Feb 14 & 15

We are leaving the Bahamas today.  The usual weather patterns this time of year have winds from the northeast, east, or southeast.  Every few days a cold front comes through the area and clocks the wind around through west to north and then back to the prevailing east.  To make the trip from the Bahamas to the Virgin Islands, you have to make a series of short hops timed with fronts and take advantage of the brief west winds or periods of no wind.  Well, we have an odd weather pattern setting up for the net couple of days.  We should have west winds today, and then no wind tomorrow, allowing us to go all the way from Georgetown to Provodenciales in the Turks & Caicos non-stop.

We were not in a hurry to get underway.  Our departure time is based on arriving in Provo at daybreak, and the trip should take about forty-two hours, so there is no point leaving too early.  We listened to the normal radio nets, spoke to Chris Parker to confirm nothing had changed, and then got underway at 09:00.  As we were leaving the anchorage, numerous friends hailed us to say goodbye and safe travels.  We are leaving in company with Sol Y Mar, Perseverance, and Lone Star.  We were the fourth in line as we went north from where we were anchored, past Volleyball Beach, and Monument Beach.  The three boats ahead of us all hoisted sail as they passed along the edge of the anchorages, so we followed suit.  This of course brought a call from Milano Myst asking what those large white pieces of cloth on our boat were.  This being a reference to how infrequently we actually sail.

Once clear of Conch Cut at the northern end of Elizabeth Harbor, we set a course slightly north of east towards the northern tip of Long Island.  We shut the motor off and sailed all day.  The wind and small seas were behind us, and while we weren't making blazing speed, we were also not in a hurry.  By 16:00, we were rounding the northern tip of Long Island off Cape Santa Maria.  The wind was getting lighter, as forecast, so we started the motor, although we left the sails up too.  We motorsailed all night, passing Rum Cay a little before midnight.  Rum Cay was our furthest point south last year and is normally one of the stops we would have made if we were doing this trip in multiple hops.

We found very little traffic on the whole trip, although shortly after dark we were caught and passed by a ship we never could identify.  It appeared to be a small cruise ship, and it went out of it's way to pass about two miles south of us without ever talking to us.  There was also one other boat that caught and passed us about two miles south.  Being the tail boat, I alerted the others that he was coming but was well south of us. At that point the captain of that boat came on the radio and confirmed that he was a large private motor yacht and commended us for being alert and seeing him.  By morning, the wind had gone quite light, so we furled the headsail and kept motoring in fairly flat seas.  As we passed Samana Cay and headed towards Mayaguana we were keeping our eyes peeled for whales.  This area is known to have lots of whale activity this time of year, but alas, we never saw any. 

As we were passing about seven miles south of Samana Cay we heard a voice on the VHF that we didn't recognize.  There had been no radio traffic for hours except us.  The voice on the radio simply said two words, that sounded possibly like Mayday, Mayday.  Barb and I were both awake and looked at each other as if to ask if that was what we really heard.  The voice then repeated, more clearly Mayday, Mayday, but did not identify itself or give any indication of the nature of the problem.  None of us answered, waiting to hear more.  The voice then hailed the U.S. Coast Guard and repeated Mayday, Mayday.  The U.S. Coast Guard is not going to hear a VHF call from out here, and has no obligation to respond even if they did.  The voice then said he was on Samana Cay and couldn't start his engine.  During the few minutes all this took place, nobody responded to his call.  We were already well past Samana, and could not have approached that side of the island due to the reefs anyway.  Additionally, a motor that won't start is not a reason to call Mayday.  Mayday is reserved for cases where lives are imminently in danger or the boat may be lost.  Samana Cay is uninhabited, so the guy may be there a while waiting for help, but it also is a popular fishing area for Bahamians, so somebody will find him.  We later learned that there is a guy who routinely comes from Nassau to Samana Cay in a small boat without enough fuel to return.  He then cons somebody into towing him back to Nassau.  We don't know if this was the guy, but it sounded probable.

During the second day out, Lone Star caught a large mahi-mahi.  Since their freezer is not working, they offered to share it with us all once we make port.  That will be something to look forward to.  Perseverance also caught several fish but they all got away before Richard landed them.  On the second day, we only saw three other ships, and they were all within a few minutes of each other.  There was a small island tanker, followed by a large cruise ship heading west.  The third boat was an ocean-going tugboat pulling a huge tall boxy thing.  From a distance it looked like a four-story office building.  As he got closer, we were talking on the radio with our group and everybody wondered what it was.  The captain of the tug had followed our conversation to our working channel and he told us it was a container barge.  Sure enough, when it was closer, we could see through the binoculars that it had five-levels of containers on trailers.  Each level had 168 containers.  The fact that all but the top layer were inside the steel box of the barge was what made it not so obvious at first.

All through the trip we maintained radio contact between the four of us every hour or so.  Especially during the night this was good to make sure everybody was ok and awake.  We were strung out with several miles between each other, so even though we could usually see each other, it wasn't like we were within shouting distance.  The radio contact made it seem like we were all closer.

By midnight Friday morning, we were passing the northeast corner of Mayaguana and turned southeast for the last forty miles to Grace Bay and Provo.  At this point the wind apparently forgot what the forecast was.  The forecast was for south to southwest winds at five knots or less.  What we got was twelve to fifteen knots directly from the southeast.  We furled the mainsail since it just flops around and makes noise when you are going straight into the wind.  The waves built to an uncomfortable three foot chop, and we didn't enjoy the last six hours.  By dawn we were in the lee of the land, so the chop diminished and the wind subsided some too. 

The cat did wonderfully on the whole trip.  When the chop kicked up for the last six hours, he howled a couple of times like he does just before hurling, but he never did get sick.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 255.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 16

As dawn broke, we were approaching Grace Bay and Sellar's Cut, the entrance to the Turtle Cove Marina.  We decided to go into the marina instead of anchoring in Sapodilla Bay since it looks like the weather may keep us here several days.  We had called the marina yesterday from the sat phone to make a reservation.  The guidebook says to hail the marina as you approach Sellar's and they will send a small boat out to pilot you in.  The cut is a break in the barrier reef and then the route inside takes a couple of twists and turns.  The chart shows that there should be channel markers, but you never know down here.  As we approached, a trawler named Bodacious joined our procession.  We have been traveling near Bodacious off and on since we came down the ICW this fall, but have never met them.  We passed the waypoint where we were supposed to wait for the pilot boat and didn't see him coming yet.  A local tour boat was on the way in, so I hailed him on the radio and asked if he was going to the marina.  He said he was and that we could follow him.  Well, the first thing he did was go on the wrong side of the very first channel marker.  Fortunately the pilot boat arrived just then and he took the lead.  We followed single file as he led us through the twisty route.  There was one place where there were two pairs of channel markers that marked an area not more than thirty feet wide that we had to stay in the middle of.  We never saw less than nine feet of water as we approached and it all went well.  I was a little concerned about what was going to happen when all five of us got inside the marina and all tried to dock at the same time.  As it turned out the marina has a large basin, so it wasn't a problem for the other boats to wait as we all docked one by one.  I was glad we were first at this point.

