Wednesday, December 23, 2015

US Virgins Finally!

After what seemed like a Eternity we were finally in position to make the short windward leg to St Thomas and St Johns from Culebra! The wind was on our nose as usual and blowing around 20 but we knew we only had 20 miles or less to reach the protection of St Thomas! It was a spirited motor sail but in no time we were anchored up in Linbergh bay and drinking libations at the beach bar there. Linbergh in just south and a bit east of the airport, actually the runway goes parallel to the bay, so lots of jet noise on takeoff!
     We spent a couple of days there did some shopping, as it turned out they had the cheapest rum prices of any of the islands in the entire Caribbean! Cruzan was 7 dollars a fifth, Pussers was 12 bucks! a couple of days here and we were ready to move on to honeymoon bay, a neat little anchorage just south of Red Hook. had a wonderful two day stay here, lots of snorkeling and the pizza boat was really cool! there is a sailboat anchored in the bay that was outfitted with a pizza oven and they make and sell  great pizza!

After our stay here we were off  the 3 miles or so to cruz bay St Johns, this island is fantastic, it might just be the most beautiful island in the Caribbean if you are judging by the beaches! The island was owned by Rockefeller and he gave it to the US on the condition it become a state park, so its got very few developments and lots of prestine undeveloped waterfront! Another great thing about this island is the senior discounts on mooring balls, 62 or older us citizens get a mooring for $7.50! that sure beats the heck out of the 30 bucks in the BVI! Francis and Majo are our fav anchorages, we stayed at Majo for two weeks!

Cruz bay is just kinky enough to be interesting, and just big enough to get most of what you need in the way of provisions etc! Caneel bay is the site of rockefellers resort and its the nearest mooring field to Cruz bay, just a short dingy ride in! the bay was way to crowded to find a spot plus the all the other bays are way more cool!

We really enjoyed our stay in St Johns but it was time to keep moving east, some of our last eastng til we finally get to sail south. Next up, just a 5 mile sail to famous Sophers Hole and the BVI!

Cruise Ships at St Thomas

Cruz Bay, St Johns
Approaching Francis Bay in St Johns
The ferry from Cruz bay to St Thomas
The busses that ran from Cruz bay to the beaches were like thrill Rides up and down the mountains at breakneck speeds!
Looking down on Majo Bay! Discovery is in the center!

East down the Puerto Rico coast

After a enjoyable time in Puerto Real and topping off our fuel tank with every drop of cheap fuel we could take on, we needed to begin our passage east toward the Spanish virgins! Unlike our other passages we weren't going to get a unusual beneficial weather window, forecast was the normal one for this time of year, wind out of the east 20-25 knots.

Reality hit us as we rounded the point at Cabo Rojos and the lighthouse guarding it, bam 4-6 ft waves and 20 knots on the nose! So we started a seemingly endless series of tacks out to sea and then back toward shore, motor sailing our way east carving out eating careful to stay just enough off the wind to avoid the bashing and the filling loosening battering that heading to close to the wind produced with our flat bottom production boat!

We decided after 6 hrs of this beating to tuck tail and head for a he safety of a anchorage about 19 miles from Cabo Rojos called Gilligans island! Protected from the waves by mangroves and reef it would allow us to rest and rethink our plan to sail the south coast of Puerto Rico toward the Virgins. But before we made it a combination of a gust ( around 25knts) and a big wave, was too much for the sun rottened straps attaching the clew car on our deeply reefed roller furling main, it blew out sounding like the report from a shotgun! We took here up into the wind ( easy because we were motors ailing like usual), we quickly rolled the sail up and continued toward our next anchorage.

We huddled with our buddy boats and mapped out a new strategy, we would take advantage of the catabatic winds coming off the mountains at night that knocked down the east wind and waves, this should make for a tolerable motor sail overnight to our next anchorage Salinas.

Set the alarm for midnight and we snaked our way out the anchorage and we're happy to encounter much better sea state than the day time. This made for a beautiful motor sail down the coast with the lights from the shore only a few miles away!

We arrived early the next morning at daybreak with plenty of light to find our way into the salinas anchorage, and a busy one it was, but as usual there is always room for a few more boats and morning found us well hooked and beginning to look for a sailmaker to repair the damaged mainsail!

Light House on the far south western corner of Puerto Rico!

The busy anchorage at Salinas with the mountains in the background!

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DR to Puerto Rico Via the Mona Passage!

