Friday, November 30, 2007

Driving, Shopping, and our new Crew Member!

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had a rented car to go exploring and to go provisioning. Monday we drove to Marina Del Rey near Fajardo on the northeast coast. We talked to the yard about haul out and paint as we are due. They are pretty expensive AND require insurance which we lack so I guess we’ll wait for St. Maartin like nearly everyone else is doing. Sue plotted a different route back than we took. Probably quite scenic if you weren’t white-knuckling your way around hair pin turns in the dark on overlooking the ocean! Took awhile and we got pretty lost finding our way through an industrial town just east of here. Driving in Puerto Rico is beautiful though. The mountains are right here and you have to drive through them to just about get anywhere.

The roads themselves are in great shape. 4 lane to lots of places. But, now a word about Puerto Rican drivers. They don’t use the left lane for passing. No. The drivers use the left lane for driving 20 miles an hour under the limit while talking on a cell phone. I’m serious. There is no getting in the left lane and just going with the fast guys. There is constant back and forth with passing on both the left and the right. Keeps you busy!

Tuesday we drove to San Juan about 75 mile north to visit the old town and the fort. The old town makes for interesting walks and the fort is built right on the ocean I guess to repel invaders. Didn’t keep us out though! Oh boy did we get lost trying to find our way back out of town. At one point I think I was about to pull into a big truck terminal. It is kind of exciting when you can’t really read the road signs either. I wonder what “Pare” means anyway. . . ?

The pictures above shows a cemetary that is right between the ocean and the fort. Still used (although they must be burying people verticaly!) as we saw a procession enter the cemetary with a new dead guy.

Wednesday was the big re-provisioning day. We started by rearranging the boat down below. We are planning to buy canned food for 6 months! There is always more room than you think if you can get rid of some stuff you never use (winter clothes!) and rearrange things. Now it’s off to Ponce where there is Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Santiago Cash and Carry. We heard reports that you can get a one day pass at Sam’s Club. You can’t. So we went to the local Cash and Carry which also has case lots of food. OH man....what a place. It’s like a Home Depot for food. We filed a large cart like you would use to haul lumber. Check out is fun because they don’t have a scanner but they do input the SKU number. . . by hand! Probably took a half hour to check out. $450 later we are off to the Grande supermarket to get some things that Cash and Carry didn’t have. $150 later and we are heading back to Enee and the car is definitely over loaded! Now the big job. Hauling everything back to the boat in the dingy (more than one trip) and getting it on board and stored away. We refuse to allow any cardboard from stores on board for fear of picking up little roach stow-aways. So I opened all the cases on deck and put cans into some plastic bins we had found. Other cans were stored in various drawers and lockers that we had cleared out. Now, about any drawer you open on Enee Marie you’re going to find food! When we go ashore now we’ll only be looking for fresh things: eggs, bread, fruit and veggies. Prices will not be cheaper than they are here for a long, long time so we feel smart to have done this big shop.

We ended our day by taking our friend Peter to the airport in Ponce. Finally back to Enee. What a great day!

And now. . . .with no further ado let us introduce MISMO the wonder cat! Yes, we finally found a little crew member. Mismo (ok, this is spanish for ‘the same’. Like when Sue orders a Medalla and the waitress looks at me I just say mismo! So, Mismo is a stupid name but we just like the sound of it - meesmo). She was rescued out of a mudpuddle in which she and her brothers and sisters were drowning. The woman who rescued her thinks maybe the mom left the litter and then it rained and filled in the depression where she delivered them. Mismo and one brother were saved and the rest perished. We hope that is a dim memory for her and she won’t be freaked out by living on the open seas!

(The above is a Picasa Album if you really like terminally cute pictures of kittens.)

Of course kittens are pure entertainment. This one is really tiny as you can see. The vet said she is probably only about 1 month old and has just recently gotten a few teeth. She is very friendly and likes to be held and cuddles to take naps. She likes to bite our toes but I think that is because toes are the only thing that are at eye level for her! We made her a little box and she crawls into it to sleep. Well she did until she figured out that we were sleeping in a more comfy bed. Last night she would squeak (no real meow yet) until we picked her up and put her with us in bed. So stay tuned to watch Mismo grow and see her learn the ropes! Oh yeah, she already figured out the kitty liter box after only one mistake. . . on me while I was napping! I love cats!

Finally, just for fun this is a short video from the deck of Enee Marie to give you a feel for sailing the Caribbean.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

From Parguera to Salinas

Hello faithful reader! We know some of you like to start your day by checking this blog. Well, get a big cup of coffee and settle in because this is one of those ‘catch up’ entries. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to read it again. You’ll say it was better than Cats! Don’t for get to comment or write to Scott or Sue. Email links on the side.

A day in Parguera - Sunday 11/18

The morning we last posted turned into a wonderful day altogether. As we were surfing the web and finishing our late morning coffee a gentleman started talking to us about our little Mac as he has the same one. He was quite the talker and started to explain to us how he has his computer set up to be both a mac and a pc and that that works very well for him in his business. He’s a dentist. Interesting as we have electronic charts that came with our paper charts but can’t use them on a mac. Anyway he was telling us about the island and where he lived etc. and told us that we could tie up our dingy at his house if we needed to. VERY friendly. We said good bye and expected to not see him again.

Near the restaurant there is a very nice book exchange. Just some large shelves sitting outside but covered in the little strip mall. Leave some take some. That’s it. As usual a lot of mysteries, suspense stuff, and sci fi. But also a hard cover of James Michner’s ‘Caribbean’. I’ve never read Michner although my mom loved him. I figure this thick tome should last me to at least Grenada!

We walked to a little grocery store in town and bought, what else, more canned meat. Whenever we can find we be buying it! Then back to the boat to drop off the computer and our purchases. Now according to our neighbor, Andrea, who has lived aboard their trawler here for the past nine years we could dingy to a power boat marina and across the street there is a very nice little marine store. OK, we’re on it.
parguera boathouses
Along the dingy ride we got a great sampling of the crazy houses people have built on pilings right on the water. The pictures don’t do these dream. . . cottages? I don’t know what to call them. . . justice. Some may be for rent and if you wanted a very cool vacation, renting one of these would be pretty sweet I would think.

We tied up at the marina and walked through and out to the street and found the marine store. Imagine everything at a BIG West Marine packed into a hot dog stand! Really kind of fun rummaging around looking for and finding some stuff we had been needing.

Now, too early to go back to Enee and we are a little hungry. . . we go back to the dingy dock and into town in search of lunch. We looked down by the water for a restaurant and there was one as part of a hotel but it was deserted and looked to chi chi for us. A little farther on there seemed to be a place on the water. . . or was that one of those houses. We started up the path but then turned around when it seemed more house-like and less restaurant-like. But, across the street was an ok seafood house and we had a big lunch and decided to call it dinner as well.

