Friday, May 3, 2013

New uses for old boats

Great idea for recycling those cluttering boats!
Fort Pierce, Florida
Sunny Ray in the Turks & Caicos
Well, Uncle Dan, having no mast makes Sunny Ray a lot closer to the corn planter in your dreams.  Just a few more alterations......!


Wind direction indicators

These are the best wind direction indicators ever!  I don't know why it makes me laugh to see the birds pointed into the wind, but it does!
Los Haitises, Dominican Republic

Near Pumpkin Key, Florida

Turks & Caicos Revisited

Turks & Caicos - March 2-26, 2013
12 inch diameter starfish 10 feet under the water on the Caicos bank
The Turks & Caicos prides themselves on the clarity of their water and rightly so.... it's beautiful.  Supposedly, throwing trash in the water is akin to murder.  They take it seriously and it shows.  We appreciate the water there and in the Bahamas more now that we are here in Puerto Rico with maybe a 2 foot visibility.
There are lots of shallow places in the whole chain of islands but with good light can usually be seen.  That makes navigation easier!  It was a delight too to have the anchor come up cleanly with just sand sliding from it.
The water hue is Dale's favorite color
Sunny Ray limped here for more repairs and now is a better boat.
My guy, Dan, working in paradise
Maybe the universe has heard the quote "I'd rather work on it in paradise," or "you know, it's a boat" one too many times!  Anyway, we are changing our verbage..... today! to...uh.... "Sails like a dream boat" and "because we live on a boat, we have so much more time to read and explore!" or other positive affirmations please!
Regardless of if our powerful words affected our repair rate, we added one more to our chronicle and spent nearly 3 weeks on the island of Providenciales in the T & C.  (Really, I don't think Mr. Fisit broke it on purpose just to fix it in paradise!)
The island is oppressively expensive for cruisers on a budget.  Even people who live here say that they go to Florida, shop for groceries & ship it back!  It's cheaper!  But, had we not had to be here, we would have missed out on meeting some awesome people and getting to enjoy this beauty.
Evenson, one of our favorite guys, with Dale. His mom, Venise, has a wonderful one room restaurant with outdoor picnic tables at the dock.  She kept us fed and Evenson kept us entertained.  Venise also showed me how to make her yummy plantains!  She has a special recipe that is extra good.
Evenson's dad, Paul, is a marine policeman stationed right at the marina.  Venise & Paul had us for Evenson's 4th birthday party at the beach! What fun! Please send us pictures, Venise!

The Caicos Shipyard was a good place to do our repairs, with helpful, friendly people and to sail on Pearl!  It is quite a protected little harbor with a little canal to explore by rowing.

Venise & Paul told us that Evenson doesn't like the water.  Hmm, maybe he just likes being on top of the water!

We celebrated Danny's birthday on the 16th.  The kids surprised him with fun things and we had celebratory coconut banana cream pie!  
Dale's buddy Tiger
There seem to be hundreds of stray dogs here called potcakes.  Supposedly people would let them lick their pots when done cooking so they wouldn't starve.  Everyone takes care of them but they could really use homes.  Dale always saved Tiger something to eat.  Only once, when Dale gave Tiger a bath, did she need a breathing treatment.  She's been fortunate in that department - hope that honeymoon lasts!  At least she's been getting her dog fix now & then.  Just glad that she doesn't want a horse on the boat!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

dainty little waterfalls

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But where the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
                                               -Christina Rossetti.
from: Dale

Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic

April 8th-14th
The sounds were incredible............
Somewhere between my grandma's house in the woods without the whip-or-ills or bobwhites and a jungle.

 Lots of caves
 Mangrove forest, I mean BIG mangrove forest

 the growing rock
Dale, being pulled on her surfboard 

 Sunny Ray in paradise

 my guy
 bikini time!!!
 paradise goes on forever
 Ray having a heap of excitement right after tubing

 my boy
 the trail to the cave
 my girl chanting for nature 

 our new friends: Charlotte, Muriel, Alexis, Jean. Francois, Thomas

Our nooky nook while waiting to cross the Mona Passage

Punta Hicaca, Dominican Republic - April 18-20

We loved this spot, nestled between the breakers.  It was a good place for a break.  We left one day to find that will all our tacking and sailing to windward, we had only made 6 miles.  So we went back! and waited!
Tiki hut with wild cows taking a walk on the beach.
Breathtaking views.... the pictures do no justice.
Wish you could see it!

Yay! It's raining and pouring in Puerto Rico!!

