Saturday, June 4, 2011

Passages - =?ISO-8859-1?Q?=93Where are we?=94?=

We are underway, finally! We left Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras on Wednesday morning around 1115 for the 600 mile trip to Bocas del Toro, Panama. We cleared out of Honduras (one of the best and easiest countries to accomplish that task), fueled up and stocked up on a few last minute items like bread and eggs. We are hoping to make a straight run to Panama without any stops. We don't carry enough fuel for motoring all of it, so we have to sail – but we are a sailboat after all.

Day one was potentially the roughest portion of the trip as we have to head almost due east (into the normal trade winds) to get past mainland Honduras. Then we make the turn to the southeast for awhile and then more south/southwest as we get closer to Panama. We waited and waited for the best weather window – which would mean very light easterlies so that we wouldn't have to crash into winds and seas. Michael picked out a great window to get us started – the winds were very favorable – light and northerly. We actually sailed a good portion of the first day (from about 1400 until 2030). We motored over the nighttime hours as the winds were so light that the sails wouldn't stay full and were banging around. But seas were light so we made good time. Day one – no fish. (we dragged a handmade lure that Walt on "Will of the Wisp" made us and we've named the "Sooper Cooper."

Day two – Thursday – we sailed all from sunup through most of the day and night. We had a small jog through some reef areas that we motored through as the light wind was on the nose. We've had a few squalls – mostly some rain – nothing too dramatic (that's the way we like it – not too dramatic.) Day two - "Sooper Cooper" still the favored lure – no fish. And we are definitely sailing fish catching speed at times.

Day three – still sailing – albeit mighty slowly. The winds are now due north so we are sailing dead downwind. The seas are about 3 feet but at times really cause Astarte to wallow and backfill the main. But we are making steady progress and saving fuel. See our progress on our "where are we" page – we update it daily. "Sooper Cooper" was lost today – something big broke the swivel and the whole lure was lost – so sad, But not long after – we pulled in a huge mackerel on a silver spoon. It's always an adventure landing these things on a rolly deck. But we did land it. Finally the fishing curse is hopefully over. The "Sooper Cooper" must have provided good luck. (Jim E – does that mean Barbara won??)

We are now into day four – it is Saturday. We are checking in daily with two different radio nets to give our position. The northwest Caribbean net and now the Southwest Caribbean net. The net controllers are kind enough to come up twice a day (morning and evenings) and we give them our current position. It's nice to talk with someone and have someone know where we are. We're still slowly sailing and the wind may be backing more to the northwest which may give us a better/faster sailing angle. Unfortunately, the forecast is for south westerlies as we get closer to Panama (that's the direction we'll be heading). So we'll sail as long as we can and save our fuel in case we have to motor the last leg or portion of it.

It now looks like we won't get in until Tuesday at the earliest. The few slow nights have pushed the timing back. But its been comfortable (mostly) though the boat seems to roll more at night (probably because we reef the sails at night for safety – the squalls are harder to see at night). That makes sleeping more difficult. We're doing our normal three hours on watch then three hours of sleep.

Glad we prepped so many meals in advance for the trip – the roll would make it hard to cook. Re-heating is easier.

All is good aboard the good ship Astarte and we hope the weather continues to be kind to us. There is a low sitting over the Caribbean giving us this favorable wind for now – we hope it doesn't develop into something nasty or create too many squalls.

Sailing on...and fishing.

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