Back in the dingy we motored over to the place that was maybe house and maybe restaurant and, yes, it was a house and, yes, it was the dentist’s house! He waved us in and insisted that we come to his house and meet all his relatives and have a tour. The house is wonderful. It is built right on over the water and has 4 bedrooms, a huge kitchen, a sort of living room and then a big outside sort of room and a boat house connected! Very sweet! He offered to take us out to the reef with them on his boat but we declined and he then gave us a bottle of wine. OK, I vote these guys the nicest people on the island until I meet someone to knock them out of the top spot!

Back to Enee we prepare for tomorrow’s sail. Outboard off the dingy and back on the stern rail, dingy up on davits. All dingy ‘toys’ stored below. We got out the charts and plotted some waypoints for the 11 mile sail tomorrow. Oh and sampled the dentist’s wine!

Parguera is not much talked about among cruisers as far as I know but it is a very nice stop and we highly recommend it. If we had a dingy that we trusted more we would have gone out to one of the Cays and snorked but it looked too far for our little guy and I never really trust the engine for a long run. This is something that may have to be corrected before we go too much farther. We’ll see.

Monday 11/19

Off at first light! A beautiful morning. We can easily see the buoys that led us in here and we use them to lead us back to a waypoint that led us to the buoys. From here we sail (motor sail of course) a zig zag course to a little bay near a Gilligan’s Island. This used to be a ‘party’ island and I guess because it looks something like the panorama of the Gilligan’s Island on TV AND because there was guy who hung out there that looked like Bob Denver, the island took on this name. It has this name on the charts as well. Now it is a park and manned by park rangers. You can visit by ferry.

scotts new tool
We anchored very near the ferry dock on the mainland and just had a boat day. I tried once again to do some more bottom cleaning but the water here, for some reason, was very murky and my efforts were pretty useless.

We listened to the Off Shore Weather on the SSB and tried to decide the best time to leave for either Ponce or Coffin Island just a little south east of Ponce. We like these early morning departures. We thought since our run was a little longer (16 miles) that maybe we could leave at midnight or so, use the night lee of the island, and arrive very early in the morning. Trade winds were predicted to be lighter on Tuesday than on Monday night though so we vote for sleep, up at 4 and away we go.

Tuesday 11/19

Well, not quite. The first waypoint is right between two shoals with breaking waves on them. While it is certainly plenty wide and deep, and certainly the charts and waypoints do not lie. . . we have another cup of coffee and wait until we can see the breakers. Probably not necessary but it just depends on your comfort level. An hour wait isn’t going to change our sailing conditions much anyway.
puerto reefs

We’re off. No problem navigating through the shoals and we turn due east. Now, when we are underway we are both consciously and subconsciously checking boat systems. The sound of the diesel, temperature, oil pressure, the look of the rigging, conditions of sails (yeah all up!) and once in a while the voltage! Ack! It should be in charging mode with the engine at 1500 rpm at around 13.8 volts and it is at 12! Slow down. That could mean the belt is broken and the alternator isn’t turning at all. I look in the engine room and the belt is fine. Alternator is turning as it should. Oh great. One of those problems involving those little invisible “electrons” then.

We shut down anything electrical . . . oh wait we don’t have anything that works on electricity....HA! Just depth sounder and GPS and they don’t use much electricity. Another good reason to not have refrigeration. So we are ok for now but will need to put in for repairs at Ponce. That’s supposed to be a good place to find everything and anything you need. In the meantime I read up on alternators and regulators in Nigel Calder’s book (my maintenance bible). It’s one of those two machines that is the problem or my favorite. . . A LOOSE WIRE. I wish.

The alternator is pretty simple in principle. You spin a magnet near a pile of wire and you will generate a current. (Thanks here to Michael Faraday). Even better than spinning a bar magnet is to spin an electromagnet. This way if you can control the current to the magnet you can control the output of the alternator. It is these field windings in the alternator that the regulator regulates!

We had a great motor sail. All sails up and a little engine to help us power through the waves. We drop sails and motor slowly into the Ponce Fishing and Yacht Club fuel dock. We top off our diesel and decide to take a slip with them for $50 a night. We figure this way we can have electricity from the dock while I take things apart. This town also has a Sam’s Club so we hope to rent a car and schlep cases of canned food on board and this will be easier at a pier rather than anchored out. Fine. Except all the docks are 220 volts. No electricity for me! Wah!!!!!!

OK then I better get to work on the problem. I was actually kind of excited to have an electrical problem to work on. Those are always more interesting to me since everything that is broken looks the same as when it is working. Here’s my first test...turn on the key and see if the alternator is magnetic. Does it attract a screwdriver? It does! This already probably points to the regulator! I try the same test with the regulator unplugged put a jumper from the +12 volts to the field windings. Yep, also magnetic. For the final test we keep the jumper in and start the engine and watch the voltage. is climbing up. So it IS the regulator and not the alternator. This violates everything I know about boat projects as the alternator is the more expensive item and you almost always need THAT one.

Now to find a new regulator (I know, I should already have one on board. Leave me alone!). I want to call Balmar, the makers of the alternator, because they make a regulator that I had before on Catalina Enee. No problem just need a phone or internet. The yacht club claims to have internet but it doesn’t work. We walk around the little bay we are in searching for a phone. We find many. We find many without receivers and many that don’t work. Finally we find one with a receiver AND a dial tone and call Balmer in Washington state (50 cents for the first two minutes). The nice man at Balmar (I’ve dealt with them before and they are always very helpful) suggested I look for a fuse to the regulator before I go buying a new one. Good point! We stopped for a little lunch and then back to the mother ship.

There is no fuse in line with the regulator and this is a bad installation because the diagram shows that there should be one. Maybe that was part of the problem? Now that I have seen the voltage come up I figure I can force the charging of the batteries by self regulation (!). If you make a direct connection from the +12 to the field you just will have runaway voltage (GREAT band name) and maybe go back in time. I figure a little load in that line would make it more under control. I tried wiring a 12 volt bulb in series with the field but that was apparently too high a resistance as the voltage barely made it above 12.2 volts. So I went back to the direct short and controlled the voltage with how fast I turned the engine (the faster you spin the magnet the more voltage/current you cause). At just above idle I could make the voltage be about 14 volts. Perfect. I’ll need a better solution when we go cruising though because the engine will not be at idle. Tomorrow I’ll look for some small resistances at a Radio Shack or where ever. I’d like to try to put some 5 or 10 ohm resistors in line there to make a good combination for charging with the engine at about 1500 - 2000 rpm. Should be fun and then that invention will be my backup regulator. . . so THERE. For now I just have a switch wired from +12 to the field so I can stop the charging when I want. This has to be turned off when we turn the engine off as well as it will always draw current.

