Weather conspired against us and we ended up staying in Samana for almost a week waiting for favourable conditions to cross the Mona Passage. What is ironic is that next time I will simply throw a handful of chicken bones into the ocean, stand on my left foot, and recant Moby Dick backwards to try to read the signs for good weather… it can’t be any less reliable than the combined forecasting on the net!
One positive side to this is that we were able explore the Samana area a bit. We were assisted/befriended by the local mechanic “Cookie” who took us up to the waterfalls for a morning swim, before taking us to meet various members of his family and endless “cousins”. The girls got to chomp on fresh sugar cane, try various coconut breads fresh off the fire, and meet a dozen locals who were very friendly and welcoming. The social structure remained illusive to us and there was a steady stream of wives, girlfriends, aunts and cousins but we didn’t dwell on formality and revelled in a backstage look into the community.
We tried to replace the dinghy and were assisted by the dock master who “knew someone” and, to make a long story short, it culminated with a death defying ride on the back of a motorcycle to the villa of an Italian gentleman where I was met by six Dominicans and two Rottweilers. I gather the gentleman was loosely employed in the import and distribution business… In any event, trying to deal with six hard pressure salesmen and not sure how this whole thing would play out, we declined the offer to purchase, and are still without a functioning RIB, which is less than ideal.
Weather forecasting aside, we left Samana at 1800 for the 180nm run to Ponce, PR in what was supposed to be 5 -10kts and light swell. Cruising along in 20 – 25kts and 6ft swell took me back to my days flying when we used to say that the only two things we could count on screwing us were ATC and the Met office! After a long day and a half we pulled into the Yacht Club in Ponce with hopes of fixing all the systems that are currently unserviceable and collecting the boxes of spare parts that we have been ordering along the way.
Cruising has often been described as ‘boat maintenance in exotic locations’, but we are reeling at the frequency of breakdowns and system failures. It is a harsh environment and the systems are extremely complex, however, I believe the manufacturers count on the fact that you will use their products thousands of miles away and will not be in a position to bang on their counter, voicing your displeasure when the systems invariably break. To add insult to injury many companies will only respond to your requests for assistance through email… not very helpful in the middle of the ocean. As more of a record than a whine, we have lost the GPS, freezer, water maker, RIB (our own fault), generator, and various oil, water and diesel leaks. On the way from Samana we lost the port engine which is (are you kidding me???!!!) tied to the windlass, so Mommy and I had to raise the anchor manually for the first time after catching a couple of hours of sleep.
We assumed we would have some hic-ups along the way but obviously underestimated the frequency of breakdowns. You have both been great and I really don’t think you are inconvenienced by these challenges, except for having an especially grumpy father. When you receive an IOU for your inheritance, please refer back to this post.
I think all systems are now working and we are looking forward to the arrival of our first crew (we don’t have “guests”), Dorothy and Matthew Wiebe, later this week. We are still under time pressure to get south prior to the arrival of the hurricane season but not before we poke around the Virgin Islands a bit.