A Quick Haul Out – За малко на сушата

Ivo says: "Everything will be OK"

Ivo says: „Everything will be OK“

What is a boatyard?

A boatyard is the most horrible place for the cruiser and his boat, no matter how good the facilities are. Dirty, stinky, dusty, itchy, hot places. No toilets on board, no more running water in the galley, ferocious noseeums and mosquitoes in the evening, noise from heavy machinery all day long, toxic dust, lots of mud, and the fear at night when it’s windy that the boat will „fall down“ from her props. Of course, she won’t fall down, but she shakes constantly and it feels as if there is a permanent earthquake going on. Add to this a Puertorican neighbor who got drunk and sang all night a very melancholic song, about a woman whom he used to love, but she left him. „Abandonaaaaaadooooooooooooooooo….“ Almost made me cry.

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Какво означава „сух док“?

„Сух док“ е най-ужасното място за крузъра и неговата лодка, независимо колко са добри съоръженията. Мръсно, смръдливо, прашно, горещо, място за поправки или склад на лодки. Не може да си ползваме тоалетните на борда, нито имаме течаща вода; кръвожадни комари ни нападат вечер, машини и инструменти бумтят по цели дни, токсичен прахуляк, кал навсякъде и нощем, когато духа силен вятър, се страхуваме лодката да не падне от степенките, на които се подпира. Разбира се, че няма да падне, но усещането е все едно има земетресение, непрестанно. Към всичко това добавете и съседа- порториканец, който се напи и цяла нощ пя една много меланхолична сърцераздирателна песен за жената, която обичал, обаче тя го напуснала. Почти се разплаках.

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Fata Morgana on the travel lift, Puerto del Rey, Fajardo

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After the small routine repair of a bathroom pipe turned into a disaster and a huge through hull fitting got busted creating a three-feet fountain inside the starboard hull, we hauled out Fata Morgana for a quick repair, as this kind of thing cannot be fixed while at anchor. We were lucky to be near marina Puerto del Rey in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, the biggest marina and haul-out facilities in the entire Caribbean region. It’s an impressive marina and boatyard with 1000 slips, 400 dry stack spaces on 50 acres of land, and with 165 ton haul out capability as well as a complete range of boat repair contractors on site.  They accommodated us immediately.

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След като малката рутинна смяна на тръба за тоалетната се превърна в бедствие и се отвори дупка на дънато на лодката, от където шурна един голям фонтан, се наложи да изкараме Фата Моргана от водата по спешност, тъй като подобна дупка не може да се поправи на котва. Имахме късмет, че бяхме близо до марина Пуерто дел Рей във Фахардо, Порто Рико- най-голямата марина в целият карибски регион. Марината разполага с 1000 места за лодки на вода и 400 на суша на площ 50 акра, както и с няколко крана с капацитет до 165 тона.

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„The Walk of Fame“ Marina Puerto del Ray, Fajardo

 

Fata Morgana was once again out of the water, on the hard. Ivo decided to use this opportunity and put yet another layer of fresh bottom paint on the hulls, which he sanded all the way to the gelcoat and painted with anti-fouling paint only six months ago in St Kitts. This time, after he fixed the through hull pipe-problem, he sanded only very superficially the hulls, and painted them. All this work took him two days, without being too much in a hurry.

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фата Моргана отново се оказа на сушата. Иво реши да използва момента и да мацне още един слой боя на корпусите, нищо, че само преди 6 месеца извадихме лодката, изстъргахме старата боя до дъно и сложихме нова. Този път, след като поправи дупката за тръбата, Иво изстърга само повърхностно корпусите и им сложи пресен слой боя. Цялата работа отне 2 дена, без да си дава много зор.

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Ivo sanding the hulls….again…

Why not drop anchor? And measure and mark the chain.

Why not drop anchor? And measure and mark the chain in the meantime.

We even had time to open a couple of coconuts under the shade of the boat and to meet new friends, who drove all the way from San Juan just to meet us. It was great spending time with Galina and Drago and share some stories. Great people.

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Дори ни остана време да отворим два кокосови ореха на сянка под лодката и да се запознаем с нови приятели- Галя и Драго от България, които дойдоха чак от Сан Хуан да ни видят. Беше ни много приятно да се запознаем и да обменим интересни истории и да пием по бира. Чудесни хора.

Драго и Галя

Драго и Галя

Coconut

Coconut

After a couple of days- an unpleasant weekend- we splashed on Monday at noon and came back in the Fajardo anchorage. The fear that the through hull problem is not well fixed and we would have to haul out again disappeared after a few hours (no water was coming in), and now everything is back to normal. Only, it’s a second day now we are trying to clean the boat in and outside.

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След два дена- неприятен уикенд- се завърнахме във водата в понеделник и обратно на котва в заливчето на Фахардо. Страхът, че дупката не е добре поправена и ще трябва пак да се връщаме на сушата се разсея след известно време и сега всичко си е по старому. Само дето вече 2 дена чистим лодката вътре и вън.

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Anchorage near Isleta Marina, Fajardo

Even though being in a boatyard is not much fun, we felt really lucky to be so close to the biggest marina with some of the best boat repair facilities in the region, in a town, where boat parts are easy to find and are not expensive. Plus, the manager at Puerto del Rey turned out to be a great guy, very understanding and helpful, who gave us quite a discount and thus became our next sponsor.

A big Thank You to Marina Puerto del Rey!

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И въпреки, че с лодка на сушата никак не е приятно, извадихме късмет, че този инцидент се случи толкова близо до марина с необходимите съоръжения, в район, където лесно се намират части за лодки и не са скъпи. Освен това, мениджърът на марината се оказа готин пич, много разбран и услужлив човек и даже ни направи солидна отстъпка от цената на услугата по изкарването, след като му обещахме да го добавим в списъка на нашите спонсори.

Хиляди благодарности, марина Пуерто дел Рей!

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Travel lifts, Puerto del Rey, Fajardo

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Grenada: Installing Solar Panels

 

Installing Solar Panels

Installing Solar Panels

Time to leave St Lucia and head directly to Grenada where our friends Mel and Caryn are getting two new huge solar panels shipped from Florida for their Island Packet S/V Passages.

We have been cruising together with Mel and Caryn since Guadeloupe, for over two months now, and we have become very close friends. They are both extremely humble cultured sweet people who enjoy travel and adventure very much.

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mel was born in Namibia and Caryn in Zimbabwe. They met in South Africa and later moved to Australia where they live since 7 years now. We have spent many evenings sharing meals aboard Fata Morgana and Passages, listening to their incredible stories of Africa. „You have to be very careful with Africa, said Caryn one evening. Once she gets in your blood there is no getting her out of you. You always want to comeback there.“ When she speaks of Africa, of the places in Africa, the sounds of Africa, the animals of Africa, the sunsets of Africa, her voice fills with tenderness and nostalgia.

Caryn with a Rasta Man in St. Lucia

Caryn with a Rasta Man in St. Lucia

Mel is a mechanical engineer but works in business software now, and Caryn is a school teacher, and she must be the best school teacher in the world. They are now in their early fifties and have ventured for work and for fun all over the world in most continents, in hundreds of countries. In 2013 they bought S/V Passages, a beautiful island Packet, and have been sailing through the Bahamas and the Caribbean since then, pretty much n the same rout as us. After a few months, they will be leaving the boat here in Grenada and return to Australia to work for awhile, before continuing with their sailing adventure.

S/V Passages

S/V Passages

Mel is also a professional marathon runner. He is participating in marathons all over the world almost every year. He can run a lot… So Ivo, who likes to go jogging early in the morning found a great companion. They run for about 6 to 10 km every second day and of course talk about all sorts of things while running, like solar panels and lithium batteries, boats, and other important stuff. Thus, the plan to instal more solar on S/V Passages was consolidated and soon put into action.

Ivo and Mel installing solar panels

Ivo and Mel installing solar panels

Ivo is excited to help with the installation. After all, it is his fault Mel and Caryn ordered two panels a lot bigger than they initially wanted. We have 5 big solar panels aboard Fata Mоrgana and two smaller ones, producing a staggering 1,500 Wаtts of pure solar electricity, and often we inspire cruisers to get more solar panels. We also have lithium batteries, instead of AGMs or flooded, which is something very new and innovative in the world of sailing. We think, it’s the future of boat batteries. I have previously posted a very detailed article about our solar installation, which can be found here. So Ivo convinced Mel to go bigger, get double, supersize! We are all about off-grid living and alternative energies, so when friends go solar, we all celebrate.

Viktor and Ivo installing Kyocera solar panels aboard Fata Morgana, November, 2013, Florida

Viktor and Ivo installing Kyocera solar panels aboard Fata Morgana, November, 2013, Florida

We sail 110 NM to Tyrell Bay in Carriacou together with S/V Passages bypassing the big island of St Vincent and the smaller islands of The Grenadines where we are planning to return in due time and explore them thoroughly.

We are getting 18-20 kt east winds between the islands, but when we are behind the island, even though we keep at least 10 miles distance between us and land, the wind just stops and of course we stop too… We wait, Ivo pulls the boat with the kayak and we even try the „new“ used spinnaker we bought in Martinique. But nothing works. After a few hours the wind returns and we sail again.

Flying the Spinnaker

Flying the Spinnaker

We arrive in Carriacou on the second day of our passage and we stay there only a couple of days, just to check-in and to rest a bit.  Then we sail again, to St George’s, Grenada.

St George’s is the capital and biggest city of Grenada and a popular tourist destination. Its big wide horseshoe-shaped harbor is surrounded by a hillside of an old volcano crater crowned by the 1705 Fort George on the northwestern tip. The city is beautiful, old colonial buildings standing guard around the harbor, narrow streets crisscrossing the steep hills, providing glorious vistas of the bay.

