Catamaran: Viento Azul
Date: Sept. 25, 2019
Temperature: 82 Degrees
Starting the day with sunny and clear skies. Sailing Vessel Veintos Azul departs Islamorada through Snake Creek Bridge at 11a.m. Sorry to all who were held up in traffic, but it was for a good cause! The winds are light out of the east 10 -12 knots. Four souls on board: James, Steve, Ted and Gail.
We are successfully out of the channel on a five day tour to reach the mouth of the Rio Dulce which empties out into the Carribean Sea by the port town of Livingston, Guatemala. Ted and Steve dive in as we drift on the calm seas under sunny skies, a beautiful September day in the Florida Keys. The grass on the hulls mixed with a few tiny barnacles are in need of being removed. Clean hulls glide through the water at a greater speed. Every little bit counts and adds up. Durning this time, we noticed our cockpit cushions have been left in the warehouse. With so much going on from Hurricane Dorian hitting the Bahamas and everything else that in entails to prepare for a journey, you're going to forget something. In this case, we decided it is better to live with cushions than without. After a few phone calls, Carem comes to the rescue, meeting us at the docks at Post Card Inn, cushions in hand! Now we are ready for our journey.
The day was quiet and calm as we dodged many lobster pots which decorate the Florida Keys waters this time of year. Heading downwind, our preferred wind direction, it's a good time to fly the spinnaker and enjoy the ride. When sailing, a quiet day is a good day. Dinner closed the evening as we got ready for night watch. The sunset on the horizon mirrors that of a rainbow tonight, and all is well aboard Veintos Azul.
The new day dawns with surprises and mystery ahead. Sailing is an adventure and a dream of so many under the right conditions. Today we pray for the right conditions!
6:19 a.m. The ship on the horizon has finally met our path too close for comfort. Standing watch through the wee hours of the morning makes for tricky eyesight. The lights from the ship became very confusing -- this is where radar and ASI come in handy. The stars overhead are still in full brilliance and a sliver of the moon is resting in the east close to the horizon. Soon the sun will appear and take over the night sky and it will be day.
Five hours later, all crew are joined together after catching up on our sleep. The fishing lines go out in hopes of a great catch. A nice current from the Gulf Stream favored us last night, giving our speed over the ground increase. Today the 85 degree sea is still calm with light winds 7- 8, moving us at 5 knots, a slower ride than we are used to as we travel towards the Gulf of Mexico. We are looking at two more nights out before we are close to Canacun. Currently we are 50 miles from the Jordan Knoll.
NO fish today. Steak is on the grill. The current has changed against us, holding us back to the creeping speed of a walking pace towards Cuba before we will angle arcross closer to Mexico. No sign was out at Jordan Knoll which is somewhere in the ocean off of northern Cuba as we passed by. Way in the distance we are able to see some land of Cuba.
Sunset tonight is spectacular with a fireball of yellow bursting into orange on the horizon beneath cumulus grey clouds over the vast deep blue on the edge of the Florida Straits. We are close to entering the eastern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean. All is calm, and then suddenly a moment of excitement, pow! Our red and white spinnaker blew out from a gust at 8:30 p.m. Ted, Steve, and James race to the forward decks, retrieving the sail out of the water and untangling the lines. Tangled lines or a sail in the prop on such a dark night as this would not be a good situation unless you like night diving. All is well -- the spinnaker sail and line are all on board and the jib sheet now is rolled out to keep us moving down our way. We divide the night in two hour shifts to keep watch for lights on the horizon of ships passing, watching the weather and staying on course. It is also a beautiful time under the stars and a time of personal reflection as the stars declare the glory of God. Veintos Azul spent some time surfing down peaking waves tonight and the sound was delightful, peaceful and serene, sailing us into a flat calm morning.
