Always at home

When cruising around as we do, one is “always at home” as the boat is our home, so even at the most exotic places, we are still “at home”. A bit strange maybe, but of course a big advantage, we do not need to worry to much about finding a hotel, where to eat, we have our necessary belongings close by, the list can be made long and it is rather obviously a great advantage. But it also has a few disadvantages, as we are “always at home” one could be a little bit lazy and just stay aboard instead of exploring the areas we are visiting. Maybe a bit like being stuck in your favorite comfortable chair at home in front of the telly, we have our favorite corners in the cockpit where we have our breakfast, reading a book, listening to music or just relax and enjoying life.

Kerstin in the cockpit

Kerstin in her favorite corner of the cockpit reading a book.

Ile a Vache

Visiting an interesting place like Ila a Vache on Haiti, cure most of the problems described above, one gets more eager to discover. Ila a Vache is a totally different world. The main task for people is to get food on the table for the day. most people only eat one meal a day, and the main ingredients are, rice, maniok or bread fruit. Haiti itself was severely hit by a devastating earthquake 2010 with 212 000 confirmed dead persons. After the earthquake Haiti suffered from cholera killing another 10 000 persons but as many as 800 000 was infected with cholera of the total population of ca 11 000 000. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, GDP per capita is just over 750 USD or on place 169 out of 185 ranked countries. Neighbouring countries like Jamaica has a GDP of 5100 USD and Dominican Republic just over 7000 USD, Cuba 8400 USD, all very poor countries, just to put Haiti’s situation in perspective. In the press one can read about riots on Haiti especially in the capital Port Au Prince. When talking to the local people they call it manifestation, mainly due to very high inflation, and corruption making life very difficult for them.

Ila a Vache is an island 13 by 3,2 km with ca 20 000 inhabitant, no electricity except from a few solar panels and a few generators.

When we approached Ila a Vache, in the dark an early morning, no lights were to be seen either on the island or on the mainland. We had the radar on as we made “landfall” just at dawn. The radar picture was strange, there is a reef we need to pass north of, but I saw a lot of echoes just in front of us, could it be that the reef extends further north with some rocks above the water. But no, it was the fishermen that was out in the very early morning in small traditional sailing boats and dugout canoes.

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fishermen out in the early morning

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A small island just outside Ile a Vache with very basic housing for the fishermen.

When arriving into the anchorage we where meet by and overwhelming number of local fishermen and others which wanted to sell all kind of services to us, such as, polishing the hull, the stainless steel, guide us around, try a home cocked meal at their home etc, etc. It was not easy to navigate around all these offers. We decided to choose the first young man who meet us in his dug-out canoe outside the anchorage to be our cicerone his name was PiPi. There were many kids coming out asking for all sorts of gifts candies, head phones, etc. it was very difficult to say no all the time, but else we would never had been left alone, cruel? Maybe yes, but we had read that it was an home for orphan children on the island and we had on beforehand decided to give a donation to the orphan home as our contribution to the community. We also had some ropes to give away to the fishermen which was highly appreciated, as well as a snorkeling mask. For you who plan to go there which I really do recommend, and like to contribute something, snorkeling gears and fines are very appreciated as well as ropes. The orphan home is short on infant formula 0-6 month which is also very expensive on Haiti, so bring that to the orphan home and you will be highly appreciated. The orphan home is driven by an old nun and hear aged sisters, it is a risk it will cease to exist soon.

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Kerpa at anchor in the very protected anchorage, the boats in the most protected corners called Port Morgan, after the pirate Captain Morgan, are permanent moored and they stay the whole season, so “visitors” have to stay in the outer part of the bay.

Captain Henry Morgan

The story of captain Morgan is interesting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgan

He became a night, not a bad carrier for a Pirate, even though he got a “letter of marque”, the right to pray on Spanish ships and colonies. He lived a large part of his life on Jamaica hence maybe the Rhum Captain Morgan.

Clearing in Ile Vache 1

There is a local clear in decided by the mayor, a 10 USD fee per week to anchor claimed to be used for cleaning up the bay from debris and it looked rather well kept.

Clearing in Ile Vache 2

The clearing in guy is leaving us in his “modern” canoe

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The inner anchorage Port Morgan please not the ambulance boat.

A guided walk on the island

PiPi took us for a walk on the island, to see different aspects of the island

Landscape IV 2

The men on the beach are collecting sand to mix into cement for constructions, everything by hand and carried manually.

