5.30.2010

Back In St Pete, FL


Hello to all and thanks for continuing to follow and support our mission. We have completed the shake down cruise and have arrived back in St Petersburg FL. It is bittersweet moment we missed our friends and loved ones deeply but now we will miss the journey and our new friends that we have met. Currently we are preparing to hunker down for hurricane season while we both re-enter the work force in Kansas City for the next few months at which point we will return to St Pete and prepare ourselves and Mary Rose for the next chapter of our journey. We will continue to post blogs through out the summer and as requested will include a blog to describe how we have changed and grown over the past 5 months both as a team and individually. We hope to be able to spend plenty of time with our friends and loved ones during this intermission. As for Mary Rose...she is tired, she worked hard and we are very proud of her! We have a few repairs to make to Mary Rose before we resume our dream, nothing major. Her sails are slightly torn from the persistent, relentless trade winds, we developed a minor water leak around her muffler and we must install a SSB for weather. If there were any regrets it would be that we did not have a SSB radio on board so we would have sufficient ability to adequately monitor the weather. Mary performed well, max speed recorded was 10.6 knots (not bad for a wetsnail!!!!!!) One gale storm with 40+ knot winds and 12-13 ft confused seas that required us to hunker down below while Mary danced in the wind and waves alone. Never once did we ever feel threatened or unsafe.

Once again thanks to our friends and family for understanding our need to follow this dream!


We wish everyone love, tranquillity, and joy



Capt Don and Admiral Nelson

Ile a Vache/Haiti




Felix left, Jerry right

It is time to remember how to be child like, how to find those feelings of excitement over the simple things in life, I remember as a young child how exciting it was to find empty Coke bottles on the side of the road and to turn them in for a nickel. Do you remember the feeling of eagerness when you heard the sound of an ice cream truck a few blocks away? Can you recall being clueless & carefree on a hot summer day lying in the cool grass staring at the big puffy clouds flo ating by with no concern of the bug bites that would ultimately result? How about those summer days when you were gracious a new kid moved on the block so the neighborhood baseball team would have even number of players with no concern to color or nationality, free of all prejudice. This is my story of remembering how to let go and fly so I could welcome this simple culture into my heart forever.


We have all heard the stories about Haiti, mostly flawed and incorrect perspectives. I myself am guilty of embracing some of these erroneous beliefs. In the beginning of our transit to Haiti I found some of these invalid beliefs emerge to the surface of my thoughts. I had persuaded myself that all would be well but I found my apprehensions mount as we drew near to the isle of Ile a Vache. These suppressed judgments that I carried in the back of my mind were awakening against my will. I hadn’t overcome my prejudices yet.





As we arrived to the entrance to the cove of this beautiful island there were many Bois-Fouyes (the local native sail powered fishing boats) throughout the bay fishing. Fishing buoys made of old plastic bottles were scattered throughout the entrance and we were forced to squirm our way through the maze. As we wiggled our way through the channel I found myself unable to refrain from taking a few pictures of these beautiful Bois-Fouyes sailing vessels even though I was aware that some Haitians do not like their pictures taken due to a belief that when their picture is taken a part of their soul is taken with the picture. I must confess my lack of respect was my first mistake. Being selfish and not respecting a belief system and taking pictures without their permission. My disregard for this culture resulted in unnecessary stress inflicted on myself by myself.

