An Extra Day Existing

Sunday May 12, 2013


I won’t bore you with all the details of our three and a half day trip from Port Antonio Jamaica to Cienfugos Cuba, so I’ll just leave you with some of the highlights of the passage:

  • Ever since the Jumentos we’ve been having an issue with our engine where it does not always want to shut off from our pull switch in the cockpit and Matt has had to resort to turning it off in the actual engine several times.  He’s assured me that the pull switch should be working again, I just need to use a little extra muscle.  As soon as we’re out of the channel from Port Antonio and back in the Caribbean Sea he asks me to shut off the engine.  I’m pulling with all my strength, even bracing my feet against the cockpit wall, yet nothing is happening.  Even though Matt is busy trimming the sails I tell him that he needs to do it, I’m afraid that if I pull any harder, I’m going to break something.  He comes over, annoyed that I’m definitely not using all my strength, because it should be an easy job.  He pulls and pulls, … and rips out the plywood on which the switch is attached to!  The best part?  The engine is still running.


  • We’d been so behind to get ourselves out of there that the only thing I’d eaten all day was a small bowl of macaroni and cheese.  Although I had spent a good portion of the day preparing meals for the trip so that I wouldn’t have to cook underway, so the sink was full of dirty dishes.  Foolishly thinking the seas would be calm as soon as we left harbor I saved them for just after we had gotten underway.  There was no wind but the swells were still a good size, and so we bobbed back and forth at a measly three knots while I tried to concentrate on my dishes below deck.  We didn’t even make it two miles from shore before I got sick in the sink.


  • Obviously not having dinner now because of the seasickness, I got up for my midnight shift with now having absolutely nothing in my stomach.  After an hour and a half it got to the point that I was so weak I could barely lift my head to make checks every fifteen minutes.  Lesson learned.  Even when you feel like you’re going to throw up any food you might eat, still force yourself to eat it.  Because getting sick on a boat is much better than being too weak to operate on a boat.


  • Friday afternoon and into the evening was actually so calm that we were able to bring my laptop up on the cockpit to set on the table and watch movies.  For three and a half hours I was able to forget that I was on passage and sometimes even forget that I was on a boat.  This may rank as one of the best passage making days ever in my mind, even if we only covered about 90 miles our first 24 hours due to light winds.


  • On Saturday morning I was treated to my second dolphin show in a row during my morning shift.  Both days a group of 7 or 8 would come and swim by the cockpit, racing alongside of the boat and sometimes sticking their heads out of the water to check me out.  Both days, as soon as I ran below to grab my camera they would disappear.  I think they were in the witness protection program and didn’t want to be photographed.


  • In the very early hours of Sunday morning I realized there was a weather pattern on this trip that I could basically set my clock by.  During the afternoon and evening we’d have steady winds in the 10-15 knot range.  When I got up for my shift at midnight they would bump up to 15-17 knots.  But every morning at 2 am they would very suddenly fill in to 20-25 knots not peter back out until noon.  I’m serious, I could set my clock by it.


  • Before we left someone told us (definitely not Swifty) that Jason is bad luck.  Everything on his boat breaks.  Do not let him on your boat.  Everything on your boat will break.  So for an hour before we left on Thursday we had Jason out to visit one last time and also show him all the lavish space Serendipity had to offer compared to his Sundeer 56.  Don’t worry, these facts become important.  Just before my wind change was scheduled to come in on Sunday morning I was sitting in the cockpit facing the bow so I could keep an eye on the anemometer and the wind direction.  Which is when I noticed how rapidly it started changing.  We had been close hauled with the wind 40-60 degrees off our starboard side.  And then it suddenly moved to 90 degrees.  And then 110, 120, and kept going until it was at 180, putting us at a downwind run.  I had never seen such a sudden shift as that.  I called Matt up from his slumber to check it out and help adjust the sails.  It was then I looked at the charplotter and realized we were now pointed SW, directly back towards Jamaica.  It wasn’t the wind that had shifted, it was the boat.  The autopilot had turned off and I hadn’t realized it.  I put us back on course, hit the button, and watched us promptly turn back toward Jamaica.  We did this three more times before realizing the autopilot wasn’t working.  The same item that had failed on Jason’s boat while coming from Cuba to Jamaica.  From 2 am until 7 am we took turns had steering until Matt was able to use the daylight to put back together a fuse that had come loose and we were able to get it operating again.  This is also the night the winds decided they wanted to gust between 30-35 knots and let the seas build up to from 1-2 feet to 5-6 feet.  Lesson learned.  Don’t ever let Jason on our boat again.


  • Because of the ok winds during the day and the full winds at night, we started going with only the headsail, double reefed at night, so that we wouldn’t arrive to early on Sunday evening or in the middle of the night.  Had we been using the winds to our full advantage we could have easily gotten in by Sunday morning and shaved a day off our passage.  I could have had one more night hanging out by the pool and getting in contact with friends again before my imminent loss of internet coming up.  Even though this passage has been fairly calm, I never quite recovered from my sickness the first night and couldn’t do so much as touch a book or use my computer (except for the few hours of movies).  I couldn’t do anything.  I spent three days soley existing because that’s the only thing I could do.  To know now that I could have spent only two days existing and one more living?  Well, that’s enough to make me sit and ponder on it because that’s all I can do right now…

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The goat stew I prepared for the trip.

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