Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Oriental, Sailing Capitol of North Carolina

July 16
2030
Oriental, NC

Intermezzo is resting at the free town dock in the small town of Oriental. We arrived around 1400 and it is really hot out, so not much exploring done yet. I'm writing this from the Inland Waterway Provision Company, where they have a small "Cruisers' Corner" with free WiFi...and air conditioning.  The town calls itself the Sailing Capitol of North Carolina and judging by the number of sailboats in the marinas and the size of the town, I can understand why. It looks like a very nice, quaint little town. When it cools down, we'll venture further and discover more.

We spent last night on the hook in a small cove called Royal Thurman on Adams Creek, the route of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) between Beaufort and the Neuse River. We anchored in about 10 feet of water, about 300 yards off the main ICW channel in front of a neighborhood of nice waterfront homes. Three small local shrimp boats worked the water, trawling back and forth in and adjacent to the main channel. We were surprised when a tug pushing a huge barge appeared, headed back towards Beaufort, seemingly much too big for the narrow stretch of the creek.

The water in our anchorage was calm, there was a nice breeze and we had an almost full moon. I pulled out my guitar, which I haven't played for over a year and quietly plucked a few chords while sitting out on the trampoline, apparently not playing horribly enough to drive Lisa inside. I had the good sense to not press my luck further by singing.  It was very peaceful place to spend the night.

Getting to Adams Creek was an easy motor along a mostly narrow channel, the first half looks like more of a manmade canal than a creek, the second half opening to a pretty creek, more like a river, with tree lined banks. After a lazy morning at anchor, we continued from our anchorage along Adams Creek to its mouth at the Neuse River, which we crossed to get to Oriental. Many of the day marks along the channel are topped by osprey nests and we were treated with the sighting two fuzzy chicks sitting on either side of its parent. Interestingly, only the red triangular day marks have nests; must be something to do with access to the pole for nest building, I guess.

The Neuse is a big river, more like a bay in appearance. It looks like great sailing water, though the wind was too light for our short crossing today. I'll be doing quite a bit of sailing upon it, ultimately heading inland to New Bern to drop off Lisa and pick up Renee to continue heading northward.

Once in Oriental's harbor we had to choose between anchoring or tying up to one of the town's two free docks. We chose the dock to give us easier access for strolling around...when it's cooler out. The docks are in good shape and come complete with air conditioned restrooms. Lisa suggested that we just bring chairs and sit in the bathrooms but I had read about the Cruisers' Corner here and raised our game considerably.

Adams Creek

Will we make it under the bridge?

YES!

Local shrimpers in the evening, Royal Thurman, Adams Creek

Sunset at anchort on Adams Creek

Looks better than it sounds

Moonlight at anchor, Adams Creek


Intermezzo resting at Oriental Town Dock


Monday, July 15, 2019

Finally, Pictures! From Isla Mujeres, MX to Beaufort, NC


Finally I have enough bandwidth and the time to post pictures from The Voyage, covering our passages from Isla Mujeres to our current location, Beaufort NC.  Enjoy!


The Gulf Stream was pushing us along so fast we stopped to take a swim in 9,000 ft deep water on the way

At first we anchored off of Fort Jefferson, but it was too crowded with tourists and too close to the NPS authorities

So we moved to anchor at the edge of the Dry Tortugas reef, much more secluded and private

This lighthouse keepers' residence on Loggerhead Key is now housing for a research team studying turtles

This structure on Loggerhead Key hasn't fared so well.

Forrest napping on the dinghy

Lisa emerging from the sea, Christine still in it

Intermezzo's crew, Isla Mujeres to Miami, from L to R, Lisa, Christine, Steve and Forrest

View from one of Fort Jefferson's gun portals

View of Dry Tortugas from the ramparts of Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

Sunset on the sail to Key West

Sunrise on the sail to Biscayne Bay

Houses in aptly named "Stiltsville", along the channel into Biscayne Bay

Miami skyline from Intermezzo's stern

Sunrise at the entrance buoy to Charleston Harbor

Now that's a dredge

Lisa standing watch on the foredeck

Fort Sumpter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired

Rainbow Row in historic Charleston

Charleston churches

Fountain in the garden of a Charleston mansion

Charleston sunset

The Mega Dock at Charleston City Marina, Intermezzo's home for two weeks

Southport, North Carolina
Amy and Lisa goofin' in Southport
Lisa and Steve not goofin' as much in Southport
Snow's Cut bridge, Intermezzo's test for adequate clearance along the Intracoastal Wateway
Looking over Masonboro Inlet

Wetland at Cape Lookout Bight

Old Coast Guard Station, Cape Lookout Bight

Coast Guard Station Lookout on Cape Lookout

Pygmy forest on Cape Lookout



Lighthouse at Cape Lookout



Lisa beach walking along Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout

Steve walking the shoreline of Cape Lookout Bight




Beaufort, North Carolina

July 15
1000
Beaufort NC

We have spent a pleasant two days visiting Beaufort, mostly walking along the waterfront and the side streets of the old part of town.

The waterfront is low-keyed touristy with restaurants and visitor-serving shops. The town has done a good job at keeping it all pretty tasteful in terms of architecture, signage etc. The side streets are really nice for strolling along, lined with modest historic houses mostly constructed between the late 18th century and mid-19th.  Residents have kept them nicely maintained, many with their small yards sporting pretty gardens.

On Saturday night, after dinner and walking around we listened to Too Tall Tommy play covers at the Dockside Restaurant, including a passable acoustic rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughns cover of Jimmy Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. A cover of a cover.

We are staying at the Town Creek Marina, highly recommended for the quality of the facilities, and friendliness of staff. The marina offers a courtesy car that guests can use at no charge to run errands. Which we did yesterday, stopping at West Marine to pick up some parts and supplies and the grocery store to replenish fresh fruits and vegetables. On the way back we stopped at the Shucking Shack, where I enjoyed 10 oysters on the half shell (Lisa ate two of the dozen) and a really nice draft IPA. Later we took the dinghy to the waterfront for ice cream (I had two scoops, less two spoonfuls. Pattern being established?) and then enjoyed the sunset from atop a rooftop bar. The ride back to Intermezzo in the calm moonlight water put a nice end on the day.

I like this “Low Country” of the Carolinas. Such a gentle interface between water and land, the elevation difference between the two so slight. From as little as 10 feet above the water, you see a vista of blue water, green wetlands, networks of creeks and little coves that extends for miles. The weather is hot and humid, but not as oppressive as it was in Charleston. This is a paradise for shallow-draft boating, miles and miles of water to exploree, natural beauty all around, little towns to stop and visit.