One of the ancient sailing vessels intersected a few feet in front of us. One of the men on board began shouting at us in Creole French; we were clueless as to what he was trying to tell us, another mistake, not learning the language of the country. This is where my concern began to escalate as this person continued to frantically wave his arms in the air and scream at us while another male on board had his head in his hands shaking his head as if nothing would ever be the same again. We didn’t understand what was wrong at the time but the last thing I wanted to do was make anyone mad at us in Haiti. As our transit continued so did my concern. I literally became sick with worry at the thought of what these people were going to do to us; they do practice Voodoo you know!! I began imagining pieces of my hair on a stick doll with pins stuck through it! I punished myself with my vivid imagination for the hour long journey to anchor. As we found out later all my worry was in vain because these men were just concerned that we had ran over their fishing line and we were going to drag it on our rudder. My silliness and ignorance resulted in my own minor freak out and who knows how many grey hairs. When we entered the bay we were greeted by people both young and old in dugout canoes. They were all smiling and appeared very peaceful some spoke broken English some not. Some had services to offer such as laundry, boat cleaning, guides for translation, homemade gifts to sell and some brought us gifts of fresh, fire roasted cashews, shells, fruit, drawings they had made and some just wanted to say hello. When we went to shore the children surrounded us with beautiful smiles, harmonious laughter and warm hugs, all competing to hold our hands. The children are blissful as they play in the bay to keep cool, they laugh, and they use their imagination to find ways to entertain themselves and each other. There is no running water or electricity on the island therefore there are no sprinklers to play in, no slip and slides, no TVs, Gameboys, X-Boxes and all the other items that consume most children’s time. The kids are in need of various items such as balls, Frisbees, books, school and art supplies and most important money for school. The Capt and I observed these children at play and we began our journey to learning how to remember to play. It is such a simple concept yet so easily forgotten. One way we found to play with the kids was when we would see a canoe of youngsters paddling around the bay we came up next to them in our dinghy, the Capt would capture the canoe and we would pull them around the bay, they loved it. One incident while at play the Captain let go of the canoe too quickly and it filled with water. We had 3 young boys paddling around in the water trying to reach their canoe. Of course we returned and assisted in empting the canoe so it could be turned up right. We are giving and receiving great times and tons of laughter, that is priceless!
The children of Haiti do not have the privilege of attending school there is a cost attached to this indulgence and if the parents cannot pay there are no options or handouts. This I find very disconcerting because these children are all hungry for education and eager to learn. When word got out that we were going to sponsor a couple of children for a year of schooling it wasn’t long before we had a line of children in dugout canoes alongside Mary Rose’s beam each requesting the opportunity to put their name on a piece of paper so we wouldn’t forget them. Each having a story to tell, a dream to share regarding what they would do if they had the opportunity to learn a trade, learn to read and write.. Simple things but so out of reach for many. We have started a list with names of those children wanting to attend school next year. The cost to send one child to school is $50 for 6 months this may not sound unattainable to most of us but when you take into consideration that the average monthly salary is $20-30 per month this is substantial. We met one boy that has captured a section of my heart. His name is Jerry and he is an inspiring and talented artist. I gifted him a sketch pad and a how to sketch book that I have held on to for several years and for whatever reason I could never part with it. Isn’t it funny how that works?! I never understood why I couldn’t let this book go until I met Jerry…now I understand. He carries the book and the sketch pad around with him and has done many wonderful sketches since I gifted him with it. Now he is going to sketch boats and sell them. Now we have given him a method to be some what self sufficient. Self sufficiency is the key to decreasing the issue of survival on this island. We meant a young man by the name of Jonathon McDonald who is heading an organization by the name of Friends of Ile a Vache. http://www.friendsofileavachehaiti.com/ .

The Friends of Ile a Vache is doing just that, giving these people a way to be self sufficient. Please review the website and see for yourself all the good deeds that are coming out of this organization. A sample of the bigheartedness and entertaining fun they also provide is they sponsored a canoe race during our visit to Ile a Vache and the first place prize was $25 US dollars = to 100 goudes (Haiti exchange), the humorous part of the event was that the last place canoe also won $25 which was not announced until after the race, what a nice surprise it was to the gentleman who came in last. We are in the process of joining Soles For Little Souls with Friends of Ile a Vache so that tax deductable donations can be made to Soles For Little Souls and the money will be routed to us for purchase of supplies and sponsorship of education of the children in return we will be helping to transport supplies to the island. This organization is highly commendable and doing a lot of good for these people. This island is in desperate need of many things I will place a list at the end of this blog post.
We visited a market place in a near by town which is held every Monday and Thursday. This was an amazing experience. It was as if we stepped back in time a few hundred years or on to the pages of National Geographic.
Please enjoy the pics in the photo section they are broke down by categories.

