Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 13, 2016

Sailing Jamaica

10.4.16 – Sunday – The promise to the the Errol Flynn marina manager was that we would leave at 0600. I woke up much earlier to find overcast skies and rain falling. It took me a while to organize the boat (the agreement with the crew was that they could go on sleeping) and at 0620 I went out. When we drove along the shore the day before the sea was marvelously flat but now, as I motored through the channel I felt relatively big swell; where did that come from? Some far away disturbance? Our destination – Port Maria, close to 30 miles away. The recommended anchorage there is on the southwest of Cabarita island in the big bay; I was worried that the swell would make the anchorage uncomfortable and prepared an alternate – Oracabessa harbour, five miles to the west.

As we came to Port Maria my premonition became a reality. Northerly wind  augmented the swell. We anchored for lunch, deciding to go on to the alternate. The C- Map does not give details of the area and the Virgintino Free Guide has a chart for Oracabessa which does not inspire confidence. He also cautions about the presence of of local craft, making:”Finding a suitable anchorage… a challenge”. Sailing there was nice, with the wind abaft the beam at 13-15 knots, giving us a speed of over 7 knots, not so good for trolling. Local fishermen were keeping the same pace, using two tree branches or bamboo as rods.

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When I turned around the headland to the Oracabessa entry waypoint I couldn’t see the harbour immediately. About a third of a mile to it I saw a pass into a basin surrounded by trees. As we got closer we saw a big fishing boat and some other water-craft inside. Going in was like entering a parallel world compared to what we had in Port Maria; it was simply beautiful!

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                                 Oracabessa looking west

We went ashore and had another surprise. We could see there was a hotel near the harbour but as we went deeper and deeper into it we found ourselves in a huge resort with luxurious accommodations on small islands connected by bridges to shore and the whole place situated in a tropical botanical garden. We spoke to a couple of the resort guests and found out that the whole area was the property of the late Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. He actually wrote the books here. The resort is aptly named “Goldeneye”. His villa is being let to guests; I cannot imagine the price of it; a regular cabana would cost 900$ for one night. There are cheaper deals, 1500$ for three nights.

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                                 “Goldeneye” accommodations

On the other side of the hill, but in another world altogether lies Orocabessa town. No fancy Spas and entertainment facilities but they do have their own establishments, like the one below.

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Back at our floating home we had one of the best dinners ever. Excellent steaks grilled to perfection on the Weber grill which we succeeded coaxing into lighting up. Green salad and home fried potatoes. Australian Cabernet Sauvignon washed it all down. LIFE IS GOOD!

11.4.16 – Monday – Our original plan was to go to Saint Ann’s Bay, resulting in a longish 50 miles leg to Montego Bay tomorrow. Taking a closer look at the chart and guide suggested that going 14 miles further to Discovery bay would shorten the long one. We did lunch in Saint Ann’s and sailed on to Discovery, catching a nice small tuna for dinner. We called the Montego Bay marinas trying to secure a berth but neither MB Yacht Club nor Pier One marina had space. “I suggest anchoring” said Dawson, the MBYC dock-master. We’ll try again tomorrow, maybe something will become available. Arriving at our destination we discovered a good anchorage behind the east headland in the company of another 38 foot catamaran.

12.4.16 – Tuesday – At 0620, a little past first light, the skipper set out with the crew still in bed. Very calm seas with light wind on the first two thirds of the way and then beautiful wing and wing sail right into the harbour. Arriving at the MBYC we saw that the anchoring area was full of moorings and it was very difficult finding a suitable place to drop our anchor.

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                              MBYC – note the green buoy

I called Dawson and he said he might have a place. I dinghied over and he showed me a vacant seven meters dock, near a German flagged monohull. He wanted me to tie a very long line to the green buoy and go astern to that dock. The problem was I was on a single engine, the port one, and with a cross wind of 15 knots blowing 90 degrees from the left it would have been impossible. I thought of a way it could be done. I connected three lines to make one over 50 meters long, from the dinghy I tied one end to the buoy and the other to the dock. To that line I tied a mooring line with a float 15 meters from the dock to which I planned to tie our bow. We sailed to the float, Gili picked up the mooring rope and tied it to a cleat and then we started pulling the long line towards our stern, which swung against the wind and into position. There were, of course, a lot of final adjustments but after an hour of hard labor we were safely in place.

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Jamaican bureaucracy required that we check again with customs and immigration; I’ll have to go through all that again as we leave on Thursday.

Gili and Yaron are flying home tomorrow and a man named Gil Margalit is joining. More about that in the next post.

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