Sunday, 29 March 2015

Where have we been for the last 3 months??

Hi there, I'm back! This might not be pretty but I'm going to give you a quick run down on the last 3 months of our travels. Al and I are both doing well still having fun. "Haven" is making us proud, keeping us safe and all issues have been resolved quickly and cheaply! Water maker running well, finally.
Nice to be able to share our water with friends.
The last time I wrote we had dealt with a leaky fuel tank-repaired the leak and were back on our way.
(2 of the access ports still leak when tank full to the brim, we will fix that when the boat gets hauled out)
draining the fuel

Tank upside down and the seam repair visible (black)
This is what Haven looked like below for 3 days. Total chaos!
The Bahamas ended up being a bit of a speedy trip. We made our way from Black Point to George Town -with a few stops in between) and only spent 1 day reprovisioning then off to Long Island where we stayed for 6 days. The sail was one of our best sails EVER. Perfect point of sail, perfect wind and  no waves! Hanging out with Harmonium and Alpenglow. We rented a car to visit more of the Island and waited out some unpleasant weather in Salt Pond. 

Trying golden coconut for the first time, delicious. 
exploring caves

Clarence Town

Dean's Blue Hole
View of Long Island Resort from "Haven".
"Summer Crab" is the fishing vessel on the left
beers at Long Island Breeze watching the storm go by.
Jam night at Long Island Breeze, Al had such a blast.
Krista has an amazing voice!
Thanks to Ray from Night Hawk and the guys from Salty Paws.

Next off to the Ragged Islands to set up for crossing to Cuba. The island chain is very remote and not many other cruising boats.   Very popular place for lobstering and fishing in general. Very exposed weather wise and unfortunately we ended up with some strong westerly wind.
The only lobster we got was from a lovely fisherman that we had met in Salt Pond, Ensal captain of "Summer Crab", twice he dropped off lobster for us and in return we passed on some Canadian maple syrup and cold beer!
Rick from Angel Eyes cooked up a Hog fish that he had speared that same day, yum yum, some of the best fish I've ever had.

places visited - Water Cay, Jamaica Cay, Buenavista Cay, Hog Cay then Duncan Town.

Weather window opened up sooner than we anticipated, with a long stretch of unsettled weather following that-so, Duncan Town for only 12 hours before we lifted anchor at 1am to make our crossing to CUBA. Angle Eyes, Harmonium and Haven.
Crossing January 22, uneventful, full sail the entire way getting into harbour around 2 pm.

Docked the boat in at Porta de Vita. Very protected and secure and great staff. Check in process was easy and quick. Showing up at the end of the day with 3 vessels may have been strategic on our part or we were just lucky. Doctor came on board while we were at anchor, such a lovely man, he was great later looking after Al when he got sick . Once at dock agriculture boarded had a quick peek around (40 seconds) signed a piece of paper and was out of there. Finally military (2) came to fill out customs/immigration/visa forms etc. Very, very nice. No great search of the boat and no dogs on board. - I was kind of disappointed!

We spent 5-6 days hanging out close to the boats. Day trip to Holguin etc. trying to organise phones, email, travel plans etc. 
Then we were off.  Bus trip to Havana (12 hours) no bathroom on board, relied on the frequent stops into bus terminals where the state of the toilets made you wish you didn't have to go. (oh, and they wanted you to pay!)

Cuba adventures. 1. Havana (Centro and Old Town)  2. Cienfuegos  3. Trinidad  4. Camequay.
3 weeks on the road staying in Casa Particulars, Cuba's version of B&B but the breakfast cost extra.
We then made our way back to the boat for a couple of days and were then going to head to Baracoa on the very East end of Cuba. Unfortunately Al got terribly sick and we needed to stay at home. It took him 2 full weeks before he was back to normal.
view from Porta de Vita Marina

at dock
Al's birthday celebration!


Leo, the "go to" guy to navigate Cuba


Cuban breakfast at "home"
Ignorance, not speaking the language well and being trusting, Krista and I spent $1 US
per bun and bought cheese we had to toss it was so bad!  

coffee time in Havana
Veterinary clinic in Old town Havana



Trip to Topas de Collantes National Park outside Trinidad

Breakfast at our Casa Particular
Cuban taxi's
Market in Camaquey
Leaving Porta de Vita
Clearing out of Cuba went as smoothly. Sure no complaints from any of us on how this process is for cruisers. We had heard so many stories that I really didn't know what to expect.

Left Porta de Vita on Feb 25th, making our way along the north shore of Cuba. 125 NM to Isle A'Vache Haiti. Spending a short night at anchor in Baracoa (yes, now I can say I was there). Oun travels through the windward passage was wonderful.  Engines off, comfortable sail for about 8 hours through the night. 
windlass stopped working in Baracoa. Al and Phil took it apart in Isle A'Vache and repaired, no more hauling anchor by hand and didn't need to purchase a new one!
officials checking us into Baracoa
 OK, then the great planning and good luck failed us as we turned the corner at the most southern tip of Haiti. At that point it should have been an 7 hour leg, turning into an epic 16 hours. Wind and waves while motor sailing our engine still couldn't push us through. Not scary, just tedious with long tacks and not making much in the way of easting each time. 