We will be exploring more of this area as we head north today up the Adams Canal towards to the town of Oriental.



Friday, July 12, 2019

Cape Lookout Bight

July 12
1800
Cape Lookout Bight

We have spent a pleasant two days anchored in Cape Lookout Bight, exploring the surrounding area by foot and dinghy.

A bight is "a curve or recess in a coastline or river." In the case of Cape Lookout, the bight is shaped like a big "U", with two inlets at the top of the U (north) and Cape Lookout at the bottom (south). Intermezzo is anchored along the left (west) side of the U, about a quarter mile off the southern shore which forms the cape and separates the ocean from the bight. The waters in this area of the bight are about 25 feet deep, the rest of the bight is pretty shallow, typically 1 to 7 feet deep.

Yesterday morning we took the dinghy to the western shore. It was low tide so rather than drag the dinghy up the beach to to above the high tide line, we anchored it in a foot or so of water and waded to shore. The bottom is sandy and there are lots of little fish swimming about. I tried digging for clams but its not the right habitat for them- too sandy, not enough nutrient in the water, probably due proximity to the deep water and daily flushing from the tides. We found a cut though the low, vegetated sand dunes that led out to the big white sandy beach fronting the Atlantic Ocean. It was deserted. Just the way I like beaches.

We jogged southward along the beach for about a half hour to reach Cape Lookout and stand at the end of the earth on a spit of sand jutting into the blue, white-capped ocean. A big four-wheel drive truck with tourists in the back passed us and there was a family fishing near the cape, but otherwise we had the place to ourselves. We walked the journey back to the dinghy at a more sedate pace, appreciating the sunny blue sky, the nice cooling breeze, the sea birds, and the beauty of the dunes, beach and sea.

We waded out back to the dinghy, which was floating in about four feet of water now that the tide had come in. We motored across the bight to the bottom-right (southeast) of the U where there is an abandoned Coast Guard station. We poke the nose of the dinghy into a beautiful wetland where the grass growing up through the shallow water was as bright as green can get, swaying slightly in the wind in the bright sunlight. Then we continued on to land the dinghy on the beach near one of the abandoned Coast Guard structures.

The Coast Guard station was established in the late 1800's as a lifeboat station for rescuing mariners in distress. A long open surf lifeboat would be dragged out onto the beach, in the earliest years by men, later by mules, finally by a truck, and the Coastguardmen would row out through the surf to rescue the crews of boats that foundered along this treacherous coastline. The Coast Guard would eventually evolve to use fast motor lifeboats and helicopters for these types of rescues. I'm guessing that the big dock sticking out into the bight was the home for one or more motor lifeboats until the station was closed in 1983.

The sandy road trails leading through the station pass through a pygmy forest of salt-pruned trees. The land around the bight reminds me of Fire Island NY on which I spent a lot of time as a kid- as you cross from bay to ocean you pass through wetlands, then pygmy forest, then dunes onto white sandy beach. Here, though, the vegetation of the forest and dunes seems more dense and established. I'm guessing that's due to milder winters here on the Carolina coast.

Most of the Coast Guard structures are closed and in a bad state of repair, but the large white main barracks looks pretty good from the outside and it appears that some sort of renovation is underway inside. No one was around, so we snuck in through the front door and climbed the stairs and then ladder up to small square lookout area at the very top of the building. The 360 degree views of the bight and ocean from there are spectacular and you can imagine a Coastguardsman looking out for ships on a violent sea through the cold rain of a winter storm.

After visiting the Coast Guard Station, we got back in the dingy and motored up the right side (east) of the U to the 163 foot tall lighthouse on that side of the bight. This the headquarters for the National Park Service and I was wary of committing some sort of infraction and receiving a citation again, like I did at Dry Tortugas (see blog post from there). We beached the dinghy with some trepidation (there were no signs telling us we could or couldn't...so unlike the NPS) and enjoyed walking along the boardwalk nature trail with its classic NPS interpretive signs describing the natural and human history of the lighthouse station. The lighthouse keepers' residence has been beautifully restored and is a museum but we arrived after it had closed. The lighthouse itself is an impressive brick structure, painted in a pattern of black and white diamonds, the black diamonds facing east and west, the white diamonds north and south to help mariners orient themselves at sea.

By the time our day's tour of the bight was drawing to and end, the wind had whipped up to nearly 20 knots. It was a wet ride diagonally across the U back to Intermezzo, with a steep chop and wind-driven spray from the dinghy's bow. A hot shower followed by a rum drink finished off the adventure.

The wind blew hard all night, but Intermezzo lay comfortably at anchor, hardly swinging at all and just barely, gently bouncing on the wavelets, limited in height by the short fetch to shore.

Today we took the dinghy back to anchor in shallow water off the western shore again and walked/jogged around the left (west) part of the U, first along the ocean beach, then around the end at the opening of for Barden Inlet, and back along the beach of the bight. It was mostly cloudy and the wind was blowing stronger than yesterday, but the natural beauty of this place is undiminished.

When we returned to Intermezzo, I put on dive gear to finish replacing the propeller anodes. There was a current that made the job a bit difficult, but nowhere near the strength of the current in Masonboro Inlet, which caused me to abort the work previously and resulted in several cuts on my back, leg and hand from the little barnacles now growing along Intermezzo's waterline. Those will need to be knocked off before they get much bigger.

We'll stay here overnight and then make our way back to Beaufort, this time for an official visit, rather for a quick crew drop-off like last time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Southport to Cape Lookout Bight...via Beaufort

