I have already discussed attempt #1 at the Mona Passage, a dismal failure. With some fuel treatment added to the tanks, and having run the engine and generator, I felt confident that we were good to go, just needing a weather window. Our weather window arrived, and once again, we prep to leave. A visit from officialdom, same as previous, and we are released. But, it has been blowing a stink all day….are we going to have a go at this passage or anchor out for a few hours behind Bacardi Island and let things calm down? I refer to “we”, there are other boats going to make the passage as well, all catamarans. There is a Swift 51, a Lagoon 38 and a Seawind 1000. We all depart the marina and head east, directly into the wind and waves. Memories of attempt #1 flash through my mind, and I’m sure Beth’s as well. We slog on, and it seems to get a bit worse past Bacardi Island. We have passed the Seawind 1000 with our fellow Canadians on board. This catamaran belongs to a great couple from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan….lol..a sailin
We continue on, and Moorahme is not banging into the waves, but taking them on the nose in a nice, mannerly way. A few more miles, and it seems to be settling down some, as promised by the weather gurus, and I add on some engine rpm’s and our speed increases. We eventually reel in the big 51 foot cat as well, and we begin to pull away from the armada of determined sailors. Moorahme runs flawlessly, and the miles begin to add up, and the lights of Samana, and then, finally, the Dominican Republic fade in the distance. I breathe a sigh of relief, we are now far enough out that I don’t have to worry about running over one of the countless fishermen out far from shore in their sixteen or seventeen foot open boats fishing for their livelihood, some with a weak flashlight to point out where they are, and most without lights at all. Worries of running into one of them never really leave my mind. The pungent smell of a dump, or dumps burning, acrid in the air as leave the last of the DR.
We finally arrive into the Mona Passage. Here the Atlantic Ocean can really kick up a fuss…water depths careening from thousands of feet to hundreds of feet in an amazingly short time, which can create wave havoc. Storms off of the Puerto Rican coast add to the milieu, and winds from any which way including loose adding to the brew. But, this night the weather gurus are correct, we are plummeting along at 6.5 to almost 8 full knots with our iron genny purring along at 2400 rpm’s. Beth has bedded down, she does not do night passages well, and I carry the torch along in a somewhat singular fashion. Me, the flying fish, the partial moon, some clouds, and endless stars, the same stars which I have viewed so often before dipping down almost beside me in the cockpit. It is an uneventful night, I remain in radio contact with the other boats, who have faded off of the radar, but are still in radio range.
Morning arrives, and we are making excellent progress. Beth awakes and arrives radiant and happy above decks. We raise our headsail to steady out Moorahme as we have now encountered somewhat confused seas….like being in a washing machine. Moorahme calms down immediately, and our speed increases! Yay! Two big pluses! I lay down to rest while Beth takes over, and the miles add on, and on. A large island, Isla Deecheo, comes into view…hooray, Puerto Rico! We are navigating around the tip, and soon begin our way up the coast.
It has turned into a gorgeous day, clear skies, just the right amount of wind to be able to sail and not build up huge waves, life is good. We are having an awesome passage. A small chickadee like bird alights on our deck, and hops around. Into the dinghy, back out…we put out a cracker and some water. The little being eats and drinks well, and then hops off at the smaller island we pass off the Puerto Rican coast. Not even a g’bye the little shit!<grin> We are aware that another boating couple that we know are heading to the Dominican, Chris and Robin on Cerulean. I decide to try and hail them on the radio…and they respond! We exchange pleasantries, but are too far apart on the open seas to wave or moon each other..darn it! They fill us in on where to go, what to see, where to eat in Puerto Real, our stop for the day, or days.
The officer takes all of our paperwork, passports etc., and gets to work. And then…he calls me over to the bullet proof enclosed wicket. He directs me to the adjacent hallway…where we meet to have a discussion. I have some bad news he says…I think oh great, here we go, he’s gonna kick us out of the country. But no, he is a much better person than that. He goes on to explain that our current U.S. cruising license has expired, and it was not renewed on the day of expiration. Yup, know that. Further explanation goes…you have to be offshore for fifteen days before we can issue you a new cruising license, and we were only offshore for eleven days. So…now we have a small problem…we can stay in the country, but now, at each different area as defined by blah blah blah, we will have to pay both an entry fee and an exit fee. Ok, no problem, right? Well, he says, hang on. It’s thirty seven dollars…each. Holy poop! Coodypoopers! Our neighbours for over 300 years and now they want my life savings! But, we don’t have to leave the country. And, oh, we have to have the exact amount, we have no cash to make change. LOL! OK…now we know the rules. There is a bank right across the street, I’ll go and get the exact amount while he completes the paperwork. Bueno! Muy Bueno! Like my Spanish? That amounts to ten percent of my Spanish speaking skills. That, and banyo…cerveza, yella and freayoh……my spelling sucks but check out how good I am at a foreign language! Woohoo!
So…I am trying to keep this short, but….across the street to the bank I go. I hold the door open for an elderly lady and follow her in. She looks at me nervously, and I wait for her to move aside so I can open the next door. Then I notice the metal detector I was standing in…and she is looking very nervous and talking excitedly in Spanish…but no words that I recognize. Hmmm…..she points at me, then points outside. I finally clue in…one person at a time only….so I exit outside, she enters into the bank, and I wait and do the same. Metal detectors, armed security, one person at a time…nice area! Wow. I get our funds, return to Officer Ramirez, and we go happily on our way. To streamline things, as this is getting too longwinded, we stopped at a mall and ate some Puerto Rican food, hit the grocery store…(I needed beer) and we returned back to the boats somewhat unscathed but much lighter in the pocketbook.
More to come!
Keep your sticks on the ice!