I will leave this island with much more compassion and a lot less tolerance for people feeling entitled. These people live day after day, year after year with a heat index that is less than tolerable, no air conditioning not even a fan, the bugs are relentless and have developed a liking to bug repellant, they cook meals on open fires, no corner stores to pick up dinner, no fast food drive through, they live a very simple life and do without many things we consider the basics yet they continue day after day with positive outlooks and a multitude of smiles. The people of Ile a Vache were gracious, warm and very welcoming.

It is time that we close our eyes and remember how to spread our arms to our side and run through the grass pretending to fly. It is time that we drag our children away from the video games, cell phones, TVs and show them how simple life can be and should be.

Elizabeth Cunningham stated it best when she wrote: “We leave people and places and times behind. We encounter new ones. Sometimes we can’t see the patterns or connections. But they are there, between one breath and the next, in the ebb and flow of tides, in the rhythm of the dance.

Special thanks to Felix (Pix @ top of page) for being our guide and translator and friend, to Fritznel (1st pic)and Nixon for doing such a great job cleaning Mary Rose and for your companionship and friendship and a very special thanks to the people of Ile a Vache for sharing a piece of your island and culture with us.

Needs:


Batteries all sizes



Dive Masks



Snorkels



Flashlights



School supplies



Art Supplies



Medical and first aid supplies



Games



Balls



Anti itch creams

Fishing items nets and lines



This is a short list, the list goes on

5.23.2010

Safe Landing 5/22/2010: Marathon, FL | Burdines Marina

Sailing vessel Mary Rose has landed safely in Marathon, FL at Burdines Marina. Landed at 2:00 PM on Saturday, 5/22/2010. Resting and recovering from inclement weather passages.

Marina Services: fuel, water, electricity, cable, showers, laundry, coffee, restaurants within walking distance, no wifi.


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5.22.2010

Ile a Vache, Haiti to Marathon, FL|Windward Passage|Old Bahama Channel|Gulf Stream Crossing













































This blog entry will document the sailing experience of our passage from Ile a Vache, Haiti to Marathon, FL through the Windward Passage, The Old Bahama Channel and across the Gulf Stream. The passage required seven days of continuous sailing on the open sea. We encountered winds over 40 knots and seas in excess of 12 feet. We caught fish almost every day and were well fed. We maintained alternating watches so we were rested as well. This is only a recount of our sailing experience and we do not suggest that this is the best method to make this passage; it is only our experience that we share, not advice.



