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At Sea for Three Days

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1430 EDT

Latitude 20 Degrees 10.0 Minutes North

Longitude 71 Degrees 34.5 Minutes West

After fueling up at Puerto Plata and waiting for Customs and Navy officers to clear us to leave, we finally got away at about 9:45 am this morning. This will be our longest leg of the trip, some 640 nautical miles from Dominican Republic to Marathon, in the Florida Keys. If all goes well, we should be arriving in Marathon Thursday evening.

We have continued cruising west along the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Within the last hour, our course of around 300 degrees has begun to pull us further from land as the Island of Hispaniola dips more to the south. We have just passed the border with Haiti and will soon be entering the gap between Haiti and Cuba. Our next wapoint is just off the south tip of Great Inagua, technically a part of the Bahamas. From there, our course will keep us in deep water through the Old Bahama Channel which separates Cuba from the Bahama Bank. Further to the west, we will pass through Nicolas Channel separating Cuba from Cay Sal Bank and then turn north directly to the Florida Keys.

The weather has been fine as we continue to run downwind . This morning we had 10 to 15-knot winds and two-foot seas but now the wind has kicked up to around 20 knots in 4-foot swells with small whitecaps. The ride has been comfortable and the boat is performing beautifully. Captain Alvin has a laundry list of small repairs, always necessary when the boat has been out of the country for six months, but, for me, it is a beautiful boat with every luxury.

I hope there continues to be little to write about, always the sign of a good and uneventful trip. I’ll continue to make a few entries along the route, although none of this can be published until we are near the USA Thursday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

0500 EDT

Latitude 21 degrees 08 minutes north

Longitude 74 degrees 28 minutes west

Just north of the east end of Cuba

I should not have mentioned that the trip was uneventful, as when I tried to brush my teeth last night there seemed to be no water pressure. The tank still appears to be pretty much full of water but somehow the pressure pump is not functioning. Captain Alvin plans to check it out more fully as we get some daylight and, knowing him, I suspect there are plenty of spare parts on board if something is needed.

Otherwise, the boat continues to run smoothly as we click off miles toward the Keys, and the weather has been nearly perfect. It is overcast this morning but seas are very calm and the ride is comfortable. We still appear to be on schedule to arrive Marathon tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday August 25, 2010

1100 EDT

Well, Captain Alvin had no way to repair a burned-up pump and a saltwater washdown pump sitting next to it had already burned up in Dominican Republic. So we had a few problems. Showers, we could do without until tomorrow night. Washing dishes could also be postponed, or a bucket of seawater would work in a pinch. But water was also needed to flush the toilets, and that was a difficult one to deal with.

Despite a lack of parts, Alvin is never at a loss for ingenuity. So just after sunup this morning, he took a portable A.C. pump which he uses for moving oil or water around the engine room, and hooked it to the water tank. On the other end, he hooked a garden hose which runs out the engine room door to the back deck. When you’re ready for a shower, strip down on the aft deck, turn on the pump and get wet, turn off the pump and soap down, and then turn the pump back on to rinse off. Dishes will be done the same way on the aft deck or with a bucket of water in the sink. As for toilets, we have a gallon jug on the aft deck which you fill up with water, and pour into the toilet before using it and again while flushing. It’s perfect, and certainly livable for the remaining 30 hours to Marathon. There, Alvin plans to buy a new pump for the system and install it for the final leg to Mobile.

Voila! And thanks Alvin!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1945 EDT

It’s hard to convey just how fortunate we have been with the weather and the boat. Our makeshift fresh water system has performed well all day. The weather has been perfect with very small swells from behind and no wind at all. We did have a generator fan belt failure this afternoon but we simply switched to the other generator and I’m sure Alvin will put a replacement belt on the generator in Marathon.

I’m fortunate to be helping out a great and very professional crew. My job is to take my turn at the wheel and perhaps wash some dishes after a meal. David is familiar with the boat and has worked often with Alvin and he’s a joy to be with. If he only knew how to catch us some fresh fish for dinner, we’d be in great shape.

We’re probably only about 20 or 22 hours from Marathon where we plan to spend the night docked, make the needed repairs, and get underway for the 500 mile trip to Mobile. We’re still on schedule to arrive at Dog River Marina sometime Sunday.

I’ve continued to ask my Spot Personal Locater to send out position reports every few hours. If it’s working, you can click “Follow the current trip” on the left side of this page to see where we are. I’ll report further in the morning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

0915 EDT

Cuba is a very long island. We first crossed above its eastern tip around 0500 yesterday and we’re still cruising along its northern coast. At the moment, we are between Cuba and the shallow Cay Sal Bank which prevents us from turning more northerly on the straight line to Marathon. We are about 140 miles south of Marathon and should still be in there tonight, before dark if possible.

After dinner last night, I took a two-hour nap and then took the wheel from midnight until around 4:30 this morning. Went back to sleep for about four hours and just got up to find Alvin making toast and bacon. Life is good. We might have a few waves as we enter the gulf stream later this morning, but otherwise the entire trip has been remarkably calm.

1800 EDT

Made it safely into Marathon. Perfect trip and weather all around. I’m ready for a drink as Captain Alvin has been drying me out for days, followed by a good dinner and uninterrupted sleep. More later.

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