We woke up Monday and checked the weather like we do every morning out here. This time however, we saw a storm forming on the radar that we didn’t like the looks of and it appeared to be making tracks toward Puerto Rico. After a brief conversation we decided it best to sail away vs. waiting for the storm to come our way. We prepped the boat the remainder of the day to get ready for our 400 nautical mile nonstop sail to Curacao!
Day 1 (Tuesday) –
At 11 pm Monday night we pulled our anchor, raised the sails and headed into the dark night from Boquerón, Puerto Rico. The start of the sail was as expected. The sea state was about 3-4ft and the wind was 15 knots on our beam, ideal conditions. Sailing with just the two of us, we do 4 hour ‘shifts’. This allows one person to do as they wish (mainly sleep!) while the other is in charge of the helm. We alternate these shifts the entire length of the sail. The first 24 hours underway are spent trying to get reacquainted with sailing off shore and dealing with lack of sleep. Sleeping on a moving boat while leaned over 20 degrees is not the easiest task. Not only is the position uncomfortable but it sounds like a freight train shoving through waves. The boat creaks and shudders with the movement of the sails. So of course, as soon as I fell asleep it was time for my watch. To be honest, I was feeling a bit ‘squishy’. This is the first time we had an offshore sail in a couple months! An hour or so after sunrise, we caught our first catch of the trip, a nice mahi! Catching fish is always a morale booster and breaks up the monotony of the sail. At the close of the first 24 hours, we caught a total of 4 mahi! The remainder of our time was spent trying to sleep when not on watch and snacking occasionally.
Day 2 (Wednesday) –
Phew! We finally feel part human again! The second day is always better than the first. Your body adjusts to your new sleep schedule (or lack thereof) and you start to feel confident in sailing again. The ocean was beautiful this morning, sunny and calm. I took some time to sit on the bow seat and get some sun. I finished a good book and Gary watched some stuff we downloaded on Netflix. We were back in the groove and it felt so good to be on the move again! With a freezer full of mahi, a working autopilot and fish tacos for lunch, things onboard were as good as they get! But as the day went on, we sailed our way into our first squall. We turned off the autopilot to adjust our sails for the storm and when we went to engage it again – NOTHING. Gary spent an hour troubleshooting but to no avail. Between getting drenched by the squall and the autopilot failure, our day of sunshine turned to clouds. Wow, how quickly things change out here. The loss of our autopilot is huge. This means for the rest of our sail one of us needs to have our hands on the helm at all times – daunting and exhausting.
Day 3 (Thursday)-
Around 4am another squall came through and from this point forward we were hit with wind gusts, rain and increasing wave height. When we are underway, I check in daily with the SSCA net on our SSB marine radio. This net allows us to communicate with others who track our position and conditions onboard. They also provide weather and safety updates. It’s a very important service for us out here and we are very grateful to the organizers of it! Anyway, this morning we are alerted that we will have some weather headed our direction which will kick up the sea state. While inside trying to get some rest, I noticed a new sound coming from the front of the boat. I alerted Gary and he strapped in to go check it out. Somehow one of the metal brackets attached to our anchor support system broke. I’m assuming one of the big waves we took over the bow ripped it off. I hate when Gary has to leave the cockpit in rough seas to fix something. It scares the shit out of me. He was able to tie the dangling bracket up to the anchor pulpit for a temporary fix. It’s days like this that make me question if this lifestyle is for me. I always say the highs are really high and the lows are just, well, really low. We tend to never have days that are just OK. We were hammered with rain all day, constantly in soaked clothes, changing just to get soaked again.
Day 4 (Friday) –
Only 70 more miles to go! We were getting so close but with thunder and lightening in the distance, it seemed like eternity. The worst of the weather came around 5:30 am. I was on watch and realized the sun should be rising soon but instead it looked like I was sailing into darkness. Yep, here it comes. So. Much. Rain. Gusting 35 knots of wind, with 10 foot seas and lightening! I have no other choice but to hold on to the wheel and try to keep the boat from rounding up. This was not the sunshine and wine I thought I was signing up for at the start of our journey. This is the other part, the part no one tells you. But as we made our way through the storm (with Gary sleeping down below), I take a minute to reflect back to a year ago. If this same situation happened, I would have screamed for Gary’s help. I would have given him the wheel while I cried in the corner somewhere.
I must say, I’m pretty damn proud of me and us, all three of us. One Life handled these conditions like the badass she is. A couple hours later, LAND HO! We made it to Curacao. And who else was there to escort us into this new country? A rainbow and a pod of dolphins. These are the highs, that make you forget about all of the lows and remind you, you made the right choice.
We made it into the Quarantine anchorage around noon. Tomorrow we will await the Coast Guard, Customs, Immigration and our Covid Tests. Hopefully we will be out of quarantine by Monday! We have lots of exploring to do!