[NOTE:  The blogs for the last week at sea are going to be a published time-late since we’re out of Internet range.  The date they were written will be at the top of the article.  Sorry for any confusion.]

15 March 2016

We started the engine just before noon this morning and cast off the lines from Riding Rock Marina in San Salvador, the small island in the Bahamas where Christopher Columbus reportedly first set foot in the New World.  Some inhabitants of Cat and other islands in the Eastern Bahamas will dispute where the great discoverer first landed, but we won’t dispute it here.

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It’s somewhat symbolic for us because San Salvador where we chose to clear out of the Bahamas and give a final parting look over our shoulder to that country as we head east into to the Atlantic for our next jump between islands.  This one a will be a rather long one, 750 miles long to be more specific; a trip expected to take Brilliant about 6-7 days at sea well away from land. It will be our first extended passage on Brilliant and our longest passage to date.

The last time we traveled to the Caribbean in 2010 we took the more conventional route; south through the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos and then to the Dominican Republic.  Then we followed the route along the coastlines of the DR, Puetro Rico, the US and the British Virgin Islands where cruisers diligently bash their heads due east, straight into the east-to-west flowing Trade winds that normally dominate the waters between the Equator and the Central Bahamas.  It’s appropriately called the Thorny Path.  Hey, if this were easy everyone could do it.

This trip however, with memories of pounding into winds and seas only making 3-4 knots good for days on end still fresh in our minds, we planned an alternate route to get back into the Caribbean, to make landfall at St. Thomas in the USVI in 6-7 days after leaving San Salvador.  We’ve visited the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico before so we chose to bypass them this time.

Working with our Weather Router over HF radio every day we plan to take advantage of an opportunity that doesn’t come along too often.  The winds are forecast to lie down considerably and stay that way for the next several days in the area east of the Bahamas.  We will motor southeast for 3-4 days from San Salvador towards Longitude 65 degrees west, trying to get far enough east so that when the Trade winds fill in again as predicted over the weekend we can turn to the south and effectively sail into St. Thomas.

We’ve stocked up on food and medical supplies, as much fuel and water as we can carry, checked out our safety gear, and since our departure from the Abacos we’ve gained considerable confidence in Brilliant as we’ve become more familiar with her sailing abilities.  The first day out has been more than we could ask for: blue skies and amazingly calm seas with about 3 knots of gentle breeze on the bow allowing us to make good time through the water toward our next waypoint some 350 miles to the east.

We’ll be communicating on a daily basis with our Weather Router Chris Parker, who we’ve successfully used over almost our entire 10 years of cruising to make our trips in open waters both safe and more comfortable.  We also have among our list of safety gear a satellite GPS device called SPOT that transmits our position once a day to specific individuals who hopefully aren’t worried too much about us.

That’s the plan, but plans can change.  Stay tuned.

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