Thursday, 27 March 2014


Catching up with Balvenie. 
It has been a brief visit to the Caribbean, however we are left with the impression that there are still a few jewels out there we need to go back and discover. There was insufficient time to get into the rum punch mood. Our main impression was not that positive, with overcrowded anchorages and over inflated prices. We haven’t written it off though, and if we get another chance at it we will take the opportunity more slowly. For now matters of family are calling and we must make a hurried trip to Florida to fly back to Australia. Because the hurricane season starts on the 1st of June we need to get the boat into an insurance approved hurricane place to leave it. The plan is to be back before then but we are taking precautions anyway.
Lovely protected anchorage at Luperon

Our trip from Culebra to Boqueron was easy and pleasant, predominantly downwind. It was great to catch up with old cruising buddies Mark and Amands on Balvenie, from the Sail indonesia Rally in 2006 in Boqueron. We have been following their adventures in the Meditereanean and USA and now we may even follow their tracks! We were thrilled to be able to get their cursing guides for the Bahamas and US so we feel a little better informed before we set off on the next 1000nm hop to Florida. 

We left Boqueron on the West coast of Puerto Rico on the 7th of March to sail direct to Florida via the Bahamas. Our first few hours out were hectic with strong following wind and sea. We even threw back a nice Cobia because it was too rough to bother cleaning it. As the night wore on however the wind died and we resorted to motor sailing. The forecast was for the rest of the 800 nm to Florida to be light weather so we reluctantly decided to divert to Luperon on the north coast of Dominican Republic. What a pain.

Beautiful waters of the Bahamas. Big Farmers Cay
The Cmap 93 charts on the computer are useless. Its lucky our Furuno Chartplotter has CMap charts loaded because the Navionics on the iPad are very inaccurate. The Plan2Nav on the iPad is good. (Cmap by Jepperson.) The really good charts for the Bahamas and I believe the USA East Coast are called Garmin Blue Charts, with Active Captain notes included.

There is only 3M of water at the shallows in the entrance to Luperon. We were forced to check in at $140US because they don’t recognise the International Maritime Law which allows stops for emergency fuel, water, medical or repairs. Then we met rascally Ronnie. We have since heard that several other cruisers have been caught by this rouge. He was happy to oblige with fuel at an extra US$1 per gallon. The fuel turned out to be badly contaminated and even after using the Bahja filter which we always use, we had to run it repeatedly through the fuel polishing system and change out several filters. We had the engine stop twice. 

Black Grouper and we ate it. No Ciguitera.
We should have used Papo on Chanel 68 but he was not answering the radio. It was Sunday... another bad idea. We gave up keeping our tanks full when having reached South Africa with most of the fuel we bought in Asia intact, we had to pump it out and give it away because the change in temperature and bugs contaminated it. We will have to re-look at the strategy.

The town itself has been described as quaint. That is putting it in its best light. Don’t go late in the afternoon, its just plain dirty. There is a friendly bar called Wendys where you can pick up free WiFi but Im pretty sure the Rum Punch at $7US ea is industrial strength there.

Well its now Monday afternoon and the fuel is loaded and David has to run the Immigration man to ground to get our check out done. Now What!! 3 Men...not in any uniforms get a ride out with David... “need to INSPECT the boat.” Truely!! This place is really hopeless. And that will be another $20 US to someone for something??? And now its 4.30pm!
Always nice to have company. 
Off Eluthra. Bahamas

Finally we were underway for the passage to Florida. The wind was good for the first day or so then it died and we motored and motored and motored. Just made it into Georgetown in the Great Exumas of the Bahamas 4 hours before the predicted frontal system hit. It wasnt as severe as they were predicting around 40 to 50 ins squalls. We only saw 30s but good to be tucked into the nice anchorage of Stocking Island. 

A couple of days later we moved north to Big Farmer Cay. Pleasant spot. Its all so pretty we would have loved to just stay and stay but pressure is on to get back to OZ so off we go again after 2 nights waiting for another small system to go through. Eluthra Island was the next destination and we planned to sail on through the western side overnight and exit Fleeming Chanel in the morning. The area is very shallow but it all looked clear going. However towards midnight we were pushing 4 knots of current so we diverted to South Palmetto Point and anchored until morning. On our way out we caught a nice Black Grouper.

From there on it was pretty straight forward on and on and a lot of motoring again as the wind dropped out pending the arrival of another frontal system from the north. On Saturday the 22nd of March we arrived in Jacksonville, north Florida. Only 2 months since arriving in Grenada from South Africa. Going too fast and missing too much.

Our clearance was the easiest ever. We phoned the Border Protection number, gave them a few details including the Cruising licence number we got in Culebra, and we were done!!. No visiting anywhere. No stamps. Amazing.

After anchoring behind the island just after the Mathews bridge almost 20 nm upstream in the St Johns river for the night, we motored on another couple of miles to the Jacksonville Landing in the morning. Its a free dock available first come first served for 72 hours.The Main Street Lifting Bridge just before the Landing  is open on demand and was very easy .

 MORE PICTURS BVIUSVIAndSpanishVirginIslands
Taipan is in the middle of the picture in front of the Jacksonville Landing.