Last week we ran 1,424 miles directly from St. Lucia to Palm Beach, Florida. We initially were planning to work our way up slowly through the Caribbean and reach Florida via the Bahamas, but Jennifer developed complications with her broken collarbone, so we went straight to Florida to seek medical attention. We had some boat projects that needed to be done there anyway, so we’ll handle it all over the next few weeks.
Trip highlights from March 7th to 14th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
Looking back to St. Croix as we approach Virgin Passage between the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have run into a medical problem—Jennifer’s broken collar bone had lead to complications and expert recommendations are to get a specialist involved. It’s not an emergency and the work could be done in the Caribbean but we have decided to return to the US. As long as the weather cooperates, Florida is the destination. We’ve had incredibly smooth conditions so far, but expect rough seas for the next 3-4 days until we near Cuba.
Just as the sun was starting to rise this morning we passed the Holland America Westerdam. This was the ship James toured last summer and blogged last week. It’s 6 miles away, the light is poor, but you can see how rough it is out here right now. At times the entire 936′ monster has all 11 passenger decks disappearing as Dirona slips down into a wave trough.
As expected, conditions got a lot rougher as we passed north of Puerto Rico. The winds have been blowing 25-30, generating 7-8ft seas on 7-8 seconds. We’ve rolled over 20 degrees several times in the past 24 hours, and pitch has been steadily over 10 degrees. We have to be careful moving about, but otherwise we’re doing fine and still are sleeping well. The seas are settling slightly now with winds 15-20, but the weather models indicate they’ll pick up again within a day.
Although the seas are still about 7-8ft on 7-8 seconds, they are more on the stern now, so boat motion is better. The maximum pitch has reduced to around 5-6 degrees from a consistent 10 degrees. Maximum roll is still over 15 degrees, but we haven’t seen 20 degrees for a while. We expect similar conditions for the next 24 hours, then they should settle down as we approach Cuba.
We generally keep a minimum separation of two miles between us and any other vessels at night to avoid collisions. The 246ft clipper Stad Amsterdam was going to cross less than a half mile in front of us around 5am, so we diverted course to increase separation. We could just make out its sails in the distance around 7am. Too bad it passed us in the dark–it would been great to see the ship under full sail close up.
We’ve seen a lot of cruise ships in the Caribbean. This is the Celebrity Silhouette returning to Fort Lauderdale from a 7-night Caribbean cruise. We’ll likely pass the ship again as it heads south tomorrow on another 7-day Caribbean cruise.
The micro-tender engine, like most outboards, doesn’t start well on old gasoline. We always fuel with stabilized gasoline, but typically replace the fuel in the micro-tender engine after 5 months of inactivity. We pour it into the large dinghy fuel tank, where the old fuel gets lost in all the new.
We’re now heading north along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Traffic is steady in the narrow channel, but we get the impression it can be a lot worse. That’s Nordhavn 76 Avedan heading towards us. There sure seems to be a lot of Nordhavns here.
Passing under the Parker Bridge. The bridge opens on the quarter and three quarter hour for pleasure craft. We’d arrive shortly before 8:45 and only had to wait a few minutes after we signaled for an opening.
Clearing through was remarkably fast and simple using Florida’s Small Vessel Reporting System. We’d already filed a float plan with US Customs and just needed to make a quick phone call on arrival to answer a few questions and we were cleared into the United States.
For the first time in three years, we brought down our quarantine flag and didn’t replace it with a courtesy flag for a foreign country. Our last US port was Honolulu on March 15th, 2013—Dirona returned to the US almost three years ago to the day.
At our berth in the Soverel Harbour Marina in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We’ve not been plugged into 60 Hz power since Papeete in May of 2013. After living on a steady diet of 15-amp power for the last couple of years, 50 amps feels like enough to run a city.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.