The weather may have improved, but it still packed a punch. We left Ocean World as darkness was falling and bashed our way along the north coast of the Dominican Republic and across the Mona Passage towards Puerto Rico. After two nights and 39 hours at sea, we arrived in Puerto Real at sunrise. The Mona Passage is well known for tough sailing conditions and we just managed to squeak through before the weather turned nasty again. Most of our fellow cruisers waited in the DR for a better weather window. However, one intrepid single-hander (i.e. he’s the only one on board his boat and he simply turns on the autopilot when he goes to sleep), Ross Pegg, did sail alongside us for part of the way and even managed to haul in a white marlin to boot!
The marina in Puerto Real is called Marina Pescaderia and is owned and operated by Jose Mendez. Jose is a fantastic guy. He told us all about the best places to stop on our upcoming tour of the south coast of Puerto Rico and even contacted various marinas to ensure we would have good spots reserved for us.
In spite of the rough weather, we had a very compelling reason to make the break for Puerto Rico when we did. My father, Peter Powell, had decided that he would like to see Panache for himself. Since he was undergoing serious chemotherapy at the time, the idea seemed to be somewhat of a “long shot.” Luckily for all of us, Jane Powell, my stepmother, is an amazingly resourceful and determined woman. The chances of all of the necessary pieces falling into place were very slim indeed - but she did it! Jane had a contact in San Juan and made all the necessary arrangements in advance. The two of them boarded Panache about 6 hours after we made landfall in Puerto Rico.
In 1982, Peter purchased a sailboat in Taiwan and enlisted my brother (Chris Powell), a friend (John Durrant) and me to help bring her home. That experience started me down the path that would eventually lead to our around the world adventure aboard Panache. After 35 years, I had a chance to return the favour (albeit with a 4-day cruise rather than a 6-month, high seas adventure). The basics of sailing haven’t changed much since then, but the electronics sure have. I gave Dad an overview of our systems, which I personally think are pretty amazing. I’m not certain that was a good idea because I think he may now have the impression that “it’s so easy these days, even an idiot can do it.”
After two nights at Marina Pescaderia, the four of us set out at dawn, rounded the light house at Cabo Rojo and headed eastward along the south coast. The weather was still not cooperating, so after some tough slogging, we tucked in for the night behind a mangrove island, Cayo Caracoles, in La Parguera. The next day we continued eastward and headed for our final destination, a marina that Jose had recommended in Ponce.
We shared a lot of laughs, told a lot of stories and really enjoyed the chance to be together. We are so thrilled they came, loved having them on board and feel extremely fortunate to have had such a priceless gift. After a tearful farewell, they spent the last night at a hotel to get a good night’s rest before their long journey home to Seattle.