Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
The katabatic wind theory of night sailing is, as far as we’re concerned, a load of bollocks.
In the months leading up to this trip, Woody has researched the different route options between Florida and the Caribbean, a voyage generally known as ‘The Thorny Path to Windward’.
One route has you heading ‘east until the butter melts and then turning south’. The most popular cruising guide, A Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South by the very dapper-looking Bruce van Sant, describes a route that goes along the north side of the Dominican Republic and down through the Mona Passage between the DR and Puerto Rico, which sounds possibly worse than the Windward Passage.
For better or worse, Woody chose the path extolled by an American called Frank Virgintino in his Free Cruising Guide to the Dominican Republic, which tracks, as we have, down the Windward Passage and along the south coast of the Dominican Republic.
Frank poses the credible theory that the on-shore anabatic and trade winds of daytime are mitigated at night by the opposing off-shore katabatic winds generated by the temperature differential between the cooling land and the comparatively warmer sea.
So by travelling at night, you take advantage of lighter winds from a friendlier angle.
Makes sense. But we haven’t found it to actually happen…
So we had another shitty night and day (16 hours to do 100 miles) of windward motoring to reach Boca Chica, where we actually met Frank of the Free Cruising Guide. Turns out that Frank has an interest in the Boca Chica marina…
Nice man, very helpful in putting us in touch with marina contacts in Puerto Rico. Swears by the theory based on 28 years of cruising.
Maybe we’ve just been short on luck or patience…
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