In the back ground one sees part of a resort, does not look very large on this photo but it was a large resort, could probably take a few hundred guests. It was opened and we talked to the owner, and he confirmed my fear, he had no guest, main reason for that was the manifestations and that it is on a remote island. We talked a bit about the island and then he mentioned deforestation due to charcoal production, people cutting down trees but do not plant any and the island becoming more and more deforested.

cof

We saw one charcoal stack, not very large but there where large areas without trees

Deforestation 2Deforestation 1

Only few trees here

Number one charcoal producer world wide is Brazil followed by Nigeria, in Nigeria this is a major deforestation issue and if continue in current rate Nigeria will not have any forest left already by 2047, Nigeria has lost ca 50% of its forest the last 20 years,   if you are interested in the subject you can click on the link, and that is for a country with plenty of oil, The world is strange

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/energy/global-charcoal-needs-are-eating-up-nigeria-s-tropical-forests-59655

Deforestation due to charcoal production is very seldom mentioned, could it be because it is “Green”??

 

We saw two more rather large resorts with no or VERY few gusted

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In all we only saw two guests in total on the three resorts.

 

It was an interesting tour with PiPi showing us a small part of the island

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Seeing the landscape

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How people lived houses and different neighbourhoods

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Some of the boats

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A few very slim cows

The other day we took a long walk about 2 hours to the village Madam Bernard, where it is a market two days a week.

Towads Madam Bernard

The main road with kids on there way to the school

Towards Madam Bernard 2

Occasionally it was rather muddy and other areas was more dry, this is fare from the worst section, on some areas the mud was piling up under our sandals, and they needed to be cleaned every few 100 meters.

dav

and thgis section was very dry.

Finally, we came to Madam Bernard

Madam Bernard harbor

The “harbor”

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The market, we bought some bread fruit, manioc and some other vegetables, as the walk was both long and dry, we became thirsty and decided to find a bar to have a beer. PiPi guided us to a more pleasant or should I say in his view more up market place, unfortunately it was closed but when he asked, they said we can open for you.

Madam Bernard Restaurang

The bar, when we got our beer a woman came in and asked if we would like to have some lunch, she had chicken and plantain (food banana), as it was soon lunch time we thought why not lets try it. This is a land of no hurry. The woman now had to get all the raw material, light up the charcoal “stow”, all in all it took close to two hours, but then we were served a nice barbecued chicken with deep fried plantain and salad.

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Kerstin and PiPi enjoying the food

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The kitchen

Madam Bernard kitchen 3

Is this the salad chef? do not know, but the food must have been clean no problem with our digestion, we have probably been a bit multi-resistant by now.

motor taxi

The way back we took on a motor taxi, one adventure on its own.

I mentioned earlier that we were invited to try home cocked food at a family it was the family of one of PiPi’s uncles

The uncle told us to be there at 6 pm, a good time we thought, but obviously we are not the only couple who communicate poor between each other. This family had obviously not communicated about the time for our arrival. When we arrived home to the uncle, the wife was not there, she came after a while, did a few things before she started to prepare the food, shortly after 8 pm the food was ready to eat. It was an interesting evening in their plain home.

Dinner at home IV

Place where we had the dinner, Haitian do not like to be on photo, so unfortunately, we have only few photos on persons. In this case I just forgot to take photo on the food and the home.

 

Boat taxi to Les Cayes

We had not cleared in and that one has to do, I know some does not bother but we decided to follow the rule and are very pleased with that, it gave us another experience/adventure.

Boat Taxi to Les Cayes the nearest main land town (ca 100 000 inhabitant) to Ile a Vache ca 6 Nm just across the strait.

Les cayes Taxi 1

On our way to Les Cayes

When we arrived the first real surprise, we anchored 50 meters from the shore then an smaller boat came to pick us up

Les cayes harbor 2

Note the smaller boats close to the shore, but it was not enough with that, to get ashore we were carried on the back of men who had that as an “occupation” to take travelers to the shore. I can’t say I felt very uncomfortable to be carried ashore by a stranger who had as his main income.

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It was a vivid place with a lot going on, market, transport and a smell of food, garbage and sewer

dav

Note the “larger” freight vessel, the mast is not very straight.

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Views from the window where we cleared out

Les cayes 4

Street view

On the journey back “home”  we were among the first to board the water Taxi, when we were about 20 persons aboard each of us with some sizable cargo, we had a case of beer and a propane tank, so 20 people aboard including cargo containing even a few chairs it started to get rather full, but after a while several new small boats showing up with more people including cargoes small infant children, I thought they will never get space. Guess what I was wrong, we were at least 35 persons aboard the water taxi, when it left.

Les cayes Taxi 2

This is Taxi after 5 persons and their cargo had left the taxi,

The day after we sat sail to move our “home” to Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Jamaica.

