It started out well enough. Eight serene hours across the Caicos bank in 10-25 feet of turquoise water and then just 2-3 foot seas as we leisurely crossed the Turks Passage and dropped south for the north coast of Hispaniola. We made for just west of the Haiti/Dominican Republic border since our insurance won’t cover Haiti.
The wind was supposed to be light and variable, but it started blowing 10-15 knots from the south and then east. As we rounded the Capo Francis Viejo in the afternoon, it really started to blow at 22 knots out of the east, and since the equatorial current funnels around the Cape (I was actually belatedly reading the chapter in my navigation books about never rounding this cape in the afternoon), the waves got larger and larger, and steep. We actually had the bow of the boat plunge into the sea, and it’s 10 feet off the water! Then Nick called on the satellite phone (which scared the shit out of me because I thought it was a fire warning on something) to say there was a thunderstorm half the size of Haiti headed our way and that we were pretty much f@%k&d. He said if we headed south quickly we could get out of its path. Unfortunately, since we were rounding that cape with the equatorial current at the time, we were only doing 3.8 knots, so quick wasn’t a great possibility.
Anyway, we decided if were going to be in the life raft overnight we better eat so I made dinner while Ann sat in the back of the boat and yelled,”Ooh! that was a big one.” I actually cut up the cucumbers for our salad on my knees because I couldn’t stand up. The video below does not do it justice.
We rounded the cape at about 19:00 and were three miles offshore when we smelled the black earth and charcoal fires from the villages and I knew we were OK (because I had just read in my navigation book that when you smell the black earth and charcoal fires from the villages you know you are OK). This of course means the land breeze and katabatic winds from the mountains neutralize the trade winds and create a “night lee” close to shore.
As we sailed in the “night lee” of the island, my plan the whole time, we were treated to 1-2 foot seas for the last 10 hours of the trip and cruised around Capo Samana and into a marina around 8:00 this morning. Of course no employees were in the marina because we got there two hours too early, but after Coleen, an early riser on a sailboat nearby helped us dock, and then meeting with the Dominican Republic Navy representative, Customs representative, Agriculture representative and Immigration representative, and being relieved of various amounts of cash for each meeting, we are ready to start exploring this beautiful country! Pictures to come.