like the fringe on Roy Roger's coat and demonstrated how 9 years of Caribbean sun had reduced it to the consistency of tissue paper. We were invited to rip it some more (easily done) and then given a sample of new sailcloth to tear (not possible by hand). It looks bad for our heros. Earliest a new sail can be made is too late; sometime in early June. We overnighted in Fajardo and resumed our search for used sails thinking we could get a sail and cut it down. At the last minute on Friday, Chuck located a used headsail (in his loft) and offered it to us for $200.00. It was smaller, but cheap and available. We took it.

On watch for coral heads
On watch for coral heads

3 1/2 hour drive to the dinghy dock in Mayaguez. Dinghy jugs ashore for gasoline. Drive the rental back to the airport. Get a ride from a very nice Avis employee back to the dinghy dock and we were ready to get underway again on Saturday morning first thing. No wind.

Aground: on the reef at Ambergris Cay

More no wind. Kia Orana is powered by two 9.9 HP Yamaha engines. One can get extremely tired of listening to them drone. Listen we must as there has been from no wind to 5 knots from directly astern. Monday night saw, in addition to forecasts of no wind, predictions of prodigious swells from the gale to the north so we decided to push up under the Caicos Bank and anchor near Ambergris Cay to await the passing of the swells. Hurrying in to get anchor down before the fading light made spotting the reefs impossible. The Caicos Bank, on which perch precariously the small island nation of Turks and Caicos rises from 1000's of feet to 20 feet in a very short distance. Steaming in we fetched up on a reef with a horrible grinding sound. We got ourselves free of the reef and manouvered out through the coral heads into clear sand 10 feet deep and anchored for the night. Fortunately the crew of Kia Orana was in charge at the time and have taken the event well. There is some bottom paint on the reef, the port rudder is slightly bent and we are missing some gel coat on the port keel. All is well and we will continue with Plan B: North to Beaufort but this time inside the Bahamas. There are sailors who have gone aground and those who lie about it. My mama said don't lie, so there you are.

Lance & Susie
S/V Kia Orana



Back to top of entry Next journal entry
©2002-6 Accidental Cruiser Home Islands Photo Journal • Cruising LogSailing Info Viewer's Comments Comment