At nearly 400 nautical miles, our sail from St Croix to Bonaire would be our longest single leg to date. We’ve gone further in terms of end to end distance, but always with sleep stops along the way. It also promised to be our most comfortable trip, with light waves and favorable following winds the whole way. But the preparation was still stressful, because of a combination of Bonaire’s anchoring and COVID policies. Before check-in, we would need approval from the health department on all our medical forms. But we couldn’t send these before our test results came in, and we had to leave within 24 hours of taking the test. The combination didn’t leave time for the department to send our approvals, so we had to leave without approval and hope it worked out.
The other issue is anchoring: it’s strictly forbidden everywhere in Bonaire. The marina told us they had no dock space for us, and that we could pick up a mooring ball, but moorings are strictly first-come-first-serve. They are very clear about this point.
At last report, six moorings remained. Would six boats arrive before us? It seemed unlikely, but if they did, we might end up having to move on to Curacao, where we hadn’t even started the COVID-era process. Since there was nothing we could do about any of this, we had to just sail and hope.
So I think it’s understandable that we over-provisioned a little bit. On our last night, we went back to Lost Dog, where we had an innovative combination of two of their appetizers (“no bread yet”), and picked up a couple of to-go pizzas for the ride. Which we brought back right during a light rain shower.
We set off in the morning, with the promised light winds and 398 miles to go according to the chartplotter. Bye, USVIs!
The forecast had called for a gradual building of wind over the three days, and that’s basically what we got. In the beginning, that meant we got to fly the spinnaker for the first few hours; here’s Andrew doing some of the setup, though we forgot to take pictures once it was flying.
Even when the wind shifted too far forward to keep the spinnaker up, the water stayed calm for a long time, and we had nice relaxed snacks in a nice dry cockpit.
And so it continued. We used the trip to experiment with shift schedules, with Jazz taking her sleep in two four-hour naps on either side of Andrew’s eight-hour night. This worked surprisingly well, with both of us basically functional and rested for most of the trip. It also resulted in us taking lots of candids of the other one eating or sleeping.
We also had some pretty sunrises and sunsets, as well as a spectacular moonrise. Though by that time the boat had started to rock a bit more, and between that and the dark… well, you still get the one picture of it.
Eventually we settled into a rhythm, mostly hanging out inside to hide from the sun and stepping out every few minutes to scan the horizon and the instruments. OK, we’re thinking, we can work with this routine. On calmer days, it’s reasonably comfortable to do light cooking and dishes. When the motion picks up, it’s grab-and-go foods and a little more bracing to move around the cabin, but still pretty comfortable compared to the upwind passages at the start of our trip. So when we sighted land in the morning, we were in pretty good spirits about the whole thing. With one exception: as we picked up wind and speed, we started getting the occasional splash in the cockpit from odd angles, and both of us managed to get salt water on our kindles. Andrew’s was fine for a couple of days and then abruptly stopped. Jazz’s developed a short in the charge port, resulting in a sharp burning smell when she plugged it in. Sailing: the most expensive way to go places for free.
Of course, we made the mistake of taking the western route around the island, thinking we’d save a few miles and have an easy, flat home stretch of motoring in the lee of the island. It turns out that even with just a few miles of fetch, motoring into a twenty-knot headwind is slow and uncomfortable. But we got through it, and as we approached the mooring field, we found Topher from Dorothy Rose waiting to guide us to a choice mooring ball. DR did a great job making our arrival easy and getting us settled in. And once we got checked in, the adventures would begin.