Lions and Tigers and Mona. Oh My!
Map taken from the internet
Like the childhood fears in the Wizard of Oz, The Mona Passage looms large in the minds of sailors who are moving east, and we had heard enough stories that we approached it with slight trepidation.
As soon as Frank returned from his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on an Outremer 5X catamaran, we began looking for a weather window to move from Marina Puerto Bahia, on the Samana Peninsula, DR to Puerto Rico. The trade winds are easterly and we would be moving directly into them across a passage that is well known for its’ consistent winds and waves, The Mona Passage. But the move had to be made and we were anxious to go. Not because we were tired of the Dominican Republic, but because we needed to move on in preparation of hurricane season.
Fortunately, just days after Frank’s return, a window appeared and we decided to sail. Now, understand, this window was by no means perfect but there is rarely a perfect weather window for the Mona Passage, especially during this time of year.
Let It Be is usually in great shape, but we had a few glitches arise before departing that we decided to live with until we arrived in PR. The biggest issue is that our anemometer is not working so we do not have any readings of the wind speed or wind direction from the top of our mast.
But hey, we have some experience with estimating wind speeds (thank you kiteboarding) so we were willing to go without that instrument.
Next up is our IridiumGo! For some reason it is showing our position, but it is not delivering internet so we would not have updated weather reports. Still, the Mona is only about a day and a half passage. We would make do and get the Iridium repaired in PR.
Per the recommendation of Van Sant’s book, “Passages South, The Thornless Path,” we chose to leave in the late afternoon Sunday and make this a night, day, night passage.
Well the Mona lived up to her reputaion of sloppy seas and strong easterly winds. We departed from Puerto Bahia around 5 pm and all was well until darkness fell and I began feeling less than chipper. I took the first watch. Unfortunately mine was a short watch since I didn’t feel great. But, as usual, Frank stepped up and took the helm until I could get some rest and find my rhythm.
We had a couple of surprises during our trip. One was that our navigation lights were not working!? But we have a tri-colored light at the top of the mast and allowed that to be our beacon.
I took over the watch around 5 am after we had turned away from the Dominican Republic shore and took a northeastern tack to have a better wind angle. We raised the main and jib as the sun rose and Frank headed below for some much needed rest.
We were happily moving along our predicted route; Frank was asleep and I was just settling in to listen to an audio book when BOOM…. EVERYTHING started flapping. The attachment ring of the jib clew pulled completely out of our sail! That was quite a wake up call! (This attachment holds the bottom rear corner of the front sail down to the deck.)
The clew of our jib without an attachment point.
I pulled in the jib as quickly as I could and made sure the sheets were well secured, then alerted Frank to the problem. We decided to continue our predetermined path and leave the main sail up. Unfortunately our speed over ground immediately dropped from about 7.5 knots to about 5.5 knots…. Our trip just became much longer!
A ring without a function
Still, this was not a life threatening issue but it does change the motion of the boat to something a little less pleasant. We work very hard to make sure LIB is in excellent condition and it is unusual for us to feel like we are “limping along.”
Thankfully, that was the last mishap we had during our crossing. The seas were not friendly but we would estimate that the winds were not more than 20 knots, so actually we were pretty fortunate.
Because of our slower than expected progress, we did not reach our intended first harbor of Boqueron but instead slowly entered Puerto Rico at Mayaguez around 9 pm on Monday evening. Mayaguez is a wide open anchorage and we felt comfortable entering after dark, a practice we avoid 99.5 percent of the time.
We have been exceedingly happy with our North 3Di sails and we had excellent service and help from Andrew Dove, Antigua North Sails, during our purchase process. So after we had a good night of sleep, Frank contacted Andrew about our jib issue.
Andrew was amazingly quick in responding to Frank’s email and he was very apologetic about our jib issue. Andrew has assured us that North Sails will repair our sail at their cost including having the sail shipped to and from a nearby loft to make sure the repairs are performed perfectly.
Based on our buying experience and the excellent service we received, we are not at all surprise that North Sails is stepping up to help us. But it is very nice to have it happen so quickly and easily.
Anchored off the beach at Boqueron, Puerto Rico
So now we are back in Puerto Rico and exploring the southern shore as we work our way eastward toward Palmas del Mar. It feels good to be in a U.S. Territory as we approach the July 4th Holiday.
And it feels really good to have the Mona Passage behind us.