Sometime in late 2022 the glimmer of an amazing adventure started to take shape. This is the back story. I got a call from a guy named Roman, a boat buyer I had meet back in 2021. He wanted to buy my Jeanneau 54 I had for sale but I already had a contract on her. So since then, Roman had gone to the Mediterranean looking and finding a very nice Jeanneau 54 Deck Salon 2008. After sailing around some, he ends up in Gibraltar and wants to know if I can sell his boat if he brings her across? “BLACK PEARL” is her name, 3 cabin, generator, solar, watermaker, good condition, furling main, and jibe with spinnaker. I say, sure can, of course, so he’s on his way. Roman sailed her to the Canary Islands, stalled there for 3 weeks, Christmas comes and goes, and finally took off to Cape Verde Islands. Meanwhile, I have the boat listed and was hoping to have her here quicker, but that wasn’t happening. I called Roman and asked him what can I do to help? I mentioned that I do deliveries and one thing led to another and then I’m pondering my first Atlantic crossing!
First, I need to talk to my Wife about it. Hmmm, who can I get to take that much time off, I say to Janine? She quickly replies, who do you think! Both your brothers have just retired! No kidding, perfect, BEST CREW EVER! They both have recently got their Captains license. Quickly I dial up Mark and he says yes in about 2 seconds, awesome. Next a call brother Tom he seems interested but has to ponder a little, 20 minutes later he calls back I’M IN, LETS GO! Little did they know what they were getting into and me neither!
First, I start plotting the course and to see what the milage is and start studying the weather conditions. Leg 1 will be from Cape Verde Islands about 420 miles off Senegal Africa. The main Island Sao Vincente with the only airport and marina. Sao Vincente is very dry but the wind blows all the time, guess what direction? That’s right EAST winds. The small town of Mindelo is where most every on lives. Population 64,000, super dry, lots of rock, good surf, good kiting, good windsurfing, and friendly people.
My research comes up with direct route to St. Martin just south of Anguilla. I choose St. Martin because it’s a great place to rejuvenate. Good Ship stores, Marinas and Centrally located. We can rest and re-provision and get anything fixed. St Martin is half France and half Netherlands flagged. Come to find out France subsidizes food, drinks, wine of course and just about everything. So not very expensive all the way around. Grocery store food comes from France, Pharmacy is French, oh yeah bakeries are French, and of course restaurants French food is fantastic. I love this place! AWESOME!
Leg 1 2200 nm We are provisioning for at least 15 days St. Martin
Leg 2 1052 nm 7- 8 days Florida
Plan is to go to Puerto Rico 145 nm aprox 22 hours
Puerto Del Ray Marina in Fajardo PR, and check in to USA,
Then on to Palm Beach Florida final destinate.
1/11 Fly to Lisbon, Portugal – first flight canceled as we were on our way to airport
1/12 new flight successful, we are on our way
Long flight to Lisbon super comfortable plane. I watched a Magellan documentary to past the time and it gets me in the explorer mode.
Then a shorter flight sweeping low past the huge sharp rock mountain on the Isl Santo Antao to the island of Mindelo.
We see the short air strip to land on, wind is gusty, 20 plus, short chop white caps streak across the dark blue passage between the islands, yes and the wind is out of the East.
Landed! Whew! Walking off the small plane the warm East wind gives us our first taste of the Island aromas and the strength of the Trade Winds.
Quickly we get through customs and young Cape Verdean taxi driver Deeven greets us in his best non speaking English accent with a smile. Deeven whisks us through the outskirts of town, of course his shocks are in need of replacing very bumpy ride. Soon we enter the bustling town center going past the farmers market area where we will be in a few days filling our boat with fresh vegetables and the all important eggs. A few more turns and we pull up to the circle leading to Mindelo Marina. We can see all the masts swaying back and forth as we walk up to the main entrance. Our first lesson in their language is NOW which means no. As in, no we don’t need you to carry our bags and NOW we don’t want any of your trinkets you are selling. lol
The marina is full of sailboats, sailboats everywhere, love it! The Black Pearl is second boat in on the first pier. Some boats are bow in but most are stern to, like the Mediterranean style, no finger piers or piling, bow tied out to buoys and swim platform in to the dock and Passerelle to the dock. (fancy gang Plank).
Very encouraging to see that The Black Pearl was in pretty good shape. Onboard we find the keys and open her up and start moving into our home for the next month.
We all have our own cabin and head w/shower, super nice. Galley is perfect, big freezer and fridge is good size too. We will begin our survey of the boat head to town tomorrow.
