Onto The Bahamas

28 January 2019   La Parguera to Boqueron, Puerto Rico
Weather looks good to go to the Bahamas on Thursday 31st.  It’s a passage of 450 miles to Mayaguana, so if we leave on Thursday, we should get there on Sunday late afternoon or possibly Monday morning.  There’s a cold front stalled over the Bahamas, which stretches down to Mayaguana, but it’s expected to dissipate on Saturday 2nd.  After the front clears, there should be a week until the next front comes down off the East Coast of the USA.

I rang the Border Protection Agency and told them that we will leave on Thursday.  They said that they could send us a clearance by email, which is good of them.  The clearance is only valid for 48 hours and officially they shouldn’t issue it until tomorrow, but the officer said “What the hell” and we received it within the next hour.   

Boqueron High Street

We left the anchorage at 10:00 and had a lovely downwind sail to Boqueron using just the genoa in the steady 20 knots winds.  Just after lunch, we rounded Cabo Roca and 90 minutes later, arrived in Boqueron.  It’s a very shallow bay and our Navionics charts showed some isolated rocks, close to the beach, so we bottled out and anchored at 18°01.39N 067°10.64W in 5 metres of water on mud/sand. 

We decided to leave the excitement of going ashore until tomorrow and had a quiet afternoon on board.

29 January 2019   Boqueron, Puerto Rico
We went for a walk around town, which didn’t take long.  The main street along the waterfront is lined with restaurants, bars and food stalls – this is tourist town.  We were told that the nearest supermarket is 4 miles away, but we found a mini-mart where we were able to buy some essentials – eggs, beer and bread.

After a short walk along the pleasant beach, we were back aboard Alba for lunch and had another quiet afternoon, mentally preparing ourselves for a four day passage. I checked the tension on our steering cables and gave the engine a good inspection.

30 January 2019   Boqueron, Puerto Rico
The weather forecast looks good to sail to the Bahamas tomorrow.  The front is still forecast to dissipate from Saturday 2nd, so we’re hoping to have light winds and good weather for our arrival on Sunday.  The pay-as-you-go contract on our phone runs out tonight, so we’ll have to hope that today’s forecast is accurate.

With nothing to do in town, we had a quiet day on board, running the watermaker and preparing for the four day passage.  I put the dinghy on deck in the afternoon and we were all ready to go.

Rolling Downwind

31 January 2019   Boqueron to Mayaguana, Bahamas (Day 1)
The alarm went off before dawn and we were underway at 07:00.  There was no wind at all, so we motored north, hugging the coast until we’d worked our way through the shallow reef that stretches a few miles out to sea off the town of Mayaguez.  The wind was fluky until 14:00, by which time we had cleared the north-west corner of Puerto Rico and had lost the land effect.

The skies were overcast, with showers passing through, which brought very variable winds veering from East to North-east and varying in strength from 10 knots to 25 knots.  To make matters worse the sea was 4-6 feet high and very confused.   It was hard work all afternoon, having to reef a fair few times.  

As darkness fell, the skies remained overcast with a 12 knot wind from the north-east, putting us close-hauled with the wind 60 degrees off the starboard bow.  We had two reefs in the main with full genoa and staysail and waited with some trepidation for what the night might bring.

Despite there being no moon, it turned out to be a pleasant night.  The clouds slowly cleared and by midnight, we had an impressive display of stars. The wind slowly veered until it was 120 degrees on the starboard side, so we were able to pole the genoa out to starboard and gently roll downwind.