Provo to Boqueron, Puerto Rico
With plans to meet Sean's sister, Jackie, in Boqueron on sunday, we left provo on Monday.
We set out in beautiful weather and no wind. Blue skies, aquamarine water and nothing to move us forward. Reluctantly, we motored for a few hours and eventually the wind started to fill in putting us on a beat. There we would remain. At least the weather was nice for the time being.
Dolphins on the Caicos Bank
During the winter months, the cold fronts that come off the mainland push down through the Bahamas and cause the wind to slowly change directions in a clockwise direction as the front moves overhead. Every few days, another front rolls through bringing wind of any direction your heart desires. Now, in winter, these fronts can continue deep into the caribbean. This year in particular, they were making it all the way to Puerto Rico and causing the ultra-persistent trade winds to calm and change direction. The week before we left, a front had caused NW winds as for down as we needed to go. With winter coming to an end as we shoved off, we hoped to catch the next front.
As it turns out, the one we watched from Provo would be the last of the year. The bearing from Provo to Boqueron is 135degrees. The wind we had was directly out of the SE, 135 degrees. Fun.
No wind. Motoring. Wind filling in in later hours. 5-10knots SE.
Leave the Caicos Bank. The breeze had filled in nicely and it was another nice day so it was easy sailing. Then suddenly...
LAND HO! I couldn't believe it. Land! Were we moving that fast? Incredible. I felt like we were getting there already. Hours passed. Land was still in view and rising on the horizon but we were still nowhere close. More hours. Still, we weren't approaching the coast. As the sun began to set, it was clear. We were nowhere close to land. The Dominican Republic is replete with high mountain ranges. Seeing land in the Bahamas means you're 7 miles off. You could see those mountains 50 miles away.
The DR Coast
After 2 days and a night, we were settling in. With the mountains on the right and the ocean on the left, we began the eastward slog in 15 knots and 6 foot seas. As darkness fell, I noticed a rip in the mainsail just ahead of the second batten pocket. Trouble. We pulled the sail down. As it came down in the now-significant breeze, it flogged hard and the entire batten pocket ripped out. Great. We tried to tape it. Instant failure. What could we do? It was night, we were in the middle of nowhere. We just kept sailing.
The tear had grown. We pulled it down again and Sean sewed over a new batch of tape. High hopes but it didn't last long. We sailed that main for all it was worth. By the afternoon, it was ripped right through. We pulled it down. The genny was our only hope now. We had been making decent time and hadn't needed to do too much tacking but now things were a little tougher. 170nm to go. Onward.
With just the headsail, it was tough to keep the boat heading to windward. There was a good amount of wind, 15-20 knots, and every ounce of it was needed to keep the boat heading upwind. In the lulls, the boat was impossible to keep high against the waves. The wind had shifted some and was now more out of the east which helped some. Our tacking angle was 120 degrees. We passed Samana. Only the Mona Passage to go.
Had to tack a few more times to clear the shoal that extends off the eastern coast of the DR. Could practically taste our arrival. Surprising how well we were doing on just the genny. 4 knots average. Days blurr together.
We make landfall. Finally!! But no, it's just mountains again. Worse yet, the mountains aren't even on Puerto Rico. It's taking so long. The wind dies. Completely. We fire up the engine. I just want to get there. 20 miles out, we turn the motor off to refuel. No problem, grab the tanks off the rail and dump 'em in. Close the gas cap. Hit the ignition. Nothing. Nothing!....!!!!......NOTHING!!!!!!!!
The motor was dead. We messed around with it as much as we could and drained the starter battery with our attempts. No wind. No motor. We had no way of controlling the boat. We sat there and waited. What else could we do?
Nightfall brought wind. No batteries so no lights. Just enough juice for the GPS. We were running south along the west coast of PR. I finish my shift and hand the tiller off to Sean around midnight. A few hours later, a spotlight flicks on; pointed at us. A boat had been following us. It's the cops. No excuses, no lies. We were running without lights. They rafted up with us. Documentation, ships papers, passports, over to them. Luckily, they didn't give us a ticket. The one guy that spoke english was nice enough. They ran a criminal check on us. What could they want with a couple of clean cut.....nevermind. We looked like we just spent 6 days at sea. 2 hours later, we were on our way.
At 5am, with light beginning to fill the sky, we tossed the hook in Boqueron. Finally. Finally, I went to sleep.
Sunset from Boqueron
We were to meet Jackie the next day. So.. Sean stayed up all night and cleaned the boat. Sometimes I don't understand that guy....