Day 3 - 255 nm to go Following an awesome, star-studded night, we welcomed our first sunny day. The sun wasted no time at all in rising and shining. By 0630, Old Sol was brilliant and blazing. The constant tradewind breeze keeps things cool enough, but we're slathered in sunscreen and very happy we have a bimini to keep the direct UV from frying us.
As we watch the Windward Islands to the east slip away on the charts, there's some small regret that we're not island-hopping our way north. Grenada, Bequia, Barbados, Mustique, St. Lucia, Martinique … maybe next time.
We had lots of entertainment during the day. Two flying fish were in the scuppers this morning, both quite stiff and stinky, definitely part of Bob's family. Dolphins paid us a visit in the afternoon and stayed to play for about 15-20 minutes. A brown noddy landed on the solar panels and despite efforts to chase him off, he managed to return time and time again, depositing voluminous amounts of poop with every landing. Too bad we're not in the guano business. A curious laughing gull cruised by several times, hovering close to the noddy and we wondered if they were sea mates or if the tern was thinking he'd like a rest as well. After five unsuccessful attempts at discouraging the poop fest, David finally ended the noddy's respite by flicking him with a line. He squawked a “hrumph” and took off disgruntled. So much for our hospitality at sea.
We finally found the other end of that pesky adverse current that's been slowing us down and now we're enjoying a 1 knot push. The currents in the Carib are clockwise with Atlantic waters entering through the Windwards with the North Equatorial Current. They swirl around and begin exiting in the north through the Leewards and north of Puerto Rico and Cuba … forming the Florida Current and Gulf Stream. We're most happy to be on the positive end for a change.
Directly on our route is a tiny island, Isla Aves, not to be confused with the Islas Aves en route to Bonaire. It's really no more than “a speck of sand in the east Caribbean Sea, barely large enough and high enough to support a small field of grass, seabirds, and endangered sea turtles, let alone people. The islet, however is a location of great international interest. For Venezuela and Dominica, in particular, control of the tiny islet represents the gateway to thousands of square miles/km of ocean-based resources. Whoever control Aves controls the resources of the ocean around it – [purportedly] about 20% of the world’s natural gas resources.” Venezuela has set up a base there and we thought we'd stop to check it out. Alas the charts for this “speck of sand” are not detailed and we arrived at about 10pm on a moonless night. We gave it a pass.
We are enjoying another stellar evening. It's a new moon which means no moon at all and the night's are pitch black, save the shining stars and planets. It's spectacular, but I miss the moon. She'll be back in a few days.
Day 4 - 147 nm to go
Another spectacular night followed by an eye-blinding sunrise. The clouds moved in around 0900 … big, puffy clouds that look like cotton balls suspended in a blue field. They weren't ominous and only served to filter the blazing sun a bit and save our retinas.
Dolphins played in our bow wake throughout the day and another noddy stopped by. We love the birds, but the poop detail after they visit is pretty gross.
By the way, since our furler foul, all sails have been full out and we've not made a single adjustment. Talk about easy sailing for lazy sailors.
After I wrote that line above (shame on me for bragging), the wind went more southerly and we ended up poling out, wing-on-wing, and continually jibing all through the rest of the day and evening. We'll be in tomorrow morning. By mid evening, the shore lights of St. Croix came into view and that old restless feeling “we'll be in port soon” grabbed us, like a horse heading to the barn. The trip has been pleasant and it's good to be back on the sea, but heading into Culebra will be pleasant, too.