03 April, 2013

Ille a Vache Haiti

Malua is at 18:06.40N 73:41.68W at Port Margan on the island of Ille a
Vache Haiti
All the crusers that have come this way have enthused about this
delightful island and its people. It is off the coast of souther Haiti
and is not influenced by the mainland. In fact the authorities dont seem
to have arrived. When you drop anchor - keep to the port side as you
enter the bay there are a swarm of young fellows in or on all forms of
anything that can float. From good dugout canoes, surfboards, fiberglass
row boats to inflatables. They all have a story. Some of the more market
orientated have a resume and references. I had been told by Outside -
ian and Wendy to look out for two fellows. I identified one Pe Pe who
agreed to take me to the market on Monday morning. That is a story in
Kramer is a fellow who is receiving money from Slow Dancing a Canadian
couple to build a bar and I was instructed to have a look and take some
picture to report progress. There has been and he has cast a central
pillar for the roof and purchased some plywood for the cupboards and bar
area. Things are slow but he has done what he can with the money so far.
These people are very poor and want to do any sort of work on a yacht to
get some funds to advance themselves. Some are helpful and willing but
the majority just come to beg. i walked into the hills behind the local
French hotel to find four or five of the youngsters in amongst the
hotels garbage picking it over for something to eat. I now know why more
than one asked if they could take my garbage. Not a good sight.
I had arranged for Pe Pe to take me to the market at the larger town
some way away along the sea shore. I had in fact not asked how long it
would take to walk but we set off at 8:00. He walked fast and I had to
struggle to keep up. Up hill and down dale, along the coast in the soft
sand and then through the mangroves. We stopped for a drink of water
from a hand operated pump then on towards the market. After two hours I
knew we were getting close because more people were walking the same
path. On the outskirts there were a few people with live animals ready
to be sold and taken home then just out of the market the horse and
donkey parking lot. More than a hundred animals just standing in the sun
waiting for their owners to return.
The market is a typical African/Caribbean poor market. Open stalls or
some covered stalls with each vendor displaying a small range of goods.
I first had to stop at the money changer to turn my US dollars into the
local Gourd 1=40 I could then purchase the onions I was seeking plus
tomatoes and ripe mangoes. I got a good selection for my 10 dollars. We
returned to the money changer for a beer for the young fellow and a coke
- yes a US Coke for me.
Be Be had arranged that we would return by sail taxi to Port Morgan in
one of the local sail boats. All wooden made with local timber. The
frames selected from a tree with the right bend to fit the inside. They
are mostly water proof but don't have much free board especially when
you put 16 people in then plus all their market purchase which ranged
from fuel, net fibre to fix the fishing nets, a piece of cloth, soap and
an assortment of smaller food items including spices.
We set off and only hoisted the forsail because the wind was quite
strong and we where going down wind. We kept quite close to the coast
and far less than one mile off the two major headlands but there again
being close in this case meant that most people if they could swim would
make it to the shore in the event of a mishap. After almost an hour we
turned into Port Morgan and Malua was pointed out to the passengers by
Pe Pe as my yacht in which I had sailed from Australia. I dont think
many knew where Australia is. It was a great experience.
On the shore of the bay there were two boats being built in the
traditional fashion used for centuries. The shipright used an axe, and
adz and a hand saw plus his hammer and a few nails. The dug out conoe
which was having it final coat of paint was almost ready for launching.
I watched as the fellow took a tree branch shaped it into a point then
cut off the point and then cut into the branch to form a brush for the
paint. It was an amazing transformation from stick to paint brush which
worked as well as any badger haired brush and readily available at no cost.
Ille a Vache has been a great experience to step back in time to a small
village using sailing boats as transport, making their own boats, No
electricity and a great desire to improve themselves.
A magical moment on Malua.
Tomorrow off to Cuba.

