Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Haiti to the Dominican Republic. Feb/March 2014

 

Dear Friends,

Once we’d cleared Ile a Vache heading east, we found ourselves in choppy seas, 20-25 knot winds on the nose and so Onda Boa wasn’t making any progress. The options were limited: either motoring and staying relatively close to shore, or sailing SE for abt 75 miles and then tacking back towards Baia dos Aguilas. After some calculations, it was decided to sail the 75 miles out and then tack back, as we obviously would spare the engines (and diesel) and in the end would be arriving more or less the same time (in theory, that is of course).

So, beating on close range to the wind it was. Round abt 3 am, we reached our point of changing course and tacking back. No small feat to do this in gusting winds of 28 knots. During this manouvre a couple of things didn’t go as planned, resulting in the genoa ending up getting ripped to shreds (mind you it was a 10 year old sail). This was not good, not good at all…Frustration is the best word that would describe the emotions.. (on the upside Dora was able to add some new Dutch words to her dictionary). So now we were 75 miles out of the coast line, unable to use the genoa sail (so badly needed when going up wind), and so the engines and the main sail had to do the work. Motor sailing back would take us at least 24 hrs more. I will mention here that I learned to become fast and efficient in changing and cleaning the primory fuel filters, as they continue to clog up. Finaly the next morning we have the Haitian/Dom Rep coast line on our bow and we are heading for the much talked about Baia dos Aguilas, still in 25 knot head winds. Needless to say that Captain and Crew were drained after this ordeal and we were eager to arrive, drop anchor and sleep. But, no, it wasn’t over yet… When trying to find our way into the bay, we couldn’t spot any tranquil anchorage location, it was just a bare and baren place, wind blowing like stink and no protection at all.

This wasn’t going to work, and so, brave, we decided to give this bay a miss and head straight for Isla Beata, another 20 miles E/SE. When we turned the rock formation False Cape, more wind and waves on the nose, and that is when I decided to change plans.. Captain, Crew and Boat, were not prepared for another 10 or so hours beating against this.. we turned around, found what appeared to be a more protected anchorage and dropped the hook. Out of the blue some fisher men came by and we exchanged two fish for a couple of Brazilian t shirts….

The next day, checked the damage and after lunch we left for Isla Beata. A small Island at the most southern tip of the Dom Rep.

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Merci beaucoup Ile a Vache!!

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Genoa Sail blowout…

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A great view to soothen the stressed minds…

See you

Pieter

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ile a Vache, Haiti. Feb 2014

 

Dear Friends,

A great anchorage, Port Morgan and a growing number of sailboats. Young kids, but also adults on floating devices, wooden dug out canoes and what have you, come to the boat, either offering services (garbage), fruits etc, or asking for cookies, pens, paper whatever.

As we needed to get an internet connection we went over to Hotel Port Morgan, and they alow for their internet access but you have to get either lunch or dinner (we opted for the latter, and in the end it turned out to be a rather expensive internet).

In the village, we met Michelet and his friend Gerlin. Michelet is the proud owner of a 3G mobile phone modem, and he allowed us to use that. That was great and actually worked very well. We suggested Michelet to make this his business, renting out the modem per hour to internet hungry sailboats.

For the next days, Michelet and Gerlin hung out on the Onda Boa, and we enjoyed internet. And as we needed a new power inverter, discussed that with Michelet and he offered to go with us to Les Cayes, on Haitis mainland. By a small, over crowded pirogue fishing boat and after 1 and a half hour we arrived… to get to land was an actually sad, but at the same time hilarious situation. The little boat did not get to shore, but a whole bunch of guys were knee deep in the dirty water ( as the landing site was also next to the garbage dump) literally carrying the passengers on their backs to land. Lucky guy that got hold of Dora, Poor guy that dragged me to dry grounds…

Michelet got us to the right shop, and he negotiated a 400 W inverter for us for Usd 80.

Les Cayes gave us a kind of desolate feeling, people just trying to get by.

