Monday, March 11, 2013

On to Puerto Rico

Yesterday morning I was awake early. Que Sera Sera was planning on pulling out at 6. They paid the officials to come in early. It's too bad we couldn't have gotten a group rate for all three boats. I kept checking to see if they needed a hand with lines but the last time I checked they were gone and all I could see was their mast heading out the channel.

Brian and Dave headed over to the office to be there when they opened at 8. Soon the boys were back and we waited... Brian told us that the DEA official was not looking very well this morning. It may have had something to do with that case of beer. And we waited and waited and waited some more for the Navy to give us our dispatchio, check the boat to make sure we weren't smuggling out any illegal aliens and take our $20. They finally arrived and never stepped foot on the boat. They did however take the $20 and we didn't get any kind of receipt or paperwork. I wonder where that money went.

Cricket checking out the marina

We cast the lines and were heading out the channel. There was barely a breath of wind. Brian got ready to hoist our main sail, I turned the boat into the wind and throttled down......and the engine stalled. Not good, not good at all. We tried over and over again to start it with no luck. Sailing along at a blistering .7 knots We were both really starting to panic. Brian started by changing the fuel filter in the water separating unit. He did see traces of water and deposits in it. Nothing. Then he changed the primary fuel filter with the same results. At this point we though we were going to have to get towed back into the marina and Dave and Alex would be going on without us. Next Brian checked out the fuel pump to see if any fuel was getting through, and there wasn't. He took it out and installed a new one, ran a temporary wire to it, bled the system! All of this took him 25 minutes. Well, that and about a gallon of sweat.

I am so glad the captain is such a resourceful guy. He never gives up. We're not sure if we picked up some bad fuel or where it might have been from. We do remember emptying the Jerry cans which we had filled in Georgetown into the tank and the fuel looked brown. Maybe that was it.

We revved her up and took off, hot on the trail of Banyan who had just been putted along and waiting for us and hoping for a happy ending to our engine problem. Soon we were heading east along the coast of The Dominican Republic.

This is a big island. The mountains stretch for as far as you can see in both directions. Nice day, light winds, and the sun was shining. 228 miles. This is going to be our longest passage ever.

Banyan flying her spinnaker

In the early afternoon we got a call on the radio from Dave. They were picking up wifi from a hotel on the coast about 3 miles out. I immediately connected, checked our emails, update Facebook and had a chat with Peter who lives in England, but who we met in the DR a few years ago. Isn't technology wonderful?

Peter told me to watch for the Humpback whales near Samana. As we got close, there they were. A few miles off we could see their tails and spouts of water. Just before dawn we had another one surface within about 100 feet of the boat. Another thrill.

The sail across the Mona Passage was easy going. It would have been better if the autopilot had been working. Hand steering for over 200 miles is physically demanding. We can both feel all our muscles complaining now.

We had a pod of little speckled dolphins following us, and then a pod of bigger dolphins racing along our bow. That was enough to give me a second wind. I forgot all about how tired I had been a few minutes before.

In the middle of the passage sits Isla Desecheo. It appeared on the horizon like a big bump in the middle of nowhere. As we came close we could see the shoreline. It was rough and ragged and didn't look like you could land a boat there.

We then heard on the radio a call from the US Coast Guard hailing a Canadian sailing vessel with blue trim. Who, us? Where they came from I don't know, but they were right behind us. We were asked to provide all our documentation, last port of call, destination and such. They then asked if we were with the sailing vessel ahead of us and asked the boat's name. Bravo, Alpha.........(crap, what's N) as I'm trying to go through the alphabet....OK, sorry...Bravo, Alpha, umm, N, Yankee, Alpha, umm, umm, N. it's funny now!

As we passed Isla Desecheo we started to get more wind and bigger swells. At one point we hit our all time top speed, 10 knots. We were flying! Puerto Rico was on the horizon. Just a few more hours.

It always seems that the last few miles seems to take the longest. As we approached Mayaguez it was already dark. We could see lights all along the coast and could smell what we thought was wood smoke. We turned on the radar so we could see any other boats, but the only thing we were picking up was Banyan 3/4 ahead of us. We dropped our sails just before the channel markers into the harbour and made our way close to shore.

We got the anchor down and tried to call customs and immigration without luck. We then called the Coast Guard to announce our arrival. They called into customs for us and told us to check in first thing in the morning. We fell into bed, well I guess we did but I don't remember doing it.

I heard and felt nothing until 5:30 when the ocean swell became too much to sleep through. We got up, made coffee and waited for customs.

Checking in was very easy once we found the office. We had to climb about 6 feet up transport tires onto the concrete pier. So much for being clean and respectable, we were covered in black guck from the tires. Once inside the customs office everything was easy. The officials were friendly and gave us lots of ideas of where to go and what to see. We were cleared into Puerto Rico.

1 week, 666 miles and 3 countries!






  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just reading all of this wears me out! Looking forward to the next installment of your adventure.


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.