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Anthem Adrift
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


Achy Breaky
03/25/2009, Luperon

Waterfalls

March 26 AM

Waterfall tour, yesterday, was a participatory event. Climbed up seven levels, each reached by swimming against current through nipple popping, ice cold pools, then climbing into or around carved rock sluices. Return entailed waterpark-like slide down gushing natural channel or leap from a precipice to lagoon below.

Afternoon filled by buffet lunch at 1300 with, by now medically necessary, rum and 7-Up, then visits to a working ranch with gigantic Brahma bull, a botanical garden and finally, a rock carving factory with nearby outdoor bar where additional doses of medication and dancing ensued. Purchased obviously indispensable official Tampa Bay Rays baseball replica made from rock. Cheap at half the price.

Back at boat by late afternoon, studiously pondered benefits of ibuprofen and horizontal orientation before motoring into town for completed laundry and late dinner at Steve's Place.

Early meeting this morning of Eastbounds (large percentage of anchorage) at Yacht Club to discuss weather and tentative plans. Got some good poop from local Canadian expat on procedures and conditions all the way to Ponce, PR. Router indicates possible window Sunday or Monday to begin night hops along DR north coast. No reasonable chance for non-stop through Mona Passage in foreseeable future.

Jack

PS Errata: March 23. Should have been 'neither bloody nor bowed'. Harsh rebuke of editor, currently in preliminary planning stages.


Bats and Bulls
03/24/2009, Luperon

Ken & Mikey with Brahma Bull

March 24

Morning drizzle evolved into glorious afternoon. Dry, almost cool breeze under a cloud speckled azure sky. Rafael (translator for the Comandante, go-to guy for many things in Luperon and generally nice fellow) brought diesel out to the boat for fill up (about $3.90/gal) and stayed to enjoy a couple of beers and shoot guano (why is it OK to say when bats do it?) for an hour or so. Dominicans are friendly folk.

Stopped by to see solo sailor, John on "Buddy", one of the conferees on passage from Caicos Friday night. Showed me around beautiful trimaran that he designed and built in 23 months. Looks fast sitting at anchor. Sails at 25 knots. Lots of room. Cool.

For Dolphins now headed to Robert Macomber book signing on south end of Pine Island, saw a woman at Shaggy's Barstool Sailor with T-shirt from Ragged Ass Saloon, St. James City. Didn't get a chance to ask if she knew the author. Bend an elbow there for me.

Instructions for waterfall, botanical garden and Brahma bull(?) tour tomorrow 0800 to 1600: Besides $35 which includes food, bring camera, bathing suit and change of clothes. May entail climbing, swimming and jumping. Sounds a smidge ominous, but should be fun.

Jack


Deluged
03/23/2009, Luperon

March 23

Surprised no one asked about "splicing the main brace" from January 26 dispatch, but thanks for asking now... or not. It is a nonsensical term used in the 18th century Royal Navy at the commencement of drinking for the evening. Gain the respect of grog guzzling cronies by using it tonight.

Luperon Bay is generally 20 feet deep except for four or five shoals randomly placed that shallow to just a couple in the length of a boat. Water is turbid, so moving about is something of an adventure. Easier now due to large number anchored. That is, if you see an open spot, you probably can't.

Prevailing easterly reasserted sufficient to move wind generated electrons into battery and Anthem very near S/V Gewil. Feared dragging, however anchor is holding and other boat, appearing to be anchored thus allowing it to swing away, is actually attached to a sunken mooring ball. All above allowed avoidance of scampering about rain-deluged foredeck to reset. (Feel free to visualize, but full effect of scampering impossible lacking real time observation.) Foredeck experienced delugement (not a real word) all day. Spent time researching technique for arriving Puerto Rico neither bloody nor unbowed. Discovered perspective to have been flawed, i.e. Fajardo, PR is 1/3 distance from here to Trinidad. Bugger!

It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them.
- Isabel Colegate

Regrettably, you have not been so spared.

Jack


Oozy Sticky Glop
03/22/2009, Luperon

March 22

Torpid day. Overslept local Sunday (also Wednesday) cruiser's net, brunch at "Yacht Club" and lunch buffet at Puerto Blanco Marina. "Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired." - Jules Renard.
Finally ventured out PM to connect with group planning tour of waterfalls Wednesday. Considering renting a motor scooter to explore countryside.

