(Sorry for the delay we’ve had technical difficulties with uploading photos) Since the last blog we left Dominican Republic, visited Puerto Rico and come back to DR. During the 3 weeks away from our boat we have seen and done all kinds of things. We made it safely to Puerto Rico on s/v Bluebonnet with our friend Gene Rowan. That was an interesting and scary voyage at times but we managed to come out of it safely only by the grace of God! We had some fun and excitement and we were so amazed at how beautiful PR is. It was truly stunning with the lush green rainforests and layers and layers of mountains for as far as you could see. We had no idea but we were pleasantly surprised.
As with the trip and excitement of leaving Dominican Republic there was just as much excitement in Puerto Rico aboard Bluebonnet. Just to sum it up a bit we stopped in Mayaguez, Puerto Real, Bouqueron, Parguera, Ponce and Salinas where we left Gene’s boat. We took our time while in PR and were with Gene aboard Bluebonnet for 3 weeks. The excitement and fear included losing 250 feet of chain; getting the stanchion by the bowsprit ripped out of the deck; losing a small gas can overboard; being stuck out on the water with a faulty starter; getting the halyards wrapped around the spreaders causing the sail not to raise and getting air in the fuel tanks where the boat died on us and wouldn’t start without putting another 20 gallons of gas into the boat. By the way this all happened out on open water 😖! I didn’t take pictures during any of this because I was either praying or tying down swinging halyards to keep them from swinging around knocking someone off the boat.
Being on a sailboat accidents are bound to happen and mistakes will be made, unfortunately for us most of these accidents happened because of laziness and Gene being the captain admitted to it and owned it all. (Good captains admit their mistakes) The worst part of this is it all happened one morning over approximately 8 hours that should have been maybe a 4 hour run. After leaving Ponce around 5:30am we put the mainsail up and head out. We are about 30-40 minutes out and run into some rough waters and things start getting knocked around below in the cabin. We hear a crash and see somethings sliding across the floor so Jeff goes below to tie things down and realizes the tool bag wasn’t secured and had fallen off a shelf and all the tools fell out (can you say dangerous flying objects!?!) As he was straightening up and wiping up a spill he hears this unusual noise and quickly identifies it as chain, “falling chain” and hollers up at us but by the time Gene stops the boat at least 200 ft had bounced off the deck and over the side of the boat into the Caribbean ocean. Gene had opted to leave the chain on deck rather than feed it back down into an anchor locker and secure it 😳 Not even a full mile outside of Ponce, where we had anchored for a few nights before, we were seeing waves several feet high and fairly close together which made the boat ride rough. All the bouncing and dipping was the precursor to our very painful morning. Jeff and Gene spent no less than 3 hours trying to free the chain which somehow became tangled on a reef or something and kept pulling more chain over as well as bending the bowsprit while managing to rip a stanchion out by the shear pressure of the weight of the chain and whatever held us below! After 2 1/2 hours of fighting with it Jeff convinced Gene to cut the chain loose for all of our safety. The seas were rough and the winds were too high and we were literally anchored to the ocean floor and being roughly bounced around but not by choice. Gene grabs a cordless grinder and begins cutting the chain, about half way through the chain the battery dies 😖 he goes below deck to attempt another solution but thankfully there was enough pressure that the remaining chain snaps and sets us free. Throughout this ordeal we had to drop the mainsail and since the winds were high the halyards got wrapped around the spreader so we couldn’t raise the sail back up. His sail is very big and was flapping all around in the winds so they had to get the halyard free before we could move on. Another 20-30 minutes pass before we are safely moving but with a few scars and a new hole in the deck and about 300 lbs lighter (by-bye chain) During the next few hours we experience the rest of the issues. The boat stops about an hour after the chain issue. We find out later it’s because we had air in the fuel tanks from all the heeling over we were doing. Gene adds the fuel but the boat won’t start due to the faulty starter. Luckily Gene knows his boat so he works his magic and with a little maintenance he finally gets the boat started again. Somewhere during all the bouncing and dancing we were doing a small fuel can falls overboard as well <sigh> other than littering that was the least expensive loss of the day. We finally make it to Salinas where Gene plans to leave the boat for the season. We make our way into the marina and as we had already driven to the marina by car a week or so earlier Gene knows which slip he wants to leave his boat in so we make our way over. The wind is still blowing pretty well so getting into a slip is always more difficult on windy days. After about an hour and much help from people on the deck as well as someone in a dingy we get Bluebonnet into it’s slip. It wasn’t a graceful landing by any means and much frustration was had by everyone but it was well past midday so we cracked open a beer or three and sat back and thanked God for his protection after our day from ocean hell! Once you get a boat tied up at a dock you can relax and remember the best things about sailing!
We had about 7 days left before we planned to leave Puerto Rico and Gene had some big boat projects to accomplish and we wanted to sightsee so we took a couple of days off to make a trip over to Old San Juan with Gene and then Jeff and I went over to the El Yunque National Rainforest and did some hiking and shopping as well. We met up with a few friends from the Abacos (s/v Rat Catcher) and Georgetown Exumas (s/v Joda) and had dinner and drinks with them several nights during our week in Salinas. It was great seeing friends we had already spent so much time with and knew it could be years when and if we run into each other again. We managed to fly back without issue but did run into a snag with our ride back to Luperon once we got into Santo Domingo. Rather than the bus we planned to take back (they don’t accept dogs 😩) we had to find a taxi who would drive us the 5 hours remaining. It cost a lot more than the bus but it was all worth it in the end.
Speaking of the dogs they adapted perfectly! Mocha slept in a little cupboard closet and loved it, Mia found a new best friend in Gene who fed her everything he ate and let her sleep in his big bed anytime she wanted and they both loved being underway and slept through most of it in the most comfortable chairs onboard. They visited Old San Juan with us and loved the car and plane rides they got to take. So thankful they took to all the changes so well. Just goes to show dogs are happiest as long as they are with their owners, no matter what cockamamie trips we take them on 😂🐶💞
We have some great memories and stories and no regrets from any of our time. We have definitely grown and learned from all the experiences we had. If we get an opportunity to crew with someone again there are things we now know we can do differently to ensure safety and protection throughout the entire trip. Gene was incredibly kind and generous and we are thankful to him and his wife Janette who took care of all the logistics from Houston. Thanks to everyone who continues to keep us covered in prayer, we feel them and love you all! 💞⛵🌴