Sunday, April 8, 2012

DR to T&C: Magical Mystery Tour!

We awoke to our lovely environs here at the Puerto Bahia Samana marina at the Bannister, and were happy to be secure in our slip. It's always nice to wake up knowing the boat is tucked in safely when the weather is kicking up; the cabin is warm and the morning coffee is hot! With the winds piping along under overcast skies and in between intermittent rain showers, we used the blustery weather to our advantage for maintenance: main engine oil changes, scheduled Racor filter changes, water-maker filter changes and the like. We even changed out the holding tank vent filter (not a pleasant task to be sure, but a necessary one!). So, lots of work, but it was a day of tasks accomplished so we felt productive and happy!

We also had the pleasure of meeting another (Wisconsin!) cruising family off One World, Wes and Kim and their four kids. We enjoyed comparing hometown notes and getting acquainted -- they are just starting out on their sailing adventures, en route to destinations south. As is always the case, we had a good time! Later in the afternoon, we were happy to give them a tour of Equinox, and passed on a few tidbits of hopefully useful information regarding their road ahead. Oh, the places they'll go! We envy them -- knowing how fun it is to be heading out, with unknown adventures ahead! It makes it all the harder for us, since we are heading back. It's bittersweet when paths cross in the opposite directions.

But...back to Florida is where we are headed and where we will go. After our productive day in port, we were pleasantly surprised to awake the next morning to find the good weather forecast moving in ahead of schedule. After verification of the weather and some discussion of possible ports of arrival, we jumped on the opportunity to move on, so called customs to clear out and receive our despacho to leave the DR. 

Again, a much easier time of it than the last time! Everyone was pleasant and timely, there were no delays nor time wasted. It was a glorious day, and the cruise along the coast of the Dominican Republic en route to the Turks and Caicos was filled with sunshine and stunning coastal views. 
Puerto Bahia Marina behind us, with smooth seas ahead
The stunning Dominican Republic coastline captured our attention;
neither this photo above nor the one below do it justice.
Then started the Magical Mystery Passage! It was truly an amazingly lovely passage on a stretch of water that can be rough and treacherous; waters are wide open to the Atlantic to the north, with no real outs within easy range. When conditions are rough, you simply resign yourself to getting through it!  But Mother Nature was sweet that day, for we enjoyed glorious conditions!! Literally, 2' -3' seas with the wind slightly abaft, so we trailed fishing lines and reveled in the nice conditions. Not that the fish were impressed, for they ignored our lures entirely! But we still had our reward, for after enjoying the brilliant sunny skies and light winds, we were treated to a dramatic cloud-filled sunset that illuminated the horizon...I was glued to the views, as the changing colors were spectacular. 

The mystery aspect only applied in that you start to get very philosophical during the late-night watch,  looking out and marveling at the mysteries of the universe around you! My watch was simply serene as we passed the Mouchoir Bank and across the Mouchoir passage, with Equinox rocking atop a silver-glittered sea in the moonlight...lots of time to reflect and appreciate. Each moment when I thought one  particular beauty of clouds, water and moonlight unsurpassed, the next would arrive and leave me awed anew. The sea is a most magical place! And then the most gentle, pastel-colored dawn arrived....take a look for yourselves, from dusk until dawn:  
Just before sunset
The colors only deepened and became more vibrant:

The moon rise was just as beautiful, mysterious in black and white:
(Not bad for a little point & shoot camera!)
And then, just before the new dawn, came the moonset!  I didn't know which window to look out of from the pilothouse, as each view was so breath-taking! But what a moment: out on the gentle Atlantic, the only vessel there, seeing both views at once....priceless.
The setting moon, still  glittering on the water to the west
Dawn colors blazing in from the east
Like I said, a Magical Mystery Passage! 

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