Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 8, 2016

Sailing From the Bahamas to Jamaica

I’m publishing two posts at the same time – don’t miss the one about our last days in the Bahamas.

5.4.16 – Tuesday – A phenomenon typical to cruisers is that they sometimes forget which day it is. A version of that occurred to me yesterday as I checked the forecast; I looked at April 4th and 5th instead of the 5th and 6th, thinking that we would have light winds all the way to Jamaica. Today, after leaving Great Inagua at 0715, I rechecked the weather and realized my mistake; we were actually going to have winds from the north reaching 15-20 knots. That would result in a nighttime arrival. I opened up the chart for Port Antonio, our Jamaican landfall, and saw that the pass into the bay where Errol Flynn marina is located has lighted buoys and that the settlement is spread all around the bay which should provide good orientation. So a night entry it would be.

During the day, however, it was motor-sailing using the port engine, averaging 5.5 knots. Our first waypoint along the way was located so as to pass the Cuban coast 12 miles off shore and once we passed it we had 183 miles to go. At 2030 the wind veered and reached 12 knots, enabling the use of sails only. We had an excellent dinner of Chicken Pad Thai and started an easy two and a half watch system. Two cruise-ships passed, so many lights on them that you cannot see the navigation lights. The second came quite close so I called them on 16 and made sure they saw us.

6.4.16 – Wednesday – I came on deck at 0100; sea calm, wind northeast at 12-17 and pleasant ride. During the day the wind grew stronger and its effect on the sea was felt immediately. We were running quite fast, 7-8 knots with bursts of more than 12 surfing down waves. At the beginning we thought we’d arrive at midnight; then 2100 seemed likely and as our progress accelerated – we started dreaming about a daylight arrival. The fact that the clock in Jamaica lags by an hour compared to that of the Bahamas (U.T.C –5) confused us even more. At the end it was a race with daylight which, of course we lost. Reading that Jamaica had mountains 7000 high made me expect seeing the island early. As the sun went slowly down and blue turned to grey, the distance fell to less than 10 miles we still saw no land! That was very frustrating.

Proceeding by GPS to the Port Antonio entrance, we discovered land 8.5 miles from shore, then the lights marking the entrance; we gingerly went in. The marina briefed me about a long dock I could tie to but I couldn’t see it and elected to anchor near some other yachts. A whiskey, a simple pasta dinner, shower and bed. We were tired.

7.4.16 – Thursday – This is what I saw when I woke up. Green wooded hills around a perfectly protected bay. Good vibrations!

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                       Errol Flynn marina – Port Antonio

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