July 10k
2130
Cape Lookout Bight
We're anchored in Cape Lookout Bight, a beautiful undeveloped natural anchorage about six miles east of Beaufort Inlet. The bight is formed by land that hooks behind the cape sticking out into the ocean, forming an almost circular basin of calm, protected water. We arrived here tired this afternoon so haven't explored much; we'll do that tomorrow and I'll provide more of a description of the place. This post is about getting here.
We left Southport at 0800 and proceeded up the Cape Fear River, the route of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) north. It was cloudy but pleasant morning and we motored against an ebb current enjoying the scenery of elegant waterfront houses along the west bank and natural wetlands along the east bank.
We left the river after traveling about nine miles, where the ICW diverts northeast along narrow Snow's Cut to join a channel that runs parallel to the coast of the ocean, less than a mile inland. Snow's Cut presented us with the first test to confirm that Intermezzo's mast fits under the ICW's 65 foot standard fixed bridge overhead clearance. Our mast is 62.5 feet above the water, plus our 18" VHF antenna us at 64 feet. Only one foot to spare at high water!
I timed our passage under the Snow's Cut bridge to be between low and high tide, which theoretically would give us about 67 feet under the bridge. Just before the bridge are overhead telephone and power lines with an "authorized" clearance of 68 feet at high water.
Mathematically  speaking and on paper, everything was fine for us to pass under both the cables and the bridge. Of course, there is always a possibility that actual conditions are different than what's stated on paper. But more dramatic is the optical illusion that occurs when looking up the mast as one approaches something overhead. Regardless of how high a structure is above you, it looks the mast will hit it. Even going under the giant Golden Gate Bridge, your eye can fool you into thinking it's not high enough. With only a couple of feet clearance as in our case, it is a nail biting experience.
As we approached the overhead cables, I looked up and my eyes told me that the telephone line would hit the mast about halfway up and all four power lines would hit the top half of the mast. We passed under them with several feet to spare below the telephone line. Likewise, my eyes told me to brace for impact as the mast drew close to the soffit of the bridge. We passed under with a couple feet to spare, although I did need to jog a little to starboard to be sure I didn't touch a navigation light that marked the center of the span and extended a foot or so lower than than the bridge. It was a relief to get through both these obstacles and also to know that Intermezzo can proceed along the ICW without worrying too much about bridges.
From Snow's Cut we proceeded north to the Masonboro Inlet, our path to the ocean and onwards to Cape Lookout. We arrived at the inlet at 1300 and since the ocean passage would take about 12 hours and we want to arrive at our destination during daylight, dropped anchor to wait until evening to depart on an overnight passage.
Lisa and I took the dinghy to shore to walk along the beautiful sandy beach in unsettled weather, lightning and thunderstorms off in the distance all around us, while Amy watched over Intermezzo. When we returned to the boat, the water was so clear that I donned diving gear to change the propeller anodes, a task long overdue. When I got in the water I discovered that the current from the changing tide was so strong that it was difficult to hold myself in position to do the work, so I just did one prop. I'll do the other one here.
We weighed anchor at 1800 and headed through the inlet into the ocean. The forecast was for light easterly winds and calm seas. Instead we got a 15 knot northeasterly on the nose with steep wind chop compounded by an opposing southeasterly swell. Bashing again! Not the greatest experience for Amy's first overnight passage, but she handled it well. Lisa go seasick on her watch an chowdered over the side several times. I suffered the punishment in silence.
At 0800 I was entering the inlet to Cape Lookout Bight, thinking about dropping the hook, a nice cup of coffee, some breakfast and some sleep. Lisa came up on deck and after admiring the remote natural beauty of the place asked, "How will Amy get to her flight from here tomorrow?" I replied in astonishment, "What flight?"
Clearly some miscommunication between me and the crew with respect to navigation and schedules.
I made a quick U-turn and headed to Beaufort Inlet. We headed up to Town Center Marina in Beaufort where we took on diesel at the fuel dock and bid farewell to Amy who is heading off to participate in a surfing clinic for wounded veterans on Long Island, NY. Then Lisa and I headed back to Cape Lookout Bight, arriving here just before 3 pm.
After 31 hours on the move, I needed a rum drink, a shower, and a nap. I enjoyed all three.











Sunday, July 7, 2019

Southport

July 7
2030
Southport, NC

We are enjoying the pretty little town of Southport NC, arriving here yesterday evening around 2030 after a 14 hour passage from Winyah Bay.

The weather was mostly sunny and pleasant but the winds were light for most of the trip here so we motor sailed most of the way, finishing the day with a beautiful downwind reach in 15-20 knot winds for our final fours out on the ocean.

Our original plan was to stay in a marina just inside the Cape Fear inlet but they could not accommodate us due to Intermezzo's beam. Plan B was to drop the hook in an anchorage just beyond this marina, but it was too exposed for wind conditions. Plan C was to anchor in the town of Southport's  old yacht harbor, but two other boats were anchored in the small basin and it was too tight to consider squeezing in with daylight failing and the wind howling. So we snuck into Southport Marina and tied up alongside the dock for the adjacent boatyard. Amy made a delicious one-pot chicken dinner, which we washed down with our now traditional cups of rum.

After checking in with the marina office, moving Intermezzo to a proper slip and doing a few boat chores, we set off to explore Southport. Southport is a small town right on the Cape Fear river so picturesque that has been the location for many movies. There are some remnants of the once significant fishing industry, but now tourism and retirees are the mainstays of the town's economy. Historic commercial buildings, pretty little houses on tree-lined side streets, seafood restaurants, lots of pleasure boats, tiny sandy town beaches, little live oak pocket parks, a couple of small museums of local history...all add up to a very nice place to spend a couple of days.

Today we enjoyed Bloody Mary's at Oliver's, a waterfront bar where we watched the US Women's Soccer team win the final, walked around town, visited the town museum and then enjoyed a delicious lunch at Moore's Oyster Bar.  The pre-lunch cocktail and two beers knocked me out for the afternoon. Lisa and Amy played cards while I napped.

Another day of tough sailing life.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Charleston to Cape Fear via Winyah Bay

