Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arrive in Puerto Rico

From Puerto Escondido we should be heading to Samaná but since the weather was better than the previous days we decided to head straight to the crossing point to Puerto Rico, making a strategic stop in Punta Macao to refill the diesel tanks, check rigging and sails, before heading to the Mona Passage to reach Puerto Rico. The 97 miles separating Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico would be our first open sea experience and we needed to be ready to use the engine like we been using until this point because of the trade winds on our nose. The forecast from the United States Coast Guard was of Northeast winds of 10 to 15 knots, increasing to 15 to 20 from East when we reached the coastal waters of Puerto Rico. With this in mind and willing to avoid the waters near the Mona island, we decided to head East to tack when we reached the coastal waters and the winds changed according to USCG later that day and the next morning.
The first hours after we left Punta Macao went without any problem as well as the first part of the night, motorsailing to avoid being pushed out of our route and being affected by the trade winds in this area. Averaged 5 to 6 knots in our faithful Dee (Gulfstar 45 Hirsch) and planned to arrive in Mayuguez (our port of entry in Puerto Rico) the next lunch time. However, the change of the weather announced by the USCG was more than what we expected and the famous storm cells (which form every day on the mountains of Puerto Rico) decided to come down to sea (which happen very seldom but are not predictable). Around 2am we were engulfed by dark stormy clouds and winds of 30 knots. With engine working and ripped main sail we were thrashed around for 4 hours without any solution to be able to get out of that mess. Wherever we tried to head there were the dark clouds. The only place where we could stay with apparent safety was the middle of it! Our crew of two adults was forced to work full time and without using any electronics that, at this time, due to the static energy, were all pointing to different directions. The solutions was the compass and one crew on deck for naked eye nocturnal navigation which, after a while, was able to find a needle hole in that black mass which we used to sail to safety.
After the storm we were able to raise the jib and motorsail to the Puerto Rican coast without major problems. However, the four hours storm had taken a toll on the crew, leaving us exhausted and completely drained from energy. However, Mayaguez was not the last stop before resting. The anchorage to be able to reach the immigration and customs was rolly and very uncomfortable, but we had to do it in order to enter the country. After getting soaked wet, the two adults and the baby, reached the cruise terminal of Mayaguez and were able to “check-in” in US land for the first time. Then was time to walk to the supermarket to get some food and seat down to rest a few hours before raising anchor and sail a couple more of hours to Puerto Real where we would anchor for two days to rest and prepare to follow our route to the Caribbean side of Puerto Rico.


Congratulations on your first open sea experience....happy sails!!!

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