Friday 15 May, CY day 62/passage to USA day 1: The day for departing Cayman has finally come, exactly 2 months after we arrived. This is certainly the longest we have ever sat on the boat in one place without moving! We are in no great hurry to depart , so take the morning leisurely getting ready. Over-boom shade off, last dinghy run ashore with rubbish, outboard off, dinghy on davits and secured with belly straps, big fenders blown up, mooring lines on, instrument covers off etc etc.
There is also some last minute correspondence to do with Mastervolt Tech support in The Netherlands. The new solar has been playing up. Either one or both new arrays suddenly reduce their charge output capacity for no apparent reason. There is a “stop-charge” command sent from the Li-ion batteries when they are nearly full (to prevent over charge) but that cannot be the issue, because the batteries are rarely full when the issue happens. I have to switch off the controllers and disconnect the solar panels to reset everything. Then they work perfectly… until it happens again. Mastervolt team seem as puzzled as me. But I want to send them all the data so they have a chance to tell me the solution by the time we arrive to USA. When the solar is working correctly though, it’s brilliant. As we sailed away today, with all instruments, autohelm etc on, we were still charging at over 15amps, and by 3pm the batteries were full. Brilliant.
After debating last evening, we decide that we will after all top up with diesel before we leave. We won’t completely fill the tanks but get enough to give us peace of mind without breaking the bank with Cayman’s high fuel prices.
At midday, we motor into the port to get that fuel. A horrible place to moor the boat. Ginormous dumper-truck tires hanging from the dock and all sorts of metal protrusions that could damage the hull, plus the bollards are too far apart for anything other than ships to tie to. And climbing off the boat, up onto the dirty truck tyres, then another 4ft hop onto the quay, did not exactly amuse Oana as she went off to pay for the fuel. She was further unamused when it took half an hour to simply pay. It seems the receptionist was new and clearly had no idea how to do credit card transactions.
By the time Oana returned, I had already taken on our 75gallons of fuel from the fuel truck and got the spinnaker out on deck ready to launch. It was one dock we were very happy to get away from. In just 40 minutes our large inflatable fenders had become completely blackened by the truck tyres. But we are now 3/4 on fuel. So much happier from that aspect. We could motor for almost 5 days on that.
Immediately out of the port, I set an autohelm course of 310magnetic to the west end of Cuba, and we have the mainsail out and engine off within 5 minutes. And a further 10 minutes later the Parasailor is up and pulling us nicely. The wind is 10-13kts on our port quarter, with apparent wind on the port beam. A bit tight wind angle for the Parasailor but it pulls us very nicely at 7kts in 6-7kts apparent wind. Lovely chubbly 🙂
The early afternoon sun is extremely intense. We have the new mesh side shades on the bimini but we end up covering the sunny side with some canvas. And as the sun comes around west onto the windscreen, we move that shade to keep the cockpit cool. It means we can’t see a thing where we are going (!) but it’s not like we are on a highway. There is no shipping in sight, either visually or on the AIS.
We have the fishing line out all afternoon, but no takers there. Are the fish on lockdown too, we wonder? Other than fishing and playing with the spinnaker we both quickly settle into the very gentle and peaceful sailing.
The wind stays perfect all afternoon and only starts to drop around sunset. Even so, we are still doing 5kts in just 5kts of apparent wind with mainsail and spinnaker. We love this Parasailor more and more each time we use it. Sometimes it completely collapses behind the mainsail in a lull of wind, but then always curls back out and refills with no intervention required. Our last asymmetric spinnaker absolutely would not do that. A total collapse needed major and quick intervention or it would get wrapped around the rigging.
Late afternoon, the wind backs and I pull the spinnaker pole aft. But the mainsail is affecting the airflow, so we furl it away and run with just the Parasailor. Once back in clean air it fills nicely and is very stable once more.
It’s a beautiful evening sail through till midnight. The stars are bright, Venus setting into the sea, the wind very gentle and warm. Cloudy is gracefully cutting through the water with phosphorescence sparkling in the her small bow wave. Occasionally, a small puffy cloud will pass, either reducing the wind to virtually nothing or bringing it up to a nice 10kts. Several times we think about taking the spinnaker down and motoring but each time the wind just increases enough to discourage us.
Oana heads off to bed at 11pm but can’t sleep. The spinnaker guys are clattering on the deck as they load-up then off-load tension as Cloudy rocks the Parasailor. It’s amazing how even the slightest noise on deck always seems to get amplified when you are in bed trying to sleep. I place some spare rope to stop the line hitting the deck and all is silenced again.
At midnight we are 65nm WNW of Grand Cayman. Not exactly breaking any mileage records thus far! We sail into Saturday with just the Parasailor pulling us ever westward, at no more than a walking pace.