Time to relax and take my crew over to the floating Tiki bar restaurant, we can smell the food and hear the music calling out our name just across the other dock. Lots going on in the marina. We talked with a few sailors, there is a rally going to leave next Tuesday to cross the Atlantic! It’s the Viking Explorers, 26 or so boats on the roster. What a great place as we watch one of many sunsets, today this one sinks behind the rocky outline of the point that protects us from the great blue ocean. The air drops a few degrees, and the wind keeps on keeping on, always blowing, always from the east. What a place 72- 78 degrees always nice in the shade, definitely shorts weather.
Back to business, first on the list we need to remove the jib and get it to the sailmaker for repair. The sail is synthetic and pretty worn, the repair is on the leech where the spreaders wore out the UV cover. The sailmaker turns out to be the guy running the show here at the marina, his name is TOWGA. Super nice guy if you need something, he is the guy to ask. Come to find out later the sail doesn’t have much life left in her. We stayed on the docks for 4 days and the sea rolled the floating docks in the marina around like I have never seen before. But we think it was a good way to prepare us for the voyage. We had a long list to go through on the boat to make sure we were ship shape. We sent Captain Tom up the rig to visually check rigging and fittings, we dug deep in the transom and found the steering quadrant needed adjusting. We tested water maker, checked batteries, checked electronics we thought were working. We found and checked every fuse and breaker, located every thru hull. We pulled the jib back up and unfurled the main. Tested propane stove and filled up another propane tank. We calculated drinking water and a little extra for 15 days at sea. The very important task of cleaning the bottom and prop was just finished up by Nell and his brother, they did a great job. The last day we headed out to provision at the outdoor market, stocking up on fruit and vegetables. It was fun mingling with the locals trying to understand how much this and that was. We bought a big bunch of bananas on the stock to hang in the cockpit next to the hammocks holding our vegetables and fruit. Eggs turnout to be the most expensive we bought 2 flats. Overall provisioning was inexpensive compared to when I do provisioning in Florida.
Our final walk out the docks!
Tom runs the jack lines, secured bow to stern on both sides. This is one inch webbing strap we can hook our harness tethers to as we go forward. We pull out the harnesses PDFs adjust so they fit correctly. Final thoughts and a prayer, thank you Lord for this opportunity to enjoy the wonders of your creation and spending time with my brothers, keep us safe and making right decisions and keep our families safe while we are on our trip.
We have a designated Go-Bag for safety equipment in an easily accessible place. We agree no going forward if no one else is watching. No peeing overboard always go to head for safety reasons of course. We check the fluid levels in the engines. We check the weather one more time. Winds 15-20 sometimes 25 knots out of the East slightly changing to the ENE .
We ponder going out and sailing nearby just to check and double check equipment but in the end, we are eager to get going west.
DEPARTURE January 16 2023
Over to the fuel dock we top off the tanks. This is when we start keeping track of engine hours, main engine and generator so we can get a good idea on how much we consume.
Full Tank 124 gals plus 10 jugs of fuel reserve
3:46 pm Black Pearl Brothers Voyagers are underway!
Out the bustling Porto Grande we go, many sailboats anchored out around the cove. A few ships tied here and there. Heading NW as we slowly turn more west the wind increases, funneling between the 2 islands. Super nice conditions, mostly flat seas with a swell rolling buy. For now, we have good winds basically on course for the next 2185 miles. 20 miles or so we clear the tip off Santo Antao. Soon we realize the huge peaks of the island is disrupting our wind.
The seas start to build, everything is going west.
The Pearl seems to handle the rolling seas but with the wind going light, our apparent wind is 5 knots or so. We are pondering motoring to get away from the wind shadow cast by the high peaks of the island. Its late on the first night, we are getting into our night shift mode.
I’m down below putting on my harness as we get a big roller, the boat lurches sideways and I loose my balance slamming into the port side wrenching my neck. OUCHHHH! Dazed I regroup after a little anger released!!!!!!! for being so stupid. Mark and Tom check on me and I shake it off. Just what I need in the beginning of the trip.
Day 2 more trials
We notice the plotter is blinking on and off and loses GPS signal and the VHF also has just gone dead.
I try to trouble shoot turning on and off and fiddle around looking for loose wires with no success. We still have my iPad and iPhone working with the NAVIONICS App for navigation, but no Radar and AIS, which gives us location of other vessels. Not really much traffic out here but a little aggravating.
Later that day we were reefing the jib as the winds were increasing to over 25 knots, the sheet got loose for only an instance and flogged the clew area of our Jib, starting a rip! Bam! Quickly we furled it up before it totally gets shredded.
167 nm out, we are now sailing main only, winds are gusting to 28 knots. And the ship electronics totally are of no use to us. Not Good!
The crew has a meeting to discuss our options. So, there is a spare jib, we can wait until we have better condition for a sail change.
We could return to Mindelo but that is directly up wind in 25 plus knots for 167 miles!
The Pearl is doing 5.5 to 6.5 knots with mainsail reefed, it’s not that bad.
