Monday, 31 March 2014

WYUNA… we’re heading to COLUMBUS’S New World Colonies ……on to the BAHAMAS 600 Nms


Like Columbus, in the night sky we see the northern star with Jupiter and Orion the brightest but we can watch google sky to spot planets.  For night sails a full moon gives us vision on watch but we use AIS (vessel locator) to spot ship lights.  We lifted anchor at 2am, SW tip of Puerto Rico, 10 Feb. and motor sailed 13 hrs. to arrive at Cap Cana Resort a 5*marina in DR. Only to be tied up by a dusty building site!
  Escape we did to Santo Domingo the 14c capital of Dominican Republic(DR) a 4 hr. drive, for a weekend at old Hotel Palacio in the heart of rustic Zona Colonial.

The first urban town built in the Americas, it’s now under rejuvenation - of worn cobbled streets, forts, churches, tapas bars and art stalls.  Lucky for us a live gig by Latin legend Victor Victor playing “Por Favor” was on. Adoring fans slow danced the bachata-merengue style ,oh so HOT. 

A morning Latin cafe hit the spot, before wandering 11sq blocks of colonial museums- inside were fine Spanish conquistador artifacts, Columbus Palace furnishings, armour, carriages on display alongside Cuban & Haitian art.

We got a lesson in military rules at the Resistance Museum..stories of independence, people fighting for liberation from colonial occupation & then corruption til 1960’s…sent chills up our spine.

Let's go with Roni & James- to the celebration of DR Independence Day. After an overnighter to the Nth coast, with SV Harlequinn- we tied up at Ocean Water World marina part of a dolphin/seal show - we didn’t see. Instead we went inland to La Vega Carnaval – where Limping Devils in satin costumes lash out hitting spectators with filled animal bladders- reminiscent of slavery, ouch Bruce got Whacked.

We set sail at 5pm from DR, desperate to find uninhabited sand cays to swim and chill out.
On arriving next morning whales were breaching in the distance.  Yes, Sandy Cay has stunning deep blue sea to turquoise sands.  Excited, we launched our new Sunny 2 person kayak to ride the wave break to the beach.

Next after dodging reefs and shallow water, the Turks & Caicos police boat visited us at 5pm, while we anchored for the night on the Caicos bank “10 NM from land” to ask us our names and destination (looking for drug runners?). After a BBQ meal and rest we woke by 7am to sail the sth & west coasts of Providenciales Island in 1 day to reach Turtle Cove Marina.

NEVER has Bruce helmed so nervously, Wyuna’s 25ft. width/ 5ft keels missed all reefs and beaches, by steering a route in currents, over and between wave breaks – luckily Gar min Navigation route plan was spot on – “Ah a cold Presidente beer” went down the hatch well at HHr.

We were glad to meet Sandy who arrived 10th March at postcard perfect ‘Provo’ – snorkels on, underwater we saw a Scrawled filefish!  We stocked the fridge, ate fresh grilled lobster and cracked fresh conch shellfish, (yum local treat) and it felt great to stretch our limbs. All Dive boats were booked, so offshore we go. No sleep in for the crew, at 3.30am the main was winched up.
We entered the lagoon of Mayaguana, an outer BAHAMA island and exNASA base (John Glen dropped in the water one time). On our dinghy ride to town, in mangroves, we spotted native Flamingos feeding at sunset, then spread their pole legs to fly.

A local man Reggie, a very friendly restaurant owner, cooked us conch and we ended up hiring his own truck (no rentals here) with Roni & James to Pirates Well (dug by pirates) & lagoon.  Bruce drove dodging potholes.


Small Samana Cay is sublime for water lovers.  After a tricky entrance, we knew why we love cruising off shore. Wyuna floated on deep blue water, we untied the kayaks, jumped in to snorkel reefs under white cliffs- til Bruce lifted a large Spiny lobster from its hole. We cooked it and shared it with Roni & James, Leslie &Terry on the fly bridge of Orient Express and wash it down with vino, watching the sun go down!!!!!! Cruisers paradise eh.

Next route, we rounded the Bird Cove Lighthouse for a night stop only. Sandy read, slept, winched, on watch on her final passage to Long Island, a quiet secluded island harbour.

We’d read about but have never seen Blue Holes, and the world’s deepest Deans is 600ft here, where freestyle divers compete. Our attempt was 5 secs. A farewell treat for us all was lunch at Seaside Village lagoon bar before waving goodbye to Sandy after 2 weeks of sun, hectic fun, endless miles of sailing, underwater excursions and adventures.

We can confidently say WYUNA's found her home – where the water is SO clear we can watch the stingrays glide past the boat and the barracudas DO follow you when swimming or scrubbing the sides of the boat-
"Oh the BAHAMAS islands (means low water)- are SUBLIME."
WE will continue to tag team with our mates Roni & James on SV Harlequinn and  leave Long Island 3 April, after Kathy and Brian land here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Wyuna -sailing north in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico(PR)

Hurricane season is June to Nov.- let's SPLASH WYUNA in the waters of Puerto Rico
(PR, Spanish virgin islands).

