OMG ( that's gosh), We Took Lucky Bird Mountain Climbing Today!
03 December 2018
Mountain climbing I say? Well wet mountains. We landed close to Cabo Beata on Friday anticipating strong winds starting in the afternoon and lasting several days, especially around Cabo Beata.
I've since learned through reading and first hand on the water experience that this extension of the DR into the Caribbean Sea causes lots of stress for sailors. Winds in the area are generally 10 knots stronger than the normal trades. So we decided to take a breather and wait out the forecast for nearly gale force winds at Cabo Beata.
At our anchorage on Saturday we had 26 knots of wind in the protected bay, just imagine out there!
So I looked at Grib files, checked with Predict Wind, with Windy, with Passage Weather and with Fastseas, I was doing my homework. It was looking as though we might be stuck for quite a while, not so cool for our schedule.
So let's get to the mountain climbing.
Alice had observed that the winds calmed down both Friday and Saturday nights at about 18:00 local time and picked up again around 08:00 the next day. So maybe the winds out around Cabo Beata might be doing the same and the sea state might calm as well.
Well, Predict Wind didn't think so, they forecast 17 - 20 true wind with gusts to 26 and higher. So much for settling around the Cape. But....despite gusts to 26 kts in our anchorage on Sunday, by 18:00 it had died once again. My wheels started turning, maybe the pros are wrong and if the wind settles so will the sea state. So we decided to let thing settle until 12:30AM and then we would pull the hook and head out.
Now, can you image how difficult it is to sleep thinking about an upcoming passage that might involve sailing to windward in 26+ kts with seas? So at 20:30 I said to Alice let's get out of Dodge. Winds in the anchorage were 8 to 10 kts. Perfect. Up with the hook, nice job at the helm Alice, The bow was secure.
Now for the four hour sail to Cabo Beata. No problemo man! Winds cooperated, no waves and we negotiated the shallow passage between the Dr and Isla Beata. We chose to pass through Canal de la Beat with a 9 foot bar at the western end, our entry, side. This gave me some angst. No government navigation aids, depths crashing from 300 feet to 20 then 15 then 11. Oh crap! then back to 16 and we were on our way to the legendary Cabo Beata.
About four hours later we crossed into the Caribbean Sea and out of the wind shadow of Cabo Beata. We were prepared, sort of. The main was reefed, the jib was reefed, all-be-it I was too conservative at first and we were going very slow and once again terrible angles. Then it hit!
Apparent wind jumped to 22 knots and the seas went from " this might just work" to "holy cow, where did these come from?" Yup the Gribs were right, 26+ knots right where we need to go and the waves were, well Lucky Bird thought they were mountains. Up, up over the top and down down, then repeat. Going the wrong direction very slowly.
This is when a I put in a plug for having an enclosure on your boat. Spray, oh yea! Over the top but we just laughed at the spray.... but the winds and mountains were a different issue. I don't like to exaggerate wave heights but when a 42 foot sail boat has to sail up over and then down, just to start over again on the next wave, they must be larger than 4 - 6 footers. They seemed like mountains, and it was pitch black, no way to see them coming.
Now are we having fun, NO WAY JOSE!! This suckes and we were looking at our planned sail to Boca Chica right into this mess, again NO WAY JOSE!
So a command decision. Let's tack and start working our way up the north coast to either Barahona or Salina. The first some 52 miles the second farther. Barahona here we come.
Catamaran owners would handle our seas conditions differently than on LB. I'd like to hear their stories in like conditions. Sailing 40 degrees app, winds 17 gusting to 26 with waves, as LB called them mountains, LB would sail up, over and ooze back down while rolling. No pounding. But for Bob and Alice, not so nice. Moving around was challenging.
We arrived in the harbor at Barahona just as twilight set in. Dropped the hook in 32 feet, all is good AND Alice found another box of red wine, how sweet is that.
Best to you all, Merry Christmas from Lucky Bird