July 6
0800
33.3N 79.0W
I returned to Charleston on July 1st and after celebrating Independence Day there, we departed early yesterday morning for Winyah Bay. A new crew member joined LIsa and I on Intermezzo. Amy was taking a sailing course to earn her "bareboat" certificate and met Lisa while staying in the marina. She made a good impression on Lisa and when I met her I understood why. Amy had to have her lower leg amputated a some years ago and seems to be doing more in life with one leg than she might have done with two. She has accomplished a lot so far- triathlons, surfing, training mustangs and now, sailing- and has great spirit and personality.
The first half of the 50 mile passage to Winyah Bay was a pleasant downwind reach under partly cloudy skies. Then the thunderclouds looming ahead of us grew bigger and darker. We altered course to try and avoid them, put a reef in the mainsail, and soldiered on. We skirted the edge of a big storm cell for awhile but then there was no way to avoid another one directly ahead of us. As we approached, the wind rapidly increased to 25 knots with bigger gusts, so we dropped the sails and motored along. Then the rain came.
I haven't seen or felt rain that hard since Panama in 2017. It rained so intensely that visibility was reduced to just a few hundred yards. We got soaked to the skin before we had a chance to put on rain gear. And it was COLD rain. After months of sweltering, I was now shivering! I had to pull out my heavy rain weather gear, foulies I haven't worn since leaving Northern California in 2015! I also turned on the fog horn, another piece of equipment not used since California.
Then the lightning started. Thankfully it was cloud-to-cloud lightning rather than dangerous cloud-to-sea, but the big bright flashes and the deafening crackling booms were frightening nonetheless. It didn't take much to imagine what it would be like if a bolt so powerful were to strike Intermezzo's mast.
What a great experience for Amy's first ocean passage! Lisa, meanwhile, missed the drenching and outdoor adventure as she was seasick and spent most of the day prone in the salon, much to her guilt-ridden dismay.
The rain and lightning stopped as we drew close to the inlet to Winyah Bay and visibility was back to normal for our approach through the narrow shipping channel. We anchored at sunset just inside the bay in off small island with a pleasant sandy beach with low lying marshy vegetation. Once anchored, we enjoyed bracing cups of rum, followed by a hearty Thai vegetable curry, appreciating our remote little haven in the calm after the storm.
The currents through the anchorage are really strong, reversing twice while were at anchor. When we pulled up the trusty Rocna anchor before dawn this morning, I estimate that the ebb was flowing at over five knots.
We're now on our way to Cape Fear. The forecast was for showers and thunderstorms this morning, but the sun has come out and the sky ahead is mostly blue and clear, with just a line of smallish cumulus clouds off on the horizon. I'm hopeful that we won't experience what we did yesterday, but we are prepared if we do.
We pass through the Cape Fear inlet around 1900 this evening, our arrival timed perfectly for slack current. We'll either take a berth at a marina just inside the inlet or anchor out nearby. A front is supposed to pass through the area over the next few days, so we'll hunker down near the town of Southport, North Carolina to wait it out and do some exploring there before our next ocean passage to Beaufort.







Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Charleston

June 6
1500
Charleston City Marina

We arrived in Charleston this morning around 0900 and Intermezzo is tied to the "Mega Dock" at Charleston City Marina, dwarfed by large motor yachts in this upscale neighborhood.

The trip from Port Canaveral was great. Beautiful weather, some nice downwind sailing, a gorgeous sunset, a full moon, a lovely sunrise. We stopped the boat and drifted yesterday to enjoy midday swim off the back of the boat yesterday in the middle of a super calm, deep blue ocean, 60-plus miles offshore. The Gulf Stream petered out about 2/3 of the way here, perfect for timing our arrival at the sea buoy for the Charleston Harbor entrance channel as the sun came up.

As we drew near the entrance channel I noticed big square area delineated on the chart as a Danger Area, a zone with unrestricted surface navigation but where dredging, laying cables, trawling and other subsurface activities are prohibited. Why? It's a former World War II minefield! Here's how Coast Pilot 4, describes the danger:

"The area is open to unrestricted surface navigation but all vessels are cautioned not to anchor, dredge, trawl, lay cables, bottom or conduct any similar type of operation because of residual danger from mines on the bottom. An "anchor at your own risk" anchorage, within the danger area, is on the north side of the entrance channel...The area has been searched on many occasions and no unexploded ordnance has been discovered. Vessels have routinely anchored in this offshore anchorage for many years without mishap."

I like how the Coast Pilot almost encourages one to anchor in this area! Go ahead, drop your anchor here versus anywhere else...no mishaps...yet.

Katherine's first experience crewing on an ocean passage was a successful experience. She learned a lot quickly and stood her watches well, day and night. It was a pleasure having her on board.

It's a big deal getting to Charleston. We're now out of "The Box", the area of the ocean for which Intermezzo is not insured for damage due to named tropical storms after July 1. We're going to spend the next couple of days exploring the town, then I'll be leaving Intermezzo here for little while to return to California for a business meeting and check in on my land life. I'll post pictures of our recent journey before I leave.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Heading to Charleston, SC

June 16
1030
28.6N 80.3W

We departed Port Canaveral early this morning and are on our way to Charleston, a two day passage away.

Katherine (not Kathy!) joined Intermezzo on Friday afternoon, taking the train from Charleston to Orlando and then renting a car to get to Port Canaveral. Katherine is a nurse practitioner who received her doctorate in nursing from NYU, my daughter Hannah's nursing alma mater. Small world. She's a seasoned surfer who loves the water but this is her first real sailing experience. She's standing her first watch now, after a crash course in the basics. I'll be close by if she has questions, needs help or something exceptional occurs. So it's me, Lisa and Katherine sailing triple-handed.

Yesterday the three of us visited the Kennedy Space Center. It was a nostalgic visit for Lisa and me, both of us last visiting when we were kids when the place was called Cape Kennedy and was the thick of the Apollo program, a bustling, working space center. Now it is more a museum/theme-park, although there is light activity related to commercial space ventures, like Elon Musk's SpaceX, and the Orion program which will provide the US with post-Shuttle space vehicle and resume moon missions. It was a very moving experience to relive the spirit of the early space program for Lisa and I, so much so for me that I am writing an essay reflecting on my thoughts and feelings to post on my "non-sailing" blog, Steve's Words.

This should be a calm passage to Charleston. Surface high pressure north of us will shift east and become stationary, resulting in moderate south to southeast winds. Or so it is suggested by the National Weather Service. So far the direction of the wind matches that suggestion, but it is very light. The Gulf Stream moves further offshore as we go north, so we are only getting about a 1-2 knot push. We'll probably end up motoring or motor-sailing most of the way.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Port Canaveral

We arrived at Port Canaveral this morning and Intermezzo is on an end-tie at Cape Marina.

The second half of our passage was uneventful, save for one brief squall where the wind shifted to the north and blew close to 30 knots, creating choppy seas and with some heavy rain. We sailed through the squall with just a double-reefed jib, making over 11 knots boat speed. After the squall, the wind continued to blow from the north, on our nose and the Gulf Stream moved further offshore, bringing our motoring speed down to a normal 6 knots, perfect for an early morning arrival at the Port Canaveral channel.

Port Canaveral is industrial and utilitarian, with accents of tourism and recreation. There are three large cruise ship terminals, a small cargo port, a big silo for cement, a coast guard and a navy installation. The marinas/boatyards are older, practical, well-kept and cater mostly to sport fishing boats, small and large. There are a few seafood restaurants/bars along the waterfront. There is a sparse look about the place, a quietness, a feeling of being out of the mainstream. To continue inland along the channel, a boat has to pass through a bascule (draw) bridge and then through a lock, installed to eliminate storm surge from entering inland waters during hurricanes.

