From Wikipedia: “The Mona Passage is a strait that separates the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The Mona Passage connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and is an important shipping route between the Atlantic and thePanama Canal.
The 80 mi (130 km) stretch of sea between the two islands is one of the most difficult passages in the Caribbean. It is fraught with variable tidal currents created by the large islands on either side of it, and by sand banks that extend out for many miles from both coasts”.
Ann and I decided that we were going to wait for really good weather before trying to cross the Mona ourselves. The forecast we received on April 1 called for winds less than 10 knots for almost 48 hours and waves 3-5′, an excellent forecast for the Mona. Appropriately, the forecast was wrong.
We encountered anywhere from 5′ to 12′ seas right on our bow due to higher winds than expected and strong currents in the Mona passage. This included a 6 hour period with 8-12′ waves which made sleeping and cooking next to impossible.
The forecast was supposed to turn even worse the following day with forecast 28 knot winds , something we didn’t feel comfortable with as we had seas up to 12′ in only 10-15 knot winds, so we made the decision to push all the way to the southern coast of Puerto Rico for a total run of 44 hours and 235 NM.
Halfway across the Mona Passage, we stopped for about four hours at Isle de Mona, a beautiful natural preserve and part of Puerto Rico. Since we had changed our destination, we needed the four hour delay to time our arrival into the Puerto Rican mainland after daybreak and it gave us a chance to rest for a few hours I wish the weather had permitted us to stay for a day or two, it’s a beautiful place. We anchored inside an uncharted reef on the SW corner of the island, the only protected spot on the island. A little tricky getting in the reef with breaking waves on both sides of the boat, but with directions from our cruising guide, we made it in successfully.
We are now anchored near Playa de Salinas in a beautifully protected area relaxing and imbibing in Medallas, the local beer.
This of course only happened after being chided by customs for arriving at a non-customs location (bad cruising guide info). They threatened to make us backtrack 12 miles to the correct harbor, but we politely refused based on safety reasons: high winds and we were too tired to drive the boat. They finally capitulated and drove 20 miles to come to Marina de Salinas. Upon their arrival, they asked us to pull up anchor and bring the boat to the fuel dock for inspection as they are not allowed to ride in our dinghy and they don’t have a boat. The fuel dock is 54′ long and we are 53′ long and since the high winds had shown up by this time, we politely refused again and they finally cleared us in, without an inspection. Actually, they were very nice people.
So anyway, now we are here and we’ve rented a car for a few days to explore. Unfortunately, our U.S. insurance does not cover us so my great deal of $30/day on the rental car just changed to $75/day with insurance and taxes. No worries, a few more Medallas and we are fine. We have so far toured Old San Juan and Ponce.
Here are a few pictures from Old San Juan: