Good day readers! I know it has been a long while since we last spoke, but rest assured that we aboard Sundowner haven’t been sitting idly by on our haunches. Oh no, on the contrary, our lives have been full and busy. Let me explain…

After our long wait in Mexico the time finally came to up anchor and escape. It was around 3pm when we lifted our anchor, stowed the boat, and made our way out of the Isla Mujeres achorage.

Luckily for us, we got a huge lift leaving and were able to sail east quite well and for quite a long time. Our first day and night was pleasant in moderate swell with no problems. We made many miles of easting before turning towards the south and starting towards our preferred destination of Providencia.

From that point on, things weren’t exactly bad but we did run into some pretty interesting problems. First of all, our old friend, the gulf stream decided to play a prominent part in our journey. That malignant current has been with us almost since we left and our four or five knots through the water are ruined by it. We see 2 and 3 knots on the GPS in the height of it. I’d begun regarding it as some sort of evil force of which I was ready to be through with for a good long time. But it had some fight left in it, alas, it conspired with the jib.

One evening I was woken up by Dani shouting for a sail change. The wind had kicked up. I was at work tucking the reef in the main when suddenly there was a great amount of flogging from the genoa and Dani began shouting!

The shackle on the clew of the jib was malfunctioning. I didn’t know quite what had happened yet. But I finished with the reef and came around the mast to see the jib wildly flogging. To my astonishment, the shackle was completely gone!

Dani shouted that it was destroying the jib. There was some mad scrambling on deck in stiff seas to bring in the sheet and get the clew of the jib onboard. This is a dangerous operation. The clew of the jib has a metal ring that slaps back and forth and it could kill you if it hit you in the head. I carefully fished it in and lowered the jib. To my astonishment, the shackle had broken completely where it joined to the sheet. In fact, a small piece of metal was still encapsulated by the rope. Just a little piece. This little piece had flogged back and forth and punched about twenty small holes in the jib. What a mess! So the cutter sail was up and we continued on while I effected emergency repairs.

Before raising our genoa again I noticed the halyard had horrible chafe at the top. So not only had the clew had a problem but also the head of the sail. Again another bother to deal with. But finally we hoisted it again and wouldn’t you know it… The tack of the sail has a pendant and the pendant shackle exploded! The jib had revolted from all three of its corners! My God, that was an evening. (as a side note, the tack shackle, pendant, jib halyard, and clew shackle were some of the VERY few pieces of hardware I haven’t replaced, we have NEW spares of each of these pieces.)

But a new day dawned. We continued a steady beat making our course for the island of Providencia. We didn’t have too much drama after the jib revolt and carried on almost entirely with a double reefed main, genoa and staysail. Our speed varied until we crossed a large bank and seemed to finally break free of that devious gulf stream current. Our speed surged! It felt great.

The next drama occurred as we approached Savannah Cay. There are two small reef/awash islands there about two miles apart. It was the dead of night but the moon was so bright that I almost expected the solar panels to start putting out power. Dani summoned me on watch as we approached. The navigation was tricky due to the wind angle but we made a zig zag through the pass and came out as the sun was rising. Off in the distance on one of the little islands we saw some very strange looking little cube structure next to something bigger. Dani swears it was a tree, a very large tree, but I cannot imagine a tree could live in such a place.

The next day we entered the lee of a large bank that knocked the seas down for the remainder of our longest and most difficult passage yet. Spirits were high.


Once we reached the latitude of the island we cranked the motor and turned due east to make the little way we couldn’t sail to the island. (We could have made it but beating a tack up to the island would have put us at the pass after dark.)

About an hour into the motor the bilge pump came on and spit a lot of water out. Hmmm, not too unusual considering we’d been at sea for seven days in squalls and rain. But an hour later it came on again. Something was up.

Diving into the engine room through our hatch I immediately spotted the problem. Both side of the muffler were leaking like sieves. Water was running everywhere down into the bilges. We were about an hour away. I decided not to worry with and let the bilge pump do its job until we dropped the hook. The water leak of the muffler was roughly in the order of 20 gallons per hour.

We approached Catalina Harbor from the northern side and found what may be the best system of nav buoys I have ever seen that guided us in past the infamous “Morgan’s Head”. A large rock resembling a head that is supposed to be of “Henry Morgan – The Pirate.”

As an aside for my more crass readers… You can see the hill on the right hand side of the following photo.

It is known as “Morgan’s crack” for obvious reasons. Until we found this out, I’d been calling it Ass Crack mountain. Dani was not amused.

Coming into anchor we saw a few other boats. We were hailed on the VHF and guided in by some kindly souls and dropped hook in about 10 feet of water in a clear sandy patch near the last buoy. Dani poured me a cocktail, we shut down the motor and breathed a sigh of relief. We’d made it. We’d sailed roughly 700 nautical miles across that old enemy current and dropped hook in one of the least visited Caribbean islands.

More to come soon on our beginning adventures on this exotic island. And sorry its taken so long to publish. We’ll detail our experiences “finding the web” in paradise. Until next time… I’m off to stir the gumbo.