We left Roatan Island on Friday, 27.3. with the sun rising. Sailing with the wind towards the east we enjoyed the calm morning, sitting together and preparing food. Peeling roasted cocoa beans and chatting a bit, a terrible noise startled us. Not knowing for a moment what had happened but aware that something was wrong with the genoa, we realised that it started ripping off, and kept on ripping. The whole way in a horizontal line. Immediately alarmed we released the sheet, went in front to the bow, and all together while the wind blew strong we tried to get it down. A hard job. The more we could it bring down the more the sail luffed in the wind, ropes which grabbed at us like wilde arms. And while doing so the sail just ripped more and more and more. Thanks to the donated V.H.F. we could contact our crew on Josee, who were only a short distance behind us.
Attaching the spare genoa, the last we have, we could continue sailing and made quite a good effort due to a strong east wind. But the day ended as it started. At dinner time we figured out that the new gas bottle we had just bought had leaked during the night. The bottle was empty and we could not cook. Preparing a poorly dinner we discussed how we will manage the following days until we would reach Santanilla.
Changing plans – Cayman Islands
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 Las Islas Santanilla are also known as Swan Islands, named after a Captain Swan. Both, Honduras and the United States claimed the little piece of earth for themselves in the 19th century. In 1971 they finally signed a treaty that put the islands under Honduras sovereignty. The little islands of Santanilla, approximately 15 miles south of the rhumb line from George Town, Grand Cayman, are without any chance for supply as the only people living there are a few Honduran marines, a couple of farmers and a small ever-changing group of fishermen. As there are no shops but we were in need of a new bottle of gas we decided to go straight to the Cayman Islands, which meant at least another four days to sail. Being at least eight days straight on sea without cooking. The crew of Josee in the meanwhile would cook for us once a day so that we would have at least one warm dish a day and the fresh food would not be wasted.
It is quite an adventure to meet up on the wide and wilde open sea delivering food for seven people while the high waves are pushing the two boats together and pull them apart. Manoeuvring the catamaran close enough to the monohull, and throwing the delivery package to the other boat, was quite fun though and always a special moment each day.
Being stuck on a smooth sea
What moments being alone on the sea, nothing more than clouds and the ocean. Only Josee from time to time at the horizon. Flying fishes, birds, suddenly dolphins following us. Only stars and moon in the night. The stormy sea, high waves which makes every step hard, dizzying your head. And then: nothing. No wind. No breeze. No waves. It started in the night and held on for almost five entire days. In five days we could sail only 90 nm. Stuck on the wide sea. Every cargo ship we could see and that was close enough to get contacted refused an answer. Without any information about the forecast, without knowing how long this is going to last, frustration channels its way. From in total 360 nm we had still 90 to go. At day 5 without any wind and being stuck somewhere in nowhere on the Caribbean Sea our captain could tell that we are where we had been exactly two days and 15h ago. That is sailing the Caribbean without engines. There is less that is more dispirit than a completely calm, smooth sea. The ocean starts seeming even more wide, endless and lonely when there is nothing that breaks the open view. It is said that big waves show the wind from the day before. For days the boats were too gently rocked.
To cheer up the crews motivation we had a meet up, somewhere far away from everything. Having a bath where probably no one ever had one in the middle of nowhere. 3000 meters down to the ground.
And then, suddenly, almost unexpectedly, the wind returned. It started softly. We had a fast goodbye, everyone went back to their boat and we could continuing sailing towards the Caymans, towards George Town.
What we learnd on the Caymans and how we continued our itinerary to Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti will be published when the internet allows! I am still at sea!