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Sailing Vessel Beruta Ship's Log

Great Inagua - Dominican Republic

14 December 2012

At 3PM local time after good lunch with Russian "borsch" (beet soup) I hardly pulled the anchor in - the chain had almost entangled with corals. Raised the genoa and slowly sailed downwind via Winward Passage to port Andres, the Dominican Republic - the destination that was about 500 miles away.

For a couple of hours I helped Beruta with the engine until the wind changed the direction to the east and increased to 12 knts. Then I sailed under full main and genoa reachinng or broad reaching at 5 knts. When I passed the trafic separation zone east of Cuba, I altered the course to 210° M towards US Navassa island to get around south-west point of Haiti and stay 6 miles offshore. Genoa got shaded by main and had to go down. Due to the opposite current, the speed dropped to 4 knts.

At night the autopilot jammed a few times. I had to replaced it with the spare one. Would deal with the defective one later. Something was probably corroded inside. It might need some cleaning or new parts.

15 December 2012

The current was pushing Beruta towards Haiti. To counteract it, the course to steer became 227° M, still sailing just under the main, dead downwind at 4 knts. The owner of this "Christmas tree" seen on the picture to the right - the dream of any singlehanded sailor, had begun complaining about the long voyage and we discussed the possibility to enter Ile a Vache's Port Morgan anchorage on the south-west of Haiti for a quick break.

Around 10PM the dark cloud approched from the coast of Haiti that brought wood fire smoke and the shift of the wind to 90° portside. I raised genoa and reached for couple of hours until the wind died and became close-hauled. Ok, time to motoring.

Although I haven't heard of any pirate attacks near the coast of Haiti, somehow the rumors had been in the air. Frank Virgintino in his "Cruising Guide to Haiti" said that sailing with Guntanamo (US Naval Base in Cuba) to starboard and Navassa (US own little island) off the bow, he felt very safe. Hm... It was almost 100 miles to Guantanamo Bay from the SW point of Haiti and I heard that Navassa island was deserted. Anyway, to be on the safe side, I decided not to turn the navigation lights but left the AIS on hoping that even if the pirates exist, they are not so advance in technology.

16 December 2012

By the sunrise, I rounded the SW corner of Haiti and was motoring 10 miles offshore from the rocky costline where anyone doubtfully lived. In the forecast there was 5 knt easterly wind but in reality it was 15 to 20! Therefore, motoring at 5 knts, Beruta faced the apperant wind from 20 to 25. I came closer to the shore and it subsided to 13-18 knts at first but then returned to the original.

The estimated arrival time to Ile A Vache was 5PM, hence we decided to skip the stopover there and continue east at night, perhaps taking advantage of stalled by katabatic wind trades.

By 2PM I was at the Pointe l'Abacou steering 107° M to Isla Beata, DR.

17 December 2012

Ar night the wind increased to 20-25 knts and I had to adjust RPMs: first - to maintain the speed between 3 and 4 knots, second - to minimize the number of times Beruta fell hard from steep waves.

During the day, it was blowing 15 to 25 knts and Beruta hardly was making a progress. The current helped though. By looking around from the cockpit, it appeared that the boat was not moving at all but GPS showed SOG from 3 to 4 knts.

Around 3 PM when I had some nap after fried chicken wings with noodle, the engine suddenly stoped - great, I ran out of diesel. I had hoped that it would have last till the evening when I arrive to the Isla Beata and fill the tank from 4 canisters under the shelter of the island. It was still 4 to 5 hours motoring to it. Well, I raised the half of the main to keep Beruta drifting slowly and poured one canister into the tank. The fuel filter was all clogged with water and sludge from the bottom of the tank, so I switched to the spare one just by turning one valve off and another on in two seconds. Indeed, it was very handy addition to the boat! And off I went again motoring.

Apparently, under high RPM the diesel consumption was much more than half a gallon per hour. At least, one canister should be enough to reach the island, which happened an hour after the sunset. Isla Beata protected Beruta not only from the waves but also from the wind. The water was quite deep on the west side, so I anchored relatively close to the shore in 4 meters.

I decided to stay there overnight since it was another 120 miles to port Andres - all against the wind. Or another 24 hours or more either motoring or tacking hard. Arriving to marina Zar-Par at night made no sense because I would have had to stay on board till next morning waiting for the officials.

18 December 2012

Woke up around 8, had breakfast, filled the tank, changed the fuel filter, changed genoa with the jib and off I sailed, this time tacking to the wind that seemed to be as efficient as motoring agaist it because despite twice the distance it took to get somewhere, the speed was almost twice as much compared to going under the engine.

Caught the fish! Unfortunately, it was barracuda and with no cat on board, I had to release it.

Maybe I had been too optimistic about tacking... It seemed that I needed another day to cover 120 miles. Therefore, motorsailing sounded like a better option. I could point Beruta more into the wind (approximately by 10°), reduce the drift and add another knot or knot and a half to the speed.

By night I wanted to be as close to the shore as possible. So after 4 hours of passing Isla Beata, I made a turn towards the coast of Dominican Republic. However, the closer I got, the stronger the wind was. It was gradually increasing from 16 to 27 knots. I even began to think that it had not been a good idea to continue approaching the shore but once I got to less than half mile, the wind died to 10-12 knts and changed the direction to the north. Now I could sail along the coast but forget about the sleep. In one spot my chart showed 100 meter depth when the sounder displayed 8! Also, someone need to watch the course - too close to the land to rely on autopilot.

19 December 2012

The wind continued blowing from the north for the entire passage to port Andres. By 3PM I docked in marina Zar-Par just in time to complete the clearing formalities.

All pictures from the Dominican Republic are on Picasa.