One Long Port Tack   Leave a comment


Pirat’s underside back in Rum Cay. The hull is a bit scummy.

        That’s all it took to get from Rum Cay to Mayaguana – just 24 hours of close hauled action. We made one little jaunt on starboard to go around Plana Cays. I started my second stretch of bunk time on one side of the boat, then stumbled to the new low side to keep sleeping.
        All things considered, it wasn’t too bad of a sail. I was painfully bored during the day when all I could really do was sit in the cockpit and apply layer after layer of sunscreen. Nighttime was beautiful, though. The moon was full or close to it so the ocean landscape was as bright as day. I listened to my ipod and watched the moon go in and out of the clouds for my graveyard watch. In the morning, I watched the sun rise into a dramatic cloud bank while the moon still shone full force on the other side of the boat.
        Pirat sailed fast. We used the solent and reefed the main down quite a bit when the wind increased to 20+ at night. Our only disaster came when we ran the engine in the evening for the refrigeration. It ran for quite a while then stopped unexpectedly. We attributed the failure to fuel not making it to the engine from the tank on the extreme low side of the boat (we were really healed over).
        Mayaguana appeared on the horizon while Lee slept his last shift. We tucked into an anchorage along the southwest shore to work on the engine, which hadn’t started that morning. Pirat pitched and rolled in the exposed anchorage while Lee went to work changing fuel filters (our next guess that what was wrong was clogged fuel filters due to stuff stirred up in the tank) and I tidied up on deck. After a few hours, the fuel filter emerged as the likely culprit for our engine trouble. It had spontaneously disassembled itself inside. Lee put it back together and the engine started up just in time to charge our depleted batteries and cool down the fridge.
        We then motored West along Mayaguana to Abraham’s Bay, the island’s main anchorage. Lee decided to throw in the fishing line on the way and, of course, ended up reeling in a giant Barracuda just as we entered the reef. He managed to throw the monster back. We snuggled up to the protective reef on Abraham Bay’s outer edge along with two other sailboats. There is no shelter from the wind here and the chop is pretty significant but at least the reef keeps the swells out. The sandy bottom is littered with starfish. Maybe they’re helping us out by holding onto our anchor.

        Now for the next step. Where to from here? Actually, the most pressing issue is our need for water. We lost some through the sink in the head, which leaks when we’re healed far to port and which we stupidly forgot to turn off at the beginning of our sail. I’d say we have enough water for 2-3 days plus an emergency supply but we don’t want to chance running out. Therefore we don’t have much choice but to put the dinghy together, put the engine on, and slog across this huge bay for a hike to the nearby settlement. Filling the dromedaries and 5 gallon jug should get us to the next port. And that port is…

        Luperon, Dominican Republic! (hopefully) That’s right folks, we’re taking a big leap ahead on the path South and skipping right over Turks and Caicos. There’s a good stretch of Northerly wind in the forecast so we decided (after much discussion) to just go for it. We plan to leave tomorrow morning and, if all goes well, should arrive in the DR on Friday afternoon. There’s a good chance we’ll pull into an anchorage just West of Luperon first. We’ll be careful, of course, and can always tack over to Turks and Caicos if we’ve had enough.
        I’m excited! I think I’m getting better with these long sails and I really just want to get somewhere different at this point. The Bahamas have been wonderful but I’m ready for a bit more action, more people, and more fresh produce. The temptation of jumping ahead several weeks in our itinerary in just a couple of days is too great. When things get rough and I’m miserably tired in the middle of the night I just have to remind myself that finishing an overnight passage feels a lot like climbing a 14er. When I collapse at the end I’m overcome with a sense of accomplishment that only comes from crossing, climbing, or otherwise surviving something big in the natural world.

Posted April 20, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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