We cut up our trip into three stops. Boqueron to Cabo Rojo, Cabo Rojo to Gilligan’s, and Gilligan’s to Salinas. We most likely would have done shorter hops had we had more time on our hands but because we’re flying out on Christmas Day back to the DR we wanted to make sure our boat was in a safe harbour while we left her for 16 days. The first hop was a joke of a motor sail. It took all of three hours from anchor up to anchor down. It felt like one of those flights where you take off, get one drink service, and then they tell you to fasten your seat belts and prepare for the descent. The trip requires more prep time than the actual sail. We followed the the guidelines of Van Sant and left early morning to go just around the bend to the next harbour. For us, Cabo Rojo was no fun to stay in. Since we knew we were heading out the next day we didn’t want to put the dinghy in the water, and so it was a boat day. But the bay has some pretty good swell that comes through there, making it so that we were rocking back and forth to different frequencies all day and night, without cease. From Cabo Rojo we left at four in the morning to make it around the point early, and although the swells were large they were manageable. That is, until a squall came at us. At around 6am Eben called me up on deck to man the helm while he reefed our sail. That’s when the waves kicked up to 6-8ft and the winds started gusting anywhere between 30-38knots. Thankfully the squall only lasted about 45 minutes, but during that time it felt like we were getting buckets of water thrown into our faces with every wave we took, the reason being we are still dodger-less. It was enough to shake everyone up a bit and we all considered changing our route to tuck in to La Parguera instead. But once the storm passed the waves lessened, we regained our composure, and debated our options. We chose to keep on trucking. By 9am we had Gilligan’s in sight just as a wind storm came at us. What are our chances, two storms in a 5 hour trip. But as we rounded into the bay, with the coverage of Gilligan’s island and the surrounding mangroves, the water was still while the winds whistled above. Anchor down. We stayed two nights in Gilligan’s. It was nice to be in a calm harbour again. The first day we kept our dinghy on deck but got a ride from some friends to a closeby beach where the girls could wade in the water and release some pent up energy. After that we went and visited the famous Gilligan’s island. It is a cluster several small beaches surrounded by mangroves. The water was crystal clear, like I haven’t seen since the Bahamas, but watch out, once night falls the Mosquitos are ruthless. Our second day there we spent most of debating our options for leaving the bay since the weather window had changed and people were starting the doubt the departure. The problem was, with our flight booked for the 25th we were really hoping to have the boat somewhere more protected, and possibly where friends could keep an eye on it, ideally in salinas. But we had also learned the lesson once before to never sail under a schedule and wanted to make extremely sure that we were making the smart decision. So our options were these, stay in Gilligan’s with everyone and hope for a window to open up before Christmas Day, if one didn’t come we would have to leave the boat there, alone. Or we could press on to Ponce and leave the boat either anchored or on the dock at the marina. But the marina option turned out to be very expensive since they wanted us to get liability insurance before we could dock there. Or we could go through the night and go straight to Salinas. We checked the weather sites repeatedly, and although many of our buddy boats were saying it didn’t look favorable, we trusted in our deductions that all looked fine and chose to go with our plan of a night departure and aim to go straight to salinas, if while we were out there the weather turned out to be unfavorable we could always tuck in to Ponce. Everyone else backed out and we were the only boat leaving. To keep our minds off of the stress of all this decision making we went and played with some locals. Eben got lessons on kite surfing and the girls had a blast soaking themselves with a lawn hose. When 1am rolled around it was our time to lift anchor. We left through the reef cut near Gilligan’s island and headed into the 5ft rolling seas. The waves were large but at the angle we were taking them they were not a stress. But then something wonderful happened. About four miles out the waves dropped to no larger than a foot high and we glided right through the night to our destination. Our only worry was this weird formation of red lights that we could not figure out what they were. We checked our charts, and guessed at every possibility, and decided to stick to our route until we got closer. Good thing we did not change course because ends up they were lights, on land, mounted on wind generators. The joys of night sailing. The girls slept the entire way and woke up an hour before we dropped anchor in Salinas. It was such a respite from the bashing into waves that we had done repeatedly up until this crossing and made for a stress free sail and pride in our decision making. Salinas is a very well protected bay where hardly any waves come through. Even when the wind is blowing to 25knots the boat just dances side to side. It has been fun being here, with a marina that has commercial sized washing machines and a playground for the girls, it has given us a break from some of our more time consuming tasks, like hand washing clothes and constantly being the source of entertainment for the girls. It seems that most of the boats here are not lived on and that there are actually only a few sailors in the harbour, making for a quieter. There are no dinghies ripping around and the ones that are a forced, by law, to keep it slow because this entire bay is a manatee zone. We look forward to being here a few days relaxing before we go help build some houses in the DR and trust that our boat will be safe while we are gone.
Cabo Rojo lighthouse (by land, not by boat)
enjoying the breeze on her toes
yes this is what you look like after a squall and getting buckets of salt water in the face and hair