Launching 2014 Sail Season – Bocas to Grand Caymans

Hurricane season ends November first the Grateful Red leaves Boca del Toro, Panama on November 16th for Grand Cayman. Seven hundred miles or five days of sailing – day and night.  The Grateful Red crew of Gordy, Jack, Matt and Ken set sail among a few lightning bolts on a drizzly Saturday afternoon.  


Immediately there was an issue – under full throttle the Grateful Red only motored three knots not the usual six knots …….. The Grateful Red never goes back …… Sail On!  Finally got offshore, raised the sails and the speed was only four knots not the usual six to seven knots.  Instead of a five day sail the crew was thinking seven days plus.  The land crew of Nina, Kristine, Anne and Cissy were meeting the Grateful Red in Grand Cayman in six days.  Rerouted to the Columbia Island of Providence about 200 miles from Boca.  Contacted the harbor master, obtained permission to land for few hours to re fuel and obtain drinking water.

Immediately Carman a local with knowledge of English and the local community became our “go to” guy.  He arranged for “shark” to assist in cleaning the boat bottom.  Shark was about sixty, short on teeth, no English, some Spanish and was willing to free dive to clean the Grateful Red bottom.  Shark quickly determined that the GR prop was loaded with clams and shell fish.  He also noted that the shells were not from the local area …..  Very astute.  After an hour of dives Shark declared the prop clean except now the prop kept collapsing.  Ahhh no wonder we couldn’t sail at six knots the prop was being held open by shells on the prop and acted like a brake.


Carman arranged for Gordie to ride on a motor scooter to the local diesel pump.  Gordy managed to hand carry a couple containers of diesel while balancing on the back of the scooter.  Jack and Ken went to the local grocery store for supplies.  With time to burn Gordy took the crew to lunch at a local cantina among completion of all missions.

Off again but with the clean prop motoring or sailing at six knots was easy.  Shark was the Grateful Red’s new hero.  Winds and weather was superb, full moon nights and great sailing. 


What will break next is always a point of discussion on the boat – on day four the diverter value on the head was plugged.  Water comes into the head but doesn’t leave.  Tools were out Ken and Gordy were on head repair detail – no go.  Jack outlined using the dive platform as the new and well exposed head.  No pictures needed – key is not to go overboard in the process.  No one was lost at sea – Ken decided to stop food intake and wait until arrival at Grand Cayman.  Always a couple methods to solve the problem.

Almost at Grand Cayman when master chef Jack let out a scream from the galley.  Apparently when the Boca team changed from the low pressure French gas system to the high pressure US system all fitting were not tightened accordingly.  Amazing how quickly cooking gas can fill the air and light off.  Finally six days from leaving Boca the Grateful Red snaked through the Grand Cayman reef into the sound and Scott’s marina.   Another great sail.



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