Once we were tied up, the marina guy gave us each the forms to fill out for Customs and Immigration.  He will call them to come to us in a little bit.  In about half an hour, two gentlemen from Customs showed up.  They came to us first and came aboard.  They were both very polite and efficient.  The process took only about five minutes and cost $15 as long as we are not going to stay more than a week.  If we decide to stay longer we will have to pay $175 for a ninety-day cruising permit and visas.  We don't plan to do that.  We took down our yellow quarantine flag and hoisted the Turks & Caicos courtesy flag.

Once we were done with Customs, we went to the marina office to check in with them.  I inquired about the rates and amenities.  The rate is $.95/ft, which we thought we knew already.  The surprise was that while electricity and water are metered, you must pay $20/day for electric and $5/day for water whether you use that much or not.  You pay the minimum even if you don't hook up.  So, effectively, the rate is $1.45/ft when you figure that in, since we can't possibly use enough electricity or water to exceed the minimum.  Still not a bad deal, but a convoluted way of pricing it.  As for amenities, the marina itself doesn't really have any, but there is lots of stuff right nearby.  The "marina" restrooms are really the ones for the restaurant that is right at the marina entrance.  They are clean and not too far a walk so it's ok.  There is only one shower, not one male and one female, just one.  It is in the dive shop building, also right by the marina entrance.  A little hike, but doable.  Then again, if we are paying for water anyway, we might as well just shower on the boat.  This is a viable option now since the airlock in the hot water heater cleared itself as we bounced around on the trip over.  We now make hot water electrically or when running the motor.  That development made the captain very happy when we got here and realized it.

By the time we were all settled, we decided to go have lunch.  All eight of us walked out of the marina and stopped at the first restaurant we came to, The Tiki Hut.  There are five restaurants around the perimeter of the marina, so food and drink choices won't be a problem.  We had a very pleasant lunch and were impressed that the prices and selection were both better than the Bahamas.  This is a real resort town.

After lunch we all went back to our boats for naps.  For some, they really were naps, and they went out a little in the evening.  For Barb and I the nap started at 15:00 and ended at 06:30 the next morning.  Guess we were a little tired, since neither of us slept well in our off-watch times during the trip.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 17

We had a low key day today.  The first thing we did was to walk around to the other side of the marina and say hello to our friend Randy on the sportfish boat Coyaba.  We met Randy last year in Rum Cay.  He is the hired captain of the boat and brings it from Wrightsville Beach, NC down here every year.  We stopped in Wrightsville on our way north last spring and visited him, and spoke with him on the radio in FL on his way south this fall.  We knew from that conversation that he was coming here instead of Rum Cay this year.  He wasn't surprised to see us as he had seen the boat yesterday evening but we were asleep.  We visited with him for a while and caught up on the gossip surrounding Rum Cay and it's development.

We planned to try and rent two cars or a van for a day to tour the island.  Pat from Sol Y Mar walked over to Scooter Bob's car rental office to inquire and got a chuckle from the lady.  Apparently they are sold out for the foreseeable future, and she didn't hold out much hope for getting anything within the next week.  Further research on the phone by Tom on Lone Star secured us two cars for Monday and Tuesday from Budget. 

We went to one of the other restaurant choices for lunch.  Sharkbite is a sports bar atmosphere, again right on the water of the marina.  We had a nice lunch and few local beers.  Turks Head beer is a local brewery that offers an amber and a lager.  I tried the amber and enjoyed it.  Also a pint of draft is a dollar cheaper than 12 oz. of anything else in a bottle.  Do the math!  I tried to add a link to the Turks Head Brewery website, but they apparently have a virus in their webpage which my anti-virus software detected, so I won't pass that along.

This evening we are all getting together on Perseverance for dinner.  We are going to have the mahi that Tom caught and side dishes provided by everybody else.  The meal was exceptional.  Tom marinated and grilled the fish and it was delicious as was everything else.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 18

Today is the Daytona 500, the first race of the NASCAR season.  The marina offers cable TV, so I got my cable out and hooked it up last night.  It worked fine and we caught up a little on the news.  This morning, I turned it on and had no reception at all.  Since it worked last night, I assumed it was a marina problem and went to ask.  They said it should be working, and I got the impression that even if it wasn't there wasn't anything that could be done about it on a Sunday.  I went back to the boat and decided to check out my cable even though it worked fine last night.  I disconnected it and got my test meter out.  Sure enough, I didn't have a connection from one end to the other.  I figured out which end I thought had the problem by wiggling and watching the connection come and go.  This cable is a pre-made one I bought last year, so it's odd that it would have a bad connection.  I had to cut the plastic collar off the end and then pulled the connector off the end of the cable.  I don't have any spare connectors, but I figure I have nothing to loose if I can't repair the original one.  Once I got the connector off, I couldn't see how the darn thing ever worked.  The shield wires of the coax had not been turned back over the outside of the cable so they would make a good connection.  All that made it work was that where the connector had been crimped on the cable it had barely pierced the outer cover of the cable.  I trimmed the cable and reattached the connector.  I actually have two twenty-five foot cables connected together and found one end of the other cable had the same problem and fixed it too.  The TV picture was now clear as ever and I was happy.  That was until I scanned the channel lineup and found that the cable company doesn't carry a FOX channel, and that's who is covering the race.

Now I have a decision to make.  Simply listen to the race on Sirius as I would have had we not been in a marina, or check with the five bars along the marina to see if any of them have Direct TV instead of cable.  Since it was lunchtime, we headed off to do some research  We found that Sharkbite did indeed have Direct TV.  So, we had lunch and made plans to come back later for the race.  After lunch we took a walk up the hill away from the marina.  It was about a half mile walk to the top of the hill and the main highway that runs the length of the island.  The businesses are spread out enough to make walking a poor option.  But, at the top of the hill we found Cost Right, which is like a mini Sam's with primarily foodstuffs.  Some of the items were actually Sam's private label brand, although I'm pretty sure there's no corporate relationship.  We browsed around and saw a number of things we could use.  We only bought a large can of lemonade powder for now since we have to carry it back to the boat.