Seas are big and rollie, no changing sail in these conditions.
Decision is made to continue and wait for better sea conditions to change headsail.
Jan 18 8:00 am speed over ground (SOG) is still 5.8 to 7 knots
My thoughtful Brother Tom rigs a jack line across the salon from the door way bulkhead handle to the nav. table support pole. Keeping it safe in the large salon area with something to hold on to when traverse this area. Thank you, my brother!
Seas are smaller today thinking about changing headsail but winds are still 20-25 knots Very hard to change sail in these winds.
Tom and I are slowly realizing what the cruising sailor’s mentality is all about. It’s about the big picture, no need to press for speed, always trimming and go go go! Its ok to chill out and not always maximize speed. Because of our racing backgrounds, its hard thing for us but Mark is already there, I think we should call him, Captain Cruise!
Today we try to use the stove to cook a meal for the first time. Only one thing missing the fiddles that hold pots on the stove to keep pots from sliding off. Nowhere to be found. No luck finding them, so I improvise and tie the handles to rim around the stove, works fantastic.
First cooked meal on The Black Pearl
Cape Verde Sausage and rice
Sauté up the sausage we got in Cape Verde,
butter and a little olive oil.
Throw in chopped up, Green onion, Carrots, Green pepper and Sautee
Add some Peas
And secret ingredients, Mule Sauce I brought with me
Toss it all in a pot with the rice
Salt and Pepper
And VOILA, Cape Verde Sausage and Rice!!!!
Taking a nap is a very important task a sailor must learn to do every day, so we are rested for our evening watch. The sounds of the boats motion rolling and surging through the water is rhythmic. Slowly the wave catches the stern and starts to urge The Pearl forward increasing our speed combined with the wind and the right puff she almost makes the downhill slide but swoosh and flap flap goes the sails, rattle clicks of the boom as it resets itself and the wave is gone and it starts all over again. I love napping under sail, its as though time almost stops. Time means nothing for a little while.
Getting in rhythm
Thursday Jan 18th Winds are 22-25 still sailing main only
Morning ritual, Mark is on his 6:00 am shift, the suns glow starts to show herself. Coffee time and Captain Tom has his Earl Grey tea. Breakfast is discussed, we either have the Master, Capt. Mark make his amazing omelets, or we have fruit and yogurt. And sometimes our Oatmeal king Capt. Tom stirs up the perfect oatmeal with raisins, dates, and or apricots, and a little coconut milk. Bananas too!
We turn the freezer off every night on Toms 3:00 am shift and back on in the morning. The power is usually down to 45% so we run the generator for 1-2 hours and brew coffee, this get her back up to 80% then the sun does the rest. Later in the trip we had a full moon and we would only drop to 55% with our solar moon panels!
I run a Weather GRIB on the Iridium satellite. This is the forecast for the next 5 days. Basically it’s a tool to helps us decided what to look for, wind speed, wind angle, wave angles, maybe change our course to be most efficient and comfortable with the waves.
By now we have had four days logging data, engine and generator run time, power use and water use, and Speed over ground average. Tom has been tracking us on the paper charts and giving us our 24 hour milage numbers. Pretty amazing on Jan 19, we did 160 miles in 24 hours, that’s 6.6 knots! With only the mailsail up!
Jan 20 2023
Today the seas are more civilized, and the winds are down to 16 knots and sometimes less. We decide today is the day to change the head sail. Preparations are made, the replacement sail is up on cabin top. I’m at the helm Mark and Tom on the bow ready to drop the sail. They quickly unfurl and let the halyard go. The team gathers her in as I go upwind for a few moments to keep the sail on the boat. Good job, half the job is complete. Back on course Mark and Tom roll out the replacement jib and tie the sheets on and attach the halyard and tack. READY, Tom feeds the sail in foil groove as we head to wind and push the button to raise the halyard up, winch away. Fantastic! Back to full power Thank you Lord!
Jan 21 2023
Flying fish are everywhere today, as they are every day.
Fishing line out but nothing biting. 19,000 feet to the bottom we got nothing! Well, we keep trying.
30 miles north of the rhumb line we jibe to port. The winds are dead downwind so its super hard to keep the jib full. So, we are experimenting with different ways to keep up speed. One way is to reach up back and forth like you do on faster boats. But that’s not really helping. This is when wing on wing would help but without a whisker pole, and these large waves it doesn’t work very good.
Well, well, well look who’s in the kitchen this morning! That’s right it Oatmeal Tom brewing it up. Nothing better than good trusting oatmeal specialist to get it done, right, love it!!!!
Later that day off on the horizon we see some interesting movement. Sure enough its dolphin! Many dolphin that are heading straight for us. I stumble for my phone and start videoing the fun. Small spotted type dolphins racing to impress us. Amazing Amazing!!!!! What a sight!
