10 December, 2016
Up at 06h30, off the hook by 07h00. We threaded our way back out through the reef, using our previous days’ track on the chartplotter, as the angle of the sun at this time of day didn’t lend itself to reading water depths. Cayos de Cana Gorda, or Guilligan’s Island, was only two hours away, but with the wind, seas, and small craft warnings, we wanted to take advantage of the light early morning winds for a pleasant ride.
Okay, so what’s with this “Night Lee” that I’ve been talking about? Land masses take on, and conversely release heat more quickly than water. During the day, the land heats up quickly. The hot air over the land rises, causing the wind to be deflected from sea to land (an onshore breeze). At night, as the air over land cools, it becomes heavier and falls to earth and flows out to sea (an offshore breeze). This effect affects the gradient wind (prevailing wind), deflecting it. In effect, the nighttime offshore breeze created by this effect creates sort of a “bubble” around an island, raising (in altitude), or deflecting the prevailing winds. In our case, the easterly Tradewinds. This bubble, or Night Lee, can extend tens of miles out from an island, and last from around midnight until 9 or 10 in the morning. The distance from land and the duration of Night Lees are affected by the strength of the gradient winds, the elevation of the land mass, and daytime temperatures. Bottom line-generally cruising in the lee afforded by a land mass at night provides a more pleasurable experience. Okay, I probably really muddied things up. Google it.
Well, it was still kinda bumpy, but I was able to rustle up some scrambled eggs, served over red beans and rice, topped with Mexican cheese. A bit of “Scotty O’Hotty” habanero salsa provided a little kick. Arriving at our destination, we worked our way through the reef, and the seas quickly died. Suz tucked us in behind a little Cayo, and the hook was down by 09h30.
What a pretty spot. The little Cays next to us were in a Puerto Rican park, so were uninhabited, and had roped off swimming areas and picnic tables ashore. During the day, the little ferry boat from the Jacinto restaurant on the mainland brought visitors out to the park, but in the morning and early evening, we had the place to ourselves. There were no other cruisers in the anchorage, either. We spent two days there, just soaking up the ambiance. Had lunch at Jacinto, food was nothing to write home about but got a little taste of the local color.
This morning, we were up and out by 06h30, headed to an anchorage at Caja de Muertos Island. The Night lee dissipated 2 hours into the 3-hour trip, and the seas were predicted to be running 5’-7’, then 7’-9’ over the next few days, so we reevaluated our plan to anchor in the open anchorage there, figuring that we’d rather be stuck someplace with more to do. Ponce, the second largest city in P.R. was on the schedule for a road trip later in the month, so we decided to call the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club to see if they could get us in. No problem. We were tucked in to a 19’ wide slip with plenty of surge and wind (in our 17.5’ wide boat) by 10h00. By 11h00, we had a car rented for Monday, had the Mass schedule for the Cathedral, coffee plantation tour reserved and were registered for the week. This afternoon, we strolled the malecon(La Guancha) and had lunch and a few cervezas at one of the kiosks there. Looking forward to touring this historic city and its environs in the early part of this week. We’ll report in……..