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Again it was plenty of dugout canoes and small vessels out fishing

Leaving IV 3

And also, this larger boat with a massive amount of sails.

 

 

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Dominican Republic

We left Puerto Real, Puerto Rico and sailed towards Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. It was a gentle breeze, so we sailed slowly westward. I looked around the horizon and saw some strange water spouts, could it be whales? The binocular confirmed my suspicion finally we saw whales, after a while they came closer maybe 300 meters away so not very close, but close enough to admire them, we could see two or more Humpback whales jumping and diving over and over again for maybe 15 minutes, the they disappeared and we sailed into the sunset towards Boca Chica.

Boca Chica

Boca Chica is a very unique natural harbor protected by a long reef with a commercial deep water harbor, two marinas and a very long beach with various services from very basic sheds serving beer and basic food at low prices to more upmarket establishments.

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We arrived at lunch time to Marina Zar Par, we called them up on VHF, but did not get very much answer but a boat came out to guide us in. Rather soon we realize they do not speak very much English here! and we do not speak any Spanish! After that we had tied up, signed in to the Marina they asked us if we needed help to clear in, but we said we do it our self, as the cost was about 50 USD for the service and how difficult can it be? Well it started very easy, first a man from the drug enforcement agency came aboard and had a look, it went very swift, the immigration was situated at the marina so that went also well, and customs should be just down the road, maybe a few hundred meters.  We started to walk in the very hot sunshine towards the commercial harbor, but no customs were to be seen and the neighborhood was very scruffy, we did not felt totally comfortable walking the neighborhood. We asked but as all only spook Spanish we did not get very much help. Then someone said “Comandante?” and we said “si” and finally we were directed towards a building and found the “Comandante”. He looked like a question mark and asked what are you doing here??!! To make a long story shorter. We were driven back to the marina by a soldier in a car in by fare the worst condition I ever seen, most of the interior was ripped out such as all the interior side panels, all windows was cracked, no ignition key hole, most  of the front panel was gone, back in Sweden it would not even served as a spare part car, but it went slowly forward making all kind of strange noises. At the marina the same man who had offered us to clear in for us, now had to do the job anyhow, as the “comandante” did not had the right papers at his office. The guy at the marina token it with a smile even though he did not get paid but said, when you clear out I can fix it for 20 USD, and you do not need to go all the way in the heat. We agreed to that.

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Marina zar par

The Marina drew us to the local supermarket where we bought high quality fruits and vegetables to an attractive price, highly appreciated.

Dominican Republic Fruit

Part of the waterfront in Boca Chica is very basic but charming, during the weekend particularly on Sunday’s families meet and have fun together.

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A Fun day at the beach for the families

Sunday on Boat 1

The ones who are better off spend the day on their boat. All playing extremely loud music, with competition from the shore from this car

Sunday Music BC

Who is just a “music machine”

Santo Domingo

One day we took the local bus to Santo Domingo (founded 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus brother to Christopher Columbus) the capitol of Dominican Republic, we headed for the “Colonial Zone” an old part of the city just near the water front. It was rather interesting and a nice part of the city.

B Columbus

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With historical buildings from the old days and an old fort

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In 1509 the new viceroy Diego Colombus with wife arrived in Santo Domingo, while his residence was built, he moved into the fort while the warden of the fort Diego Lopez de Salcedo was out, and refused to leave, it ended up that the King Ferdinand the Catholic ordering Colombus to move immediately or severe punishment would be given. Not the best way to start a new relationship

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Central Colonial zone

On the way back we asked for the way to walk to the nearest bus station, but we were firmly advised not to walk “it is not safe”, we do not walk our self so take a taxi to the bus station they said. We asked a taxi driver for the cost to go to the bus station, but he asked for our final destination, and for 22 USD we got all the way to the Marina.

Jarabacoa

We wanted to see some of the inland, so we took a tour up in the mountains to Jarabacoa National Park. The main attraction was some water falls

Jarabacor water fall 1

Salto De Baiguate

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The water temperature was like in the Baltic a good Swedish summer

Jarabacor water fall 5

Salto Jimenoa

But we thought the reception park was the highlight a very peaceful place to just walk and relax

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A side observation, soy beans are a vital source of energy and protein for a lot of people worldwide, this is how they look, just by chance the guide showed us some of the crop they had in the area and one of them was soy beans.

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According to the guide it only takes 6 weeks from plant to harvest! Anyone know?

Isla Beata

From Boca Chica we sailed the 120 n to Isla Beata, and island inhabited by fishermen during the winter, a very beautiful island but I assume the life is rather harsh no service what so ever (no electricity, no water etc)

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Kerpa at anchor outside the fishermen settlement

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Very basic living quarters

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Lobster pots we assume

Isla Beata Lobster

We were very quickly approached by a fisherman who offered sell us some lobsters and We bought some from him, tasted good especially the soup Kerstin made it was Micheline class on that one.