Our evening watches are working well Mark goes from 9-12, I take the midnight to 3 shift, and Tom is the anchor man 3-6. Every day the sun slowly changes as we move west, but the clock is frozen in Cape Verde time so we may adjust for Mark to do his shift from 11-2 am, so his day time shift in the morning at 6 am when we start again is more of a daytime shift.
Jan 22 2023
True wind speed 13 knots.
Wind angle 170 to 160 degrees. That means dead down wind is 180 wind angle, and 90 wind angle is a beam reach.
OK, Time to try out the asymmetric spinnaker as we call her, BIG PURPLE! Seas are very civilized today as the wind is lighter as we approach the halfway mark of this leg of the voyage. The spinnaker is in a sock so we can hoist it all the way up and then deploy when we pull the sock up, BAM! What a site she is, pulling strong. We decide instead of reaching up a little to keep it free from the main wind shadow, we furl the main in all the way and go spinnaker only. Working much better, solid full, and loving it!!!
Jan 23 2023
36 hours with the spinnaker up night and day amazing!
Our 24 hours run is 180 miles, that’s 7.5 knots, we are making track! The wind has moved forward now, we are closer to a beam reach. Time to put Big Purple away, as the wind starts to increase. First, we unfurl the main sail. Tom’s on the foredeck for the sock pull, spinnaker starts to collapse behind the main, down, down, down, Tom pulls with all he’s got, nicely done! Great job team. Sail and sock stowed just as we cross the half way point 1167 miles to go, overall average speed, 6.48 nm per hr.
As the sun grew closer to the horizon the three of us standing in the cockpit, we’re contemplating our surroundings together. We noticed how the waves sometimes look like boat is bobbing on the horizon. I say, “look that right over there,” as we all scan the horizon. I say, “wait a minute, low on the water is something greenish, no mast”, we can barely see it as we pass. The discussion ensues what is it? Maybe it’s a life raft? Mystery 1, We mark the chart and call out on the radio. Turning around is the next discussion, “we must go back” Tom says. The wind is lighter now as we furl the jib and head back along the track we made on the iPad chart plotter. Searching and searching we see nothing and finally assume we were mistaken and must have been seeing things or ????? was it a submersible, and they don’t want us to see them? 13000 feet and 1500 miles off Africa the mystery remains. Mystery 2 Just about sunset we are back on course, and I look over to the starboard side a marked flagged buoy goes by 50 feet away! We almost ran it over! It kind of looked like a man overboard pole but bigger. We know it can’t be anchored. Wow that’s crazy. Beautiful watching the sun once again dip below the horizon, shades of night all around getting darker. Mystery 3 behind us maybe 1 mile or so, following us are green and red navigation lights. Again, we reach out hailing on the handheld VHF, Nothing? We must be moving faster than them and then they slowly disappear into the night???????
Jan 24 2023
Today, just about beam reaching, we clock our Record run 187 nm in 24 hours BAM!
A couple rainbows form on the edges of the rain showers, it’s so beautiful out here! I Never get tired of the beauty! The wind increases some as the showers pass and then the wind lightens up again. Just a local Trade winds thing, Seas are uncomfortably messy, waves from 2-3 directions.
Jan 25 2023
Sun came up again, Thank God as the shadows turn to light and the mysteries in the dark disappear. Looking out on the horizons far and wide we are alone with each other. Hmmmm funny no flying fish today? Oatmeal, coffee and tea to start the day. Last night seas and waves were up and down but always going west!! Capt. Mark, the Omelet KING, was at it for lunch today, adding a touch of green olives. FANTASTIC, I tell you.
Wind 13-18, SOG 6.5 to 8 knots wave angle is comfortable
5 to 8 foot waves with 9 second period ( the period is the distance apart a wave is to each other) the longer the period the more comfortable it is. 3 second period for example sucks and brings more pounding.
Jan 26 2023
2:00am watch, I just got done with a nice long nap. Time to relieve my brother Mark. The sky is so clear now after the moon has long disappeared the stars are out! BAM! a shooting star darts low across the horizon. Yep, there is the Big Dipper right between the dodger and Bimini top. We have a connector for day time for shade between the dodger and bimini top and we unzip it at night so we can see the wonders of Gods Glory! Verrrrry nice!
Winds are 12-16 knots the boat is jostled around quite a bit. I hear movement from below, its Tom “ why is the boat moving around so funny, try heading up a little” he says. I trim the jib and come up some, and The Pearl settles down a little and back up over 6 knots. The Jeanneau 54 Deck Salon seems to handle the seas pretty well, like a big boat should, and definitely she is not a dog.
Just before dinner in the cockpit we had a domino game. I love playing dominoes with my brothers they seem to enjoy it, but not as much as me, I think Tom was winning when he lost interest and went to mess with some sail trim like he loves to do. I love having my brothers as crew what a blessing from the Lord.
