07 April 2016
Our stay at the marina/boatyard lasted longer than we anticipated so we missed our weather window of light winds in the area. Consequently when we left the marina this morning and headed east for the 40+ mile trip to St. Thomas, we encountered east winds of 12-17 knots that were directly on the nose. With the apparent winds now between 15-20 knots and plowing into swells of 4-5 feet from the east, the trip was anything but fun.
Spike was visibly not comfortable with the conditions, choosing any protection that either Carrie or I would offer from the monsters that made the boat move in strange and uncomfortable ways. When he finally found a reasonably secure position he immediately went to sleep, certainly hoping that when he woke up it would all be over with. While we don’t think that Spike has ever really liked a moving boat, he seems to be a bit less tolerant than usual on this trip.
We tried tacking for a while, but any increase in speed that we gained was more than offset by the extra distance that we had to cover; so we resigned ourselves to an uncomfortable passage and revised our route for the day to a stop In Culebra, which conveniently lay about half way along the path. It’s a beautiful little island, a part of the Spanish Virgins that lie just to the east of Puerto Rico, with the main town of Dewey lying in a nicely protected harbor that we have visited once before.
At about 1PM we passed between the entrance buoys of Ensenada Honda, the bay outside Dewey. For the day we covered 20 miles in about 7 hours; you can do the math. There are numerous free moorings just inside the harbor and one was open so we grabbed it. Spike awoke from his extended nap and sure enough, the rolling stopped; and suddenly he realized how hungry he was. It took a while but I think we’re forgiven.
As with any unfamiliar mooring I have to dive on it to make sure it’s secure, which provided my excuse for an afternoon swim. The water temperature was very pleasant and markedly different then the waters in the Bahamas; it didn’t even call for a short wet suit. After my swim I rinsed both myself and my gear off, then put some deck gear away as an excuse to spend a little more time in the warm afternoon sun.
At 6 PM I turned on the HF radio and listened for Chris Parker’s regular evening call for weather information. He confirmed that the winds were filling back in throughout the Northern Caribbean, and didn’t see them letting up again for several days, so we intend to stay and visit Culebra for a day or two, at least.
After a comfortable night’s sleep we motored further in to Ensenada Honda and anchored closer to Dewey. We ventured in to town for some groceries and later for lunch and some Internet at a neat little grille and bar called Mamasita’s.
It’s not like we’re hiding out from bad weather. The weather is beautiful, with blue skies and plenty of sun for the solar panels and a steady breeze to cool the cabin and run the wind generator; but the winds and seas out on the open waters between here and the USVI will still make for some tough going. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad; cruising is not all about sipping Mai Tai’s in the afternoon sun, you know.
The question we face now is whether to wait the several days and possibly get lighter winds to travel the remaining 20 miles to St. Thomas or to just gut out another difficult motoring trip to get us there sooner.