St George's Grenada

St George’s Grenada

We drop anchor in the anchorage outside of the harbor, S/V Passages go to Port Louis Marina, ready for some new solar panels. In the next two days Ivo and Mel work hard from dawn till dusk. Looking for parts, which can be tricky in Grenada, building two frames with stainless steel one inch tubing, one over the bimini an one over the davits, and finally mounting the panels.

Mel and Ivo busy with the solar panels

Mel and Ivo at work

The biggest problem they encountered while doing all this was that the fittings which were labelled one inch, where actually smaller, 7/8, and there were no one-inch fittings anywhere on the island. To order them from Martinique would take one month and so Ivo came up with the idea to grind the stainless steel pipes and make them fit in the 7/8 fittings… This took a whole day. But the next day the frame is ready and the new Kyocera 350 watt panels are up on the boat.

Installing the Solar Panels aboard S/V Passages

Installing the Solar Panels aboard S/V Passages

 

While Ivo and Mel are busy with the solar panels, Caryn, Maya and I spend the days at the marina swimming pool, where Maya quickly makes a great new friend, Meagan, another cruising kid.

Maya and Meagan at Port Louis Marina's pool

Maya and Meagan at Port Louis Marina’s pool

And when the job is done, we celebrate with a lovely dinner aboard solar-powered S/V Passages.

Maya aboard S/V Passages

Maya aboard S/V Passages

Installing solar panels aboard S/V Passages has been a great rewarding experience for all. And it is not over. Mel and Caryn are planning to get even more solar panels in the next months and thinking about switching to lithium batteries too. The lithium batteries are lighter, smaller, faster charging, holding their voltage much more, can be discharged at ones, can be discharged completely without damage, and are now very affordable. If you look at our Sponsors Page you will find a link to Balqon, the company with the best lithium batteries prices in the USA. You will also find E-Marine Systems, the best prices and quality for solar panels. After one year of using our lithium batteries, we are extremely satisfied and would recommend them to anyone. Lithium batteries are the future of cruising.

Mel and Ivo and the solar panels

Mel and Ivo and the solar panels

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Фата Моргана: нашият плаващ дом

За тези от вас които се чудят как така е възможно да живеем на лодка и какво ли представлява тя, от какво е направена, колко е голяма, колко стаи има и т.н., написах следната статия.

Когато започнете да си търсите лодка ще забележите, че процесът много наподобява на ухажване и избиране на бъдещата ви съпруга. Понякога е любов от пръв поглед, понякога си е чиста пресметливост. Но винаги бъдете готови за огромни разхди по поддръжката, особено в началото, особено ако е някоя голяма красавица. С времето нещата се уталожват.

Щом си купите лодката започва вашият сложен съвместен живот, докато Нептун не ви раздели. Понякога чуствата се засилват след като се опознаете, понякога се разочаровате и се разделяте завинаги; намирате си друга, по-добра. Често, след години съвместен живот, има много неща които ви дразнят, но и много неща които все още ви свързват: заедно сте преживели толкова много щастливи и толкова много неприятни мигове. На моменти я мразите, на моменти я обичате, но в трудни ситуации винаги разчитате на нея. Така е с лодките.

Мира и Фата Моргана

Мира и Фата Моргана

В началото незнаехме нищо за яхти и още по-малко за катамарани (двукорпусни лодки), нямахме никакъв опит в мореплаването и ветроходството и ни беше страх да не купим някой неадекватен боклук, който на втория ден да се разпадне. Започнахме да четем всичко каквото ни попадне за лодки и да говорим с хора, които знаят повече от нас и постепенно научихме доста и си изградихме някаква представа за това какво бихме искали да представлява нашият плаващ дом.

Ivo

Ivo

На първо място искахме да е здрава, сигурна и устойчива на лошо време, способна да прекосява океани. На второ място искахме да е достатъчно голяма и комфортна за нашето четиричленно семейство, за да не се чустваме притеснени или мизерни. На трето място, искахме лодката ни да е способна да се движии само на платна, без да ползваме мотора, тъй като се оказа, че много яхти са направени да се движат на мотор повечето време. Наричат ги „моторни ветроходи“.
В крайна сметка купихме 12 метров катамаран „леопард“ построен през 2001 година в Южна Африка, защото решихме че отговаря на всички наши изисквания. Фата Моргана е тежка, стабилна и сигурна лодка, изглежда малка отвън, но е е обширна и комфортна отвътре и въпреки че има не един ами два мотора по 44 конски сили всеки, не ни се налага да ги ползваме често.

Фата Моргана

Фата Моргана

Направена е от фибростъкло, материала от който се произвеждат повечето яхти в днешно време. Фибростъклото е лека и изключително здрава сплав която не ръждясва за разлика от метала и не изгнива за разлика от дървото. Също така е лесна за почистване и поддръжка. Но различните модели и видове лодки в зависимост от предназначението им са построени с различни видове и количество фибростъкло.
Някои яхти са направени със съвсем малко материал и са много леки, със стени тънки като хартийки, френските Бенето и Жано например. Те изглеждат луксозни отвътре, с бели кожени дивани, но не са пригодени за прекосяване на океани и за лошо време, а само за няколко-часови екскурзийки край френската ривиера. Тези са така наречените „яхти за удоволствие“ и са сравнително евтини. Лодките които участват в състезания и регати също са леки, защото колкото са по-леки толкова са и по-бързи, но са много по-качествени от ефирните яхти за удоволствие. Презокеанските яхти са направени с повече и с по-здрав материал и са доста по-тежки, пригодени за големи вълни, но са и по-скъпи. Те са по-сигурни, но често (не винаги) са и по-бавни. Наричат ги „тухли“. Нашата Фата Моргана е от тухлите.

Иво

Иво

Също така държавата в която е построена лодката има значение. Около Южна Африка са едни от най-турболентните опасни води в света с безмилостни ветрове, огромни вълни и силни течения. Кой не е чувал за Нос Добра Надежда и неговата репутация? Затова, яхтите построени там са направени с цел да устоят на лоши метеорологични условия.

Фата Моргана

Фата Моргана

На второ място в списъка ни с изисквания беше пространството и разположението вътре в лодката. Не сме тръгнали на къмпинг за 1-2 месеца, нито на състезание. Смятаме да живеем на вода години наред. Затова лодката ни прилича на къща отвътре, а не на палатка, с всички удобства и комфорт. Имаме 3 идентични големи кабини всяка с двуместно легло и много място за дрехи, книги, играчки и т.н. Имаме си бели чаршафи и възглавници, също като в къща, само дето матраците са направени от специален бързо-съхнещ дунапрен за лодки.

Фата Моргана-Разположение

Фата Моргана-Разположение

1.-Кабина (склад)

2-Кабината на Мая

3-Кабината на Иво и Мира

4-Салон

5-кухня

6-тоалетна

7-тоалетна

8-баня

9-рулево

Кабината на Иво и Мира

Кабината на Иво и Мира

Кабината на Мая (вечен безпорядък)

Кабината на Мая (вечен безпорядък)

Стълбите от кухнята към левият корпус

Стълбите от кухнята към левият корпус

В левият корпус се намират двете кабини на Мая и на Виктор, с тесен коридор и тоалетна посредата. Сега когато Виктор вече не живее с нас на лодката, ползваме неговата кабина за склад. В десният корпус се намира нашата кабина, малка тоалетна и голяма баня с душ. По средата между двата корпуса има издигнато помещение разделено на две пространства. По-голямото е салона с 4-5-местен диван около трапезарна маса, която може да слиза надолу с механизъм и се превръща в думестно легло за гости, а по-малкото е кухнята където си имам мивка с две ванички, електрически хладилник и фризер с хоризонтално затваряне, фурна с двоен котлон на газ и няколко шкафчета и долапчета.

Леглото на Иво и Мира

Леглото на Иво и Мира (с прозерец към звездите)

кухнята

кухнята и хола

Печката, машината за хляб и др.

Печката, машината за хляб и др.

Всеки сантиметър на лодката е максимално уползотворен, няма нито едно неизползваемо място. В предната тясна част на корпусите, под леглата и под дивана има големи пространства за багажи и провизии. Двете тоалетнички са доста тесни, и ако си един много дебел човек няма да можеш да се събереш вътре. Дори „голямата баня с душа“ най-вероятно би ви се сторила малка, ако не сте живяли на лодка преди и ако я сравнявате с банята в къщи. Но имайте в предвид, че много лодки изобщо нямат нито бани нито тоалетни. Само една кофа с въже на дръжката…

Тоалетната до спалняата на Иво и Мира

Тоалетната до спалняата на Иво и Мира (електрическа, работи с копче, което помпа морска вода)

"Голямата" баня с душ

„Голямата“ баня с душ

Но най-обширното пространство на нашата яхта, където си прекарваме най-много време е „верандата“ в задната част където е руля. Там имаме втора маса с място за 6 човека и още 2 места срещу масата. В сравнение с повечето 12-метрови лодки, еднокарпусни и катамарани, нашата веранда е огромна. Когато имаме гости спокойно се събираме десетина човека. Тук се храним и гледаме филми вечерно време на ротиращ се телевизор, който Иво монтира и можем да гледаме в салона или на верандата.

Верандичката. В Гватемала на гости ни дойде цялото село индианци от племето Кекчи.

Верандичката. В Гватемала на гости ни дойде цялото село индианци от племето Кекчи.

Когато бяхме в Гватемала платихме да ни ушият от специален прозрачен материал заграждение, нещо като „опаковка“ на верандата. Прилича малко на оранжерия или на остъклен балкон, само че има ципове и може да се отваря напълно от всички страни за да не се запарваме вътре като доматчета в горещините на тропиците. Но ако стане студено, по време на дъжд или когато плаваме и вода хвърчи от всякъде, затваряме „оранжерията“ и така нищо вътре не се мокри.

