Setting Sail

Butterflies in my tummy.

It looks like Wednesday might be the day we set sail to the Dominican Republic.  “Thorny Path” here we come.  This next leg of our trip has earned it’s name from the fact that it is both against the current and against the trade winds. Oh fun.


The plan, until very recently, like hours ago, had been to follow the “bible” written by Bruce Van Sant to the tee.  He breaks this potentially difficult route down into short island hops and uses the interaction between land and water to give the best chance against the trades.  Essentially taking the thorns out. That sounded great to us.  So what changed? To our surprise, we potentially have a weather window that will almost completely squelch the trade winds all together for the entire region  and do so for several days-very much a rare event. Thus, making it possible to hopefully make the run in one big go.  As much as I would like to slowly cruise through the last few Bahamian Islands this mild weather is going to be followed by another mighty cold front and we don’t want to wait it out at one of these smaller islands along the way as most of the anchorages are not that comfortable and some would be dangerous in a strong West wind.  That, and we definitely don’t want to wait out another front here in George Town.  So……a bunch of short hops just turned into a 400 mile run from George Town to Luperon.

Without wind, this is expected to be a mild motoring trip.  At least we think there will be too little wind to sail.  I will happily take no wind over wind on the nose.  The big obstacle with this plan was fuel.  We could stop into the last tiny Bahamian Island of Mayaguana for fuel but the chance of them not having it especially after the weather we have had the last few weeks was a real concern and we don’t want to go to the Turks and Caicos just for fuel (out of the way, expensive to clear in and out, time delay, and potential difficulties with the dog clearances).  This left Keith doing all kinds of calculations today with how much diesel we carry onboard vs. how much we expect to burn.  Our tank holds 60 gallons and we carry 25 on deck in cans.  This wasn’t enough to safely count on making the entire run. He decided to use two of our gasoline cans for diesel giving us another 10 gallons.  Then another boat who had two cans that they have been carrying around for the last four years-since before they crossed the Atlantic-offered up their unused cans which gave us another 6 gallons.  Our friend Craig also gave up two unused gas cans adding another 10 gallons. People always ask us why we have so many diesel cans on deck—I never thought we’d be adding more!  We are feeling good that we have enough to get there and a days worth of spare and are feeling thankful for the generosity.


I’d like to write that excitement and anticipation were my only emotions right now, but that would be ridiculous.  I am definitely feeling anxious too.  This is by far the longest sail we will have ever done. We are only 320 miles away from where we started from in Florida, so, yeah, 400 miles is a big jump for us. Actually it is 396- but lets just round up. Perhaps it is also the fact that it is STILL blowing stink and I am having a hard time envisioning still waters ahead.  I wouldn’t want to be out there in this weather right now.  A lot of it is that from this step on everything is new and we are quite accustomed to sailing in familiar waters.  Don’t get me wrong, we are both very ready to move along—it is time, but the butterflies in my tummy are still there.

When I am nervous I make lists and compile “facts”.  It’s just what I do. Keith just shakes his head at me and does something productive like solve our fuel problem. I have a pile of notebook sheets and a stubby pencil next to me.  I calculated exactly where we would be if we averaged 3 knots (God, please, no), 4 knots, 5 knots, and 6 knots (hey, I can dream).  I then made a chart of the forecasts for each of those areas for each of the different time frames.  Then I did it three more times using each different weather model.  I know–I can overthink things.  But no matter which scenario I look at, it should be a mellow trip. That is if the weathermen aren’t telling lies. Guess we will find out soon enough.  I also made a Spanish/English cheat-sheet of all of our boat and personal information that we need to clear customs and immigration.  It will be the first time for us in a Spanish speaking country and I am assuming, mild trip or not, we are going to be tired when we arrive.  We don’t speak Spanish (yet) and we might need a little extra help on the other end, but really looking forward to the challenge.

Waterfalls, motorcycle riding, and fresh fruit…..we  are coming for you!

**edit- since the time of writing this and posting this- I am feeling much calmer about our plans.  We head out in the morning and are feeling good!  We will see you in a couple days!

5 thoughts on “Setting Sail

  1. Safe travels!
    viajes seguros en español 🙂 I’m excited to see the pics you post in DR and there’s no doubt you can manage anything that might come your way.

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