Three-Day Passage to Jamaica
14 March 2019 | In Passage to Port Antonio, Jamaica
Leaving Boca Chica, Dominican Republic for Port Antonio, Jamaica, we anticipated a three-day passage. On a calm Tuesday morning, we were motoring out of Marina ZarPar and leaving the harbor behind when we heard some knocking as if a door had been left open,banging shut and open. When to our shock, Sue looked up the mizzen mast, and noticed our radar was hanging by a torn portion of the metal bracket that held it to the mizzen mast! Seas were light and little wind was present, so I climbed the mast, removed the radar cover, disconnected the wiring, placed a net bag around the radar for lowering it to the deck, and proceeded to fatigue the remaining metal the radar was dangling from, to separate it and lower the radar to Sue's ever-loving arms on deck! We were so thankful this happened in light conditions; it could easily have happened in 20 knot winds and 8-10' seas. We'll have a replacement gimbaling bracket made to hang the radar on. But I digress. The first 24 hours we were still in the Dominican Republic going west. The second 24 hours we were off the south coast of Haiti. And now our third 24 hours is spent crossing the Windward Passage between Haiti and the NE tip of Jamaica where we will be checking in at Port Antonio for 5-6 days of R&R!
From Sue: Sailing along Hispanola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), i.e. departing DR and then skirting Haiti, the seas are rough. Winds have blown us along from behind, and the waves 8-10' high have been steep, throwing us around at times. We are now crossing a passage between Haiti and Jamaica and the wind has died down some. We had motored through last night during a period of lower wind, and now the wind has again died enough for us to use the motor. Our destination is Port Antonio on the north side of Jamaica where there is a small marina and a dive shop, restaurants, and a town we hope within walking distance. We spend our time eating and taking turns sleeping as best we can. Here in the Caribbean, the Tradewinds blow directly from the East as we sail west. Sailing dead downwind is challenging for us, the boat doing better when the wind comes from the side. At 2:00 a.m. we needed to take down the mainsail completely. It had driven us along nicely most of the day by itself, boom pushed way out to the side. But now the wind began to change direction causing it to slap and bang. By morning we were able to put out the jib sail and turn off the engine. It can be a more forgiving sail than the main, but we have to keep an eye on it too to be sure it doesn't flap around much as the boat slides off and around the waves.
This morning while George was napping, I saw two little brown torpedoes zooming alongside the boat. They couldn't have been more than 2-3'. So I quickly unclipped my tether and took it with me forward to the bow. As I walked along the side of the boat, more and more of these creatures joined the first ones, and I saw they were porpoises, quite small but energetic. As I settled down on the deck to get a close view without scaring the creatures, bigger and bigger porpoises appeared among the little ones, crossing in front of the boat just in time before the boat would run over them. This little game occupied the little ones for about 15 minutes. They would jump over each other; they would race three abreast forward for about 10', then circle around back; they would go back a ways and then surf down the big swells just under the surface to rejoin the group. I counted 14 at one time on my side of the bow with others probably still on the other side, little brown bodies having a great time. There were probably only 5 adults. They stayed longer, occasionally looking up at me after the youngsters had gone on to find some other game to play. It all lasted at least 20 minutes, maybe longer. We were off the SW coast of Haiti, about 60 miles off a large peninsula called Pointe a Gravois. I identified them as Short-snouted Spinner Dolphins, one of only 3 different species to be found in the Caribbean Sea.