We are done for today though. We decide to try to get a car first thing in the morning, find internet (then I can make calls on Skype), find the West Marine, shop for food and some other items, keep a look out for a free kitten, and make ready to get out of here on Thursday.

enee marina or free
By the way we are in a marina! This hasn’t happened since Nassau in March!!! We also hate it. Too confining. Boat can’t turn into the wind. Too many lights. Not right. But, it will serve us well if we get the car and a bunch of provisions. We are looking to lay 6 months worth of basic provisions on board and then buy eggs, bread, fruit and veggies along the way. We really should be making our own bread but that’s a project for another day.

Wednesday 11/20

Is it possible to make really great decisions and still have everything go to hell?


Today our main goal was to either get a new regulator for the boat or to get one ordered. To that end we planned to rent a car, check to see if there was one available in San Juan West Marine and if so, drive there. If not we would use the car to find internet in town and use Skype to make calls and order the part. While we had the car we could stock up on cases lots of stuff at Sam’s Club or at another place nearby. Perfect.

The first thing that happened is that the car rental couldn’t come out to get us until 10 AM and then we either had to have the car back by 4 today or then keep it and bring it back on Friday as they would be closed for Thanksgiving. Hmmm...doesn’t give us much time but we can still use it to run around and get stuff. Let’s face it the only two reasons we have paid for a slip is to have electricity (that already didn’t work out) and to make it easy to schlep cases of food. So we decide to still take the car to make this day productive. No point in keeping it until friday though as everything will be closed on Thursday anyway. At 9 AM I decide to walk the half mile over to the one working pay phone we know about to call San Juan to see if they have the part. That way when the car comes we’ll know to drive there right away or not. Smart. I call the number and get a recording. In Spanish. No idea but I’m guessing they’re closed. OK, we’re not going to San Juan. We’ll just have a leisurely day with a car and explore Ponce, find internet, and then go to the case lot stores. Still a productive day.

At 10:30 and no car we asked the office to call the car place for us. Yeah, they were about to leave to come get us. Right. We tell them to forget it. By the time we go back to their office, fill out forms and all we are only going to get 3 or 4 hours of use out of our ‘daily’ rental. Fine.

We then decide to walk toward the case lot store just to look at it but also because to look for the marine/hardware store that is supposedly near that. Off we go carrying our apparently made-of-lead computer. Wow, is it hot. . . and far! We find the case lot store but the ‘marine’ store remains a mystery. We decide to just keep walking and even if town is far we can always cab back. As we bravely march through the heat we notice on our map that the marina gave us that we are not even close to anything like civilization. Not to scale? I’ll say! Now what? No point in THAT far of a walk. Far in the distance we can see little tiny cars going over an overpass and according to the map that would put us about half way to town and we’ve already walked a couple of miles. Forget it!

On the way back to Enee we DO manage to call our mail place in Florida and put them on the job of ordering the part from West Marine. We’ll get in maybe a week from Saturday in Salinas. Nothing left to do but go back to Enee and jerry-rig the wiring so that I can be charging the batteries in some controllable way. I better make something that will last 10 days or so too! I’ve learned that by controlling the current to the field I can control the current output of the alternator. It is sensitive though. A resistance of 20-30 ohms is way too much and 1 or 2 is way too small. I was hoping to find some 5-10 ohm resistors and connect them in clever ways to make a variety of resistances for varying conditions of the batteries and of rpms of the engine. Well, I’ll think of something.

So I don’t have any official resistors but wire itself has some resistance. Usually you deal with such short runs of wire that you consider the resistance zero but what if I used entire reels of wire. . . ? I’m excited to try my new experiment. I hooked two entire spools of #22 wire end to end and that was close but didn’t allow much variation. Then I thought of the seizing wire I had just bought at the flea market in Luperon. I wonder what it’s resistive characteristics are? I have about 12 feet of the stuff and the resistance of the entire length is about 10 ohms! Perfect because that means that half of it would have a resistance of 5 ohms and so forth. Moreover it is not insulated so that I can make sort of a slide wire variable resistor by just picking off the length I need for the conditions at hand.
Here’s the finished product! If Balmar sells a ‘smart regulator’ I’m calling this a dumb-ass regulator but I’m pretty proud of it all the same. The switch on the side allows me to shut it off altogether when the engine is off or when I’m adjusting where to put the clip. As you can see I’ve wrapped the wire around and around a piece of starboard. Tomorrow we are off to Coffin Island just a few miles south-east of Ponce. There is supposed to be excellent snorking there and walks to take ashore. That will be our Thanksgiving this year.

I guess I’m thankful to George Ohm, a german high school physics teacher in the 1800’s who figured out this business of resistance, voltage, and current. Not too many high school guys succeeded in getting a Law of physics and a unit of measure named after them. Ohm’s Law and the Ohm as the unit of resistance. Atta way George!

Still, I sure do miss my sister’s Thanksgiving Day feast. Maybe we can catch a Thanksgiving Day fish along the way tomorrow.


Thursday 11/22/07 Thanksgiving

Well, our string of unfortunate decisions continues. We leave our $50 a night slip which after 2 nights provided us with nothing but “free” water, really bright lights and loud music. It is 0445 and we have decided to head to Salinas and forget the island. It is only about 20 miles and in the early morning we should be able to avoid the 20-25 knot easterly trades that are predicted. After about an hour we are getting severely headed by the east wind. We keep falling off to the south but even with the engine on we are down to sailing about 3 knots at 130-135 degrees instead of 90. I know, it’s a sailboat just tack it. But if we are out here too long we’ll be in even higher winds and seas. This is very different from the early morning benign conditions we have become used to. Well, one thing about sailing to weather*, it makes it real easy to turn around and go back to where you started which is what we do.

Now we anchor outside the yacht club and decide to just wait for a better day. We already know that there is nothing for us on shore so we don’t even bother with the dingy. What we did get from shore was really loud latin fact it sounded like dueling DJ’s that started around 3 in the afternoon. Good news though they were done at 2 in the morning! What a day. Happy Thanks-Freaking-Giving!

The killer was that about an hour after we anchored the wind completely shut down! Nothing. Go back out? Go to the Island? Forget it. Today’s die has been cast and we’ll stay put and wait for a, what? A change in luck perhaps.

