Crossing the Mona Passage

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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.

Crossing the Mona Passage

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.

Fish Trap area and your course will take you over this area, head left, out to deep water
The Hourglass Shoal off the Dominican Republic, run south to cross the narrow area

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. 🙂

 

Date Night with Radeen

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.

Daybreak is wonderful at sea.

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 view over the helm from the port seat.

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…

Departing the Dominican Republic, Cape Samana
Full sail 40nm out of Puerto Rico, crossing the Mona Passage

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.

sv Island Spirit anchored out off Puerto Real
You can always find us with this 9 foot Gold Island Packet Battle Flag. We also fly the Whiteaker Yacht Sales flag as we are brokers for WYS team.

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:

https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit

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3 Replies to “Crossing the Mona Passage”

  1. So happy to hear you’re in P.R. Sounds like you had a fantastic run. The pics are beautiful. Have a great time. Loretta and Jim Elliott

  2. From Kathy McCoy in Venice, Florida (formerly of Sabre GATSBY): Hayden — Wishing you fair winds and calm seas as you and your radiant Radeen continue your intrepid treks on the ocean in your sturdy Island Packet ISLAND SPIRIT. We hope to see you in PA as guests at our house sometime (you will feel very comfortable in our palm-tree-motif guest room with en suite bathroom).

  3. Great Job Guys. I am proud of you and all your accomplishments. I remember Radeen on her 1st crossing with us on “Relationship” — it was a long hard rain and somewhat of a windy day. Her comment was on the Video; “It has rained over 3 hours now & the boat has had a good bath; It can stop anytime now”. Great Memories of the Caribbean & many IP Rendezvous. Chuck

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