The Whisker Pole (Mona) Passage

The Whisker Pole (Mona) Passage

This past week we departed from Puerto Real on the western shores of Puerto Rico for our second longest passage on our journey. We sailed across the well known Mona Passage that extends between the Turks and Caicos along the north shore of the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. Our Rhumbline route was approximately 430 nautical miles to the island of Mayaguana in the outer Bahamas which we completed in 72 hours.

We departed in light winds at noon on Tuesday expecting to be motoring or motor sailing for the first leg of the journey. As it turned out we motor sailed for the first 30 hours and by dinner time on day 2, the winds were consistent enough with 8 knots apparent to shut the engine off and maintain 5 knots or better.   The final 24 hours saw slightly higher winds which boosted our speed allowing us to make good time towards our Friday arrival.

Up until this point in our travels we had not put much use on our whisker pole and I was starting to question why we had added one to the boat this summer. Well, I’m happy to report it earned its position on the boat on this journey as we had consistent winds at 140 to 180 degrees apparent which is where sailing wing and wing seems to excel over tacking back and forth at 120 degress apparent wind or sailing on course under just the head sail in moderate winds.

We had some beautiful sunsets, clear starry nights and great sunrises on this passage.  We even saw bioluminescence the first night primarily making the propeller wash sparkle behind the boat. Here is the sunrise coming up over the Turks and Caicos bank as we were on our final leg to the Bahamas.

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Are we there yet?

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As we approached Mayaguana we started the engine to begin charging the batteries and furled in the headsail to prepare for the reef pass. We had waves that were large enough that I didn’t really want to wrestle on deck with the boom while flaking the main sail (one day I may get around to rigging lazy jacks for these occasions), so I opted to navigate the pass through the reef first as the sun was high and we could see the bottom clearly. Once inside the reef we found a spot to drop the sail and then anchored for lunch.

After lunch, we motored along the 5 mile long anchorage towards the settlement where we would be able to clear customs.  Then I lugged the dinghy up on deck and inflated it so we could make it ashore into the settlement to clear customs and then explore.

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In the Bahamas if you cruise on a boat 35’ or less your cruising permit costs $150, otherwise it is $300. When asked how long my boat was I replied it was 34’ (it is actually supposed to be 33’9”). I started filling out the customs documents and after taking a copy of our registration the customs agent asked me how I figured my boat was 34’. A bit confused I replied it was a Hallberg Rassy 34, the 34’ model and seeing that she was using a calculator I glanced at our registration. Our registration reports the length at 11.56 metres which I quickly realized translated to the 37 or 38’ range and could see where this was going. So, we got stuck with the $300 fee and I will have to figure out how transport Canada came to believe our boat is 37.92’ long and 15” wider than it really is.  At least they got the depth right.

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Since our arrival Magnus has been enjoying his first sandy beaches in a few weeks which we think he feels makes up for 72 hours at sea.   Chrissy and I have also taken advantage of the crystal clear water to swim which we had been longing for as Puerto Real, did not have this to offer, although the friendly locals made it worth the visit.

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We are currently letting a cold front pass and you can see some of the dark clouds in the background here from some prefrontal squalls yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow we will make one more relatively large jump and then we will be close to the Exumas where we will spend a few weeks hopping around and exploring before jumping further north to the Abacos chain.

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They say it is better in the Bahamas.  We’ll soon find out!

This article has 2 comments

  1. The  bioluminescence sounds amazing!  This is something I always have wanted to see!

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