Cruising plans really are set in blancmange! We had planned to finish off our boat jobs and go back to Bonaire before heading North. We had our car hire and island tour then we looked at the weather. We had a window of 5 days of gentle east and southeast winds.
Our initial plan was to sail to Bonaire but why not take advantage of the weather and get north? So last Tuesday morning with a few hours notice we sailed North. Ideally for the USVI's but anywhere east of the Dominican republic would be good.
An early morning start, we left the marina at 0730 but had to wait 1/2 hour for the bridge to open so we could leave the harbour. We had to motor against the SE wind down the coast of Curacao, rounding the south of the island we could sail NE to clear the north of Bonaire and we are off sailing again.
To sail north east can be a challenge against the wind and current. The current is always there, a 2kt westward set but the wind in the south east really helped us for a couple of days.
Day one the log read 106 miles with 4hrs motoring (getting out).
Day two we ran the engine during the evening as there was little wind, eventually sailing in an easterly F3 with calm seas. Day two saw 111 miles run.
Day three we had a couple of rainsqualls and the wind getting up to a F6 almost in an instant and dying again as the squall passed. We managed 113miles on day three.
Day 4 we were not going to arrive in daylight nor were we going to arrive before the moon set at 2300. As there was some conflicting information on the pilotage and entry to Ponce yacht harbour we decided to slow down and arrive at dawn. Easier said than done as we reefed down for the night and set in for a slow sail.
The wind gods had other ideas no sooner had we reduced sail then the wind increased! We were now sailing hard to windward in a F4. Normally this would be perfect but not when you don't want to get there in a hurry!
We arrived 2 hrs before dawn and trusted to our plotter and pilotage info. We never found the leading lights, but managed to avoid the reefs and the island in the centre of the bay. By the time we were tied alongside the customs dock at the yacht club it was getting light.
Eventually the wind went east but we were still on track for the town of Ponce in PR.
With calm seas most of the time it was pretty much a perfect sail in 4 days we travelled 412 miles and motored for 12 hours.
Our plans are to stay in PR for a few weeks exploring the islands of Vieques and Culebra off the east coast before making our way to the US/BVI's.