We departed Ile a Vache at noon on 5-15-10 with a return trip odometer reading of 625 nautical miles under sunny skies and with a fresh and favorable breeze. We arrived at the southwest tip of Haiti as the sun was setting. We turned north into the Windward Passage and noticed several bands of thunder storms that were sparking off of the Haiti mainland into the Windward Passage. We were fortunate in that our arrival in the passage was such that the thunder storms would pass from east to west well ahead of us. We noted this for future passages so that we could avoid the frequent thunder storms that form almost daily in this passage in the evening due to the cooling of the air over Hispaniola. Our rumb line for the Windward Passage was from the southwest tip of Haiti to the Northwest tip of Cuba maintaining at least ten miles of margin from any land masses. The winds were too close to our rumb line to allow us to make it on one tack so we were forced to tack back and forth to make progress to the north. A starboard tack was the favored tack and it put us on track to sail close to Guantomano Bay. This seemed like a good idea from a security standpoint so we proceeded in a Northwesterly direction. We sailed through the night and into the next day before the favored tack changed to a port tack so we tacked off and headed in the direction of the Northwest tip of Haiti. The day went well with strong winds and medium seas. We always reef our main before nightfall and we did just that and were getting settled in for our night watch schedule when the winds began to strengthen. The winds were howling so loud it was almost impossible to speak above them on the topsides. Along with winds in excess of 40 knots the seas also began to build. The waves grew steeper than we had seen on any previous passage. We were smack in the middle of a full blown gale according to the Beaufort Scale. We decided to put in a second reef, bring in the head sail and hoist the staysail. Conditions continued to build to the point that we felt we would be better off putting our boat into a “hove to” position, lashing the tiller over and going below for the night. So below we went and turned the radar screen so we could watch it from the dinette. We turned on the sentry alarm on the radar so that we would be alerted when another vessel came within eight nautical miles of our boat. When the alarm went off we would hail the oncoming vessel on the VHF radio and make them aware of our position and that we were unable to maneuver due to being “hove to”. Essentially we were adrift at the mercy of the wind and waves. We were safe and dry and Mary Rose handled the heavy weather very well. Our drift was about 2 knots to the NNW back toward Cuba. We were able to begin sailing again at about 6:30 AM in moderate conditions. I made the assumption that the same conditions could or would occur again later this evening and took action to make this evening safer and more comfortable. We sailed on a port tack away from Cuba toward the northwestern tip of Haiti. My rationale was that the gale force winds were coming from the northeast and we would be able to get behind the high mountains on the northern peninsula of Haiti. We could avoid the high winds and heavy seas there and then sail directly out of the north end of the Windward Passage early the next morning. As the evening approached the winds began to build and the waves grew just as they had the night before. Except this time we were only a few miles from the leeward protection of the northern peninsula of Haiti. We fell off the wind a bit to make the sailing in the high winds a bit more tolerable and within an hour we were in water as smooth as a mill pond tucked in for the night, safe and sound. We still “hove to” to stop our progress away from our intended destination and established alternate watches for the night. This time we were not in the shipping channel and we only had one vessel come within eight miles the entire night. We resumed sailing at 6:00 AM on Tuesday morning (5-18-10) in 10-15 knots of wind and 2-3 ft seas. We were within striking distance of making our way out of the Windward Passage before this day was over. Even with the extraordinary conditions, the Admiral prepared 5 Star high quality meals with the fresh fish that gave us good energy and endurance throughout the experience. I am still not sure how she manages to do this. I am in awe and admire her capabilities. Just as we were nearing the north end of the Windward Passage the main fishing pole began to sing as the line was being stripped off the reel. I grabbed it and set the hook and then tried to slow the run by tightening the drag very slowly. Then to our amazement a White Marlin broke the surface and began to dance along sideways behind the boat, first one way and then the next. It was a sight to behold. The fish was at least 6-8 feet long and was still stripping line. After a few minutes this wonderful creature threw the hook and was on his way. I was relieved as there was no way we could land a fish this size on Mary Rose. After the initial thrill wore off I reflected on the story, The Old Man and The Sea. It was about in this area off the coast of Cuba the Old Man and his boat was pulled for days by a huge fish. Thank you Hemmingway!


Note to self: The next time I make the Windward Passage I will stay closer to Haiti so that I am in the leeward protection from the Northeasterly Gales that pipe up in this passage in the evening.



At 3:15 PM on Tuesday, 5-18-10 we officially exited the North end of the Windward Passage and we were now headed northwest along the North coast of Cuba through the Old Bahama Channel. The passage through the old Bahama Channel was uneventful and we were on a beam reach, starboard tack the entire passage. There were a few times that the winds fell off a bit and we flew the spinnaker for additional speed. We averaged over 130 nautical miles per day through the old Bahama Channel.