We had a short stay in LA, to wander the art and sculpture garden of the stone galleries of the Getty Museum plus take an historic architectural tour of the stunning hand built Craft Houses of Pasadena - a movement of the early 1900 to bring back rustic living in cities!

Gamble House 1908
Anxious to climb aboard WYUNA on the hard stand, we arrived the 6 Dec. in Fajardo, at Puerto Del Ray Marina to don gloves for the clean up and restarts; 5 days later we tired of doing jobs so booked the enormous travel lift . To our relief the driver took WYUNA to the dock with 3 belts under her hull, after a visit by police about our missing dinghy outboard engine.

Ahhh, deep breath. Bruce helmed her with 2ft either side, to the marina berth. Hurray! 
Our first night we partied free with 100 boaters at the marina to PR music and pig on a spit.  Then headed next day to BIG US supers; Sam’s Club, Costco and West Marine to stow WYUNA with 6mths food, 6 new batteries and a new 15 hp outboard– in 26c humid winter heat!

Cruisers step 1: share the adventures
We cracked the local Don Q rum for Mojitos to celebrate with our sail mates Roni and James, for them helping us get back on water.  The very good news for us is they’re cruising a similar route like to share ripping yarns, have sailed the Bahamas banks and reefs and can duck dive snorkel til they DROP in the Caribbean Sea.
Step 2:  : be friendly to strangers

Our season begun in familiar seas, sailing to Culebra Island before Xmas, with no plans for January.  Within 24hrs of mooring in Honda Ensenada, instead of feeling lonely, we met other cruisers and invited our neighbours by dinghy (who to our surprise came) for Xmas eve drinks.
One joy of cruising for us is meeting liveonboard workers, kite boarders, NASA IT programmers, peace corps adventurers and die hard sailors who believe living on water is even better than Noah’s Ark.  US ‘seasonal blow-ins’ had a warm welcome from Culebra cruisers, who are chilled out unless a storm is coming.  Thanks again to Roni and James we joined them and their friends for a fun Xmas BYO lunch on our back patio.  Between 8 of us we drew on 37 years of Caribbean yachting tales, true or hearsay, of shark sightings, romances, natural wonders ...yes you can guess the rest!

Happy New Year *

Step 4: carry a torch at all times

"It's TOO good to be true, NYE fireworks are exploding around the bay." When the lights went out at Susie’s restaurant we lit the bar with torches for the barmaid to mix our margaritas. Along with others we waved hands to the music and went off to the street party for live Latino dancing. They love fast beat , loud, non- stop salsa with hips bouncing – (better we tap than attempt daggy dancing) - and we loved being amongst them.

Step 5 : snorkel slowly so not to frighten the fish

After a month we were desperate to jump in for a swim at a peaceful anchorage. Culebrans are proud of their natural wildlife, working hard to regrow marine reefs and fish life with water temps rising, so offer free moorings.  We sailed 5 miles, moored and duck dived at Pt Tamarindo a beach with idyllic vistas of small islets. The water shone under the moon-light, coral gardens with soft leaf fans wavered in the current.  Coloured blue tang and stoplight parrot fish fed in the day.
Yeah this is the cruising life …afloat on blue water ringing reefs.

Step 6: sail off the beaten route

Our next island hop was to Vieques another Spanish island, til 2003 it was a US military bombing practice base until a local was killed and protesters gained agreement for closure.  Thus not surprising it's not a popular sail destination.  The new Garmin blue chart did help with unusual navigation - umm where do we drop the anchor away from unexploded ammunition?
 "NO l'm definitely not swimming where the 27yr old got bitten by a 6ft shark swimming in the world’s largest  bioluminescent bay.” Our first swim was a brush with a large 15 inch moonlight jelly fish. Out we quickly jumped!

Culebrita island national marine park is a favourite bay we revisited for a few days to swim, hike, snorkel and see the old ruined Spanish lighthouse - it's beautiful, uninhabited for 500 years and a P.Rican weekend place to escape to.

Step 7: go where the wind takes us
On our longest passages so far, to Vieques and ST John’s, US Virgin Islands, winds have hit over 20knt sailing to windward.  Damn it we don’t like tacking ALL day, and not reaching our waypoint because of wind changes.  The US national parks are pristine here and so are the dreamy turquoise white sand beaches. Below we swim with beautiful spotted eagle rays as they glide past and stay away from big southern rays….....much prefer to shadow a green turtle any day! 

Next .....Sail along new coasts for the thrills of open waters and skies
At last we’re on route, getting excited to sail hop the 100 mile south coast of PR next week, and make the passage west to the east coast of the Dominican Republic where we will meet R&J to arrive for the whale season in February.   That’s of course if we are in the lap of the easterly winds and can scream along running with the headsail full and even lay the waypoint.

Wish us luck on that one!!!