Today, after resting from our overnight passage, we are going to explore the immediate area. Kathy will arrive later this afternoon. Tomorrow we are going to tour the Cape Canaveral Space Center. I originally planned to depart from here around midnight tomorrow to arrive in Charleston around noon. However, that was based on my 5 knot passage planning speed. Given my recent experiences with the Gulf Stream and actual average boat speeds closer to 7 high knots, we might leave early Sunday morning instead. I'll discuss with the crew.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Biscayne Bay

June 13
0900
Miami Sea Buoy

We arrived in Biscayne Bay and took a mooring ball outside Dinner Key Marina, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, at 1000 on Tuesday morning. We slipped our lines this morning at 0600 for our passage to Port Canaveral.

The two days spent in Biscayne Bay passed quickly. Chris and Lisa toured the area while I mostly tended to the boat and got some business done. Chris got small Airbnb studio to get a break from the boat and enjoy some air conditioning. She and I enjoyed a nice, semi-fancy dinner out on Tuesday night.

I didn't do much exploring on shore, just some short walks in the vicinity of the marina. I'm in a bit of funk from being back in mainstream America with the boat, which feels like an expensive dependent. I had to do quite a bit of searching to find dockage in Port Canaveral and Charleston, wondering with some anxiety about what I would do if I couldn't find a place. Fortunately I found marinas that could accommodate me. The one in Charleston, where I will be leaving Intermezzo for a couple of weeks is pretty expensive, $600 per week. I paid $440 per month for my slip in San Francisco Bay, $800 per month for the slip in La Paz, in comparison. I think dockage is going to be an issue going forward as it seems few marinas can accommodate catamarans. I'll anchor out or take a mooring ball wherever I can, but am now prepared to have to plan ahead and expect high prices when I want or need a berth for Intermezzo.

Christine decided to continue her adventures on land, so its just Lisa and me sailing to Port Canaveral. Lisa invited a friend of hers from Charleston to join us for the passage there. Kathy is taking the train and then renting a car to meet us in Port Canaveral on Friday. We are all looking forward to touring the Cape Canaveral space center. The last time I was there I was probably less than 10 years old, same for Lisa and Kathy has never been.

It's very calm out, with light winds from the southeast this morning. It is suggested that these conditions will continue for most of our trip, though some northerly winds are suggested for the last bit. A bigger concern are the big thunderstorms in southern Florida and its coastal waters. These isolated storms can generate wind gusts of 45 mph, heavy rain and waterspouts, not to mention lightning. We'll keep a lookout for them, by eye in the day, by radar at night and avoid them if we can. If we can't, we'll batten down the hatches and ride it out. Fortunately they don't last long and Intermezzo can easily handle such conditions, as long as we get sails down quick enough.

Biscayne Bay

June 13
0900
Miami Sea Buoy

We arrived in Biscayne Bay and took a mooring ball outside Dinner Key Marina, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, at 1000 on Tuesday morning. We slipped our lines this morning at 0600 for our passage to Port Canaveral.

The passage from Key West was uneventful, other than the speed we achieved with the help of the Gulf Stream. There was no reasonable way to get the boat to go slower than 6 knots, so we arrived at Biscayne Inlet before sunrise, a narrow inlet I didn't want to navigate without good light. I stopped the engines about five miles from the inlet approach and let Intermezzo drift in flat seas to kill some time. The Gulf Stream still pushed us along at 3 knots!

The two days spent in Biscayne Bay passed quickly. Chris and Lisa toured the area while I mostly tended to the boat and got some business done. Chris got small Airbnb studio to get a break from the boat and enjoy some air conditioning. She and I enjoyed a nice, semi-fancy dinner out on Tuesday night.

I didn't do much exploring on shore, just some short walks in the vicinity of the marina. I'm in a bit of funk from being back in mainstream America with the boat, which feels like an expensive dependent. I had to do quite a bit of searching to find dockage in Port Canaveral and Charleston, wondering with some anxiety about what I would do if I couldn't find a place. Fortunately I found marinas that could accommodate me. The one in Charleston, where I will be leaving Intermezzo for a couple of weeks is pretty expensive, $600 per week. I paid $440 per month for my slip in San Francisco Bay, $800 per month for the slip in La Paz, in comparison. I think dockage is going to be an issue going forward as it seems few marinas can accommodate catamarans. I'll anchor out or take a mooring ball wherever I can, but am now prepared to have to plan ahead and expect high prices when I want or need a berth for Intermezzo.

Christine decided to continue her adventures on land. She was good crew, graced the boat with her love of the blue sea and she will be missed. So, its just Lisa and me sailing to Port Canaveral. Lisa invited a friend of hers from Charleston to join us for the passage there. Kathy is taking the train and then renting a car to meet us in Port Canaveral on Friday. We are all looking forward to touring the Cape Canaveral space center. The last time I was there I was probably less than 10 years old, same for Lisa and Kathy has never been.

It's very calm out, with light winds from the southeast this morning. It is suggested that these conditions will continue for most of our trip, though some northerly winds are suggested for the last bit. A bigger concern are the big thunderstorms in southern Florida and its coastal waters. These isolated storms can generate wind gusts of 45 mph, heavy rain and waterspouts, not to mention lightning. We'll keep a lookout for them, by eye in the day, by radar at night and avoid them if we can. If we can't, we'll batten down the hatches and ride it out. Fortunately they don't last long and Intermezzo can easily handle such conditions, as long as we get sails down quick enough.

Biscayne Bay

June 13
0900
Miami Sea Buoy

We arrived in Biscayne Bay and took a mooring ball outside Dinner Key Marina, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, at 1000 on Tuesday morning. We slipped our lines this morning at 0600 for our passage to Port Canaveral.

The passage from Key West was uneventful, other than the speed we achieved with the help of the Gulf Stream. There was no reasonable way to get the boat to go slower than 6 knots, so we arrived at Biscayne Inlet before sunrise, a narrow inlet I didn't want to navigate without good light. I stopped the engines about five miles from the inlet approach and let Intermezzo drift in flat seas to kill some time. The Gulf Stream still pushed us along at 3 knots!

The two days spent in Biscayne Bay passed quickly. Chris and Lisa toured the area while I mostly tended to the boat and got some business done. Chris got small Airbnb studio to get a break from the boat and enjoy some air conditioning. She and I enjoyed a nice, semi-fancy dinner out on Tuesday night.

