Ch 25 - the Mona Passage

"What do you think they want?"  My legs ached from pushing against the front station like I was playing a pipe organ.  I wedged myself into the corner of the fly-bridge seat, holding the side wall and the back of the seat to steady myself, for hours, since dawn.  It seemed Ruff Life was moving one fathom forward and two back, for the island of Puerto Rico was getting no closer as we wallowed in the waves; and on top of that the Coast Guard arrived, but remained some distance off our starboard side.  They didn't seem to be moving, either.
"They're probably scanning us to see if we're smuggling Dominicans," Cap answered nonchalantly.

"CAN THEY DO THAT?  What about the guns?!"  He wouldn't let me throw them over the side.

"Why don't you go below and see if they're trying to hail us," since our hand-held radio wasn't working.

"I'm not goin' - it's a death-trap down there!"

Earlier when I went to check on things I found poor Czar with his back leg caught in the string from the window blind.  Everything was either knocked over or out of place, and the strap holding the fridge had moved above a corner of the freezer.
"I screamed to Cap to try and keep the boat stable.  The fridge had shifted forward and it was hard to get the strap back on.  I was totally panicked, thinking I would get hurt after all, and by my archenemy, the Norcold!"
The fridge door was swinging back and forth, and the floor was covered with yellow rice.  I released the dog, left things where they were and crawled back upstairs.  Czar was on his own; he was, after all, Cap's dog.  To backtrack a bit:

March 11 - Samana, Dominican Republic
"No one wants any bananas, so they'll go overboard tonite.  At least the cabin won't look like Carmen Miranda's hat."
We were anchored off a small island just outside Samana; a staging area, along with Water Witch and a number of other cruisers we knew.  We'd stocked up on rum and cigarettes and were hanging out on the beach with everyone else, waiting to see if the evening's promising weather forecast to cross the Mona Passage materialized.

Some man in a uniform trudged through the sand to check paperwork and for some reason kept talking to me, who knew the least amount of Spanish. I kept handing him passports and moving my arms like you do; explaining en ingles that we were all leaving for Puerto Rico as soon as possible, hopefully that evening.  He said something about $5 each so we gave it to him and he left, no argument this time.
"At 10 pm Cap said no-go, so we went to bed. The beach was really nice so we spent the next day hanging out.  WW left early to check out the whales, and Sara Jean left as well - back to the anchorage.  We heard that Aussie D'Light and 4 others were heading into Samana but no Destiny Calls, no Allegra.  They said Dave left Luperon when we did but probably headed directly to PR.
"After the 6 PM broadcast, Cap said we'd stick our nose out and see how it looked.  We could always turn around.  Another sailboat (with delivery crew) headed out earlier, but in the bay their engine room flooded and they had to come back.  We all waited to see if they were OK (they said the seas were nice) then at about 7 PM, we left.
"The weather window was too short for the 'sticks' but we don't need as much time to motor straight across. I was more relaxed and comfortable following my Captain, even as I listened to a number of cruisers critique his decision on the broadband in the cabin."
I was confident in Cap's ability, after watching him handle Ruff Life for the past 5 months.  When you remember the largest boat he'd handled was his pontoon party-boat, the fact that we'd gotten this far was beyond belief.  He tackled each difficulty head-on, and rarely gave up for more than 24 hours.
"The Mona...after all that worrying, it wasn't bad at all. No other boats around except in the shipping channel.  We made good speed - 8 knots average.  Water good, a brief shower, the boat handled it nicely, and 18 hours later we were on the other side.  I kept eating caffeine pills, Cap finally got some sleep, and we were anxious to make landfall."
Sounds like a piece of cake and fortunately it was, for the most part.  The slight breeze was perfect for us and Czar was relaxed for a change.  The remainder of the trip promised to be downhill from there; but we were about to get our first real taste of the formidable trade winds which whipped up along the islands heading west-northwest.
"Once we spotted Isla Desecheo off Puerto Rico, the seas kicked up, wind blew stronger, and we rocked and rolled something fierce.  Cap was pissed because it had gone so well up to that point, but we hit the trade winds mid-morning and Bruce Van Sant was right - they are rough!  We both prayed in our own way, and it took 2-3 hours until it died down.
"The Coast Guard watched us for awhile, but I guess they thought we were crazy and not smugglers because they eventually left, leaving us to bob in our cauldron. Cap figured they could come back in an hour and find us in the same place. 
"We finally got into Boqueron at about 5:30 PM, exhausted beyond belief.  Cap laughed and said all I had left to do was hoist the 45-pound anchor and 50-feet of chain!  I tried to bribe him to do it - no such luck."
One more crossing under our belts.  Just in time for a Sundowner.

Up next:  Boqueron

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To read from Chapter 1:  A Rough Start

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