We got back to the boat and relaxed a bit and then the gang of us went back to Sharkbite to watch the race.  Another boat couple, Guy and Trudy from a large powerboat, Abracadabra, joined us.  The ten of us, along with one other American guy at the bar were the only ones who seemed to have any interest in the race.  We enjoyed watching it, and it was even more fun than usual since we visited the track a few months ago on our way south.

Once the race was over, we headed towards the boats with the idea that we would stop at one of the other restaurants for dinner.  There is a place called the Banana Bar, which we had heard had two-for-one priced entrees tonight.  We got there and the place was filled with locals, and they were setting up to play bingo.  We noticed that nobody was eating, which we didn't take to be a good sign.  So we left and continued back to the Tiki Hut again.  Only Pat & Dori and Barb & I had dinner.  The food was very good though and Joseph our waiter was very good.

When we got back to the boats, the wind was howling.  The front that was forecast for today was here.  I turned on the instruments and saw steady wind of about twenty-five knots with gusts to thirty-five.  Sure glad we're not anchored somewhere, especially Georgetown where everybody is so close.  The wind direction had changed so that we were being blown off the dock.  That's good in that the boat does grind against the fenders and make ugly noises all night.  But, it means I have to pull on the dock lines to get the boat close enough to board.  After looking at how we were pulling on the lines, I decided to add another dock line for additional security.  I got one of our old lines out and secured it from the stern to a piling amidships.  I won't worry about a line breaking now and letting us hit Sol Y Mar next to us.  With all the wind noise, I didn't sleep well, but we held securely.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 19

We relaxed for the morning today and then we got two rental cars in the afternoon.  The rental cars were Daihatsu Charades.  Apparently Charade when translated to Korean means tiny box on wheels.  We have the cars from 14:00 today to 14:00 tomorrow.  Our plan is to just drive around the island today and get a feel for what's where.  We headed east first and went all the way to the end of the Leeward Highway.  The Conch Farm is here, but we are going to wait until tomorrow to tour it.

Provo is quite developed compared to the Bahamas.  There are lots of nice homes, any kind of business you would need, and there are currently at least half a dozen major high-rise condo resort developments underway.  We found a new cluster of shops near one of these developments and stopped in.  We browsed around through several gift shops, the liquor store, and some galleries.  Down the street a little, we found Island Scoops, an ice cream shop.  We all got ice cream which was a nice treat.

Back in the cars, we headed west to the other end of the island.  There is a resort at Northwest Point, and there is a restaurant called Da Conch Shack somewhere out this way, where we plan to eat dinner.  We followed the Leeward Highway to "downtown" and turned towards Blue Hills.  Outside Blue Hills, the road turned to gravel and was quite rough.  Especially in a tiny box on wheels.  We eventually got all the way to the resort at Northwest Point, but had not seen Da Conch Shack.  We turned around and headed back towards Blue Hills, figuring we missed a turn somewhere.  Sure enough, we found there was another road right on the northern shore in Blue Hills.  Here we finally found Da Conch Shack.

Da Conch Shack is really two shacks.  One is the kitchen and a sitting area which seats about twenty.  The other building is The Rumbar, which has the bar and seating for a dozen more.  There are also picnic tables outside, but there is a stiff cool breeze blowing, so we wanted to be seated inside.  We were able to put a couple of tables together so all eight of us could sit together.  There was only one girl taking care of the tables, and the place filled up just after we got there, but she was very efficient and gave us great service.  We had to try the house rum punch, and it was very tasty.  A number of us had cracked conch for dinner, and some of us had cracked lobster.  It was delicious and the prices were very reasonable.

After dinner, we headed back towards the marina.  One carload went straight to the marina, while our car decided to stop at the grocery store.  The large grocery is an IGA.   It is the closest thing we've seen to an American grocery store since leaving FL.  The store was in a relatively new shopping plaza.  It was large and clean and well stocked with pretty much anything we could want.  The prices were not bad.  A few things seemed to be priced higher than the Bahamas, but overall I would say they were cheaper than the Bahamas but still more expensive than the US.  But, anything you want is available.  We even got a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry's since we have a car and will be back at the boat before it melts.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 20

We got a fairly early start on the day and were at the Conch Farm about 10:00.  The Conch Farm is the only conch farm in the world.  They have over five million conch at any given time.  They harvest about one and half million per year.  It takes four to five years for a conch to reach maturity, but there is also a market for two and three year old ones.  Even with the numbers they raise here, they only supply about a third of the Turks & Caicos production per year.  Two thirds more are harvested naturally by local fishermen.  The farm was founded by a marine biologist who was on his way from the US to the Caribbean in his sailboat back in the 1970's.  He was going somewhere further east and/or south of here to do conch research.  He wrecked the boat on the reef on the east end of Provo and stayed.  Ten years after arriving, he started the conch farm in 1984.  The remains of his wrecked boat are on the farm's grounds.

From the conch farm, we drove back west through downtown and out past the airport.  The airport looked similar to other island airports we've seen.  A pretty small terminal building, but 757's parked outside.  We went south of the airport and found the turn off to the beach at Sapodilla Bay.  We wanted to see what the anchorage looked like.  It was a nice calm day, and there were about a dozen boats anchored out here, including San San, which Tom & Pat on Lone Star know.  Tom hailed them on the handheld and told them to look at the beach and wave.

Next we drove back to the grocery store and went to lunch at a sushi bar in the same complex.  We both had the lunch special which was a salad, four pieces of shrimp tempura, and a large California roll and a couple of beers.  I also had two pieces of salmon nigiri.  We even remembered how to use chopsticks well enough to get by.

After lunch, we hit the grocery again, so those who didn't go last night could get what they needed.  Then we went back to the marina and Tom and Pat took the cars back to Budget.  The big afternoon entertainment was haircuts.  Dori is going to give both of us haircuts.  They say you can tell first year cruisers because the woman still have long hair.  Well, we are second year cruisers now, and much as I like Barb's hair long, it's hard to take care of when you don't have a large bathroom with lots of hot water and a blow dryer, etc.  I haven't cut my hair since November 05 and have been wearing it in a pony tail for a while now.  But, I have to admit, it looks like crap when it's wind blown, or doesn't get washed everyday.  So, the scissors came out.  Check out the before and after pictures on the photo page.

