The Caicos Banks were uncomfortable with SE winds and chop, so we put the engine on and went as briskly as possible. Great Sandy Cay was a very peaceful place to stop. Because we planned to leave midday, we had a lazy afternoon and lazy morning there, playing on a beach with no footprints and the first surf we have seen.
We left in perfect sailing weather, and had all the sails up and the engine off for the afternoon. The trip was due south with a SE swell and ESE 15 knot wind, so not the most comfortable tack but it felt good to be moving under sail. Cocktail hour was rudely interrupted by flapping genoa noises, and a gut feeling that all was not right. The 135% genny clew had failed, and the huge genoa was tearing down the leading edge. Catastrophe. I put the harness on and staggered up the foredeck and wrestled with it for quite a while, getting it down, off the furler, and safely tied up. I then took apart Max’s cabin, found the older genoa and borrowed the spinnaker halyard to haul up the replacement. Because the head car (or whatever its called) was left up the furler – the spinny halyard was a poor replacement as i couldn’t roller reef the genoa, so i hoped conditions would stay the same.
Sadly – they got a little stronger – or rather, it got darker, cloudier, and lightning began to flash, and it felt stronger. So i had a go at roller reefing and moderating the sail plan, which slowed us down. The rest of the night was uneventful, but wet and splashy and uncomfortable. Uncomfortable mainly because both Tom and Max decided to spend time in the cockpit that night spread over the most comfortable positions.
Our plans to use the “umbra of calm” exerted by the mountains of the DR to sail east to Playa Plata were foiled by the sail issues, so we settled for Luperon.
Luperon is a small river port in the DR, and finally feels like a foreign country, with a different language, humidity, smells, and sights that no longer resemble parts of Australia. We had to check in with the Navy (Armada), Port Authority, Customs, Immigration, and Ministry of Agricultura among many. Tom and I sneaked ashore for a cold one before we took the yellow quarantine flag down, and enjoyed the breeze. It is hot!
Today i hoisted Tom to the top of the mast to grab the roller reefer car and drag it down the mast. I was more exhausted after this than when i was pulling the sails up and down, as i was terrified he would flip over out of the Bosuns chair, and my back-up harness would fail, or the spinnaker halyard would break. I use Tom for all my dirty jobs as he fits in the smallest holes and is light and flexible. He earns every ice-cream he gets.