The cockpit with its new enclosure

The cockpit with its new enclosure

Много от нещата на нашата лодка построихме и променихме след като я купихме. Например, Иво напълно промени механизма за вдигане на дингито от водата, който преграждаше достъпа към задната част на лодката и сега там спокойно си минаваме и даже си монтирахме барбекю на парапетчето. Често си печем рибка, пилешки крилца, пържолки, каквото изпадне. Освен това, махнахме мекия покрив над верандичката и построихме твърд покрив от фибростъкло върху който монтирахме поле от слънчеви батерии. Произвеждаме повече ток от колкото имаме нужда и захранваме всички електронни уреди на борда: хладилника, компютрите, телевизора, лампите, машината за превръщане на морска вода в сладка и т.н. Колегите-мореплаватели навсякъде ни завиждат за слънчевите батерии и литиумните акумулатори, а ние по цели вечери светим като коледна елхичка, правим си лед, аз даже си ползвам машината за правене на хляб и изобщо не пестим ток, имаме прекалено много.

Най-задната част на Фата Моргана

Най-задната част на Фата Моргана

Иво и Виктор монтират слънчевите батерии

Иво и Виктор монтират слънчевите батерии

Повечето хора имат дизелови или бензинови генератори и периодично ги пускат да си зареждат акумулатроните батерии, които им зареждат електрониките. Ако нямат генератор, направо пускат двигтеля на лодката който върши същата работа, но харчи още повече гориво. Често това им е оправданието защо не плават на платна дори когато имат благоприятен вятър, ами се придвижват на мотори. Да заредим батериите, казват. Ние сме едни от малкото, които нямат генератор и нямат нужда от генератор, нито ни се налага да включваме двигателите за да зареждаме акумулаторите. Слънчевите батерии са ни предостатъчни, с 1500 вата зареждащи литиумни акумулатори, които Иво след дълго четене в интернет намери много евтини, купи и инсталира сам. Всъщност, до сега не сме срещнали нито сме чували за друга лодка с литиумни акумулаторни батерии, произвеждаща подобно количство слънчева енергия, която няма нужда да купува гориво за правене на ток. Нито ни трябва гориво да се придвижваме, защото използваме изключително само платната и вятъра.

Поле от слънчеви батерии (снимка от мачтата)

Поле от слънчеви батерии (снимка от мачтата)

И както споменах, с безплатната слънчева енергия си произвеждаме безплатна питейна вода с помощта на десалинаторна машина, която инсталирахме още в началото. Машината има капацитет да прави 50 литра вода на час и харчи 11-12 ампера ток на час. За да поддържаме пълни до дупка водните резервоари на лодката които побират 800 литра вода, пускаме десалинаторната машина за по 1-2 часа на всеки 2-3 дена. Тя работи на принципа на обратната осмоза, или прекарване на морската вода чрез много високо налягане през филтри. Резултата е прясна вода лишена от всякакви соли и минерали, чиста течност, напълно годна за пиене и не по-малко „вкусна“ от обикновенната сладка вода, само че без хлор и без минерали. Чиста Н2О която ползваме не само за пиене, но и за миене, за къпане и за пране, без да пестим много. Къпем се всеки ден по 1-2 пъти и перем на ръка в кофи само със сладка вода. Когато е облачно и дъждовно, правим по-малко ток, но и харчим по-малко защото не се налага да пускаме машината за вода, ами събираме дъждовна вода посредством маркучи, които се спускат от двете страни на големият твърд покрив към кофи или директоно към резервоарите за вода.

Пране на лодката

Пране на лодката

И така, оборудвахме лодката и я превърнахме в напълно независим от всякакви горива кораб. Повечето хора ходят да зареждат дизел или бензин поне 1-2 пъти в месеца: за лодката, за дингито или за генератора. Ние изобщо не зареждаме. Това ни спестява не само огромно количество пари, но и ни позволява да пуснем котва в някой безлюден залив, където наблизо няма жива душа, и да си стоим там неограничено време, без да имаме нужда да зареждаме бензин, дизел или сладка вода. Освен това по този начин съвестта ни е чиста спрямо природата. Фата Моргана е напълно екологична и не замърсяаваме нито водата нито въздуха. Също така си имаме триместен каяк и само него си го ползваме да ходим до брега и навсякъде, дори на места където дингитата немогат да ходят. Каяка ни се казва Агент Оранжев (кръстен на химичното оръжие използвано от американската армия по време на войната във Виетнам) и си го обичаме като член от семейството. Подариха ни го едни приятели от флорида. Старичък и очукан е, ама ни върши неоценима работа.

Ivo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off...

Ivo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off…

Катамараните имат няколко много големи предимства пред еднокарпусните лодки и няколко много големи недостатъка.

С Иво не претендираме да сме експерти по въпроса, но ето какво сме научили:

Предимства:

1. катамараните газят по-плитко,
2. са по-бързи,
3. имат повече пространство вътре,
4. могат да излизат на плажа без да се килват на една страна,
5. когато са закотвени и има вълни не се клатушкат,
6. не се накланят по време на преходи,
7. ако случайно се преобърнат не потъват.

Недостатъци:

1. вероятноста да се преобърнат е по-голяма,
2. веднъж като се обърнат е почти невъзможно да се изправят с мачтата нагоре,
3. минималният ъгъл срещу вятъра е по-голям (това само хора с лодки могат да го разберат)
4. по време на преходи вълните се удрят в „коремчето“ им,
5. и са по-скъпи.

Фата Моргана, Антигуа

Фата Моргана, Антигуа

Катамараните газят плитко

Еднокорпусните лодки имат дълбоки тежки килове, които им дават стабилност. Катамараните нямат нужда от килове, защото тяхната сабилност идва от факта, че имат два корпуса, все едно са широко разкрачени на два крака, а не балансират на един. Разликата в дълбочината на газене между катамараните и еднокорпусните лодки е не повече от метър-метър и половина, но е от голямо значение. На много места по света, на Бахамите например, около рифовете и малките островчета, само плитко газещи лодки имат достъп. Веднъж ни се наложи да минаваме през едно много плитко местенце между два острова и десният ни корпус леко опря пясъка. Но минахме и си спестихме огромна заобиколка. Ако бяхме с еднокорпусна лодка, нямаше да успеем, щяхме да се забием в пясъка и да се килнем на една страна. Също така, факта че газим плитко ни позволява да пуснем котва на две крачки от брега и да си плуваме до плажа. Еднокорпусните винаги са по-назад, в по-дълбокото.

На котва, Форт д' Франс, Мартиника

На котва, Форт д’ Франс, Мартиника

Катамараните са по-бързи

Защото нямат дълбоки килове а стоят на повърхността, катамараните и тримараните са принципно доста по-бързи от еднокорпусните лодки. Скоростта на всяка еднокорпусна яхта зависи от дължината на корпуса. Колкото са по-дълги, толкова са по-бързи. Има си математическа формула по която може да се изчисли колко е максималната скорост на дадена лодка спрямо дължината и тежестта и, независимо от скоростта на вятъра. Цяла наука е. Скоростта на катамараните е теоритически неограничена и зависи от тежестта на лодката и скоростта на вятъра.

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Катамараните имат повече пространство

12-метров катамаран има почти двойно повече пространство вътре от 12-метрова еднокорпусна лодка. Квадраурата на нашата 12-метрова (38 фута) лодка: количеството каюти, тоалетни, бани, размера на „верандата“, салона и кухнята, се равнява на повече от 18-метрова (50 фута)еднокорпусна лодка. Ние искахме да купим просторна яхта с място за четири човека вътре но не много голяма, защото колкото е по-дълга лодката, толкова е по-трудна за управляване, има нужда от по-голям екипаж и е с по-скъпа поддръжка. Пристанищните такси или таксите за ремонт се изчисляват спрямо дължина на лодката, не квадратура. Това означава, че нашата Фата Моргана, въпреки че вътре има пространство като за 18-метрова лодка, плаща почти навсякъде цената за 12-метрова лодка. Някои по-луксозни пристанища в Европа таксуват катамараните двойно, но в повечето места по света все още ги таксуват според линейна дължина, независимо дали са еднокорпусни или дву-корпусни.

Кухня и салон, Фата Моргана

Кухня и салон, Фата Моргана

 

 

Катамараните могат да излизат на сушата

Еднокорпусните лодки не могат да се засилят и да излязат на плажа без това да има фатални последствия. Катамараните могат, защото имат два корпуса и нямат килове.

Fata Morgana at anchor in Barbuda

Fata Morgana at anchor in Barbuda

Катамараните не се клатушкат

Не само докато плават, но и в някои пристанища където се образуват вълни, катамараните, разкрачени и стабилни, нито се накланят нито се клатушкат, докато еднокорпусните танцуват наяво-надясно, чаши и чинии падат по земята и хората се оплакват от морска болест.

Катамарани в Мартиника

Катамарани в Мартиника

Катамараните не се накланят

Ако сте на еднокорпусна лодка, преди да тръгнете на плаване, трябва да приберете всичко което евентуално може да падне, защото ви предстоят часове или дни наклонени на ляво или на дясно, под ъгъл между 10 и 45 градуса. Леглото ви е под 45 градуса, масата ви е под 45 градуса, тоалетната ви е под 45 градуса. Защото вятъра винаги напъва от едната страна и еднокорпусната яхта се накланя на другата. Не и катамарана. Катамарана си стои вертикално изправен стъпал на двата си корпуса и можете да си готвите, спите, и вървите без да балансирате по наклонени повърхности. Аз често правя палачинки докато плаваме. Ако сте на еднокорпусна лодка, забравете за палачинки.

