Jamaica to Florida

It was hard to leave this place.  Jamaica was an unplanned stop and a pleasant surprise as we pulled into the tranquil Port Antonio.  The first class Erryl Flynn marina offers offers services for boats at dock and anchor helps to arrange for your free checkin with Customs, Immigration & Quarantine ~ quite a difference from the $200-300 fees in Bahamas, Columbia, Panama and Guatemala!  The marina is situated in a public park all along the waterfront where locals and sailors gather each day to enjoy the view and beaches.

Time was well-spent over four days waiting for bad weather to pass ~ think Red Stripe and lots of delicious jerk chicken & crispy stew fish.  Plus we scored a case of Ting!

People everywhere were open, friendly and helpful and we were beginning to realize that this is a charmed place off of the beaten track for this big island.

When approaching the north shore of the island, Reach had sheared a bolt on the rigid boom vang that holds up the heavy boom over our hard top and solar panels.  Luckily the sail held the boom aloft after the break while Mark rigged a topping lift… and we had spare bolts to replace it in port, so minor crisis averted.  


He also tightened our hatches, which actually need new seals to keep the seawater drips out when the decks take a wave, and refueled with diesel.  It was better to jug it due to the gusty 25-30 kt winds and a tiny fuel dock ~ two boats had already dragged in the harbor.

Since this was the time for things to break, the day we anchored we had discovered that our starboard engine wouldn’t start.  

After disassembling the starter it turns out that our starter battery was dead even though it was the first thing checked.  Doh!  

{Note to self:  disconnect charge combiner when checking battery voltage} 

Oh well, easy fix after all.  A new battery was found and it was time to go.


The first 12 hours of our sail from Jamaica towards the Windward Passage was brisk with winds NE 20-25 kts on a close reach, still bashing into choppy seas.  We were anticipating the lull behind the lee of Haiti which we soon sailed into and the seas went down with it.  A motor sail through the Windward passage overnight into the next morning was uneventful with winds NE 10-15 kts, as planned.

Once we turned the corner heading NW around Cuba the trades were behind us from the E moving to ESE and building to a 15 kt broad reach.  

It was so nice to have the seas (still moderate) behind us for a change!

Winds increased out of the east to a steady 18-20 kts over the next two days and 20-25 kts at night so we put in a second reef and Reach was well-balanced and speedy on a beam reach.

Throughout the Old Bahama Channel there was plenty of cargo traffic that seemed to ignore the inbound/outbound lanes.  

An adverse current of 1 kt came off of the banks... unless it was with us so probably tidal.

It was life as usual on Reach (just bouncier) ~ making meals, reading books, showering ~ minus the cocktails and sleep!  We sailed towards Florida and intended to enter at Fort Pierce.  

But after receiving a forecast from Chris Parker for overnight squalls to 40 kts on our last night, we tucked in a day early south of Miami in Biscane Bay, having spent 10 days at sea ~ not including a pit-stop in the middle ~ since starting our passage from Panama.  

© M&M 2019