Saturday, 5 May 2012

Puerto Rico to Bahamas

Hi from Clare,                                                    Friday 4th May 2012

When last I wrote the guys had hired a car in Puerto Rico and went touring to the second biggest town Ponca and then up into the mountains.  I stayed on the boat nursing my head.  We spent the next few days sailing along the south and west coasts of Puerto Rico stopping off a few towns for provisions before leaving for a three day sail to the Bahamas.

Ponce Fountain and the Fire Station

In the cruising guide the people of Puerto Rico are said to be one of the happiest in the world.  Well they were certainly friendly and seemed genuinely interested in talking with us. They would strike up a conversation and introduce themselves and shake our hands. It was a refreshing change. However the one thing I could not understand was that whole streets of houses are butted up together and totally enclosed with steel mesh, they look like bird cages. We also saw this in other Puerto Rican towns.  I would have loved to take a photo but I didn’t feel comfortable. Eventually a local woman chatting to us told me that she inspected houses to ensure that they are hurricane safe. So I seized the opportunity to ask ‘in all innocence’ if the bars on the houses are for hurricane protection. She answered “Oh no they are for security” So I asked “In such a happy community is this necessary?” She said
“Oh yes, it has always been like that” So I guess they are happy being light fingered.

In the hills of Puerto Rico

We had a very fast sail to the Bahamas. We left at 6.30am on Monday and arrived at 6.30pm Wednesday. It was a comfortable sail with the wind on our beam.  We averaged 6.94 knots and 166 miles a day; another record for Eye Candy.  The highlight of the trip was that we caught a 18 kilo Marlin; Andy had the fight of his life to land it. We had to roll up the headsail and go off course to stop the boat.  It took up the length of the cockpit. We had to butcher it up on the seat and we had blood running everywhere. It took two hours to get it into the fridge, clean up and resume sailing.

That fish and Norna after the drop off

Our next adventure was passing some fish over to fellow cruisers Pete and Courtney on “Norna”. We had been speaking to them on radio and knew that they were ahead of us.  They sail a beautiful old style cutter with a big yard  for a square sail that protrudes out each side of their boat. So the trick was to get close enough to throw them some fish without getting their yard tangled up with our rigging all with a 1.5m sea and 15 knots of wind.  So as we approached we rolled up the headsail, turned on the motor, came alongside. I was harnessed on to our mast with the fish in a supermarket bag tied to a hand held fishing line. So with one almighty swing I landed the bag on their stern deck. Pete cut the fishing line and Andrew bore away amidst much hooting and hollowing from all parties.   They have the video to prove it and we were too busy doing the job to take photos of the “toss”.

We came into the Abrahams Bay reef, Mayaguana Cay in the Bahamas yesterday around lunchtime.  It is important to enter through the reef when the sun is at its highest or behind as the water is shallow and is studded with coral heads. The lowest depth we saw was 2.5 meters and as Eye Candy draws 2.1 meters there is no room for error. Tactical Directions (catamaran) went ahead of us and kept in radio contact with Andrew reporting on depth changes and I stood on the bow to assist with hand signals to maneuver around the coral heads. Tactical Directions has an AIS which told us where he was on our chart plotter.  It was really scary but welcome to the Bahamas there is a lot more of this to come.

Now I know we all say “What a small world” but the first boat we saw in the Bahamas was the Gulfstar 62 (Pacific Dream) that we crewed on in 2004.  It is currently anchored next to us. It has a different name but Andrew recognized it immediately. It must have looked pretty funny for as soon as we anchored both Andrew and I got out our binoculars. What a pack of sticky beaks!  I can’t recall how many times Andrew and I have commented “Wouldn’t it be funny if we ran into Pacific Dream in the Bahamas?”

The old Pacific Dream

So Andrew went across and spoke to the paid skipper of the boat. Yes, it is the same boat. Apparently it was sold last year to the new owner. He is arriving this afternoon with some guests.  The skipper said it was a complicated boat and referred to it as a “nightmare”. As it so happens I wrote in our newsletter at the time that due to the constant breakdowns and workload on Pacific Dream we had nicknamed it “Pacific Nightmare” how’s that for a small world?

We intend spending a month in the Bahamas. Tomorrow we will leave here and continue north.  There is plenty to explore and we would like to revisit some of the places we went to back in 2004.

Love Candy xx