Posted by: catamarantwooceans | December 4, 2015

Sailing from Mexico to Eastern Florida

30.11.15 – Monday – We had lunch in a beach restaurant opposite the anchorage, motored to the fuel station and then, at 1500, went out of Isla Mujeres bay for a trip that was different than most of the others we sailed before. This one entailed finding and riding the Gulfstream. I wrote in the previous post that www.passageweather.com had the current’s prediction but the chart shown is of such small scale it makes decisions difficult. According to it we should have sailed due north but at first we had no current at all and the wind, instead of coming from the east as forecasted, was northerly. We turned east-northeast towards our final destination keeping an eye on the instruments, waiting for signs of the stream.

At 2000, at the longitude of 86 29 W we found it, turned north and it added 2 knots to our speed over ground.

1.12.15 – Tuesday –  When I came on watch at 0200, the wind was light easterly; Danny has opened the jib but still kept the engine running. Half an hour later I could shut it down, put the autopilot on “wind” mode and sail more than 10 degrees east of north at a speed of 7 knots S.O.G. By that time we had 65 miles to go to the latitude where the stream is supposed to turn east.

As the day progressed we continue to “steal” some easting, aiming to reach 23 30 N 86 30W, gaining a few precious miles to the east. Eight miles before that point the wind enabled us to sail even more to the east but the current changed direction, coming from starboard and making us lose speed. Running after the current was the name of the game, we continued east hoping that it would change direction and come from our stern. An unwanted interlude was a 40 minutes squall, which we tried to dodge by turning up to 50 degrees to starboard; we still got very wet. Later in the early evening another one came. The wind now came from dead ahead at 16-18 knots; single engine did not give enough speed so reluctantly I started the second one. With wind came waves and the ride turned bumpy. Not easy on the crew; the pot in which I put the ingredients for fish curry in coconut milk was thrown off the stove spilling its contents on the floor. We cleaned,cooked and ate our dinner with no enthusiasm at all.

At 2000 we started a watch schedule; I did the one from 2200-0200.

2.12.15 – Wednesday – Just before the end of my watch, I rechecked the ETA according to the plotter; it showed that at our present speed (we had a 1.5 knot current, giving close to 7 knots S.O.G) we’ll reach Key West during the night. Since we prefer entering in daylight I shut down one engine. Slower speed made the ride easier, which was a bonus.

0600 – I came out to take the watch over from Danny. He showed me the wind and current situation and it was apparent that we can take up the final course for the Key West entrance 134 miles away using sail power only. Opened the jib. shut down the engine – and we had great sailing. I called the Key West office of the Customs and Border Protection agency, gave our information and was told to call the special toll free number they have for  arrival reports at 10 miles out. The present speed says night arrival and the forecast is for the wind to become lighter and veer to the south. Good things do not last and in the afternoon the wind died. Back to single engine with the current contributing an S.O.G of 8 knots plus.

I read a piece of info somewhere that the main ship channel into Key West was very busy;on the chart we found Southwest Channel which seemed ideal to go in. Just before entering it I called the Customs and Border protection number. “Call us when you are at anchor” said the agent. The time was 2100, moon not yet up but the area in front of the bows was clear enough. Danny used the binoculars and from time to time yelled:”break to the right!” seeing things I was not able to see. The channel was full of fishing floats and the buoys that appeared on our charts we not in place. At a certain point I gave up and joined the main channel which was completely empty. We approached the area I planned to anchor at and found quite a few yachts there; at 2320 we dropped the anchor. It took us 56 hours and 20 minutes to complete the trip, which is quite fast.

Called the Customs etc. once again and although I was told the station was manned 24 hours a day, I got a voice box giving a number for emergencies, not our condition whatsoever. I’ll call again tomorrow.

I looked up the info on noonsite; here it is: “If approaching at night, it is advisable to use the main channel as the alternative one is often full of fishing floats.” So far for careful preparation.

What, a post with no pictures? No way!

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                             found in the larder

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         Eagle Ford crossing our bows at 18.5 kts.

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                              Key West Harbor

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Responses

  1. well come to The New World…


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