A Clint Eastwood Character periodically said there were two kinds of people just before explaining various versions. In cruising, have so far discerned three. 1) Those who cruise on weekends and two weeks in the Keys. These may be called 'normal'. 2) Sailors who enter the Regata del Sol al Sol to Isla Mujeres or go as far as the Georgetown, Exuma area for three months in the spring. Let's call these folks 'adventurous'. Then 3) the smaller group who wander farther afield for longer to, say,
the Caribbean. These people are more often open, helpful, eccentric, social, fit and independent. Did I mention eccentric? We may refer to them as 'certifiable'. Expect to run into (figuratively, one hopes) many of these same folks further down the chain.

Moved further into the harbor to get better wifi reception from reported free site available 0600-1800. If not, will pay for stronger signal commercial service. Chasing internet/Skype is sad, unseemly and unsafe. Three unsuccessful re-anchor attempts were thwarted by Teflon mud. No current, 4 knots wind with anchor and 100 feet of chain down, floated through moored boats as if motoring. Finally triumphant, probably, with free-fall of anchor and all chain to penetrate glop.

Jack


Cerveza Por Favor
03/21/2009, Luperon

Approach to Luperon

March 21

Is this the first day of spring? Does it matter? Missed warning of Ides of March, but don't speak Latin so guess it's OK. How about Canberra Day, Taranaki Anniversary, Otago Anniversary and a couple of Labour Days somewhere or other? Was my birthday this month or was that January? In the immortal words of Monty Walsh, "You don't have no idea how little I care". Oh, wait, St. Patrick's Day. That was a good one.

Sailed again for a couple of hours in the 'wees', but mostly clanked along with light wind on the stern in gentle four foot sea. Filled considerable time on VHF with three boats out of Provo preceding 0800 arrival by forty minutes.

Easy swell became amazing spectacle of surging water and exploding blow holes either side of boiling entrance to Luperon. Know why many are trapped here with forecast 8-10 foot surge (besides, of course, getting hammered on a lee shore by 8-10 foot sea and adverse winds and current). Harbour is beautiful, surrounded by verdant hills up to several hundred feet and chock-a-block with boats. Still in Atlantic until past Mona, but beginning to feel Caribbean embrace.

As advertised, beer is cheap. Bohemia Especial comes in 3 gallon bottles and costs 12 cents. Positive this is accurate after 36 hours awake and no food since cereal at 0500, due having one with dinner burrito at Capt. Steve's Place.

May take a short nap now.

Jack


Rollin' on Down the Line
03/20/2009, En Route to Luperon

March 20

Moved Cabo Rico to Government docks southwest side of Grand Turk, just behind a humongous BUTT (for those who forgot, Big Ugly Tourist Transporter), Crown Princess, for easy check-out and avoidance of taxi charge. Traipsed the length of South Bay twice following directions to the wrong place. Walked a half mile back toward Cockburn Town to find Customs building, also the wrong place. Finally chanced into Harbour Master, the right guy, who led me to a tiny building, the right place, hidden behind
a dilapidated tin structure in most inaccessible part of cargo yard which subsequently led to easy swap of $15 for proper form and stamp.

Beached dinghy departure through rolling surf was more exciting than arrival. Drippingly secured outboard to pulpit, dink to davits and bid fond farewell to lovely Grand Turk Island about 1530. To steal a phrase, "It takes an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes down here".

Unexpected SE breeze, 12-15, provided wind vane steered reach for two glorious hours before expected calm required awakening iron yankee. Should hit the DR, figuratively speaking, about 0700.

Reference above, "There are many ways to predict the future. For example, you can read horoscopes, tea leaves, tarot cards, or crystal balls. Collectively, these are known as "nutty methods." Or you can put well-researched facts into sophisticated computer models, more commonly referred to as "a complete waste of time." (edited)
- Scott Adams

Jack


Spinning Again
03/19/2009, Grand Turk

March 19

Anybody ever read about others' difficulties and think you're immune? Won't bore with details, but getting shipped blades was a very expensive all day deal involving rules that are not just unknown, but unknowable. Can't complain too much. KISS is shoving amps into wazoo and after counting all cash flows (including assumed to be extravagant roaming phone bill) did better than if parts picked up in Tarpon Springs. Plus got to cavort with cute models and stereotypical art director/photographer,
dashingly accoutred in beret and neck scarf, Stefan.

Expected current anchorage to be ugly with arrival of 5 - 6 foot swell this morning, but Anthem seems to be in an inter-wave convergence zone. Reef crashing and foaming north; breaking beach rollers south; relatively calm here. Cool! Couldn't possibly change overnight.

Barring major forecast adjustment, will leave for Luperon tomorrow afternoon to arrive Saturday AM. Very large north swell forecast after that for a week and a half.

Time now for sustenance and libation to celebrate, because, to quote Goethe, "Nothing is worth more than this day". and to quote Homer Simpson, "To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems".

Jack


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