We met an interesting guy on the docks today.  He is from Britain, and his job here is to inspect boats that are used to carry people for hire, like dive boats, fishing charters, etc.  He also has the task of trying to improve the general infrastructure for boating.  So, he was very interested in hearing our opinions of the marina and our experience with clearing in with Customs.  Most boats that use the marina are large powerboats and they would like to encourage more cruisers like us to stop here instead of just anchoring in Sapodilla Bay.  It was interesting to chat with him for a while.  We also met the owners of the large sailboat next to us.  It was here before we got here, and the people were not onboard.  The boat is a Little Harbor 58 from Rhode Island.  I think they were spending the season here, but were going to be going out for some sails.

GPS N 21-47.144 W 072-13.603  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8315.

Feb 21

We had planned to leave the marina Thursday and head for Luperon, but we got the weather forecast this morning and all the plans changed.  There will be a chance to get to Luperon Thursday and Friday, but we need to be in Luperon by Saturday morning before the weather gets crappy for another week.  Our plan to get to Luperon involves two day trips and an overnighter.  That means we have to leave the marina this morning instead of tomorrow.  So, we all got busy preparing.  I had to change my oil before going, so I got busy doing that while Barb filled our water tanks and got other things ready.  By about 10:00 we were ready to go except we needed fuel.  We left our slip first and moved over to the fuel dock.  We filled up and waited for Sol Y Mar and Perseverance who were also going to get fuel.  There was room enough at the fuel dock for all of us, so we waited there.  We also have to officially check out of the country.  Some countries do check out and some don't. Turks & Caicos is the first we have had to check out of.  So, after everybody was fueled, we also had to wait for the Customs & Immigration guys to show up and check us out.  They finally came about 11:00 and quickly took care of our paperwork.

Our original plan of departing Thursday was based on the fact that there has been a huge northerly swell coming in from the Atlantic for several days.  It was forecast to be gone Thursday, but is still running about ten feet today.  Because we have to move things up a day, that means we will be going out Sellar's Cut into this big swell  which could be ugly.  The pilot boat from the marina led us out the twisty channel to the cut, as he had led us in.  As we approached the cut, we were definitely intimidated by what we were seeing.  Huge waves were breaking on the reef on either side of the cut, just a hundred feet or so on either side of us.  From the angle you approach the cut, it isn't really obvious that there is a place to get through until just before you are there and you turn and go through the cut.  We were so spooked by this that we didn't think to get any pictures of it. 

Once outside the cut, the swell was very big, but it was just big rollers with about ten seconds between them.  So we just rode up and down over them.  Sol Y Mar was a quarter mile or so from us, and they kept disappearing from view as we both went up and down in the swell.  We have to go about thirty miles around the western end of Provo to Sapodilla Bay.  For the first few miles we are going northwest, more or less into the swell.  Then we turned due west so we were riding up and over the swells coming from the starboard side.  After a couple miles of that we turned southwest for about ten miles and had the swells coming from behind us.  While it was intimidating, it really wasn't as uncomfortable as I had feared it could be.  The cat didn't even get sick.

During the southwest leg, we were approached by three dolphins.  They stayed with us for more than five minutes, swimming around the boat and jumping in the bow wake.  The water is so clear that we can clearly see them as they dart under the boat and match our speed alongside.  It doesn't matter how many times we see them, it's still a joy when we do.

The last leg of today's trip takes us ten mile back east to Sapodilla Bay.  This leg takes us out of the deep water and onto the Caicos Banks, which similar to the Bahamas is a huge area of water with depth of less than twenty feet.  In fact, depths of less than ten feet are a lot more common.  There are also coral heads scattered throughout, so even when you are on a path between two recommended waypoints, you have to keep a sharp eye out and maneuver around coral heads.  Just south of Sandbore Channel, where you turn east onto the banks is West Caicos, where there is a resort being built.  We got to Sapodilla about 17:00 and dropped the hook in about eight feet of water.  Just as we were anchoring, a fleet of about ten boats loaded with a couple hundred men came flying through the anchorage to a dock on the shore.  These were the men who were working on the development on West Caicos that we had passed coming in.  There is a pretty good breeze blowing from the southeast today, so the bay is not as calm as we saw it from the beach yesterday.  Most of the boats who were anchored here yesterday took off today and will be a day ahead of us heading for Luperon.  We had dinner and were to bed pretty early as we have an early departure planned tomorrow.

GPS N 21-44.532 W 072-17.258  Nautical miles traveled today 31.  Total miles 8346.

Feb 22

Today we are crossing the Caicos Banks.  The route from Sapodilla Bay to Long Cay is a straight shot, except for having to dodge the occasional coral head.  We had anchors up at 07:00, and will be about eight hours underway.  The trip was pretty boring, although you couldn't let your guard down about watching for the coral heads.  Even though the majority were concentrated in a tem mile stretch, there were occasional ones here and there all the way.

Long Cay is uninhabited.  It lies just south of South Caicos, where there is a town called Cockburntown.  Several miles south is Ambergris Cay, where a large development is being built.  Similar to yesterday, boats carrying men working on Ambergris Cay came back to Cockburntown just before sunset.  Before it got dark, I got in the water to clean off the fringe that is growing along the waterline of the boat.  I noticed back in the marina that it was getting quite noticeable again.  It came off pretty easy.  While in the water, I peeked under the boat to make sure the prop didn't have any growth on it.  It didn't, but I also saw that the zincs were gone.  I didn't feel like putting on my dive gear now to replace them, but will have to address that soon.

Dinner was one of Barb experiments that can probably never be reproduced.  It was rice, with a dry soup mix mixed in, and Kielbasa style sausage.  It was very good.  We were to bed early again, since there was not much to do here.

GPS N 21-27.701 W 071-34.347  Nautical miles traveled today 43.  Total miles 8389.

Feb 23

Today is the big day to cross to Luperon.  The forecast is for light winds from the northeast, and a three foot swell from the east.  The caveat in the forecast is that there could be "scattered mild squalls" to deal with.  A mild squall by definition means winds in the twenty to twenty-five knot range in the area of the storm.  We need to time our arrival into Luperon with daybreak.  This is because in normal conditions, the wind dies down near the island at night, so you want to enter before the daily trade winds pick up for the day.  Based on this, we raised anchor at 10:00.  This will get us there about 06:00 based on taking our time.  If we go too fast we will have to stand off Luperon until daybreak, as you never want to enter here in the dark due to fish nets that are put out overnight with no regard for the entrance channel.

It had been raining hard for several hours this morning, but had stopped just before we planned to leave.  The first couple hours out were just as forecast.  The wind was less than ten knots from the northeast and the seas were three to four feet.  Unfortunately, the seas were not a nice predictable swell, but more like a washing machine.  We had our mainsail up and were motorsailing.  About noon, we encountered another band of heavy rain.  Once we passed through this line of rain, the wind came back around to the southeast, right on the nose.  We kept slogging through it and the wave action stayed sloppy.

The only highlight of this leg of the trip was another visit form dolphins.  This time, there were at least a dozen, and they were a different variety of dolphin.  They were much smaller than the typical bottlenose dolphins we are used to seeing.  They swam all around us for ten minutes or more.  They brought smiles to our faces even though we were not having a fun ride.

Shortly after nightfall, we saw squalls on the radar.  The radar picks up rain squalls and helps you figure out which way they are moving.  This is where the forecast went to hell.  The "scattered" part of the squall forecast turned out to be wrong.  The squalls did meet the definition of mild, but we were in squalls more often than not all night.  The winds were twenty to twenty-five, and the rain was off and on and very heavy sometimes.  We had our enclosure sides down, but it still was a challenge to stay dry with all the blowing rain.  Fortunately, it wasn't extremely cold, so we weren't too uncomfortable.  But the ride really sucked.  With the bigger than expected winds, the seas were also quite large, probably eight to ten feet, and coming from behind us.  This gives a very squirrelly ride.  We still had a partial mainsail up, which probably helped steady us some, but we were bouncing all around.  The cat never got sick, although he was scared.  And, after about sixteen hours of this, I finally succumbed and hurled about 04:00.  As usual, once I did that, I felt better.  Thank goodness that's how I react to seasickness.  Some people are just debilitated for hours or even days when they get seasick.  Since I had not been feeling well for most of the night hours though, Barb did more than her share of being on watch while I kept my eyes closed to avoid getting sick.  It was a good thing we are only doing one night.

We heard several other boats on the VHF during the night.  Two were coming from Grand Turk, which is further north east from where we started.  One is coming from Puerto Rico.  The ones coming south from Grand Turk are boats we had seen in the Bahamas, but never met.  Tragically one of them lost their dog overboard during the night.  It brought home to us all why we stay in the cockpit with lifejackets on and should be tethered to the boat in rough conditions, especially at night.  With the high seas and darkness, and without knowing exactly when he went over, there was no chance of going back and finding him.

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 100.  Total miles 8489.

Feb 24

At dawn, we were all just a couple miles outside the harbor entrance.  There was a squall sitting right over the harbor entrance, but just as we got there it moved just enough to the west to let us see where we were going.  The entrance is not well marked, in fact it's not marked at all, but we have four waypoints to follow that are supposed to keep us in the deep water.  As we get within a mile or so of the island, we notice a very different smell.  It smells like vegetation.  It's hard to appreciate the color in the early morning overcast, but the island is green and the hills are much higher than anyplace in the Bahamas.  As we were going in, Lone Star got a little off track and ran aground.  We ran right along the line between the waypoints, and never saw less than fifteen feet of water all the way into the harbor.

Once inside, we had to find a place to anchor.  The deal here is that in the morning, the boats will usually point west, due to the current and no wind.  In the afternoon however, the easterly trade winds blow.  So, you have to anchor pointing east.  Judging where to do this with the boats pointing the other way and drifting lazily over their anchors was a challenge.  On our first try I realized after we were set that the boat next to us appeared to be on a mooring, not an anchor, which means he will swing differently than us.  So we decided to move.  The second place we picked seems ok.  Not long after we were anchored, another squall came through the harbor, bringing another downpour.  We sat back and relaxed and waited to see how the check-in procedure would go.  There are roughly a hundred boats anchored in the harbor.  Many look like they have not moved in years.  Others are not in as bad condition, but obviously are long-term live aboards here.  We recognize one boat who used to live in our marina back in TX.  Rick & Donna on Naomi Marie left Portofino Marina a year before we did.  I think they got here and stayed.  Unfortunately, they have just left they area to tend to a sick relative, so we may not get to see them before we leave.  There are lots of other boats here that we have met in the Bahamas.

We have read and been told several different accounts of how the check-in procedure should work and what it will cost.  All seem to agree that the first step is to wait on your boat until the Commandante of the harbor comes to you.  Since it was Saturday and it was raining so much, we weren't sure whether to expect this visit or not, but sure enough after an hour or so, we saw the Commandante on Sol Y Mar.  After Sol Y Mar, they went to another boat that we don't know, and then came to us.  The small boat they were in was a crappy little wooden fishing boat.  They tied to our stern and I welcomed the three guys aboard.  Best I could tell, the one man in uniform was the Commandante,  a second guy in jeans and a button-up shirt worked for the Navy, and the third guy was Pabo, one of the local boat boys, who's job it was to transport the Commandante and translate.  Neither the Commandante nor the Navy guy spoke any English.  We were all seated in the cockpit and I produced our passports, the boats USCG certificate of documentation, and our clearance papers out of the Turks & Caicos.  The Commandante just sat and smiled the whole time, while the Navy guy wrote details about us on a plain piece of notebook paper, and Pabo kept jabbering at me about all the things he could do for us while we are here.  After about ten minutes, they were done, and Pabo told me that while there was no fee or obligation, a token of thanks for the Commandante would be appreciated.  I had noticed that the boats prior to us had given them cans of soda and beer.  We don't have either aboard, so I gave them $5.  I did feel a little bad for them having to do this in the pouring rain.  Pabo said we were free to go ashore now, and that when we were ready to go to the Immigration office at the head of the government dock.  I had the impression that the info they had just written down would be passed to Immigration.  While the Commandante was aboard, the harbor was suddenly filled with floating crap.  What had happened was that the large amount of rain has caused the creeks and streams upstream of the harbor to flush all the junk in their riverbeds down into the harbor.  The amount of crap was astounding.  It looked like you could almost walk across the water on the floating wood and garbage.

Once we had been visited, we laid down for naps.  We are exhausted since neither one of us slept much during the night due to the conditions.  We slept for about three hours before continuing the check in procedure.

Abut 15:30, I went to the government dock, along with Pat & Dori from Sol Y Mar.  As we got to the head of the dock, several official looking guys were sitting there, and they asked if we needed Immigration.  We said yes and were directed to the building on the right, which is a portable office trailer.  The first man we saw was the Immigration guy.  Turns out nothing had been passed to them by the Commandante, so I had to fill out typical immigration forms.  I didn't have my glasses, and the forms were in Spanish, so it was a little challenging.  Also, I needed the USCG documentation for the boat, which Pabo had told me I didn't.  I said I would have to go back to the boat to get it, but the guy said if I just knew the number, which I did, it was ok.  All this took place with a minimum of conversation, as the Immigration man did not speak any more English than I speak Spanish.  The fee for Immigration is $25 for both of us and lets us stay fifteen days.  We expect to be here longer, so we need extensions at $10 each which allow us to stay up to three months.  I didn't plan to get the extensions up front, but since we weren't communicating very well, that's what happened.

Next I went to another man in the other end of the building to pay for port fees.  He filled out another form, and again I should have had my documentation, but I was allowed to just tell him the info.  He didn't speak English either, but I was able to understand from the form what he needed, and I wrote things down.  The initial port fee is $11, and that seems to be a flat fee, not anything based on size of boat.  There will be more port fees to pay at departure time.  When he was done, I turned around and spoke to a young woman sitting behind me.  She was from Agriculture.  She wrote the boat name on a card and after help from another man in uniform got me to understand that she would be out to inspect the boat at 17:00.

At this point, we think we are done, so we walk up the street to get a beer.  We stop at the first little bar we come to and order grande Presidentes.  Presidente is the Dominican beer, and it comes in twelve ounce long neck bottles or twenty-two ounce bottles.  We got the grande ones and paid 240 pesos for all three, which is just over $2 each.  Not a bad deal.  There is no open container law, so we took our beers and kept strolling up the street.  A block further, we found Steve's place.  This looked like the place for cruisers to congregate.  It is a thatched roof, open sided room.  We met Steve who is an American who has been here several years.  He was a cruiser, but sold the boat, built this place, married a local woman an has two little kids.  The marry a younger local woman and have a couple kids part of this seems to be a common thread among the American expatriates here.  Steve explained to us that he offers cold beer, good food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, motorcycle rentals, laundry service, internet service, and can arrange just about anything else you might need while here.  We thanked him and told him we would be back.

We continued another block up the street to the main intersection where the moto concho guys hang out.  Moto conchos are guys on small motorcycles, mostly 125cc models, who are the taxi service.  You hop on and they take you wherever you want to go, primarily around town.  If you were going to another town, you would take a car.  Since it was getting late, we headed back to the dock and the boats so we were there before the 17:00 Agriculture appointment.  We waited and promptly at 18:15 the boat with four people from agriculture appeared and started making the rounds of the five or six boats that needed inspecting.  Sol Y Mar was first, but we ended up being last.  When they got to us, they actually apologized for being late.  Two of the men in the boat came aboard and started filling out forms.  I had to produce the cat's rabies vaccination form, and one man came below and asked about meats or produce we had onboard.  We had very little aside from what was in the freezer.  The bottom line seemed to be if it came from the US or Turks & Caicos, it was ok.  They do have a very strict garbage plan here though.  International garbage is burned in a barrel at the government dock everyday.  National garbage goes in a different bin that also seems to be burned at some interval.  It's not exactly clear how this differs, but they repeated many times to be sure we used the correct barrels.  One of the Agriculture guys spoke very good English, and the other did ok, so communicating with these was easy.  After all was said and done, there were four pieces of paper given to us, and $20 given to them.

As soon as we were done with Agriculture, we joined everybody else at Marina Blanco to check it out and have dinner.  Marina Blanco really is a small marina, but it appears to be full with long-time residents and doesn't offer any transient space.  It is a popular gathering place though, as they provide a dinghy dock, ice, restaurant and bar, laundry and internet service.  We had dinner there and was again pleased at the prices.  I had a large fillet of fish and fries and cole slaw for about $7.  Pat & Dori each had lobster which was three large tail halves and side dishes for $20.  And did I mention the beer is cheap?

After dinner we crashed.  It has been a very long day, but we are glad we are here.  This is a large milestone in the trip to the eastern Caribbean.

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8489.

Feb 25

Luperon has a VHF radio net similar to the other large cruiser's gathering place we have been.  Here though it is only held on Sunday and Wednesday mornings, not everyday.  We were dismayed to find that as in other places there are people here who can't live and let live and use their VHF to antagonize others.  Steve makes an announcement each morning which amounts to a commercial for his place.  This is not an uncommon practice in cruiser harbors.  Somebody apparently doesn't like Steve, because they key their mic while Steve talks so that we can't clearly hear him.  Anyway, the net is very informal, but covers the same basic stuff.

Right after the net, we headed up to Marina Blanco.  There is a cruiser's swap meet there this morning.  We don't need any stuff, but one of the local ex-pat ladies bakes sticky buns that everybody raves about and we hope to score some.  We were there right at 10:00, the announced opening time, but the limited supply of sticky buns was already gone.  We did get a couple pieces of quiche that she made though.  We hung around for a couple hours visiting with other cruisers.  We ran into Peter from a boat named Rio, whom we had met last year at Rum Cay in the Bahamas.  He is a writer and is now getting involved in a boat charter operation in the DR.  While we were catching up, he spotted Bruce Van Sant, author of The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South, coming into the dinghy dock.  He knows Bruce and wants to introduce him to us.  Now, as I mentioned in my last update, Mr. Van Sant is very opinionated in his beliefs of how one should travel the thorny path south in a thornless manner.  I did not care for his style of writing, and between his writing and comments I have heard from others, I don't really care if I meet the guy or not.  Many people here and elsewhere have elevated him to a god-like level in the cruising world, and I just don't see why.  At any rate, as he approached the area where we were standing, Peter went up to him to ask him to come over and say hello.  He physically brushed Peter aside and loudly said "I'm tired of meeting people.  Leave me alone."  Well, he just reinforced my opinion that he is an ass, and I'm glad I didn't meet him and contribute further to his elevated place in the cruiser society.

A little after noon, the swap meet stuff was all cleaned up and the restaurant started serving a barbeque lunch.  200 pesos ($6) got us a pork chop and two pieces of chicken, along with salad, macaroni salad, peas and rice, and steamed vegetables.  And did I mention they have cheap beer?

While we were sitting around after eating, suddenly a call came across the VHF that Perseverance was dragging.  Richard & Harriet immediately ran to their dinghy to go secure the boat.  Several other of us also went to help or to see if they had hit our boats as we were anchored behind them.  We all raced out into the harbor and Richard & Harriet got aboard Perseverance and started the motors and powered back forward literally a few feet before they would have hit Sol Y Mar.  They got the anchor up and moved back up the harbor to re-anchor.  A close call, but no harm done thanks to the quick work of Richard & Harriet as well as those who noticed the problem and called in the first place.

After that excitement I went back to the marina to get Barb.  We hopped in the dinghies and went across the harbor to town.  We had heard on the morning net that a cruising couple who now live here were celebrating their anniversary at Steve's and there would be free beer.  On our way across the harbor, we saw a boat named V'Ger from Kemah, TX.  We swung by and introduced ourselves.  Steve and Rhonda have been out for a year already and are on their way back north.  We also saw Worth on Satori, a singlehander we met in Georgetown a couple weeks ago.  He came in late yesterday afternoon after crossing for three days directly from Georgetown.  We chatted for several minutes and then continued to town.

We got to Steve's and found at least twenty folks.  There was a large tub of iced down beer in the middle of the room.  If you didn't immediately grab one, Steve's four year old boy took you by the hand to make sure you did.  Once you picked out your beer, the kid opened it for you.  His little sister was also toddling around.  She is probably two or so, and wears a bicycle helmet.  I don't know if she has had some type of head injury that she needs to protect, or if she is prone to falling, or maybe it's just a common sense precaution for having a two year old in a place with a bare concrete floor.  She was very cute though.

After a couple hours at Steve's, we headed back to Marina Blanco.  There is a local band playing there and we were told they were quite good.  Sure enough there were six guys playing Latin music.  The crowd was mostly locals as opposed to cruisers, although we were not the only cruisers there.  We ordered food for dinner and enjoyed the band.  One song they played was a Cuban number that I knew from hearing the Buena Vista Social Club play it on Radio Margaritaville.  I don't know the title but it sounded good.  Pat & Dori were getting into the music and started dancing along with the locals.  We were fading fast after a second big day, so we left before them to get some sleep.

It occurred to me today that we are below 20 degrees N latitude now.  That's a milestone that our friend Jerry Diaz will recognize.  Give me 10 to 20 and I'll be just fine.

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8489.

Feb 26

We got a slow start this morning.  We don't have any specific plans, so we just relaxed for a while.  By noon, we headed into town to Steve's where we had lunch.  I had a cheeseburger, and Barb had a huge chicken quesadilla.  It was stuffed with chicken and vegetables more than any quesadilla I had ever seen.  Richard & Harriet from Perseverance and Tom & Pat from Lone Star joined us for lunch.  Sol Y Mar took it easy on the boat all day.  After we ate, we decided to go on an adventure.  We initially thought we would get a bus to Puerto Plata, but decided to go to Imbert instead since it was already early afternoon.  The public transportation here is interesting.  There are real buses, but then there are guaguas which are minivans that run between the larger towns.  They wait until they have a full load and then go.  We went to where the guaguas wait to see how it works.  You are immediately approached by several drivers who just have their personal cars there.  They ask where you want to go and quote a price.  We agreed to go with a guy for 40 pesos each.  Then all six of us piled into his old Nissan Sentra.  Four in the back and two in the front, plus the driver.  No seatbelts, no a/c, and a hair raising ride for about twenty miles.  The two-lane road has many potholes, many small scooters and motorcycles that can't go very fast, many trucks, many pedestrians, and many guys on horses or burros.  All of this traffic meshes in a very free-form manner as far as lane usage.  Things we are accustomed to such as speed limits, lane usage, and passing zones are not part of the equation.  It was quite the ride.

Once in Imbert, we just walked around.  There is nothing in particular here to see, but it is interesting to just walk the streets.  There is a major highway running through town with many big trucks passing through at high speed.  As they come downhill into town they just lay on their horns and anybody crossing the big road better be out of the way.  We crossed and walked the main street into town, checking out the businesses, the people and the traffic.  It was quite a sight.  We found a real bank, with an ATM and decided to try to get some cash.  There was a line of about twenty people waiting to get in the bank lobby.  A guard with a short shotgun throttled how many people could be in the lobby at once.  There was an equally long line waiting to use the ATM.  A bank employee stood at the ATM and pushed all the buttons except your PIN.  He seemed to do a balance inquiry first and then tell the people how much they could get.  When my turn came, he took my card and inserted it.  I put in my PIN, and then he had me enter the amount I wanted.  I put in 15000 pesos, which would be roughly $500.  He said no, 10000 pesos was the limit.  So I re-entered 10000 pesos and then the machine rejected the transaction.  In his very limited English, he said they apparently couldn't do an international transaction right now and I would have to go to Puerto Plata to get it done.  I don't need the cash imminently, so we just blew it off.

After a fair amount of walking, we decided to get ice cream.  There is a Texaco station at the big intersection, with a sort-of-convenience store.  There was a case of ice cream there and we each picked out our selections.  There were two little boys in the store with shoe shine kits asking if we wanted our shoes shined.  Of course we are all wearing Crocs or sneakers, so nobody takes them up on it.  After we all had our ice cream Richard & Harriet bought the kids each a cone.  They were now our best friends and came and sat on the curb with us eating our treats.

We had seen most of what Imbert had to offer, so we started walking back in the direction of bus stop.  Our plan, once again, is to take a real bus or guagua back to Luperon.  Before we even got to the bus stop, a car pulled alongside us and asked if we wanted a ride to Luperon.  He had a ratty little station wagon.  No more seats than the car that brought us over, but at least the backpacks could go behind the seat giving us a little more room.  This time Barb and I squeezed in the front seat for another hair raising ride.  This one had the additional variable of not being sure the car was going to hold together or not.  It made some noises that would normally indicate some serious mechanical attention was required.  But, we made it, and for only 200 pesos altogether.

We walked back to Steve's and ordered beer.  Not only had we not had any all afternoon, but after those rides our nerves needed a little calming.  After an hour or so we headed back to the boat for dinner.  We have joked that at the restaurant prices, it's cheaper to eat out than it is to cook on the boat.  That is probably true, but we do have some food on the boat that we need to eat or it will go bad, so we stayed in tonight.

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8489.

Feb 27

Today is Independence Day here.  They celebrate with a Carnivale type of celebration.  We heard yesterday that there was some kind of parade in town this morning at 09:00.  Barb and I had breakfast on the boat, and then I joined Pat & Dori at Steve's to watch the parade.  Barb is saving her strength for this afternoon's tour and stayed on the boat.  Pat & Dori had huge cheap breakfast while I had a pineapple banana smoothie, that just happened to have some rum in it.  By 10:15 there had been no sign of a parade, so Tom & Pat from Lone Star went to inquire.  They came back with news that the parade was at nine tonight not this morning.  So we headed back to the boats.  We learned later that there really was a morning parade and it came soon after we left.  It was a kids parade and apparently was quite cute.