As we approached the end of the Old Bahama Channel and the west end of the Cay Sal Bank we began to make plans for the crossing of the Gulf Stream. The winds were forecast to strengthen and turn to the east. This would be perfect for a beam reach across the Gulf Stream. The problem with this scenario is that the current of the Gulf Stream runs from west to east. So with the winds blowing from east to west there would be an effect of piling the water up as the wind blows against the current. It did exactly that as the waves were in the 10 – 12 foot range and very steep as well as close together. To our good fortune we were able to make this crossing on a beam reach and fly across the wave tops with little resistance. The automatic tiller pilot held a perfect course. We set up our initial course several degrees to the west of our destination and we were over four mile west of the rumb line when we entered the drift of the Gulf Stream. By the time the Gulf Stream let go of us we were right back on the rumb line and within 10 miles of the Sombrero Key Light just off the coast of Marathon, FL. I came up to the cockpit after my rest period and the Admiral had Mary Rose making over 7 Knots and was having a ball racing over the tops of the huge steep waves. We made 151 nautical miles in 24 hours on the Gulf Stream crossing. WooHoo! The total passage took seven days and two hours and we traveled 829 nautical miles. That is an amazing average of 4.9 nautical miles per hour even though we were in a “hove to” position for two nights with zero forward progress. The time flew by as we were always doing something during the entire passage. We were navigating, reading, fishing, cooking, eating, sleeping or on watch. Did I mention the food was off the charts! Thank you, Admiral Nelson for sharing your amazing culinary skills when you were not driving the boat at breakneck speeds across the open ocean. I am proud to have you as my Admiral!

5.21.2010

Message Relay from Cay Sal [East Bank]

Message received from sailing vessel Hawk in the Cay Sal Bank area of the Bahamas. A message was relayed from SV 'Hawk' to the United States Coast Guard that Mary Rose and crew were delayed until 5/22 due to weather. All is well according to the message, simply a delay.

Current location just east of Cay Sal, Bahamas. SM


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5.18.2010

Homecoming

Mary Rose and crew are expected to arrive home on or about May 21st, 2010. Please feel free to leave comments to welcome them home. They are sailing up the Old Bahama Channel then north to Marathon currently.



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5.14.2010

Children In Need, Time For Reflection



We Are Your Family Too

Wow, where do I begin in this story of our visit to the orphanage of L’Oeuvre Saint Franqois? My soul, my heart, my very being walked away touched in a way I have never been touched before. I felt as if my heart was home, at long last home. Sister Flora is the closest I have come to be acquainted with anyone that I would equate to Mother Theresa. This woman gives her very existence to these children some requiring 24 hour care. When I asked her if there was any thing that she needed personally her response was, “All I need are the things needed to care for my children and keep them safe and happy, that is all I need.” You can tell by the children’s faces that they are very loved and happy. They all smile and they get very excited to see new faces, they will welcome you with open hearts and arms. Keb Mo’s song “I Am Your Mother Too” can explain how I feel better than I could ever put into words. I spent an hour trying to find the lyrics to the song but was not successful. You can listen to the song at this web-site http://www.rhapsody.com/keb-mo/big-wide-grin--2006 We found ourselves in Ile a Vache totally unexpectedly and unprepared. By some higher caller than from ourselves we did have some medical supplies on board. So we took the medical supplies that we had and donated them to the children. Thank you to those who entrusted us with the supplies you donated to us for our Soles For Little Souls adventure. They will be used appreciatively. The items that Sister Flora does not need she uses to barter with the hospital for surgeries for the children. These children have varyingly sad stories, some lost parents to the earthquake, and some had been abandoned by their parents because they had a disability, some were abused and neglected and brought to Sister Flora severely malnourished but the smiles continue. The items that are desperately needed are; diapers all sizes including adult sizes, glucose tablets, glucometers and strips, water purification tablets, wheelchairs, walkers, leg braces, hydrocortisone cream, antibiotic creams, bug repellant, baby formula, baby food, batteries, baby bottles, school supplies, educational materials, first aid supplies and of course money to buy various items such as wood for the kitchen which they spend approximately $200 per month on wood to fuel the kitchen fire. Imagine yourself in a cement building with little ventalation, hot and full of smoke to the point that it is hard to take a breath, this is what the volunteers of the kitchen live with as they prepare food for the children. If you have a desire to assist you can contact us by leaving a comment and we will give you additional information. You can mail items to the orphanage but unfortunately a constant problem in Haiti is governmental corruption and the intended recipients may never receive the items. We will be returning to Ile a Vache next summer to deliver more supplies and volunteer time working to help them complete the new school.

