Thursday, March 13, 2014

Crossing Mona

We crossed the Mona Passage! Another milestone and record for our longest single navigation. 150 nautical miles. 27 hours. We had a great weather window of very light winds and we motor sailed in almost perfect calm most of the way. Our departure from the Dominican Republic (DR) was delayed for two hours by problems getting our “despacho”, the document required by the Dominican navy anytime you leave a Dominican port, even if bound to another Dominican port. Of course each despacho costs $20 plus “tip”.

When finally under way we ran the engine at higher than normal power to keep up with our buddy boat Reve D'Ocean. They have a bigger boat and more powerful engine giving them a faster cruising speed. We didn't want to fall too far behind, staying in visual and radio contact. We generally don't like pushing the engine too hard, greater than 80%, for long periods of time but in this case we found it necessary and sustained 90% for most of the trip at about 5.5 knots. The last three hours the wind picked up near the Puerto Rican coast and we were flying under sail around 6.5-7 knots.

Apparently this coast of the DR is where 80% of all Atlantic Humpback whales are born so it was not surprising that we saw more whales. Oh heck, it's always surprising when we see whales!!
  • Topanga Topanga, Reve D'Ocean over”
  • “Go ahead, over”
  • “Do you see the two whales coming directly towards you?”
  • “Ummm... Oh my God! Cassy whales!! Get the camera”
  • “Oooo whales!!! OMG their so close!!”

Upon arriving in Mayaguez Puerto Rico, you are supposed to call by telephone into Customs & Border Patrol (CPB) and then have an agent review your documents and vessel in person. This presented a problem for us as we did not have a cell phone with service on board (I think it's pretty ridiculous to expect boats arriving from anywhere in the world to have a cell phone with service to make an immediate call). A boat that arrived before us had already called in and the agents were on their way. We decided that if Dominique, the skipper of Reve D'Ocean and I dinghied ashore with all the crews' and boats' documentation we could catch the agents in person and try to clear in. We made it in to see them but even they said we had to call into the central telephone number first. When we explained that we had no phone to make that call they graciously invited us into the CPB offices to use theirs. It was weird being in their open plan offices and using the phone in someone's cubicle. When the agent on the phone asked where we were calling from and we said from the border office he was surprised and confused. Ultimately we were cleared in smoothly and the agents were very helpful, even giving us a lift into town.

On the return trip across the Mona I think we'd benefit from a bit more prevailing wind, i.e. from behind us this time, so we could make more use of sail power.

The next morning we motor sailed the 15nm south to Boqureon. Boqueron harbour is very nice. Going ashore it is obvious that Boqueron is party town, but only on the weekends. The Tuesday we were there it was like a ghost town, almost everything closed and hardly a soul to be seen. We departed for Ponce the following morning with a promise return on a weekend. We had a great sail 50nm to Ponce. Ponce is Puerto Rico's second city. The harbour is deep, with poor scenery and many boats vying for swing space. Ponce has Walmart, Big K, Sam's Club, Home Depot and a fast food place on every corner. Welcome back to the USA. It will be a good place to provision, pick up some spares and complete some boat projects.

We've hit another major milestone here in Purto Rico: 3000 nautical miles under our keel since we left Montreal! To celebrate tonight we dine on snapper, today's catch straight from the fishermen on the dock.

Fruity drinks

Having my Titanic moment on the bow... somebody's driving right?

Whales ahoy

On watch

Pirates of the Caribbean


Mowing the lawn

Boxing Day line up

J24 in Puerto Rico

Don't anchor here...

Don't swim here...

See Topanga in the back?

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