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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sailing to weather... Yuck!

After a delay with Immigration officials and a extra stop at the island bank we finally raised the anchor at 10:30AM nearly four hours later than our intended departure. Not a huge deal, but the weather was perfect for the 175 nautical mile 'slog' and on a trip like this you try not to waste good weather. Island time... get used to it!

As I write I've just begun my 1:30AM to 4:30AM watch. It's the time tested three on three off gig we've found works best for us. During the day the schedule is less rigid and we alternate taking naps and only enforce the schedule when we both want to nap at the same time. The good news is I slept very well on my off watch and haven't felt sea sick at all so far this trip. The weather started off picture perfect as we sailed out the reef pass at Guanaja, Bay Islands Honduras, but deteriorated into nasty squalls just about... yep, dark. Stormy weather in the dark is always more unnerving. It started with lots of lightning and driving rain then to top it off the seas picked up to make things pretty uncomfortable.

A small tangent. As cruisers 'those who sail without a set schedule or destination' we really strive for perfect weather as we have time to wait and the luxury to change the destination to ensure we have the highest chance of perfect weather. Some exceptions apply, but as a hard fast rule we never 'sail to weather'. Sailing to weather *toward the wind) is bumpy, wet and generally uncomfortably hot as hatches need to be closed to keep out the sea... just a few of the reasons making it worthwhile to avoid.

The current voyage is 'to weather' and there was no way around it, it just had to be done. It's Hurricane season and we are in the 'Hurricane Zone' and want OUT, thus we found some suitable, if less than perfect weather and are now 'slogging' it out.

Our weather router gave us assurances that the next week would be Hurricane free so we're on our way to Panama which is close enough to the equator to be entirely free of hurricanes.

The purchase of the new boat 'LightSpeed' is the reason we aren't already out of the Hurricane zone, but it was definitely worth the delay.

The new boat is very cool and much more suited to carry us safely to places less traveled. The enclosed pilot house means I can sit inside and type emails on my watch and still easily keep 'watch'. Three hundred and sixty degree visibility from a seated position inside is a very nice feature and it sure is nice to drive from inside when it really storming outside! I can also drive from inside a rare feature on a sailboat.

Speaking of storming it was blowing sustanined over thirty five knots today in squalls. Add to the thirty five knots about five knots of boat speed and the 'apparent' wind is over forty knots (+45 miles per hour). Throw in some gusts above the sustained winds and it's pretty damn stormy. Yes, it's good to be inside th e pilot house and laugh at the weather as huge rain drops and wind driven sheets of sea spray pummel the windows.

The first planned stop is in the group of small islands called the 'Vivarillos' noted for it's isolation, pristine reefs and abundance of fish and lobster. It will be a great stop and one we'll need to keep short to stay safely out of the way of soon to be imminent hurricanes. We should be into the Vivarillos by early afternoon tomorrow.

Next we may sail the infamous 'Moskito Pass' along the Mosquito Coast. 'LightSpeed' as the name implies should have no difficulty covering the distance in daylight, but we have yet to decide as we will need decent weather to ensure good visibility in avoiding reefs. It's an area less traveled so we'd like to give it a try if possible.

We have nice moon light tonight that is really lighting up the sea when not blocked by storm clouds. A huge bonus for overnight trips.

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