Quote from Sister Clara, “What may seem small to one person may be big to another”

Yes… We are all their family too.







There will be many more pictures to be seen soon if you click on the picture on the Capt and myself on the main page of the blog you will be directed to "dreamsfollowed" web page

5.11.2010

Ile La Vache | Haiti

This post will be just one in a series of blog postings on Ile La Vache. We arrived at Port Morgan after sailing about 27 hours from Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. Port Morgan is a wonderful well protected bay on the Northwest side of the island. In fact the name of this anchorage comes from the famous pirate “Captain Morgan” that visited this site often in the past. We love this place and intend to visit it again on our next voyage. There is no electricity or running water on the island. Time stands still here with a very simple way of life. The people are warm and inviting. Many individuals have brought food and gifts to our boat without expecting anything in return. They arrive in there dugout canoes that are hand hewn from a single large log and stand politely along the side of the boat to talk with us. The language here is Creole and French. We do not speak the language but manage to communicate enough to make do. We are trying to learn the language a little each day. There are many needs here on the island. In no particular order they include, medical supplies, tools, diapers, formula, money for primary education, water purification tablets and much much more. The children here must pay to go to primary and secondary school. We intend to sponsor several individuals and pay for there school for one year before we leave. The cost is about $50 per year per child. We invite you to participate if you wish. We will be here a few more days as we wait for favorable weather to make the several day passage from here to the Florida Keys and on to St Petersburg. The Admiral will be posting on our recent visit to an orphanage on the island and a walk through the pages of National Geographic as we visited the local market. More to come soon!

Salinas Dominican Republic | Cruising

The harbor at Salinas is one days sail from Boca Chica. The harbor entry is well marked and fairly straight forward. Beware of an unlit and unmarked fish farm when approaching the main harbor entrance from the south. It is located at about N18 13.50 and W 070 33.84. We were made aware of this fish farm in the Dominican Republic cruising guide but the coordinates were way off. Be aware and stand a good watch! Once you enter the harbor there is a marked channel leading to the hotel to the south with approach depths to the dock of over 10 feet. The holding is good in the area of the hotel. The high rugged mountains to the north of the harbor are beautiful and the beaches are snow white. We arrived just before sunset and had to off load the dinghy in order to meet the Marina de Gueira and Navy representative at the hotel dock. The Marina de Gueira is the Dominican Republic’s Coast Guard. When you arrive at a new port they must come to your boat and inspect it and receive the dispatch papers that you were given when you departed your last port. You are then required to obtain a new dispatch before leaving again. This is a cumbersome process that is required by the port authorities. We picked up two individuals and brought them to the boat for the official visit and then returned them to the dock. The harbor is beautiful and well protected. There are many homes along the shore on the southwest end and a commercial ship yard on the east end. The hotel is on the south end of the harbor and has slips available for $10 per day. The electricity does not work and there is no dockside water. The hotel owner/manager is very helpful and the food is good. The prices are a bit high by Dominican standards but this hotel serves the crews and guests of the commercial ships that are at the shipyard. These individuals generally have expense accounts and he has smartly adjusted his pricing and service for this clientele just as he should. The town is clean and quiet with small stores located along the main road. We went to the Caribbean side of the beach and found several choice pieces of sea glass. Sea glass has a great history and hunting it has become one of the admiral’s favorite hobbies. She can spend days on a single beach inspecting every square inch within 30 feet of the surf. The beaches on the Caribbean side of this town are lined with highly polished stones from agate size to the size of a large softball. They are polished to a smooth high gloss from years of being tumbled in the sand and surf. The sand is a dark brown and gets quite hot to the bare foot in the mid-day sun. We found the people of this area to be warm, helpful, inviting and friendly. We had some difficulty receiving a dispacho (dispatch) from this port. Thanks to Frank a Dorthy (a German couple) for helping us with our limited Spanish. We have since heard that no more dispatches will be issued from Salinas and cruisers must report to Barahona for dispatchos before leaving port. We received our dispatcho for Jamaica just in case we wished to stop there but our intentions were to go to Ile La Vache in Haiti and then to the United States. Since there are no custom or immigration officials in Ile la Vache we did not want to get the dispatch to that port. We also stopped at Isla Bieta in the Dominican Republic on the way to Ile La Vache to rest and enjoy the wonderful water and fish camps on the island. We explained to the Marina de Gueira that our engine was running a bit warm and we needede to stop and access the situation before we could continue. They allowed us to stay two days with no problems and could have stayed longer.