I didn't do much exploring on shore, just some short walks in the vicinity of the marina. I'm in a bit of funk from being back in mainstream America with the boat, which feels like an expensive dependent. I had to do quite a bit of searching to find dockage in Port Canaveral and Charleston, wondering with some anxiety about what I would do if I couldn't find a place. Fortunately I found marinas that could accommodate me. The one in Charleston, where I will be leaving Intermezzo for a couple of weeks is pretty expensive, $600 per week. I paid $440 per month for my slip in San Francisco Bay, $800 per month for the slip in La Paz, in comparison. I think dockage is going to be an issue going forward as it seems few marinas can accommodate catamarans. I'll anchor out or take a mooring ball wherever I can, but am now prepared to have to plan ahead and expect high prices when I want or need a berth for Intermezzo.

Christine decided to continue her adventures on land, so its just Lisa and me sailing to Port Canaveral. Lisa invited a friend of hers from Charleston to join us for the passage there. Kathy is taking the train and then renting a car to meet us in Port Canaveral on Friday. We are all looking forward to touring the Cape Canaveral space center. The last time I was there I was probably less than 10 years old, same for Lisa and Kathy has never been.

It's very calm out, with light winds from the southeast this morning. It is suggested that these conditions will continue for most of our trip, though some northerly winds are suggested for the last bit. A bigger concern are the big thunderstorms in southern Florida and its coastal waters. These isolated storms can generate wind gusts of 45 mph, heavy rain and waterspouts, not to mention lightning. We'll keep a lookout for them, by eye in the day, by radar at night and avoid them if we can. If we can't, we'll batten down the hatches and ride it out. Fortunately they don't last long and Intermezzo can easily handle such conditions, as long as we get sails down quick enough.

Monday, June 10, 2019

To Biscayne Bay

June 10
1400
24.5N 81.3W

Intermezzo departed Key West this morning at 0800 after topping off the diesel tanks. Lisa almost took an unintentional early morning swim by trying to step onto the dock at the wrong time while we were pulling in. I attribute it to her dancing at a club until 1:30 a.m. last night, an activity that I did not participate in so as to be well-rested for our passage. I am a very responsible but boring captain.

We are heading to Biscayne Bay where we hope to take a mooring ball near Dinner Key, very close to the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. At my planning speed of 5 knots, it would take us about 30 hours to get there, so we left Key West pretty early this morning. However, the Gulf Stream is an amazing conveyor belt and we are making 6.5 knots with no wind and an engine running at only minimum rpms. If we continue at this speed we will at the Biscayne Inlet before sunrise and will have to hover outside on the ocean until there is enough light to safely navigate the shallow, narrow inlet and its shoals.

It is hot in the still air. All we have to cool the inside of the boat are small fans. Outside in the shade and bit of breeze it is a little cooler. The heat caused me to reflect on the three-plus years of living on the boat in the tropics with no air conditioning. Most of the larger boats here in Florida do have A/C and I can understand why. Yet, I'm actually glad that Intermezzo does not have air conditioning. For one it is another system to deal with, one that consumes a lot of power and can only be used when plugged in at a marina, unless we also had a generator. That would be yet another expensive, complicated, heavy piece of machinery to have on board. Most of all, I've learned to tolerate the humid heat. I sweat and swelter, but I have learned to slow down, avoid being in the direct sun, drink a lot of water, go swimming and take lots of showers. Now when I go into air conditioned space, it feels icy-cold, like a freezer. A pleasant respite, but very artificial feeling. And it makes the heat feel 10 times worse when you step out of air conditioning.

I did a lot of passage research yesterday and learned some things that altered my plans.

There are two near shore routes from Key West to Miami, one "inside" (to the north) of the keys, one "outside" (to the south) between the keys and the outlying reefs. These routes are pretty well protected so are used by smaller vessels. For some reason, despite having sailed Intermezzo for nearly 12,000 miles on mostly open ocean, I initially decided to plot a course along the outside route. Then I started looking at the details and discovered that virtually none of the navigation aids that establish the route are illuminated. That would mean not being able to travel at night, cutting the distance we could sail each day in half. And then it occurred to me that I would be miss out on getting a big push from the Gulf Stream, which lies about four miles off the outline reef. Duh. We're sailing the "outside outside" route in the nice big open ocean. I figure the guidebooks that are devoted to the two inshore routes and silent about sailing in the ocean are written for winter conditions when the prevailing northeast winds blowing against the current cause very uncomfortable, sometimes very rough seas.

Further on up the road, I was planning on ocean passages with rest stops in Miami, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville before reaching the final destination for this leg at Charleston, SC. I discovered that getting to Jacksonville from and back to the ocean involves over 20 miles of travel on the St. John's river each way. That's too far. So now I'm planning to skip the rest stop in Jacksonville and sail all the way to Charleston from Port Canaveral, which be a 2 1/2 day passage. This plan also gives us a bit more wiggle room to wait out bad weather if we need to. I'd like to get to Charleston sooner rather than later, as I need to fly back to California for business no later than June 24. I'm cutting it pretty close and eliminating the Jacksonville stop eases the pressure from schedule slightly.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Key West Arrival

June 6
1700
Key West, FL USA

We tied up at Key West Bight Marina at 0808 this morning and competed all the formalities for entering the United States effortlessly.

Last night the wind picked up from the south around 0230 and we sailed all the rest of the way to the Key West sea buoy on bumpy seas, arriving there at 0600. We were sailing so fast on a near beam reach that I had to furl the jib to slow the boat down to time our arrival for sunrise.

We followed the cruise ship Norwegian Sky through the narrow ship channel into Key West Harbor and then onto the marina where I had booked a slip for a couple of nights. We had to parallel park Intermezzo between two large motor yachts in a spot along the dock only 10 feet longer than the boat. We backed in with precision and the crew handled the lines well, a flawless performance, but with no audience to appreciate it.

The CBP Roam app made clearing into the US really easy. I entered data for for the boat and crew, including photos of our passports, and then reported our entry into the USA online via the app. After about a 20 minute wait, I received notice that a Customs and Border Patrol office was inviting me to a video conference. We connected, he asked me a few questions and then I passed my phone around so that he could speak with and confirm the identity of the rest of the crew. Everyone was legally admitted into the US in less than five minutes, even Lisa who couldn't resist hamming it up for the camera in her bikini for the officer, who appeared as a featureless, motionless white round head and torso icon, not unlike the symbol for a men's room. They might want to work on that aspect of the app for future versions.

