March 2018 - Epic sail across the Gulf of Mexico and a little more...

In Summary we made the plan (Captain Arthur, Sterling and I) to head direct for Isla Mujeres which was about 650 nautical miles (1200 km or 745 miles) and was to take 5-6 days.  Unfortunately due to wind direction, some mechanical issues and some mental issues it took us 6 days just to touch Mexico and 3 more to get to Isla Mujeres.  Let's have a look shall we...

"A big sea can break a man or make a man" - Costa in a Bottle

General Destination. Note Start Point Flag is during Day 3.

Day 1 - Left Galveston around 6am in order to get in to the Gulf Offshore Oil Fields which are up to 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Texas. Made 70 knot miles in to a South wind averaging about 4 knots. Rough ride when you are heading close haul in to the wind which feels fast, but isn't.

Navigating solely with Isailor.

Awesome morning, bye USA!

Showing the route in to the Oil Fields

Lots of Oil Tankers waiting
for their turn to enter TX.


























Day 2 - Continuing through the Offshore Oil Rigs slowly making only 30 knot miles in to a light South-southeasterly averaging about 2.5 knots.


Continuing through Oil Fields

Good morning

A touch chilly so wearing my rain jacket.

Oil Rig in the distance.
We didn't bother to get to close.



Day 3 (least favourite) - Started at 6am in morning rain for 4 hours or so moving slowly in to the SE wind as the days before.  The rain meant a shift of wind was upon us as expected.  Here comes the North! 

We averaged speeds of 8.5 knots in strong 20 knot Northerlies on a run (wind directly behind us, which is ideal blue water sailing).  Max speed of 11 knots.  At this point the auto pilot began to gum up on us and we had to dismantle it.  140 miles on this day.

Unfortunately a strong Northerly wind meant we had to take it slightly side on through the night in a good size swell with wave heights of 10 to 14 feet.  Not what you want in the night.  We decided to put 2 reefs in the main and roll the jib to reduce the sail surface and put the motors on as needed to keep us straight.  During the rolling of the jib somehow the sail ripped which was not great and without a spare it was going to take a bit more damage on the rest of the journey as we needed it to help hold course.

As well, just before I went to bed and the full moon came out to light our way we had a moment of confusion not knowing if we were crossing the path of a huge Oil Tanker or Not.  The Sea broke me a little on this night.  Apparently while I slept things got a little hairier as the boat skidded sideways most of the night to Sterling's dislike. 

It was much better that I slept through Night 3.

Starting the day still on the edge of
Oil Field.

And in rain


Ah...well...

I think I need better rain pants.
Olympia jacket - Fantastic!


Incredible water colour

Oops, Autopilot down.
That will suck if we ever
have calm waters...

Sterling keeping me company during his split shift.

Wind change, great!  But not before some rain.

We're fricking moving!



Day 3 - Oil Rig in the Distance

One of the last Rigs



Day 4 - Running on a broad reach cruising at 7-8 knots even with two reefs in the main sail. Starboard engine wrapped up with twine so that was not to be used.  Into the deep of the Gulf to a max of 3600 ft which depth finders can't tell you (good to 120 ft normally), but Isailor could. 140 miles on this day.

Ripped Jib Sail last night.

Not ideal, ripped jib


Happy to be in Day 4, not Day 3.

Deep!


Sterling on shift

Arthur and Sterling putting 20 litres of gas in with out
spilling...or maybe just a little

I never realised how much I love
daylight.  Sad to see the sun go.

The sun always leaves us wanting more, but unlike musicians
we have to wait until the next day for the encore.

Our wine box looked like I felt
Beat around, haha

Day 5 - Big day running on broad reach averaging 7-8 knots.  Although we made it out of the deep blue water by the end of the day we had more issues; Ran water tank dry.  So no more showers, washing dishes, etc.  We of course had lots of drinking water in bought containers, but having had only one shower in the 4 days prior this was the straw that broke my back considering the tank holds 47 gallons and Sterling and I swear we used a combined amount of 10 or so, weird.  

We could have kept heading for Isla Mujeres, but I told the captain I was done.  5 days of rough sea; ripped sail, lost autopilot, lost night running lights, one motor, and out of water.  Oh and my main phone died sitting in a leak of salt water for too long. 140-160 miles on this day.  Course change for Progresso and my exit.

Most of day in the deep blue

Gorgeous Sunrise



Looks like a man who's done...



This way to Progresso Brad

Last night at sea, with any luck
"You signed up for this trip" - Charles Bronson quote of the day

Day 6 - Back to a close haul as the wind had shifted to SE again.  Started the day losing a 20 litre gas jug and spent an hour looking for it in the wrong direction.  Turned back in to the wind and slowly made our way the final 30 miles to LAND HO!  Progresso was to be where I would enter Mexico.  

But...unfortunately the offices that needed to check me and the boat in were not available until Monday (it was Friday) and some were located inland 1 hour (in Merida).  Apparently I was not getting off the boat just yet.  Regardless we recharged a little going to town for an amazing seafood dinner at Artois and filled the water tank too.  The marina cost $30 and was way better than the Galveston one with a pool on top of other facilities.  

Progresso so close

Good morning

Working away
Land ho! Very exciting moment in my life. 

"I ain't no pussy"



There it is!!!  

And Action!

Could have been a garbage dump and
I would have kissed it!
We made it!

Day 7 - Back to sea which became more of a coastal delivery due to the fact we really weren't allowed to be on land in Mexico without checking in properly. Motosailing into a light East headwind. This is where autopilot would have been great. 80 miles on this day.

Some interesting photos in the morning before leaving Progresso.



More speed boats than sail in the marina

Progesso is a big fishing Town

Big fishing boats

More local type fishing boats

Stacked on top of each other.
Not sure how many of these go out.

A view of the coast going to Cancun.  Seems like a lot of
projects that are moving slowly or abandoned. 

Day 7 route

Oh so exiting motoring the coast.  But at least it's calm.

Got some tunes going



Great pissta

Sunset shift

Spectacular
Day 8 - Slow go.  Crew tired.  Had to stop in Holbox for gas due to all the motoring required. Anchored 500 m from what is considered the new Tulum, MX (paradise). Surprisingly the private shuttle boat from the main land charged Arthur $80 USD to assist us getting gas. Screw Pedro! 80 miles on this day.

Holbox area
At least when you're bored you get a chance to take some photos...

Awesome Dragonfly

This is taking a while

Calf Auto Pilot





An idea of just how calm it was.  

A relaxed, better scenery version
of Apocalypse Now


Stopped in Holbox for gas...

The classic Palapa dock 

Holbox - accessed only by boat

Watching for the Captain to return

Captain arrived just in time.

Back to open coastal water

Day 9 - Isla Mujeres in our sights...Land Ho!!! (again)

Lots of excitement/happiness.

Land 2 miles out


Message in a Bottle ya.

What more can be said...


  

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