* Sailing to weather means trying to go up wind

Friday 11/23/07

We sleep in and even get a call in to our weather god, Chris Parker on the SSB. He says today and tomorrow will be ok for easting but Sunday to Wednesday not so much. We decide to make a little sail to the Cayo Isla De Muertos about 8 miles south-east of Ponce. We’ll spend the day snorking, exploring the island and then leave again around 3 AM and make for Salinas. Coming down to the island should give us more of an angle to Salinas anyway.

coffin island
And a fine sail it was! Full sail and no engine. We made a brisk trip to the island. The island is beautiful and uninhabited except for the rangers who live there. Tough life that! The water is like it was in the Bahamas. I can see the anchor as it splashes down in white sand.

We have a little breakfast and rig the dingy to go ashore. Of course the motor is acting up and we barely make it the 100 yards to shore. Well, there’s my little project when we’re done exploring! We walked the short distance to the east side of the island. What a view. From the west side we can see all the way back to Cabo Rojo light house that we rounded way back when be first left Boqueron! We begin walk/climb the mile long path to the peak of this island where the old light house is but the mosquitoes had a different idea. That had lunch in mind. Had we known we would have worn long pants and shirts etc. but this walk isn’t going to happen in swim suits!

OK, will dingy at least take us back to the mother ship?

NO. We have to paddle.

Back at Enee I do what I’ve done 1000 times with this crappy engine. I take off the carburator (which I can now do blindfolded in 8 foot seas), take it apart and stick a little bristle from a whisk broom in that little hole that allows fuel to go from the bowl in to the mixing chamber. Back together and once again it is ‘fixed’. I think I need to drain the fuel out every time I bring the engine back on board. What a pain.

But, we now can look for snorking spots and explore by dingy which we do. We take the dingy a little north to a beach and snork from there. No great coral but some grass covered rocks under which are some interesting little fish.

So bottom cleaning is in order (Enee’s!) and that is more productive now that we can see what we’re doing in the crystal clear water. Reading and napping are on the agenda too. This is a great anchorage. We can probably see 60 miles or more of Puerto Rican coastline from here. Backed by the pretty mountains and the ever present clouds. This is my idea of anchoring. Marinas are BAD.

Saturday 11/24/07

Up at 3 AM and away we go. A beautiful night with clear skys and a full moon. We motor and main due north to be able to make a long run to the south east. That worked! Full sail and we are making 5+ knots. We do love these early morning sails. We are into Salinas around 7:30 AM! Nice. Anchor down and we already see several boats we recognize from Luperon! You can’t get away from this group! Already looks like we can get lots done here before moving on again. More in a day or so as we explore Salinas.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Around the Corner in Puerto Rico

November 16 2007 Friday - Boqueron to Cabo Rojo (~6 miles)

I know we’ve been cruising for 2+ years but today it felt like we were starting all over again. We love making short passages and today we only planned to go about 6 miles and anchor by the Cabo Rojo lighthouse. This is the far southwest corner of Puerto Rico.

We hauled up the anchor around 0630 and immediately set sail. Engine off and full sail. We are back on it. Only making 2-3 knots but who cares. We’re only going 6 miles today! Hot coffee and we are making our way very comfortably and quietly. As we sailed west and then south west and then south the east wind became more and more beamy. Nice. The wind also picked up. . . but not our speed. In the wind we were feeling (yeah our wind-o-meter is on the list of things that don’t work and we don’t care) should be making us go 6+ knots but we were barely making 5! I know, no hurry but that just tells me that I better look and probably try to clean the bottom when we get on anchor.

As we slowly motored into the big bay here it got shallow faster than we expected. This is something we are VERY cautions about. We circled around, probed here and probed there but it seemed like before we were anywhere near shore for some protection we were down to a meter of water under the keel. Maybe that’s ok and it stays like that for awhile. Maybe not. So we anchored out farther than we really intend to just to make breakfast and launch the dingy.

After scrambled eggs and potatoes we got in the dingy with our trusty lead line (a one kg mass from Maine East physics dept. Come and get it!) on a line with knots every 3 feet. We motored toward a prominent point on shore making sure to stay between it and the mother ship and sounding as we went. Yeah! We can go another 500 yards in maybe more and not hit bottom. We like getting this information via dingy! This is another great thing about early starts and short sails. You have time to be careful. You’re not tired and/or crabby after a long slog because that’s when mistakes are made.

Back to Enee we took her over the trail we had just blazed and set the hook with about a meter of water under the keel. The wind was from the south east but we had rollers coming in from sea from the south west so we rigged an anchor bridle as we did back at Rum Cay to point us into to the rollers. Helped a little.

Now for the bottom. Yeah it is covered in like a thin crusty layer of something. No barnacles (thankfully) but certainly a complete covering and that would definitely slow us down. Luckily it comes off easily with a brush. I spent an hour or so in the water doing what I could. Once you start you cloud up the water so much it is hard to tell what you are doing. I’m sure I’ve made an improvement and at the next anchorage I’ll try to do some more.

I love that we’re the only boat here. It is a wide open anchorage and, yeah, it’s too rolly for a long stay but it will be fine for one night. Tomorrow we go about 15 miles to La Parguera. We’ll be off at first light or even a little before. I wonder what that will be like.

Sailor Sue Says:
Enee pretty much sailed herself today. At least for the first part of our 6 mile trip. Very smooth sailing. As we got closer to the most southwestern tip of the island the winds did pick up quite a bit and we were heeled over some but still a nice sail. Only a few things found their way to the deck below because they weren’t stowed properly.

I took many many pictures. How many pictures can you have of sky and water, Scott asks. Never too many, I reply. We tacked our way into our anchorage and were good sailors all day, as Scott describes above.

Tonight just before dark we put the dingy motor and dingy up for the night and for the sail early tomorrow. It had been raining off and on most of the evening with very dark clouds to the north. Seems the north coast is getting lots of storms lately. The rain has ceased for now and it’s a very pleasant evening. We sit in the cockpit watching the revolving light from the lighthouse sweep over our boat on it’s 360 degree counterclockwise rotation.

I wonder if all lighthouse lights go in a counterclockwise direction. Maybe they do unless their in the southern hemisphere.

We are the only boat here. The moon peeks in and out of the haphazard clouds and gives us some moonshine on the water every once in a while. You can hear the waves wash against the shore in the distance. It’s quiet, creepy, and lovely at the same time. It’s nice to have the lighthouse nearby. Kind of like a night light to keep you company.

The sun has been down for a few hours and it’s got to be close to boaters’ midnight (9 p.m.) so that’s all for now from the sailing vessel Enee Marie.

November 17 - Saturday - Cabo Rojo to Parguera (~14 miles)

So last night Scott asked me if we had any kind of alarm clock on board. Our trusty travel alarm clock that worked like a charm for the past 10 years finally gave out. Hmmmm. What about that cell phone we bought last year back in Chicago? Sure enough it has an alarm and even though the service ran out long ago, the clock works. So Scott set the alarm. We wanted to get an early start, leaving just before dawn to be sure to arrive at our next anchorage well before any trade winds set in. No Problemo!