Фата Моргана плава покрай Мартиника, Диамантената Скала

Фата Моргана плава покрай Мартиника, Диамантената Скала

Катамараните не потъват

Всички лодки потъват, дори и катамараните, ако се натрошат на малки парченца. Но ако само се преобърнат при буря например, няма да потънат ами ще си останат на повърхността, защото в конструкцията им има много въздушни пространства, като термуси са. Еднокорпусните лодки, ако се преобърнат, се пълнят с вода и потъват за няколко часа или за няколко минути…

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Фата Моргана, Бахамите

Катамараните се преобръщат по-често

Поради липсата на тежък кил който да ги дърпа надолу, опасността да се превъртят е по-голяма при катамараните. За това трябва много да се внимава, особено при силни внезапни странични пориви на вятъра. Но ако капитана знае какво прави и внимава, ако не се състезава с други лодки и намаля повърхността на платната, не ги държи натегнати и ги наглася правилно спрямо силата и посоката на вятъра, вероятността да се преобърне катамаран намаля значително. Най-често това се случва при състезания.

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Регата, Джордж Таун, Бахамите

Катамараните не могат да се изправят ако се преобърнат

Понякога, по време на буря, се е случвало еднокорпусни лодки да се преобърнат и да се изправят отново с мачтата нагоре. Казва се „поворот овърборд“ ако не се лъжа. Първата вълна ги събаря, следващата ги завърта още повече и те се изправят, благодарение на кила. Катамараните, ако се катурнат, така си остават, освен ако не дойде специален кран да ги вдигне… Дано не се случва, нито на катамараните, нито на еднокорпусните…Не ми се иска да попадаме в нито една от двете ситуации…

 

Мая

Мая

Катамараните се движат с по-голям ъгъл срещу вятъра

Нито една платноходка не може да се движи срещу вятъра на платна, физически е невъзможно. Затова, когато вятърът духа точно от посоката в която искаме да отидем, се налага да караме в зиг-заг, така че вятърът да идва под минималния възможен ъгъл. Този ъгъл е по-малък при еднокорпусните лодки и е по-голям при катамараните. Колкото е по-малък ъгълът, толкова по-добре, защото отклонението е по-малко. И така, катамараните имамт по-голям ъгъл, но пък са по-бързи, така че загубата откъм ъгъла се компенсира откъм скоростта.

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Катамараните имат „коремчета“ в които се блъскат вълните

По време на преход, когато вълните са насрещни и по-големи, се удрят от време на време в средната повдигната част на катамараните между двата корпуса и не е приятно. Бум-бум, но не е опасно и се свиква, а и не се случва много често, само при определени условия.

Fata Morgana, Barbuda

Fata Morgana, Barbuda

Катамараните са по-скъпи

Цените на яхтите, за разлика от цените на дрехите и обувките които често са нелогични, са почти без изключение пропрционални с качеството. Колкото е по-скъпа една лодка, толквоа е по-добра. Ако намерите евтина, нова, здрава, луксозна яхта, значи сънувате. Или е евтина или е качествена. Ако е качествена и евтина, значи е много стара и най-вероятно има нужда от огромен ремонт, който може да ви излезе още по-солен. Катамараните са новото поколение лодки направени с по-добри материали и технологии и предлагат много повече пространство и комфорт, по време на преход и на котва. Затова са и принципно по-скъпи. Един катамаран като Фата Моргана струва колкото къщата ни в Канада, а често може и да е по-скъп.

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

 

Като цяло сме много доволни от нашият избор на лодка. Беше любов от пръв поглед, която се засилва с времето. Разчитаме много на Фата Моргана и се надяваме връзката ни да е дълготрайна.

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Надявам се, че от този изчерпателен доклад сте добили по-ясна представа за нашата лодка и за лодките по принцип. Може би дори вече знаете какъв бихте искали да е вашият бъдещ плаващ дом? Така както за всеки влак, така и за всяка лодка си има пътници. Отговорите на следните въпроси ще ви помогнат да определите коя е идеалната лодка за вас: с колко пари разполагате, къде смятате да плавате, как смятате да плавате (платна?мотори?), колко време, с колко човека на борда, с какво сте готови да правите компромиси и с каво не сте(пространство, лукс, мизерия, естетика).
Успех!

Фата Моргана, Мартиника

Фата Моргана, Мартиника

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В следващият епизод ще ви разкажа за това как си купихме яйца в Куба и други преживелици.

Предишни статии на български език можете да намерите тук.

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Ако имате въпроси или коментари можете да ни пишете в кометарите тук или да ни намерите във Фейсбук: Facebook/The Life Nomadik .

Не забравяйте да ни харесте във Фейсбук и да споделите тази страница с вашите приятели!

Мерси от екипажа на Фата Моргана!

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Happy One Year of Sailing To Us

Mira, Evo, Maya and Viktor 1 year The Life Nomadik

Mira, Evo, Maya and Viktor
1 year The Life Nomadik

 

Our Sailing Journey is One Year Old Today

 

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One year ago, in July 2013, we took off from Florida aboard Fata Morgana, our new home and ocean vehicle.We headed south.

In the next twelve months we visited a dozen countries and over 50 islands.

 

Florida

Fort Jefferson, Florida

Fort Jefferson, Florida

Cuba

Cuban girls

Cuban girls

Mexico

Tourists at Tulum

Tourists at Tulum

Guatemala

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The Bahamas

Maya and Mira

Maya and Mira

Dominican Republic

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Puerto Rico

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U.S. Virgin Islands

Water Island, Honeymoon Beach anchorage

Water Island, Honeymoon Beach anchorage

British Virgin Islands

The Baths, BVI

The Baths, BVI

Saba

Saba. View form Scout's Place bar and restaurant

Saba. View form Scout’s Place bar and restaurant

Sint Maarten

Evo's bottle, St Maarten

Evo’s bottle, Sint Maarten

Saint-Martin

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

St Barth

Anse de Flamand

Anse de Flamand

St Kitts&Navis

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Our Journey

We met remarkable people and made many new friends.

Noial, Sofia, and Maya in traditional mayan costumes. The skirt is called corte and the top is gupil. Mayan women in Guatemala wear similar clothes.

Noial, Sofia, and Maya in traditional mayan costumes. The skirt is called corte and the top is gupil. Mayan women in Guatemala wear similar clothes.

We swam with dolphins

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And we swam with pigs

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We walked across spectacular forests and river canyons.

Maya walking through the jungle, Guatemala

Maya walking through the jungle, Guatemala

We jumped from waterfalls

Viktor Jumping from Agua Caliente waterfall, Guatemala

Viktor Jumping from Agua Caliente waterfall, Guatemala

We entered caves

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting in a cave, Guatemala

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting in a cave, Guatemala

We discovered new flavors and fragrances.

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time. Saba

We snorkeled in coral gardens with tropical fishes in water like liquid glass.

Underwater sculpture of grand piano and mermaid, Bahamas

Underwater sculpture of grand piano and mermaid, Bahamas

We learned to surf

Maya

Maya

We got involved with many of the communities we visited, we volunteered and worked with the locals.

Near Finca Jocoro, Guatemala

Near Finca Jocoro, Guatemala

We met a whale

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And a sea turtle

A green sea-turtleheading back to the sea after laying her eggs.

A green sea-turtleheading back to the sea after laying her eggs.

We met howler monkeys

Black Howler Monkey

Black Howler Monkey

We saw flamingos

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We caught a lot of tasty fish

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

We lived the dream.

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We did all this while being very conscious about the fragile environment we enjoy so much.

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We sailed for over 3,700 nautical miles without polluting the air and the sea, almost not using the engines. fueling once every 6 months. We also used a kayak instead of a dinghy.

Mira "sailing" the kayak with an umbrella

Mira „sailing“ the kayak with an umbrella

We lived off-grid not paying electricity bills, water bills, mortgage, taxes, or any other bills thanks to our solar panels and watermaker.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels.

Our average speed was 3.7 knots which makes us Slow Pokes Drifters, but we had to sail against waves and tradewind most of the time heading east-southeast, tacking constantly, but not turning the engines on, no matter what.

Evo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off...

Evo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off…

 

Thank You!

The people we met along the way, whom we befriended, who helped us and guided us, who shared our adventures and joys are the most treasured part of our journey. We thank you!

Friends Key West, Florida

Friends
Key West, Florida

Tyler, you started us sailing and helped us so much. Thank you, we love you!

 

Vanessa Linsley, you were not just our broker, you literally adopted us, guiding and helping us so much. Thank you!

 

Rich, you were there for us when we needed you most. Thank you!

David, Lori, Kashara and Dylan, we value so much your company and all the lessons you thought us about sailing and cruising even before we started. Thank you!

 

Dale, you were the best boatyard neighbor. Thank you for the books and the veggies!

 

Peter, you fixed our jib and thought us so much in our first days of sailing, thank you!

 

Sherry and Nate, you adopted our Baba Ganoush, best thing that could happen to her! And you gave us Agent Orange! You have no idea how much we appreciate this kayak, thank you!

 

Tony, Cherri, Stacie, Ryan, Joey, Rebecca, Miranda, Sky, we had so much fun with all you guys in Key West. Thank you!

 

Suzy Roebling, we learned so much about sea turtles thanks to you and we really enjoyed the coconuts. Thank you!

 

April and Harley from s/v El Karma, you gave us lures, helped us to fix our watermaker, and shared some great moments in Cuba with us. Thank you!

 

 Daeli, Joni, Elan, Lovam, Noial, and Spirit from s/v Friendship, you and your journey inspire us so much. We love you, we miss you and we hope we will see you again soon!

 

Joseph, Jana, Katchka, and Anichka s/v Blizzard, so grateful we met you guys and shared so many crazy adventures in Guatemala together!

 

Alice s/v Suricats, yoga in the morning with Joni and you was one of the best things in Rio Dulce anchorage. Thank you!

 

Angie and Marty, thank you for your hospitality!

 

 Scot, Stephanie, Riley, and Wren, s/v Kiawa, without you our journey in the Bahamas wouldn’t be the same!

 

Ben Rusi, s/v Christel, great meeting you in the Bahamas!

 

Susanne and Jan s/v Peter Pan,so good sharing a few moments with you!

 

Mary, Shane and Franklin, great meeting you all, you have amazing stories! Hope we meet again around Australia next year!

