1st May 2016 Day 1 of a 2 night passage from Puerto Rico to Turks and Caicos (no internet so sent by email via satellite phone photos to be loaded later)
Well we were up at sparrow’s fart and off the Marina De Salinas fuel dock by 6.15am. We did have a great night’s sleep but at $71 US dollars it was a rip off for no water and power but we didn’t have a lot of choice. We needed a good sleep as we won’t get much on the next two nights on passage to Turks and Caicos.
The fuel debacle ended up by taking 5 hours and we ran them out of diesel. Funnily enough all of a sudden for the last half an hour the pump starting pumping at a reasonable speed, otherwise we would have been going until midnight. We took 2700 litres @.527c per litre, and we were not too far off full.
The plan, was to go into Ponce to clear of Puerto Rico. After our stern disciplinary warning from the customs guy in Culebra, we want to do the right thing. We had spoken to CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) a number of times and got conflicting advice. One lady said we did have to go into Ponce and clear out and another one said oh if you want a clearance certificate go into Ponce. Well that was all well and good, but when I checked on the internet, Ponce CBP is not open on a Sunday.
So I rang the main San Juan CBP number again, and this time the lady said “you don’t have to clear out, just go”. That’s good enough for us said Robbie so we just continued down along the island of Puerto Rico and into the Mona Passage.
Robbie was trawling lures, of course we are both hoping to catch more of the delicious Mahi Mahi (Dorado or Dolphin Fish as they are also known – nothing to do with Dolphins!) I was sleeping when Robbie yelled to wake me up “Double hook up JoJo”!! – I know my role in my sleep – down with the throttle and bolt to reel the rod in. We shouldn’t be, but we were disappointed it was only 2 Yellowfin Tuna, both nice sizes, and they got to live another day. We have absolutely no room in the freezer and neither of us like it that much. I could tell Robbie thought it was a bit sad, “would have made great Marlin Bait” he said. I was happy to see them swimming away again.
Mona Passage has a respected reputation as it cuts up rough here. We knew from Starlets crossing about a week ago how bad it was for them, 2 boats had turned back it was so bad. We had checked the weather twice a day for the last few days and it was looking really good. It started out really well and was very comfortable. Just after 5.30pm after one of his regular engine room checks Robbie came up and said there’s a drip of oil on one of the oil hoses on the main engine and I think I will change it. Well let’s do it now I said while it’s calm.
So I started the wing engine, let it warm up a bit and once we got her warmed up we put her into gear and pulled the throttle. We got 4 knots of speed and then turned the main engine off. Within 10 minutes Robbie had the old hose off and the new hose on. Thank goodness we have so many spare parts on board and of course he was able to find it quickly!
Thankfully he changed the hose when he did, as a couple of hours later big swells and confused seas started happening and continued for most of the night. Of course Southern Star handled it like the lady that she is and the stabilisers take a lot of the sting out of it. Robbie changed course and headed out to deeper water and that helped a bit. The wind was only up to 18 knots but the shallow water and the situation of being between 2 islands with current and tides just made it uncomfortable.
There is hardly any other boats around, we have only seen a tug boat and a couple of cargo ships. After a few weeks in the Virgin Islands, surrounded by hundreds of yachts every day, this is rather pleasant actually.
It was good to take some Spaghetti Bolognese out of the freezer and use up for dinner, easy passage food and it makes a bit of room in the freezer for Mahi Mahi, hopefully!
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