Boca Chica | Dominican Republic | Marina ZAR-PAR | Cruising

Boca Chica took one long day to reach by sail. We had following winds and seas the entire day. We spent several days at Marina ZAR-PAR after leaving Casa de Campo in La Romana. We were certainly spoiled by Casa de Campo’s excellent service and facilities. We were pleased when we arrived at the harbor entrance to Boca Chica to learn that the Marina Manager was going to meet us in his dinghy to escort us through the narrow entrance channel to the marina. The entrance is marked but can be a bit intricate once past the markers. If you read the water well and favor port on entry, you will be in the channel. The charts do not show the reef that extends the entire length of Boca Chica so be sure to follow the buoyed channel near the commercial harbor. We contacted them first by phone and then switched to radio. Frank from Casa de Campo provided the phone number to us on departure. Raul Medina is the marina manager at ZAR-PAR and his personal cell phone number as of this writing is 829-520-8905. His email is rmedina@marinazarpar.com and the marina website is www. Marinazarpar.com The marina is fairly new and well built to quality standards. There are gazebo type structures placed throughout the marina that are great spots to relax, play card and board games or enjoy a beverage in the cool shade. The electrical panels are US standards and work well. The marina advertises cable but it does not work. The water is included in the price of the slip but it is NOT potable. We purchased five gallon bottles of RO water to fill our tanks before departure for about $1.50 per five gallon jug. It took two days to get it after requesting it but it did arrive. We used a local mechanic to remove the oil from our engine and his charge was about $30 US. We provided our own oil and filter. Raul works very hard to make your stay very comfortable and seems to run around the entire day taking care of little things that others did not get taken care of or do correctly. If you need water or services be sure to make your request early and follow up several times to make sure it is done on time. Expect some delays and minor complications. Our stay had to be extended due to false expectations of on time delivery of water. Also expect to pay for each service independently. The marina does not compile a bill for all charges as one might expect. The marina also has a fuel dock that can present a bit of a challenge for deep draft boats or when the winds are not favorable. It is not situated on a T dock as most fuel docks are built and you pay separately for the fuel. You can also expect loud music well into the night, as is in keeping with the local culture. Over all we had some very wonderful experiences in Boca Chica. The Dominican Republic cruising guide indicates that there are near by beaches but we found them to be heavily littered with trash, glass and debris. The local jet skis and speed boats are quite reckless and freely move about within the swimming areas. We recommend a visit to Marina Zar-Par but, be mindful of the level of your expectations. Raul is a great guy and a wonderful resource that makes this place work.