I pulled out some Norwegian smoked salmon we had in the freezer for dinner. I made some rice and added peas, and sautéed vegetables that were leftovers. Little cilantro, green onions, little grated cheese, and a touch of fresh grated ginger, salt and pepper, and Mule sauce. Bam! That’s what Im talkin bout! A Fantastic meal as the sun sets.
It looks like the wind is increasing and maybe a little shower crossing our path, but it never materialized. The wind is still blowing from the east northeast giving us a nice broad reach, we are powered up with a good wave angle, Black Pearl is loving these conditions and so are we.
2:00 o’clock Watch
It’s crazy we can still communicate with Home. My new ZOLEO Satellite location tracker is working out great, sending locations to our followers at home and we can text anytime we want, works really good.
Looks like we have steady wind for 5 more days before we get to Saint Martin.
Still no fish caught, a little disappointing but what will the fish be doing way the heck out here in 16,000 feet of water I don’t know. Peculiar there were not any flying fish today. They have been one of the steadiest friends we’ve had the whole trip until today. Well let’s see what Navionics has to say? We have 709 miles to go. So that makes us about five days away at six knots. It’s getting a little chilly tonight headed down to get some warmups.
OK I’m back I grab some Pringles as I walked by the Galley for a little snack. There is the big dipper, faithful and true always upside down right between the Bimini and dodger every night as it rotates past, Gods glory in the sky always so amazing!
Jan 27 178 miles in 24 hrs.
Good Morning this is Black Pearl, Friday cruising along 6.5 knots. Wind is 16 to 18 knots. Wind angle is now 90 degrees beautiful beam reach! The wave angle too is from our beam more giving us a more uncomfortable rolling motion. Our trusty flying fish are back, skies are blue so blue! A few clouds dot the northern horizon very far away. We are inside 500 miles now to St Martin. The fresh brewed coffee smells fantastic. Captain Tradewinds Tom is having a cup of tea, Earl Grey Prince of Whales of course.
Every morning we run a weather GRIB. We are heading 285 degrees to get back to the rumb line. No whale sightings. I have a feeling we will see something today. Tom is taking some noon sightings. Seems we are way off course!
Mark is taking his early evening nap, Tom and I are readying the ship for night shift. Reefing a couple wraps on the main sail. I see looking out over the port bow horizon a planet is following the sun over the horizon. High above the swaying mast head is the not so crescent moon anymore, casting its moon dust rays on all the wave tops as they all race west, we followed. West we go! West we go!
Jan 28th 2 oclock watch report
I relieve Mark for my 2 o’clock shift, Wind is 15, Wind Angle 110 degrees, SOG 6.5 knots COG 275.
The moon has set, my trusty Big Dipper is right where she always is amidst of the billions of stars on this epic night!
A ship goes buy the other way. Its only the second one in the last 3 days.
The moon long gone now, the skies are darker bringing out all the star in the heavens in the Mid Atlantic Ocean. Endless phosphorescence a streaming of our port rail. So cool so cool
When I was a kid my Uncle Ron would point out the constellations to me. We always started at Orion’s Belt right there, then we went down to the Gemini Twins, right there, then over to the Big Dipper and up to my sign The Leo the Lion right there, the backwards question mark. WOW! Always mind boggling looking into the skies, just like mariners have been doing on this very familiar trade route in the days of the sailing ships. I feel I should have brought something with me from Cape Verde to trade with the local islanders in St Martin when we get there. Rolling, Rolling keep this ship going, to the next port we go!
Thank Lord for another day, keep us safe, and keep are families safe on the mainland AMEN
Jan 29 Last 24 hour stretch
Winds 14-17 knots, wind angle 130, SOG 6.2 knots,
COG 180 degrees, DTW 145.5 nm
ETA 7:45 am Monday Black Pearl Time Zone
Here on the Pearl we are stuck in Cape Verde time, even as we move west not until the cell service reaches out and grabs us, soon we enter the NEW WORLD.
Another shower an another rainbow appears off the starboard bow beautiful!
Jan 30 Looking for one more sunrise.
Land Ho !!!!!! Captain Tom declares as he squints towards the western horizon.
The sun light slowly glows in the east, the Island outline comes to life on the horizon, lights start to glisten in the Mountains on St Martin. Anguilla Island on the right is low on the water. The waves are starting to line up in rows, surging in unison towards the channel, 6.2 miles to go. The wind increases as it likes to funnel between the islands. Black Pearl is in the groove with the swells finishing strong. The depth gauge comes to life 33 meters to the bottom. Oh, how I love the sunrise, Surging down the next wave now 7.5 knots! Once uneven waves directions and uneven periods the waves even up more and more 7 to 8 foot waves of energy pushing us one last time. Still white capping we jibe toward shore onto port the first time in 2095 miles. Beautiful gliding motion now with main only 7 knots SOG, all most dead down wind. We see a catamaran out early moving along the shore slowly.
