Catamaran PILAR Sails from Dry Tortugas FL, around Cuba to Grand Cayman. EP22
Catamaran Sailing Voyage from Dry Tortugas, FL - Cuba - Cayman
5:05 Blue Marlin Catch at 5:05
7:28 Dolphin Fish School
8:33 Jolly Roger Parasail flies again
16:13 New year's on our sailboat
18:41 Message in a bottle out to sea
22:05 Tarpons in Grand Cayman
22:17 Birthday snorkeling off our sailboat
We left Dry Tortugas around 9 AM and began our sail southwest to round the western tip of Cuba. Heavy seas for most of the day at 5-7 ft, avg speed 7 knots. Most difficult part was crossing the gulf stream at 24 degrees latitude. Heavy current slowed us down. Fished all day, lost a teaser Stephen had for 30 years, lost a big catch (not sure what) – enough to catch a blue marlin around 6 pm ! We fought the fish for 1 hr 15 minutes, and finally caught sight of him gleaming in the water. Bill and Stephen brought him up enough to get a good picture, down on the sugar scoop. Who says you can’t catch deep sea fish on a sailing catamaran? Caught and released. Estimated 400 pounds.
Friday night winds slowed down, so Stephen adjusted course and had to tack in order to keep those engines off. We still averaged 7 knots so we were grateful for our captain’s skills in trimming those sails. Sailed all night.
December 29, Saturday
Crossed the Gulf Stream at 24 degrees latitude. Sailed all day, very slow 4.5 knots. Took the opportunity to fly the Jolly Roger Parasail while the Cuban dolphins escorted the Pilar. Finally started those engines late afternoon. Early evening winds picked up all of a sudden, and flew around the corner of Cuba, Cabo San Antonio about 9 PM. Continued to Fat Maria, fast – 8 knots. Then, once around Fat Maria the conditions changed.
December 30, Sunday
Past Fat Maria, we encountered the trifecta of 25 knot headwinds, strong heading currents, and 12 ft sea swells with 6-10 ft wind waves. We barely could make 2 knots with engines. We pressed on for the morning, thinking that it had to improve. But it did not.
1. One soaked mattress – caused by seaweed lodged in the top hatch which made for an inadequate seal.
2. A broken shackle on the main sheet on the back of the boom – we were warned by a strange popping noise we could not place, but finally the shackle broke loose when sail was down. What a blessing it did not break when under heavy winds at full sail.
3. An identified foam can lodged inside the ceiling shaken loose and rolling around all night at anchor. Amazingly, the area was accessible only from a 1 inch crevice, which we then stuffed with rags hoping it would cushion the can from rolling around. That can was obviously left in there during manufacturing.
So, we started tacking back and forth to get in the lee of land, but even close to shore, we saw 12 foot waves crashing on the cliffs of southern Cuba. We could make no headway, staying 12 miles offshore as recommended by USCG. With no other options, and nightfall coming soon, we headed for the bay on the other side of the escarpment (sea wall). We did not know for sure if it would be better, but we all hoped and prayed that it would. We even had to tack a couple of times to get in there. We finally found a spot to anchor at Cobo Francis at 10 PM. So grateful to be out of those heavy seas. We all slept much better, anticipating a planned daybreak departure.
December 31, Monday
Thankfully, Monday’s voyage was the most pleasurable day we have had yet on this trip....
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