Antigua to US, day 5

by Glen (via IridiumGo)

Friday 1 June: Dominican Republic to Haiti
Wow, June has arrived, the official start to the hurricane season. Definitely the right time to be heading NE. It’s also the International Children’s Day! Happy celebrations to all, young and old.
By sunrise the wind has eased back to 12-13kts and the sails are banging a bit as we roll more in the swell at a slower speed. But the seas are slight, 1m swell maximum.
By breakfast we are level with Punta Cabarete on Dominican Republic. Glen wishes we were closer to the coast as he, Ellie and Alex had learned to kite-surf at Cabarete 11 years ago. It would have been interesting to see it from offshore.
At midday the wind picks up to 15-18kts as we move into the top edge of the wind acceleration zone above Puerto Plata, and our speed is back to a nice 7+kts again.
The color of the sea is deep blue, the bluest deep water we’ve seen so far. Yesterday it seemed that sargasso weed was gradually diminishing, as we haven’t seen big rafts or patches in quite some time, but today, we started noticing the weed again; not in large rafts, but significant quantities of it.
Today we spent quite a bit of time looking at the charts and the weather forecast, and we decided our course for the next day. We’ll go between Great and Little Inagua islands, then head for North West Cay. With that in mind, we changed course to 305M, running the poled genoa to its limit by-the-lee, and our speed picked up to 7.5-8kts.
Oh now that’s interesting …. we can sail 30deg off dead downwind and the reverse flow across the genoa is really very powerful. Apparent wind even goes to 120deg sometimes and the genoa still doesn’t back. Well, not quite true, close to 120deg it does occasionally back then refill again with a big bang that jerks the whole rig and boat! So we keep just out of that zone.
For lunch we BBQed half of the Mahi-Mahi caught yesterday. It was a pretty big fish but it grilled to perfection on the plancha and it was absolutely delicious. We again declare Mahi-Mahi to be our favorite fish to eat. And there was probably enough for 4 people …. we could hardly move after lunch!
As we are approaching the border with Haiti, the wind swings a bit from the north, and we gybe the genoa to keep us on track for the narrow gap we have to pass between the Inaqua islands.
While we have its clew within reach on the port side, it’s time to do damage control: the sacrificial sheet is chaffed through, so we cut it off and tie a new knot. We knew after our Atlantic crossing experience that the genoa sheet will chaff through the pole cleat, so we put a sacrificial rope before we started this passage. After the alteration is done, plus an upgrade with a rubber wrap-around, we revert to poled out genoa on starboard side again.
Sunset was at 7:24 this evening. That’s 30mins difference in just 2 days. We sure are making good westward progress. It seems a shame we will have to change our clocks to EST when we arrive to the USA. It will feel like undoing all our hard work to get our evenings lighter!
After sunset, we had a short performance by jumping dolphins. A few flips in front of our bow, then they were gone.
In the evening the wind picks up to 18-22kts and so does our speed to 8.5kts, with a max of 12.4kts. It’s quite some ride for the rest of the evening as we surf each wave, consistently hitting 9-11kts each time.
Before the moonrise it’s absolutely pitch dark and a very starry night sky. Stars are right down to the horizon. Definitely the darkest night we ever had, and the sound of water rushing passed the hull at this speed, in the dark, is quite exhilarating.
We’ve seen no ships today, a bit spooky to be alone out here. Days like this we wonder “Is the AIS still working? Are there any lights on the horizon?”. Well, we are after all in the Bermuda Triangle, maybe we’ve transgressed into the twilight zone!!?
Before midnight a golden moon rises on the horizon into a clear sky. What a sight, ….what a night, ….oh what wonderful days sailing. It doesn’t get much better than this!

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