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shore line of Isla Beata

This is how they transport goods to the island

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Transfer supply from the larger boat to the smaller local boats, everything by hand of course. There were a few very basic “shops” for the fishermen, some of them had their wife’s with them, but men was in large majority.

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The island is well known for its abundance of Iguanas, maybe they are so large as they are feed on fish?

Isla Beata Island fish

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Another type of Graffiti

We had a magic evening there with the moon just above the settlement

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Isla Beata Island evening 3

Kerstin enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine,

Maintenance

When we arrived Isla Beata it was a rather fresh wind and when furling the head sails it came some very strange sounds from the top swivel, that made me very concerned as we now are on places where service and spare parts are not easy to get,

We took down the head sail and found, that one of the stainless bars that is preventing the top swivel from rotate when furling the sail was lose and severely bent. If that is the only problem, no big deal.

Bent rod 1

It is supposed to be strait, it was a little bent before but now it is very bent and how to straighten it?

One need a fixed object we do not have a vice large enough for the task.

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The outboard crane and some very thick washers to reinforce the stainless steel structure solved the issue, a fixed point and some brutal?? force from my self and the bar was soon “straight” again

Bent Rod 4

Swivel Fixed

Now back in place and after hoisting the head sail it furled so gentle again and the captain was happy again. We also notice that the winch was very sluggish, and it was obviously why when taking it apart, it was time for service, cleaning and lubrication.

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Bahia de las Aguilas

Last stop in Dominican Republic was Bahia de las Aguilas, a very remote and tranquil beach/bay, according to the pilot book visited by very few, but obviously no hidden gem for very long, a few local tripper boats and a dirt trail now leads to the beach, but we were alone during morning and evening and to share such a huge bay with a few people is no big deal.

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Chrystal clear water

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Miles of pristine sand

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Next stop Ile a Vache Haiti

 

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Puerto Rico Part 2

Last time you heard from us, we where in the nice anchorage of Salinas, Puerto Rico, from there we continued west along the south coast of PR heading for Ponce, the second largest city in PR with ca 150,000 inhabitants.

The first sight was not very rewarding, on the contrary

Ponce Harbor

A large commercial harbor, not exactly the kind of anchorage we are looking for, but according to the pilot book Ponce is a nice town well worth visiting so we continued in to the harbor, and

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this was the view from Kerpa when the anchor was set, so not to bad given that you put you face in the right direction.

At shore the area was rather attractive

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So, we decided to try out the restaurants one evening

Ponce Marina 4

Not very crowded even though we choose the restaurant with the most guests, the food gave not great value for money but sometimes it is nice to escape from cocking and wash up.

 

Ponce is not a very large town, but there is a long walk through the almost deserted harbor area

Ponce deserted harbor

The government bought this deserted harbor for 180 million USD, i does not look as a very good investment.?

There is a long walk through the almost deserted harbor area before one reach the scruffy town area close to the water front

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And then there are still at least 30 minutes’ walk to the more central parts of Ponce. We tried to find a taxi, but no one understand English so we continued to walk, but suddenly we were approach by a man, who had seen his best days, he spoke some English and he informed us that there are buses that passes by regularly, so we had a chat with him for half an hour while waiting for the bus taking us down town. The bus was more like a mini van and did not cost much 1,5 USD per person, it gave us a small sightseeing of the shopping center and outer part of the town before it stopped at the old town center.

 

Arriving down town the first thing we saw was this van who served chicken skewer

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Tasted good and was much better value for money compared to the more posh and expensive dinner we had  at the water front at the marina.

Just besides one finds Ponce’s famous fire station, now a museum

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This was the first fire station in Puerto Rico, the building is from 1882, and came into use as a fire station 1883, when a massive fire threatened the city and volunteer fire fighters fought the fire for several days using the building as a base, hence it become the first fire station in PR.

The old part of the town is very much influenced by the Spanish heritage and rather attractive

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This is the central bus station very attractive something to learn from maybe

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We decided to walk back to the scruffy old part of Ponce where we stepped on the bus to the center, as we like to walk and not get very much “natural” exercises on the boat. When we arrived to the “scruffy part” we were really tiered and thought it would be easy to find a taxi from there to the marina (we had seen a few taxis when waiting for the bus to take us to the center) but no taxi around we thought if we ask at a restaurant, they might call a taxi for us, but most places was closed, finally we found an open restaurant and went in and asked them to call a taxi for us, they said no taxi around here, then they asked where are you heading, we explained that we had our boat in the marina and then the manager offer to drive us there. People are very kind and helpful.

