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Anthem Adrift
Whiskers
04/04/2009, Boqueron, PR

April 4

Another adventure in bureaucracy has intruded upon an otherwise serene and idyllic existence. Called customs at 0900. Being too busy, they requested a call back at 1300. At that time (despite my expending some effort obtaining necessary documentation to become a "trusted boater" and avoid pointless trip to customs when re-entering US territory) a woman in Mayaguez insisted on my presence, a 30 minute drive north. Very nice agent in San Juan (24 hour check-in) found my information in the computer, insisted that everything had been done correctly and that I should not have to go. Unfortunately, during business hours closest port of entry has precedence. He called back after speaking with his supervisor to reiterate. Being more amused and bemused than irritated by arbitrary decision making and peremptory agent (who had possibly just been dumped by someone who sounds like me), I remained resolutely calm and polite during our four conversations. Example: Me: "I understand that you have the authority to-". Her: "Well apparently you don't, because you keep questioning me". Me: "No, I do understand that you have the authority to harass people, but that doesn't mean you should." She did become more equanimous after I courteously requested communication with her supervisor. Unfortunately, he was in a meeting for at least another hour, but when he came out she would be sure to have him call and, by the way (as it was now about 1430), if I was unable to get there before closing, she would not be responsible for the BIG trouble I would be in. Of course, she offered, it was up to me to decide what to do. I graciously thanked her for her sympathetic advice.

Friends and acquaintances in Boqueron apprised me of the fact that, in my absence, three large government boats as big as Anthem were doing donuts around her (presumably to flush me from hiding) and at one point put out fenders, preparing to board. They did not. Perhaps someone noticed the dinghy missing. Probably just a coincidence.

On most levels this was really huge fun. Remained in incredulous good humor for the duration. The $15 and two hours expended were worth avoiding Mayaguez harbor, meeting driver Raul Santiago ("Rolling Thunder" on the VHF) and couple from Short Sail similarly summoned, getting a tour of the country and, most agreeably, tweaking the lion's whiskers. Returned in time to enjoy status as outlaw with buddies over drinks and dinner.

Jack

Faux pas from April 3: Crossers, not crossees.


Protect and Serve
04/03/2009, Boqueron, PR

April 3

Insufficient time or concentration to write anything tonight due to governmental games and necessity to get drunk and silly with Mona Passage crossees at Gallaway's in Boqueron. Spent much of day patiently and politely explaining to customs officials in Mayaguez, with commiseration from sympathetic officer in San Juan, that they were petty bureaucratic assholes, spawned from syphilitic, mongoloid, crack whores who should, more wisely, expend limited resources protecting citizens of Puerto Rico from bad guys. Regrettably, no one was receptive to this helpful advice. Will probably communicate all, tomorrow, including aborted assault on Anthem by coast guard and local police armada, while absent owner made completely unnecessary trek to Mayaguez. Remind me if I forget.

Will now infiltrate bedding in hopeful attempt to sleep past 0645 after failure to do so this morning.

Jack


Yahoo!
04/02/2009, Boqueron, PR

April 2

First 93 of 150 NM passage was wet, lumpy and ugly, crashing into wind and wave. The misery escalated approaching northeast corner of the DR and entering Mona Pass where the confluence of wind, current and underwater topography conspire to torture hapless sailors. Tacked back and forth with main and engine in often futile attempt to avoid crashing directly into steep, short period five foot onslaught.

Then, after turning the corner at Hourglass shoal, the heavens parted, the seas calmed and the wind became a friend. Picture a scene from "Adventures in Paradise". Sparkling seascape under white-puffed, blue sky. Schooner Tiki making way with a fair wind to Tahiti.

Cruising is like this, the best and the worst. Lows are lower, highs are higher and either way, you know you're alive.

Didn't expect to get in before midnight, but wind has backed and filled for hull speed. Yahoo!

Sleep in tomorrow followed by inspection of bars in reputed party town. Yahoo!

Jack


No Fooling
04/01/2009, Escondido, DR

Approach to Escondido

April 1

Still feel pretty good after second night, no drooling or muttering outside of normal parameters. At 0700, three hours from planned stop for the day, right brain advanced idea to continue on to Puerto Rico. Left brain laughed derisively and made dumb side wear pointy cap and sit in corner. However, Escondido anchorage very rolly, Punta Macao likely to be as bad so sissy half began process of reconsideration. After gathering every nano-bit of information, integrating all into a vast holistic model and performing highly sophisticated micro-analytical calculations using the nearly infallible eeny, meeny algorithm, determined conclusively that the best plan is to depart at 1800 today for arrival Boqueron tomorrow night. There you have it. Brilliant, what?