5.08.2010

Safe Arrival | Isle La Vache | Haiti

We arrived safely and had a wonderful sail from Isla Bieta, Dominican Republic to Isle La Vache, Haiti. We will wait here for the perfect weather windo for the LOOOOOOOOONG Passage through the Windward Passage and the Old Bahama Channel on the North Coast of Cuba. This passage will take 5 - 7 days of continuous non-stop sailing. We will try to get the blog up to date while we are here in Isle La Vache, Haiti. This is a very beautiful and charming place.

Don and Lana

5.03.2010

Smiles and Clean Flip Flops .. Priceless

The sun was beating down in a relentless fury and the air was thick with humidity so the Captain and I decided it was time to go exploring and find ourselves a nice cooling refreshing beverage. We happened along a corner store with a passionate and momentous game of dominos happening as well as amass of unused plastic lawn chairs stacked by the entrance. This was the spot we told each other. The corner was overflowing with activity. We purchased our drinks and grabbed a chair for the evening’s cheap entertainment.
It wasn’t long before we were approached by two young men who were both hauling wooded shoeshine boxes. They requested to shine our shoes for 10 pesos, translated to dollars equals approximately 30 cents. We looked down at our feet and we were both wearing flip flops! One of the young men was definitely the salesman; he smiled the biggest whitest smile and convinced us that we were in need of our shoes cleaned. So of course we agreed. One young man took the Captains shoes and the other took mine. Off to work they went, relentlessly scrubbing our shoes with some liquid mixture they carried in an old plastic bottle. Once the jobs were completed the Captain instructed each young man to place one shoe on top of their old wooden boxes and they complied. He began to evaluate and inspect each shoe. The young men sat in front of the captain with befuddled looks on their faces. It was obvious by their expressions this was the first time they had encounter such an issue. The Captain re-assured them and explained in broken Spanish that he was comparing each shoe to determine who performed the finest cleaning job. They both understood and then in an instant those big beautiful smiles re-appeared. They appeared to have enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the competition. After the judging was completed the Captain went into the corner store and returned with the coins to pay the young men for their service and good sportsmanship. Each held out their hands for payment and the Captain placed the requested 10 pesos in each of their hands. The boys, satisfied with their earnings smiled and began to walk down the street. But the Captain called them back; he was not finished with them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out additional coins and placed one in each of their hands, then another and another. With each drop of a coin in their little hands their eyes became bigger and their smiles became wider. It was so pleasurable watching these hard working young men become so excited over something so small to us. It was as if they had won the lottery as each coin dropped. After the coin pay out was completed the Captain requested that each boy now give him a gift. The befuddled expressions obviously returned to each of the young faces. He explained that he gave them a gift and now he wanted a gift in return. Each of the boys reached into their pockets and pulled out a coin and returned it happily to the Captain. The young men once again began to walk down the street still excited and gleaming over their earnings. But once more the Captain called them back; he was not finished with them yet. He returned the coins to the young men plus gave them each an additional coin. An expression of gratitude over took their faces as well as those colossal beautiful smiles.
This time instead of walking down the street they walked to the bus stop flipping a coin in the air! They were heading home and instead of walking the lengthy walk back to Boca Chico they were going home in luxury with a very good lesson in their minds. The lesson… be gracious for gifts and give back joyfully and it will all come back to you in time!

A short time after the young men left a truck pulled to the curb and parked in front of where we were relaxing. The driver jumped out and went into the corner store. In the back of the truck were 2 little girls. The oldest kept looking at us out of the corner of her eye. Within minutes the Captain began engaging her in some play time. She copied everything the Captain did, a version of the game Simone Says. When the truck pulled away the young girls as well as the adults were smiling ear to ear. What a day!! Making others smile, especially the children is a joy that can be found no other place.

Afternoon entertainment on a corner street in San Andres
Cool refreshing beverages… 240 pesos = $7.00
Flip flop shine …. 180 pesos = $5.00
Mile long smiles on little children’s faces…. PRICELESS!!


The Captain and I continue our passage north to home. We expecting to arrive back in St Pete FL in the next 3-4 weeks.