Anita and I at the outfitting shack at the  Dominique Cascades Waterfalls!
Anita taking the plunge at one of the waterfalls we could not slide down! This was not the tallest waterfall we jumped!
We had a great one week stay in  Luperion the people and the waterfalls really made it special  and would have enjoyed a longer stay but a weather window presented itself, a mild cold front predicted by Chris Parker would give us beam seas and brisk but safe wind conditions so off we went!
We left Luperion at first light and managed to negotiate the tight channel out of the harbor with no issues and found the conditions off shore to be as expected so on we pressed, sailing on a beam reach under full main and staysail for almost 24 hrs! we reached the eastern point of the DR and turned south til we were around the hourglass shoals. We were able to sail all the way til we reached the red sea bouy marking the entrance to Samana bay! We motored the rest of the way until we reached our destination Bahi Puerto Marina!
We had a great stay in Samana. I would highly recommend the Marina over staying in the harbor at Samana. Very safe and great accomodations! Five star resort and only 75 cents a foot! We had heard about issues with theft and such in the harbor which is too bad, but the town is delightful and the Marina is the best choice.
Again were were on a tight schedule and another weather window came up that promised a quite passage across the Mons passage so we had to take the shot, but the down side was only staying in Samana 2 days!
We arranged for the commandant to meet us at the boat at 6 am so we could get a early start. You must  be aware you pay to get into the DR and you will pay to leave, it was the most expensive of all the Caribbean countries we visited, we paid about 125 US to clear in at Luperion, and 20 US to exit Samana.
Our trip to Puerto Rico was another great one . We were treated to a whale watching fest on the way out Samana bay, its noted as a great place to see whales and it sure lived up to its reputation! The 100 miles or so to Puerto Real was very uneventful, we arrived mid morning and dropped the hook and enjoyed a peaceful stay in this great little town! Besides the normal stuff its got the cheapest diesel fuel in the Caribbean!
 We took a field trip to Ponce , its a city with perhaps the best examples of Spanish architecture in the Caribbean. The girls are standing in front of the firehouse in Ponce this is one of the oldest structures on the Island!
 One of the beautiful beaches on the Island!
 Another shot of down town Ponce!

Discovery on a mooring at Culebrita, a great little Island off of Culebra, Spanish Virgins
Anita posing in front of the old fire station now museum in Ponce
 Walking thru the rainforest state park in Puerto Rico
 Anchored off the south Puerto Rico coast on our way east
Record Shop in downtown Ponce

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Turks to the Dominican Republic

After a week or so in the Turks we headed off for the passage to Luperion and the DR. We had a good forecast, 15 knot winds from the NE and mild seas! Also a full moon to boot! Left big sand cay in the Turks at 6 pm so we would arrive at daylight after a expected 25 hr trip.

Had one of those magical night time passages, warm air, full moon and a gentle ride all the way til daybreak. We arrived off shore at luperion at about 6.30 and the smell of cool air, first and the mountians was almost entoxicating!

We could see the 3 thousand ft high peaks in the distance and the Palm tree covered hills surrounding Luperion are spectacular. I was not prepared for the assault on my senses that was the DR!

Our first look at the DR close up

Luperion harbour

Girls waiting outside the immigration building(shack), second from the fight was Gladys, see just sat down and became part of the group, following us to lunch, sitting next to us and was brought a glass by our waiter and ended up drinking some of our beer! Ends up she Aldo showed up as part of the agriculture party and asked for 20 bucks! Learned after the fact that she moonlighted doing more sexy pursuits😫

Waiting on the guys

Discovery on her ball at Luperion harbour

Wendy's was our place to sample presidente and also it had good Wifi

Anita strolling the streets of Luperion.

We took our time negotiating the narrow entrance to the harbour, and once in were surprised how crowded and small the anchorage really is. We eventually took a mooring ball from our boat guy, his name was popi and he was the jack of all trades we had heard about, water taxi, delivery guy, enterpter, rental car, waterfall trips, you name it Popi had his hand in it!

After spending a few hrs with the litany of people coming out to the boat in the clearing in process, or should I say the cleaning out process, as everyone had there hand out! First 93 bucks for immigration, then 20 bucks to the tourist guy, then 20 bucks to the "agricultural" people (at least they took our trash). Then the port authority wants 20 bucks for being in the harbour. After finally filling all the hands with cash it was time to go into luperion and have a beer!

And what kind of beer, El Presidente of course, the national beer of DR! And what a beer it is, first they come in the grande size, approx two reg beers, second they cost only 100 peso, or about 2 bucks American, third they serve their beer at freezing or just above! Many Presidente's were consumed during our stay!

Then there were the two main staples of life, rice and beans and plantains! They have the best rice and beans here, but the plantains are my fav, green, yellow, ripe, smashed, fried, it don't matter I love me some plantains!