 

Kate and Rob, nice bumping into you, twice!

 

Gabriel and Jade, how awesome of you to take us surfing in the Dominican Republic and show us how it’s done! Thank you!

 

Joao, Nae, Maria, and Noel, s/v Dee, it was wonderful having friends along the way between Domincan Republic, Puerto Rico and St Maarten, and sharing so many moments (and a rental car)!

 

Ivan, Nikola, Peter, Nanny, we had the best time with you in the Bahamas and in Puerto Rico, good old friends. Thank you for your visit and for all the gifts!

 

Greg and Michelle s/v Semper Fi, great meeting you in Puerto Rico guys and sharing your amazing stories! Thank you for the tips, the T-shirts, and the hats!

 

Tom, you mad our stay in Water Island unforgettable, thank you!

 

Ilian and Bisi, it was so great meting you in Saba, hope we meet again!

 

Martine Dora and Raphael, happy to have met you in St Maarten, hope we see each other again, maybe in Tahiti? Raphael, thank you for the ride!

 

Line and Corentin, thank you for your company in St Kitts and for the music!

 

Sejah Joseph, thank you for being our friend and guide in St Kitts!

 

We also want to thank our Sponsors, all those companies and individuals who supported our journey. Thank you!

 

 

What’s Next?

Our plans are weather dependent and as fluid as the sea. If all is well, we will keep sailing south the Windward Islands, exploring some more interesting places, until we reach Tobago. From there we will sail west to Columbia, then Panama and across the canal to the South Pacific and Australia next year.

 

Follow our journey and LIKE us on Facebook to find out what will happen in our SECOND year of sailing. Everyone is welcome aboard!

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

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Saba The Impossible

Anegada Passage

Early in the morning we set sail from Virgin Gorda’s east anchorage at Saba Rock to St Maarten, an 85 nautical miles passage against Trade Winds and Atlantic swells. Most cruisers motor or motor-sail heading east across the Anegada passage to get it over with as soon as possible. Not us, we are purists, strictly sailing, no engines for us.

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We head northeast. Then tack southeast. Our progress is so slow. In the afternoon we can still see the round belly of Virgin Gorda (The Fat Virgin) floating on the horizon behind us. We estimate it will take us about two days and nights of tacking, about 48 hours. 80 NM from point A to point B can become 160 NM, even more, when zigzagging. With about 20 kt winds and 4 to 6 foot waves stopping us, Fata barely goes with 4 knots. And there are some weird currents, as if always against us.

In the evening small storm cells start floating our direction, a string of dark clouds that come with sudden puffs and rain we’d rather avoid. We watch them closely on the radar and tack north to run away from one tacking back southeast when the danger has passed. We manage to cross the string of squalls without hitting any.

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The sunset is spectacular that day. The sky and sea look smeared with blood, Viktor says ominously. And then the night, thick disorienting blackness, takes over. Since that storm in the Yucatán Channel, we dread the night. We take turns on the helm, short naps in the cockpit. The wind is steady from east, but the currents are messing with us. We get pushed south and by midnight another island looks closer to us on the charts. We change course for Saba, 25 NM south of St Marten.

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We have gained enough height the previous day tacking north, so now sailing southeast on a starboard tack takes us quickly to Saba, an island we know nothing about. On the charts it looks round with no bays and no anchorages on the east and south lee sides. We read what the cruising guide has to say about approaching the island, anchoring, and any other information that will prepare us for what to expect. But there is nothing that can prepare you for Saba. Saba you have to see and experience.

The morning reveals the lonely shadow of a small mountain sticking out of the sea, like an epiphany.

Saba, The Impossible

You must imagine a sleeping volcano, about 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) in territory, rising vertically from the sea, reaching 3,000 feet (1,000 meters), its inaccessible perilous cliffs like the dark back of a sea monster, its green peak where mountain goats roam, always wearing a fashionable white cloud.

Saba
Saba

It’s impossible for ships to access the island. Where would the ships drop anchor if there isn’t a single bay, a single anchorage, a single beach?(Even Columbus who sighted the island in 1493 didn’t attempt to stop.)

It’s impossible for people to live here. Only ships bring people and supplies.

It’s impossible to build towns. The terrain is too steep.

It’s impossible to build a road connecting the towns. The terrain is really too steep.

Most of all, it’s impossible to build an airport. A plane cannot land on a mountain.

There are so many things deemed ‘impossible’ which actually happened on Saba.

Once uninhabited, the island became a territory of The Netherlands in 1816. People and goods arrived on the island via the leeward west shore which, even though there is no harbor, offered some shelter from ocean swells, but boats could only land in calm seas. There the Sabans cut steep steps in the rock to be able to climb on land, a stone ladder so vertical it looks surreal when seen from the sea. All cargo, including a piano once, and a bishop, was unloaded by men standing in the water waist deep and then hauled up the ladder. During invasions it was easy to protect the island with piles of boulder let loose when the attackers were climbing the hills.  

The Ladder

The Ladder

Little by little Dutch, Scottish, and English settlers along with Africans brought as slaves built two villages. One on the bottom of the south side, called “The Bottom” and another on the windward east side called “Windwardside” with houses perched on the edge of cliffs and atop hills up and down the slopes of the island. Even though evidently they did not have much imagination for naming places, the settlers became farmers and fishermen, cobblers and boat builders, creating a unique strong-willed community based on hard work and mutual help. But they had no road linking the two villages.

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In the 1940s Dutch engineers arrived on Saba to look into ‘the road problem’. They came, measured and calculated, and then they declared “It’s impossible to build a road here, the terrain is too steep.” And they left. But one Saban didn’t believe them. Joseph Lambert Hassel, Lambee, born in 1906 took a correspondence course in road building from the International School of Correspondence in the U.S. and with no formal training he designed and supervised the impossible building of the impossible 9-mile long road which they named “The Road”.

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It took a crew of local farmers and fishermen 20 years, using no machinery, only wheelbarrows to finish The Road. For the support walls they used volcanic stones and for the road itself they used cement imported from Puerto Rico. And, as government funding was refused, a local merchant eager to see the road finished paid for the cement. No one could guarantee that the building of the road would be successful, yet the first car arrived on the island in 1947, ten years before the completion of the project. The Road, Lambee’s road, inconceivably steep at places and with drastic 8-curves, was finished in 1958.

The Road

The Road

The Road

The Road

 

The Road

The Road

 

Now, how about an airport, the Sabans asked.

The Dutch engineers returned on Saba once again. And once again the experts declared “It’s impossible to build an airport runway, there is no space.” And they left!

You might have guessed (and as I’m writing this I have tears in my eyes), but the Sabans, once again, didn’t believe them and proved them wrong. They found the flattest spot on the island, called “Flat Point” and cleared it by hand. In 1959 French pilot Remi de Haenen from St. Barth’s became the first man to land an aircraft on the dirt strip at Flat Point proving it’s possible. In 1963 the airport was a fact with a 400-meter (1,300 ft) landing strip, the shortest commercial runway in the world, where only specially trained pilots flying small aircrafts may land.

It must be quite an experience arriving on Saba by plane. We watched one landing, and it was incredible. The plane started slowing down long before approaching the airstrip and miraculously stopped almost immediately after hitting the ground. If the pilot cannot stop because the speed is too fast, they touch down and then lift off on the other side to try a second time.

Our Saba

We approach Saba at noon on the second day of our passage, sooner than we expected, but then, we expected to get to St Marten, not Saba. On the west lee side, which in east Trade winds should be the most weather-protected side, an anchorage is indicated on the charts called Wells Bay, even though it isn’t exactly a bay.

Fata Morgana moored at Wells Bay

Fata Morgana moored at Wells Bay

There isn’t an anchorage, there isn’t a beach. All we see is rocks, rugged black magma towers, sharp and broken, and the red vertical cliffs of the island. There is a row of 9 mooring balls all vacant and not at all close to the island. We grab one. The depth is 60 feet, the water is dark blue. It feels as if you are stopped out in the open sea, holding on to a small mooring ball. Accelerated puffs turn around the island all the time and the boat violently pulls on its mooring ball. Really hard to sleep peacefully here at night. Saba’s shores and waters are so harsh and unforgiving that not many boaters venture this way. Saba is also off-limits for most charter boats; they are not allowed here.

Rocks in Wells Bay, and stone beach, Saba

Rocks in Wells Bay, and stone beach, Saba

From where we are we see only one house up on the green hill and the beginning of a road at the foot of the island. We also see The Ladder which no one uses anymore. There isn’t a marina, not even a dinghy dock, and the shore is rocky. The only way to access the forbidden land from this side is by kayak, a dinghy won’t do.

We kayak to shore and begin climbing the steepest cement road in the world surrounded by thick tropical vegetation, huge elephant ears and ferns, fragrant flowers and tamarind trees. There are no cars, no people, only shy mountain goats grazing on the steep hillsides. The place looks deserted. It takes us an hour to reach the top of the hill, all sweaty, legs hurting, hearts exploding. We have climbed up to The Bottom.

 

View of The Bottom from The Road

View of The Bottom from The Road

The Bottom, even though on top of a hill, is still in the foot of the volcano, Mount Scenery, about 3,000 feet tall. It is a fairy tale village, hard to believe real people live here and not elves. All houses etched against the dark mountain are painted white with green rims around the windows and doors, and red roofs, white picket fences, tropical flower, and mango trees. Each house has its own rainwater collection system, some almost two hundred years old made of stone, as there is no freshwater on the island.

House and rainwater rock cistern on the slope of the hill.

House and rainwater rock cistern on the slope of the hill.

We decide to go to the other village, Windwordside. Every car passing us on the road stops and people offer us a ride, and we have to explain that, in order to see and experience the place, we rather walk the 9-mile road, The Road.

House in Windwardside, Saba

House in Windwardside, Saba

We pass by the Saba University School of Medicine, established by American expatriates, whose international students make up a fifth of the entire population on the island, which is about 2,000 residents (and probably about 2,000 wild goats roaming freely in the forests, villages, crossing the roads, and eating the mangoes that fall from the trees every now and then). Thanks to the university, there is an excellent hospital in Saba providing residents with medical care. Most Sabans are in fact born on the island and some have never ever left it.

Saba University School of Medicine

Saba University School of Medicine

Half the Sabans are white, the other half are black, and when I asked if there is any racism, they told me: “We have lived together for many generations in this tightly-knitted community, isolated from the rest of the world, helping each other. So, no, there isn’t a trace of racism in Saba; in fact we have many mixed-race families.”

Church and graveyard, Saba

Church and graveyard, Saba

The Windwardside, much like The Bottom, is another fairytale place with white red-roofed houses perched on the slopes of hills overlooking the sea. Santa Claus summer retreat. There is an art gallery displaying local artists’ paintings and crafts, a few restaurants and shops. From here begins the long steep but pleasant trail to the top of Mount Scenery, a 90-minute hike up among pristine tropical rainforest, referred to as “The Elfin Forest”. And it is not the only trail, there are many around the island, all maintained by the park service.

View from the trail

View from the trail

We spend 5 unforgettable days in Saba, snorkeling near the volcanic shores, hiking up Mount Scenery, the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and The Ladder, walking the steep road to The Bottom every morning, trying tropical fruits we never seen before thanks to Paul, the owner of The Bean Coffee Shop in The Bottom, hitchhiking between the two villages, drinking beer in Scout’s Place bar with the most stunning view.

Scout's Place Restaurant

Scout’s Place Restaurant

View form the restaurant

View form the restaurant

 

And if I tell you it’s impossible to meet other Bulgarians in such a remote Caribbean island, almost inaccessible, with barely 800 households, you must know by now, it isn’t true. Everything is possible in Saba! We meet Ilian and his girlfriend Bisi the day after we arrive, and we learned that one of the professors in the Medical University as well as one of the international students there are from Bulgaria too.

Ilian and Evo (we met again in St Maarten)

Ilian and Evo (we met again in St Maarten)

Ilian is a professional diver born and raised in the same Bulgarian city Evo and me were born and raised, Varna. He has come to work as diving instructor at the dive shop, Saba Deep, for a short period of time, as Saba is one of the world’s best diving sites with underwater magma towers, coral fields, and over 150 thousand species of fish. And although we didn’t have much time to spend together, our bond based on common interests and worldviews became as strong as the one linking good old friends. We hope our paths will cross again.

Views of Saba

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The Ladder

The Ladder

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Steps up the Ladder

Steps and path up the Ladder

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Paul at The Bean Coffee Shop, best on the island.

Paul at The Bean Coffee Shop, best on the island.

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time

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Trail to Mount Scenery

Trail to Mount Scenery

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Mira on top of Mount Scenary

Mira on top of Mount Scenery

Maya and Mira, eating crackers on Mount Scenery, Saba

Maya and Mira, eating crackers on Mount Scenery, Saba

 

Evo getting 3 ripe papayas. There are many fruit trees in the wild on Saba and usually animals eat the fruit.

Evo getting 3 ripe papayas. There are many fruit trees in the wild on Saba and usually animals eat the fruit. We also got some bananas and lemons.

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British Virgin Islands. Empire of The Cats

 

British Virgin Islands

The BVI, a British Overseas Territory east of Puerto Rico, consists of over 50 volcanic islands and cays, some big and some small, of which 15 are inhabited. The inhabitants, full British and European Union citizens, are descendants of African slaves brought to work on the sugarcane plantations in the 18th century. Today, the main economy in the BVI is tourism accounting for about half of the national income. The other half is generated by offshore banking.

Sunset Cats in the BVI

Sunset Cats in the BVI

One of the world’s greatest sailing destinations, the anchorages around the islands are crowded with sailboats even off-season, mostly chartered catamarans. We have never seen so many cats in one place. It’s truly phenomenal. Our boat, Fata Morgana, a 38 foot Leopard, was once chartered in these waters too. But now newer and bigger cats rented for a few days’ vacation zoom motoring back and forth between the islands, rarely sailing at all. People chartering boats in the BVI don’t always know how to sail, navigate or even be civilized. (They think a boat is like a car and love to go ‘full-power’.)One boat hit us in one of the anchorages but didn’t cause any damage, and another, ironically named Serenity, with 6 or 7 older folks aboard, drunk and ignorant, kept us and the rest of the anchored boats awake all night with their loud stupid conversations and music.

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We clear in in Jost Van Dike anchoring for a couple of days in the bay near the beach. There are many mooring balls $30 per night, but we have the option to anchor for free instead, and that is what we do. Apart from the $37 entry fee and $2 for 2 slush drinks we don’t spend a dollar more during our two-week stay in the BVI, eating and drinking from our provisions, hiking and hitchhiking to places on land, and sneaking in national parks afterhours.

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In the next days we island-hop to Tortola, Lee Bay in Great Camano, Virgin Gorda and we finally stage our next big passage to St Martin at Saba Rock.

Even though too crowded for our taste, we loved all the places we visited in the BVI, each one for a different reason, but if we have to recommend one it will be The Baths on Virgin Gorda, of course.

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And I have to mention Lee Bay again, a small secluded unpopular bay on the west side of Great Camano island with incredible snorkeling which a young cruising couple we met first in the Dominican Republic and again near Tortola, Stephen and Natasha Smith (skydiving instructors and gravity coaches) told us about. Thank you guys! We loved Lee Bay and we loved meeting you again in the BVI. And (if you are reading this) thank you for the chicken and beef broth-base and seasoning! Hope our paths will cross again someday!

Lee Bay

Lee Bay

Jost Van Dike

The smallest of the four main islands of the BVI, 8 square kilometers or 3 square miles, Jost Van Dike offers a deep protected harbor for boaters on the south side, Great Harbour, with customs and immigration on shore, a nice little beach and various beach bars and restaurants; and a challenging steep hike to its highest point, Majohnny Hill at 321 meters.

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Tortola

The largest and most populated of the BVI, Tortola is a volcanic mountainous island with an area of 55 square kilometers or 21 square miles. We anchor on the north side where the best beaches are and spend a day hiking up and down a winding mountain road all the way from Cane Garden Bay to Smuggler’s Cove, the beach where The Old Man and the Sea with Anthony Queen was filmed. On the way we also visit an old rum brewery still working, and the North Shore Shell Museum in Carrot Bay. We hitchhike on the way back.

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Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

 

The old rum brewery

The old rum brewery

Smugglers Cove

Smugglers Cove

 

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

The North Shore Shell Museum

The shell museum is a funky old house full of local shells and wisdoms both carefully collected and preserved by the artist for over 25 years. A magical labyrinth, very much like the soul of a black Caribbean  man. Among the thousands, maybe millions of seashells stuck on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, there are signs painted on wood, for sale, quotes given to the artist by friends and family. A heartbreaking collection of authentic local voices. “I ask my friends what do you remember your father or mother said, and they tell me. I just write it down on the board.”

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

A MAN IS LIKE A BIRD. LOOK INSIDE

 

MR JOE WIFE TELL HIM. YOU IS A SICK MAN.BUT O BOY. WHEN JOE SEE A YOUNG GIRL. HE JUMP FOR JOY

 

MR DICK SAID. JUST FOR PEACE SAKE. SOMETIME YOU WALK OUT THE HOUSE LEAVE WIFE AND ALL. O GOD HELP ME

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TWO LADY LIVE IN ONE HOUSE. JANE GO TO CHURCH ON SATURDAY. MARY GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY. AND FIGHTING OVER A MAN

 

TELL ALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS COME

 

THE OLD MAN SAY. I AM SO DOWN. HE SAY O GOD HELP THE FALLING BROTHER. HELP COME HIS WAY. MARTER SAY PUT SOME IN MY CUP

The Artist

The Artist

OLD LADY TELL HER SON. DAN WHEN YOU DO GOOD GOD BLESS YOU

 

THE LITTLE BOY SAY. SEA WATER LOOK GOOD BUT I CANT SWIM

 

THE OLD MAN TELL HIS WIFE. I HAD TWO FOOT.SHIT WILL FLY ALL DAY LONG

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COME HOME MARY. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW SWEET LIFE IS ON TILL YOU WALK IN MY HAND. I LOOK UP. I LOOK DOWN

 

SOME MEN SAY LOVE IS LIKE A TREE

 

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IN HIS HAND. HE JUMP WITH JOY. TO SEE HOW MUCH HE HAVE IN HIS HAND. BUT O GOD HE NEVER SHARE. I HAVE SO MUCH BUT MY SOUL IS LOST

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COMING SOON. CAPTAIN COOK. SEAFOOD MARKET

 

THE OLD MAN. WITH THE BUTTY FULL LADY. BUT HE CANOT SLEEP WITH HIS TWO EYES CLOSED. HELL

 

MISS JANE TELL HER HUSBAND. I GOT A ROOM IN HEAVEN FOR YOU. BUT YOU GOT TO PAY ME FIRST NO WAYET ME ON THE OTHER SIDE. WHEN HE COME-A-MAN

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MARRY SAY. JANE YOU IN THE SAME BOAT TOO. HELP ME

 

COLUMBUS LIE. HE TRY TO FOOL THE PEOPLE. THAT HE DID NOT SEE ANYONE. BUT HE HAD TO RUN LIKE HELL

 

HARRY GO TO THE TOP FLOOR. AND GET A DRINK

 

JOHN TELL HIS WIFE JANE LIFE IS SO HARD SHE TELL HIM GET UP YOUR OLD ASS AND LOOK WORK

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Lee Bay, Great Camano

Hidden between rocky shores is a small bay not everyone knows about. There are no mooring balls here and anchoring is tricky as the bay is deep and rocky getting shallow and sandy only too close to the beach. And not many venture this way. It is fun watching the charter boats arriving and trying to anchor unsuccessfully again and again sometimes for hours. But the best part of the bay are its volcanic rock formations covered with corals below water which are like a fish nursery with dense schools of tiny fishes swimming around. We spend two days here snorkeling for hours and kayaking along the rocks and many grottos.  

