Sunday, January 20, 2008

The last 300 Miles...

The last three hundred miles flew by at ten knots plus, it was a race to beat the arrival on Saturday of a strong cold front in south Florida. The last forty miles to Coconut Grove were spent motoring at seven knots; the quite before the storm.
This 1400 mile passage was for the most part sailed, we used seventy gallons of fuel which cost a stunning three hundred dollars here in Florida. It was an uneventful trip with one good blow and no maintenance issues, that's the way to go! We had eight sailing days and two overnight stops.
We went right to the dock at Scotty's Landing, where a band was playing American music, that was a different sound then I have been use to, got a number of high fives and a few hugs and kisses from the fairer set. High on the list was a good old American hamburger, health food, right?
I had the worst case of sea legs I have ever had, so much so that it was difficult to walk a straight line . Mark and Lee left at seven this morning for Tucson so I'm left here at anchor this cold, rainy and very windy Sunday morning building a due list to get my Florida/Bahamas orientation back. Seems like I"v been gone a year.

Captain Mark Pomerenke
2829 Bird Ave suite 5 box 152
Coconut Grove, Fl 33133

Friday, January 18, 2008


Captains note:
Sailing in a 10 knot SE wind on a flat sea about twenty miles off the north coast of Cuba. It's about 300 miles to Miami from here.
For the benefit of all the "gonnabe" live aboard cruisers who read this log here's one more bit of knowledge you'll need out here.
We were boarded two days ago by the USCG who approached us in a large vessel called the Tampa. They hailed us and asked all the routine questions then had me standby on VHF 16 for about 35 minutes. When they got back to me they said they were going to send a boarding party and perform a "safety inspection"-rrrrright!!
They commanded that all hands show themselves in the cockpit and remain there, also they inquired if we have weapons on board or if there are any dangers to their crew, like animals.
I answered their questions and had to wonder about our safety since they had the "BIG WAR SHIP" with a complement of about 160 crew, a canon, and were sending a vessel with six guys wearing all the gear they saw on an old Cops segment with nifty little blue crash helmets with boom mic's.
The boys were polite but definitely on a mission to find anything they could to site me. During a period of waiting, there was a lot of that, (while they checked the data banks) we learned that much of the USCG emphasis now days is on law enforcement.
After they went through every hatch and locker doing who knows what inside my vessel ( the boarded are not allowed to accompany or observe their activities) I was presented a citation for a paper work issue.
I guess one would have to wonder what threat my little boat presents to the big bad USCG that could in any way justify tying up the assets they deployed for three and a half hours and the interference they posed to my pursuit of happiness.
We have these wars with high sounding names like the war on poverty, the war on cancer, the war on drugs, and than there are the other miss leading names like the patriot act, all of which seem to be miss leading and miss managed with great skill!
Plying these waters you can be approached or boarded by the Florida Marine Patrol, Fish and Game, US Customs, US Immigration, US Navy and I noticed the USAF is out here too. Wow! They all seem to play a slightly different game but they all make the same threatening fashion statement.
When you purchase your new, very expensive floating retirement home be aware, the Supreme court some years ago declared that those who's boat is their home (about a million of us) have no constitutional protections because the drug threat is greater than individual rights.
I hope to make Miami before the next strong front arrives Saturday evening. I'll rest up a bit then get ready to sail for Nassau where I will meet my first charter guest of the season on the fourth.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Swan Island, Honduras

Captains notes
It's 02:00 Monday morning the 14 th and we are located a few miles north of Swan island Honduras. Swan is all by it's little self way off shore. It has an anchorage that fisherman use, one lady, iguanas a radio transmitter and that's about it.
We had a plan to anchor there to get some rest but the wind and waves are favoring us and fatigue has not been a problem.
We are making seven knots in fourteen knots of east wind. The sea state is east sets, at about three to four feet. The forecast is more of the same for the next twenty four hours but, there's always a but, a cold front is coming down from the gulf and will overtake us in about 30 or 40 hours.
Conditions will change from near perfect to partly horrible with wind ENE at 20/25 and waves at eight to ten foot on the nose. If we can maintain seven knots over the next thirty or so hours we can maybe, arrive in the lee of the south western tip of Cuba. We will, if luck is with us, ride out the blow at anchor there. We are currently 249 miles south of that location.
Yesterday we were visited by a very large Columbian Navy war ship near the Nicaragua boarder. They launched a black jet chopper that flew around us getting our vessel name and probably, like the USCG, took some pictures of us.
I was sleeping at the time so Mark woke me to answer their hail, that was fun! I wasn't fully awake and had to answer a string of questions like, how many on board, document number, length, width, last port etc. I woke up my 50 or so Spanish words and fumbled through it. They were very polite, asked us if we needed anything and wished us a happy holiday and safe passage .Mark and Lee also saw some Pilot Whales while I was zonked out and while I was up we had a great number, I'd guess 50 or more Dolphin who came to play.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Capt Notes

We arrived at the San Andre's sea buoy at about 14:00 yesterday after thirty hours at sea. We motored the first half then motor sailed about a quarter and finally encountered the trade winds and seas, hello sailing!

This Columbian island is beautiful,you notice right away that the water is clear, clean, Bahamas quality. I could see the bottom fifty feet below on the approach. There is a long barrier reef which protects the island from the trades and provides an excellent calm anchorage.
After getting the hook set I followed the instructions in the cruising guide for the paper work cha-cha to clear into the country. The use of a ships agent is a must, the only one that is recommended is the Livingston agency. It says call the Thomas Livingston agency on VHF 16 in English. I did that several times with no response I even tried in Spanish, Stray Cat is "Gato Vagabondo". That got a response which is that Livingston does not exist; como? he is dead. Talk about embarrassed!
They do population control here thus preventing mainland Columbian's or any other nationality from staying so we can stay twenty four hours with no additional fees excepting the $100.00 for the cha-cha. Beyond that period there is a $38. fee for up to 30 days per person. The exchange rate is 20 to 1 here so our dollar goes a long way but since this is a holiday meca for Columbian's things are generally more expensive then other locations.
I'm waiting for The "live" ships agent I employed to return with my Zarpe so we can leave. The Zarpe is an important document since the next country will not allow you to clear in without the Zarpe that shows you legally cleared out of the previous country.
If I had the time I would stay here for a while,I like the cleanliness, island charm, and so far the people have been very polite and there are no security problems here.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Capt notes

Woke up at 05:00 and went through all the pre departure checks passing the sea buoy at 08:00, so begins a 1500 mile passage from Panama to Miami and Nassau. All systems are in the green and I had plenty of rest yesterday. My able crew Lee and Mark Wactor are so excited for this trip; they have been on the hard in Arizona since selling their Prout 39 catamaran two years ago.
The sea state is about 6-8 foot, forward of the beam to starboard and while we started off sailing we have lost the wind in the last few minutes. Things could be worse, at this rate we will reach the Columbian islands lying off Honduras at about 12:00 tomorrow. Isla San Andre's and Providencia are about 200 miles north of Bocas Del Toro Panama and the cruising guide sure makes them sound great, I'll let you know and try to get some pictures posted so you can see for yourselves.
Thanks to all of you who emailed your wishes to me for fair winds, I better get back on the helm

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