S/V Koinonia Weekly Sailing Log - Back Underway after Ponce, PR (Wed Jul 12 - Tue Jul 18, 2023)
Highlights this week: new clients; provisioning to get back underway, leaving Ponce; anchoring for the first time in over a month; honorable mention on a popular YouTube channel; our windlass saga continues; a friend comes to our rescue at Palmas Del Mar.
Wed Jul 12 - quiet time; Amber and the kids do school. Finished polishing the deck fittings. Ben arranged a showing for some brokerage clients in Rock Hall, MD this Friday. Ran some errands in the afternoon, including filling up propane. Puerto Rican beans and rice with fried plantains for dinner. Started watching "Spartacus."
Thu Jul 13 - quiet time; Amber and the kids do school. Final provisioning run to Walmart before we head east/ south. Hoisted and furled the staysail. Removed all the canvas hatch covers; stowed the deck awnings. Cleaned out the forward head and cleaned the shower. Kids dusted and mopped the floors. Began stowing all the gear on the boat. Finished watching "Spartacus."
Fri Jul 14 - quiet time; Amber and the kids do school. Ben made one last run of errands to gather odds and ends we forgot and to top up on diesel. Hosted Ani and Jochi for a farewell dinner aboard “Koinonia.” Made seared tuna with soy, lime, jalapeño vinaigrette and side of coconut rice and steamed broccoli. Said our “see ya soons” and hit the bed.
Sat Jul 15 - left the dock at 5:45am. Conditions were favorable and it was a smooth passage to the anchorage in Bahía de Jobos, taking the route inside the coastal reef, which afforded protection from the offshore swells and adverse current; had to motor the whole way because the wind was directly on our nose (see video below). After we got anchored, Amber and Ben were exhausted from all the pre-departure prep and early morning travel, so they took an afternoon nap. Received word Ben's dad’s first cousin Carla, who lived in Columbia, SC and was battling with cancer for a number of years, passed away suddenly after recently receiving a prognosis of living another year or two. Prayed for her husband, for family, and friends. Spent a peaceful, restful night at anchor.
Sun July 16 - departed the anchorage by 6:15am but also discovered we have a problem with the windlass while weighing anchor: the anchor chain is jumping/skipping on the gypsy (part of the windlass that grips the chain) when under load. Despite the appearance that the chain fits into the pockets of the gypsy, we must have a mismatch. With a bit of effort, we managed to get the anchor up and got underway.
The conditions offshore were lumpy but the wind and wave forecast were the most favorable for at least the next three days, so we decided to push through and make for Isla de Vieques, to continue making progress on our route east. Conditions off the SE coast degraded and the whole crew felt sick with waves between 6-7ft on our nose with a short period; all three kids fed the fish at different times. Thankfully, conditions soon abated as we came into the lee of the Vijeques and we dropped the hook by 2pm on the western shore of the island, less than 100 yards from a beautiful beach in calm conditions. The whole crew got out for a swim for the first time since leaving George Town, Bahamas. A nice rain shower helped desalt the boat while we continued swimming in the clear waters. Ben cleaned the waterline of Koinonia, pondering options to rectify our windlass dilemma. This windlass nightmare feels unending! The good news is our chain needs to be replaced anyway and Puerto Rico is the best place to make the swap.
Learned that Ben received a shout-out (and Koinonia made a cameo) in the latest episode of Sail Life/ Sailing Athena, a popular YouTube channel.
Mon Jul 17 - awoke to a sudden rain squall in the middle of the night with all of the hatches open; we got wet but managed to keep the cabin mostly dry. Rain continued on and off all day. Quiet time; Amber and the kids started school. Ben began contacting marine stores in PR to try to source new chain. Found the chain in the right size, length, and make but was quoted double the price, compared with the US. Our friend Jochi called to check on our progress and, after explaining our dilemma, he voluntarily tracked down the chain we needed for a much better price and also volunteered to drive to San Juan to buy the chain, the deliver it to us on the East Coast at the marina at Palmas Del Mar. How amazing is that?! With that settled, we immediately made a reservation at the marina, weighed anchor, and sailed 2-hours due west from Vieques. Dolphins greeted us as we arrived at the jetty to the harbor, which is a narrow entrance that feels like a washing machine, especially with 5ft seas and 18kts of wind on our stern. We docked in our assigned slip by 1:30pm. The marina staff and facilities here are great. The kids are thrilled to have shore power and AC again. Amber made a yummy breakfast casserole bake for dinner. Watched “She’s the Man.” Studied weather and route planning for our trip east and south. We hope to get back underway as soon as possible.
Tue Jul 18 - Quiet time; Amber and the kids started school. Continued checking weather and route planning. Looks like Thu or Fri will be the earliest opportunity to leave the East coast of Puerto Rico. Removed the old anchor chain from the boat. When Jochi arrived at 11:30, unloaded the new chain and then checked the match against the gypsy. The chain still doesn’t fit!!! Contacted Lewmar and discovered the second windlass they sent has the incorrect size gypsy. Loaded up the old chain and then rode with Jochi back to Ponce to pull the gypsy off the old unit. Amber did laundry and cleaned the freezer; somehow some of our vacuum sealed packages of frozen meat leaked into the bottom of the freezer. She also prepped meals for our upcoming passages south to make meal prep easier at sea. Ben and Jochi drove back from Ponce to Palmas De Mar, arriving around 5:30pm. We thanked Jochi for all he did then let him get back on the road. Ben measured and marked the anchor chain at 25ft increments then attached the chain to the anchor with Crosby Class B shackle and moused the pin. Finally, spliced the end of the chain to a 50ft safety line of nylon octoplait (thanks YouTube), which is attached to the boat. Used the windlass to bring 255 ft of shiny new chain into the anchor locker, secured the anchor on the bow, then put the v-berth back together, and made up the bed with clean sheets. Finished all the work around midnight. Showers then to bed.
Post Script: aside from all the challenges, unplanned work, and expenses this past week, we are truly thankful that all of these issues have been addressed and that we discovered them in a place where we could most easily get the parts and the help we needed. Our boat home is better prepared for the adventures ahead and we now have peace of mind knowing the work has been done properly, with no short cuts. In the moment, unplanned issues and delays, like we experienced with the windlass, can be frustrating and downright demoralizing, but we try to step back and recognize these things happen for reasons we don’t fully understand and that, ultimately, it’s working out for the best. Every time we face a challenge we have to overcome and creatively solve, it teaches us. We learn patience, new skills, become more resilient, and are frequently humbled by our lack of control over nature and most of our circumstances. We are confident that sometimes what appear to be set backs and delays are actually blessings in disguise: the Lord may well be sparing us from even greater mishaps and disasters. That’s the mystery of the divine at work in our lives and the walk of faith. God is good and always faithful and we are learning to trust more and more in Him. We are thankful to all of you who are praying for our safety and following along on these crazy adventures.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6