Mona Passage - April 21st-23rd
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico - April 24th-26th
Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo, P.R. - April 27th - May2nd

Dan's new & improved water collection system filled our tank last night!  Yes!  Every afternoon there is a tease of rain but finally, last night it let loose.  No one felt guilty about taking a long shower.  And the water tastes delicious. And we smell pretty darn good too.
Being left to rely on our emergency 5 gallon water jug a few weeks ago has us considering a watermaker.  No rain, and the water in our tank started growing!  Nassau was suspect as there were so many microscopic particles that the filter kept clogging.  Fortunately, no one got ill and the tank health is restored.  
Ray in his "car".

We arrived in Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo, last Saturday the 27th.
Fernando invited the kids to sail with him.  Ray is so excited because Fernando let Ray steer.

Maribel, the master paddle-boarder, is keeping up with them.

This little bay is so calm.  It's calmer than being at a dock.  Located on the west side of Puerto Rico, the waves have not directed themselves this way.  We experienced some of the northeastern wave action from the Atlantic on the way here.
Fishermen out and about
The Mona Passage is known to be quite difficult when winds are high.  The waves come across the north of Puerto Rico unbroken from the Atlantic towards the Diminican Republic.  In the middle of very deep depths, over 3000 feet, there is a bank with depths as shallow as 38 feet.  Wave intensity can be ferocious.  The winds are generally from some easterly direction which makes a sailing trip east 3 times as long.  

Dale wanted to keep us company on our overnight watch.  I think she read 2 books on our 2 night passage.
Dan was sailing along the 2nd morning and happened to notice that our port shroud was broken!  My fast-acting guy tacked to ease the strain on the shroud and dropped the sails.  He then reinforced that side with all the available halyards and saved our mast!  Imagine how happy we were that the day involved low wind - only to 8 knots, and the waves had calmed considerably, since we had to motor 38 nm to the next port.  It helped to be in the lee of Puerto Rico.

  See what looks like Spanish Moss hanging off the outer left cable? There are only a few strands left holding one of the 3 cables that support the mast.

We soon realized another dilemma...... we ran out of gas for our diesel generator!  Planning on sailing all the way, preparing for motoring didn't cross our minds.  Plus the diesel generator doesn't use much to help charge our typically solar-powered electric motors.  Usually there is plenty for all our needs.
Soon after, a ship hails us.  It is the coast guard.  They ask a lot of information but don't offer help.  Which I expect.  Generally, they rescue people if needed but not boats.  But, I ask if we might obtain diesel from them and they say they will check.  Then, a bunch of guys bring over, not 5, but 10 gallons of fuel for us, do a safety check and not charge us a thing.  They say it's their duty to protect us since we are citizens.  Rescued by the awesome coast guard!  
We are so fortunate and thankful that we won't be motoring all day and night at 2 knots, now we can motor for 1 day at 4 knots!
Isla Desecheo, enroute to Mayaquez
It rained toward the evening, just a tease, without even pumping the wind up much. There were several sailing jellyfish, pink, that looked like a Barbie accessory.  They were too fast for me to get a picture but I will always remember that strange sight.  We thought at first that they were pink plastic cups thrown overboard by a cruise ship.
After midnight, we motor into the big bay of Mayaquez, the closest port.  This is the 3rd biggest city in Puerto Rico and the water shows the effects.  The following day we prepare to clear in with customs just as a rainstorm blows in, which blows us off our anchor.  Happy that we were still on the boat, we finally use 2 anchors to hold us in the mucky muck.  
I wouldn't recommend anyone clearing in here, though it is supposed to be an easy port of entry.  The paperwork was easy but they have no dinghy dock only a huge, industrial dock to tie up the giant ferries.  They suggested we beach our boat nearby, which was very shallow with surf and smell. We found later that the prop was damaged there.
Finally, we found an appropriate dock to tie up near a park within walking distance.  There were flowering trees, very colorful houses, a horse with extra long mane and friendly people on the way.
A woman named Tanya directed us to another dock with a grocery store within walking distance.  I could get my half & half fix!  We were starting to get so low on food that we started being creative enough to know that, really, we still had a lot of food!  I made more loaves of bread that didn't turn out brick-like!  Split pea soup, yum, yum.  Lots of rice! More sushi! 
(by the way, all the beer is diet beer.  It's "light" and only 10 ounces.  What's up with that?)
Happily, on Saturday morning, we motored on to cleaner water.  Awaiting parts here amidst late night music and early morning rooster rousings along with dogs barking and a symphony of animal sounds to wake up to.  Pretty nice.
After pestering my bosses so much about letting me field check the maps we drew of Puerto Rico, I finally get to see it from the ground!