When we pulled away from Miami we were happy to be out of the hustle and bustle of the large city. Once again we were sucked into the gulf stream and made great time up to St. Augustine covering 294nm in just 41 hours, averaging 7.1 knots with a max of 11.5knts. We were warned by friends that the inlet to St. Augustine can be tricky with aggressive tide rips, so timing was very important. We lined up with the entrance buoys around 8 am, our arrival time was perfect with the high slack tide. The entrance was smooth and un eventful.
Isla Mujeres, what can be said other than we where a little let down by it and we where ready to move on. After a week of mediocre tacos and good dental work we pulled away from the fuel dock and made our way out through the harbor channel and headed for the north end of the island. The wind was forecasted to be in our favor for the whole trip so we were looking forward to testing out our mainsail repair. Once we made it out past the shallow reef breaks the gulf stream picked us up and calmed the seas as the current and wind pushed together giving us amazing speed.
For 3 blissful days, we had perfect sailing conditions. We jumped into the Gulf Stream and seriously flew up and around Cuba. At times we were doing over 11 knots! Our average speed was 6.8 with a max speed of 12.5!!!
When we left Cayman Brac, we knew it was going to be a calm and slow sail. The winds were mostly from behind and very light. We were able to keep sailing for the first 36 hours, but would have to turn the engine on during the night to keep our speed up and to keep the comfort level….livable. Or so we thought……..
The customs mooring ball sat in about 50-60 feet and the water was so clear it looked fake!!! It killed us that we had to wait till 8:30 to check in, as you are not allowed to get off the boat at all, including swimming!!! It was only just 7am!!! An hour and half of pure torture! So we killed the time with more coffee and breakfast. Then we moved on to putting Prism back together. As of our arrival, Prism looked like she had been through a hurricane! We had been warned that check in process in the Caymans can take up to 3 hours. The whole process includes a mosquito fumigation, a drug dog aboard and then all the paperwork and stuff.
When we told people about the route we were planning on taking… people looked at us like we were crazy! However those people were also people who had never done the passage themselves. We had met almost 10 boats while in Panama who had done this Passage with all kinds of jumping off points, but all heading for the Caymans. We met cruisers who left from Bocas del Toro ( most stopped at San Andres or Providence to break up the bashing), some left from Shelter Bay/ Colon or the San Blas (like us) and most jumped off from Carthagena. Depending on the weather, current, the type of boat and the jumping off point will all be factors when making landfall either at Cayman Brac to the east or Grand Cayman to the west. Clearly you can break off a little earlier and ease the sheets if you head right for Grand, but we were determined to keep our easterly heading and aim for Cayman Brac……This is how our passage went……..