Doing best to goof off and sleep this afternoon. Some success, despite lurching bunk and intermittent squalls, playing on natural proclivities. Did manage to arise in semi-somnambulance to cook brown rice for tasty mushroom and green bean casserole dinner. Yum.

For next message, expect what you get. Notwithstanding current jaunty demeanor, may feel a bit squishy tomorrow.

Jack


It's Fun!
03/31/2009, Rio San Juan, DR

March 31

Reasonably non-torturous journey from Luperon to Rio San Juan from 2300 to 0900. Early departers, leaving at 1900, arriving after 0800, were beaten up. Looks to be similar tonight with adverse (meaning more adverse) wind remaining until after midnight. Probably go to Escondido, about the same distance, then? After two nights of sleep deprivation, can't see 30 hours over third to PR as double-handers are considering. Thinking to stop Punta (Poonta) Macao (northeast corner of DR), then pass by
Punta Cana (east end) to Isla De Mona (Mona Island in the south center of Mona Passage) fourth day. That should allow some actual sailing and potentially make an easier passage on to Boqueron (Boe-cuh-RONE). No rush up to a point as Liz plans flight into San Juan on 13th. Best laid plans of mice and bigger mice.

Reference above, don't expect much for the next few days. Current level of lucidity not significantly worse than marginal, normal state, but anticipate onset of stupidity following second overnighter. After that, Katie bar the door. (Who's Katie and why would that help?)

Nine boats here, most apparently going to Escondido tonight. Annie II, of the lost mast and now solo with wife flying home for business, was towed by big trawler, Spectra, last night. Good deal. Need to work on poor, pitiful, puppy dog face... nah, why spoil the fun? North coast of DR (250 NM from Luperon across Mona) is heart of the 'Thorny Path' from Bahamas to Virgins. And it's fun!

Jack


Vayo Con Dios, Luperon
03/30/2009, Pinzon Anchorage, Luperon

March 30

Up before dawn to get internet bidness done then snuck (sneaked?) to Pinzon Anchorage, outer harbor, for Commandante avoidance. Chocobo, Inspiration Lady, Annie II and Double Dutch were here, too, same reason. All those guys headed into the great water before sunset and are reportedly getting shellacked with 20-25 knots on the bow. Gouge is to leave later, when katabatic winds off mountains kill the trades. Barring excessively slow speeds, they will be at Rio San Juan (50 miles) before sunrise
to wait for entry.

Safaried ashore with gang to blow-holes at entrance. Extremely impressive last week with six foot swell. Pretty cool, today, with only three. Afterward, dove the prop to remove barnacles (anchor chain also speckled with them) in two feet visibility, took a shower and napped. Dinner was salad and purchased, homemade quiche (no wisecracks). Now just hangin' until 2200 or so.

Rio San Juan reportedly also has a Naval Commandante who, like in Luperon, also has no boat. Somebody needs to work on some logic, here. Navy? Boats? The guy commandeers a local and expects the cruiser to pay them, sort of. Rum is said to work. After anchoring, think I'll lock up, go to sleep and play possum. Continuation of prison rescue watch is advised.

Jack


Muy Bueno
03/29/2009, Luperon

March 29

Sad to say hasta la vista to Luperon. Fun times with good people, gringos and locals, but new discovery beckons, so thus I will away... huh?. Dispatcheo will be delivered after inspection of boat at 1700 ('at 1700' being a relative expression meaning sometime this afternoon, probably) by Commandante or one of his minions, after which boat will ('will' actually means any possibility greater than zero) be moved to Pinzon anchorage at mouth of bay for departure around 0400 tomorrow. Currently planning short hop to Sosua in the morning, followed by long run to Escondido tomorrow night to give seas more time to lay down tonight and still make Boqueron Thursday morning. This will (see above) happen.

A leap of faith is required to believe trades will abate tomorrow, as wind is whipping through anchorage at 15 to 20, now. Probably 20 to 25 outside, paralleling coast.

