May 3 – Dominican Republic:
Glancing down at my red, scraped knuckles as I type, I am reminded of the hard work Cielo’s crew has been putting in to gear her up for the 1200-mile passage that lies ahead.
Up until yesterday, my time on Cielo seemed more like a vacation on a floating hotel complete with first class drinks made by Kevin, the best bartender in the Northern hemisphere and snacks whipped up by Lizz, who’s evidently been an apprenticing Betty Crocker. Within the last 36 hours, this feeling of vacation has been replaced by cold hard reality of the serious work required when preparing for an extended off-shore passage.
We spent all day yesterday prepping for our journey: ferrying food and fuel from town to the boat, boat maintenance including changing the fuel filters, preparing provisions and tweaking our planned sailing route.
The most physically intense thing I’ve done since coming aboard is clearing Cielo’s hull of growth. The longer a boat sits in the water, the more slimy hairy growth and barnacles she accumulates. Surprisingly, just a small amount of growth can impede our speed through the water by a knot, which would cause us to lose 24 miles of distance every day. 24 miles is a lot of distance when you consider that a good 24-hour run for Cielo is 150 miles. So, with this in mind, we all donned snorkel gear, grabbed our scrapers and brushes and got to work. At first blush, scraping the hull may not seem like a big deal, but I can assure you… It’s an absolute bitch!
More of Part 3: Scraped Knuckles after the jump.
The process involves extended breath holding, high aerobic activity, slicing up your hands and taking the occasional gulp of salt water. After about 3 hours of work, Cielo’s hull was clear and I felt very proud of all that our hard work had accomplished.
After showering, we capped off the day by grilling half-pound burgers and sipping some cocktails while watching the “Best of the Colbert Report” on DVD. Despite the cuts and scrapes, it really was a perfect day. We worked hard and accomplished most of what we needed in order to prepare ourselves for the eight or nine day journey ahead.
Today we will finalize our route, get the last of the diesel we need and finish off the food prep, since I’ve been told that it can be very tricky to cook anything while under-way. If all goes according to our current plan, we should be heading home as of 7 a.m. tomorrow morning, These days preparation have, for me, finally taken this long sail from a theoretical idea to an eminent reality. I feel like I am at the precipice of an adventure that I cannot fully grasp, but am excited to engage.
(Ed: Kyle will be hitting the blue waters of the Atlantic for the next 10 days, we wish him well and are looking forward to his account as soon as he docks.)
Gear Highlight: Petzl TacTikka Plus Headlamp | $40 @ Backcountry