19 May 2010 | Indiantown, FL
17 May 2010 | Bahamas
02 May 2010 | Georgetown, Exuma
22 April 2010 | Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma
22 April 2010 | Georgetown, Exuma
08 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
05 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
02 April 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
26 March 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
19 March 2010 | Boqueron, PR
14 March 2010 | Ponce,P.R.
06 March 2010 | British Virgin Islands
06 March 2010 | British Virgin Islands
14 February 2010 | At sea
14 February 2010 | Nevis
05 February 2010 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
27 January 2010 | Portsmouth, Dominica
22 January 2010 | Portsmouth, Dominica
08 January 2010 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
08 January 2010 | St. Lucia

Of mice and men

26 March 2010 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata
The best laid plans...etc.,etc. After all the chart work and calculations I made before we left Boqueron, I tossed it within three hours. I'll explain what we did and hope it makes sense. We planned to leave Boqueron, Puerto Rico at noon on Saturday and motor sail 300 miles NW to Big Sandy Cay in the south end of the Turks and Caicos island group. An hour after we left we heard an all to familiar noise and by reducing the RPM to 1750 from 2600 the noise mostly went away. We knew the transmission was sick and if the wind had cooperated we could have continued on and one day after Big Sandy Cay we would have been in Providenciales in the NW corner of the T&C islands. Provo has good service and good connection to the U.S. so we could decide what to do there. To add to the problems, we had a small jibe when we left Boqueron and snapped the port lazyjack off the mast. This meant that the next time I dropped the main sail it would spill over on to the deck. The wind didn't cooperate and our speed dropped from 6-6.5 knots to around 4 knots. This would have meant 75 hours of travel, vs. the 45-48 we planned on, if the transmission continued working. Big IF. About 120 miles along we decided to bail out for the Dominican Republic. The D.R. NE corner was about 30 miles off our port beam at that time and we could move along the north coast to a marina in the town of Puerto Plata called "Ocean World". There is a mini theme park there also. In the dark Sunday night a strong gust of wind broke the reef line and we had a very weird sail shape. Now in the dark and in following seas I had to get up on the deck (wearing a PFD/harness clipped on to a security line) and dropped the main and tied it up with sail ties. We did pull the jib out some Monday morning but our speed was still pretty slow. We arrived here about 11am on Monday morning. The detour isn't horrible because we still made about 100 miles north and about 190 miles west to the good. Since Big Sand Cay and Puerto Plata are both NW of Boqueron we didn't lose as much as we could have. Now we only have to sail almost due North about 85 miles to hit Big Sand Cay. We are about 5-6 sailing days from Georgetown if we have good weather so the variable is the time it takes to get the transmission repaired. The biggest problem is while we wait for the transmission to get back we are sitting in a $50/day marina and the sea lion show plays "Who let the dogs out" over the PA speakers twice a day. There are worse places to wait it out.
We always play the safest side of the equation and have a little margin to boot so we were never in danger and we had several options to use if we needed them. It is just frustrating to plan one thing and have to live with another. Just cruising I guess. I contacted a customs agent/broker (a requirement) and arranged to send the transmission to Destin, FL to be repaired by the shop there that I know and trust. No more local island repair shops. The first time we had it repaired, in Antigua, it lasted less than a month. The second time, in Grenada, it made it almost four months. I pulled it off Monday afternoon and gave it to the agent. Tracking shows it was in Miami just after one am on Tuesday. Hopefully it will clear U.S. Customs promptly and be in Destin by Thursday. With luck (right!), I will get it back by Friday of next week and we can be on our way again.......weather permitting. The picture isn't of whales sighted on the passage or a beautiful sunrise or sunset at sea. It is our temporary home at Ocean World.
Vessel Name: Unchained
Vessel Make/Model: 38' Beneteau
Hailing Port: Knoxville, TN
Crew: Bill & Sue Shafer
We have been sailing about ten years (lots of schools and bare boat charters in those years). Sue grew up in Midland, TX and Bill in Knoxville, TN where we have a home. We are members of Concord Yacht Club in Knoxville (Great people & very supportive). [...]
Extra: Unchained is a 1991 Beneteau Moorings 38 which was designed as a charter boat. We had to make many modifications to make her a reasonable long distance cruiser. She is light and small but very capable.