The Mona Passage and West Coast of Puerto Rico

Iguana on the rocks at Cabo Rojo lighthouse

Much lore surrounds the Mona Passage, and it can sound downright intimidating if you just listen to the stories, but our crossing was pretty anti-climactic. We could have used a better wind angle, but the sea conditions were fine. Swells were moderate, but the period (how far apart they were) was long. It was a good motion: enough to remind us that we were on a sailboat, but not enough to throw us around or do any damage. We needed to go ahead and get out of the Dominican Republic, so we couldn’t wait for a perfect weather window, but what we got was good enough. We made an early morning departure from Los Haitises Park in Samana Bay.

Sunrise

We did have a small overheating issue, but Alan fixed that underway. While he was doing so, we put up the full suit of sails to keep making progress, though we went a bit off our line to do so. About that time, we crossed paths with our friends Peter and Lee on Notre Voyage, who had left the evening before us. Turns out they were also having a mechanical issue, and we were glad to keep an eye on each other as long as we could. It is always good to see a familiar boat out there!

At the helm – my preferred position.

By first light, we were passing Isla Desecheo off the coast of Puerto Rico. We continued on to check-in at Mayaguez, which was relatively quick, friendly, and easy once we found Customs and Immigration. We did not linger there, however. It is pretty industrial, so we put the dinghy right back on the davits and headed down the coast to Puerto Real. We anchored there, and found that our friends George and Sarah on Mirador had taken a berth at the marina. Again, so glad to see familiar faces!

Old and New – They seem to coexist just fine here.

We rented a car and Sarah accompanied us on a quest for roast pork and to scope out Boqueron. The pork was tasty, and in Boqueron we ran into Peter and Lee, Mike and Marjolaine on Basta, and Daniel and his crew John on Arcturus. All of these are folks we met in Luperon. We had a nice drink at Galloway’s Pub and also stopped by the local fire station. We stop at a lot of fire stations.

A couple of days later, George and Sarah rented a car and we visited the Arecibo Observatory (geek heaven…) and the Rio Camuy Caverns. Both were just awesome to see. We also stopped at Aguadillas, where my mom lived when she was little. It was raining, so we didn’t stay long, but Crash Boat Beach there looked beautiful. There was a fellow with trained pelicans, but not too well trained. One of them snapped at me! We had a couple of drinks and pinchos (little meat skewers) there, but soon moved on in search of real dinner.

At Arecibo Radio Telescope
Orchids on the Arecibo grounds
Orchids on the Arecibo grounds
Alan won the Coqui rodeo!
Rio Camuy Caverns
Large Dome Stalagmite at Rio Camuy Caverns
Waterfall from above the caverns to the river below
Stalactite at Rio Camuy Caverns
Inside the caverns
Taino Indian Silhouette guarding the main chamber at Rio Camuy Caverns
Rio Camuy Caverns entrance
Puerto Real Sunset

Sarah had a place she wanted to seek out in Rincon, and we were so glad we did! Beach House had amazing views of the sunset, fabulous “island style” music, and a great burger! I think we all slept well after having such a full day.

As happens, pretty soon we were ready to move on down the road. We decided to skip taking the boat to Boqueron, and go down to Cabo Rojo to stage for an early morning departure around the cape. This plan was put on hold, however. When we got to Cabo Rojo and the wind was blowing fiercely and there was a terrible swell. There is just not enough elevation on shore there to slow either one down. We decided that would make for an uncomfortable night, so we turned right back around and went to Boqueron, where we spend some pleasant days, reprovisioned a bit at Eli’s Market, and had a Merry Christmas with friends.

Dinghy Dock at Boqueron
Boqueron Bombero

We went back to Galloway’s for Christmas Eve Dinner,which was so yummy! I spoke to the owner of the restaurant about my quest to make beans like mom (almost) remembers from her childhood and she gave me some ideas. I mentioned that I was planning on making Coquito, and she became very animated! She brought a round of the house Coquito for the table, and gave me her recipe. <3

The next day was Christmas,and we enjoyed testing that Coquito recipe with friends on Consort.

Christmas Day on Consort

It’s hard to feel that it is winter, much less Christmas, when the temperatures are in the 80’s, but we played Christmas music and Peter wore a Santa hat, so we managed to feel pretty festive. I even made a small Christmas tree out of found objects.

Driftwood Christmas Tree

We spent a couple more days in the secure harbor there, and then made a second attempt on Cabo Rojo. This time was much better. Conditions were calmer. We enjoyed the anchorage, visited the light house, checked out the playita, and the much more deserted beach at the anchorage before moving on to the South coast of the island.

Alan on the natural bridge – and why do guys always strike this pose???
Cabo Rojo lighthouse
Cliffs and water at Cabo Rojo

It was easy to see we were going to love Puerto Rico.

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