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  • Writer's pictureSailing Koinonia

S/V Koinonia Weekly Sailing Log - Leaving St Martin, Koinonia under Contract, and Exploring Old San Juan (Apr 3rd - Apr 16th, 2024)

Highlights this week:  sad goodbyes to boat friends in St Martin, a long passage to Ponce, Puerto Rico, Koinonia under contract, visiting Old San Juan with friends, more sad goodbyes to friends in Ponce, Puerto Rico; a short sail to Puerto Real as we staged to cross the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic.

Wed Apr 3 - went ashore at 7am for cruisers gym at the field; went to the Cadis market to buy fresh bread.  Came back to the boat and the kids did school. Ben went ashore and picked up the bracket for our davits from the welder and reinstalled it.  SV Sunshine arrived and anchored in Marigot Bay. Ben started looking at possible weather windows to leave for Puerto Rico. Our friends on SV Quazami got an offer on their boat today. Went to the field and played with the kids for a few hours, then Amber made black bean chili for dinner and our friends on Quazami joined us.

Thu Apr 4 - Jade and Emilio’s birthday from SV Sunshine - they are one of the first kid boats we ever met and befriended. Kids do school. Ben and Amber worked on laundry. Spoke with our parents on the phone.  Ben made water and Amber did a load of laundry. Helped Anthony from Quazami troubleshoot and fix his outboard motor.  Ben cut his hair. Everyone went to the field, then we ate Chinese for dinner went over to SV Sunshine for birthday cake.

Fri Apr 5 - our friends on Quazami signed a contract to sell their boat. Made one last trip to Little Jerusalem for shwarmas, then to Buccaneers for kid night and socializing with fellow cruisers.

Sat Apr 6 - changed the fuel filter on the boat engine. Had dinner with Quazami and shared a lovely bottle of Chateauneuff du Pape we had purchased and saved just for the occasion.

Sun Apr 7 - worship on Quazami followed by a makeshift lunch. Returned to Koinonia and checked the weather again, confirming our departure window on Monday. Spent the afternoon preparing the boat to get underway. Long-time boat friends, cruising mentors, and former dock mates, Don and LaVonne, stopped by for a visit, after recent arrival on their 78ft catamaran, SV Cat’s Meow, anchored in Simpson Bay.  Ben made Puerto Rican beans and rice and then we hosted SV Quazami one last time around 5pm. Quazami gifted us their guitar since they have no way to keep it.  Said our “see you soons” around 7:30pm.  Friends on SV Sunshine stopped by to wish us farewell around 8pm, after which we got ready for bed early since we plan to get underway early tomorrow.

Mon Apr 8 - Amber and Ben awoke at 5:15am and got “Koinonia” ready to get underway. Anthony and Julie on SV Quazami kindly wake early to see us off and waived farewell as we weighed anchor.  Fair conditions prevailed with light winds.  Ben hung a fish on a hand line around 11am, but it was poorly hooked because it came off after a very brief fight.  A very warm day but the passage was smooth. An incredible sighting of a lone orca in the middle of Mar Caribe pass, somewhere between Tortola and St Croix.  Winds became a bit gusty after about 4:30 as we put St Thomas astern; put two reefs in the mains’l and flew only the stays’l.  Amber took the first watch.

Tue Apr 9 - Ben took over the second watch around 2:00am.  As we approached the ledge off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico, Ben put out the fishing lines.  Around 7am, we caught a nice kingfish and immediately after bringing the first fish aboard, another reel began screaming and a big “smoker king” nearly spooled the reel. Ben managed to stop the fish while Amber stopped the boat and dropped the sails. After about 10 mins, the fish started tiring and giving back line, little by little. After a long battle, Ben got the fish within about 100ft of the boat, then suddenly the fish appeared to be surging towards the boat with its head completely out of the water…it was being eaten by a shark!  With a single bite, most of our big catch was gone.  Ben brought in the head with only a short body section remaining from which we were able to harvest a couple of nice fillets.  After cleaning the fish, we stowed the fishing gear and cleaned the deck.  As Ben was pulling in the lines, he discovered that we had been dragging a big Barracuda during the mayhem, but we were too distracted to notice it.  Arrived at the PYFC fuel dock in Ponce around 12:30pm and topped up on gas and diesel.  Our good friend Jochi met us on the dock and we exchanged big hugs all around. Contacted customs via the CBP Roam app to clear into the US.  Left the fuel dock and anchored off the beach of the yacht club.  Made water, stowed all of our gear, and took showers. Received an official offer on the boat and, after some negotiation, we worked out a deal; praying all goes well with our travels back to the US and for the closing of the deal to go smoothly. Amber made a veggie beef stew for dinner, then we went to bed.

