Ernesto Update

All is well here in Luperon. Hurricane Ernesto, who was recently downgraded to a tropical storm, passed to the south of Hispaniola a couple days ago before crossing Cuba. On Sunday we received rain all day but strangely enough, no wind. The trade winds typically blow daily in the 15-20 knot range, but on this day it was unusually calm, which was actually a bit of a bummer for us because we had just completed the installation of our new KISS wind generator!

We know that we should never, ever wish for wind (or else you may get more than you want), but we were so anxious for even a whisper of a breeze to see if the three large blades would turn and generate precious power for us. Especially since with the rain there was no sun, so our solar panels were on a rainy day holiday. We did finally receive a puff of wind that lasted about thirty minutes but that was long enough to cause celebration on Lucky Peek – we were making power!

The trades returned to normal yesterday and right now (Tuesday, Aug. 29) the wind is blowing between 18-22 knots. The sun is shining bright with only a few clouds passing by. The Energy Nazi has a smile on his face. All is well.

Back in the D.R.

We are doing great back in Luperon after our wonderful visit to Florida and Idaho last month. Hard to believe that it’s already been two weeks since our return on August 8.

We traveled a day ahead of the terrorist scare in the UK and had a smooth trip back to the DR, even though we were weighted down like sherpas with all of the items for the boat. We expected to have to use our Caveman Spanish with the customs guys at the Puerta Plata airport upon arrival to try and explain the wind generator, VHF radios, SAT phone, etc. while attempting to avoid any customs charges for bringing such high ticket items into their country. However, we employed a different tactic and just bypassed the customs line and marched confidently out the door with our truckload of bags in tow. We were intercepted by an official who asked us something to which I answered “Bahia Luperon” and instead of redirecting us to the customs line he helped us out the door! Resisting the urge to look back, we were happy to see a man in the loud crowd holding a hand-written sign that said “Lisa – Luperon”. That must be Jaime, our driver that was to pick us up in his large van. Turns out it was Julio, Jaime’s cousin, who was picking us up in his much smaller, much used car. Four of our bags fit in the trunk, two carry-on size bags went into the back seat with us, while both the giant orange 70 pound bag and the retro hard-sided red Samsonite bag were delicately shoved into the front seat. Julio drove with one arm atop the red Samsonite to keep it from landsliding onto him. And we were off on a typical Dominican taxi ride – fast and chaotic, but with a very friendly driver who seemed at ease with the other loco drivers.

It was a relief to be back to the boat and see that all was well. Instead of experiencing the anticipated culture shock upon returning to the D.R. after being back in the States, we found a comfortable familiarity. On our way back to Luperon I smiled as we passed a boy riding a burro down the side of the road. Smiled again at the sight of the typical game of dominoes taking place on a sidewalk table with players slapping their dominoes down with furrowed brows. Smiled at the sight of a beautiful young Dominican woman strolling confidently along with gigantic pink and blue rollers in her hair. Then I noticed I was just simply smiling. As much as we enjoyed our visit “home”, it was good to be home. Oh sure, I miss running water and toilet paper in public restrooms but all in all it’s good to be back.

Next on our project agenda is to get the new wind generator installed. We’ve ordered the pipe necessary to build the pole and we just need to go to Puerta Plata to pick it up. The trade winds continue to blow a steady 15+ knots from early morning until into the evening so we are looking forward to the additional power source. The solar panels have been doing a great job but we still end up running the engine a few hours every 4-6 days to keep the batteries charged. The investment in the wind generator should save on the wear and tear of Forrest as well as our nerves. Sitting on a boat at anchor with the diesel engine idling at 1800 rpms is not a party.

Next week we are considering a trip back to Santo Domingo to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! We’ve been studying our Lonely Planet guide to the DR to consider our hotel options. We definitely want to stay in the Zona Colonial, the historic colonial zone that is rich in 16th century architecture and modern culture. Hopefully we can find a place with modern bathrooms.

Hasta la proxima vez.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. – A short trip home.

Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
August 7, 2006

Didn’t intend on the last update to have a cliff-hanger ending! So you know, we did survive our 7-day island tour and didn’t get lost or kidnapped! We returned from that fantastic excursion to a busy two weeks ending June because we decided to make a trip home to Boise in July to address our homesickness. It was wonderful to see our family and we kept thinking that we would have time to post an update once we were “home”
but we seemed to maintain sprint mode for four weeks during our stay. And we still didn’t manage to see all our friends that we intended to see! For those of you that are just now learning that we were in Boise and didn’t call or see you – we are woefully sorry. If we could’ve managed our time differently to fit everything in we certainly would have. So please forgive us if we didn’t connect with you and for those of you that we were able to see – thanks for being flexible with your time.

Anxiety twisted our stomachs the last few days of our Boise visit as we watched Tropical Storm Chris turn into a hurricane with a projected path along the north coast of the Dominican Republic. In the previous weeks we had received many welcome updates from our cruising friends in Bahia Luperon that Lucky Peek was doing fine on her anchor, sitting right where we left her – just looking a bit lonely. Then with the approaching storm we received word that many boats in the harbor had moved to the harbor’s edges to tie to the soft yet strong mangroves. Large fishing vessels from Puerto Plata were even moving into the protection of our mangrove-lined harbor. Ann and Steve on Receta graciously offered to move Lucky Peek for us but we made the decision to just leave her put. Before leaving her at the end of June we had set our storm anchor (Fortress FX37) in tandem on 25 feet of 3/8” chain with our 45 pound CQR acting as the sentinel on 140 feet of chain. We removed the headsail, storing it below along with the cockpit cushions. The mainsail stayed on in its cover with a tight wrapping of line securing it. We were relatively confident with the ground tackle in place and our other preparations, but suddenly with a real threat of a storm in our absence it all seemed inadequate. Fortunately, for everyone, Chris tuckered out before gaining more strength and visiting any shorelines.

We leave tomorrow morning to return to Luperon and are excited to be reunited with our home on the water along with our cruising neighbors. We’ve just spent the last six hours trying to fit the following into our new hard-sided thrift store luggage: a KISS wind generator, an assortment of 18 billion stainless steel screws/nuts/bolts, a handheld VHF radio (to replace the one that is now at the bottom of Bahia Luperon after Rod assisted with wrangling a boat dragging on its anchor), a replacement VHF radio for the one that went kaput in the Bahamas that we had to replace there for a billion dollars (the one that went kaput was under West Marine warranty so now we have a spare), one satellite phone, two Hella fans to help keep us not-so-hot at night, an anchor holder to replace the one we broke during a not-so-graceful exit from a fuel dock in the Bahamas, cotter pins and more cotter pins, a replacement shower hose for the one that sprung a major leak the morning we were leaving Luperon, and so many other boat things that at this moment of exhaustion I can’t think of them. It is 12:53am and we are leaving for the airport in six hours. Some things never change.