Now it was time to continue west and we found a place called Gilligan’s island

A sheltered mangrove anchorage

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It was a very quiet place but that was probably due to mid-week else it would have been very many boats partying on the small mangrove islands

Kertin at Gilligan Island

And no way we would have been able to bath alone during a weekend

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Or explore the mangrove all by our self. During a weekend it would have been a massive amount of peoples, boats and many many jet skies driving around in circles or just in straight lines at maximum speed, then suddenly make a manoeuvre and full speed in a different direction, among people swimming around, we are surprised that we not yet have witnessed any accident. many of these mangrove anchorage are natural reserves there to preserve nature and the very rare Manatee but that does not matter at all?

It was different on La Parguera, as we were there during a weekend

There the locals know how to enjoy a weekend and to party

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Laud music, every boat play it’s own music on full volume on stereos with enormous capacity in watt’s, so it is a cacophony of sound and /or noise , on top of that barbecue, drinks and chilling out in the water the Puerto Rican’s who have founds know how to enjoy the weekend.

They also have a different view of eco-tourism

Eco turism La Perguera

Running around with water scooters is hardly considered to be Eco in many places in Europe that is for sure

Else La Parguera is a rather sleepy tourist place, the main fascination is to experience the weekenders.

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La Perguera 2

And not the best dingy dock

Gilligan IslandAnchorage 2

Kerpa at anchor among the mangrove islands of La Perguera.

Puerto Real

Puerto Real was the last port in PR. Highly recommended as a safe and easy anchorage, further the Border Control was very helpful. I called them and asked how to clear out of Puerto Rico, according to the pilot one should take a taxi to the airport and clear out there. They said it is not necessary, download the CBP Form 1300, mail it in and we fix it from there, it took less than 20 minutes after I had sent it in before I got it back with stamps and everything, just print it to be able to hand it in, in next country when clearing in.

Puerto Real Allegro 33

In Puerto Real there were three Swedish boats at anchor out of 6, must be rather unusual, but most unusual that two boats Andante and Trud were of the same make Allegro 33,  a good old fashioned Swedish boat for blue water sailing. 

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We had a nice sun-downer on Andante with Roy and Åsa and the crew of Trud Pia and Hasse.

We had some very dramatic sky in Puerto Real

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But at day time the sky and weather were very gentle

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The village

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Next stop Dominican Republic

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Similarities with the old days

A few things are still the same as when people voyage the sea in the old days, from the Vikings to Columbus and less in time distant sailors who cruised the oceans before the electronic age.

Leaving in sunset (Copy)

The sunset in the beginning of a voyage looks the same today as it did thousands of years ago.

The anxiety for deteriorating weather is maybe not the same but similar, we have good weather reports to relay on.

Not so good weather (Copy)

The ragged coast line looked the same

B lue water and clifs (Copy)

The discovery that the sea turned blue when approaching Puerto Rico was probably the same for more ancient sailors.

Blue water (Copy)

The Mediterranean Sea is claimed to be blue, but we just noticed that the sea when leaving Culebra now has similar color.

The joy and anxiety to explore a new country I assume is similar, the need to clearing in, provisioning and finally when all the procedures are finalized, the joy of entering a bar/restaurant emptying the first glass into a dry throat.

Tex Mex Restaurang (Copy)

Maybe the old sailors also had to share the bar with

Tex Mex Höna (Copy)

Hens, chickens and..

Tex Mex Tupp (Copy)

Rosters?

But there are of course some very fundamental differences, we have very good charts, GPS plotters, the latest updated pilot books, so the navigation challenge is very minor, we know what to expect from the well explored areas we are visiting. AND finally the determination which we seeking Wi-Fi or the almost “holy grail” a SIM card with unlimited internet, if that is found we are close to the” Shangri-La”. Connected with the World again! Hallelujah

Relaxing after anchoring (Copy)

Then we can rest peacefully in the cockpit knowing that nothing that happens in the world can pass by without our knowledge and concern. But wasn’t that one of the reasons we cast of, to get away from all the this? Politics, intrigues, banks doing money laundry, the North Korean issue etc. Well for us I think our interest in Politics, World economics, etc has increased, I do not know why, maybe we can now put it into another perspective?

Old people often complain on young people spending to much time in front of the computer or mobile phone, but I am rather convinced old “grown up” people are as addicted to the “net” as the young are. I am convinced grey-haired people are in majority among the one postings on Facebook.

