Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sailing Jamaica

Rolly Lush Hills of Jamaica

Sailing in the Caribbean from one island to another one sounds like a dream and it is like living the dream! What most people might not recognize are the challenges on a sailboat at sea. My friends usually get surprised of how much the boat is rolling and heeling over when on the open waters. Additionally, if you never been seasick, you might on a small boat for days out on the ocean! Hopefully the seasickness should go away after a few days but not necessarily! 
The 210 miles passage from George Town, Cayman Islands to Jamaica turned into 270 miles. As a routine, the fuel tank gets topped off every 12hrs of engine operation. Last fuel was purchased in Los Morros Marina in Cuba, which was not as clean as it should be for boats. Marine Diesel Engines are very sensitive to fuel and that said; Earthling’s engine stopped 3 times because of dirty fuel. Every time the engine stopped, the fuel lines between the tank and filter had to be disconnected and cleaned from debris. The 3rd time, the fuel filter that was replaced a couple weeks prior was totally plugged. But also imagine, you are seasick, the boat is heeling over, it’s sunny and hot with diesel fumes around and you have an empty stomach and can’t eat anything, I did feel bad for my friend Tadas, luckily seas and wind were moderate!

Moreover, during the passage an accidental jibe happened while the fishing trolling line was out, which wrapped around the shaft! Undoing wrapped lines underneath the boat is not that hard at anchorage on flat waters! But doing it on the sea as you are moving/drifting is much more challenging! In this case, there is a steel wire at the end of the fishing line that two lure with hooks are attached to, which now is wrapped around the shaft! You can’t operate the engine or be in gear, it can create a bigger damage!     Fortunately, there is someone else on the boat! It was right around sunset and the job had to be done rapidly!
While in the water trying to undue the wire, one of the hooks got caught on my thumb, it was dragging me down underneath the water as the waves were hitting the side of the boat. In that moment I totally felt for the fish when they are caught on the hook! Tadas turned the engine on and put it in gear for the line to be able to unwrap as it was hooked deep in my thenar muscle. Part of the wire unwrapped and the hook ripped off the muscle and came out as blood was running down my arm. That was a nerve-racking dangerous situation! Grateful to be safe again!      
After four days sailing east bound against the trade winds, rolly lush hills of Jamaica became visible in the horizon. It’s always a wonderful feeling to see land after days at sea! 
Beautiful houses ashore
Jamaica is one of those mountainous islands of the Caribbean. It has over 600 miles of coast line. The nature here is what’s worth most to visit. Earthling’s crew got to do some hikes through the rain forest to waterfalls and coffee plantations! The highest peak is the Blue Mountain with an elevation of 7400ft (2200m). Along the narrow road from Port Antonio to Kingston through the Blue Mountains you can see many scattered waterfalls and spectacular green rainforest. Blue Mountain is mostly covered by clouds, but occasionally the clouds clear up from the peak and the view is amazing from the east bay anchorage in Port Antonio.         
The View from East Bay Anchorage in Port Antonio

Earthling got to anchor from west in Negril to East in Port Antonio and along the north coast in Montego Bay, Discovery Bay, and Ocho Rios. Jamaica’s north coast is very nice for cruising; there are several nice coves perfect for anchoring. Negril and Bloody bay has a long beach with tons of restaurant, guesthouses, hotels, glass bottom boats and other tourism activity! It’s the busiest tourist spot in Jamaica.

Negril Anchorage
Montego Bay is the hub for many tourists to fly in before spreading around to different sites. It’s the second largest city after the capital Kingston, but not that good of place to anchor. There is little room to anchor by the Yacht club but it’s possible to anchor on the other side of the bay by the Pier One, which is right by town! All the anchorages in Jamaica are surrounded by beautiful nature. In addition, the sound of the Caribbean music from shore is alive till late hours in almost every harbor.
Jamaica is one of the major islands of the Caribbean with its Rastafarian roots in culture and music. Many of the Caribbean musicians and singers come from here as well as Trinidad & St. Vincent. Jamaicans like the rest of the Caribbean Countries have very limited earning, average monthly income is $350 a month.  People in Jamaica are very proud of their country but the Jamaicans in Cayman were quiet about their nationality.  Statistics show high level of crime here, but crime is high in Chicago as well and unfortunately it’s increasing in general all over on our planet! “I am safe and I trust” is all you can do! At the same time travelers should always show less than more, don’t wear gold jewelry and watches and don’t expose different kinds of valuable electronics. A few of the local dwellers in Montego Bay suggested that I take the gold chain off my neck while in town!
There are many big beautiful houses on the hills visible when you are sailing along the coast, and most of them are resorts or guesthouses! Tourism is the largest industry along with bauxite soil (Alumina) and agriculture. Almost everyone here wants to be a guide. In Ocho Rios, my long time friend Benny and I walked up the steep road in search for waterfalls and as we were hiking, two brothers ages 12 and 14 years old insisted to show us the way through the forest. We went along with the brothers and got to a couple breathtaking waterfalls. Later on we realized this was a public park and we entered it from the forest and there is a charge to enter the waterfall, which we ended up paying to the security anyways! Most visiting sights in Jamaica have an entry fee and the price is usually different for local residents than tourist. We always have negotiations going on to pay the local price and most of the time we are successful! Wherever Earthling is, that’s where I live, right now in Jamaica! The guides, street vendors, people on the street are all want to help you and make a buck. Whatever you need they say they have!     
Jamaica must have the highest cannabis consumption per capita in the world even though the UN Drug report statistics show Jamaica at 10%, USA at 16.2%, and Israel at 27%.  Marijuana is widely available at any location at any time and it perceives like more or less everybody is using it. It’s part of the Rastafarian culture to consume it to become more spiritual. Cannabis is cheaper than cigarettes here, people are rolling and smoking joints instead of cigarettes!
The spirit of Bob Marely is alive everywhere in Jamaica. There are a few Bob Marley sites to visit (homes, museum, mausoleum) we got to see the Museum in Kingston!

Bob Marley Museum

The highlight of Jamaica was right here at Errol Flynn’s marina in Port Antonio, where cruisers and sailors from around the world (Sweden, Paraguay, Germany, USA, Spain, Italy, UK, Belgium, Chile, and Iran) crossed path and many of us became friends for life. The weather was not favorable for nearly 2 weeks, which forced every boat to stay put in Porto. Everybody has left to different direction now, but Earthling and Adriatica(Italy)! 
The Errol Flynn’s Marina is the only place in Jamaica with a boat yard and 70ton travel lift. Even though Earthling’s agenda was to sail to the British Virgin Islands by the end of the season, but several facts have contributed to the decision to haul out the boat here for the hurricane season. Earthling will continue this voyage in November!
Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio

Street Vendors common way of trade
Rio Grande
Scattered Waterfalls
The Road in the Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains
Green Grotto Caves
Magroves by the Lagoon
Dunn's Falls
Swinging on the tree vines like Tarzan
Liberating in the Konko Falls
The brothers did a great job as guides
Local Jewelry in Montego

Winnifred Beach
Sailors from around the world
Thanks for reading     

One Love From Jamaica