Spent afternoon changing oil/filter, checking heat exchanger zinc and battery water. Plan diving on prop to check barnacles and zinc after moving to cleaner water. Anchor and chain may require goo-ectomy after laying abottom for a week.

Hope to maintain contact with several boats during progression to US territory. Puerto Rico soon to be 'eat up' with ex-Luperoners.

- Later

Bugger! Have been led astray by evil forces, we shall call them Don and Ken, who have forced multiple rums upon a completely innocent victim. Forced to watch "Underworld 3" during virtual incarceration. Find myself jonesing to see 1 and 2. Chance of departure AM approaching zero (cero in Spanish. Is it possible to have likelihood less than cero?). Will (see above) move to outer anchorage early AM to hide from Commandante who expected departure tonight. Request emergency rescue from Dominican prison as necessary. If this paragraph makes any sense at all, please send confirmation. I love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister. Thank you for your support.

Jack


Walking Wounded
03/28/2009, Luperon

Scruffy Cruiser

March 28

Really need to start getting home earlier in the evening, but had an excuse today. After four innings of masterful play at third base that helped the gringo team remain within 10 or 15 runs of the Dominicans, pulled a right calf muscle attempting to beat out a throw to first. Went on the DL (disabled list) for remainder of a game that we could have won with just 20 or 25 more runs. Glad it wasn't a blowout. Anyway, retired to boat with ice, ibuprofen and a movie to recuperate and didn't get back out for obligatory drinks and dinner with friends until nearly dark.

Looks like a major exodus tomorrow night to points east. I will attempt four night hops to Puerto Rico; others will take longer or shorter depending on weather, boat speed, limited anchorages and resistance to discomfort. Katabatic winds descending from the mountains at night counteract easterly trades that accelerate along the coast in daytime, making travel after about 1000 annoying and tedious. North swell was still enthusiastically abusing the coastline today, but weather weasels predict dramatic easing through Monday morning. One can but hope.

Checked out with customs, immigration and port authority this morning. Commandante will issue a dispatcheo in the morning to depart Luperon. $20 will change hands for this consideration.

Jack


This Little Piggy Went to Market
03/27/2009, Luperon

Santiago

March 27

At 0800 six of us plus the dog hopped into a five passenger, propane powered Toyota and roared off for the hour drive to Santiago, scraping over several highly incongruous speed bumps en route. This is of some interest due to location of tank beneath vehicle. Visualize rupturing gas receptacle in a shower of sparks with insufficient notice for Buddhist conversion. (reference previous message)

This is second largest city in the DR, inland, surrounded by mountains. Hit the top spots in town: Hardware (ferreteria), grocery (supermercado), auto parts (auto parts), a monument to General Gregorio Luperon, who expelled occupying Haitians in 1844, and a food court (seriously) for lunch where a woman with a butt the size of Cleveland had 'Playboy' and the bunny plastered across the back of her jeans in silver glitter. I had pork.

With wind all day in the twenty knot range, can imagine conditions off shore. Don't think the Chocobos (French Canadian catamaran) left today for nonstop to Puerto Rico as planned. Looks like good window opens Monday. Hoping to go Sunday.

With surge in market, have been catapulted back to only twice as poor as before. Hope you are doing well, too.

Baseball game tomorrow at 1000, Dominicans vs. gringos. Some locals play on our side to prevent total humiliation. Trying to determine if expression 'gringo' includes Canadians or restricted to Yanks. Enquiring minds want to know.

Jack


Guagua HaHa
03/26/2009, Luperon

Waterfall Group

March 26

For 1700 potluck at Yacht Club, pondering use of minimal culinary skills to manufacture edible dish for sharing. Thinking of deviled eggs. How badly can that be screwed up? (Another triumph of hope over experience?)

Planning GuaGua (bus to Imbert) then carros publico (car) trip to Puerto Plata in the morning with several other crazy... adventurous cruisers for shopping, site-seeing and general mischief.

- Later

Eggs were devilishly good, a gustatory masterpiece. i.e. edible.

Made arrangements with Double Dutchs and Inspiration Ladys for English speaking driver and car all day tomorrow to squire us to and around Santiago, $10/person. May go Puerto Plata on Saturday. Earliest likely exit from Luperon, Sunday night.

Thought for the day:
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.
- Charlie McCarthy (if you don't know who this was, you're too young and should, therefore, be flogged unmercifully)

Jack


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