But back to cruising, from St Martin we set course towards Culebra, which we visited not long time ago. This time we knew we must clear in which we did not do last time thus last time we were “illegal immigrants”. The boarder control officer in St Croix, where we cleared in to USVI answered on a direct question, do we need to clear in to Spanish Virgin Island or Puerto Rico or can we just sail over there? No problem now you are on US territory so no further need to clear in. Thus, we’d cruised the Spanish Virgin Island without clearing in last time. But this time we did it right, a walk to the airport on Culebra, the boarder control officer had to take a break in his lunch to service us, but everything went smooth.

Culebra Hotel (Copy)

Culebra is a very charming place not to be missed

Culebra kiosk (Copy)

I do not think they take things that serious, or?

Puerto Rico

As I wrote earlier that the water when leaving Culebra became blue, like it is in “The Med” It gave us a nice feeling of comfort and welcoming. The first overnight stop was

Isla Palominos

Isla Palominos (Copy)

Before we headed to Bahia de Fajardo where we anchored outside

Isla Marina (Copy)

Isla Marina, with a marina and a large condominium on a small Island

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The sight on the main land was also residential areas. No good dingy dock was to be found on the mainland, so we took the dingy to the Island Marina

For 5 USD a person we could park our dingy and take the Island water taxi for free over to the main land, not a bad deal.

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On the Water Taxi we got in contact with an American couple who had a house in the neighborhood, they offered us a ride to the shopping area, where the very much sought after Sim card could be bought. The walk back was just over an hour so good exercise that day.

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The area we walked was not very attractive, but in general US urban areas are seldom good for walkers, but better for cars.

 

Bahia de Fajardo (Copy)

Back at the Key and the Water Taxi, we could again see the damage from the hurricane 2017

PR Flag (Copy)

Not only the Sim card, we also got a courtesy flag for Puerto Rico

One find for us very strange root crops in the grocery stores

IMG_20190304_132309 (Copy)

but so fare we have been to coward to dare to try them, but maybe later we will find the courage.

Salinas

Salinas was a very nice stop, very different to approach compared to the old days as we have very good electronic charts to helping us to navigate the very shallow bay of Salinas

Salinas entrance chart (Copy)

The lowest draft we saw was 2,5 meters so about 40 cm margin, enough as it was very in shelter, but it was falling tide.

Again the 2017 hurricane damage was immediately visible

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The Marina had suffered damages

 

But the Sunday party was at full blast with loud live music and dancing people

Bar Salinas (Copy)

Salina anchorage

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We took a walk into the village and again not very walking friendly, and more evidence of the hurricane.  Hurricane Irma made the whole of Puerto Rico out of electrical power, Puerto Rico was badly hurt.

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Many houses in need of a lot of TLC

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But the municipality house and the market were in very good condition

Salinas community house (Copy)Salinas Market house (Copy)

As well as the town square

Salinas main square (Copy)

Fuel is very cheap from an European perspective

Low cost fuel (Copy)

We also found this very beautiful flower, do not know the name or what kind of plant it is

Salinas beautiful flower (Copy)

For the one with good eyes one can se that the bush has large pea pods

If one is not careful the nature takes back initiativePlant taking over (Copy)

Soon this electrical “installation” will be grown over, not strange, warm climate and rain the best conditions for plant growth.

An other interesting thing with Salinas is the Manatee, a mammal that lives in the water like a sea lion

manatee

They are an endangered spice, with less than 700 in Puerto Rico and ca 4500 in Florida (want to know more about Manatee click on the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rico_Manatee_Conservation_Center  ). One evening we heard a snort and a splash, we quickly looked out and in the light from a flash light we saw a Manatee dive in under our boat, In the morning when leaving Salinas we could see one in the distance as well.

After Salinas we go further west ….

 

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A day pass very quickly

The first part of this blog is rather technical, and if you find it boring just scroll down until you see pictures of nature and people and hopefully you find it more interesting to read.

When cruising one have a feeling that one has an eternity of time, but the days pass very quickly. Maybe not strange we Swedes feel that way, as for us when it is warm it is summer, and when it is summer the days are very long. Around midsummer in Stockholm the sun goes down after 22:00 and is up already shortly after 03:00 in the morning and the nights does not get really dark, more like twilight. Then of course the days become very long and potentially very productive!!! Down in the Caribbean the sun goes down about 18:30 and up around 06:30 and it is very dark during the night unless there is a clear night with moon shine.

So the days are shorter, and planning for maintenance and provisioning are therefore? often overoptimistic. Like an oil change, it does not take long, especially as we do it rather often and gets some routine into the job, but it is always a messy work, especially to change the oil filter without some major spill. The oil change itself does not take long, cleaning, disposal of old oil, oil filter and a bag full of used rags in an environmentally friendly manner usually takes the longest time. And after completion of such a task the captain needs a bath, a beer and a rest and it will soon be dark i.e no more work that day.

