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The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Currently Cruising Update - Dodging Hurricanes

Glen and Marilyn Middleton

Lagoon 420
February 21st, 2018

Avanga has had some adventures since we last sent in an update – some good, some not so good. For hurricane season 2016, we were tied to a hot and humid dock at Tortugal Marina in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Upon returning to the boat in the winter, we found she had been very well cared for by the attentive staff there, but putting her back together was still a slow process. As we had done the previous season, we headed east to Roatan, Honduras, one of our favourite spots and enjoyed the wonderful snorkeling and diving there before turning northward, heading for Cuba.

Nasty Northers continued to plague us throughout the trip, but it became a real issue when we were off the east coast of Mexico. To make a long story short, we ended up with the starboard hull filling with water due to a broken thru-hull fitting. Although Glen managed to quickly find the leak and stem it with a wooden plug (which was too large so we had to whittle it down while plugging the hole with his hand), it was still a frightening experience and caused us to question the integrity of the other thru-hulls. We certainly checked them all carefully once we had the opportunity.

We continued on and after a challenging situation trying to check in to Cuba at Cabo San Antonio (where they had run out of visas!), we managed to make it to Marina Hemingway on the north coast, just hours before the harbour was closed due to yet another  front that was marching in. Fortunately, we made it in time to attend the historic, free Rolling Stones concert in Havana. Cuba was a fascinating stop and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit there.

After a brief visit in the Bahamas (very beautiful), we took Avanga up to St. Augustine Marine Center in Florida and hauled her out for hurricane season. While preparing her for her stay on the hard, Glen had a little mishap – he fell off the back of the boat and did a header into the dirt and gravel below. After a 3 hour stay at the hospital getting stitched up, we learned the importance of buying extended medical coverage. All costs were covered, but the price tag without insurance would have been US$3000!

As it turned out, Hurricane Matthew  hit St. Augustine, causing us some consternation as we awaited word from the staff if Avanga had been damaged. Fortunately (again), she only had a few rust spots from some flying metal roof material of a nearby paint shed, and a waterlogged dinghy motor from storing the dinghy under the boat (who knew that there would be 3 feet of surge due to the hurricane?).

After putting Avanga back together again, we headed south, going inside the ICW for the short stretch from West Palm Beach down to Ft. Lauderdale, where our mast height was not a show stopper and anchored in No Name Harbor by Miami, where we staged our crossing to Bimini, Bahamas.

This time we spent a little more time in the Bahamas, enjoying the beautiful water and planning for a passage to Puerto Rico. As luck would have it, we never made it to PR due to running out of time to make a leisurely path into the tradewinds. Instead we tied Avanga to a mooring in Stocking Island across from Georgetown, flew home for the summer and had the repeat experience of sitting in BC during hurricane season wondering if we would still have a boat once the flurry of hurricanes passed. Both Irma and Maria came close enough but veered off at the last minute, so we were spared the brunt of their forces. Had we made it to PR, it might have been a different story!

So now we are anchored in Georgetown with the plan to try to make it to Grenada by the end of this season. So far, there has been one front or squash zone after another, and we are getting tired of the uncooperative weather in this part of the world. After the South Pacific, we had thought it would be easier in the Caribbean with such short passages, but overall the erratic weather has made it less enjoyable cruising here than hoped.

We are enjoying the cruising scene though here in Georgetown (active cruising community with assorted activities to keep us as busy as we want) and there are always maintenance jobs to be done, but when the opportunity presents, we plan to head east for the Turks and Caicos and beyond.

Maple’s crew: Darryl and Janet Lapaire, Ella and Iris

Update: February 5 – Last night we shared Happy Hour aboard another catamaran, Maple, with BCA Vancouver members Darryl and Janet Lapaire, and their daughters Ella and Iris.  The two boats crossed wakes in Mayaguana, one of the southern most islands in the Bahamas. They just arrived via the US Virgins, and we are setting off today for the Turks & Caicos. They asked if we were members, then looked us up in the Directory. Inspiring to see a young family who have sold the house, etc and are out there doing it, and doing it well.


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