Sunday, 11 March 2012


Forgive me readers for I've slacked. It has been over a month since my last entry. 
It's hard to tell how I could let that happen. We get so wrapped up in our day to day that time just slips away, and going for weeks without internet doesn't help the process. But that's no excuse. I should be documenting our journey regardless of having the ability to post it, and I have neglected to even do that. Now that I'm trying to recollect events of the weeks gone by memories escape me and I beat myself up over my lack of discipline. 
What's a girl to do? I will have to bring you up to speed on current affairs and dole out the interesting tidbits of last month's adventures as we go. 
We have made it as far as Dominican Republic now and are currently waiting for a weather window to pass Punta Beata, moving on to Santo Domingo and Boca Chica. At some point while still in the Bahamas, we decided to forego the north coast of the Dominican for the path less followed, along the south coast of Hispaniola. Instead of coming across through Turks and Caicos and down to Luperon, we sailed the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. It was a rather difficult decision to make and we didn't arrive at it without giving much consideration to where we could make our first landfall. Gabe, myself and the 3 other boats we've been traveling with were apprehensive about having to stop in Haiti, but in the end that's what we did and we have shared an experience of a lifetime as a result.  
Getting there was tough, to say the least. It was a 49 hour, 270 Nm slug that nearly broke my spirit and my desire to go on. A two day passage can be tiring and taxing under best of conditions. When weather doesn't cooperate the journey becomes grueling, overwhelming even. We left Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas with a good 2 day window to make our passage south, and got a beautiful sail all the way down the west coast of Haiti. But contrary to the forecast, we found big seas and gale force winds once we turned the corner at the south-west point of Hispaniola. The stronger than predicted winds were coming on the nose and with a small motor like ours we couldn't make much headway against the opposing swell. We had no choice but to tack our way forward. We carried on for nearly 24 hours, making long tacks away from the southern coast and back towards it, gaining slow and painful ground toward Ile à Vache, our next port of call. Battling 15 foot waves and relentless strong winds took a toll on us. Our autopilot can't handle all that action so we were forced to stay at the helm, 2 hour shifts at a time. As the winds picked up and the seas built, however, it became increasingly difficult for me to drive the boat, and as I began to feel helpless I began to get frightened. The more scared I got, the more difficult it was to function, until I froze completely. After that it was up to Gabe to handle the boat. With images of our ordeal in the "perfect storm" off the coast of Maine fresh in my mind I became paralyzed and could do very little but sit there, strapped to the boat by a jack line on my life vest and pray for some relief. It didn't come for another 12 hours, until we turned into the hill bound confines of Ile à Vache. This large island just off the coast of Haiti was reported to offer a breathtaking anchorage and a safe harbor to cruisers making their way east towards the Dominican. It is far enough from main land to have been spared by the earthquake and remains unaffected by the plight of the rest of the country. Guided by advice from other cruisers we felt comfortable with the idea of spending some time there. Truthfully, after getting through the churned up waters off shore we were glad just to have a place to rest. What we found at Ile à Vache was an experience beyond what we could ever expect or hope for. 

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