The same day as I did the oil change I wanted to replace a rivet or two in the head sail foil that were a bit loose. Well it ended up with a rather big job that took a full day.Headsail furler

As I had to drill out all the rivets, separate the foil from the “drum”, clean out and attach it again and then of course put in new rivets, but then things started to go wrong as after each rivet I had to dismantle the rivet gun as the “center piece” refuse to get out of the rivet gun. Add wind gusting 25-30 kn, and that all rivets should be sealed with caulking I soon had 3M caulking all over my body.

The last rivet is the tricky one as access is very limited

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But a few m5 nuts solve the issue. But the whole process took most of that day.

 

Autopilot Problem

We have problem with our new Autopilot from Raymarine, it does not steer well at all when the waves are on the beam or behind. Therefore I decided to fully reinstall the old Autohelm Autopilot. To do that we need a switch that can handle a few cords and also the current to the drive unit’s. Browsing around in a few shops took most of a day before I found a switch that I thought would work.

The switch then of course needed to be mounted on a suitable place and all the cables to be installed.

Changeover switch

There are 12 + 3 cables to the two switches.

Chnageover switch in place

Now mounted maybe not the most beautiful but it works, now we can switch between the old and the new Autopilot and the black switch to the right switch between the two drives, so very safe redundancy.

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Old and the new control head both in place. All this in only one day that was faster than I thought. Add one day to find the switch.

But now you are thinking that I should make sure the new Autopilot performer well, and yes you are absolutely right, I have tweaked all settings that I with great difficulties identified in a sub-standard manual, but no success. In St Martin I found a Raymarine service person who gave me some advice. Download and upgrade all software (took most of a day). Then do the dock setup and sea trial set up again, and it will probably work (another day of work). Do not have the heading sensor below water line that cause problem he said, ours is just above water line, hope it will work, else minimum another day of work to move the heading sensor and pull the cable to a better position.

Not strange that times flies.

For the one who read the last blog we then had just left St Martin so what are we doing in St Martin again? We should be heading south towards Trinidad for laying up during hurricane season you might think, correct thinking, but one of the beauties with cruising is to change plans. We have been discussing our future cruising plan, not for very long but a few days, and suddenly we came to the conclusion we should cross the Atlantic again this time from Bermuda to the Azores, spend some time in the Azores, cruising the coast of Portugal.  Then during the winter we can work on Kerpa, it would be very convenient for us to have Kerpa in the marina in Lagos as we have our flat just a short walk from the marina. Make her ready for an extended Pacific cruise and then in the fall 2020 cross the Atlantic again visiting Columbia and San Blas, before transiting the Panama Canal, that is our latest plan, but….

What have we done besides changing plans?

We have visit three really nice places, the first we came to after leaving Basseterre on St Kits was

Deshaies on Guadeloupe we arrive rather early after a night’s sail. We know that it is a popular place and the anchorage is not that easy as wind coming from several direction and it is not uncommon to have the anchor behind your stern. Luckily it was rather strong wind when we arrived therefore boats and anchors where more or less in a straight line.

Deshaies close anchoring

Some beats were to close to each other for comfort, but there was no incidence that we noticed.

Deshaies Fishing

In the morning the local fishermen put out a long net in a circle, I could not see if they were successful but the Pelicans followed their progress with great interest.

Deshaies is know for the “feel good” British crime series “Murder in Paradise”, I could not recognize many palaces, but we found one bar they use to visit after solving a crime and found this photo in the bar.

Murder in Paradice

The commissar and the bar keeper, a highly recommended TV serie

The highlight of the visit was the walk up the Deshaies “river”, not much of a river, but a good exercise and a scenic walk.

Desahies River walk

An old bridge over the river

Desahies River walk 4

A bit further up there was not very much water, but more rocks. The funny thing is that we have talked about rocks. Rocks are in abundance in the archipelago of Stockholm and on the west coast of Sweden. We do enjoy jumping from rock to rock at the edge of the shore, we find it to be a very good exercise. As we now do exercise rather regularly, we thought rock jumping would be a good exercise as one gets older it strengthens your core and is very good for balance. So we were very pleased to negotiate this rocky trail.

Desahies River walk 5Desahies River walk 3

With some small “water falls” adding to the serenity of the place.

