we're now in port antonio, jamaica - arrived yesterday morning. we finally left georgetown, on grand exuma island of the bahamas a week or so ago. we were all very ready to leave and hoist the sails. we sailed north east to get around the north tip of long island. we had to motor for most of the 20 miles and once we got around the north tip, we shut down the engine, hoisted our light wind sails and proceded to not find the wind we were hoping for, though we were not sure it was going to be there. so for the experience, instead of motoring back an hour to an anchorage we passed, we tried to slowly make our way south.
throughout the night we drifted, mostly in cirlces, about 12 miles to the north. it was a beautiful night and none of us really minded having easy two hour solo watches of two hours under a beautiful sky and on a calm sea. during ted's 0600-0700 watch, we finally got some wind and the other three of us awoke to finally a little bit of progress - we were actually going south again, but still had much ground to make up.
the highlight of that leg of our journey came an hour later when a full sized 30 ft long minke whale surfaced right next to our boat. it was about thirty feet long and we all took turns dunking our heads in the water with a mask on while the others held our feet. it was so amazing to see this huge animal move with such ease under the water, back and forth underneath our boat, turning on its side to peer up at us, staying with us for about half an hour. grey on top, light grey on the bottom with a white stripe on its fins. it was perhaps the coolest wild animal experience any of us had ever had. from there we continued all day and night after the wind finally kicked in from the north east 10-15 knots and sailed through the third night finally making it to great inagua island at 5:00 am.
we had still not caught any mahi mahi fish, and this was driving us crazy since we have had hooks over the side at every opportunity. and during this passage we once had three on the lines at one time. but one ripped the lure free of the line, and the other two somehow wriggled off the lines. devestation - especially since a boat we were travelling with had caught a few.
at great inagua, we checked out with customs, got some more food and prepared to head for jamaica. during that time we discovered the floor of our dingy had separated from the outer inflateable tubes. it still could drive all of us to the beach but we had only about six inches between the top of the tubes and the water on the inside. it was quite funny, though now we're trying to make some sort of fix. right now we're using some friends boat while they are docked and we are now at anchor.
the passage to jamaica went well, and took about 48 hours. we went with another boat named the great escape: a retired couple from california: duey and nan. duey is a retired navy carrier pilot who flew F-18s. needless to say i have had many questions for him. we were a bit concened about the guantlet between cuba and haiti, so we traveled together, checkin in with each other every two hours on the single sideband radio, giving our positions with a 100 mile offset to confuse any bad guys and were ready to go stealth if we needed to. duey also talked about a water cannon that he had and mentioned that he had gasoline. (didn't really know what he meant by that except that maybe he would make a flame thrower and use some of his military combat experience)
the passage was uneventful - we had good winds and relatively calm seas, practiced some celestial navigation, and admired the mountains of cuba while we kept on the lookout for fast moving ocean ships and refugee boats. one of the highlights, though, was finally hooking and retrieving our first mahi mahi. delicious and beautiful in all its colors. we thanked the fish for its sacrifice and enjoyed its taste with our customary rice dinner. so into jamaica we came, checked in with customs and immigration and were off to explore town. my exploration highlight was watching a school gym period on a field where i was serching for a soccer game. everyone was running hard, lifting weights, throwing the discuss (into the track, nearly hitting one of the runners) or doing sit ups. it was a very active scene, everyone was running as hard as they could, the track was a run down field with worn stripes and rocks on it most kids were barefoot. it was interesting to compare it to the u.s. high schools. you can do a lot with a little if you are creative and willing.
my dad has passed his third ham radio test so we are now in contact with him daily on the single sideband radio. it is wonderful to be in contact with my parents and it is great to be able to hear about all my siblings and other things like the cold weather without paying a dollar a minute. so that's about it from jamaica. we plan to stay here for a week or two. enough to watch the superbowl - go patriots, see some of the inland island, fix our tender, and get some shots for central america. it's nice to be in the jungle type climate and my tarzan instincts are returning. the adventure is continueing and it's nice to have a new flag flying from our starboard spreaders.
all the best to everyone at home.