What time did you set it for anyway? He just smiled. Five? Four? Three? Hmmm 4:30. That should be early enough. We didn’t sleep much anyway because the anchorage at Cabo Rojo was a bit rolly - the kind of rolly where just when you thought it was calming down another major roller rolled the boat enough to roll you over in bed - well almost.

It was a clear starry night as we weighed anchor at 0530 and raised sail (main reefed) and headed to our first waypoint. Though there wasn’t much of it the wind was right in our face so we motor-sailed the 14 miles to Parguera. Since we had the motor on we couldn’t really judge if Scott’s scraping the bottom made any difference in our speed.

As the sun rose we left the lighthouse to stern although we never lost sight of it until turning up into the anchorage at Parguera (~17 58.0 67 03.0).

Also on shore near Parguera is a huge blimp like balloon that is visible from Boqueron but apparently moored here. The word on this balloon is that there are several cameras on board that collect weather data but also take photos of boats leaving the D.R. Big Brother indeed! It’s just like the one we would see near Ramrod Key, Florida.

(Scott says. . .)

So for those interested in navigation and such this day’s sail has good examples of what our sailing day can be like. The night before we leave we go over charts and identify some waypoints. Those are marked on the chart shown as PAR 1, 2 and 3. We enter these into the GPS that is at the helm (the lat long also show up on the SSB radio down below at the nav. station). Then it can be as simple as pushing GOTO on the GPS and selecting the next waypoint. The GPS then tells you the bearing to the next mark (which way the mark is from the boat) as well as COG (course over ground) which is which way you are going. Ideally you’d want the bearing and your COG to be the same number. If we had a high tech boat, our autohelm would use this data to steer the boat. We’re not a high tech boat. If this were a trawler that would be the end of the story but this is a sailboat! So what you say? Well in our example from this little sail we were motor sailing in a wind that was a little north of east. Our run from PAR1 to PAR2 was fine with some pressure on the mainsail. But when we turned to go to PAR3 we were dead into the wind. Main sail flopping about and speed knocked down by a good half a knot. So instead of being married to the waypoint we found a comfortable course lying about 30 degrees east of the line to PAR3. We sailed that way until we were about a quarter mile off the line. The GPS tells you this data as well! Then we put the helm over and sailed on the other tack on a course that was comfortable and faster than banging dead into the wind again until we were a quarter mile on the other side of the line. We continued this way but each tack reduced the distance off the line by 0.05 miles as we try to focus in on making PAR3. The person down below looking at the lat long and the charts can tell the helmsman if they should tack early or keep on as the charts show the shoals, wrecks, etc. This is way more comfortable and probably faster than trying to go straight upwind bare poles. From PAR3 we could spot the marked channel into Parguera. Now it’s forget the GPS and read the markers and the water to slowly come up in to the anchorage. To me this is the most fun. I know that with a chartplotter and autohelm I could sit back and sip my cappuccino and let my electronics do all the work but why? We get to be much better sailors this way and learn much more about our boat and her tendancies by keeping to the basics. Besides, how many cappuccino sipper skippers end up on a reef?!

As we reach our final waypoint we see the shoals and reefs that are scattered about this anchorage area but the buoys mark a clear entrance for us and we easily anchor near town and by a couple other anchored boats. It was 0930!

Yes, another successful sail and another new harbor town. As we settled in with our celebratory finger of rum we heard Lou from Indigo hailing Merengue on vhf channel 16. Apparently we still aren’t that far from Boqueron yet. Lou didn’t get a response so Scott hailed him to find out what was going on. Six or so boats were just arriving in Mayaguez from Luperon. The boats he knew of in the fleet were Merengue, Bellagio, Whisper, Song Bird, 2forSea, and maybe another one or two. It sounded like they had a good crossing. Good news. We look forward to seeing them as they continue on.

After a short nap we headed into town for lunch and to check out the scene. As Lou mentioned there’s a laundry, grocery store, post office, and of course several restaurants and bars. Also a marine store that we didn’t find yet but plan to tomorrow.

(At left - view of town from our anchorage)

The sun just passed behind some clouds as it set and evening is upon us. The waters are very calm except for the occasional passing small power boat. Should be good sleeping tonight. We’ll stay here another day and let the predicted higher winds pass by.

Scott Says: This is ideal traveling. Spend the morning sailing. Drop anchor before noon. Time to explore where you are, nap, have breakfast. Whatever. We’ll spend two days here as the trades are supposed to be up some on Sunday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Moving on

Hello all faithful readers. Tomorrow we’ll hoist anchor again and begin our exploration (I like to pretend I’m the first one in these waters) of the southern coast of Puerto Rico. Note that the whole island of Puerto Rico fits in the northern half of Indiana or inside the forehead of an average Packer fan with plenty of room left over to still grow plenty of corn. . . well, in Indiana andyway. We plan to make short morning sails and usually get anchored by noon. This should allow us some pleasant sailing/motoring before the trade winds peak in the afternoon. The islands to the east are called the Spanish Virgin Islands and we are especially looking forward to arriving at Culebra the little guy to the east. Supposed to have great beaches and snorkeling. We’ll probably leave the boat for a day or two in Salinas (just east of center on the southern shore), rent a car, and do major provisioning. There are Walmarts and Sam’s Club here and since we eat LOTS of canned food now we are hoping to buy cases of chicken, tuna, beef, etc to avoid the higher prices in places like the British Virgin Islands etc. Also, while we have a car we hope to visit Arecibo - the giant radio telescope that was built in the mountains south west of San Juan. If ET calls, this will probably be the phone that picks up! So, next report probably from Salinas in a few days. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Day in Boqueron

This post comes to you from Galloway's. A fine Irish joint with fast wifi and cold beer.

This is going to be an ok place to stop for a few days. Yesterday I walked about a mile on the main road out of town. I found a little grocery store and also a marine store! It was no West Marine but they did have a connector I needed for hooking the gas line to the outboard. The old one, like a lot of stuff in salt conditions, disintegrated. My quick repair was to skip the connector and go direct to the fuel line with the line from the gas tank. Of course this required drilling a hole in the engine cowling but hey, a solution is a solution! And, who ever invented hose clamps should get the Nobel Prize!

Sue and I spent a larger part of the day then at a place called Gallaways. A nice joint with free wifi, good food, and friendly people. Back on the boat we enjoyed the evening even with that which we have rarely had. . . mosquitoes! A little breeze seems to knock them down pretty well but when it got calm they got on us a little.

We had been talking about how places get a bad rap and then no one goes back to investigate. For example, Samana and all the thievery. We liked Samana and were careful and nothing got stolen. Mayaguez and how it is supposedly awful for cruisers. Well, I wouldn’t stay there very long but for checking in it was fine. The rap on Boqueron we had heard was that it was just party, party, party and VERY loud. We’d seen little of that and put it up with the towns listed above. Things change. But wait. . . it’s Saturday night. Oh yeah! Party on Garth! It got real loud. Sounded like one place had a band and they were good and they were good and loud. The other place sounded like Karoake and as some of you may know, that rarely sounds good and neither did this (imagine ‘I Did it My Way’ in Espanol). So about the time us cruisers are saying good night the party got really rolling. Luckily, I sleep through about anything. We’ll see if Sunday is also a party night. It was THE party night in the Domincan Republic for some reason. I think they celebrated the fact that no one was going to work again tomorrow!

I realized after posting that I describe passages and sailing routes like everyone knows where we are. Sorry. I offer this photo of one of our charts that shows our crossing the Mona Passage from DR to PR.

Today we search for diesel and laundry. Exciting life, eh? (oops, looks like I’m picking up some Canadian!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

In our last episode our adventurous travelers were at Samana, Dominican Republic preparing to cross the dreaded Mona Passage.........

A few more things about Samana....
Arriving Samana

(Click on the photo above to view a short album)

Samana has been given a bad rap about being a bad place. We heard that it was a place where your dingy motor gets stolen and cut-throat people take your money at every turn. In fact a cruiser who recently left Luperon did have his dingy motor stolen. So we cautiously went ashore to find dinner and a telephone and not knowing what else might happen to us along the way.

We did secure the dingy to the dingy dock ladder with our cable and lock. Plus the Navy was on guard watching over us. And Chico (can’t remember his real name so he will be Chico for now) who used his boat to escort the Navy and crew out to our boats earlier was now on the dock reassuring us that our dingy would be safe here. Ok. We were so hungry it was worth the cost of a new dingy motor. Plus we were building trust with Chico since he delivered us 15 gallons of diesel. It cost $70 us dollars; Scott gave him $100; Chico went ashore and he came back with $30 change. So we had that going for us.

We started our walk into town and along the way we met Samuel Jones - a born and raised Samanaian (say that fast a few times) who somehow picked us out from the Dominicans on the street. ‘Hey my friend’ he says. ‘How are you today? Want to go see the waterfalls?’ Not today but we are looking for a telephone to call the states. So Samuel walked us the 1/2 mile or so to the Codetel then walked us back to a cheeseburger in paradise place where we bought him a beer in thanks for the help. A very friendly guy trying to make a living off of the tourists. We didn’t ever go to the waterfall or rent one of his motorcycles but each time we saw him during the next few days he came up to say hi and ask how we were doing. Just an honest guy trying to make an honest living from cruisers big and small.

Samana does get big cruise ships in their harbor on a regular basis. In fact the quaint buildings I saw on shore as we arrived, which caused me to say that we’re not in Luperon anymore, are buildings built by the cruise ship companies. Surprise....surprise. Local merchants run the businesses but the cruise ship companies get a cut. We wonder how many cruise ship travelers ever see the real Samana.

In addition to Samuel Jones (who also is a sailor btw and crewed with an elderly couple to Puerto Rico and St. Martin) here are a few other highlights of Samana:

Samana Sights
(Click on the photo above to view a short album)

Preparing for the Mona Passage:

We arrived in Samana on Monday morning and indeed were able to leave on Wednesday - at midnight! A huge part of preparation for crossing the Mona is having the right weather forecast. Scott talked with Chris Parker every morning while in Samana and we consistently had a great forecast for the trip. The last thing you want is to have a low pressure trough or ridge or tropical wave or whatever swoop down on you while traveling the 140 nautical miles. Chris said we were good to go although a few thunderstorms and squalls might find us. This is like saying there might be thunderstorms on Lake Michigan during the summer. If you waited for a no thunderstorm prediction you would never go sailing.

We were ready to go but first had to check out with the Commandante. Chico was onshore waiting as members of our 4 boat fleet dingyied in. Chico assisted in the entire checkout process which included running to make more copies of the Dominican form that they ran out of. Of course the cost of 40 pesos was on us gringos. He also assisted the lady typist who plunked out the information onto the newly copied forms (including carbon paper) with her (smith-corona) manual. Finally all information was collected for all boats and the Commandante added his official signature to each of the dispacio forms from the bed of a pick up truck where he was supervising the filling of his gas tank. We(4 boats together) tipped Chico $20 for his services. He also is an entrepreneur working on his own.

Scott Says:

An aside on Americans. . . In the islands, we encounter various ‘officials’ in uniforms that want you to pay some sort of fee or another or they come right out and tell you that a ‘gift’ would not be inappropriate. I find that many Americans (and Canadians too although there reaction is metric) have a bit of an ugly reaction to such encounters. Americans are used to ‘getting their money’s worth’. A very American idea indeed. With these various ‘fees’ you are never getting your money’s worth. You’re being ripped off and brazenly at that! The typical American reaction is one of outrage, anger and maybe even a loud argument! We and some other cruisers just take this in stride. I’m not looking to get robbed but, hey, I’m in their country. To the Dominicans, for example, I look like a billionaire. When I get charged $20 for a despacio that I don’t really need I get that this is just them getting their last $20 from a departing American. For all I know it is a way for the commandante to keep his job and jobs are damn scarce in these here parts. The $20 is not going to make or break me and I don’t like uncomfortable encounters anyway. Makes for a much more pleasant trip.

The only thing left for us boaters to do in celebration of a great stay in Samana and in preparation for our Mona crossing was to have a few Presidente’s. After lunch it was back to the boat for long naps in anticipation of our midnight anchor weighing.

Events along the Mona way:

I didn’t get much sleep during the afternoon and early evening since the meringue music coming from shore (a nightly event) was loud enough to wake the dead. But I was still ready when midnight arrived and we were on our way. The fleet kept in close contact during the entire trip and it was reassuring that we had each others assistance and company for the trek.

Scott says:

The idea of a late night departure is to allow the seas to settle down and to use some of the remaining night lee from the Dominican Republic. Then you jump off the shore and sail nearly east and maybe even a little north to avoid hour glass shoals. This route also has the potential of allowing the storms rolling off the shore of Puerto Rico to pass safely to your south. We did get close to a couple of squalls. One evaporated before it got to us and the other passed by a few miles to the east. All we got was some better wind to sail with! Thanks.

