An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Pressing On

After you’ve experienced true sailing as I explained in my previous entry, a lot of your fear fades. Those sudden gusts. The random side-swell. The wave crashing over the side of the bow. You begin to trust your vessel more. It’s a good feeling and allowed for some solid rest. In fact, when I woke 5 hours later, I could almost taste the Dominican Republic.

I think I was tasting something else because when I crawled back into the cockpit I found we were sailing the wrong direction. While I slept the wind continued to change and Dan had to change course. Another cross roads. The forecast now called for a solid Easterly wind of 15 knots and growing into the afternoon. We were OK on gas but not great and we needed to go East in order to position ourselves for the Dominican Republic.

Our new dilemma: We had to get to the other side of the Turks and Caicos. Either we go back up to Providence, refuel and wait another 3-4 days for wind. Or we go South around the tip of the bank and then tack Northeast to our launch point. OR we motor into the wind across the bank dodging coral and hoping our gas held up. Dan steered the boat to a small island where we would decide.

As we approached we saw another sail boat. It was Diva- a couple from Alaska who had already taken Dan and Morning Glory “spider hunting” in December while in the Bahamas. They had anchored there overnight and were headed across the bank. It was just the inspiration we needed, so Dan got the way points (the latitude/longitude points to cross) to hopefully avoid most of the coral. Without even anchoring we were back in position.

Can I just tell you that when two days earlier you lead the boat into about five coral heads, the idea of 25 miles of coral head, sailing into the wind simply sucks? Because it does, but if we didn’t get across the bank we’d be stuck-again. I perched on the bow as my anxious blood flowed through my tense body. Left to right we tried to avoid coral and stick on coarse as much as possible. We motored through adapting our sails to the wind. But we moved slow. As in 2-3 knots slow which poised another problem: daylight. The race was on. The sun was falling, the wind rising, we were burning through our gas and now to cap it off our motor instruments had stopped working.

At last we saw the island in the setting sun. Diva, whose motors at least twice as fast as us radioed to check up. Already anchored they told us of a couple nasty heads to keep an eye our for as we approached. Somehow we made it. Our anchor dropped 15 minutes after the sun did. We were low on gas, and low on functioning instruments. Diva invited us over for the tastiest dish of spaghetti and conch salad and sold us 10 more gallons of gas to get us to the DR.

The next day, Dan noticed the sink was leaking slightly and had corroded the wires to the instruments. So after fixing that we once again set out for the DR. 80 plus miles to go, the wind had picked up, the swells accompanied. The biggest I’d seen. We sailed five hours before deciding we needed to go back. Our timing was off we were going to arrive too late to navigate into port. So we tacked and headed north again.

Dropped anchor on a sand bar. Slept a few hours. Had breakfast and left again-76 miles to go. This time bigger seas and more wind. But after 17 hours of sailing in 30 mile an hour winds, 15 foot swells, and the boat on tilt the entire way, we arrived. Lush mountains. The smell of vegetation. Smiles bright as the morning sun! We made it!

I’m not sure how to look at. On the one hand we were having terrible luck-running into reef, knocking out our rudder, running out of gas, beating into the wind no matter which direction we went. On the other hand everything was working out. The rudder we were able to fix. Twice the only boats we saw in need were both boats we knew and were willing to help us out. We were anchored in a peaceful harbor. Tired but happy.

We walked the town. Dominicans blaring music, playing dominoes, watching the gringos. Then we returned hours later to the boat. We would visit the orphanage tomorrow, but tonight… tonight we would sleep!


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment