30 June 2007

A call to Action!

June 30, 2007

This statement is brought to you by the KKLF (Kit Kat Liberation Front), in conjunction with the FFFNOW(Feed Furry Felines NOW) and their umbrella organization, with which everyone is familiar: MEOW.

Comrades in claws: the first step towards the freedom of our people to exercise our unalienable and God-given right to eat and sleep in peace and plenty was taken this morning when Comrade Kit Kat, chaircat of the KKLF and founding member of FFFNOW, without any regard to her own safety bravely attacked one of her oppressors and inflicted a deep scratch on said oppressor’s finger.

Comrades, the time for action has come! The MEOW revolution starts now! Rise up and fight!

It will be a bloody struggle, but with your steadfast dedication to our noble cause there is no doubt that we will triumph. The human oppressors will wallow in their misery as we stand victorious in the end, and they will beg for mercy and food like they have made us do for all these years. Cast off your cuddly disguise and claw your way towards the future and FREEDOM!

27 June 2007

In Luperon, sans pesos

June 27, 2007

The fiscal year for Whisper is drawing to a close and we find ourselves wishing we hadn’t spent this year’s budget on $8 beers and $15 hamburgers in the Bahamas. As a result, we have about $400 to last until August 8, when our fiscal year opens. But, have no fear! We’re up to the challenge! Each day we have about RD$300 to spend. Our daily expenditures begin with RD $140 ($4) for lunch for two at a local cafeteria. For that we get copious amounts of rice and beans, some chicken, pork or beef, salad and water. We couldn’t cook for the same price! We then have RD$160 to spend on internet, breakfast and dinner and two beers (luckily, the local colmado (corner store) is running a 2 for 1 special: 2 grandes for RD$60, roughly $2). On the days we need gas for the moto or the dinghy, we’ll forgo the beers and internet. So, we should be able to last until August 8, however, we’ll probably stay close to Luperon and save our tours of the country for the new fiscal year.

Whisper is fine with that plan, since we have a long list of projects to complete before the end of the summer. For those of you who are interested, in no particular order:

1. repair dodger supports
2. varnish woodwork
3. service winches
4. repair autopilot
5. fix transmission leak
6. restitch the jib
7. seal forward hatch
8. seal the cockpit sole
9. repair the stereo
10. rig the SSB to transmit
11. make a rain collection system
12. fix the compass light
13. connect autopilot to GPS
14. install anchor alarm
15. intall bug screens
16. paint interior

As you can see, we have lots of projects to keep us busy and improve life on Whisper. We’ve already taken down the sails and running rigging and washed them with soap and freshwater. We’ve also taken the dodger off to protect the windows and canvas from UV rays. The awning we have covers the entire boat so we have plenty of shade without the dodger.

We’re both almost fully recovered from the flu and are starting to spend more time off the boat. The beach is a 10 minute ride on the moto and we also enjoying hanging out at the central park, people-watching and enjoying the shade. Although the water in the harbour is too dirty for swimming, it is just a short dinghy ride to the ocean where we can take cool swims off the dinghy.

The countryside surrounding Luperon.

The local bakery.

The park.

La Casa de los jugos - great homemade juice and sandwiches.

The main intersection in downtown Luperon.

Luperon harbor.

Old style houses in Luperon.


The pack of friendly goats that roam the streets of Luperon. they were hanging out by the immigration and port authority building in this picture.

sunset in Luperon harbor.

20 June 2007

Who forgot their flu-shots?

June 20, 2007

Happy birthday Angela and Larry!

We have both been bed-on-boat-ridden for the past few days with a bout of the flu. It started on Friday, when Hans woke up with a high fever. Kristen took care of him for a couple of days, and just as Hans started feeling better, Kristen woke up with a fever and took to bed and roles were reveresed. It is always miserable to be sick, but being cooped up on the boat, when we’ve been ashore and know how much fun stuff is out there to do just sucks.

Last Thursday, we went for a ride on our newly purchased moped, or “moto” as they are called here. We bought it so that we can get around the island on our own terms, figuring that we’ll be able to sell it when we leave here in November.
Our first excursion took us on a dirt road through some beautiful coastal countryside. We stopped in the shade of a tree along the way, and a family living nearby invited us in to their very modest home where we both surprised each other with our different ways of life. Paulina, her husband, and their adult son Freddie live on the top of a mountain with a million dollar view, but with dirt floors, open hearth wood burning kitchen, no plumbing or running water (sorry we didn’t have the camera with us). We talked for a while about their lives and they in turn were interested to learn about our lives on the boat and were aghast that after one and a half years of marriage we still don’t have any children!
When we left, they gave us a huge bag of limes and another huge bag of mangoes. We’ll definitely go back some other time.

As you can see, Kit Kat is enjoying the still harbor of Luperon.

A softball game in Luperon. We're looking forward to going to the baseball games which ought to be a lot of fun.

12 June 2007

Luperon, Dominican Republic

June 12, 2007

Whisper at anchor in Luperon.

Main street, Luperon.

We’ve been in Luperon for two full days now and so far it looks like we’ll have a great 4 months here. The town is busy with life: tons of motorcycles (motos) zipping back and forth, bachata and merengue music playing from every house, people sitting on their porches avoiding the sun, vendors selling fruit, clothes, meat and everything in between, many small grocery stores (colmados) and numerous restaurants and bars with cold, cold Presidente. The prices are very affordable and we found a good sandwich shop with $2 ham & cheese sandwiches and fifty cent homemade juices.

Elvis, a member of the Dominican Navy, took us to Isabela, the first town established by Christopher Columbus in the “New World.” The site is well preserved with stones outlining the location of houses and buildings and a museum displaying artifacts found on the site. Currently, a team of archeologists is working to excavate parts of the harbour where a ship is believed to have sunk.

the remains of one of Christopher Columbus' men who is believed to have died of malaria.

Isabela, the first town in the New World.

09 June 2007

Big Sand Cay to Luperon, Dominican Republic

June 9-10, 2007

We had hoped to stay a full day at Big Sand Cay and set out for Luperon on Sunday, June 10th, however the weather forecast looked much more favourable for a Saturday departure. We went ashore for an hour to hike around, then we made the necessary preparations for the 80 mile overnight trip to Luperon.

Anchors aweigh at 11:00AM! The sail to Luperon was excellent. The first 12 hours of the trip, we averaged at least 5 knots, until we purposely slowed down to time our arrival at Luperon with the sunrise. The seas were small and as soon as the sun set, millions of stars came out. We took turns sleeping and keeping watch and the entire trip was wonderfully uneventful. Around 6PM we saw a larger freighter which passed in front of us. We hailed them on the VHF and they told us they were bound for Costa Rica.

The large freighter that passed in front of us.

Sunset at sea.

Around 4:30 AM, we were 10 miles away from Luperon and the sky started brightening. As we got closer, and as the sun got higher, we were able to make out lush green hills and large mountains behind the hills. We’d arrived in the Dominican Republic! We slowly motored into the harbour and dropped the hook near the customs dock. We immediately fell asleep for 4 hours.

Land ho! Approaching the Dominican Republic at dawn.

08 June 2007

Our last deserted island…

June 8, 2007

It’s about 30 miles from Ambergris Cay to Big Sand Cay, and after Thursday’s motoring mayhem, we were determined to sail the entire way. We left at 8 AM and spent the next 2 hours sailing around large patches of Elkhorn coral and other coral heads; spots which are surely beautiful for snorkeling, however nothing we wanted to bring Whisper close to. The Caicos Banks were much more challenging and uncharted than we had expected and the frequent shallow coral heads we needed to avoid kept us very tense. After the white-knuckle sailing, we were finally in deep water and we pointed Whisper as close to Big Sand Cay as possible. We sailed for 8 hours, and made a few tacks to arrive at one of the most gorgeous islands we’ve visited.

As soon as we dropped the hook, we jumped in the crystal clear water; clearer than any water we’ve swum in…perhaps even clearer than a swimming pool. The visibility was easily 70 feet. We celebrated with a dinner of spaghetti Bolognese and some red wine.

An osprey keeping lookout on the light.

Images from Big Sand Cay.

large bushes with these white flowers covered the island and the air smelled like flowers.

sea beans found on the beach at Big Sand Cay.

07 June 2007

A day of contrasts

June 7, 2007

Provo to Ambergis Cays

After a couple of days of R&R in Provo we felt ready to be moving on. The weather forecast for crossing the Caicos Banks wasn’t ideal, but we figured that it was probably as good as it was going to get so we set off at daybreak towards Ambergis Cays, located on the eastern edge of the Caicos Banks. The trip there was one of the more uncomfortable days we’ve had on the water. The wind and a 4 foot chop was on the nose and we pounded into it for 10 hours straight, motorsailing. In addition, the Caicos Banks are absolutely littered with shallow coral heads, so we had to keep a close watch in order to swerve around them.

To make our day even more miserable, Boris, our trusty diesel engine, started having problems. We would be motoring along when all of a sudden the RPMs would fall and Boris would stall. Our guess was that we had air in the fuel lines from when we changed a fuel filter back in Acklins Island. Hans bled the fuel lines over and over again, but no improvement. Towards the end of the day, it got so bad (30 seconds of run time between stalls) that we decided to short-tack the last couple of miles into the anchorage. We wouldn’t have had time to short-tack the whole way there and get in before dark, which is why we were motorsailing.

Once we got the hook down we dinghied ashore in search for diesel. Our luck was about to change, at least temporarily. We landed the dinghy at a high-end tropical country club: the Turks & Caicos Sporting Club. Membership is $20,000 per month plus a membership fee of $100,000 and a requirement to own property on the island. For all this money you get the use of the gorgeous facilities, with infinity pool, gourmet chef, etc. etc. Although, you still have to pay for all of your meals! At any rate, when we arrived, the place was completely deserted. The only people there were Jess and Jamie, the bartender and pastry chef at the club. They invited us in, gave us cold drinks, food, and use of the showers at the club. It was by far the nicest shower either one of us has had in the past… who even knows! We even went for a swim in the infinity pool.

After this two-hour respite our day returned to its usual state when we got back to Whisper. We discovered that the problems we were having with Boris were due to dirty fuel, so we changed the fuel filters, which were clogged (a messy job). As soon as we can, we’ll have to pump out the dirty fuel and replace it with clean fuel.

To cap our day we spilled about a gallon of diesel fuel in one of the lockers and spent an hour and a half cleaning it up before going to bed, not quite as clean as before, by 10.30.

04 June 2007

Provo, Turks & Caicos

June 4, 2007

George Town to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
51 hours of traveling, approximately 240 miles.

We arrived in Provo at 0830AM. Hans went ashore and took care of customs’ paperwork and we eventually found the tiki bar we’d been looking forward to. The afternoon only got better when we invited ourselves to “The Regent: Palms” to enjoy their beach chairs and freshwater pool. The drinks were rather expensive, but worth it! Earl, a local guy who gave us a ride back to Whisper, recommended that we hang out at “Beaches” (another resort hotel) tomorrow!

Becky and Joe on Half Moon arrived a few days before us and were kind enough to fill up our jerry cans with 10 more gallons of diesel which we’ll need to get to the Dominican Republic. People always mention how nice cruisers are and how they look out for each other, and we find again and again that it is true.

03 June 2007

Salina Point to Provo!

June 3, 2007

0619: received offshore report which shows 15-20 S/SW. Perfect! Let’s go to Provo!
1041: Little wind, motorsailing using the windvane but it’s hard to keep a straight course.
1547: motorsailing . . . not what we had in mind, but at least we’re beating to windward with large seas. The sea is getting flatter and flatter as the day goes on. Hans got the autopilot to work.
1708: it’s getting glassy out!
1850: the sun is going down so it’s cooling down. Nice relief. Kit Kat came out of the clothes locker. One more hour of daylight then 2 hrs. before moonrise.
1927: tern flew overhead.
2006: just had sunset
2115: Boris acting a little funny
2154: bled air from injectors
2300: Boris seems okay again.
0110: some trouble with air in the fuel lines. Hans bled them twice, they hiccupped a few times but all seems ok now. RPM at 2800. Hans sleeping. Kristen on watch. No other boats – just flat seas and a bright moon.
0517: sun starting to rise.
0830: Yippeee! We arrived in Provo! 26 hrs.

The trip was really easy since we motored the whole way over flat seas. Boris used around 12 gallons of diesel. Still, it felt like a pretty long trip for both of us. Voyagers often say that it takes a couple days to get into the rhythm of being at sea for days on end, however, neither of us could see the romance in long periods of sea feeling dirty, wet, salty, hungry then not hungry then hungry again, and dreaming of the anchor down and a tiki bar with a/c. It takes a certain kind of person to make long distance voyages in small boats, and while Whisper is definitely ready and capable to go anywhere, her crew is currently happier island hopping.

02 June 2007

Salina Point - an out island experience

June 2, 2007

According to the weather guru Chris Parker and the National Weather Service, Sunday looks like a great day to sail directly to Provo. We expected to sail North to Mayaguana first and then sail from there to Provo, but, because of Tropical Storm Barry, the winds will blow from the S/SW and allow us to sail straight to Provo. We have quite a few odd jobs to do on Whisper in preparation for the 130 mile trip, but we went to town first to find some lunch and check the place out. We first met Dexter Cunningham, a guy who grew up at Salina Point and has inherited many acres of land from his father. He is basically a subsistence farmer who picks up odd jobs along the way to complement the vegetables he grows in his garden which he proudly showed us. We walked about two miles to town and first stopped at the local bar for some cold Kaliks. 11:30AM and the place was hopping! Next we went to Danny’s Takeaway for ribs and mac & cheese, a bargain for $9 total. After talking to some people at a makeshift butcher shop on the dock (the catch of the day was turtle and goat), we headed back to Whisper to change the oil, check the rig, cook some food, etc., etc. in preparation for the long voyage. We estimate it will take us between 26 and 32 hours depending on the wind and waves.

01 June 2007

ideal sailing in Bahamian waters

June 1, 2007

Today was a very short sail from the Bight of Acklins to the Southern tip of Acklins, Salina Point, about 20 miles total. Below is excerpts from our log:

0805: getting ready to weigh anchor to sail 15 or so miles to the S. end of Acklins. We have a weather window to sail straight to Provo on Sunday or Mon. Crew rested after showers, mac & cheese & beef, & good night’s sleep.
0819: anchor up. Autopilot appears to be broken.
0907: close hauled with windvane steering a straight course.
1042: steering a straight course to Jamaica Bay. The waves have subsided & we’re making 5.5 knots at 15-20 degrees of heel. Whilelem [windvane self steering] is doing great – moving along nicely.
1320: anchor down @ Jamaica Bay. Beautiful long beach – only one house no other boats. But lots of waves and current.
1730: anchor down again, finally, after 4 tries. We moved to Salina Point where we found some deep sand to set the anchor in.