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The walk was rather demanding and took us to a rather high elevation, total time close to two hours, a walk we can highly recommend if you anchor in Deshaies

There is also a very nice botanic garden close by, but the day we planned to visit the garden the rain was pouring down so we stayed on the boat and admired the rainbow instead

Desahies Rainbow

We had this beautiful rain bow very close, strange when we see a rain bow in Sweden it looks as it is miles away, but here they are just in front of us, strange.

Les Saintes

We had a fresh wind on our south going route and the next stop was Les Saintes a few small islands belonging to Guadeloupe. They are a bit exposed and the places where one can anchor are of course more exposed than where one find buoys.

We anchored the first two nights but then the swell started to come in and we decided to move to a buoy, but that is not easy they are in high demand and there is a race as soon as a buoy is free, fortunately we found a rather good one.

Les Saintes is a rather laid-back tourist place who still have a lot of charm and one can still imagine the old days when this was an isolated fishing village.

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Houses in all kinds of status from very nice indeed to a need of a lot of TLC.

Les Saintes 7

Bananas in the garden

Les Saintes Dingy dock

And pelicans on the dingy

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Shore line of Petit Anse

We meet Think Twice and Glittra from our home cruising club OSK, and they took us on a very nice walk up a rather high hill

Les Saintes 1

Up to the top where one can see a small building

Start of walk

The hill is starting, and we now had company with another OSK boat with some youngsters who also wanted to negotiate the hill.

View Les Saintes 2View Les Saintes 1

We got very nice view on the way up.

The Top

The building at the summit

A selfi Les saintes

Time for a selfie at the top

Now we are up

A very nice walk and work out. The crew of Kerpa, Glittra and Think Twice.

The next day Kerstin and I took a walk up to the Fort Napoleon on the opposite side of the bay, not as demanding but a nice place to visit.

Ile Saintes Fort Napoleon 1Ile Saintes Fort Napoleon 2Ile Saintes Fort Napoleon 3Ile Saintes Fort Napoleon 4

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That hill also offered a nice view.

On the anchorage of Les Saintes we saw another Amel SM with a French flag, Reve De Lune IV was the name, we paid a visit, the Captain was French but the Admiral was a Swedish woman, they invited us aboard and told us that they were just back from an around the world cruise. They talked passionately about the Pacific and it was the meeting with them that made us tip over to change our plans and sail back to Europe and prepare Kerpa for the big jump.

Before heading north again we wanted to visit Dominica again the next island going south. We were there two years ago, and it became one of our favorite islands.

In a very brisk wind almost closed hauled we sailed down to Dominica.

Mot Dominica

 

Kerstin enjoying the sail, but soon she had to go out in pouring rain and 30 kn of wind to set the anchor. As always when approaching a harbor, the wind and rain sets in.

But soon the sun was shining again

Portsmout Cusroms jetty

Dingy dock at customs in Portsmouth, Dominica

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Portsmouth

PAYS Barbeque

We attended the PAYS barbecue not so many people as it was a Wednesday usually full on Sundays, but we had some nice talks with new sailing friends from Canada, we had meet earlier in St Martin.

Sun set Portmouth

Nice sunset in Portsmouth

The day after we had a nice trip on the Indian river with one of The PAYS guides.

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Now time to go north again

We set sail for a 180 nM trip to St Martin again, the forecast promised ca 20 kn following wind, it ended up being very little wind at all so we had to motor about half of the distance, why can’t the forecast be right when you want to sail in a nice fresh wind from behind?

One good thing was that we deployed our new cedar plug lure on a 15 m “short” hand line

Mahi Mahi 2

Does anyone who have not tried this lure that it will lure any fish?

Guess whatMahi Mahi 1

This nice Mahi Mahi was caught not fare from where we landed a Mahi Mahi going south from St Martin not long ago.

Mahi Mahi 3

Kerstin clean the fish with a happy face

Mahi Mahi 4

And a day later we enjoyed it, tasted divine.

So what to do in St Martin, besides all the maintenance I already described in the beginning of this blog. Provisioning, we need to fill the boat as we plan to go to Puerto Rico, then visit some places on the south side of Hispaniola, if time, weather and political situation we will stop at both Haiti and Jamaica, then Cuba, after that we have to see how much time we have to see The Bahamas again. Recon we will leave Bermuda around 1st of June for the crossing to the Azores.

Provisioning take some days, we made two trips, but we could not find we where looking for, so complementary provisioning in Puerto Rico we guess.

 

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Milk, Wine, Beer, Pasta, etc etc to last for a couple of months.

We meet a Swedish boat Sea Wind with Lars and Susanne Hellman, they were on the way to get on the hard, so we invited them for dinner and we had a very nice evening together and they gave good advice about visiting Cuba and Jamaica,

SeaWind visit

Tomorrow we set sail again heading for Puerto Rico.

 

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