With all the hype about the dangers of the Mona Passage, Dave and I were nervous. We had originally planned to use Jeff and Jean from Two Can Sail to captain the boat across. However, we are nearly a month ahead of schedule and they were booked for the month of March. Therefore, we are going to brave it on our own. It is some comfort that Mile High Dream is making the crossing with us.
We exited the protection of the sea walls into about 3 foot seas. Not bad. We were expecting 1-3 foot seas according to the forecasts. However, the wave height continued to pick up the further out we motored. We couldn’t sail because there wasn’t enough wind and what wind there was hit us directly on the nose. We saw 4 feet build to 5 then 6 feet. Now I was starting to worry. If it was this rough already, we could be in for a tough passage. Were we making a mistake? Should we turn around and go back to the Dominican Republic? We stuck with it and as quickly as it struck up, it was gone. The water flattened out to 1-2 foot waves, even less at times. It was amazing. This continued for the rest of the day.
Feeling good about the way things were shaping up, we put out our fishing line with our lucky green squid lure. Every two hours Dave and I traded off at the helm. Then suddenly, the fishing line whizzed from the reel. Fish on! I grabbed the pole, tensioned the line, and jerked up to set the hook. Dave passed me a pillow and I sat with the rod wedged between my thighs and reeled it in. I brought the fish up to the side of the boat without difficulty and we could see the greens and yellows glimmering beneath the surface. It was a dorado (mahi mahi). Nice! Dave gaffed it and sprayed some vodka into its gills. (If my sister, Frances, were with us we’d give the fish a couple sprays, then Francie a couple sprays. The fish would die, but Francie would be feeling good.) It worked fast, sparing the fish any suffering real or imagined on my part.
Last time we caught the two large dorados, we placed them in the freezer and fileted them after anchoring. But the water was so calm, Dave just whipped out a cutting board and knife and set to it on the back deck. That fish was on the hook at 3:00 and by 5:00 I was serving it for dinner with some butter noodles. Delicious!
The sun lowered to a spot where I just couldn’t seem to escape it in the cockpit, so I took our lounge pads, stacked them on the floor, and laid at Dave’s feet. It was surprisingly comfortable. Day turned to night and we continued our two hour watches that are working really well for us. At shift change, I started to move the lounge pads out of the way, but Dave told me to leave them. He wanted to try it out since it looked so cozy. And there they stayed the rest of the night. Gizmo was happy with the placement, too, and laid with whoever was laying down. Gizmo is becoming quite comfortable with passage making in the cockpit.
I was sleeping soundly when a boat ran up on Dave going super fast. It had a spotlight trained on Livin’ Life and Dave could not see the boat or anyone on it, only a light in his eyes. “Janice!” He called out. “Wake up! There’s a boat coming at me and I don’t know what to do.” I jumped up and was instantly blinded by the light in my eyes. The boat slowed off our starboard bow and hovered there with its light on us. Slowly it came along side, hovered, moved behind us, hovered… Meanwhile Dave slowed down to a crawl. He figured it must be the Coast Guard. I didn’t think so. They would contact us by radio. This boat was not attempting to contact us at all. I thought maybe I should try hailing them, but we were both like deer caught in the headlights. Frozen. Waiting to see what would happen. The boat moved to our port side, hovered, then pulled right beside Dave, all while still blinding us with the spotlight. Then, as quick as it came, it left. They throttled up and sped off at 30 or so knots! It looked like a Zodiac-type boat with a small metal cabin on top. That was all we could tell as they left. They never did speak to us. Drug traffickers? Police looking for drug traffickers? My thought was Homeland Security. But if they were any government officials, why would they not contact us and identify themselves? So weird.
Tonight, as we concentrated on entering the anchorage and dropping anchor in the dark, Gizmo decided to join me on the deck at the bow for the first time ever. If he had fallen over, we would not be able to find him. This was not the time to test his ability to stay on deck. So Dave scooped him up and put him back in the cabin. We dropped anchor in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, and waited for Mile High Dream to arrive safely before getting some much needed sleep. We can’t believe how fortunate we were on this passage. Timing is everything! Thank you, Chris Parker!
As an endnote: We contacted Mile High Dream as they came into the anchorage and asked if they had a mysterious visitor, too. They had not. That special treatment was reserved just for us. Hmmm.