Friday September 27 is an uneventful flat calm day. Dolphin are sighted off starboard aft but they did not want to come visit us today. Usually they like to swim over and play as the bow of the boat breaks through the water. At 5 p.m. we are just rounding the curve of Cuba. 22'01 N : 85'.07 W The sky is darkening ahead with a threat of rain. Rain it did, causing a glassy sheen on the water. Not a wrinkle to be found in the waves, clear and smooth, yet rocking and rolling. James ran up to the trampolines to try out some catamaran surfing, with a smile from ear to ear! The rain showering down is bouncing off the water, causing a dance between the seas and the sky. A good 45 minutes later, the weather settles in as the dark of night comes upon us. Throughout the night, the the dark clouds burst, and we heard the sheet blocks banging back and forth, pounding on the coach top. Tonight becomes an active night, adjusting sails and course with the wind changing her directions as she pleases.
Saturday morning rolls in with increased speed of 9 plus! We are making headway off the coast of Cozumel with more rain is in sight. Midday, the Mexican current reduces our speed to 4.5. Writing, reading, storytelling, knot tying, celestial navigation and polishing the stainless becomes our entertainment, occupying our minds wave after wave. Still no fish, but fortunately the rain has dissipated and it's a beautiful sunny day with a few ships passing by here and there. A sweet bird comes to visit and rests on the life lines in the early evening. Looking out to a ball of fire setting. It is an array of light radiating out into a vortex, shooting rays towards heaven. In an hour, it continues to change from one beautiful display of color to the next while the water appears now as a deep steel blue color with an icy gloss, shining deep within itself. Ted and Steve are looking at the stars, holding up their phone star app, and a sea bird actually lands on Ted's outstretched hand!
We have set the ship's clock back two hours to meet the west, and it is now Sunday morning. Last night was an intense night. Waves were breaking, slamming the hulls and and shooting water into our hatches and the cockpit. Veintos Azul took the waves well. I felt like I was on a carnival ride from the steep, short 4-6 foot waves moving us in a rhythmic new dance. The wind peaked to 20, and thunderstorms were lighting up the sky off our starboard hull. The good thing is we are on a reach. Going directly into the sea is a totally different story.
18'17 N: 87' 13 W
Dolphins appear this morning, a blessing to our day! Our speed is up to 6 knots as we are near Banco Cinchorro (Mexico). 50 miles ahead is Turneffe Atoll (Belize). Fish are on today, 3 barracuda and 1 faithful bonita, still none for the grill. The seas have settled in, and the ride has mellowed out as the day increases along with our speed, now 8 knots. We are 20 miles off the coast of Belize. Land is in sight and refreshing to see after the constant deep blue. The water has gone from thousands of feet to 18, which is giving my joggled brain relief as we pass by Northern Cay and San Bore Cay where the light house stands in the distance. Tonight, 180 degrees on the horizon, is a strobe of thunderstorm activity sending light signals around the boat. It is mesmerizing to watch. The stars are crystal clear above and magnificent to ponder on the flat sea as we continue with 129 nautical miles to reach Livinston, Guatemala. As we approach South Water Cay at 1 a.m., we decided to tuck away behind the island to spend the night to rest, which was interrupted by an electrical storm, which we were happy not to be sailing in. God is good!
September 30, 2019, Monday morning. 16"31 N: 87' 58 W Our speed is 5.6 and the sea is flat calm. Our calculation is that we will make our destination of Livingston close to 8 p.m. The sea and her conditions are forever changing. At times you may be able to walk to Guatemala as fast as Veintos Azul and at other times you need to hold on tight or you'll find yourself tossed into the sea. The sky will be sunny clear, and the next moment threatening black, then starlit skies and sunsets of beautiful colors. The sea has remained flat calm today as we motor our way to Livinston, since the wind has died off. Seven miles out, the strip of lights ahead is crossing over Livinston with the moon directly ahead. Many ships are passing by from Puerto Barrios headed out to sea. Next are the shrimp boats trolling closer to shore, and our final hurdle will be crossing over the sandbar. For now, we will set our anchor down at 8:56 p.m., having arrived! Thanking God for a safe voyage! Our Guatemala amigos Jerry and Otto will join us tonight aboard and keep watch over Veintos Azul. The waves are building so we decide to relocate, pulling up the anchor we cross over the sand bar into the mouth of the river. Off the City Pier and Buga Momma's home to the finest coco chino in down town Livingston we drop the anchor again for the night. In the morning we will check in and head up the Rio Dulce inland 22 miles to town.