Thursday, February 3, 2011

Transit to Isla Mujeres Mexico

I had an interesting transit from Key West to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  HOBO II (Jim) and REBOOT departed Key West just in time to watch the Wreckers Race.  This is an annual event to celebrate (?) the fact that Key West was once a haven for real pirates - the "wreckers" kind.  They would move the lights and marks to lure ships unto the reef and wreck.  The Key Wester's would then go out and salvage the ships that had run aground.

The first day was pleasant as we ran out toward the Dry Tortugas.  I have visited Fort Jefferson a couple of times in the past.  As we approached Jim voted to bypass and continue on to Mexico as the winds were very favorable.  We then set a great circle course direct to the reef buoy at the north end of Isla.  (Even at 300 nm it was interesting to see that the great circle course differed from the rhumb line course by a couple of degrees.) Within a hour we were being set by the Gulf Stream.  We decided to increase our southing toward Cuba to escape the brunt of the Stream  After several hours we realized that the Gulf Stream was running very wide and we were unlikely to escape the brunt of its current.  We reset our course toward Mexico.

The second day and night out were so perfect at one point I woke from a nap forgetting that we were underway.  The wind was abaft the beam about 20 degrees, blowing a very steady 15 knots, the waves were also abaft the beam with a period of about 4 seconds.  With the air temperature at 75 degrees night and day it was just delightful.

The wind freshened until it was blowing 25 gusting 28 and the waves were running 4 to 6 feet.  I put a double reef in the main, furled the jib but even so the ride became uncomfortable.  The wind had shifted more west on to the bow and the waves were confused.  We continued to be set by the currents and as we moved west the coast of Cuba receded giving the waves more fetch.  Then we cleared Cuba and were out in the Yucatan Channel with its currents up to 4 knots.  The ETA for Isla Mujeres would change by serveral hours as we would be set by current and wave and then find ourselves moving along smartly.

We made landfall at Isla Mujeres about 15 minutes before sunset. Since we still had several miles to go before the marina I was concerned that we would lose the light before getting into port for the night.  But it worked out just fine, both boats were tied up just as the light died.

This morning we have been working thru the various agencies necessary for check in.  Hopefully by tonight Jim and I will be able to see a bit of the town.

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