No roll now twist just steam rolling 54 foot of boat paralleling the shore in the quite early hours in a misty sunrise of the New World. The churning sea continues to push us forward wave after wave. The dark outline of the mountain terrain greets us My Lord’s Majesty on display! We have made it. Bonjour indeed
St Martin Jan-30 to Feb 3
Next stop is The Marina Fort Louis. Located just around the corner of the Island only exposed to a northwest wind. As we get closer to BAIE DU MARGOT crescent shaped bay, we see hundreds of anchored or moored boat. We can just make out the circular sea wall around the marina.
It’s before 9:00 so no one is replying to our hail on the radio. A big square rigger is peacefully anchored up resting for her next adventure. Awesome! Well, we hope we can get a slip? We had very sketchy correspondence with the marina office but never got a solid answer. We slow and glide through the 200 foot opening circling clockwise there seams to be empty spots. The Moorings have a charter base here. We see an old fuel dock and cozy up to the rustic cement seawall, fenders out, we are pretty excited to touch land and explore the Island.
Finally, we get someone on the radio at the office, they say come on in. Oh well we are already sitting 200 yards away at the unattended fuel dock, most likely not functional fuel dock. Jessica is a little surprised and scolds us who said you could come in? All worked out and she helped us check in to customs online. Note to self iPads don’t work as well as laptop navigating the customs web site. Its all about auto fill, works on better on a laptop.
Soon we back into our slip-on A dock, stern to with mooring buoys on the bow, no finger docks just exit off transom. Our nice Passarella came in handy very nice. Come to find out the marina is under construction putting in new electric. So that’s really the only reason they have empty slips.
Ok we are stoked, first get checked in and then off to the Bakery just a block away in the cozy little French town of Marigot.
St Martin is a very cool place the island is divided in half, French side, and Netherlands side. No border stops or anything but much history between the 2 side.
Great island to get some work done, marine stores, rigging, sail lofts, and hopefully electronics techs. We need help to continue safely on our second leg to Florida. Our list to do, Electronics includes Chart Plotter, Radar, AIS, ship VHF, Head sail repair, and we noticed the main sail outhaul block on the clew is cracked, and also need the mainsheet doughnut between the clew and block, this keeps the line knot from wearing out. We realize the wear and tear is at a much higher level on these kinds of trips obviously.
The next morning I plan on looking at a Beneteau 473 near our marina in the mooring field. We have a buyer looking for this size boat and since I’m here I will check it out. Richard the owner picks me up at our dock in his dinghy. Super nice and very knowledgeable Captain and delivery guy. He takes great care of his boat. I give the thumbs up on the deal the boat is worthy, and we write up a contract. BAM! I LIKE IT
We have had beautiful weather every day, breezy and in 70s we are really enjoying ourselves. Some of the French restaurants we love are the O’Plongeoir ( translated diving board) 2 minute walk from the boat was amazing. Every night each of us would order something different and we would do the brothers rotation sharing the amazing foods. Thursday night after we had been to O’Plongeoir two nights in a row we did a random drive up the coast on the north side. High ridges overlook the Channel where we came in. It is one of the crescent bays “ Baie de Grand Case”.
We stumbled upon this during a wrong turn, many stores and restaurant bars overlooking the bay with a public dock making for a cool anchorage, an easy dingy to the beach for exploring, shopping and dining! “Neice SXM” was our spot a few feet away from the waves and sandy beach front, right next to a bar with live music, dingys coming and going.
You could see dozens of sailboats at rest, their anchor light swaying like stars in the night. Awesome spot here on Chase Beach St Martin. What a night!
Provision for the second leg to Puerto Rico/ Florida was simple, great prices at the big and small markets, lots of French products and fresh produce, Eggs where the only thing hard to find and expensive relatively. We had to go to the secret egg outlet store to get out eggs.
Another mission we rented a car to go to the Netherland side to try to get our damaged sail fixed and we found amazing marine stores, Island Water World was the place, right near the sail lofts and rigging shop, all right in the same area. Amazingly we found a replacement block for our main sail clew from Quantum sailmakers. We had the outhaul doughnut made by the rigging shop, and we had lunch at our new favorite spot on the Netherland side of the island, Lagoonies on the waterfront, fantastic fish sandwiches. We picked up a our new hand held VHF/ with AIS screen to solve our electronics problem. We could now set up alarms for ship and other vessel notification for the next leg. Incredibly happy! We now were satisfied to keep the adventure going.
When we returned to the boat Capt. Tom had been shopping. He scored the whole team red trousers. So the story is once you have sailed across the Atlantic you have the right to wear red trousers. So there you go. Red Trousers rock!
