Haircuts at Sea
Four Days at Sea

We Are Sailing ... And Sailing ... And Still Sailing

As I write this it is 1:47 PM Eastern Standard Time or 17:47 UTC on March 26. We've been underway since leaving Luperon at 2:30 on the 24th and have been sort of pleasantly thwarted by the prevailing south-easterlies. This isn't a surprise as we left knowing that we had 12-18 knots of wind from the southeast for the next few days. Evidently the Mona Passage and the north coast of the Dominican Republic are no fun in a north wind, so we took what we could get and made tracks.

During the first night of the journey, along the north coast of the Dominican Republic, we motored into the wind, tempering its effects by going into each large bay, such as Bruce Van Sant advises. That worked quite well. At the end of the DR, where he would have hugged the coast and gone into Samana to anchor for a favorable wind, we elected to continue by tacking north of the Mona Passage to make our way to it's eastern side. We would tack in one direction for the length of a watch (3 hours) change tacks with the change of watch and so on, for 30 hours. The skies are clear, the sun is bright and the half moon is lovely. It has been a pleasant sail. The track on the chart plotter looks like a crude paper crown with it's even points and valleys. Now the wind has fallen to less than 10 knots and we just started Perkins to assist our sails.

Never having sailed the Mona Passage I'm not sure how bad she can be, I do know that weather reports on the Luperon Net had mentioned that "The Mona Passage is Closed" during the north winds that blew while we were at anchor. That was a meaningless phrase to me as there are no guards at the Mona Passage and it doesn't "close". It spans over 60 miles in width with a few islands and shoal areas and depths of over 13000. There can be squalls off the mountains of Puerto Rico, but if one sails close enough to that shore they actually blow over you and touch down closer to the DR. That is one reason we struggled to get east before heading into the passage. We were also determined to get to Puerto Rico and not stop again in the Dominican Republic, and once in the passage we can elect to enter the port of Mayaguez if this journey takes too long or if the north winds start to blow.

This is the longest run we've had since sailing down from Maine. We've settled into our watches well, though I didn't get a lot of sleep the first night. Now we both seem to get 8 hours a day, in two and three hour blocks of time. Before leaving Luperon I had cooked hamburger, chicken and pork, and made peas 'n rice so it's been easy to put together good meals at sea. We had also visited the excellent farm market on Tuesday and have enjoyed snacks of fresh pineapple and papaya. Today we showered with the sun shower on deck -- that was a new experience underway. Since that's a photo opportunity I'd like to avoid, it's fortunate that this is the first day we haven't seen other boats nearby. (Trust me, no one needs to see that.) On the morning of the 25th we were within hailing distance of a couple of very small open wooden fishing boats from the DR. One of them had just hauled in a 4 foot long mahi-mahi and posed for a photo. Those brightly painted boats had one or two fishermen in them and were powered by small outboard motor; and we encountered them over 20 miles off shore. We've also see tankers and one very large cargo ship who didn't appear to see us in broad daylight. EW grumbled a bit when I woke him early yesterday afternoon, but agreed afterward that the cargo ship clearly didn't want to give way. We tacked.

We're getting good at tacking. If we have wind when we round the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico, it will probably be on the nose and we'll tack along that coast. If there is no wind, we'll motor. Right now we are under sail and power going 5.2 knots, and at this rate will be in Salinas in 1 day and 15 hours, according to Maxsea. Don't hold us to it. After all, we are sailing.

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Charlie Calli (tied to the dock in Portland)

Eeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwww ! You are right !! No pics of Stew on deck with the sun shower :(

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