The Mona Passage is the area between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This is a very well know passage with a reputation for being very difficult and rough. This was our second time crossing the Mona and once again the seas were kind and the current not too strong. The route from Samana Dominican Republic to Puerto Real, the harbor where we arrived, takes you right along the DR coast line until you reach the point of Cabo Engano and at that point, you turn more southwest to cut inside and across the “Hourglass Shoal” at the narrowest part. The reason you do this is that the current is flowing north and the 1,000-foot deep waters are pushed upward to 80 feet which can cause serious sea state at the Hourglass shoal. So, you cut across this at the narrowest point and avoid that sea state. Here is a chart of the route.
Get Off Soundings
Another situation that you need to address is the fact that the Dominican Republic fishermen run miles and miles offshore in their little boats setting out their fishing gear. This can be polypropylene line and milk jugs and plastic barrels, etc. This gear is floating on the surface and usually anchored as well. So the solution to avoiding these fish traps and fishing gear is to run out to the deep water and get yourself off soundings. That is where your depth gauge no longer can see the bottom. This is where the fishermen will NOT BE and you will also not run into their gear. This is especially important at night because you will never see the gear on the water. So we ran out to deep waters and had no problems.
Last Night in Samana, Dominican Republic
On our last in the DR, before we crossed the Mona Passage, Radeen and I had a “Date Night” and enjoyed a nice meal out at the marina. What a good time to reflect on our run from Annapolis MD to here. We count our blessings daily and we are so grateful for the freedom and skills we have to be able to run our boat on these long passages. We now look at 150 nm as a day trip and 300nm leg as just a little bit more than “a Block Island run” as we call it. We reference that 240 nm trip because di it 10 summers in a row and loved it. Now, here we are, running for the Caribbean Sea. Thank you Radeen, you are a great sailor GrL. 🙂
Course 130 degrees, winds 090 degrees, usually
It seems like the entire run from the Bahamas to the Caribbean Sea is a course of 130 and the winds are usually 090. If you are lucky they move north to 080 or south to 100 which still places the wind 30-40 degrees off the bow. Unless you have a J boat, you can not sail this course. You will be motor sailing with a reefed mainsail or a staysail or a partial jib. Then you sheet in hard and run your motor and power into the wind. What you are looking for is a calm wind, something in the range of 10 knots to 13 knots, because at 15 knots to 18 knots the seas come up too much. Now you are bashing into the sea state and beating 30 degrees off the bow. That is an ugly ride and with hundreds of miles to run, you do not want to do that.
We run Autopilot on Windvane steering
The way we run these long legs is on autopilot, of course. We do is set up our sail plan and that is usually a staysail or a double reefed main. Then we point the boat 25-30 degrees off the wind, sheeting in the sails hard. Now, set the autopilot to hold a given wind angle of 30 degrees. The pilot will keep the boat at this angle to the wind. As the winds move left, the boat heads left, as the winds move right, the boat heads right. Overall the course is good and the boat and the sails are happy. Nothing to do but stand watch and check your engine room and bilges and monitor the course.
The Blue Ocean
We are always amazed at how blue the ocean really is. All these photos are cell phone photos and the ocean really is this blue. It changes as the sun is high or low and at night, of course, it is black. But when the sun is midday, 11-4pm the ocean lights up in this beautiful blue. Look at these photos…
Arrival in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico
The run from Samana DR to Puerto Real is 145 nm or 24 hours plus an hour or two at 5.5 knots. We departed at 1400 and we arrived in Real at 1400-1500. The Mona was very kind to us as the winds moved to 090 and eventually 080-050 and went very light. It was a port tack set the entire way. We ran a staysail and a full 110% jib most of the way plus the 2600 rpms on the Yanmar. We motor sail like this at 5.5 to 6 knots and we burn 0.75 gallons per hour. Once in Puerto Real, we went to the fuel dock, filled up 19 gallons and then moved dropped an anchor. We stayed anchored out for two days. Puerto Real is a great place to check in, as CBP is at this marina or you can use the CPB ROAM app which worked great for us. Welcome to Puerto Rico, a dream place to cruise along the south coast.
Live Tracking Map
Remember, we have a Garmin Inreach satellite communicator and this devices places a map pin down anytime the yacht is moving (provided we remember to turn it on and start tracking 🙂 The great aspect to this, is that it shows time, date and speed, so we can look back and study how long it took us to go from A to B. It is also a wonderful archive map of our travels. This map is showing the current trip ONLY from Annapolis, MD to our current position. We have other maps from our many years of cruising under our MAP menu link. Thank you all for following along with us. Here is our map: