Monday, December 30, 2013
And so we took a bus from Ocho Rios to Kingston, with the Knutsford Express (www.knutsfordexpress.com).. Nice bus, good airco, free water and even a movie… The 90 km, took us abt 2,5 hours.. The ride takes you over some mountain ridges, all very green, very lush and tropical. At the final busstop, we accepted an offer of a taxi driver to get us to the Bob Marley Museum. For an hour we were guided through the house where the legend lived and even recorded (and literaly produced the vinyl) some albums. He died too young of a neglected skin cancer (so they say, there are however other theories abt his death..), 36 years of age. The best part of the tour was the movie clip session (too short)… A simple message of peace, love, respect and acceptance, together with a little Kaya (beter known as: ganja).. Yeah Mon… (Of course had to buy the Legend CD).
We quickly learned that saturday is kind of a dead day in the capital. Literally nothing happening, and even the taxi driver had a hard time for suggesting a place we (tourists) should go.
So, we strolled along in New Kingston, had some lunch and waited for the bus ride back to Ocho Rios… And so we talked about the country, and little that we know, however some insights came to the surface…I had read that 60% op the population would like for Jamaica to be back under England.. They are independent since 1962, and have had a lot of gang type criminal and political tense situations since then (this is one of the things Bob sings about). As per the stereotype IMF rules and regulations, Jamaica is in big debt with this and other organisations, and consequently, no money left for decent infra structure, housing, education. Jamaica produces enough: Sugar, Bauxiet, Rum, the Tourist industry, but it never seems enough to solve the most burning issues. On top of that, being independent means to work and get your country going. It seems the sense of collectivity is missing in this country (fair enough, we havent spent time here to realy understand the deeper issues of Jamaica, but this is what did appear to us), and this attitude mixed with slogans as: No Problem in Jamaica, Chill and smoke some weed… it is easy to understand that it may take a while before things turn around… Again, we maybe totaly off with this quick Xray and if so, we hope somebody will inform us. The street vendors, restaurants and taxis are interested in the fast quick dollar, and so they dont seem to be looking at longer term, repeat business.
And, in words of Bob himself… Get Up Stand Up…Stand up for your rights..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLYOOezs3DA
Sunday, December 29, 2013
And so we left Aruba… Dora returned from Brazil, we took one day to stock up and get ourselves organized (not well enough as later events would teach us..). Early in the morning, leaving the SurfSide anchorage, and motored to Customs and Immigration for check out procedure and from there we set our course to Jamaica, some 485 miles to go…
Forecasted was an Easterly wind of around 20 knots, but, as usual is the case, it turned out to be stronger and also the waves that kind of came from all directions, but mainly right from the starboard side slaming into Onda Boa. With the main sail in its second reef and a reefed genoa, we were flying (and rocking and rolling) along… Boat speeds of 8-9 knots constantly…. we even managed to board two blue finned tunas…
In the evening and night on top of this stiff breeze, we had a bunch of squalls to deal with as well… Windspeeds picked up to close to 40 knots and at times we clocked 14 knots boat speed… All in all very uncomfortable, and we learned quickly that to prep a boat for a longer passage way, needs some more attention (stowing away items that may, and will fall for instance). After a month on dry land, Dora had yet to return to the swing of things (literaly) and so was not feeling too well. After the first 24 hours, we covered 215 miles, which was a record for us… And the wind actualy in the morning increased in speeds and were close to 30 knots… So, we put the 3rd reef in the main sail and reefed the genoa somewhat more. I was able to download a new weather forecast via the satelite phone, and in our track leading direct to Jamaica, we would have a near gale situation, with like wise wave paterns… Hmmm, didnt like that, so the course was altered to somewhat more northerly in order to get closer to Haiti, as in that region was lesser wind predicted. It would mean more milage, and especialy on the last day less wind (and thus less speed), but that was preferred over putting the boat and ourselves in an even more uncomfortable situation. This tactic worked and we managed to arrive in relatively calmer weather…Adjusting our course again more easterly we actualy had the wind (and waves) comming from our stern and so with only the genoa, we arrived in Port Antonio in the afternoon of the third day. At first sight, it kind of reminded us of Ilha Grande/IlhaBela (Brazil), lush green slopes ending abruptly in the ocean…
We stayed in the West Habour area, and did our custom red tape thing at the Erol Flynn Marina (First Quarantine check, then customs then immigration) only then are you allowed to leave the Marina, and anchor out in the bay, which still is charged US$ 12 per boat per day..(this detail wasnt mentioned in the guides that we studied). Anyway, a nice shower, some nice food and a very well earned nights sleep was all that we needed. The next day was spent in getting the Onda Boa, clean and organized again.
We walked around in Port Antonio… hustle and bustle, street vendors of all kinds, busy shops, an unexpected colorful street scene…The town appears to be kind of run down, not looked after very well. But hey, No Problem in Jamaica Mon… Respect.
Back on board, and after laundry done at the Marina, we enjoyed a superb Christmas Dinner (Brazilian tradition).
As the next day would be a quiet day on land, we decide to sail further along the northern shorelines of Jamaica. After we enjoyed our Christmas breakfast and had everthing going, it was already around 11 am, and so we were not going to make Ocho Rios as planned. Weather was not good (squalls, rain and still a unsettling swell) we quickly moved into Port Maria, and tried to stay behind Carbarita Island (the swell was still getting to us, but were able to get sleep well.
The next day, sun was out, no wind and so we kind of motor sailed towards Ocho Rios. But, first a stop at the Oracabassa basin (Goldeneye) the place where Mr Ian Flemming used to live and write the James Bond stories. In fact in this bay some footage of Dr No have been filmed.. For all of you that are my age AND James Bond fans (who isnt, i mean me myself once thought that i could be a kind of a 007) was thrilled to be in this location.
Further on to Ocho Rios, touristy, better kept than Port Antonio for example and nice and quiet anchorage (clean water). Our next adventures will be about our stroll into the farmers market, and a visit to the capital Kingston. Stay tuned for more Jamaican fun Mon…
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
After an open and frank talk between Dora, myself and Lucky, we accepted Lucky’s firm wish to desembarque in Aruba, and live the life of her dreams… Not on a limited floating playground, but the good old steady ground. She wants to run again. And we are happy to have found a good place for her.
I feel that my mission in her life has been completed: She was literally saved from certain death at the dog pound in Natal (Brazil) when rescued right at the gates of dog hell…
Now, Lucky is moving on and so are we…
Run Lucky, be free as you can be..
New adventures for all…
All the best
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
These weeks, with Dora in Brazil for pending business issues, calmly anchored in Aruba and sometimes very busy in managing my free time….I am catching up on overdue medical check ups (dental, skin etc), the to-do boat list (yes my friends, I take the luxury of spending one whole day on a cabinet door repair…). The other day talking to new neighbours here in the anchorage we shared experiences that it takes a while to get over the good old strut of working the 9 – 5 routine. It is probably a mix of upbringing, religion (calvinistic pray and work doctrine…) and culture… Anyway, now, having the time (how prescious is that) it is one of the many blessings we can count everyday, also reading more (viva Kindle, and free music downloads…). Finally our BitStorm Wifi antena booster is paying of.. I am catching aride on the relatively good wifi signal courtesy of the Renaissance Hotel… a big thanks.
So, yes, I saw Matt Damon reciting a text (from Howard Zinn,1970) regarding civil disobedience (http://daily.represent.us/matt-damon-blows-your-mind/) and thought that was very interesting. I do feel sometimes that the rules don’t apply to me…This feeling is amplified once you are living and traveling by sailboat, where there is only one authority but your own.
I read information from fellow cruisers who aparently get upset with Custom and Immigration Red tape (in several countries) for instance after checking out they want you gone imediately or in either 4 or 24 hours, and some fellow cruisers have dificulty in following those time frames and get upset.. and I don’t get that.. Some complain about the fact that there are seemingly different rules and regulations all the time…And yes, they are right, but …. Once you decide to live your life onboard a sailboat, you have the golden oportunity the choose free will, to make up your own rules and follow your moral compass. Truly, those custom and immigration things… Just be civil disobedient, don’t take whatever Custom official tells you for the truth…. Being on a sailboat you can always get away with not complying with their time line (too much wind, no wind, motor issues…) and that is IF somebody comes out to question you..
So, maybe we should all sometimes let the pirate inside speak up… It is ok to practice being civil disobedient every now and again (always??), use your own free will and follow your moral compass…
Monday, November 25, 2013
This above expression I got used to, when, years ago, I was working for Loek`s company back in Holland. As it so happens, we caught up with them here in Aruba and had some great meetings!
I have witnessed on several occasions, during what seemed to be a totally complicated (final) business meeting (make it or break it) negotiating a large contract and both parties seemingly miles appart, that suddenly Loek would speak up and always startled all present at the table to start of with this exact frase… It is actually very simple…and in a few broad strokes reduced the what seemed to be hughe issues in some minor almost futile details.
By actually hearing the words that it was simple, people snapped out of their spiderweb of negative thoughts just complicating things, and by doing so most of the time all involved returned to the same wavelength and business was concluded.
This got me thinking the last couple of days… How do we like to complicate things, and its all in our minds….Examples:
* Sailing from A to B. Distance 450 nautical miles. My goodness… that is say 4 days of sailing, and how about the wind, the waves, breakdowns? Well, it is actually very simple: be prepared, check the weather forecast, relax and enjoy.
* Sailing from C to D. Distance 2000 nautical miles. OMG… that is say 20 days of sailing, and how about the wind, the waves etc etc.. Well, it is actually very simple: be prepared, check the weather forecast, relax and enjoy.
* Not happy with: Job, relation, health, wealth? Well, it is actually very simple: analyse, prioritize, get up and do something about it. In our minds we create the biggest hurdles and the highest mountains, so we already prepared an excuse, no, an explanation for our (sad) circumstance.
Living onboard a sailboat, and being all the time involved, and at mercy of the elements it actually shows you the same: The sea, the wind and waves are very simple…. and honest. It either is or isn’t, no (secure) perceived compromise….
To all, have SIMPLY a great week….
* Pics from: www.canstockphoto.com
Thursday, November 21, 2013
So, yes, here is a great oportunity… Join us in our voyage from Aruba to Jamaica (Estimated time of departure from Aruba 18/12/13). It will be a 2 day (and night) voyage, we pretend to spend some time mainly on the northern shores of Jamaica (Port Antonio, Ocho Rios and MontegoBay amongst others). Should have plenty of time to pick up the vibes (rum, music, food etc etc..). Then after say 8-10 days, on our way for an overnight sail to Cuba (Cienfuegos). Christmass in Jamaica, and/or New Year in Cuba… Does that sound like a plan?… Anyway, think about it.. You either stay put in the cold and the grey, or…. Contact us to discuss details.
Note: as we have not been to these wonderfull places, I have used some pics free of the net and the sources are marked on the images, so I hope the owner(s) agree.
Looking forward to hear from you soon!
Ho Ho Ho…
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
You know me by now, I am not the person to complain or cry about things. Circumstances happen, you check, verify, take a decision and hope for the best (much like when they forecast a strong storm and you happen to become in the middel of that…).
Before I get all my US friends upset, in this post, I am not bashing the USA, nor the American Lifestyle ( some people we meet are outspoken and rather anti american, not me).
So, when Frits and Reinhilde mentioned to us back in Curacao, that if and when we are planning of passing by Puerto Rico (and the USVI), we were going to need a US Visa.
For a moment I thought I just could get a so called ESTA visa thingy (having a Dutch passport), but… that is not going to happen… Since we are not arriving in the US (yes, Puerto Rico does make part of it) by approved and certified carrier (ie, airline or cruise ship), we both have to apply for the visa.
Now, for those of you who don’t know about this red tape, I suggest you look up a site of the US gov for visa aplications (there are a few) and just for laughs and giggles, try to fill out the online form… Unreal, the questions asked… (Are you member of a terrorist group?… Or how about this one: Have you ever tortured a person?…) Seriously… the nerve to ask this.. I mean I haven’t but am almost certain “they” can’t say the same… Anyhow, I will bite my tongue, count to 10 and get the application form out, but….It realy made me thinking about this issue.. I even had a good exchange of posts on the cruisersforum about this toppic. (http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f57/visiting-puerto-rico-by-sailboat-non-us-citizens-115259.html)
And I know why it makes me upset… Freedom…. One of the great features of living aboard a sailboat is that you take your own decision, where to go, what to do, how to it etc. and handle the consequences of your choice. In practically all countries we have been to so far, not one single time this visa/passport/custom red tape was an issue. Sometimes you meet crancky Custom and Immigration staff, or you have to wait a long time, yes, but never was i asked if I had tortured person. You fill out the paper work, in some occasions pay whatever landing fee, and you are on your way..Easy going.
So, why is it that the US makes such a fuzz about all of this. ? I can’t get my head wrapped around this. What is it that they fear?
(Yeah, I hear you all saying abt 9/11 and all that, but let us not go there right now, that is a whole other story..if you ask me..)Why cant it be just like in say Martinique (=France) or Bonaire (=Holland)… The vast majority of visitors come in peace, eager to learn about a new country, pick up some local culture, and spend some money and of they go again. Nobody talks about terrorists, tortures and so on and soforth.
