Happy Times buddy-boated with s/v Eclipse and left Grenada at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16. Geoff, Michelle, Jerome and Miles Hufford departed from Grand Anse Beach aboard their Leopard catamaran. We pulled up anchor in Prickly Bay, headed southwest and soon spotted Eclipse on the other side of Point Saline.
The passage to Los Roques, a group of islands off the northern coast of Venezuela, was our favorite kind: uneventful. Peacefully sailing at around 5 knots per hour, Happy Times had the wind at her back for the entire trip, except when it flea-flicked to port or starboard a few degrees. The wind averaged 15-20 knots per hour, kicking up a few notches during squalls.
On the first night the moon rose as an orange football partially hidden by clouds. As it climbed in the sky, it lit our way for several hours.
Happy Times and Eclipse stayed in touch by VHF throughout the passage. At night we talked every hour and recorded each other’s latitude and longitude as a safety measure. If we became too distant due to human error, weather, or other circumstances, we knew each other’s most recent location and could find one another. Our hourly check-ins also gave us an excuse to chat and plan what we wanted to do first upon our arrival.
As usual, Mike took the 2-4 a.m., 8-10 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. shifts. Mikayla held down 6-8 a.m., midnight to 2 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. I had 4-6 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon and 4-6 p.m. We came up with this plan during our first crossing, and it’s worked well.
Usually we read or catch up on sleep on long passages. Mike reread a book on anchoring that Geoff lent him, and I immersed myself in Tishamingo Blues by Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite authors. Mikayla slept a lot as she became dehydrated and threw up twice in the first 24 hours.
Friday’s highlight came when Geoff caught a 40-inch long mahi-mahi, the second on this passage and big enough to share for dinner. Lucky for us. I haven’t caught any fish yet on this passage.
How do you pass fish from one boat to another? You turn them into flying fish, of course.
Geoff guided Eclipse close to our port side, only five feet from the steps on our stern. Michelle and I became nervous and hollered at the same time, “Close enough!” Then Jerome used his best throw and nimbly landed a bag of fish on our foredeck.
Later I made fish nuggets by dipping chunks of mahi-mahi in egg and milk. I rolled them in flour and cornmeal spiced with Old Bay seasoning and fried them. Served with a side salad, the fish nuggets ranked even above lasagna as the best meal on this passage.
We made really good time on our crossing, but it wasn’t quite fast enough. Ironically, we had to slow down as we approached Los Roques to make sure that we arrived at the optimum time to read the water for reefs and coral heads. We took down the mainsails on HT, as did Eclipse, and sailed with only our jib through Friday night.
When we sailed into Dos Mosquisos on the southwestern edge of Los Roques, we discovered that we could see the bottom at a depth of 50 feet. We haven’t seen water this clear since the Bahamas. We anchored both boats by 10 a.m. Mike and I promptly cracked open a couple of Caribs to celebrate the first leg of our voyage west.