The Infamous Mona Passage   Leave a comment

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All clean! We gave Pirat a good scrub in ocean world.

Last Tuesday evening, after another long check-out process with Ocean World, Lee and I set out for our longest passage yet. We were prepared for the worst, even though the forecast gave us no reason fear. We had about 260 nautical miles to go to reach the east end of Hispaniola, cross the Mona passage, and reach Puerto Rico. Lee plotted a course to play the predicted northeasterly wind shift and skirt north of the thunderstorms that supposedly blow off Puerto Rico into the Mona.

Two days and two nights later, we were anchored safely in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The sail took almost exactly 48 hours. We sailed out away from the DR, tacked, and then sailed all the way to Puerto Rico on one tack. We reefed, unreefed, changed headsails, and adjusted our course to the subtly shifting wind. It seems so easy in retrospect and things certainly could have been much, much more difficult. We never saw more than 20 knots of wind and didn’t encounter any of the horrors the Mona passage was reputed to involve.

Staying awake was by far the biggest challenge. One night of 3-hours watches just about does us in as far as energy goes. By Wednesday morning I was stumbling around the boat like a drunken monkey. I tend to forget how to walk when we go on these longer sails. I clamber around on all fours and lack the energy to stand on the pitching boat for long.

By night two Lee and I were both completely exhausted. Lee woke me up half an hour early for my first watch because he couldn’t keep his eyes open any more. That was fine. I was rested for the moment and managed to stay awake for 3 hours. I listened to my ipod (watches would be murder without it!) and drank green tea. When Lee woke me up for my second shift, though, I just couldn’t drag myself up. He said he couldn’t stay awake any longer, to which I replied that I wasn’t actually awake. Wonderful husband that he is, Lee gave me another hour of sleep while he caught 15 minutes of rest at a time, waking up to an alarm and checking things on deck. When he woke me next, I was ready to go and finished the night on deck for a beautiful sunrise.

The wind actually calmed as we crossed the Mona during day two. Lee had swapped the solent out for the working jib the night before and we made good time under plenty of sail on the approach to a new coast.

I think I slept for almost 12 hours our first night in Mayaguez. It wasn’t a beautiful port. The coastline was industrial and we were the only boat anchored there. I tried to call customs to check us in when we arrived Thursday evening but the office closed at 4 and I shuffled among several phone numbers to find the right office. We didn’t formally check in till Friday morning, when a customs officer took our information over the phone and directed us to a nearby pier to finish the process with a local office. Once we actually found the customs and immigration office on the Mayaguez waterfront, we paid our $27.50 fee for not having a decal that we could have bought back in the U.S.. The officer was very nice and told us how to get the decal so we won’t be charged again if we ever return to P.R. or the mainland U.S..

As usual, our adventures in Mayaguez involved searching for internet, sampling the local grocery stores, and running in a neighborhood where I’m sure no one runs, let alone blond caucasians. We finally found wifi at the local mini-mall/grocery store/movie theater/food court complex. The local high school ,or maybe college, students were hanging out in the food court there.

We have BBQ’d for dinner for the past two nights, which means Lee has done most of the work. Chayote squash is delicious cooked on the charcoal grill. The plantain we threw on last night was so melt-in-your-mouth good I could have cried. All the produce we bought on our last shopping trip in the DR was fabulous, actually. I’ve been frantically eating huge, ripe papayas interspersed with cantaloupe, pineapple, and the absolute best mangos I’ve ever tasted.

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Wing n’ wing into Boqueron.

This morning we sailed down the coast a few miles to Boqueron. It was a peaceful, relaxing sail over flat water in light wind. Boqueron is apparently some kind of college spring break party town. We’re sitting in a noisy bar full of half-clad women right now. The palm tree-lined beach looks like the place to be. For now, we need to find water so we can actually take fresh water showers. Tomorrow, we may move on to the next place to play on the party beach for the day.

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The beach in Boqueron.

Posted May 7, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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