We sailed out of the Man-O-War cut (Abacos, Bahamas) at 7:30 AM on Wednesday August 14th and sailed into the Luperon, Dominican Republic at 9:00 PM on Monday August 19th. It was a 5 1/2 day ocean sail.
Leaving the Abacos the wind was blowing light out of the Southeast so we motor sailed heading east. The ocean was quiet and comfortable. That evening we picked up two hitch hikers. They were a male/female pair of birds. I am guessing they are in the swallow family. But if anyone knows what kind of bird they are I would love to know. Being that we were about 60 miles away from land I was surprised they were that far out. Maybe they were migrating? They only rested for a short while and were off again. I was sad to see them go. But to my delight the morning light brought them back on board again. Yeah! So pretty and sweet. I put out a piece of cantaloupe and a small container of water. They weren’t interested but it made me feel better having it there for them. They stayed with us for a few hours and took flight. I never saw them again. I hope they made it safely to where they were headed! On Ciganka we were still heading east with the wind a little stronger so we could turn off the engine and sail at about 4 .5 to 5 knots. Slow and steady with gentle ocean swells. Nice. No more birds showed up but I had 2 pigmy dolphins playing on the port side of the boat. These dolphins don’t get much bigger than about 2 feet. They were jumping totally out of the water and taking a quick peek at me. They only stayed for a few minutes but what a treat! Then later that afternoon a pod of 10 bottle nose speckled dolphins came to say their hellos. What an incredible sight as they sped through the water weaving in and out catching a good wave to ride. I did try to get some pictures but it is so hard to guess when they are going to surface again. At this point in our travels we are 180 miles from land so I was amazed at what was showing up at my door today. To cap off my day, at about 12:30 AM (Friday morning) I was looking through the front windows of the pilothouse to check the position of the main sail to the wind and a huge bright, I mean brilliantly bright big shooting star shot across the sky horizontally fairly low on the horizon. It was one of those moments where you couldn’t believe what you saw and then you are disappointed that no one was there to share it with you. But I ooohhhed and aaaahhhed out loud and was grateful. What a day huh???!
The straight route to get from the Abacos to the Dominican Republic is Southeast. The wind normally blows out of the East/Southeast so we cannot sail there directly because of the wind direction. So what we are looking for in our weather window is a south wind for 2 to 3 days at the beginning of our trip. That way we can use that south wind to sail east for a couple days. That will put us directly north of Luperon, DR so that when the wind turns back to its “normal” east we will “take a right” and sail south. Make sense?
On Friday afternoon the wind is slowly starting to make its way back to the east so we started our southerly turn to the south sailing close hauled, which means as close to the wind as possible. The wind is blowing about 15 knots and the seas are gentle. Ciganka and crew are content. Finally Saturday afternoon we have made all the “easting” needed, so we can fall off the wind on a beam reach which is a more comfortable and faster point of sail. The wind has picked up slightly, Ciganka kicks up her heels and we and cruising at 7 to 8 knots.
One of the things we enjoy as we get close to the DR is seeing the island way off in the distance, usually from about 30 miles away. It is fun to watch it slowly get bigger and the green of the lush tropical vegetation become more defined. Well this time there was such a haze over the island that we could not see the land until we got 10 miles from it. And then it still looked like it was in a fog. The sun quietly set, the “almost” full moon is shining bright, and the wind is still pushing us quickly toward the entrance of the harbor. Now it is dark but the moon lights our way and as usual Thomas does a superb job at navigating and we safely sail into the entrance to the harbor. Before we get into the harbor where all the other boats are anchored, we take all the sails down, crank up the engine, slowly motored to a nice calm spot, and drop anchor. Ciganka did herself proud on this run. And we say our prayers of thanks and gratitude. Hello Luperon…..or we should say in Spanish – “Hola Luperon”