Dropped the anchor outside the harbour of Isle A'Vache just after midnight in heavy rain. Hit the bed hard then would get up in the morning and move the boat into the anchorage.

Isle A'Vache is a beautiful place. Extremely impoverished people but so lovely and hardworking. Lots of house pride visible in the little villages. Boat boys are at your boat everyday looking to sell something to you or want to work for you, boat jobs or assisting with fuel or being a guide for the island. Unlike Cuba where begging can't be avoided for more than 3 minutes at a time, these guys wanted to work for their money. Although persistent, they were polite and respectful.

coast of Haiti

Isle A'Vache
One of our new friends, Jean, helped us have a local experience by booking a dinner out for us at his friends home.
Fabulous night. Local musicians came to play and the food was amazing

In the distance you see Haven, Angel Eyes and Harmonium on the hook in Isle A'Vache  
Nixon and Lunas polished all our stainless for us. Great job.

after visiting the orphanage the little guys thought they would go home with Al.
market day on Isle A'Vache

Adventure of getting fuel in Les Cayes, long story!
getting the 30 gallon diesel tank on board from the water taxi
As you can see, Al is fine after being run down by a motorcycle in the streets of Les Cayes.
He was going to cross the road to talk to this UN police officer from Canada. Al's not getting a ticket, he's getting the fellows contact info.
Crazy traffic here with no street lights or signage. There can be up to 5 "lanes" of traffic on a 2 lane street.
"look both ways before crossing the street kids"!!
cargo delivery boat from Les Cayes to Isle A'Vache
This gentleman sold me an octopus. Lunas was on board at the time so he help me clean it and told me how to prepare.
First time for me and it turned out delicious.

Saying goodbye, we presented the little ones with cookies and candy and a new soccer ball.

construction site

Jean saying goodbye.
 Departure from Isle  A'Vache March 7 for an overnight to Cabo Rojo Dominican Republic. Not a bad motor sail for most of it (although the waves were confused and made for uncomfortable for sleeping) but the last 10 miles the wind picked up substantially. Then the next thing we heard was the engine alarm going off, overheating. So we had to shut the engine down and sail to our anchorage exactly were the wind was coming from! 30-35 knts of wind (gusting 38) and huge waves.  We were SOOO WET! oh, and cold. It took us 4 hours longer than Harmonium before we were comfortably 
at anchor. It was actually great experience for us and only had to endure for a short time.

No official check in for the country here, but we were boarded, paperwork was filled out. They returned the next day with a dispatchio and were charged $25 US. We know that they shouldn't be charging money but none of us were in the mood to challenge these men in uniform. We were given permission to go to shore so that was good.
We held out here for another few days waiting for the winds to lighten up as the next big challenge was getting around Cape Beate. That leg turned out to be uneventful and made our way into Salinas. Dispatchio given (at no charge).we were also able to buy fuel from Jorge, owner of the hotel.

2 nights there then off to Boca Chica for official check in. VERY expensive check in. 
Marina Zar Par, don't go.
Here, and only here do they charge an additional $100 fee for the marina"brokerage"fee???  They also charged $40 US for a dispatchio to get to Casa de Campa.

Spent a day in Santo Domingo, pleasantly surprised. It was lovely, we probably could have spent another day walking around.

Official check out in Casa de Campo-legitimate $20 port authority fee for international paperwork.
We had the best interaction with a DR Sergeant Carlos Peredes. Very professional, knowledgeable and very interested and concerned with what we were telling him about Marina Zar Par. He says he's going to look into it, hope so.

Cause of our engine overheating. On the right is our disintegrating impeller compare to the new one on the left.
Al replaced and we were back in action.
On the passage that we lost the engine, Al fell across the galley and broke the SSB radio mic.
This is Al and Phil soldering back together, another successful repair. THANKS PHIL! 
First anchorage in Dominican Republic, Bahia de Aguilles
Salinas Bay
Check in/Dispatchio Salinas
Santo Domingo, ruins of the first hospital in the America's, dated 1503.
Checking out of the Dominican Republic
Left DR at 1pm, crossing the bottom of the Mona Passage and dropping anchor in Boqueron by 11:30am the next day. Very pleasant passage, probably one of my favorite overnight legs.

Moved onto Ponce for our official check in, a bit of a gong show. Boarded by customs, confiscated lots of our fruit and vegetables due to some invasive fruit fly in the Dominican Republic, only started 3 days ago. Lucky us. A phone call for the "check in" procedure, just like when cruising in the USA, took forever. Then we are informed that we will have to get to the immigration office before 5pm because they are too busy to come to us. 3:30, still have to anchor, drop dingy, get cab find office, oh yah, they want us there earlier so they don't have to stay overtime!

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