Thursday, January 26, 2012

Worst overnight crossing ever…


Well that wasn’t fun!  Of our two overnighters, this was our second best.  Chris Parker, the weather guru told us not to go, but we were anxious to get underway and our group thought we knew better.  We left Provo, Turks and Caicos at 7 am and got out on the Caicos Bank.  There were five boats travelling together.  Serenity, Falcon’s Nest, Vagabond, Fawkes and us and we were all jumping and plunging into the waves. The waves were sharp and choppy – only about 2 to 4 feet but a 1 second interval.  Bang, bang, bang.  And it got worse.  By the time we got near the edge of the banks we had to tack back and forth, motor sailing to make any ground.  When we finally got off the bank, around 4 pm, the sea was confused with 4 to 6 feet waves.  It was a grin and bear it evening.  Our bow went under water a number of times and we were glad we had lashed our anchors on well.  Water poured over the decks and, as we discovered later, through some leaky windows.  Later into the night the seas took on a rhythm and we were able to make good time – until we hit a current that took about a knot. 
Our travelling buddies took some hits, Serenity had to pull over to lash their dingy and work around a blown out mainsail and Falcon’s Nest had to travel in the big winds and waves with full sail as his furling system stopped working and he, a single hander, could not bring in the sail.  We are now all in Luperon harbour on mooring balls and probably will get together another day to share tales but now we are all tired after our night out.
Critters – a couple of dolphins escorted us off the banks as if we had outworn our welcome.  Once into the deeper water we were warned by a buddy boat to watch out for whales and sure enough, Glen saw the flipper of a humpback.  They gather in that area just like they gather in our other favourite tropical spot – Maui, for January through March for their breeding season.  So orcas in the Pacific northwest on Miss Pearl and now pilot and humpback whales on Blue Pearl.  Also, we can’t forget to mention the flying fish that constantly “fly” out of our way as we travel.  One even ended up in our dingy, which was unfortunate for him.  An amazing feat, actually as our dingy is up on davits, about five feet from the waterline.
We motor sailed and sailed all through the night.  We were headed for Puerto Plata, about 15 miles from Luperon, along the north coast of the Dominican Republic.  We had made the decision for Puerto Plata because it is closer to Puerto Rico and we heard that clearing in and out is nice and tidy there.  No officials asking for “regala” – gifts.  About 12 miles out a squall went by – only got us a little – but the wind changed by 30 degrees and all of a sudden we were dead into the wind.
Luperon dingy dock

Local fleet

Lovely senorita in Luperon
Local select baseball team

We were met as we entered the harbour by Papo and Handy Andy in their skiff.  We were provided a mooring ball at $2 a night.  They made sure we knew they were our contacts for gas, diesel, ice, rum, cigars, tours, transportation, and just abour anything else we might need.  They arrived back in an hour with the Commendante and his team.  Four of them boarded the boat and filled out forms and searched the boat.  One was in full uniform, the other three in jeans and t-shirts.  No payment needed but a "gift" of rum made them happy.  Then to town to clear through the local port authority, immigration, DR ports and agriculture.  Total bill was close to $100 but all in bits and pieces.  $20 to the Tourist Officer, $43 and $10 each to Immigration.  Port Authority was $10 and Agriculture was $10.  Each in a different ramshackle building or trailer.

Offices
at a mooring in Luperon - $2 per day

Papo brings fuel
So we are in Luperon after all.  Not such a bad thing because we had heard so many great things about this little fishing town.  The DR was not part of our cruising plan – but now it is.  We have to spend 3 or 4 days here due to weather and then we will try to fast track it to Puerto Rico.  We have about 250 miles to go – straight into the trade winds and we have to cross the Dreaded Mona Passage.  It’s actually called the Mona Passage but we’ve never heard a cruiser call it anything but the DMP.  The trick is to do it in little bites - all early in the morning before the trades kick in.
Captain Steve's
Anyway – we are sitting in Captain Steve’s in the morning after a wonderful catch-up sleep.  Drinking beer and passionfruit juice – making plans – enjoying Luperon, Dominican Republic.

3 comments:

  1. Aw Hey you guys! Doesn't sound like it was a pleasant crossing... nope... So glad you made it safely in and looking forward to trying to catch up LOL (You're a bit ahead of us though)... Love reading your adventures <3
    Hugs from the Cap'n and me! Can't wait to hear about the Mona Passage :D

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  2. Ahoy G&P!

    Great reading and watching your awesome adventure! What a horrible excuse for a retirement!

    Myles

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