Salimas Bay Dominican Republic

Malua is at 18:12.88N 70:32.75W in Salinas Bay on 27/03/2013
I left Boca Chico knowing that I had 65 nm to travel and I may have to
enter in the dark but from all reports and the charts It looked easy. I
sailed most of the way with the wind behind but as the sun set the wind
dropped. I had plotted a course all the way into the bay with a heads up
to look out for the unmarked fish farm.
Captain Bob at the Marine Rescue has always insisted that when you plot
your course you stand off any headland no matter if it is the one you
know very well, by about a mile, just in case something goes wrong. I
listened and have to this day stayed more than a mile off any headland
no matter the conditions. Well! I was motoring past this headland before
turning to starboard to get into its lee and enter the channel when bang
bang..... the fan belt on the engine broke. Stop the engine. No wind to
sail and a slight current but Malua was adrift BUT I was more than a
mile off the headland. It only took me 10 minutes to get the new belt
fit, it tested and to restart the engine and Malua was heading away from
the rocky shore of the headland. No danger, no stress but a lesson well
learnt. Stand off the shore no matter how well you know it or how deep
it is.
The channel was not well lit but there are a few marker buoys which the
radar picked up plus the chart was spot on. I moved cautiously in
towards what appeared to be a few anchored yachts and dropped the anchor
about a half mile off shore.
The next day I moved closer on shore and re-anchored before the Coast
Guard appeared in a small fishing boat. He came aboard and insisted in
looking around but did not even opening a cupboard. He took the
dispatchio then asked for some grog. I took him to the fridge and
offered him some beer in a plastic bottle which he refused. I indicated
I wanted to leave the next day at 8:00 and I required a new dispatchio.
I then took a long walk along the bay shore towards what I though was a
town. After more than two hours no it was a very large naval base with
dry dock and cadets on the parade ground. Not a great exertion.
There is essentially no village at Salinas only a run down hotel Salinas
which was having a party that night. The waterfront is clean and so are
the houses but it is poor. A few houses had shops with not much to
offer. The fisherman's coop seemed to be the place to be.
The next day I expected to see the Coast Guard appear on the dot of 8:00
by 9:00 still no sign so I got in the dinghy and went to the fisherman's
coop with my intentions on a piece of paper. Having names written down
helps with my poor pronunciation. I was informed I would have to go to
the Coast Guard base at the end of the peninsular and get the
dispatchio. Get a lift on the back of a motorbike with a young fellow.
Down the road we went, through the less than secure gates right into the
guard house of the Coast Guard. They seemed to know what I wanted but
had to wait for someone. The original fellow appeared, did not say a
word to me but one of the fellows started the torturous process of
filling out the form. He could hardly write and for him to copy from my
form to the new one was a challenge but as always I have the patience of
Job in these circumstances. Finally it was complete although I did say I
was stopping at Barahona but had no intentions. I just wanted to leave.
Which I did by 10:30.
I had plotted a course to round Capo Rojo some time during the night.
The total distance to my next destination was 220 nm a two nighter at
the current wind and speed.
That afternoon the wind came up and blew Malua along my intended route
which was a run. More importantly the swell came up because that part of
the coast is a lee shore for the swell to come along the south of Puerto
Rico and the DR. And did the swell build. It was the biggest swell I
have seen since the Souther Ocean! At sun set the wind was well over the
25 knot range, I had taken in two reefs and no headsail and was surfing
down the long swell reaching speeds well over 8 knots. The top speed
reached was 10.4 knots as I surfed down a wave in the near darkness. It
was exciting and a bit scary but Malua and I handled it well. I was hand
steering for more than five hours because I could not depend on the
auto-pilot handeling the conditions. My shoulders were sore when I
finally switched on the auto-pilot again. I can tell you I gave Capo
Rojo more than 5 miles distance as I rounded it just after 2 am.
The wind started to drop as did the swell so I was able to open up the
foresail and settle into a pleasant sail down wind. I also set the Watch
Commander for a few 27 minute sleeps. I took a few before the sun rose
and we moved down the coast by which time the wind had dropped off.
Now the challenge was to enter the Baie des Cayes on my way to Ille a
Vache. I knew I would not make it by sun set so I set myself an
anchorage some way along the island NW coast hopefully out of the swell.
I had been warned about the many fishing nets in that area so as I
reached the shallower water I slowed Malua down to about 2 knots put on
all the forward lights and hoped I would be able to see the plastic
bottles of the buoys before I hit one. With a bit of luck and good
vigilance I dropped the anchor on the NW corner of the island well into
the large bay but not far enough in to get out of the swell. Fortunately
the wind was against the swell so Malua sat quite calmly as I had a
great meal and a god sleep.
A magical moment on Malua

Boca Chico Dominican Republic

Malua is at 18:26.875N 69:37.343W at mooring in Boca Chico on 26/03/2013
Boca Chico what at contrast from the plush resort of Casa de Compo. This
place is a dump, poor with little to see as part of the Port of Andres.
It is easy to follow the markers into the port then move NE towards the
Marina Zarpar. You have to pass the Club Nautico and between the
island. Keep VERY close to the end of their jetty because the shore of
shallow water extends from the end of the island almost to their dock
but once past the shallow pick up a mooring ball off the dock of Marina
Zarpar. The fellow in charge of the dock Roul speaks good English and
is very helpful. He took me on his moped into the village to an ATM in a
chemist to try and draw cash from my Ozzie Viza and Mastercard but to no
avail. His assistant Sonnie took my dispatchio and when I wanted to
leave he got a new one for me for only $20. Good value and no direct
dealings with the authorities who I understand are not very cooperative
One can walk to the actual town of Boca Chico along the beach, only
during the day to see the locals and some second class US citizens
having a good time in the shallow water behind the reef. The food at
the restaurants is not good so dont waste your time. The banks also did
not give me any cash so I used up some of my US dollars in this dump. I
seemed to have walked a long way and only saw the back streets of a very
poor suburb with every house guarded by high fence and burglar bars.
People sit behind these looking out into the street on which mopeds and
old cars rush up and down. There are many small bars with people
drinking and playing chess or dominoes with a number of girls to serve.
I only spent two nights here because to get to Santo Domingo would have
been very difficult especially not wanting to change my dollars into the
local currency so I asked Sonny to get a dispatchio to leave at 8:00.
After a number of phone calls and off he goes on the scooter he returns
well after 9:00 but with the correct paperwork. I had indicated I would
be going to Salimas a big bay more than 65 nm away so it would be tight
if I was to get their in the light.
A magical moment on Malua