Day 8 Turks and Caicos to Dominican Republic
We begin our last and longest passage on our way from the Bahamas to the Dominican Republic on March 22nd at 6 a.m. It is 100 NM between Six Hills Cay and Luperon. We are expecting to sail for two or three days depending on winds, waves, and currents.
We are getting moderate Trade Winds from east 14-17 kts in the morning increasing to 20-22 in the evening. Fata Morgana is doing 5 to 7 knots on a close reach, course south-southeast. Our progress is incredible; by noon we have crossed the Turks Channel and by 6 p.m. we have covered half of the Windward Passage; two thirds of the total distance.
When darkness falls, we have only about 30 miles left. The trade winds pick up, 20-22 knots now, and Fata starts galloping with 7 knots, sometimes up to 9. It gets bumpier too. This is a bit too much, beyond the comfort zone; the sails are tight, the boat is cracking, we can feel the tension.
Just after midnight, as we approach the great dark landmass of the island of Hispaniola, not more than three miles offshore, a miracle happens. I am not using the word ‘miracle’ as some sort of a metaphor here; I am referring to an actual real-life extraordinary occurrence, a hard-to-believe divine intervention happening in front of our eyes. We witness the Katabatic Wind effect for the first time in our lives.
Suddenly, the strong east winds disappear. Completely. From 22 knots the wind drops to 0. The waves calm down, and a great stillness falls upon us.
The scientific explanation of this miracle is the following:
The cool mountain air descends from the highlands of Hispaniola at night sliding downhill towards the sea producing a phenomenon called katabatic winds. Coastal lands cool down faster than the seawater and the cold air pushes the hotter air above the water. The land breeze assisted by the katabatic winds cancels the see breeze and the tradewinds near the shores at night. That’s it! The wind is canceled for tonight. And every other night on the north shores of Hispaniola. It means we have to motor for two miles and a half! Evo is outraged, personally offended, as if there is someone who actually switched the wind off just to annoy him and make him turn on the engines for the last couple of miles.
It is 2 after midnight when we enter the sleeping harbor in Luperon, motoring. The anchorage is full of boats. Nothing moves. We find a spot and drop anchor. We have arrived in Dominican Republic in less than 20 hrs.
An old familiar smell suddenly fills our lungs. A smell you never forget, no matter how many decades have passed since you last inhaled it; a smell that can make you cry. The smell of land. A big solid chunk of dirt. Roots of century-old trees, bleached bones, and cow dunk. The smell of wet fields and fire. Dry riverbeds and nostalgia.Share