Why sailing to Mexico was such a hard passage to sail solo


My first solo passage with multiple nights at sea was not easy, but I learned a lot. What made it so hard?


My route

The weather forecast for this trip was challenging to get with the limited internet I had in Cuba. The forecast I had mansaged to get looked pretty good for me to have a smooth sail to Mexico.

During the first night, I was still too close to shore to have a nap. After the second night, I found out that naps of only 20 minutes are not sufficient for me. I became very tired and the movements of the boat made me a little seasick. I started to take 40 min naps whenever possible. This way, I could stay fit and focused for the rest of the trip.

The AIS is a great help with watch keeping. I put the settings so that the alarm would go off as soon as the AIS saw a ship. The AIS however is only a receiver, so I need to call the ships which seem to be getting too close to me.

Many big ships go through the Yucatan channel to their destinations in the Caribbean. It seems like those ships are not frequently looking on their radar like they’re supposed to anymore. Whenever I call them, they start looking and they will alter course without a problem. In one of the video’s you can see me contacting a ship which did not see me and would have came really close to me if he would have not taken any action.

The current in the Yucatan channel is not always the same strength. You can imagine that it’s strong since all the water in the Caribbean with an average current of about 0.5 and 1 knot needs to flow somewhere. When there is less space to go through, the current will get stronger. Most of the time I had a countercurrent. While approaching Isla Mujeres I had a strond current of 3 knots from the side for many miles. On this chart you can see how the current goes.

In this image you can see how the current was working against me
The Gulfstream


Closer to the mainland of Mexico I could also notice the weather becoming less stable as well. I had to cope with one squall after the other. I was happy with my decision to sail only with a small jib during this passage. The sailomat was functioning well for most of the time.

As you can see in one of the video’s I had a problem with the windvane during a strong overcoming squall. I am now working on a safe and good back-up system. A new episode of this trip will be online July 19th

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