You are a criminal, terrorist and potentially dangerous untill proven otherwise… I guess that is how it is looked upon. Well, we most likely need to anchor out in some ports and bays in Puerto Rico, but even then, we still need to go through all these hoops, and I dont like it, but have to do it.. (oh, and yes, did you know that you will have to pay $$$ money for all of this, and eventually have an interview, during which the interviewer may and will decide if you are qualified or not to get the visa. They will tell you on the spot, if you continue to be classified as a potential danger, you will not get the visa. Period. You will never know why, they wont tell you, oh and ofcourse no refund of the money either). It is not of this world. So, yes I am frustrated by this: It goes against my sense of liberty, justice and freedom.
Some people tell me, that you need play along and all will be alright and you get your visa, however, this is one of the few toppics that gets me upset, because IT IS NOT NORMAL nor LOGICAL. This is not how it should work (check out most other countries in the free world), So, I cannot be compliant with something that is just not right/normal, and just because it comes from the USA, it doesnt make it right. We are not even intending to actualy go on land in Puerto Rico (as it is all such a difficult task) so why can’t we just anchor out in some bays, rest a little, wait for some good breeze and of we go…
So, there you have it… Dora will have to travel to Sao Paulo, in Brazil for her interview.. I will have to travel to Curacao (as in Aruba they dont deal with this kind of thing). We will first wait and see if Dora gets hers (if she does, I will be on my way to Curacao… and if she doesn’t, well then I don’t need to go anyway..).
We are interested to learn your opinion on this.
In the meantime, chilling out in Aruba…
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
It was 3 am when we left Spanish Water in Curacao and mind you, to find our way back to open sea when it is still pitch dark was kind of a challenge…. Common sense, a good flash light, Dora`s indications, and the GPS (i believe it was in this order) brought us safely back in open waters, and ofcourse, hardly any wind. At dawn got the Genaker out and that made a diference (again), this untill around noon when the wind died out almost completely. So we burned up some more diesel untill three o clock.. a nice breeze came back and the last 20 miles we could sail again. A rather un eventfull 60 mile voyage, not even a fish on the hook.
The waypoint in the free cruising guide for the ABC by Frank Virgintino was spot on with regards the entrance point to get behind the reef for clearing in and imigration etc (Baracadero Port 12Deg 28.84N 070Deg 00.62W). I called in over the radio, and i was summoned to do all the clearing even it was already 17 hrs. I was asked to tie up on the dock (you know the good old concrete ledge with those nice old hughe black airplane tyers etc). We gave that a miss, and just anchored nearby.
I dingied over, and half an hour later had done all the paper work… well not all the paper work… 5 days after clearing in, you have to ask and pay for an extension (more paperwork). It was almost dark when all this stuff was completed and so we just anchored out nearby (shallow water, a kind of dead end sea arm). The next day we actualy sailed all the way to the northern tip of the island, and after Oranje stad, it is all big Beach front Hotels.
Anchored at what is called SurfSide Beach, ok it is just north of the airport landing strip, but it is not disturbing. Wifi signal is adequate, and there is a private dinghy dock of the Diving shop, but allowed to use it so that is great. Diesel and water wise, is a little bit more tricky… You either go south to the Varadero Yacht Club (call in advance if you want to take in diesel, and they have water). Or, as we did, go inside the Renaissance Marina basin, for diesel, well they also have water, but we didnt need that..) The only mistery is: where is gasoline? What i learned is that one actually has to haul that by jerrycan walking from the Renaissance Hotel, to the nearest gasstation (not reachable by dinghy…).. hmm remembers Buzios actually..
A former director of mine and his wife, live on Aruba and as it was her birthday, they decided to charter the Onda Boa for a Birthday Charter. We had a great day, coffee, cake, snacks, buffet and cold drinks on board, and clean water outside, plus some wind… just perfect. Herewith we want to thank Loek and Nel for this great oportunity and also for their hospitality and showing us around.
Yes, Aruba receives a good number of cruise ships, and Oranjestad has the perfect shopping malls both in the centre as well as in the High Rise Hotel Strip…Aruba is friendly, nice climate so it is ok to stay here for a month, as Dora had to back to Brazil to take care of some pending business issues. In the meantime, I will do boatstuff, web site stuff, some dentist and medical maintenance as well, try to get a US visa (i guess will post about this seperately) and check out this friendly island.
Be good and all the best,