The DR was great, the people are poor but happy and friendly. The countryside is spectacular, the sights and sounds are too, on the roads you see people finding ponies, donkeys, they carry metal milk jugs on their donkies, you are likely to see a roadside butchery, fresh vegetables every where and sweet potatos the size of footballs!

The motorcycles, everywhere, loaded with people or stuff, we saw a guy blasting down the road with a bail of hay the size of a refrigerator on the back of a 125cc cycle.
Any trip on a highway in the DR is like a thrill ride, people pass you on the right side, two cars might be traveling abreast on the same side of the highway, motorcycles flit in and out of traffics like Mosquitos! There seem to be no rules of the road in the DR just guidelines like they say I'm the Pirates of the Carribean!

The highlight of Luperion was the trip to the waterfalls. The Cascades! We took a van about 35 miles up into the rainforest and then donned life jackets and helmets and were led up a trail by our two guides to the start of our 12 waterfall adventure. There is a very narrow gourge carved out of the rock in the mountain side by a stream. It had rained the night before do the stream was really a raging mini river! This area had been know to the locals for hundreds of years but recently opened to tourists. The water was cold eventhough it was 80 plus degrees. The initial falls required us to sit and slide down into the pool that forms below the fall, like natures own water slide! The current was so strong that the guide below had to make sure you didn't end up slushed all the way down the mountian. Eventually we came to a fall that we could not sit and slide do we waked out the edge of the gourge and stood and jumped 30 feet down into the pool! You could never do this in the states, there aren't enough release forms in the world to make this work in America ! But it was the most challenging thing I have ever done and so proud Anita did it with me!

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bradenton, the Bahamas and Beyond 2015

Wow, what a month, since we left Bradenton xmas day, we have been almost constantly in route heading south to the Carribean. Finally getting a chance to slow down and update the blog.

Bradenton to Marathon

Had a great sail to Marathon, we had a 6 day weather window and we took it! Left xmas day and arrived marathon the 27th, anchored and headed to Rodriquez key, then to Dinner key where we hung out for a couple le of weeks waiting on our buddy boats Stargazer and Casa Blanca.

Visited by some paddleboarders while on the ball at Dinner Key

The light house at Key Biscayne on our way into Biscayne bay and Dinner Key

Inspired I try out the new inflatable paddleboard we bought in Bradenton

So after we met up with our buddy boats we waited for a weather window and we were off on the adventure! We left dinner key mooring field and anchored off of Key Biscayne near the sailing club so wrong could get a quick start to out crossing. We left at 3 am and were greeted with calm wind and seas, they built as the morning cane in until we were beam reaching in 17 knots on the beam from the north! We sailed all the way across the stream, arriving in Bimini at about 11am. We decided on Bimini Sands marina so we took slops there and cleared in at the airport.

At the dock at Bimini Sands

More Bimini sands, got to love floating docks

Weather kept us in Bimini for 3 days, when we got the chance we scooted around the north side and headed to Frazier hog.

Fishing was good on the way to Nassau, caught 2 Mahi and one Wahoo!

Love those Mahi

More for the freezer!

As the weather was pretty calm we decided to anchor on the banks near the north west channel light and spend the night. Up early the next morning we sailed across the new providence channel to west bay whet we anchored up for another night before heading to Normans cay into the Exumas.

West bay Nassau , calm in a east wind!

West bay, Nassau, our buddy boats in the distance

Had a brisk east wind do it was a 6 hr motor, not much fun but you got to endure some pain every once in a while. From Normans we headed south to a Staniel cay form fuel, then down 5 miles to black point for Bread! Next morning off again out the cut and had a fantastic 45 mile beam reach in the sound down to georgetown!

We stayed in Georgetown several day waiting for a window to head to the a Turks! We got a great opportunity with a cold front so we took the shot and were able to sail, no motoring except the 40 miles from Georgetown to the north tip of Long Island, 240 miles yo the Turks! Beam reached down Long Island then dipped south under the Aclins then se to the turks!

Got to Wrst Cacios at 11 pm and dropped the hook. Tired Cowboys after about 34 straight hrs of passage making in big wind and following seas.

Anita puts up the Turks and Cacios courtsey flag after we cleared in!our

Marina at Provo, we couldn't stay there, too shallow, ran aground on our way in and had to be pulled off.

First meal in the Turks! Really beautiful view

Next day we headed to Sapadillia bay and spent a night there before heading east to the Provo area. The Turks are sure a lot more prosperous then the Exumas! The water I'd just as clear though!

After spending 4 days in the probe area off we went south east to the south Cacios area to,prepare go jump to the DR!

Dingy dock at south Cacios

Pretty laundry at south Cacios

Those out of focus pink things are flamingos.

The south Cacios are famous for there flamingos and whales and we saw several breaches as we approached the entrance to the Harbour.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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