We waited a long time for this. Without a working autopilot, we struggle to do long trips on board Sava. The crossing from Turks and Caicos to any island south is longer than a day. Which is why we hired Jeff to fly down from Florida to accompany us to our next destination. Our luck still being bad, as soon as we tried to leave, the engine conked. By the time we had a new part shipped from Florida, cleared through customs and replaced in the engine, it was almost exactly one week from when we originally tried to do the crossing.
Waiting for a crossing weather window
In that week, the winds were mostly from the north and not too strong. All those days we were sitting in Provo waiting for the part, the weather was perfect for the trip. And then the part came. And we looked at the weather again. If we didn’t leave on Wednesday, we were going to be stuck for another week. We didn’t want to do that, and we weren’t going to pay Jeff for another week of waiting either. Rather than the 250 or so knots to Puerto Rico, we decided to make a smaller jump of 145 nm to Luperón, Dominican Republic. On Wednesday April 3rd, at around 6pm, we made our exit from the lovely Turks and Caicos.
weather and wind
The weather was not ideal for this trip: the waves were 10 feet high, the wind was northeast and then shifted to east. We were going southeast. The wind averaged 20 knots for the entire crossing.
It was rough and bouncy and the boat was a mess after about an hour at sea. Some of our portholes (windows) don’t seal completely, so water drips in, especially in the galley. Anything not locked up in a cupboard ends up on the floor. I have gotten really good at tucking everything away before moving, but inevitably something gets missed. Additionally, Domino is still not a big fan of the boat moving and this was rough. She spent the entire time in our bed, not even moving to use her kitty litter. Yep, after the trip, I had to clean up the cat poop in our bed. Fortunately she didn’t pee and the poop is very hard so I just need to wash the sheets.
We left Provo at 6pm and by 8 it was pitch black except for the stars. Whatever the cycle in the moon was, it meant no moon for us at all on Wednesday night. It is really weird to drive and not see anything, just watching the GPS and hoping any other boats are lit up. I guess we will get used to it. We assigned shifts for sleeping and driving, but it was impossible to sleep between 9pm and midnight. I lay down and rested in the aft bunk but the boat was rolling so much over the waves, I couldn’t fall asleep. Plus I was a little bit nauseous even with my ginger Gravol.
the hardest shift
The midnight to 3am shift, which Brian and I shared, was the hardest. We were both tired, we hit a couple of rain squalls, and when I went down below to grab out rain jackets, I almost slipped in the wet floor and then almost fell again trying to get one of the jackets off its hangar. Once we were warm and dry in our jackets, we kept each other company and took turns steering. I drove for 90 or so minutes and was feeling fine at the beginning but my energy faded. When Brian took over, I laid down on the cushion right next to him and had a nap. By the time Jeff came to spell us we both went down below and passed out. The waves couldn’t stop us we were so tired. I slept another 2 hours and was back up for sunrise feeling much better.
The daylight shift was a huge improvement. We were all more awake and energized and we could see where we were going! Still, even at sunrise we were only halfway there! The squalls came back a couple of times, we got doused by huge waves on deck, and the wind was in our way. Yet the day raised our spirits and we knew we would make it. We saw a rainbow and some fast moving flying fish. Those fish always brighten my mood. They are such a wonder to watch flit above the sea.
The waves didn’t die down until we were only a couple miles from land. Oh sweet land! Brian was the first to spot the mountains of Dominican Republic. Having never been here before, and coming from the very sandy and flat Bahamas and Caicos, this was an unexpected and pleasant change.
Made it to luperón
We checked in through customs, immigration, agriculture and the navy this morning right before lunchtime, which made them process us faster than usual! Our luck may be changing! We are moored in the Luperón Harbor with all the other cruisers, some who we already know from previous stops and some who are becoming new friends.
Brian and I are trying to gather a flotilla to do the next trip to the east of the island, likely mid next week.
Until then we are going to soak up the sights, eat the $3 lunches, drink the $1.50 beers and practice our Spanish. 24 hour crossing complete! We made it!