Friday, March 26, 2010

SEA 8; Village hopping

From Rio San Juan, I left at 0400 yesterday for another village 35nm SE. I anchored in front of a mansion with a private beach with a french couple kayaking beside me. They were residents of the island and I had them aboard for a few minutes, though they didn´t speak much english or spanish, and my french is less than 10 words worth, either way, it was a nice visit. I love the DR´s mountainous terrain which is lush in vegitation, comapared to the Bahamas which was arrid and flat. In Rio SJ I went ashore and had cervesas with a couple guys; Carlo, Joselo, and Robinson. I footed the bill all night, of course, but for a few hours of dinner, drinks, and a couple small bottles of rum I bought to give to immigration officers as I sail, I spent less than 50USD, it was a great night, and I was able to converse surprisingly easily with them, even though it has been 4 years since I was last in a Spanish speaking country. Also, as you can see, I finally got to wear my "caribbean pants." ;). There is a photo of where I am at anchor, and one of the Billiards bar, these people can really play some pool!
I plan to sail to this nice little cove this afternoon, 13nm East of here, then on to Cabo Samana the next day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SEA Update 7: Arrival in Dominican Republic

¿Donde esta un lugar con internet in este pueblo?
After 9 lonely days at sea, singlehanding from San Salvador, I have arrived in a small fishing village just east of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. That was my first time singlehanding besides in the Chesapeake. PRetty dull, just me and the dog. I had that nice NW wind, but my Aries steering gear doesn´t work when sailing downwind, so I pretty much went very very slowly, then when the wind kicked around to the SE, like it normally is, the steering gear worked fine. OF course, then the winds and current were hitting me on the nose, and I plugged along very slowly hoping to get to Puerto Rico. I caved on day 7 and just decided to head due south to the Dominican Republic. Here I am, in a tiny fishing village just East of Puerto Plata. It is excellent here and the people are very friendly. I had lunch on a veranda overlooking my boat (see white speck in photo) on the bay not 100 yards from where I rowed the dinghy in, kids with big smiles helping me pull the dinghy up to the big coil of cable I locked it to. Now I will hop along the coast, across to the south side of Puerto Rico, stopping every night (no more bashing through waves all night for me as I read book after book on a seemingly endless voyage) in quiet little coves. Also, before I forget, I have caught zero fish, except the one in the photo, which tried to kamikaze me last night, it´s a flying fish and he made his own way onboard!

SEA Update 6: Island hopping; arrival in San Salvador

From the 14th of March
On the 8th of March my friend Clint and I motored out of Nassau harbor, dropping my previous crewmember off on a dock we putted by. We sailed over 20ft deep water the 32 miles to Allen’s Cay in the Exumas, dropping anchor in a great little bay that fit my boat with no room for another. I put out the stern anchor as well to keep from hitting the cliff sides of the bay on either side of us. There were large iguanas to see and a lone palm tree on the little island. The next morning we departed for Conception Island, but realizing that we would arrive at night, I decided to stop at Cat Cay instead. This was my favorite island as of yet. We anchored off a beach with deep caves. Not far from where we landed we found a small shop with ice cream sandwiches and frozen hotdogs (dinner), which was a great treat since I have no refrigeration onboard. Traveling around the island was easy, as any local will stop when you put your thumb out, sometimes they stop and offer rides just because they see you walking. We enjoyed some snorkeling there and a dinner of grilled hot dogs and fresh bread which I made in the pressure cooker.
On the 12th we made our jump to Conception Island, an uninhabited beautiful island with excellent snorkeling. We were the only two souls there. During the passage there we hooked two Mahi-Mahi’s a two footer and a monster 4 footer, both which wriggled out of their lures not 5 feet from the stern!
With deteriorating weather and increasingly uncomfortable anchorage the next day, we decided to head on to San Salvador Island where Columbus made his first landing in 1492. We arrived last night (the 13th) after a very rainy sail and anchored the same spot where they think Columbus did, and dinghied in for some burgers, fries and Rum and cokes. This morning, after getting no sleep in the rough anchorage, we motored into the tiny marina. To my surprise, there are 3 boats here (basically all the boats here) from Charleston, SC, and it was great to talk to some people from home.
The winds in the Bahamas have been unusual lately, coming out of the NW, which has been in my favor. I’m thinking it may be a good idea to ride them on to the Dominican Republic before they change, though I have no crew as Clint flies home tomorrow. Single-handing may be just the ticket and good experience for me. The self-steering unit has been behaving very nicely over the last week, and there have been 24 hour periods where I barely had to adjust it. I finished the book my sister gave me about Joshua Slocam sailing around the world alone while my Aries kept the course for me, and started the book dad gave me about Cape Horn by Mortessier. Unfortunately internet is more and more difficult to come by, and my computer’s wireless has been acting up. There are no computer (or much else) stores on these islands, the locals just order what they want and pick it up from the Mail boat, it is quite a different life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Internet sparse in Bahamas

Hello, I've got updates to post as soon as I can find a good connection, for now I can say I've made my way to SAn Salvador Island and am leaving today singlehanded for the DR or PR, depending on how far this rare NW wind takes me. Will update soon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SEA Update 5: Arrival in the Bahamas!

I’ve made my jump out of the country and into the Islands! The engine got its new exhaust elbow on Thursday in Ft Lauderdale, then I sailed out at 8:30 that night. We had a NW wind of 10-15 knots that really shot us down to the Bahamas quickly. My friend Clint was set to arrive on Saturday night in Nassau, New Providence Island, so I decided we would take a direct route to Nassau. We arrived Saturday at 2:30 PM, much quicker than I thought we would!
Our first night we averaged 7 knots, which is really booking it for my boat, which usually averages 4 or 5 knots. The sun rose and we were being escorted to the Bahamas by a pod of small dolphins and endless schools of flying fish. The self-steering gear wasn’t working properly so we hand steered the entire way in 2 hour shifts, it was quiet taxing work in the high winds and seas. As we approached Nassau the water became the most amazing aqua blue I have ever seen, it is truly like sailing into paradise! If the wind and weather are in our favor, Clint and I plan to sail for Allen’s Cay, stay the night, and continue on to Conception and San Salvador Islands, where he will fly out of on Sunday. He is intent on catching some big fish and has brought the gear to do it; with my Bahaman fishing permit in hand, I’m also hoping we catch fish for dinner each night.
We are at anchor in Nassau harbor and have enjoyed a little snorkeling here to check the anchor and the snorkeling gear. Clint and I trekked around town and up to the Fort Charlotte. It is interesting to note that I never saw another sailboat in the ocean during my entire trip from Charleston until we were 10 miles from Nassau. I guess everyone else made the trip before winter really set in. Upon requesting permission to enter the harbor from harbor control, I had to mention my port of departure over the radio. Another sailboat then called me, amazed that we had sailed all the way from Ft Lauderdale in such great time. He asked me about the sail, the weather, asked me my advice. I found it funny, perhaps a bit flattering, that advice was being asked of me. Regardless, it is beautiful, sunny, and WARM here, FINALLY!