Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beyond The Bahamas

As I write this we are 33 miles from The Dominican Republic and we can see the mountains through the rain in the distance.

This trip started on Friday. We were up bright and early, had the anchor up and were waving goodbye to our friends on Majiks and Moonshadow before 7:30. It's sad to say goodbye because have had such fun times together, but we promised to meet up again somewhere down the road.

We left the harbour with hardly a breeze and flat seas. Since we were motoring anyway Brian brought out the fishing rods. Pretty soon one rod went zing, then the other right away. Two fish at once! The water here was a couple of hundred feet deep and brilliant blue. As we brought the fish in it started a feeding frenzy. There were hundreds of Mahi Mahi jumping and swimming all around the boat. This was exciting! While I waited for Brian to land his fish I tried to hold onto mine. Other bigger ones, (4 footers) kept attacking it! You could see down about 30 feet and the blue and green of their skin flashed in the sunlight.

Once we had them both in the boat we threw the lines out again. We each caught another one. Brian lost his but coached me "keep the rod up" "reel, reel, reel!" I reeled so hard I wore the skin off my finger.

I used to love to fish with my Dad when I was little, but none of that touching worms stuff or taking the hook out. That was somebody else's job. I can't believe I picked both of these up!

We radioed to our buddy boats that we had dinner for all. Within seconds, a fishing boat who had been eavesdropping on our conversation (like we all do) called to ask where we caught them. We willingly gave him our coordinates and he was there in a few minutes.

So while I steered the boat while crouched on the seat Brian proceeded to clean the fish on the floor of the cockpit. It's really the easiest place to do it and all the blood just gets washed down the scuppers. He's very good at it which is fortunate because I wouldn't have a clue. The fish was all packaged up in Ziplock bags in the fridge, the carcasses went over the side and we washed the cockpit down with buckets of sea water. Good as new.

We got a few squalls later that morning, but that's fine because The Moose got a much needed fresh water rinse.

As we rounded the northern tip of Long Island Brian and I spotted something. A whale! I'm not sure how big it was, maybe 20 or 25 feet I think. I had no idea there were whales here. It made me think of a meeting we went to for cruisers planning on going south. We were listening to one cruiser who had been all over the Caribbean tell us (in his French accent) that you might run into a whale, but not to worry because it wouldn't sink your boat too much. Exactly how much is too much? Something else to keep in mind. Don't run into a whale.

Now we were heading southeast and it was a little bumpy. All day and all night and all the next day. Brian and I have never really gotten the hang of 3 hour watches. Neither one of us really sleeps so it makes for a looooong night. Brian put in a request for chili for dinner. That wasn't really the best idea because I had to do it one handed. With the boat rocking and rolling, anything that wasn't secured slid all over the place. I had to hold the pot on the stove the whole time it cooked. If there is a way to open a can with one hand, I haven't figured it out.

The sun went down in a big ball of orange and a few hours later the most incredible moon came up in a bigger ball of orange.

The great thing about not being the lead boat was that we could follow Banyan's navigation lights all night. We were happy to see daylight the next morning.


Brian decided to throw out the fishing rod again the next afternoon and guess what?Another Mahi! A big bull. I steered the boat around in circles while Brian tried to tame him. He told me to gaff it. Me? Really? I did, after a few failed attempts but without even thinking about it. Where did this killer instinct come from?

We arrived at Mayaguana about 4 the next afternoon. It's a tricky spot to get into so I stood on the bow with the handheld VHF radio watching for coral heads as we slowly made our way in. Our charts were quite accurate and we didn't have any surprises. Coral isn't quite as forgiving as sand on the bottom of the boat.

Because there was a big blow predicted for the night our plan was to spend another night here too.

After a shower, a drink and a feast of Mahi, we were in bed by 7.

The next morning was a little grey and cloudy so we all spent the day on our respective boats catching up. Brian cooked some chicken and I made cookies and bread for he next few days of traveling.

As we looked down into the water it appeared like it was about 3 feet deep but was actually over 9. There were starfish everywhere.

Although the wind had calmed considerably we had a nasty swell for most of the night. That sideways rock get me every time. It throws me off balance and makes me bump into things more than usual. It also meant a bad night's sleep. Not a good thing with another big passage to start tomorrow.

The next morning we started off again with a few possible destination options depending on the weather report that would be coming in later. Once we received this we decided to shoot for the Dominican Republic. This meant another day and night and day.

The seas were about 3 meters, but sideways and really rolly. While neither one of us gets seasick this did make me feel kind of dizzy. I hung onto everything with a death grip each time I moved around until they calmed down. By late afternoon we were 2 miles off West Caicos. We would have loved to have stopped here because the snorkeling is said to be spectacular but we'll have to catch it on the return trip.

Usually thee isn't anything to see in the water. Today there were Jellyfish. At first we thought they were plastic bags. There was garbage as well. Discarded fishing nets and I saw lots of square things floating by. I'm pretty sure nothing in nature is square shaped. The best thing happened after it got dark. Phosphorescence! As the boat cut through the water it disturbed all the little whatever they are's and made them glow. We had a trail of them for hours. Very pretty!

This night was a little better than the first. If the wind could just make up its mind if it was coming from the west or the north. We had our main rigged with a preventer to stop it from slamming around as the wind changed by just a few degrees. We were making really good time.

I don't like sailing at night much. I find looking from the bright instruments to the view ahead really hard on my eyes. Brian needed a snooze and I took my watch. The autopilot was working perfectly. I scan the wind speed and direction, our course, the radar and look around. The autopilot steers us a liitle to the left, a little to the right. Life is good. No problem. All I need to do is supervise. In about as much time as took for Brian to relax into a dead sleep, the autopilot had a hiccup. it took a took a hard left and the Moose was heading for the barn. Since Brian was lying on top of the autopilot control I had to yell at him to help. Not the most pleasant way to wake up. Now I don't trust it.

So here we are just approaching Ocean World Marina. Wow! We sailed to the Dominican Republic. It's hard to believe.


What a difference from the Bahamas. mountains, green and lush and stretching for as far as you can see.

It's too bad we can't stay longer, but the winds and seas are being nice so we are heading for Puerto Rico in the morning. 2 days and a night. Then we'll slow down. Promise.



  1. Fantastic post! I can't believe how far you've traveled!

  2. Looks like all is going well for you two. We are enjoying your posts.

  3. Ditto from me. I can't believe how far you have traveled. I thoroughly enjoy reading about your trip.


About Us

Brian, Sally and Cricket the cat sailing on our 41 foot Morgan Classic sailboat. In October 2011 we sold our house, quit our jobs and set out for Florida in search of a sailboat. We found her in Madeira Beach Florida. A 1987 41 foot Morgan Classic. Our plan is to sail for a couple of years. First to the Bahamas, after that...who knows.