Enterprise, a very nice ketch with a mom, dad and two very cute little girls on board found that they were making oil. This is a new term for me that I just learned from James aboard Pegasus who is also part of our fleet. You check your oil and it’s fine. The next day you check it again and you have MORE oil. That ain’t right and it means that water is getting into the oil from somewhere. At this point we are 40-50 miles of the coast of DR. We all slowed down and more or less waited to hear more from Enterprise. James suggested that he keep going and that perhaps shutting the engine down would be worse than keeping it running. So, a bit of a nervous motor/sail for Enterprise but another good reason for crossing the Mona passage in a fleet.

Overall the seas were calm, no threatening northern swells, and the wind most kind. We even had a chance to raise all sails and sail/motor sail. Sweet! Some events that happened along the way:
Crossing the Mona Passage to Boqueron Puerto Rico
(Click on the photo above to view a short album)

I rather like leaving at midnight for a long passage. Makes that “first night” short. When the sun starts to come up then you can legitimately think, “I’ll be there in less than a day now”. And a beautiful sunrise it was! What’s better than sailing your own boat across the ocean to a new harbor?

Two of the boats in our fleet fished during the crossing. Walkabout hooked a 20 pound tuna! They were very excited. We would have fished but then it always seems to me the work of killing and cleaning the fish out weighs my desire for a fish dinner. Maybe it will seem like a better idea if we ever have refrigeration again. By the way, living without refrigeration is OK. I enjoy not worrying about battery life and I enjoy NOT idling my engine twice a day when we are at anchor. I don’t think we’ll go down that refrigeration road again unless we can (1) REALLY get it fixed (if there even is such a thing) and (2) also get solar panels and a little honda generator. We don’t carry beer or canned drinks. Use powdered milk to cook. Sometimes buy some meat and then eat it that day. Make sure we don’t have leftovers. Buy eggs that haven’t been refrigerated. Eat pasta! So, we’re not starving and enjoying the quietness of an un-refrigerated boat.

About 3 in the morning we passed to the south of a little island near Puerto Rico, Isla Desecheo, which is completely unlit. At night it looks like a big mound of dirt about 100 yards away. Checking the chart we find that it is more like 7 miles away! More evidence of how hard it is to judge distance at night. Just before dawn we picked up the range lights into Mayaguez and slowly motored in. As the sun came up we spotted a boat that had left Samana about 8 hours before us and anchored nearby. The idea now is to get cleared in by customs before the ferry boat arrives around 8 AM. No problem. It is only 6:30 now.

Customs is easy as we are basically in America now and we are Americans with a US coast guard documented boat. They gave us a Local Boater card which makes clearing in and out of the ports of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands quick and easy.

We rested for an hour or so and then once again raised anchor. Mayaguez is an industrial port (and stinky!) and not suited for a stay for cruising sailors. So, we are bound for Boqueron about 16 miles to the south. Sixteen miles? HA! We just completed 140 in 29 hours! Nothing to it and there wasn’t except for our impatience for a good meal and a cool beer.

Boqueron anchorage is quite large and well protected from all sides except the west and since the wind never blows from the west who cares? It is advertised as Key West on Steroids. We went ashore with Lou on Indigo who is an old Luperon acquaintance. Ashore there certainly are no shortage of watering holes but all was pretty calm on a Friday afternoon. We had a couple of cold beers with Lou in a little joint and then went in search of a real dinner. Boy did we find it too! Great steaks, mashed potatoes, and veggies. YUM! We don’t starve on Enee when making a passage but tend to just snack on apples, candy, cheese, and what have you. Full dinner is SUCH a treat! Needless to say once back aboard Enee, sleep was no problemo! We plan to stay here a few days, clean up the decks, recharge ourselves and make a little plan for coasting the south coast of Puerto Rico. We can be in Puerto Rican waters 60 days max so if you’re coming to visit us. . . now would be a good time!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sailing the Nights Away

Entering Escondido anchorage Sunrise in Samana
Nov 2, 2007

Enee is back on it! Our first day sailing in nearly 6 months. We left Luperon around 5:30 pm (1730) and planned to clean up the anchor and then re-anchor outside the harbor once we made it through the narrow shallow part and make some dinner. Didn’t want to make that little passage in the dark but we also didn’t want to leave too early. Well plans changed. Pretty rolly (this will be a continuing theme) outside the harbor so we decided to just get on with it and go slow if we were ahead of schedule. Our plan was to motor sail the coast making about 55 miles to the east to a little fishing village/anchorage called Rio San Juan (19 38.6 70 05.3). The idea of the night sail comes from using the fact that the land will cool faster than the water. The cool air from the land will then flow to sea and moderate or even dominate the easterly trade winds. As it turns out we left with 4 or 5 other boats. Some were planning to steam on and make it all the way to Puerto Rico. We like making hops so had Rio San Juan in mind. The herding instinct is strong and as much as I wanted to hug the coast more, the rest of the ‘fleet’ was sailing fine 2 or 3 miles off shore. Ok. But after we rounded Cabo Macoris there was nothing to moderate the trades. We stuck with it for a couple of hours but the seas were rough and the wind was pretty east and building. Finally we said the heck with this and sailed due south to get nearer the land and the night lee. Boy did that work! Like flipping a switch. Much more comfortable.

Sailor Sue Says:
We were the first to raise anchor out of Luperon harbor. Boat parade master Dave wished us well from the hill at the harbor entrance and many other remaining boaters chimed in with their good byes and well wishes on vhf channel 68. For the last six months channel 68 had been our ‘coconut telegraph’ and THE way to keep in touch with all our boat neighbors. In a few miles we would be out of touch. For now anyway. Most folks are heading to Puerto Rico and beyond as well as we’ll be seeing them somewhere down the chain.

November 3

Due to leaving early and badly estimating the way point for Rio San Juan we arrived a little early. Ok we arrived at DARK! Had to tack up and back waiting for sunlight so we could safely make our way through the reef to the anchorage (19 39.6 70 05.3). No problem. Anchor down. Nothing broke. Nobody died. Why does making a little passage matter so much? We live on a boat no matter what. What’s the big deal if the boat is somewhere else? I don’t know the answer but I know that it changes everything. When we arrive at a new place and know that we did it ourselves it is just a great feeling. I’m not even a little bit tired of it!

We’ll sleep today. Oh yeah we will and then another night sail to Escondido. Another 55 mile night sail. We feel like third shifters! Sleep? Did I say sleep? There’s no sleep because there are rollers coming over the reef here rolling Enee back and forth about 45 degrees to each side. We are tired and our stomachs hurt from flexing them all the time when the boat rocks back and forth. Before dark we decide to move to the northern anchorage. The boats up there don’t seem to be rocking as much and it will make it easier to get away as well. So we haul up anchor and move. And it is just as rolly! Oh well, nothing for it now but to snooze and eat snacks and wait for our get away time which is around 7:30 pm.