Today we mostly cleaned up and rested after our overnight sail. Chris booked us on a wreck dive for tomorrow morning. Forrest will unload his bike from Intermezzo's hold, assemble it and ride off to Miami tomorrow morning. He's meeting a friend there who is going to ride with him up to Maine over the next couple of months. We'll set sail for our next port of call on Monday morning.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Sailing From Dry Tortugas to Key West

June 6
2100
24.5N 82.6W

We're sailing overnight from Dry Tortugas to Key West. We weighed anchor at 1800 and are heading to deeper water outside the reef to make for safer, easier night sailing. There is barely any wind, so we are motoring along making six knots; so far no significant current detected yet.

Yesterday we took the dinghy to Loggerhead Key, about three miles from Dry Tortuga and explore the island and do some snorkeling. There is a big lighthouse on the key and the lighthouse keeper's house is inhabited by a research intern studying turtles. It's a pretty place, low lying vegetation and a few palm tress surrounded by white sand beach and turquoise water.

Last night while at anchor in Bird Key a big grouper came to visit us. We figured it was about five feet long, fat as a barrel, probably 200 lbs or more. We all dove into the water with masks and snorkels to look at the big beast.

Today we mostly lazed around, did some boat chores and prepared the boat for departure.

When we get to Key West we'll check in officially to the USA. I'm going to try an app on my iPhone, CBP Roam, which lets you report you entry into the US remotely, send photos of everyone's passports and get interviewed by a Customs and Border Patrol agent by video. No need to leave the boat. It will be great if it works.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dry Tortugas, Welcome to the United States

June 6
0900
Dry Tortugas

We dropped anchor in Garden Key Harbor, 500 yards off the ramparts of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park at 1015 yesterday morning (June 5) and enjoyed a day of exploring the fort and snorkeling its surrounding waters. And getting a violation notice from the United States District Court handed to me by an officer of the National Park Service, my first official welcome back to US waters; more about that later.

The final 24 hours of our passage here from Isla Mujeres was not as enjoyable as the first 30. The wind shifted north and we not only lost the favorable Yucatán current that had been pushing us along, we encountered an unexpected 1-2 knot foul southwesterly current. We had to motor sail with both engines running for eight hours to keep up 5 knots of boat speed and run one engine the rest of the way here. Nature giveth and Nature taketh away.

Dry Tortugas is a group of six small keys among reefs in an area about six miles in diameter. The water is a palette of blues, dark blue in the deep channels, lighter blue in shallower water, turquoise along the edges of the reefs, aquamarine in the shallowest waters. The reefs block the ocean swells, so the waters inside them are calm, lake-like. Underwater is full of life- coral, sea grass, small reef fish, big barracudas, tarpons, groupers. The air is filled with birds, mostly Naughty Brown Terns, which live up to their moniker by landing on the boat and using it as a latrine.

Fort Jefferson is a huge hexagonal structure three levels high, the walls punctuated with gun ports for cannons, huge cannons spaced around the perimeter of the roof with thick-walled and -roofed magazines in between them for the ammunition. Construction of the fort began in 1846 and continued for 30 years but was never finished as military technology advanced so as make brick masonry fortifications not strong enough to resist the power and accuracy of naval gunnery. During the Civil War, the fort was a Union military prison. The masonry of ramparts at the top of the fort is a dark red, different than the tan-brown of the walls below, as the brick to top off the walls needed to be shipped from Maine when the original supply from Florida was interrupted by the war. Four men convicted of complicity in Abraham Lincoln's assassination were imprisoned in the fort including Dr. Mudd, the physician who treated John Wilkes Booth's broken leg. Mudd was later pardoned by President Andrew Johnson for his service treating other prisoners.

We did some snorkeling among the ruins of an old dock and below the modern dock in the harbor, an activity we later discovered to be illegal but which we did without being observed. What was observed was our crossing of a closed, protected area of water in the dinghy in search of a wreck to snorkel around. I attribute this violation of park rules and common sense to fatigue after sailing for 54 hours, poor vision from not having any glasses onboard the dinghy and exuberance. The ranger who observed us issued me a citation, which was reasonable and accepted with regrets, not so much for violating a rule but for running my dinghy through an environmentally sensitive area, albeit by mistake and at slow speed and carefully. What does tweak me a bit about national parks is how over time rangers have changed from mostly being guides to and protectors of the parks to a police force, armed and with their citation books at the ready. Despite being clearly cooperative, apologetic and non-threatening, the ranger who cited me told us to all stay in the cockpit where he could see us while he ran my driver's license for outstanding warrants. Today I saw the same ranger walking around the fort with holding his ticket book in the open, dangling from his hand. I'm all for protecting our parks and I take responsibility for my violation of the rules, but this seems a bit much, like a predator hunting for prey.

We're moving the boat so that it is further away and out of view of the NPS Gestapo, close the the reefs where we can snorkel legally. We'll stay here until tomorrow evening when we'll weigh anchor and do an overnight sail to Key West and make our official entry into the USA. I hope we receive a warmer welcome from the government than we did here. For my part I'll try to obey the maritime rules better, despite there being so many more than where we've been sailing for the past 3 1/2 years.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Good Sailing Off the Coast of Cuba

June 4
1000
23.3N 84.6W

We're making great progress on our passage from Isla Mujeres to Dry Tortugas. Our average speed has been so good that we should arrive tomorrow morning rather than in the afternoon.

It took more time than usual to slip our dock lines from El Milagro Marina early yesterday morning. The four of the five lines were attached to pilings far from the dock, requiring us to haul Intermezzo to each piling so that we could remove the line looped around it. The crew demonstrated good coordination and teamwork as I inspired them with a posture of regal command at the helm and provided firm but gentle guidance.

The current in the Yucatán Channel is amazing! That is, if you are heading northeast like we are; god help you if you are sailing the opposite direction. We had a nice 15 knot wind on a close reach which would normally move Intermezzo along at a solid 5+ knots. With the current pushing us along as well, we sailed along at 9 to 10 knots for most of the morning, before the current eased as we approached Cuba and we dropped to a very nice 7 to 8 knots for the afternoon. By evening the current had dropped off a lot and we were making our own way through the water, a combination, mostly motor sailing through light winds and calm seas.

Forrest has proven to have good aptitude of standing watch. He pays close attention, asks good questions, takes his role seriously and is clearly enjoying himself.

Lisa's sailing experience gives me a solid second in command (which let's me get some sleep) and I really appreciate how she adapts her experience to Intermezzo's characteristics and my sailing style. Very lucky to have her on board for this trip.

Christine has also come alone well with understanding all the numbers and displays on the instruments and how they relate to my "Skipper's Instructions" related to navigation, ship traffic, wind and weather. She made a great first night's dinner for a hungry crew.