Rock in Lee Bay

Rock in Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

 

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

 

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The Baths, Virgin Gorda

On the west tip of Virgin Gorda there is a spectacular geological wonder. Huge granite boulders of beautiful shapes and impressive proportions once imbedded in volcanic lava stand near the shore and in the water forming grottos and saltwater ponds. It is a different world above and below water, a world of coral cities and fish citizens, of ancient labyrinths and giants. We have been cruising since almost one year now visiting many places, spending months in Florida, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, but we have never seen anything like The Baths: the best snorkeling site hands down.

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

The Baths is a park with mooring balls getting filled with boats, 40 to 50, by noon each day, and no overnight mooring permitted. But just a short distance to the east, there is a small bay, Spring Bay where we drop anchor in front of a fabulous beach and spend 3 days kayaking and snorkeling to The Baths every afternoon, when the many boats and tourists have already left.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 Spring Bay Beach

Spring Bay Beach

 

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

A short hike in the park, The Baths

A short hike in the park, The Baths

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

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Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya

Maya

 

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Evo

Evo

 

Mira

Mira

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Viktor

Viktor

 

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Mira

Mira

 

Maya

Maya

Saba Rock

On the east side of Virgin Gorda there is a vast bay among mangroves near Saba Rock where most cruisers heading across the Anegada Passage to St Martin stage their departure. On the east shore there is a marina, luxurious resorts and restaurants, and a few small sand beaches. The village is on the other side. We wait here one day before we start the 90 mile passage to St Martin taking advantage of the incredibly strong Wi-Fi coming from the bar on Saba Rock which everyone in the bay can catch from the boat, to check the weather and update the blog.

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The Murderous Mona Passage. Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico

After exactly one month in the Dominican Republic, a month full of unforgettable adventures and precious experiences all over the island, we are ready to continue our journey. But it doesn’t matter if we are ready or not. Continuing our journey depends entirely on the weather.

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The passage east from Luperon along the north cost of the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico is considered one of the most difficult and dangerous passage in the world. This 250 nautical mile stretch of Trade winds, high North Atlantic seas, untenable rocky shore, great variation in depths, unpredictable currents, and fast-forming storm cells across the Mona Passage and the Puerto Rican trench, the deepest hole in the Atlantic Ocean, has been the final stretch for many sound boats and experienced crews, including Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria.

For one month at anchor in Luperon we listened to the horror stories of fellow sailors who have braved these waters, many damaging even losing their boats.

“We call Luperon ‘The Trap’. You know why? Because lots of cruisers arriving from the Bahamas get stuck here for months even years and cannot continue east. Some sell their boats and take the plane home”, they tell us.

They also tell us that the only possible way to transit these waters safely is to study Bruce Van Sand’s book The Gentlemen’s Guide to Passages South and do exactly as he says. Not to read the book, to study it! Bruce Van Sand, “an American working internationally as systems engineer” who lives in Puerto Plata (and we had the good fortune to meet him there and chat for a while), has been cruising these waters for decades back and forth over 100 times and knows them better than anyone else. His book is the result of extensive research and experience providing all necessary information about choosing weather and sailing strategies, planning routes, understanding wind, land and cape effects, avoiding shoals, currents, and storms.

Cabo Samana, DR

Cabo Samana, DR

Luckily, we have the book.  We begin reading and re-reading it hoping the precious information inside it will enlighten and reassure us. It surely does enlighten us, but instead of reassuring us it terrifies us even more. In The Mona Passage and Sailing The North Shores chapters we read about such terrors as “the cape effect” which “can murder you”, “severe wicked thunderstorms” that “charge like bulls”, “a wedge of swift and raging water” behind capes, “unpredictable currents everywhere”, “coastal acceleration”, “ferocious swells”, “rough shoals”, “shock waves of heavy conditions” , and “hydro-thermodynamic chaos”. Sailing here can be “flat out suicidal”, according to the author. “You probably shall have the stuffing kicked out of you”.

Mira with Bruce Van Sand, Puerto Plata, DR

Mira with Bruce Van Sand, Puerto Plata, DR

Not a fun book to read if you are planning to actually go out there and attempt sailing the Dominican Republic north coast against the Trades and crossing the Mona Passage, but it surely thought us a lot, and we did appreciate every bit of information and advice in it. We did follow the few simple rules from the book and we did have “a thornless passage”

The rules:

·         Choose an oversized weather window;

·         Go only when the forecast gradient wind blows less than 15 knots south of east, less than 12 knots if blowing dead east, and less than 10 knots if the wind has any northerly component;

·         Hide behind the capes in the daytime and transit them at night motoring when the wind dies out due to the night lee and the katabatic wind effect;

·         Stay close to shore, 1 to 3 miles, or in about 80-100 feet depth;

·         Plan 2 nights and 1 day to cross the Mona Passage;

·         Stay clear of the shoals in the Mona Passage;

·         Avoid the storm cells by tacking north-northeast for half the Mona Passage and then tacking back south.

Wing-on-wing

Wing-on-wing

A weather window opens up right when we need it, after a month of steady 20-25 knot east trades and two days after we return from our epic Dominican Republic road trip ready to sail! It is a giant window of mild south and southeast winds less than 10 knots, an oversized window forecasted to be wide open for about a week with a period of deadcalm and virtually no swell. This kind of weather conditions form here probably once or twice a year. We and about a dozen more boats anchored in Luperon among which our friends the SailingDee family, grab the opportunity and…jump right out of the window!

Dolphins guiding Fata Morgana

Dolphins guiding Fata Morgana

We start in the evening, as Mr. Van Sand taught us, shamefully motoring, stopping in Rio San Juan, 50 NM east of Luperon, to rest for a few hours. We plan to stop again in Escondido, then in Samana, and finally in Punta Macao before crossing the Mona Passage but we end up sailing straight to Puerto Rico from Rio San Juan non-stop as the sea conditions are perfect and we decide to keep going. The crossing takes us 5 days, sailing 80% of the time, motoring only the first two nights along the Dominican north shore and past some of the capes. The Mona Passage is so calm, we let the kids steer the boat. We even have a period of becalmed seas but the “unpredictable shifting current” is in our favor and we slowly drift towards Puerto Rico, avoiding shoals and storm cells from the north.

We arrive in Ponce, Puerto Rico after 5 days of very pleasant relaxed sailing, our fuel tanks half-full (last fueled 5 months ago in Key West), nothing damaged on the boat, none of us tired or scared. We actually enjoyed this passage a lot, enjoyed sailing, and even enjoyed a nice big mahogany snapper who joined us for lunch (and for supper) near the Puerto Rican shores.

What to do with a big fish in 4 steps:

Step 1 – Pull it out of the water;

Step 2 – Remove head, skin, and bones and form nice juicy fillets;

Step 3 – Fry the fillets with egg and flour;

Step 4 – Enjoy!

Mahogany snapper

Step 1

 

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Step 2

 

Step 3

Step 3

Step 4

Step 4

 

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Our Friends, The Forbidden Island, David Copperfield, And The Barracudas.

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When our friends came to visit us in the Bahamas for a week they surely didn’t imagine that so many crazy things can happen in just a few days. Ivan, one of our best friends ever, his 16-year-old daughter Nanny, and 18-year-old son Nikola who is also Viktor’s best friend (the mastermind behind Viktor’s Achievement List), landed in George Town and survived a week aboard Fata Morgana sailing in good weather and in bad weather complete with a 35-knot squall and huge waves, entering through a narrow cut between rocks and breakers at night with the current against the boat and both the skipper and the helmsman (Evo and Mira) panicking, discovering a magical island and its enchanted inhabitant, spearfishing in barracuda-infested waters, snorkeling with stingrays and starfishes, swimming with sharks and mermaids, kayaking in a small grotto at night where the only light is from the photoluminescence in the water, almost burning down a palm tree, feeding coconuts to a man-eating dog, and eating barracudas every day.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

About 35 miles north of George Town is Rudder Cay. It is a private island with a few remote beaches and beautiful rocks with a small cave owned by the famous illusionist David Copperfield.

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

We were told that there are video cameras surveying the shores and a man-eating dog guarding the island’s secrets, so better don’t go ashore, you don’t want to mess with a magician and his rabid dog.

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As we get to the island, first thing’s first, we go ashore. Some of us swim, some of us pile on the kayak and we are all on the private beach in two minutes. We can’t wait to meet David Copperfield; he would be the first famous person we meet in the Bahamas.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

We roam the island, collect coconuts, and explore the cave, but no sign of the magician.

inside the cave

inside the cave

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Mira

Mira

 

Then suddenly, as we are peacefully chopping coconuts on the beach, a dark hungry creature emerges from of the bush. Is it David Copperfield? Is it Robinson Crusoe? Is it Tom Hanks? Is it the man-eating dog? We are seven people. Three say it’s a dog, four say it’s David Copperfield. Finally we agree it is the illusionist who, after a magic-trick-gone-wrong, turned himself into a dog.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo opening coconuts

Evo opening coconuts

 

A dog shows up.

David Copperfield

Poor David Copperfield, his fur matted and smelly, his nails overgrown, marooned on his island with no company, no food, and no freshwater.

David Copperfield is our friend

David Copperfield is our friend

He avidly eats about four coconuts, and from then on becomes our good island-friend and guide. We call him David for short.

David eating coconuts

David eating coconuts

The next day, while Ivan and Evo go spearfishing in the reefs, the kids, David, and I go to the other side of the island where we discover another secret beach. We bring leftover chicken bones and give them one by one to David. We have lots of fun. Everyone is happy.

