Friday March 3rd. Georgetown, Cayman Islands

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 3rd, 2017
It is 3.46 am, sleepless from Seattle. Probably a left over from the night schedule on the sail here and the six day sail from the Panama Canal. I can see far enough on the AIS screen to set the alarm for one hour naps. And I catch up on my sleep during the day. My previous blog was just before departing Montego Bay. The custom and immigration officers came to the YC at 9 am on Monday. “Rebell” was anchored out and the other German boat, with Walter and Elke, “Sunrise” was med moored next to me on the dock. A squall was coming in on to my port side. We should have waited this out. Brendt and Birgit helped to take the long line off the mooring in their outboard powered inflatable dinghy. It became a very scary drill. “Sunrise” managed to get off their mooring buoy but I had to cut my engine when the long line my friends in the dinghy were taking up was going to get into my prop. This drove me onto the mooring line of “Just Dreamin” whose crew had flown to B.C. just before I arrived. I had met Justin and Loree in Balboa, Panama. The rain came down in buckets, I was totally soaked. In the end I managed to get off without a scratch to either boat. In the action we learned that we should have availed ourselves of the assistance from the dockmaster with their launch. Once away from land I had to put two reefs in the main with a North Easterly in a broad reach. Here I was giving away again all those hard upwind miles fought to get to Montego Bay. But with the new plan to come north to Florida I`ll still have a good approach from here in the Cayman Islands to Cienfuegos in Cuba. I had great speed, hitting an average close to six knots, with the occasional hits on the downhill side of the, now growing, waves of eight plus knots. In the evening I had to lower the main all together and still maintaining 5 1/2 average with just the #3 jib.
Part of this is the constant trade wind surface current, now I was getting the benefit after fighting this on the way from Panama. I covered the about 220 miles in 45 hours.
My route was set to the north end of Grand Cayman to go into the North Bay and moor in the marina at the barcadere. The North Bay was considered too shallow for the bigger German boats. I heard them a few times on the VHF radio and both called their birthday greetings in on the 28th. But I lost them from sight soon after leaving Montego Bay. But after I studied my electronic charts and the Google Earth pictures on my charts I decided that going into North Bay just was too risky. Elke came up with good way points for the North Bay from a local here and we are all planning to go in behind George Town at the barcadero, probably on Monday. We will stay on the free moorage buoys here on the leeward north side of George Town because there are some gale force winds predicted for Sunday. After a few days in North Bay we will all three head for Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Was it coincidence? I passed  the 80th west longitude at noon on the 28th. I celebrated it appropriately in my uppy, as SoloMan. With Birgit`s cake. I thank God for those 80 good years, that I can still enjoy life at its fullest and continue accumulating all these treasures in my family, friends and new experiences. God is good.
red boat is Fleetwood, the red broken vertical line is the 80th west Longitude. Lower left shows coordinates and SOG speed over ground. The upper blue line is my abandonded track

red boat is Fleetwood, the red broken vertical line is the 80th west Longitude. Lower left shows coordinates and SOG speed over ground. The upper blue line is my abandonded track

The wind dropped when I came into shore of Grand Cayman and had to start up the iron horse. In order to announce my arrival to the port captain in George Town I shut the engine to better hear him. When I restarted the engine it would not switch to start. Frozen. I raised the #3 jib again and managed to sail onto one of the free orange buoys.
An hour later the Germans buoy moored on each side of me. It turned out to be a Holiday and there was a $90 overtime charge. We all decided that we`d rather sit it out until Thursday, when it is free. I spent most of Wednesday, I had arrived at 8 am, to fix the starter problem, which wire goes to which pole? Crawled into the low and narrow space of the quarter berth. My injured back was killing me. Yesterday we were all led to the customs/immigration dock to clear in. When I started the engine to drive back the starter kept skipping gears. I killed the engine. Quickly, raised the #3 jib which was stowed away on the bow, still hanked on. I attached the sheets and sailed back to the mooring buoy. “Sunrise” and the harbor patrol boat stood by to assist but I managed it once again to pick up the heavy rope and thread my bow line through it.
I will not be surprised that there will have been a Gig Harbor cruise boat tourist watching this from the five cruise ships. In 2010 Pete Lancaster of my St. Nicholas Gig Harbor parish took a picture from a Viking cruise ship of “Fleetwood” in the Main-Rhine Canal. On a good day 15,000 cruise boat passengers disembark on George Town. The entire population of the Cayman Islands is about 60,000.
Quite a spectacle, yesterday at the customs/immigration dock. An army of reps from all the different tourist services with their placards, the passengers with their guides holding the number of his/her pack. Many of my best friends are golfers and cruise ship fans, when I grow up I might try it.
Thursday eeninng

Thursday evening

playing dominos with view on Fleetwood

playing dominos with view on Fleetwood

 

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