We left Luperon on the afternoon of the 24th for Salinas, Puerto Rico and were able to sail for most of the trip - though the majority of that involved tacking to get East. As of this morning we are hugging the southern shore of Puerto Rico, motoring to Salinas. This is a beautiful coast and we'll definitely make time to explore it at some point, but this is a "delivery" stage of the journey so we'll provision in Salinas and head to St. Thomas as quickly as possible.
Cruising for us this year has alternated between delivering the boat and remaining for up to three weeks in an area: St. Augistine, Fort Lauderdale, numerous harbors in the Bahamas, and Luperon. EW has always wanted to cross oceans and sail long distances; I am happy to say that I share much of that dream with him. Now I'm getting the experience I need to prepare for longer passages. Our three on/three off watch system works well for us. We had two nights during which we both got plenty of sleep. Last night we had to take shorter tacks, to and from shore, and were awakened half way through each watch; we're both a little sleepy this morning. When the boat is hurtling through the swells at 7 knots on a dark night, it feels to me as though we're going 50 miles per hour, blindfolded. There is no way to identify and avoid anything that doesn't show up on the radar. I'm getting used to it -- sort of.
Here's what Bruce Van Sant said about this passage in his book:"An Australian couple on a circumnavigation told me the south coast of Puerto Rico gave them the roughest sail." Great. If Australians said it was rough, it was rough. Bruce advices us to "Stay close inshore (10 fathoms or under) to avoid the garbage line with junk from the Atlantic trades, the Equatorial Current and the South American Rivers (Orinoco). Think semi-submerged containers or trees here." Great. Not what I need to be thinking about at 3:30 AM. When we realized that our options were to find a harbor near dark or keep going through the night, we chose to keep going, tacking in and out seven times from 3:00 PM yesterday until sunrise today. It mostly went as planned as we reached a large bay through which we can motor with some protection from the ocean swell.
For the past two days we've sailed close hauled in 20 knots of wind, with three to five foot swells. La Luna heeled over and handled it just fine. I have bruises allllll over my body from falling against the cabinets, doors, table, wheel ... well, you get the idea. This trip, I handled the wheel on the tacks and EW handled the sheets (lines). I've come a long way from our honey-moon when I refused to take the wheel as I was afraid that I'd "turn over the boat".I also don't think about the depth sounder. Since Mayaguana in the Bahamas, we've been sailing thousands of feet of water, heeling over in strong winds. EW told me "not to look at the depth sounder". When it's too deep to sound it is supposed to show a line of dashes but ours will frequently show imaginary depth. Imaginary shallow depth such as 19 feet, 6.9 feet, or (my favorite) 0.0 feet. This makes me nervous. EW launched into some explanation about the signal bouncing back on the waves or whatever. I just don't look at the depth sounder. As for the garbage line, something did bounce off us around midnight, but it wasn't big and didn't do any damage. No containers or trees were seen or felt.
So we have about 6 or seven hours motoring along the island. We are charging the iPhone and are able to make and receive calls (and TWEET!) from here. I graciously gave EW the phone while I cooked up the bacon this morning. My turn is coming soon. (Pardon me a moment, I have to go spit on a fish hook. He called me his "flaxen haired beauty". I call that progress.)
We did well this trip, good tacks, good and easy food, and we slept off watch. Guess I can do this -- now if we can just land a fish....