Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crossing the Mona

Between our departure from Samana and our arrival in Boqueron was the long anticipated and feared crossing of the Mona Passage.  After our crossing of the Gulf stream at the very start of our trip, it is this stretch of ocean that we have been warned most about.

The passage is a gap between the islands of Hispanola and Puerto Rico, connecting the Caribbean sea with the Atlantic ocean.  In the middle, the waters shoal from more than 2,000 ft to less than 200 in under a mile, not shallow enough to run aground, but more than enough to trip up the long, lazy ocean swells and leave them stacked steep and nasty for a 31 ft boat.  Additionally, the Trade winds, stronger and steadier and more directly out of the east than they are farther north, can easily turn a 30 hour crossing into 60 or more.  The key, as always, was to wait until the weather was right.

Our weather wasn't quite right, but it was as good as it was going to get for another week at least.  The crew were anxious to go.  It wouldn't be pleasant, but it wouldn't be too terribly difficult either.  We all knew by now what we were agreeing to.

We left Samana at 5:10 pm, in the evening calm, on a close reach southeast across the bay and then motored along the shore through the night.  By morning, we a mile offshore from Cabeza del Torro, the Bull's Head, the easternmost point of Hispanola.  From there, we tacked northeast, offshore, to avoid the rougher seas around the Hourglass shoals and get well north before the afternoon thunderstorms started drifting across from Puerto Rico.  By nightfall we were ready to tack again, heading southeast once more on a path that we hoped would take us up under the protection of the Puerto Rican coastline for our final leg into the port of Boqueron.

The conditions weren't the worst we'd seen, but as expected, they weren't pleasant.  We were all seasick.  Too rough for anyone but Mark to be down in the cabin for any length of time, too rough to read, too rough to cook or sleep comfortably.  We huddled in the cockpit, staring weakly out at the lumpy ocean, tired but unable to sleep, hungry but unable to eat.

Fifty hours after leaving Samana, we dropped anchor in the port of Boqueron.  The only thing I'd managed to hold down in all that time was a peanut butter sandwich.  At rest in calm waters at last, we ate and slept and then went ashore to eat some more.


  1. Where's the part where you attack pirates and smuggle drugs?

  2. Way to go Strolla! Very happy to hear your all safe and sound after kicking Mona's ass!

  3. Hejira is staged and waiting for at least sorta good (low) wind in Punta Cana for the Mona. Caleb wrote a wicked song for guitar about Mona. Man O man.