Set sail once again Feb 3Destination Puerto del Rey Marina Puerto Rico St Martin to PR 146.4 nm
We stop to top off fuel tank on the way out, took on 54 gallons. Fuel dock is right at the entrance canal that goes into the inner bay that can take you to the marinas on the other side of the island. Soon we are under way, waves are 2-3 feet, winds are gusting 20 on our beam as we again head west for a 22 hour run almost a straight shot, passing Tortola, St John, St Thomas around midnight.
Then we split the 2 Spanish Virgin Islands on the approach in the morning. We keep checking the weather for wind conditions and it is looking good. We will do a US check in at the marina, possible get a slip or keep going towards Florida right away.
Just before sunset we hear the cry of our fishing pole ring out! Bzzzzzz bzzzzz FISH ON! FISH ON ! I run to the back of the boat and grab the rod, adjust the drag a little tighter. I can see the streaking blue, yellow, and green in the waves behind the boat. Dolphin! For super! Or some may call it a MAHI. Soon he will be joining us for dinner! Mark grabs a bucket and gloves, Tom is at the helm and slows us down a little. I continue to reel, fzzzzzzz goes the reel as the line buzzes off, again and again I steadily keep turn the handle drawing him back to the boat. Finally this beautiful fish is close enough for Mark to reach out and grab the leader, TIME IS NOW, NOW OR NEVER I SAY! BAM! Yes sir he’s got him. Small Bull dolphin Nice!!!!!!! perfect size. He lands on the deck, flip, flopping like crazy. Tom is taking pictures. Finally we caught something after all these days thank you LORD.
Before long I prep the fish and start dinner, my favorite Pasta, spinach, cheese, and Mahi.
Dishing out dinner as the sun sets in front of us what a day what a day.
Later that night 2 oclock watch report winds 15, broad reach, 7.5 SOG. Slight showers possible, temp 70 degrees
We just start to see the mountains from Virgin Island off on the horizon to starboard, flickering lights scattered through the hills. So beautiful out here tonight WOW! We are making good time just as predicted.
Feb 4 On the approach PR
I wake to cloudy skies; rain is chasing us from behind. We can see Puerto Rico rising up just in front of us with the rain in the mountains moving west.
There are a couple big rocks to port and Calibra Island is to starboard, we have 7 miles to go. Rain showers are bearing down on us from the south. Another beautiful day right on schedule and I can smell the coffee brewing
4 miles to the harbor now, I slow down to let the showers pass before we head into the inner harbor. The shower goes right over the marina and up the mountain range. Perfect, the sun starts to come out as we head into the marina. It’s about 9 oclock as we try to raise the marina on the radio but now answer. I start trying to work the nifty customs check in app but am having difficulty on my IPad. We pull up to the fuel dock and decide the conditions a so perfect we will just keep going towards home. We take on 7 gallons of fuel, amazing engine is very efficient. We motored 10 hours and used only 7 gallons 110hp Yanmar.
Finally Mark connects to the app on his phone and we are in business. Customs calls back they are sending agents over. Funny 5 agents show up, I guess they wanted to see this nice 54 foot sailing yacht. Very inquisitive about or boat asked us many questions. They did give us a hard time about the olive tree the owner had lashed to the port stern rail. They said we can’t bring that into the country.
Ok we are under way again 11:00 am. Out the harbor, sails up and headed north for 6 miles then taking left turn rounding the east most point of PR and the island Cayo Icacos on our starboard. Winds started picking up as we cleared the Islands wind shadow. Great wind angle, waves were pushing us nicely along the coast of PR. Charging along our top speed hit 10.5 knots, that’s what I’m talking about. Great decision to take advantage of this very nice weather window to keep on keeping on west! Time for me to get dinner going, think we will have shrimp and pasta tonight. That was on the menu last night but we caught that beautiful Mahi instead.
Feb 5 Sunday 11:00 am SOG 9 knots COG 301 degrees Wind 20 – 22 knots seas 4-5 feet
Offshore Dominican Republic now making fantastic time. The mountains of Dominican are beautiful and endless it seems. Waves are giving us a good push to along the coast. Peaking up the waves show us a bright white foam as we go, every so often they a slight vision through the wave tops appears just under the white caps showing us a quick glimpse like stain glass clear blue window peak into the sea, beautiful!
Tonight for dinner we are having Cheese burgers on French crusty bakery bread from St Martin. Dinner in the cockpit as the moon rises.
All most full she is, great to have her guiding us west through the night, shining on the wave tops as we go west, west and more west. Temperature tonight 75 degrees, I have a long sleeve shirt on, what fantastic conditions. We reached up some for a better ride through the waves with good speed, so now its time to jibe and get back to our target course.
