March 08, 2008

Crossing the Mona

Dominican softball will carry on without us, but it will not be the same sin crew from "Ultima Noche". We made great friends and built quite the commmunity in a short period of time there in the DR, but the tradewinds died down for us and it was time to cut loose. The furry set in and we made the mad dash to Puerto Rico with twelve other boats. Traveling east in the tradewinds means motor sailing tight along the coast when the cooing air on land rushes back out to sea canceling the incoming winds forming a night lee. Columbus took advantage of this effect by rowing east by night and anchoring through the day. Sunrise after sunset we snuck along the coast. The weather window was short, and the pressure to stay in the comfort of the group was intense. We were all crossing into new territory and none the less the passage has a rough reputaion. Being small and slow we lead the pack off the line in order to stay with the group. Our friend Christa left his anchor and two hundred and twenty five feet of chain because it was hung up on a coral head and the prospect of falling behind and gettting left on the North coast when the weather picks was worse than replacing $1500 of ground tackle. All in all we had sunny days undersail filled with cardgames and watermelon, and the ocasional mecanical problems, but nothing tragic. Sailing around the world, is more or less getting as ready as you possibly can, then setting of when its time with tiller in one hand and wrench in the other.

Humpback whales escourted us along the way, and as we pointed due east just north of the hourglass shoals I saw a whale as big as our boat jump completely out of the water and hang in the air. It was one of those moments where staring off into the sea payed off. The experience was thrilling, and it wasn't far from the boat. The memory will remain and forever testify for me that some of the most amaizing life and natural phenomina happen in that vast and seeemingly void expanse we call the sea. I have spent days on end watching it, and I still see new phenomina after years on the water.
We slipped into Puerto Rico at 3 AM under a cloudy sky illuminted by the industrial lights of Mayaguez. Two boats abondoned the passage due to fatigue and two pulled in behind us. Overall we finished seventh. The race wasn't official, in fact no one else knew about it, but amongst the bigger boats we tend to place better when the race goes on un-announced.:)


James said...

Nice posting. Steady as she goes.
Someone (w/Harvard Law+MBA degrees)was saying yr. DR efforts sound like an example of how "big planning" efforts fail and more modest "searching" efforts work, as described by William Easterly in THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN, WHY THE WEST'S EFFORTS TO AID THE REST HAVE DONE SO MUCH ILL AND SO LITTLE GOOD. Good stuff.

Daniel Patterson said...

Cheers for that encouragement. It doesnt take alot to make an impact at the ground level. It seems that large third party entities intercept the joy we get from reaching out our selves. It can be all of our jobs to act in little ways as we go along with our day. Western aid is succesfull, is just not what we think it is. The Brenton Woods orgs have been out there securing the economic future of America under the guise of "Aid".