Our big event today is an organized tour to La Vega.  Jose is a guy at Marina Blanco who organizes tours.  There are about thirty people going, and we have a nice air conditioned Toyota bus to take us.  With the tourists, Jose, the driver, and four other Dominicans who served us drinks, the bus was full.  The trip will take us first to Imbert for lunch, then through Santiago where we will have a potty break, and then to La Vega for Carnivale.  The ride is much nicer than yesterday's white knuckle ride.  We are still going quite fast, and passing scooters and burros with no regard for lane usage or passing zones, but somehow we feel safer.  We are also higher up, so the view is much better.  Also, the beer and rum punch, or rum & Cokes are freely flowing, so that helps make the ride more pleasant.

The geography here is stunning.  There are high hills covered with green.  There are many palm trees on the mountains, fields of sugar cane and corn, and grazing cattle.  Along the roads are homes and businesses.  Most are small shacks which are all wide open to allow any breeze to cool them.  Many are colorfully painted and some are bare concrete block.  The people all sit out in front of their houses, just feet from the traffic flying by.  In several small villages along the way there will be a speed bump in the road to slow traffic as it passes through.  I assume everybody is at home today because it is a holiday.  We got to Imbert and parked in front of a restaurant that we had passed yesterday on foot.  Inside, we were shuttled to a large back porch where a buffet lunch was set up.  Our four tour guys brought the cooler with our beer and rum and coke in from the bus.  We were sitting at two long tables and there was a half gallon of rum and a big bottle of Coke on each table for us to help ourselves.  The food was quite good and there was plenty of it.  After an hour or so it was back in the bus and on to Santiago.  As we approached Santiago it was obvious this is a large city.  We were told there are two million people in Santiago.  We were on a four lane highway and the surroundings were quite different from the poverty we saw in the country side.  We stopped at a roadside building that had public bathrooms as well as a few businesses.  Everybody made a quick pit stop and leg stretch and then it was on to La Vega. 

Once in La Vega, the bus driver found a place to park several blocks from the main parade route.  We walked a few blocks to one end of the area where the streets were closed to traffic and the parades would be.  Carnivale is similar to Junkanoo in the Bahamas in that there are groups of people who are in elaborate costumes, and they are all trying to outdo each other with their costumes and their dances.  An additional twist is that each dancer carries a hard football shaped bladder on a string.  This bladder is used to smack the butt of a usually unsuspecting bystander.  The point is to beat the Devil out of you.  So the more you look like a sinner, the more you're going to get whacked.  Many of the dancers would take playful light swings at you, especially at us white touristas, but several got good hard licks in.  We will all have bruises tomorrow.  There are vendors selling the bladders to the crowd, so you can try to smack the dancers yourself.  Pat bought one and had a lot of fun playing with the dancers.  There are many other street vendors selling drinks and food.  Even though we had a big lunch, the guy on the corner we camped at was deep frying something that sure smelled good.  I asked Jose the tour guide what he was frying.  Jose said the real question wasn't what he was frying, but rather, what was he frying it in.  He recommended I not sample any.

While on the corner, two dancers approached us and raised their masks.  They were both white guys and asked where we were from.  One of them was from Charleston and the other was from NYC.  We didn't get time to talk to them to know if they live here now or what.  We started slowly making our way back around to where we are supposed to all met at 18:00.  As we were walking somebody whacked Barb real hard and hit high near her kidneys rather than right on her butt.  This almost took her to her knees.  I never saw who hit her, but it took a bit of the fun out of it.  I tried to guard her from behind the rest of the block to where we all gathered.  Once everybody was accounted for, we walked back to the bus.

The ride back was a little more disconcerting because it was getting dark so we couldn't see what we were about to hit.  But, the continued unending flow of rum and Coke helped.  Once back at the marina, we all headed straight to our boats.  It had been a long day but it was a lot of fun.

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8489.

Feb 28

After all yesterday's fun, we are taking it easy today.  We slept a little later than usual, and had our coffee.  We listened to the end of the local VHF radio net, but then I forgot to check-in with Cruisehiemers later.  I spent the better part of the day getting caught up on writing the logs and going through all the pictures we took yesterday.  A boat we have been near for the past few weeks, Abra Cadabra, left for Puerto Rico this morning.  They are a powerboat so they can make the passage in a much shorter weather window than we can.  Shortly after they left, there was a general call on the VHF for dinghies to come help a sailboat entering the harbor who had run aground in exactly the same place that Lone Star did when we came in.  I jumped in the dinghy and raced out there along with four other dinghies.  We pushed the boat off the shoal as he powered forward and then directed him to where the deep water was.  Pabo the boat boy got out there shortly after us and led them to a good place to anchor, right next to us. 

We observed the harbor goings on all day.  Another boat came in, several people had fuel delivered to them.  There is no fuel dock here, so if you need fuel, Pabo or Handy Andy bring fuel out to you and pump it in your boat.  Same for getting water.  We watched across at the Marina Luperon Yacht Club dock where some guys used a huge load gasoline powered pump to re-float a power boat that was sunken at the dock.  They seemed to get it floating.

This evening we are going to movie night.  Movie night is held at a restaurant up the hill from Marina Blanco.  Janet on Satori (different Satori than the one that just came in a few days ago) organizes this and provides transportation to the restaurant.  We met at 18:00 at Marina Blanco, and piled in her mini-van for the short ride.  La Yola is a typical open-air restaurant.  At one end they have set up a screen with a projection TV hanging from the ceiling in front of it.  When we got there, they were playing a DVD of Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show.  This was not the movie for the evening, just a warm up.  Cirque du Soleil is amazing and we were all glued to the screen while Janet made sure everybody had drinks.  At about 19:00, the food came out.  We had pre-ordered and our choices were either wiener schnitzel or fried fish, both served with a green salad and potato salad.  Barb and I had both ordered the fish although bites were being passed around of both.  The food was excellent.  Once we were done eating, the feature movie was started.  It was Master and Commander with Russell Crowe.  We had never seen it before.  Most people had, but it's one of those sailing movies that cruisers seem to enjoy seeing over and over.  Sometime during the movie, warm rice pudding was served for desert.  We enjoyed the movie and Janet took us back to the marina when it was over.  Total cost for two dinners, five drinks, and the movie, $25. 

GPS N 19-53.936 W 070-57.120  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8489.