Very civilized out here today about 18 miles off the coast of Dominican. We can just make out on the horizon a misty graceful outline of the mountain range, beautiful indeed. Waves are at a good angle for us helping push the Pearl west 6.5 to 7 knots. Rolling Rolling Rolling along! Corn flakes for breakfast today with raisons and apricots. Maybe we will have omelets for lunch today.
The crew is in good mind today contently making time towards home. Tom gets up and walks forward every now and again to get his time alone with himself. He fiddles with stuff and checks things out. He’s good crew making sure we are ship shape.
I just put out the fishing line, decided to go with the blue lure instead of the green this time. Let see if we catch anything?
30 minutes later BAMMMM BZZZZZZ! Goes the drag FISH ON! Again I grab the rod and adjust the drag bzzzzzzzzz goes the reel losing line quick. This is a much bigger fish! Tom has the camera ready, Mark is ready with a glove on and bucket. Up to the transom bzzzzzz back out What is it! Bzzzzzz again, tiring me and the fish we finally get her close, Mark grabs the leader and swings the fish up over the life line the smiling teeth go, Barraccuda? King fish? Wait a second niccccce! Zebra like strips revealed dang it’s a WHAHOOO! 30 POUNDER AT LEAST! Great work team, good job landing her!
2 O’clock watch report
Winds are strong whistling through the cockpit 15-20, the salt air has become normal. The waves slapping the hull with the rhythms of the sea. The moon is now directly overhead shrouding the stars as it does. My harness jingles wherever I go giving me comfort to stay onboard. No land in sight now, soon the next land fall will be Great Inagua Islands also known as the Salt Islands.
Its Bahamas 2nd largest Island, interesting history, this has been the place for Salt. Morton has an active business harvesting salt for many years, and others far back in 1500s supplied Spanish Colonies with salt. Many wrecked ships laden with treasure have been destroyed on the Inagua reefs. The Santa Rosa was one well known ship with much gold treasure. Matthew town is on the west side, would be fun to explore someday.
Looks like we are deciding to go to the north side between Great and Little Inagua the pass is 5 miles wide plenty of water. I have before enjoyed the clear blue waters as great spot to anchor and swim and catch fish and Lobster on a previous trip.
Once through the Salt Island gate we will make course to 275 degrees again following Old Bahama Channel below the Ragged Islands to our path between Cuba and Andros Island Bank. At on point we will be 12 miles off Cuba’s coast.
Let me tell you about sailing with my Brothers, what a blessing and great crew indeed. These 2 captains are a great complement to the ship. Captain Mark the eldest, I call him our old younger brother. I look up to the man, brother, father, husband, grandfather, son of a sailor and bad ass all around water man. The good Captain Mark brings to the table a conservative cruising style to the team. He is always ready to move into action, and thinks through situation on the voyage with deliberate caution. Not to mention his above average leftover omlete making skills and pretty good sandwich maker. This makes me happy good food keeps the crew happy.
Then there is the good captain Tom like the trade winds, strong, consistent, always there moving forward. His consistent goal to keep the ship moving efficiently. To me it’s a great value as a captain to have another set of eyes and like minded working as a team. The fun in trips like this is the puzzle. The route planning, the sail trimming, navigating, and overall safety and end game. The ability to change plans and open to ideas is so special. We have different styles I like true wind, Tom likes apparent. I question him and he questions me this is one thing we do often and it help us learn and get better at what we do. Thank you Lord for my brothers.
Feb 8 2 o’clock watch already?
I wake up to see Tom and Mark in the cockpit, its blowing 30 and spitting rain. Oh I still have another hour. Oh thanks back to bed.
Feb 9 Last night watch of the trip, the moon again is shining our way home! The 3 bothers are in the cockpit on the last night together.What a blessing this has been. Earlier we sail by Cuba and turned towards Miami slowly but surely or speed increase as we break free from the eddy from the merging rivers of water flowing north and connect with the Gulfstream. We see ships off to the left hugging the Andros bank. The conditions are rough but its all relative now. Soon the glow of Florida grows brighter and brighter. Are SOG increases first 10 knots then 11 knots! We are loving it as the ETA gets sooner and sooner. Now reading 12:00 noon ETA! Zoom, Zoom, we are doing 12 knots in the Gulfstream, what a gift for the end of the trip! Now 12 knots SOG are you kidding me love it ETA 11:32 AM Go Go Go.
Yes the moon is still out but its over there to the left, no more following her. There is a few clouds in the sky, winds 20 knots from the east, cruise ships are about, looks like they are Miami bound. Black Pearl rides the waves over and over again, we are north bound riding the Gulfstream, past Andros, past Miami on our left, Bimini on our right, finishing strong with the Gulfstreams help. BRING US HOME!
Thank You Lord for following Seas, good Winds, Great Fellowship, Always to remember times at sea! Signing Off SAILMcNally