Debi and Jack sailing on SV Iroquois

Vessel Name: Iroquois
Vessel Make/Model: Ohlson38
Crew: Jack Markin, Debi Dennis
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18 February 2018
15 February 2018
09 February 2018 | St Thomas USVI
05 February 2018
29 January 2018 | Prickly Pear Island Virgin Gorda
26 January 2018 | Virgin Gorda
24 January 2018 | Sint Maarten
23 January 2018 | Simpsons Bay St Maarten
20 January 2018 | Basseterre St Kitts
18 January 2018 | Nevis
14 January 2018 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
10 January 2018 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
09 January 2018 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
08 January 2018 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
02 January 2018 | 17 0.9'N:049 39.3'W
01 January 2018 | 16 59.072'N:047 57.288'W
31 December 2017 | 18 13.02'N:046 19.3'W
30 December 2017 | 19 01.661'N:041 58.3'W
29 December 2017 | 19 01.661'N:041 58.3'W
28 December 2017 | 19 55.955'N:040 34.978'W
Recent Blog Posts
18 February 2018

Maho Bay, St John USVI

Every evening and every morning here I listen to the birdsong from the nearby forest. I wonder if these are the same birds I listen to at home in Wisconsin. Do songbirds migrate this far? The sound comforts me as do the smells of the forest. Even though you can see the hurricane damage there is a lot [...]

15 February 2018

St John USVI

After studying the weather for the next 10 days we decided to go back to the BVI for a while and hope the Christmas winds will moderate soon. But after motoring upwind a couple of hours we couldn't help but notice the empty mooring fields along the north shore of St John, so we pulled in and picked one [...]

09 February 2018 | St Thomas USVI

St Thomas

We would have stayed at Nanny Cay for a week but they needed the space for catamarans. They have only a few slips open but were feverishly installing new pontoons while we were there. We learned about 'boat vultures ' there. We had seen these people before who buy up damaged yachts then flip them for [...]

05 February 2018

BVIs

We spent a week on Virgin Gorda that went by very quickly. The North Sound is beautiful and practically empty. We moored off of Prickly Pear Island for free, not sure who the moorings belong to but I think it's the beach bar, which a few people were working on-- sifting through rubble, stacking and burning [...]

29 January 2018 | Prickly Pear Island Virgin Gorda

Three Day Blow

We are still on a mooring here off of Prickly Pear Island in the north sound of Virgin Gorda. There used to be a beach bar here and apparently the moorings were for it, so until it's rebuilt they seem to be available. We went in to the small beach yesterday and picnicked with our friends from Snowstar. The beach ends in a steep very rough hillside on one end and a short ways down at the wreckage of the bar/restaurant so you can't walk far but there are quite a few plastic chairs that are in good enough condition that you can sit in them. Someone has made piles here and there of burnable trash like roof beams and such and other piles of plastic. There's also a full trash bag which can hopefully get picked up before it blows or washes away. We picked up some plastic and coke cans we found on the way and added them to the trash bag. We had a nice picnic lunch and went for a refreshing swim then came back to the boat for some reading, guitar playing and drawing time. It's still very windy (20-30kts) but we're pretty well protected here--as long as the mooring holds we're good.  Jack has been reminding me of a Hemingway story, The Three Day Blow. The first time we hunkered down for a three day blow was in Nova Scotia while we waited out the after effects of a tropical storm. It prompted us to think we should have days like that where we did nothing at home but hunker down, read, play music etc. Slowing down is sometimes as difficult as charging forward. We are just starting day three. The forecast is for the wind to go down by tomorrow morning. Then we'll probably do some exploring on Virgin Gorda proper. Some people anchored near us went over yesterday but coming back is against wind and waves for a little more than a mile. In our dinghy we would be completely soaked by the time we got back to the boat, so I let Jack go alone to look for ice. He made it back safely and  quickly but got very wet.

26 January 2018 | Virgin Gorda

British Virgin Islands

Note to Anna: on our way out of St Martin we sailed past La Samana but we were too far away to assess any damage. The beach still looks nice.