So, we're sailing a solid "four up" crew configuration, each of us standing solo watches while the others sleep, eat, relax or do boat chores. We're standing three 4-hour watches in the daytime and six 2-hour watches at night, the latter at Lisa's suggestion. The 2-hour watches go by very quickly for the person on watch and everyone gets six hours of sleep at night, plus plenty of nap time during the day. It seems to be working well.

The weather has been great, sunny with scattered cumulus clouds, the water a deep cornflower blue. We had a brief but heavy rain shower yesterday morning, some impressive lightning from a cloud in the distance, but otherwise conditions have been pleasantly benign.

Ship traffic has been heavy, but the officers on watch very polite and accommodating when we have contacted them to coordinate crossings while under sail. In fact for the first time in experience, a ship's officer contacted us by radio to let us know they knew we were under sail, acknowledging that we had right-of-way and letting me know how they intended to pass by us. Maybe a new guy, maybe bored, maybe just a real, courteous professional. In any case, I acknowledged and thanked him for being so polite.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Leaving Isla Mujeres, Bound for Dry Tortugas

Intermezzo is leaving Isla Mujeres after a pleasant nine day rest here at El Milagro Marina. We set sail tomorrow morning at 0600 for Dry Tortugas, a U.S. National Park about 70 miles west of Key West.

I was fortunate to have found good crew for the passage after Roy left to pursue his job opportunity in Australia. Christine, my friend from La Paz flew here to go diving with me and enjoy some island time. She agreed with some enthusiasm when I asked her if she would help me get the boat to Florida. She contacted her friend Lisa, an experienced sailor who I met on the 2016 Baja Ha Ha, who hopped on a plane from Seattle on short notice to join Intermezzo's crew. The roster is rounded out by Forrest, a young man who I met when I first arrived who rode his bicycle here from Virginia. I'm fortunate and grateful to have found such a great crew on such short notice.

The weather suggestion for our passage looks good, winds from the east, around 15 knots. Not a great direction for our ENE sail, so we'll likely be motor sailing most of the way but through calm seas. The Gulf Stream current will help us move along. If we can keep up an average speed over ground of 5 knots, we should arrive on Wednesday around 1600. If we can't make that speed, we'll end up having to heave to overnight to wait for daylight before navigating through the reefs to the Dry Tortugas anchorage.

I really enjoyed Isla Mujeres. It is a mostly peaceful little island with only a few big hotels despite being only six miles offshore of the big resort destination of Cancun. The reefs surrounding the island are in pretty good shape and the water is crystal clear and warm, great for diving and snorkeling. Christine and I dove a wreck lying a few miles off the south end of the island and a beautiful reef a bit closer in. The next day we took the dinghy on an excursion to explore snorkeling sites.

We also got in the water to clean Intermezzo's bottom of marine growth. The Mexican antifouling paint applied over two years ago is getting thin, but still working well. Funny, when we looked under the dock to which Intermezzo is tied, we saw more fish than on any of our other dives! The school of palometas was so dense that if you shot a spear through it, you would have at least a six-fish shush kebab. Big groupers and snappers swam lazily around this school, some the size of and as plump as a small Thanksgiving turkey.

The El Milagro Marina is a great place. It is a small rustic hotel with a single wooden dock, brightly painted and nicely decorated. It has a communal kitchen for the use of hotel and marina guests, a big breezy open-air lobby, a small pool and a little beach, complete with complimentary kayaks and paddle boards. The bathrooms are kept impeccably clean and there a big outdoor showers with plentiful hot water. The staff takes good care of the place and is very helpful and friendly. Highly recommended as a place to stay, with or without boat.

It feels a bit strange knowing that Intermezzo will be back in U.S. waters again in a few days. It's been three years and seven months since we left San Diego and crossed into Mexico. A return to more rules, more regulations and more expensive.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Leg 4 Wrap Up, With Pictures

When I was planning The Voyage, Leg 4, from Panama to Isla Mujeres was the most daunting to me. It involved the longest distances sailing offshore, possibly into prevailing winds and waves, local squalls, and pirates. It turned out to be one of the easiest and most enjoyable legs.

I credit myself with doing the research to learn that if I waited until May to depart from Panama, prevailing winds would be shifting southward from an undesirable northeast direction to easterlies or even southeast winds. This is what we encountered, one the rare times the weather has done what it is supposed to do for me. I also had developed a robust data set for Intermezzo's fuel consumption, so I knew with a high level of confidence that if the winds did not cooperate, we had the range to motor between our rest stops in Isla Providencia, Grand Cayman and our final destination, Isla Mujeres. Good planning paid off.

Overall, it was great sailing in decent, though sometimes, uncomfortable seas. Scroll back through previous posts to get day-by-day details of the passage. I was surprised that we encountered a weak foul westerly current most of the way (I'm pretty sure) and a strong one that really slowed down the boat (I'm very sure) as we approached Isla Mujeres. I confess to not paying close attention to currents when I have done my passage planning; I will be in the future.

We travelled a total of 970 nautical miles in 9 1/2 days. We sailed 83 percent of the time, a record for Intermezzo, I believe. For comparison, Leg 3, from Puerto Chiapas, Mexico and through the Panama Canal was 1,208 nautical mile passage over 16 days which we sailed only around 40 percent. Nothing significant broke on Leg 4, for which I am grateful.

And now, finally, pictures from Leg 4: 


Leaving the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal

Isla Providencia's Santa Catalina anchorage

Josh and Roy scoping out Isla Providencia's main wharf

Dogs fishing in the shallows between Isla Providencia and the small Isla Santa Catalina

House on Isla Catalina with colorful planters made from old tires

Intermezzo in the Santa Catalina anchorage, Isla Providencia

City Hall, Isla Providencia

Roland's Restaurante Coctes Bar, Isla Providencia

Roy testing his balance after three days at sea and two cervezas at Roland's

A true Jungle Gym, Isla Providencia

Hiking through jungle to climb El Pico (The Peak), highest point on Isla Providencia

Josh showing Roy the finer points of boat hook jousting upon arrival at Grand Cayman

Beach on Grand Cayman Island

Happy Captain

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Intermezzo's neighbors in George Town harbor, Grand Cayman. I call them "ant hills".

A tornado (waterspout?) on the way to Isla Mujeres

Intermezzo berthed at the pleasant little El Milagro Marina, Isla Mujeres
Sunset at El Milagro Marina, Isla Mujeres
Sun