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Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

 

Viktor and Nick

Viktor and Nick

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

 

same people, in the air

same people, in the air

 

Back on the boat, we organize a jumping competition.

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Same people, in the air

Same people, in the air

 

Evo doing a halo

Evo doing a halo

Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

 

Nick and Maya

Nick and Maya

In the evening, we go back to shore with a huge bone we promised David and we make a huge bonfire on the beach with driftwood and dry palm leafs. 

Fire on the beach

Fire on the beach

Nanny and David

Nanny and David

 

Around the fire

Around the fire

Evo, the pyromaniac, is having lots of fun that evening.

Evo burning down the house

Evo burning down the house

no explanation...

no explanation…

 

The next day, we discover another of this enchanted place’ secrets: a mermaid playing a grand piano underwater.

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The life-size sculpture commissioned by Copperfield made of stainless steel is submerged in about ten feet of water, and the trick is to find where exactly it is.

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Nick

Nick

 

Mira

Mira

Best time to see it is at low tide, when the current is not too strong.

Ivan (!?)

Ivan (!?)

We are all sad leaving the island after a couple of days, especially leaving David behind, alone again. Nanny really wants to adopt him.

Please, if anyone ever goes there, bring some food and freshwater to the dog who is not dangerous and is completely abandoned. He survives on spiders and lizards, and drinks seawater… We all thought abandoning a dog alone on an island (to guard the private property from trespassers) is an example of animal cruelty, and whether David Copperfield or someone else is responsible for this, it is not an honorable thing to do.

Next, we spend a few more days sailing from one island to another, spearfishing, snorkeling, exploring, swimming, jumping, and kayaking some more. Everyone has a blast. We even eat the barracudas Ivan catches all the time. People say you can get ciguatera poisoning from barracudas: a bacteria found in big predators who eat smaller fishes who eat corral, but Ivan has come to the Bahamas to fish and eat fish, and nothing could stop him from eating barracudas! Still, we take precautions: we only keep the smaller barracudas which are safer than the bigger ones and we let our guest taste a little piece of the fish first. Then we wait about an hour to see if something unusual will happen to our friend. If he is still alive after an hour, means the barracuda is safe to eat, and we stuff ourselves with the white tender filets. It is one of the best tasting fish we ever had, and is the easiest fish to catch. Yum!

Nick with grunt

Nick with grunt

Nanny with starfish

Nanny with starfish

 

Assorted fishes

Assorted fishes

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Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

 

Thus, a week passes way too fast, and when our friends leave it is hard to get used to the boat without them… We surely miss them.

Evo and Ivan

Evo and Ivan

Nick

Nick

 

Nanny

Nanny

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People of The Bahamas

“The islanders, as naked as their mothers bore them, are very simple and honest, and exceedingly liberal with all they have; none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it … they exhibit great love towards all others in preference to themselves; they also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with little or nothing in return… With 50 men you could subject everyone and make them do what you wished…”

– October 14, 1492, Christopher Columbus

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Columbus Taking Possession of The Bahamas

Lucayan Indians and Columbus

 

In 1492, on his way to India, Columbus “discovered” the “New World” making landfall on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, home of the Lucayan indigenous people. Barely 25 years after first contact with European Man, all these ‘very simple and honest’ islanders who had been living there peacefully for many centuries fishing in the shallow waters surrounding their tiny pieces of scattered land, were completely extinct, wiped out from the face of the earth, forever.

The genocide of the Bahamian native population had been achieved through imported European diseases, starvation, and mass abduction into slavery, for soon after the discovery, Columbus and his successor realized with disappointment that there was no gold and riches to be found on the islands; no resources of any value to the Spanish Crown, except people: working force for the mines and plantations further southwest in Cuba and The Americas: slaves, who didn’t last long.

Eleutheran Adventurers

 

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After the Spanish conquistadores, the Bahamas became a wasteland, abandoned, unpeopled, unclaimed, until 1649, when English Puritans known as “Eleutheran Adventurers” arrived in search of religious freedom and settled on the island today known as Eleuthera. By the end of the 17th century there were over a thousand settlers struggling to survive in a land made of sand and limestone, where agriculture was impossible.

Fortunately, many Spanish Galleons and other heavily laden cargo ships passing regularly through the deeper channels near islands and reefs on their way between the New and the Old World often ended up wrecked on the rocks, providing the peaceful god-fearing settlers with rich booty. Wrecking became the main local industry and soon pirates joined in. The age of piracy began.

Age of Piracy

 

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The well-traveled shipping routes around the island of New Providence made Nassau, an ungoverned lawless commercial port, pirates’ paradise lined with brothels and taverns for ‘common cheats, thieves and lewd persons’, where one could bump into famous pirates like Henry Morgan, Jack Calico, Blackbeard, and the terrifying Amazons Anne Boney and Mary Read. Their motto was Take what you can, give nothing back.

The looting of ships got so out of hand, that the King of England appointed a Royal Governor to Nassau whose job was to restore order. The Bahamas’ new motto was Expulsis Piratis – Restituta Commercia (Pirates Expelled – Commerce Restored). The age of piracy ended.

In the course of the 18th century the Bahamas have been attacked, invaded and claimed twice by the Continental American army and once by the Spanish, but finally, thanks to the Treaty of Versailles, it remained a British colony until July 10, 1973 when the Bahamas officially became the Independent Commonwealth of the Bahamas, ending 325 years of peaceful British rule.

Slavery Period

 

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Following the American Revolution, Loyalists: rich slave and landowners unhappy with the idea of a new United States, began migrating to the Bahamas bringing all their possessions and slaves to start a new life and new plantations under the British flag. But many got ruined as agriculture on the sandy islands proved to be impossible, and so they left setting their slaves (of which they had no more use) free even before the British Empire abolished the slave trade in 1807. By 1838 slavery was ended and the Royal Navy added to the Bahamian population of newly-freed slaves the human cargo they had captured in slave ships. By early 1830s the black population, more than 10,000, outnumbered the white and permanent settlements of freed slaves were established on 17 islands.

Today’s Bahamians

Today, the population of the Bahamas, about 400,000, is 90% black descendants of West Africans whose ancestors settled on the islands during the slavery period. Apart from the heavily populated capital Nassau, there are few large settlements of a few thousand people and numerous small ones of less than 100 people scattered on the many islands and cays.

Tourism is their main source of income and most Bahamians are employed in the tourist industry. For this reason, people everywhere are extremely welcoming to visitors, making the Bahamas truly paradise for the tourist and cruiser.

Each small settlement has its own vibe and we love visiting them and meeting the locals.

Black Point Settlement

 

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Black Point is a small settlement of two hundred people on Great Guana Cay in Exumas with a big and wide anchorage very popular with boaters even though there is no marina, no fuel or water available for cruising boats, but a laundry. People come here with huge bags full of dirty cloths and spend a day at the public coin-laundry.

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We spend a week there not once using the laundry, as we do our washing by hand to save on coins. But we use the free Wi-Fi streaming from the local bar. And we explore the island and meet the locals.

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Walking on the main street, on our way to the small grocery store to buy ice cream, we pass by a lamp pole that looks strangely familiar. It is actually a tall two-spreader mast, yeah, why not?

We see people, women and men, sitting in front of houses under the shade of trees weaving palm leaves into long stripes of different widths. The entire village weaving. They sell the rolls by the foot in Nassau, on the straw market, to be made into handbags sold to tourists.

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Agnes shows me how it’s done. It’s really easy, man, and you find the palm leaves everywhere on the islands, no need to invest.

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We will be making some handbags, Maya and me. Will show you a photo when it is ready. Should look something like this:

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We also stumble upon the most unexpected outdoor art gallery. The artist is 70-year-old Willy, whose grandparents, parents and children were born on this same piece of land. The art gallery is located in his front yard which everyone refers to as “The Garden of Eden” and the artworks are environmental sculptures and installations of unaltered driftwood and dead mangroves found on the island.

The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden

Each sculpture represents an animal or a person. There are two lobsters, a flamingo, a lioness, one male and one female iguana, an Indian head, a giraffe, a ballet dancer, and many many other fantastical creatures trapped in wood. Admission to the Garden of Eden is free of charge and a tour by Willy himself is included; donations are welcomed.

Willy and Maya in The Garden of Eden

Willy and Maya in The Garden of Eden

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Bitter Guana Cay

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The 700 Bahamian islands and cays are all low-lying flat tablelands of sand, coral, and limestone on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, averaging not more than 30 meters/100 feet in elevation. Most of the smaller cays are uninhabited, covered with low tropical vegetation, small spiky palm trees and cedars. 

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One such cay is Bitter Guana Cay in the Exumas where we stop for a few days for a total do-nothing relaxation period away from everything and everyone. The island looks like a chocolate-covered puff-cream pastry. The white sand is the vanilla cream filling and the limestone is the chocolate on top, which is now all cracked-up and melting away as a result of some glorious roaring Jurassic convulsion of the earth’s crust.

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On the west side, the side of the shallow Bahama Bank, the anchorage in front of the small beach is completely protected from east, north and south winds and big ocean waves.

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We spend a few days here alone, with no other boats around, swimming, fishing, climbing the crumbling sandy ridges, exploring the small cave, feeding the population of hungry but friendly iguanas with whatever leftover food, which is not much, sorry, iguana-buddies.

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Only once a dinghy stopped by our iguana-island and a young couple spent the afternoon on our beach, completely naked and happy, their white butts shining like vanilla ice cream under the mighty all-seeing ever-smiling tropical sun. We forgive them the trespassing, just because they were naked and therefore totally free and defiant, and because they too shared some food with our iguanas.

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On the other side of the island, the Bahama Sound, the sea is not so kind. It is scary and menacing, deep blue-purple color, east winds and huge waves pounding the rock. Here the ocean dropoff plunges to depths our depth founder will never record, some of the deepest ocean water in the hemisphere. We stay away from there. For now.

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