The next day, we went with Marc (and his family) and Patrick on a walking tour to Madame Bernard. The largest dwelling on the island Ile a Vache. It was market and should not be missed. After a nice walk, arrived in Madame Bernard. Only then we realized how so many people live in sheer poverty. The market, where basically any thing is sold, was loud, messy, dirty…the kind you see sometimes on tv, but never experienced how it looks up close and personal.

We were supposed to have lunch in a restaurant where we met more cruisers from the anchorage ( Michou and Anton from SV Groyabada and others). However after Dora discovered where and how the dishes were supposed to be cleaned, we gave that a miss and gave our food to a bunch of small kids (little boys naked) who were all looking at this group of foreigners.

After all this excitement and culture shock we took a taxi boat back to the anchorage.

Ile a Vache is a lovely island and friendly people. Soon it will be taken over and explored by powerful resort groups , but hopefully the local population will be part of those projects. To that extend Reinhilde and Frits from SV Bella Ciao have set up an organization that is going to help the locals to train and educate for different skills so they can actually work in the resorts. Check their website for more info www.bellaciao.nl

It was time for us to leave. We said goodbye to our new friends Michelet and Gerlin, and just around the corner from Ile a Vache, had to dodge again several fishing pods… But, these where just a minor problem compared to what we were going to experience in the next 36 hrs…

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The anchorage..(in the back mainland Haiti)              Childs Play

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                    Survivor                                          On route to Mdme Bernard

 

 

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                 A church/school                                               No words

 

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      Scene near the village                                       Splendid view near the village

 

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  Live animal transport                                        … The market…

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… we are welcome…                                             … the gringoes back in town..

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… the market 2                                                    Haiti’s Future

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…hop on hop off transport in LesCayes            The internet supplier Michelet and Gerlin

Best Regards

Pieter

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jamaica to Haiti. Feb 2014

Dear Friends,

And so finally we had a sort of break.. in our favor the winds took a more ESE direction and we were actually able to sail (no engines)… The only thing that didn’t make this part of the crossing a pleasant one were the waves.. rather noisy and not comfortable.. but we did sail relatively fast… By the end of the next day, we had mainland Haiti on the horizon, and I had to alter course more to the south…. And on cue the wind direction also changed, now coming from ENE and that was just very helpful..

We slowly entered in the shelter (shadow) of the island and the seas became calm(er) and of course also the wind kind of died on us.. Engine time… and fingers crossed…. Now, I had noticed (gps) that we were going to pass some relatively shallow parts along the south coast of Haiti (instead of the 2500 m depth, we were going to pass over just 29 m depth)… Soon enough at 3 o clock in the morning, luckily no wind and no waves… we learned that we found ourselves in a sort of mine field… a huge amount of fish traps/pots (of course such shallow waters makes it for the local fishermen a kind of easy task).. and in Haiti this apparently meant: two or three transparent small PET bottles tied together to a nylon line.. in the dark almost undetectable… Of course my friends this resulted in those lines getting tangled up in either of the two props, as I hadn’t noticed those floating hazards… And so, at three in the morning, sharp knife in hand, and Dora assisting with a flash light, it took me almost 40 minutes to finally free us from the mess (note to oneself.. have to get a waterproof headlight torch thingy for those kind of things).. Oh, and yes this only happened two more times during the same night…. At daybreak we could see some fishermen canoes (with a sail) starting to check out their traps.. Our progress towards Ile a Vache was slow but at around 6 oclock in the evening, we managed to drop the hook in Port Morgan, and although already pitch dark.. surrounded by boys on various floating devices, offering their services (fruits, garbage…)… We were too tired and so had a nice quiet evening and revigorating nights rest. New adventures and discoveries a head of us…

 

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       Haiti SouthWest Coast at daybreak..                     The catch of last night…

 

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.. Approach to Ile a Vache Haiti                               …great anchorage at Port Morgan…

 

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…. The boat boys….                                            Hotel Port Morgan (pricy dinner, “free”internet)

 

Have fun,

Pieter