Sirens and Chainsaws

23 January 2018 | Simpsons Bay St Maarten
The first thing I noticed on approaching St Maarten from the southeast was the shells of buildings, really just concrete shells with no windows or doors, just openings where glass used to be. The second thing I noticed was the flies. As soon as we anchored we realized the boat was full of flies. I think they are related to the trash from the hurricanes  that is everywhere. We had a lively sail from St Kitts to Simpson Bay. We had originally planned to go to St Barths, but when we saw the wind direction somewhat northeast we decided it would be easier to head straight to St Martin and we made such good time that instead of stopping in Phillipsburg as planned we carried on to Simpson Bay and anchored outside the lagoon for a night.  It could have been a mistake. We found out later that the only supermarket is a brand new Carrefour in Phillipsburg. Well not the only one, just the nicest. We tried contacting all the marinas in our guidebook because we wanted to move inside the lagoon so we could clean up the boat, do laundry, provision etc. Most didn't answer. We found out why after we got in. The one that did respond sent a tender out to meet us and lead us into the berth. On the  way we passed wreckage upon wreckage. I saw what I thought was a very strange boat but on closer inspection realized was a sunken megayacht still attached to the concrete pier that had broken off with it. The marina we got into is billed as a luxury facility with all sorts of perks, but it actually only has water and electricity. There are some showers about 1/4 a mile  away that you can get a key for, only cold water no electricity, no lights. There are no luxuries not even wifi. It's definitely built for megayachts. Our boat is half the size or less than any other boat here and we have some concern that with a big wind we could get pushed under the concrete dock. Our guidebook said the nicest supermarket was near here and there is supposed to be swimming pool, tennis courts, spas etc. along with internet on the docks.  No, none of that. We have a concrete dock with water and electricity and we should be happy for that I guess. We hope to move to a less expensive place when a spot opens up. We went there today by dinghy.  You go everywhere by dinghy here. I saw parents taking kids in school uniforms in dinghies. I thought they were using a crane to raise a sunken boat but actually they were clearing some broken and sunken docks. No wonder they didn't have space for us. Everywhere we went we saw wreckage along the shore, roofing panels, punctured inflatable boats, pieces of wood, metal, plastic. There's a cruisers net on the radio we listened to this morning and they thanked all the people who came out to a cleanup near a place called Witches Tit. It sounded like they salvaged a lot but also hauled away lots of trash. There's still a ton of cleanup to do, but in the chandlery the woman who checked me out said after they saw the conditions in Puerto Rico she felt like they're lucky here because of the quick recovery. That's not the same story we got from the security guard at a wrecked marina. He gave us directions to a grocery store where we could buy ice after telling us about how it had just been robbed. When Jack said, 'who would rob a supermarket in the middle of the day' he said since the hurricanes there's no work and people need to live. He said something about how Holland said they will give money but only after an election and that's not happening. So one sound we hear everywhere is sirens -- maybe because there's no work. The daytime sound we hear most is chainsaws. I'm guessing that it is getting more quiet. People are working hard to recover but it’s a massive undertaking. There are wrecked and sunken boats everywhere. Lots of them have ducktape covering holes. Some just have gaping holes in them. Some are just upside down hulls. Some are almost completely underwater. Hopefully most of those have been moved so we don't hit any. All of them are covered in mud. Most don't have masts or they're broken partway.
This is the first place we have been where the hurricane damage is overwhelming. There should be full employment with the clean up and rebuilding needed, but governments are either unable or unwilling to spend the money. There is lots of private money here as evidenced by the number of megayachts and their caretakers. Where we are the only people on boats are either full time captains and crews (usually a husband and wife) or people doing some work on the boat. Our boat at 38 feet is about half as big as any other boat here. So there is money but the boat owners are not enriching the community in a significant or long term way by investing in the infrastructure needs. Seeing the need here makes me sickened by the lack of support for Puerto Rico by the US where there should be full employment and the construction of distributed solar power so the people would have a more hurricane proof power supply. The actions of our government in that respect is criminal. The question is how and when people will be held accountable. I have been thinking a lot lately  (and to some degree it is related to reading Mitchner's Caribbean) about race, corruption and the psychology of denial on the part of governments and individuals. It seems we are still wrestling with the role of reason versus philosophy as guiding principles. I grew up with the impression that we were a nation of reason, and on paper perhaps we are. But in practice we are still haunted by the philosophy of value being determined by birth, race and wealth, with the systematic exclusion of the majority of the population. What I do not understand is why people stand for this as the status quo and by what method we can effect change. Being in the Caribbean makes it clear how difficult it is to undo a culture of  corruption and exploitation. It frightens me to see that culture ill gaining such a strong foothold in the States. Power and money are everything, historically and now, race is the tool by which power and money are attained and maintained. That is why the black lives matter movement is so important and so alarming to people because it cuts to the core of the structure of money and power.
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