Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 13, 2007 - March 15, 2007 - Grenada to Los Roques, Venezuela

We had a brilliant passage from Grenada to Los Roques, one of the islands off of the north coast of Venezuela. The breeze was a pretty steady 10-15 knots from dead astern. The rolling motion of the boat when sailing downwind is going to take some getting used to. And we need to get used to it. The conditions we saw on this passage are similar to what we expect to see on the Pacific run, downwind sailing in a swell. We hope that the swells that we get in the Pacific are more gentle, and not the snappy (not snappy as in "he's a snappy dresser," but snappy as in "his head snapped back when the car collided with a bus") swells we experienced on this passage. We both felt fine, but sleeping was a bit tough.

The thing that made the passage so enjoyable, is that we didn't have to worry about Lenore. She has found her sea legs. She ate, used her box, played with string, cleaned her fur, purred when we pet her, shed all over the cushions, and demanded to be allowed up in the cockpit at sundown (when we didn't offer to help her up, she charged up the companionway ladder) while we were underway - pretty much a normal day in the life. She's still a bit wobbly when walking from her favorite chair to the litter box, but at least the hunger strikes seem to be over. We're still planning on flying her home from Aruba (although there has been some debate), but it is nice to know that she's going to be okay on our passages between here and there.

The northeast wind shift that we were hoping for didn't materialize until the second night of passage, about 10 hours before our arrival in Los Roques. For most of the trip we sailed under main alone. The main was too far out to use the jib, as it blanketed it almost completely. Once the northeast wind filled, we were able to use the jib for a few hours and picked up a half knot of boat speed. Our new preventer system worked beautifully. We were able to sail dead downwind with the comfort of knowing that the boat wasn't going to accidentally jibe.

One of our reefing lines has nearly chafed through, so we'll need to shorten that line while in Los Roques before heading to Los Aves.

Sten spent a good part of the passage fishing. In his words, "No fish landed on passage but we did have hook ups with a large Mahi and got a smaller one to the boat. Also lost another lure when something with teeth hit the line ahead of the wire leader on my multiple lure, in-line rig (now retired)." Actually, there was one fish that didn't get away, but it was so small that, after losing his favorite lure, I can see why he has blocked it from his memory.

We were joined by dolphins playing in our bow wake around sunset the first evening of passage. We must have been moving too slowly for them, because they didn't hang around long. Shortly afterwards, we saw our first container ship of the passage, passing within a mile of our bow, which was a little close for comfort. It was a good wake-up call. After that, we paid more vigilant attention to the horizon.

The moon is now just a sliver, and it didn't rise until quite late, so the stars were brilliant for much of the night. Once the moon rose, its light would wash out some of the smaller stars and diminish the light thrown by the ships and fishing boats. Our visibility was actually better before moonrise.

The sunset on our second evening out was beautiful.

We ate very well on this passage. I had made stuffed shells and curried chicken salad before we left, which we had for dinner and lunch. Underway, Sten whipped up a tomato and basil omlette and lattes in our Mukka for breakfast. He's really a man of many talents. For nightwatch snacks we had passionfruit yogurt. We've really enjoyed trying the wacky yogurt flavors in the Caribbean; so far the favorite has been letchi.

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