New Photos Posted

Since we have internet access we are able to post some pictures taken over the last few weeks.  We hope that you enjoy them.  A special thanks to our friends on "Sanctuary" for taking the picture of "Anhinga" under sail.

March 27, 2010... Puerto Plata, continued

Thrilled with our ability to use the gwah gwahs, we decided to set out again on Saturday morning for downtown Puerto Plata.  We were warned to be careful about which bus we took, as the wrong one would put us too far out of town.  We got the right one (the "F" route) and were dropped off only a couple of blocks south of the cathedral.  Fortified with a couple of freshly baked cookies from the bakery nearby, we ventured out to the Malecon, the waterfront boulevard, and up to the 15th century Fort San Felipe -- the oldest fort in the New World.  Back into town we stopped for a cold drink (this is definitely the tropics Toto) and a rest, reading Hoy, one of the Dominican newspapers.  It helps our vocabulary to read -- hopefully it will improve our Spanish conversational skills too.  Then more walking through town, loving the colors of the wooden Victorian-style buildings mixed in with the ubiquitous concrete blocks.  We found Sirena, the Target or Walmart equivalent, and walked through to see what it was like (and to enjoy the air conditioning...)  Hungry, we decided on a late lunch (or early dinner) at Eskina, a family-owned restaurant where we were well taken care of by the whole family.  Stuffed with a traditional Dominican platter of rice, beans, pickled salad, tostones, and a pork/beef combination, we topped off the meal with terrific coffee, and waddled back through town to catch the gwah gwah to Cofresi.  About a mile or two later we got the bus and off we went back to the marina to collapse after our day out.

March 25-26, 2010... Puerto Plata

Thursday we continued to pursue what is considered normal cruiser life -- figuring out how to provision.  Ocean World has an arrangement with Supermercado Tropical such that the market will send a car for you, take you to the store, and bring you back to the marina.  Worked out pretty well for us -- we parlayed the trip into an initial exploration of Puerto Plata -- walking from the supermarket down to the Central Park through the downtown area and back again to the market to get our shopping done.  Our driver Eddy, our 'ambassador from Puerto Plata', showed us the sights as we drove back from the store, giving us ideas for more touring when we were on our own.  
Friday we decided to visit Isabel del Torres, the mountain south of town.  This was our chance to experiment with the gwah gwah, or minibus jitney system, on the island.  No sooner did we walk out to the main road from Cofresi, then a van appeared and off we went.  Only 15 pesos each (about 45 cents).  Sure beats the $15 taxi ride.  Walking up the hill to the cable car (teleferico) building (a hike not for the faint of heart) we bought fares and waited our turn.  There was a school outing, so the wait was a little long, but luckily for us a traditional merengue band was in the lobby entertaining us all.  That and the drama universal to teenage girls made the wait very interesting.  We took the cable car up the 9,000 ft peak and walked through the botanical garden at the top.  The views of Puerto Plata and beyond are breathtaking; the plantings impressive.  What a great day!  And to think we had only planned to stay in Puerto Plata a couple of days before heading out to Puerto Rico.  The weather forecast for the northern DR helped us decide to stay on and we are so glad we did.

March 23-24, 2010... Finally, the Dominican Republic

Tuesday the winds were forecast to be N-NE and light, so we decided to go.  Well, the winds were definitely light; how about 0-3 knots?  And from the south.  But we motored on.  Eventually we motorsailed across to the Dominican Republic, slowing our progress every so often so that we would arrive Wednesday morning in the daylight.  The trip was beautiful and we were accompanied by dolphins every now and then -- always a delight to see.  For the night sail we had a half moon and a sky full of stars.  And we had radio from the DR -- we must have picked the 'all torch songs all the time' station -- and it was great!  Arriving at Ocean World Marina, we fueled up first thing and entertained the administrivia of entering a country.  We saw the Navy, Narcotics Bureau, Immigration, and Customs.  Then we raised the DR courtesy flag -- a signal that we made it through all that.  After doing a couple of loads of laundry, we headed out for a walk; surprised that we were still functioning after minimal sleep last night.  Our initial views of the DR are so positive; all the people are very nice and willing to try to make it through our broken Spanish.  And, the scenery is gorgeous --- tall hills covered in green; palm trees everywhere.  We stopped at a beachside restaurant for a wonderful grouper dinner listening to more beautiful music.  Back to the marina.  Evening fun will be landside showers!
Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic:  +19° 49' 39.00", -70° 43' 50.04"

March 21-22, 2010... Journey South

The best weather forecast we saw for leaving Cockburn Town was on Sunday, so we were up and out early. Once out of the harbor we were surprised by 20-25 knot winds and a big swell. Not so great - and we considered turning back. But as the day went on, our voyage to Big Sand Cay improved as the winds dropped slightly. By 2pm we had reached the anchorage. Once the anchor was set, we kayaked to the sand beach to look around. No whales. But the scenery is beautiful. Back to the boat in late afternoon, we found that the rolls picked up. So while the holding here is good, the comfort level is low. Overnight, a huge flock of birds came to the island. They screamed all night but were gone by first light. We wonder if they are some northbound migrating birds. Anyone?
This morning we set out for the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately the winds turned too far to the south and the swells were huge. Not the best conditions for starting an overnight voyage. So, we turned back to Big Sand Cay. We'll enjoy the beach here one more day and tough out the rolliness, then start again for DR in the morning as the winds back to the east again. Wish us luck.

Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos: +21° 11' 34.56", -71° 15' 3.84"

March 18-19, 2010... Caicos Bank and Ccckburn Town

Leaving Sapodilla just after sunrise we headed out over the Caicos Bank on the Pearl rhumb line which would take us to South Caicos. An overcast morning soon became a beautiful sunny day and we had an easy time getting east. We didn't see another boat over the course of the entire day on the Bank. The turn up into the ocean was easy - no wind against tide issues - and we quickly got to the entrance of Cockburn harbor. Only a few other boats there meant we had a fairly easy time of anchoring, though the bottom is a combination of grass, sand, and rock. Warm weather allowed us to have dinner in the cockpit while we listened to one of the Spanish language radio stations -- getting our ears ready for the Dominican Republic.
When we woke up on Friday we noticed that a front had come through and we had swung around to the north. Unlike the fronts in the Bahamas, we hardly noticed this one -- just that it had dropped some rain (and we had all the hatches and ports open.) But no strong winds. We went to town to visit Immigration and Customs and check out as we will be leaving Turks & Caicos over the weekend. Cockburn Town has a fish packing plant so we were able to get some frozen grouper to take along with us and the local grocery stores had some fresh produce. So we are all set to go again.

Cockburn Town (East Harbor), South Caicos: +21° 29' 28.44", -71° 32' 17.94"

March 17, 2010... Sapodilla Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands

What a beautiful place! After the best night's sleep in weeks, we awoke in bright sunshine to a reflecting pool-like stillness. Energized, we decided to do a few boat chores in the morning (we have gorgeous polished stainless steel rails now) and kayak to explore in the afternoon. Heading up the coast we passed Taylor Bay with its sand beach and lots of rental villas and outstanding private homes. The last place on the coast before reaching the nature preserve looked like an exclusive resort, with two tennis courts and other amenities, but we have concluded that it is a private home of someone rich and famous. (Anyone who knows who, let us know.) Cattiva, in port with us, invited us for drinks, so we had a nice evening with them and the folks from Serenade. Back to Anhinga to prepare for tomorrow's run over to South Caicos and Cockburn Town.

March 15-16, 2010... Leaving the Bahamas (Part II)

After some rest in Abraham's Bay, we left after sunset to finish the transit to Turks & Caicos. The night was beautiful -- we really do need to learn more about the constellations as they are all easy to see when underway at night. The wind was on the stern so we tried a number of sail combinations and trims, but with the rolly seas we kept getting knocked off course and the wind wouldn't fill the sails. Giving up, we turned on the motor and headed to the Caicos Bank. By dawn, West Caicos was in view and we turned onto the Bank, happy to leave the swells. It was fairly easy to avoid the coral heads by following the rhumb line and we headed to Sapodilla Bay on Provo and anchored. Cleaning up a bit, we went to shore to clear customs and immigration in the port. Everyone was really nice to us and the procedures were straightforward. After a walk through 'town' we went back to the boat to rest some more. We stayed on board for a wonderful, WARM, and calm night.

Sapodilla Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands: +21° 44' 29.10", -72° 17' 23.16"

March 14-15, 2010... Leaving the Bahamas (Part I)

We were up early to make our 7am departure from Clarence Town. Since this was the day with the time change, it was darker than we had gotten used to, and overcast. Out of the harbor (pretty bumpy ride with the wind and swells coming at us) with two other boats all making the trek southeast. The winds encouraged us at first and we sailed a bit, but soon they died down to absolutely nothing. So we motorsailed. This was what the weather gurus call 'light and variable' winds - our anemometer registered 00. When the sails started complaining because we couldn't keep them full no matter how we turned, we took them down for the night passage and motored. The sky was clear and and the stars were out from horizon to horizon. Pretty night to be out. Not much to see on the trip - a few birds, flying fish, but nothing else. Very few boats too. We slowed the boat to make sure we got to the anchorage in daylight as it has its share of coral. No trouble anchoring here in Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana. Tonight we leave for Turks & Caicos.
Oh - one note from Clarence Town. We forgot to mention the turtles that swim near the entrance to the town harbor. They were really terrific to see -- about a foot to two feet in size. When approaching them by dinghy, they stick their heads up to take a look at you, then keep on swimming. First turtles on our tour!

Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana: +22° 20' 0.30", -73° 2' 22.68"

March 10-13, 2010... Clarence Town, Long Island

We stayed in Clarence Town harbor to await the weather window east. What a nice little town with wonderful, warm people happy to help with any problem you may have. While here we were able to take a few walks and see the sights: beautiful churches, blazing bougainvillea, and cute little goats that wander everywhere. The Ministry of Agriculture Packing House is an oasis for locally grown fresh produce. The small cays surrounding the harbor have pretty beaches excellent for shelling. We were at Salt Pond Cay wandering around enjoying the scenery when our dinghy decided to float off the beach (we keep forgetting to take that dingy anchor with us!!) Well, the tide had come in higher and earlier than we expected and off we ran to intercept the boat before it headed to the Atlantic. We successfully captured the Rifka-Itzy and tied it to a stake in the ground. Our excitement for the day. The best thing about being here in the south of Long Island is that it is actually HOT!! And the water is too. We now feel like we are in the tropics. But, we are really looking forward to our next phase of the journey as we head out tomorrow morning for Turks & Caicos to stage for the hop down to Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

March 8-9, 2010... Long Island Journey

We spent Monday exploring Simms and Alligator Bay. The Bay provided a wonderfully calm anchorage, so we splashed the kayak for another tour. We went south and saw bonefish (one that was at least two feet long), a ray, and an osprey perched on a log on the beach. The water was of course that beautiful turquoise color and we began to see it reflected in the clouds above the bank! We found an inlet off the Bay that was a quiet mangrove creek. It ended at a boat ramp. We beached the boat and took off for a walk. A local man encouraged us to visit the Blue Chip Restaurant (that we would find by the big rubber tree) so we did. There we met Mario who has been running that place for over 40 years. We had a wonderful conversation about how Simms used to be. Leaving we thought that was one of the nicest stops we've had in the Bahamas.
Tuesday we were up early to weigh anchor at 5am. Sanctuary pulled out of the anchorage in front of us so we followed their navigation lights to get on the rhumb line for the north. We had a big day ahead of us; rounding the northern Cape Santa Maria to return southeast down the coast of Long Island to Clarence Town harbor - about 60 miles. The winds were about what we expected, but the ocean swell was out of the E-ESE catching us on the beam as we turned for the south. Luckily the waves were only about 5-6 feet, so they weren't that bad. But the journey could have been much smoother had the seas just cooperated. We had all three sails up, but in order to get to the harbor before dark we added the engine for more speed. Arriving in the harbor thankful that the high seas stayed out, we had the anchor down by 4pm. We were sound asleep by 7:30!

Clarence Town, Long Island: +23° 6' 4.86", -74° 57' 3.00"

March 6-7, 2010... Long Island

Thompson Bay was a little crowded but there was still plenty of room to accommodate the fleet arriving from George Town. We anchored out on the edge, but tucked up enough to flatten out the rolls. On Saturday we headed into town to catch up on some internet activity, then over to the grocery store for a few things we forgot in George Town. We also sat down with Carl and Carrie from Sanctuary to plan out a strategy for moving south and east through the Bahamas to eventually reach Turks & Caicos and onward. We decided to sail up the west coast on Sunday to Calabash Bay and position ourselves for a run on Monday to Conception Island or Rum Cay depending upon the wind and swells. That settled, we had dinner at the weenie roast over the new fire pit at Long Island Breeze and danced to the DJ playing rake 'n' scrape.

Sunday we headed up the coast comfortable that the weather forecast said N-NE winds 10-15 knots. Since we were stopping at Calabash Bay, and not turning the corner around the island, we figured the 8-12 ft seas in northerly swell would not affect us as we were still on the bank. Once out there, we encountered winds of 15-20 out of the NW with sustained gusts of 20-25. Not such a cakewalk. And the water wasn't calm either - probably 3-4 ft on the bank. We motorsailed, reefed the main, hanked on the staysail and sailed - finally got some speed and distance - but the winds were very flukey and it turned out to be much rougher and then slower than we expected. After a conference call with Sanctuary, we decided that Calabash (an anchorage with ocean surge) would probably not be a good idea tonight. The swell was not going to ease up with these winds. So, we bailed out at Alligator Bay and anchored off Simms -- about half the way up to the point. Feeling dejected we thought a nice kayak would pull us out of our funk. While difficult paddling in the winds, we did manage to get in some good exercise and talk to some guys bonefishing on the government dock. The sun even made an appearance to brighten our day. Back at Anhinga for the night. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Alligator Bay, Long Island: 23d28.512'N 75d14.522'W

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March 5, 2010... Underway Again

Today we left George Town for Thompson Bay, Long Island. It felt strange to pick up the anchor after about 2 and 1/2 weeks in one spot. Never even had to reset after too many cold fronts to count. John spent 5 days alone for two of those fronts while Patti took a quick trip back to Delray Beach to see family. During that time George Town was out of diesel fuel at the dock, so John ferried 75 gallons of diesel to the boat by jerry can from the gas station. Don't you know, the barge came in to the dock the next day. That's life. Our last memorable event in George Town was the rake 'n' scrape at Eddie's Edgewater. The Bahamian music was terrific -- a saw never sounded so good. We danced with the crowd. The ride back to the boat by dinghy was also memorable -- John's pants are probably still not dry from the soaking.
Today's 40-mile trip to Long Island started out a little rough with 6-ft swells on the Exuma Sound, but once we were on the bank headed SE, and protected from the waves, we sailed along gracefully. It has been a long time since we sailed and it felt good to stretch the canvas a little. The sun was shining, the water was beautiful, and friends were awaiting our arrival in the anchorage.
Thompson Bay, Long Island: +23° 21' 19.14", -75° 8' 34.44"