Thursday, February 26, 2015

Return to Puerto Rico

We carefully studied the weather reports and timed our crossing back to Puerto Rico to coincide with a couple of days of light winds. We knew we were going to be heading straight into the prevailing winds so getting them as light as possible was key. The weather reports conflicted, we discussed with others on the dock and we all felt that Monday night/Tuesday was going to be the best time to go.

Farewell to Casa de Campo marina.
A happy goodbye to the smoke of La Romana. When we took down our DR flag, it was black along the edges with grime.
110 miles across the south end of the Mona Passage and the forecast winds of 5-10 knots never came down below 15, more often in the 20-knot range. The first 15 miles were a beautiful sail with the winds on the beam and then we turned the corner at the southeastern corner of the DR and from there we had the winds directly on the nose. We have also found some gremlins onboard and if we run our engines over 1800 rpm we get overheating warnings, so motoring into the strong winds, current and waves made for progress of about 4 knots. Hmmm, tacking all the way under sail which would about double our distance, or a slow motor directly across? We tried the sail option but with the swell now on our beam, we were being pushed so far back we were making very little progress towards our destination so we opted for the slow direct route. Long story short, we arrived (in the middle of a salt-cleansing downpour) at Puerto Real on the west coast of Puerto Rico 27 hours after our departure.

It took us until Wednesday morning to be able to complete our U.S. Customs checkin at Mayaguez - the customs office was closed and the patrol boat was out looking for a small plane that may or may not have gone down.

We combined our visit to Mayaguez with a huge re-provisioning, knowing the prices here are the best we will see - ever!

Now the fun begins to get all this food into the dinghy and back to the boat.
Sitting in the peace and calm of the anchorage at Puerto Real, listening to the dogs and roosters on shore and watching the pelicans dive for fish, all the anxiety of the crossing and rough seas was washed away. We watched the fishing boats return to the docks, bringing more birds with them catching scraps.

And finally a little note about "arrival beers". This is definitely a tradition we often embrace and I'm sure many others do as well. In Canada we're all pretty used to the standard 12 oz. can and will occasionally buy a bigger can to share. Down here, in PR the standard Medalla is 8 oz. but other beers are available in other sizes. We like to try a varied selection for our arrival tradition.

The Medalla Light had a stronger flavour than the Fosters which makes me wonder if the Aussies are just making sure they get their water consumption in as well, or is this telling us that Puerto Ricans are light-weights in their consumption. Either way, we enjoy each national beer as we find it :-)