Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SailStrayCat.com - Capt. Mark - Adventure Sail to Panama Update

Hi to everyone,

Here is an update to the upcoming Adventure Sail itinerary,

My original sail plan was to depart from Miami, sail through the Bahamas, to Jamaica, and from there, offshore to Panama. Several readers have contacted me and warned me away from Jamaica because of the ever-increasing crime problem. I then changed my tack and began planning to head from Miami to Key West, then to the Yucatan, and down from there to Panama.

After Reading lot’s of books and after finally getting my hands on a set of pilot charts for the region and time of year, I discovered that it was a good plan, until one arrives in Honduras and wishes to go on to Panama. At that point, the trades and currents will be predominantly on the nose, making for near impossible conditions.

The plan is now (and won’t change) - Leave from Miami, make our way down through the Bahamas to Great Inagua Island, then proceed offshore to Kingston, Jamaica. After a two-day rest, provisions, fuel and maybe some careful sighting we will go off shore again to the San Blas Island archipelago of Panama.

The dates, miles and times are dictated by wind and weather, and can be off by a day or two; However from Miami to George Town they should be right on. My planning is based on six knots which will probably hold true for the Bahamas with its prevailing south east wind but the rest of the trip should be broad reaching or beam reaching in the trades with SOG of 8 to 10 kts.

From the day of departure and afterwards, I may be reached by email while underway through on board equipment (no forwards, attachments or pictures). Or, if the need is immediate, by satellite phone: Dial 1.480.768.2500 (welcome to Iridium global message) then dial 881.631.566.456. You will only be charged for airtime from your location to Phoenix Arizona. The satellite and overseas charges will be mine.

All of the settlements or towns in the Bahamas have local airports. The most convenient airports along our route are Bimini, Nassau and George Town.

Leg 1

Depart Miami at Coconut Grove September 20th for Gun Cay, the Bimini chain, Bahamas. This leg involves a Gulf Stream crossing, 60 miles and 9 hours.

We will remain over night then take some time to snorkel a very nice reef at Cat Cay on the 21st. Depending on crew consensus; we will start the next leg to Chub Cay after swimming.

Leg 2

Depart Cat Cay for Chub Cay, in the Berry Island chain Sept.22nd, 90 miles 15 hours.Rest, explore, and swim.

Leg 3

Depart Chub Cay Sept. 23rd for Nassau; 38 miles 6.5 hours. The trip so far will be considered a shake down with Nassau being a good stop for any maintenance issues that arise. A crew consensus at this point to stay over in Nassau or pass on through to Rose Island 7 miles for the night. There is some very good snorkeling and beach at Green Cay adjacent to Rose so the crew could elect to spend an extra day.

Leg 4

Depart Nassau or Rose Island for Staniel Cay, Exuma Islands Sept. 24th or 5th, 78 miles 13 hours. These islands are amongst the best I have ever sailed. The crew will have some input as to which islands to visit and how long we stay. No matter how it plays out we will depart Staniel Cay on the 27th. Staniel has the grotto that was used in the James Bond movie Thunderball; if you have never snorkeled in a cave this will take your breath away.

Leg 5

Depart Staniel Cay for George Town, Exuma Sept. 28th, 115 miles 19 hours. George Town is the most popular of these islands with very good air travel connections, provisioning, restaurants, Tiki bars and stunning beaches.

Leg 5

Depart George Town, sailing for Long Island Sept. 30th, on to Rum Cay 75 miles, 12 hours. Good restaurant, fuel and little else on this far out lying island.

Leg 6

Depart Rum Cay sailing for Matthew Town, Great Inagua, Bahamas; October 1st, 185 miles, 31 hours.

This passage should be a beam reach or a little closer to the wind while southing. Depending on sea state and wind direction we will likely leave long Island to starboard with Crooked and Acklins Islands close aboard to port for sixty miles in the lee.

Conditions could be such that this course is altered to make for the Plana Cays south of Rum then south to Inagua.

Matthew Town is the largest settlement in the southern Bahamas. I have anchored off of it a few times but I did not have a reason to go ashore. Basic services and supplies are available with air links to Nassau if needed for parts or a flight out.

Leg 7

Depart Matthew Town sailing for Kingston, Jamaica October 3rd, 300 miles, 50 hours.This passage makes for the Windward Passage between Cuba on the Starboard and Haiti on the port hand.

October 5th; thus far we will have sailed approximately 940 nautical miles touching three countries with 116 hours underway taking 15 days to cover the distance.

Leg 8

Depart Kingston for Isla Povenir, Panama October 5th, 520 miles 90 hours. This will be a blue water passage with wind, waves and a half-knot current on the port beam. There are varying currents, seamounts, banks and bars to deal with.

Landfall at Povenir will take some planning to make a day light approach to the vast San Blas archipelago. The island doesn’t have a settlement but it’s the right place to go through the formalities of clearing into the country thus avoiding the hustle of the bigger ports. This is a good place for departing/arriving friends and guests since they have frequent flights to Panama City.

The neighboring island of Wichuhuala has supplies and is located about a half mile away. This begins for me an adventure of discovery of these three hundred Polynesian like islands, its’ people, culture, food, music, rain forests, many rivers and much more. I will be making my way to Bocas Del Toro in the North West of Panama. I will post a newsletter in a few days with more information about this part of the adventure sail for those of you who wish to come down and enjoy.

Best regards,


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas

Lanis & Glenn Expedition;

This is the first time with Capt Mark, this was an impromptu trip. The trip was for 3 days and 2 nights, we had a wonderful time. We wanted to extend the trip another day but unfortunate for us; Capt Mark had another trip booked. This trip exceeded my expectations; we enjoyed a beautiful cruise, caught fish, enjoyed a breath taking sunrise, swam, explored Gun Cay, saw North Bimini, and Honeymoon harbor. This was an experience of a life time that is ending way too soon. Absolutely incredible!!!!!!