Last year, we “bopped” along from Bahamas to Puerto Rico, through the Windward and Leeward Islands, finally arriving in Grenada. We carried on to go to Trinidad, Aruba, Colombia and Panama, then Belize, Mexico, Cayman Islands (partial crew), Jamaica and Turks and Caicos.
To prepare for The Crossing*, we employed the services of the Chief Forecaster – Marine Weather Center, Chris Parker, to help with a weather window suitable for the 900 plus nautical mile (nm) crossing of Caribbean Sea from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos to Porvenir, Panama.
Based on our criteria, Chris worked with us to determine the best options for departure. In addition to Chris Parker, we needed to stock the boat with meals and other essentials for underway and for our arrival in Kuna Yala, Panama, since they have no mega grocery stores, we needed additional supplies of milk, snacks, paper towel, toilet paper, etc. With the window set, we made our final plans to leave on Saturday morning.
Following an email from Chris Parker, our window was cut shorter and we needed to depart on Friday (12 Jul), after all of our shopping was complete, car returned and “stuff” stowed in preparation. The process took us a couple of hours and at 8:27 pm, we uped anchor from Sapadillo Bay and were on our way. For our trip, we needed to be below latitude 11.00 by Tuesday (16 Jul). That meant an average speed of 8 knots (typically we run between 6-8 knots), and as we got closer to Jamaica, going close enough to land to check email and call Chris from the Satellite phone to confirm all was on track. The crew called, green light means go and we did…averaging 9 knots, Pete loved it! We arrived, safe and sound (with some stinky clothes) in Puerto Obaldia, Panama on Wednesday (17 Jul) at 2:10 pm, ~114 hours and 973 miles. This was different than our plan to go to Porvenir, Panama, the wind did it, as of July 23rd, we are checked into the country, people and boat, with a one-year cruising permit and visitor visas.
Some exciting things that happened during the crossing:
- Our longest On Delay crossing, to date!
- Hose came off the Port engine, which required repair underway.
- Sailed between Cuba and Haiti.
- Caught Ivan the 30 lb Yellowfin, who was delicious.
- Tried a new watch schedule
- Enjoyed new underway foods (tuna casserole, chicken stew and beef stew)
- Appreciated the dolphin welcoming committee in Puerto Obaldia
- Discovered new leaks that will be repaired while we wait for sails to arrive in Panama City
- Borrowed some Colombian internet at the border of Panama and Colombia … several times.
- So far, none of the Customs, Immigration or military personnel know of Turks and Caicos (Spanish is Islas Turcas y Caicos) so when they see Providenciales, they confuse it with Providencia, Colombia.
- We sailed 15% of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator in one crossing.
June 1 – November 1 is hurricane season in the Caribbean between latitude 30.15 (Florida / Georgia border) and 12.40 (Nicaragua / Costa Rica Border and Grenada).