Wed Apr 10 - went ashore after the kids finished school. Visited the yacht club office and found out where to dock our dinghy. Went to Chick-fil-a for lunch for the first time in almost 6 months, then to Walmart and stocked up on a bunch of dry goods and hygiene products as we prepared to go to the DR and the Bahamas.  Returned to the boat, stowed everything, and then went ashore to meet Annie and Jochi for dinner at the yacht club restaurant.

Thu Apr 11 - went ashore first thing in the morning to workout. Ran along the breakwater of the yacht club overlooking the sea; took some silly pictures to share with friends. Returned to the boat and the kids did school. Strong winds today but our anchor never budged.  We heard a large flock of birds and a school of fish blowing up on the surface behind the boat, so Lizzy and Ben each grabbed a rod and quickly doubled up - they had no idea what kind of fish but they fought hard. It turned out to be a school of Albies.  Not really good to eat but we did make some strip baits to tip our trolling lures. Everyone got showers on the boat, then we went to TJ Maxx to buy Amber and the girls some clothes but didn’t find as much as we hoped. Bought a replacement tea kettle. Went to Panda Express for dinner (total gut bomb) and then back to Walmart to continue working on our provisioning list, then returned to the club where we bought ice cream for the girls and then returned to the boat.

Fri Apr 12 - kids woke up extra early to do school.  Ben took the trash ashore and filled the car Jochi let us borrow with gas. Finished packing and drove to Old San Juan in the rain, following our friends.  Arrived at our apartment for the weekend:  269 Calle de la Luna, settled in, then went to dinner.  Met Annie and Jochi’s friend Greg and his family. Had a traditional Puerto Rican meal, then called it a night.

Sat Apr 13 - woke up and Ben made omelets for breakfast.  Got showers and walked to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a National Park and historic site.  Toured the castle and then went to lunch in the downtown area. After lunch, we walked to Iglesia de San José, the second oldest Catholic cathedral and one of the earliest surviving examples of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture in the Western Hemisphere. Then went to “pigeon park” where the girls and Jochi fed the pigeons near the gate to the city of Old San Juan. The girls went into the three story Marshall’s in downtown San Juan. Took the girls back to the apartment and Greg took the adults around to a few of the local historic watering holes, including the Cannon Club, and we ran into one of Greg’s friends, Tamas, who joined us. Went back to the apartment and ordered in Pizza and watched “Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man’s Chest.”

Sun Apr 14 - got showers at the apartment, packed, then walked to brunch with friends (old and new), then drove back to Ponce. We stopped off at McDonald’s on the way home for cheap ice cream and bio breaks, then drove to Walmart in Ponce to make more progress provisioning. Dinner was a rotisserie chicken salad; watched the movie “Persuasion,” then went to bed.

Mon Apr 15 - the girls did school; Amber and Ben went to Walmart to finish provisioning. Ben changed the oil and oil filter on the engine. Went back to the boat and made plans to have dinner with Jochi and Annie one last time before we depart at their home.  Kids swam in the pool and we had a nice meal, bought 6 bags of the ground coffee from their farm, then said our “see you soons” and went back to the boat.

Tue Apr 16 - woke up and got underway; sailed to Puerto Real and had a rolly first leg of the trip, then cut the motor and sailed the rest of the way;  trolled the whole trip but only caught a barracuda.  Made four attempts to anchor before we held firm in Puerto Real, which is a wonderful anchorage, but it has notoriously poor holding in some areas. Finally relaxed and a beautiful sunset. Studied the weather to prepare to cross the Mona Passage and sail to the Dominican Republic as soon as possible.

God Bless

S/V Koinonia


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