November 26, 2010

Cayman Islands

Hello all!
We sailed out of Jamaica Nov. 20 at 8pm. We had a nice 20 to 25 knot breeze blowing us to the north-east on our way to Little Cayman 165 miles away.

Downtime loves going downwind and riding the waves. We were only using the jib sail and going 8 to 9 knots!! OK so you are asking what is a knot? A knot is roughly 1.2 statute miles per hour. 6000 feet in nautical mile verses 5280 in a statute mile. remember that one it will be on the quiz!!

Needless to say wind blowing 20 plus knots kicks up some waves!! We had 7 to 8 foot following seas, this gives you the sensation of riding a wave. Occasionally we would surf down the front of one sending our speed to 10 to 12 knots! It doesn't sound all that fast but in a sailboat it is like you put a zero on the speed and it feels like 120!! At least it does for me.

Sailing through the night is kind of scary at first. You do not use headlights like when you drive a car. You just have to hope there are no large floating he objects in your way? The other boats are actually easier to see at night, especially cruise ships! Also, Downtime has AIS (automatic identification system) AIS is a really great tool. It shows all the ships in a 25 mile radius that are larger than 50 meters and most private yachts. AIS gives you information that includes, Name of ship, ships speed, direction,bearing, closest approach, time to closest approach, and distance. This all shows up on the main navigation screen and sets off an alarm when ships come inside a preset range. Nice!!

We arrived at Cayman Brac Around 3:00 pm on the 21st. Cayman Brac is about 5 miles long with no natural ports or man made marinas. There were breaking waves all around the island and no place to safely anchor. We continues on to the next island. On our way to Little Cayman we were contacted on the radio that we needed to clear in on Cayman Brac. We told the official that we were not able to land or anchor so we would continue on to Grand Cayman, some 80 miles away. We un-furled the screecher!! The screecher is a sail about twice the size of the Jib. Two of them would cover most of a basketball court!! This baby pulls!! Our speed went up to 10 knots and we surfed down allot more waves hitting 13 knots on some of them!!

We had a great run! Covering 80 miles in just under 7 hours!! 5 miles from George Town the weather turned, wind died, shifted and the rains came down! On with the motors and down with the sails. Soaking wet we drooped anchor at 1:00 am.

Port Security was by a 8:00 and offered to show us to the clearing dock. Up with the anchor!! Well we got the chain coming in an then clunk!! The anchor would not budge? It took some time and maneuvering around to get it freed off whatever was holding it down there. When the anchor finally surfaced it had a funny "S" shape in the shank!! ARG!!! Bent Me Anchor!!!

Clearing in was a straight forward process. Officials came aboard and we filled out the necessary documents. Surrendered our spear guns (no spear fishing in the Caymans) and then it came to getting Daria cleared, Russian Nationals need a Visa! All of our research said different, but hey why argue. The official was nice offering a ride to the airport and an hour later and $110 lighter we were official! Port Security showed us the way to very nice "Free" moorings!! Nice! They showed us where to land the dingy and told us where the local shopping was, nice Guys!! Getting settled we find the customs stamp ling on the table? Anyone else need cleared in?? We got a stamp!!! We hailed them on the radio and gave it back.

On the 23rd we rented a car to see the island, and to find a place to make the anchor look more like a" I "than an " S " . We found Superior Machine. They did a awesome job with their 100 ton press. We also needed a little welding done since the anchor also had a crack. Repairs done we set off to see the sights. We went to a dolphin park and turtle farm, apparently the main tourist attractions on the island. I prefer my dolphins and turtles in the wild.
The rest of the island is pretty flat and covered with vegetation, not really jungle mostly thick vines and bramble. We did not see any agriculture to speak of? A few horses for rent and allot of wild chickens. It seems like any other place these days, for sale signs on every corner. I drive around and wonder what every one does to survive? There is little or no new construction, hotels are struggling with low tourist numbers, so what does everyone do? Struggle!

Wednesday Daria and I went out on the town and visited the Ritz Carlton to see how that was! Diner was nice but WAY overpriced. $20 dollar cab in the lobby and $10 cab on the street, same ol stuff. Honestly we have better food on the boat!!

Daria cooked a amazing Thanksgiving dinner aboard Downtime, perfect turkey,mashed potatoes, mashed parsnips and fresh cranberry dressing!! Butterball is everywhere!! Thanksgiving day is when the Christmas lights come on! We took a cab and say some nice displays. There is a annual contest and some go all out here. The winner gets free utilities for a year!!

All the people we met here are happy and friendly. They all see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel like things are getting better. The Caymans are a beautiful place to visit and have some of the best reef diving in the world. & mile beach is lined with amazing hotels and white sand beaches. Weather is perfect every day and the water temperature is just right!! A great place to visit!!

We will setting sail for Belize tonight! The passage is 370 miles. We hope to arrive sometime Sunday.
Until then, Peace!!