04/21/2012, Puerto Rico
Left Luperon in company of 5 other sailboats bound for Boqueron, PR. We left about 6:30pm and sailed the Atlantic coasting the DR to take advantage of the Katabelic winds blowing of the mountains and out to sea. Depth perception is terrible at night sailing near the mountains off to your lee. You think you are near shore but looking at your chart plotter you are well off. One thing about these impoverished islands is that they all have cell service.
We got down to the Eastern tip of DR and decided to go ahead and do the dreaded Mona Passage to PR since we had a weather window. It turned out to be your typical sail (motorsail) with winds mostly 30 degrees off the bow thru large swells. We all got seperated after the first 24Hrs.
My autopilot started slipping and finally quit so had to do the last 30 hrs behind the wheel. Thats when you really wish you had some help. Try reefin g the main in 23k winds at night in rolling seas. Not fun even tethered in. The topping lift also decided to come undone and the boom finished off my bimini. Shredded canvas and isenglass completely obscured me forward vision but couldn't leave the wheel to get it out of the way. And wpuldn't you know it a nice fish was on but couldn't do anything about it. Needless to say he got off.
After about 20hrs I found myself falling asleep behind the wheeln and would jump awake to find myself way off course. For many hours it was just plain grueling. Coming into PR there is a large rock right near a waypoint. It looked ever so close, but alas the chart plotter doesnt lie. I dare not fall asleep now.
Coming into Boqueron harbor Wayne and Pat's boat's engine died so I grabbed a line from them and pulled them into the anchorage. It turned out that everyone who bought fuel in Luperon got a lot more than diesel. Luckily I didn't. Couldn't hail any of the other boats. Found out later that Celtic Rover had to jury rig a rub golberg fuel strainer. Celtic Rover and Highland came in a couple days later having to divert to Mayaquez.
Anyway got Kolebrie safely in then dropped the hook and fell asleep.
This is a college weekend hot spot with music blaring into the wee hours. Called Customs and was told I had to have a $27.50 decal to clear in. Customs was a good 30 mile trip away so I went online and paid for it only to find out I still had to go back to Mayaquez to pay another $27.50 fine for entering without the decal. Clearing into PR was suspossed to be easy...NOT!
Waiting here for a front to clear thru then will start working our way to Gilligan's Island and then Ponce. They have a Sam's club there so it will be time to provision.
Great news! My first cousin, Chris Neal, is flying down to meet me Saturday to cruise with me. I'm really looking forward to his company. He is also bringing a new belt for Mr. auto. It will be great to have his help and to also have a diving partner.
04/13/2012, Dominican Republic
It was motorsail overnighter from Big Sand Cay to Luperion(of course). You could smell the nice earthy smells coming way out to sea. Arrived before daylight so had to wait to see entrance between mountains. So different, mountains that really screw up your depth perception. Coming in like coming into a jungle river which I guess it was except it is salt water.
Got in and was intercepted by Papo who led me to a bouy (only $2/night and he had DR flags at $10). Dingied to the dock and walked to customs. A long 4 stop process for a total on about $96. It's Spanish here and a good thing most of them speak some English.
It's true culture shock here, first of all you have to find a bank and ATM to get pesos. Exchange rate was 38.1/1 us. Walking down the street everything is in Spanish. The meat markets have whole pigs heads for sale on the sidewalk. Vendors dive along in trucks and you can get local tomatoes, bananas, pineapples & etc.
Met a lot of a lot of expatriots who now live here. The livings is very simple and cheap. Even Bru Van Sant who wrote 'Passages South' lives here. Got to ride in the country with a lady who wanted me to meet her sister's American boyfriend. Super fine people and enjoyed their hospitality. Jamie and Charo are their names. The ladies cooked a fine lunch while Jamie (Lobo) and I talked. What a wealth of info he was.
Marianna and a friend of hers brought a vegetable over to the boat on my last day there and prepared lunch. Whatever the veg was it tasted just like mashed potatoes only orange in color.
kWould like to come back one day and tour the whole interior. A very beautiful place.
Well six boats leaving to go down the coast and do the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico.
04/12/2012, SE Turks
Arrived to the staging area for going to DR. This island is uninhabited and the water clarity is absolutely magnificient. Three sailboats traveling together now, Kolebrie, Highland and me.
Next stop Luperon, DR
04/07/2012, South Caicos
Arrived safely in South Caicos which is the capitol of the T&C. This a true fishing community. On shore they were cleaning conch and lobster. Had barrels of conch and lobster being processed.
My sailing friend dingied over for a nice cold beer and asked where to go. Three fishermen pointed to a bar across the street, so off we go. As soon as we had our beers ordered a native lady comes up to me and grabs me and started dancing with me. It was suspossed to be dancing but I would call it vertical lap dancing, most embarassing! I soon became the laughing stock of everyone there. I think this wasn't the first gringo.
Had to repent and go to a local church Sunday. A Methodist service and gosh it was beautiful. The youth gave the entire service and let me tell you the dance team was outstanding. Six girls about 8 to 14 in costumes gave their expressive dances with flags and banners. Justmarvelous! It was so good that I went back for the evening service and it was even better. Let me tell you the natives dress to kill on Sundays
That night a local large fishing boat drug anchor right by me so I had to up anchor and move. It drifted off into the sunset.
Tom and I did a walk-about and toured an old deserted mansion ( see Photo gallery)
04/06/2012, South Side Marina
Yesterday was a very sad day for me in that Ixnay died. He had been feeling poorly last few days and Thur took him to a vet. Turned out his kidneys had shut down probably from some type of poison like antifreeze. The doc said he probably wouldn't make and he didn't. Was nothing they could do. I'm really going to miss my companion and friend.
Moved the boat to South Side Marina to fuel up and top off with water. Bob the owner is such a gentleman. Took me to the vet, town and shopping. He gives a morning weather net daily and sponsers a barbeque on thursday nights.
Will be leaving to go back to anchorage and get ready to cross the banks tomorrow for South Caicos
04/01/2012, Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales (Provo)
Arrived at anchorage after a long overnighter. Of course wind on the nose. Guide book said to go over hill to customs. Yea, right? After a trecherous walk up the 'hill' had to walk down the ridge line a good ways just to find the trail down. Would have been much faster just to walk around the hill. Customs is inside a very busy port with two different security check points. $50 in and another $50 to clear out plus $15 for something.
Tried walking into town but Ixnay was getting hot and tired. People kept driving by and honking, I'm thinking they sure are friendly. Town would have been a 5 or 6 mile walk. Found out later the honking was by "Jitneys" which is a ragged out auto driven by Haitians. Kind of like a taxi but only $3 to $5 where the taxi is $25. I understand that if they wreck they just open the door and run. Oh well, sailor's budget rules.
A semi truck driver picked me up one day and took me all the way to an IGA then he insisted on waiting while I shopped and took me all the way back to the boat landing. Wow! talk about going the extra mile. He absolutely would not take any money either.
Went to town another day and watched 'Mirror Mirror'. It was a great flick with Julia Roberts, also watched 'Clash of the Titans'.
Went up that hill again and took some pics of rocks signed by stranded sailors of long ago.
Met Tom a sailor in the same bay and helped him hang a radar dome and then he went up my mast trying to fix some lighting problems.
This place is very different from the Bahamas. Sailors are just ancillary to the true tourist who usually fly in.