Sunday, November 11, 2012

Luperon to Boqueron

Looking back at the protected harbor of Luperon.
You can't even see the entrance!
Storyville set out from Luperon to sail (really to motor, or if we were lucky, motor sail) to Boqueron on Wednesday, November 7th at about 7:15 AM.  We figured that it would take us 48 hours if we didn’t run into any trouble, so we planned to make Boqueron by Friday morning.  There were five other boats with us, Pipe Muh Bligh, Island Dream, Illusions, Mojo and Hornblower Too.  It was a beautiful and calm morning, the seas were flat and there was almost no wind, just the conditions that we were looking for in order to have a smooth trip to our destination.

Some of our buddy boats on a smooth sea
The water was deep blue and beautiful, the sun was shining and we were feeling great just to be back on the move.  A small Marlin even did a dance just for us, leaping out of the water over and over again, at least 10 times!  That inspired me to get the fishing gear out and try to catch something (hopefully not a Marlin, that bill looks sharp!).  I had been trolling a couple of lines for several hours when we heard from our friends John and Barbara on Mojo that they had reeled in a Mahi Mahi , then not long after, they announced that they had caught a Tuna.  Now John was just bragging!  I started changing out lures and getting frustrated, we got a couple of hits but nothing on the line that whole day.  The next morning I set the lines again and several hours later, I finally got a hit and a fish was on the line!  It took about 10 minutes to get my beautiful Wahoo on board.  Unfortunately he got tangled in the other line that I was trolling and he was pretty cut up by the time I got him on board, plus we had a nice mess to untangle while dealing with a flopping, bloody fish at the same time.  We persevered and managed to get him aboard and filleted in no time.  He was a nice fish, but the only one that I caught on the whole trip.  Oh well, better than nothing.

After all that fish excitement, I needed a nap! I had a good couple of hours sleep and the first thing that I saw when I woke up and poked my head out of the companionway was a large pod of dolphins.  We decided to circle Storyville around and have a closer look as they were all hanging out on the surface.  When we got a closer look we realized that they were much larger than any other dolphins that we had ever seen and from what we could see of them, they were shaped a little differently.   They also were behaving a little differently than dolphins, just hanging out on the surface.  We could see that there was a baby in the group.  After we got back underway, we started talking about how big they were and different from other dolphins that we have seen.  We have a book on board – The Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins.  It really came in handy for a little research, it didn’t take us long to realize that we had just seen a pod of Pilot Whales.  Cool!
Best photo I could get of the Pilot Whales

Pilot Whale - Not my photo (taken from internet)

Kamakazie Flying Fish!
On my second watch on the first night, it must have been about 2:00 in the morning.  I’m just sitting in the cockpit minding my own business.  Keeping watch for ships and other boats, when suddenly, something hits the back of my arm.  I start looking around only to discover that I have been hit by a flying fish!  There he was just flopping around in the cockpit, gasping for air! I managed to toss him back overboard and he left me his fishy, slimy smell as a reminder of his presence.  We saw many flying fish during the day and not one ever hit our boat, but it’s a different story at night.  I guess they can’t see so well.  I think we ended up with five or six of them on board.  Some we saved and some we didn’t even know were there until they surprised us with their stiff little bodies the next morning.  One even landed down in the galley and flopped around there until I managed to get him back overboard!  Flying fish are amazing to see.  It’s incredible how far they can literally fly over the waves.  It’s awesome to see a school of 30 or 40 of them appear out of the water and soar over the waves only to disappear back into the ocean.

Beautiful sunset on in the Mona Passage
At this point we were about 12 hours from Boqueron and everything was looking good.  We watched a beautiful sunset while we ate a nice dinner in the cockpit. Just one more overnight and we would arrive early in the morning.  I went below at sundown for some sleep before my first night watch.  I think I was asleep for about an hour when I hear a sudden drop in the RPM of the motor.  I know that this cannot be a good thing and I spring out of my berth to ask Troy what happened.  At that point, he wasn’t sure, the RPM dropped dramatically and his first thought was that we had picked up something with our prop.  Of course, this had to happen at the worst possible time.  It was early in the evening and we would not be able to figure out what our problem was until daylight, at least 9 hours away.  I managed to hang over the stern of the boat, hanging on by my toes and I could see that there was definitely something around our prop. We were fortunate at the time as there was a little wind and we were able to sail towards our destination and continue to make about five knots.  That lasted for an hour or so and the wind died and we were left drifting. We spoke to our buddy boats (at that time Pipe Muh Bligh and Mojo were the only ones in radio range) and we all agreed that Pipe would stick with us in case we needed assistance and Mojo would go ahead to Boqueron.  There was a pretty good swell and you wouldn’t even notice it if you were making way, but try sitting there not moving and you could definitely feel it, not bad, just a little uncomfortable.  We hove to for a while (for our non-sailing readers, that means that we adjusted the sails so that the boat pretty much just drifts with the current, it’s the closest you can come to stopping the boat while at sea) and then, we eventually just sailed (in the wrong direction) at about two knots for the rest of the night.  It was a long one and we were just hoping that we would be able to resolve our problem with the morning light.
Morning finally arrived and at first light we set out to figure out how to get Storyville going again.  Troy is great at taking care of Storyville and of me, just click on this sentice to take a look at this past post and see what I mean.  Having said that, diving and swimming is just not his strong suit.  We had discussed this during the night and I was planning to be the one to go into the water to try to free the propeller.  As I was getting ready Troy informed me that he wanted to try first.  He said that it felt like the right thing to do.  As soon as he got into the water and saw the situation, he decided that he would give me a try at it! 
We are so fortunate (thanks to prior planning by Troy) that we bought a Hookah rig recently, in fact, this was our first time to use it.  And no, that doesn’t mean a bong like apparatus that you smoke through, it’s a scuba regulator that is attached by a long hose to a scuba tank that you leave on deck of the boat.  I got all hooked up and climbed the stern ladder to take a look at the situation. 

The seas were fairly calm but there was definitely a swell that had Storyville see sawing up and down.  I saw a great big ball of fishing net wrapped tightly around our prop and, to be honest, at that moment I didn’t think I would be able to clear it.  It was just so big and the boat was moving so much, not to mention that there was about 1,500 feet of ocean underneath me.  That did freak me out just a little.  It’s such a big blue nothing down there below us.  Then I just decided that I had to put my big girl panties on and get the job done!

This is what our propeller looked like
Of course, that was easier said than done, but I was determined.  At first I couldn’t find anything that would work to cut the line. I tried a sharp knife and then I tried a machete (even using the saw part of the machete) but it just wouldn’t work.  Finally I settled on my small pair of kitchen shears and just started cutting each strand, one or two at a time.   It was long work, especially with the surge and the boat moving around so much.  I had to wrap my legs around the rudder and hang on while cutting the net and trying not to get my head banged up against the bottom of the boat.
This is the wad of net that I removed
It took about 20 minutes of work, but I am proud to say that I got the job done.  Of course, the next day (and even still today) I feel like I went a couple of rounds with George Foreman and then ran a marathon and then got into a fight with a cat.  I have cuts and bumps and bruises, but I got Storyville back underway and we made it into Boqueron with about a seven hour delay.

We are so thankful that Pipe Muh Bligh stayed with us.  We didn’t end up needing any assistance from them, but we sure felt better knowing they were there if we needed them.  Thanks a million Rene and Stacy!

1 comment:

Laurie said...

We saw pilot whales around the same area (off Jamaica). I thought "those dolphins sure are fat!". They're so cool!