We originally planned to spend only a week or two in Jamaica, yet somehow, a month and a half later we are still here. We can partly blame the weather for the delay, but mostly we are just enjoying life here too much to rush away.
Montego Bay to Port Antonio
We motored out of Montego Bay for the 90mi overnight run to Port Antonio a few days after Elan’s parents left us. Our forecast was for light winds and calm seas, which we were looking forward to since the prevailing wind, seas, and 1 knot current over the North coast of Jamaica would all be running against us. We left the bay with calm water, no wind, and blue sky, only to be shocked by pouring rain, blustery wind and short, steep seas within an hour of leaving. These less than pleasant conditions continued to bash us for the remainder of our 26 hour passage. Oh Mr. Weather Man, I have a bone to pick with you. We considered ducking into one of the ports we passed along the way, but the forecast was supposed to deteriorate over the next few days, and we were trying to beat my Dad to Port Antonio, where he was flying in to meet us. Besides if that was “good” weather, we didn’t want to sick around to see what “worse” looked like.
At one point during Elan’s shift, I was down below moping, when Élan suddenly yelled ‘waaaahoooo!’. Terrified, I ran up to see Élan with a huge grin on his face, exchanging fist pumps with a kite surfer who, seeing our boat about a mile offshore, zipped out just to do some spectacular jumps all around us. It was such a cool surprise, and I have to admit it made me feel like a total wuss for being grumpy about rough weather on 40ft boat when this guy was clearly having a blast on a tiny board being dragged at lightning speed across big waves by a kite. Ok, I am ready to be a big girl now.
Our plan was to only stay in Port Antonio long enough to get a good weather window for the infamous Windward Passage, beat 350mi upwind and meet my Mom in Providenciales, in the Turks and Caicos 4 days later. However, our weather never cooperated, and in the end, Mom came to meet us in Port Antonio instead.
We have been pleasantly surprised with Port Antonio. Not blighted by the cruise ship plague like her bigger sisters, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Port Antonio is a much more laid back town. I don’t know what it is about the cruise ship crowds, but they seem to bring out all the local hustlers, scammers and hard-sellers wherever they go. Thats not to say that PA is necesarily quiet… we still hear the stereo wars blasting across the otherwise peaceful anchorage every night, though not quite so intensely as MoBay.
We are anchored outside of Errol Flynn Marina, which allows us to use their pool, showers and….. laundry! Our clothes haven’t been in a real washing machine since we left the States, almost four months ago, so its a very nice break from stomping them in our ice chest, using water hauled in jugs from land to boat by dinghy, woohoo!
Touristing with Mom and Dad
While Mom and Dad were here we entertained ourselves with a drive over the Blue Mountains, one of the highest spots in the Caribbean, and drive around the beautiful, rugged and pot-holed East end of the island.
We also explored Navy Island, the island which affords our anchorage in West Harbor such great protection. At various points in it’s history, the island has been home to a Navy Base, a marina, a resort and a housing development. All have been abandoned, the most recent due to fire. The lush green jungle is quickly reclaiming it all.
On the far side of Navy Island is a quiet beach, protected by a reef, and covered in conch shells.
A short walk from the marina is a rocky beach that runs along the side of the channel entrance. For whatever reason, this particular beach is covered in bits of painted ceramic tiles and smooth pieces of beach glass- my favorite!
And of course, we couldn’t let my parents leave without one smooth day-sail along the coast.
The plants and flowers here are so amazing. Elan doesnt always appreciate me fillng up our camera with flower pictures, but I just cant help myself!
Speaking of flora and fauna… The day after we left Panama (8 weeks ago), we discovered we had a stowaway. Several weeks later, as I was trying to take this shy guys photo, I started seeing double…. that is, I discovered that we actually have TWO stowaways! We don’t mind having them aboard, they eat bugs after all, but they do have a tendency to show up where we least expect them!
And finally, a quick note on blogging…
When we started this blog, we thought we would just use it as an easy way to keep our family and friends updated on our whereabouts. As you can imagine, we were shocked that our year-end report shows 10,600 views! 10,000 views is small fries for many, but pretty cool for us. We have met new people, swapped info with other cruisers and have had views from 74 countries. Whoa!
Generating enough power to run the computer and finding an internet connection strong enough to upload photos can be frustrating to say the least (I fought with the internet for 14+ hours for this post, and you can see that many of my photos were still funny sizes and were missing captions – oh well), so it makes me really happy to see that so many of you are still following us along. Thanks, and keep those comments coming- remember, we love to hear from you too!!
We are still waiting for that perfect weather window to go through the Windward Passage. Given that we have taken a beating on our last few “good enough” weather windows, we are going to sit tight until we have a “too-perfect-to-miss” weather window this time. Until then, I guess we will just have to endure some more poolside sitting!