Again we are using the night lee of the land to moderate the trades. It gets pretty rough around Cabo (Cape) Fancis Viejo but once we round that and turn south things calm down nicely for us. We motor sail until dawn as we approach the anchorage called Escondido.

This might be the most beautiful anchorage we’ve pulled into yet (that´s the picture at the top). It looks more like something you might think of in polynesia. High steep mountains all around the anchorage and only a couple of little beaches. No houses just lush vegetation. Very deep too! Hard to find a hunk of sand to drop our hook in. I’m not sure I ever did! I finally just kept letting out chain and hoped that weight of chain would keep us more or less put. No real wind here but, oh yeah our favorite, a constant chain of rollers coming in rocking Enee 24/7! We are so tired and we only grab sleep in short 1-2 hour hunks. We have another night to do too! No wonder they call this the ‘thorny passage’.

We are still traveling more or less with two other boats, Pegasus and Walkabout. A discussion ensues on the VHF as to whether we should stay where we are and wait for a window for going to Puerto Rico or go on to Samana and wait there. What is holding us up making the run to Puerto Rico is some projected north swells which apparently make the trip really miserable. Our current anchorage is rolly without a north swell and I’m for taking our chances on Samana which looks like it would offer good protection to the north. This is a funny one. Escondido is on the north shore of a long peninsula sticking out to the east. Samana is on the southern shore of that peninsula about 8 miles away. . .. over land but about 30 miles by sea! Reminds me of when we sailed about 600 miles to get to Detroit from Chicago . . . about a 150 mile car trip! Well, at least 30 miles is less than the 55 we have been doing the last two nights. We can try to sleep some more and then leave around midnight which we do.

Sailor Sue Says:
Ok. Let me define the word rolly. It was so rolly that ---
- things are falling off of shelves that you didn’t know you owned,
- when you open a can of chicken, turn around to get the pan to heat it in, you have to catch the can before it hits the galley deck,
- you remember how it felt when you were in sophomore biology class and had to throw up so bad that water kept coming into your mouth and it was all that you could do to keep it down,
- when you walked (crawled) down the campionway steps you felt like you were 2 years old again holding on for dear life,
- when you went to use the ‘head’ you had to time when to pull up and down (or down and up as it were) your trousers to the lurching boat,
- if Gracie weren’t already dead....well you get the picture.

November 4

And a beautiful night it was. Stars by the billions and only a couple of light sprinkles. I was hoping to be able to sail once we turned south around the end of the peninsula but no such luck. The ever dependable trade winds let us down but at least made the rounding easy.

Samana bay is huge and the along it’s north shore about 5 miles in there is a little cut up to the north west. This is the anchorage and boat basin for the town of Samana. Our fleet has grown and now has 5 boats! Now comes the inevitable visit by the Comandant of the “Navy”. He comes aboard each of the boats with 3 helpers (henchmen) and they all fill out some paperwork. They also take our despachio from Luperon for which we paid $20 and charged us 500 pesos for anchoring fee. Oh well, we expect as much and were told to. They also would be glad to accept any gift that we thought would be appropriate. We thought a small bottle of rum each was appropriate and had bought them in Luperon for just this occasion. Good news is we are free to go ashore and explore the town. We thought that since we had our passports stamped in Luperon with our next stop hopefully being Puerto Rico that we would be prevented from going ashore without going through the whole entrance procedures (~$120) again. I guess 500 pesos goes a long way in Samana! We are REALLY looking for a dinner and sit at a table that doesn’t keep sloshing our food around!

The consensus is that Wednesday night may be the night for a trip to Puerto Rico. It is about 140 miles from here or maybe 30 hours. So leave Wednesday night and get there Friday morning or early afternoon. First stop will be Mayaguez where lives the Customs House. . . and me out of rum!

It is so great to be on the move again. There is a state of mind that has to be re-achieved. To travel like this is to always be harboring some doubt. Is everything really all right? Is water actually coming in somewhere and I haven’t noticed it yet? Wait, did the engine just change its pitch? Why am I doing this anyway? What will the wind be like on the other side of the cape? Will I have enough fuel to make Puerto Rico? What if there is none available in Samana? You get the idea. This can get nerve wracking and especially when sleep is already hard to come by this kind of thinking certainly doesn’t help. I find that I am slowly getting back into my ‘cruiser mode’. Don’t worry. Especially don’t panic. Problems will be solved as they come up one at a time. Having a solid boat and dependable partner helps us both relax (well Sue is dependable...I’m just always early!) When I enter that mode there is nothing as special as sailing your own boat into unknown waters and new ports.

Sailor Sue Says:
It was a good decision to come to Samana. You never know about these kinds of decisions until you complete them. Last night’s sail was the shortest night sail of the 3 we just made.... the 3 sails we just made after NOT sailing for 6 months (not counting a wonderful day sail with Brian and Deborah on Lake Michigan). What - are we crazy? But I suppose at some level we do know what we’re doing out there while sailing. You hope for the best sail and prepare for the worst. Last night it was the best. The seas and wind were our very calm friends. Even the moon rose as if cat eyes were watching our fleet make its way around the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic. Why do we do this? You experience people, places, and things you would never even dream of existing in Des Plaines, Illinois. And now it’s time to go explore this town a bit. Already, from viewing the main street with the binoculars, I can tell that it’s not Luperon anymore Toto. So let’s go find out what’s cooking in Samana - literally!

More pictures when we can hook up our own laptop.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Enee Marie is Leaving the Harbor!

Yes, it's true. FINALLY. At sundown tonight we plan to set sail for points east. We will follow the coast at night to take advantage of the off shore breeze you typically get here which is much kinder to sailors and sailboats than the straight day time trades. We hope to go about 12 hours and pull into a little bay called Rio San Juan 55 miles along the coast (east of Cabarete). The next night we would do the same making Escondido (on the north shore of the Samana penninsula). Now we'll have to decide whether to go into the big Samana Bay on the eatern end of the Domincan Republic or skip it and go straight down to Punta Macao (north of Punta Cana). This is our planned jumping off point then to cross the Mona Passage for Puerto Rico. Hope to post before then but I may not be able to.

All set here. We've checked out with immigration, customs, and the Comidant! Everyone has been paid, passports stamped and we have our Despacio which is not soup but a piece of paper that allows you to . . . well, leave I guess.

I guess I'd like to not spend 6 months (not counting our 6 week visit home) in the same place but this certainly fit the bill for us this year. Good people here. Well protected waters for hurricane season. We hope we remember how to sail! Well, from here it will be a LOT of motor and main as no matter what we are heading just about dead up wind.