Below are the e-mail picture postcards sent to family and friends between July, 2002, and February, 2003--our second year of the cruising life. These postcards are given in reverse chronological order below, with the most recent first. Some pictures are attached to each postcard. After this website was developed, giving free rein to our various writings and musings, and considering that our daily doings are described in the Ship's Logs, and that the Photo Album has been created, there seems to be no further need for postcards; hence, they have been discontinued.
February 5, 2003: Not where we thought we'd be at this time--still in Luperón. Our friend Ralph was due to arrive on January 6th and cruise east with us for a few weeks to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and we planned to leave on the tail end of a weather window the evening of his arrival. However, as we checked everything out a day or two ahead of time we discovered that the engine transmission had failed. Sadly, it's not safe--or even generally feasible--to make progress sailing east against the trades, on the lee shore of the DR, without the help of an engine. Fortunately, Mike on Sea Comber is a diesel mechanic (there are no services here) and we arranged for him to pull the transmission, transport it to Santo Domingo (4 hour drive) to the one marine diesel shop in the country to be rebuilt, and then do the reinstallation. It has taken a month for the parts to arrive...... In the meantime we have done some major updates to the website and practiced patience. The Ship's Log provides details of some of the more interesting happenings during this time.
We have particularly enjoyed the cruising community in Luperón. There are quite a few long-term liveaboards here, and to a person all willingly and unfailingly help each other in time of need. It is an interesting cross-section of people, from all walks of life. Then there are those who pass through, more or less quickly, en route to Florida or Puerto Rico. Right now, batches of (for the most part) richer, younger, part-time cruisers in bigger more expensive boats are going through in a bit of a hurry. We don't seem to have much in common with many of these, and are uncomfortable with some Americans among them who have verbally trashed the DR, and its people, on the VHF radio.
December 31, 2002: Last day of the year, and we're still in Luperón. We're waiting for a weather window to head east to Puerto Rico. When we returned to Callipygia after our 10-week absence, we had a lot to do. It took quite a few days to unpack and stow all the supplies we brought back with us--which meant moving and repacking much of our stowage, and updating the inventory list so we know where things are when we need them. Then put everything back that we had removed or readied in anticipation of a potential hurricane. Then check out all the systems-refrigerator died a few days after our return, as did the dinghy motor. With training from some other cruisers Bill has learned more than he ever wanted to know about those two items. Especially the dinghy motor--we ended up rowing for three weeks while waiting for a part. While we got plenty of exercise, it meant that every trip into/out of Luperón took an hour each way. Kind of ate up the day. Then the valve on one of the propane tanks started to leak and had to be replaced. Two trips to Santiago and one to Puerto Plata to provision. Each of those took a day. Then prepare the sailing directions to get to Puerto Rico--study cruising guides, and charts, decide on waypoints, load them into the GPS, pick prominent landmarks to track on the radar, etc. Determine what weather conditions and sea states are acceptable, where we can anchor along the way, and what deadlines we need to meet so as not to get whipped by the trade winds. And off course, start watching the weather so as to know what a good window would look like. This means a daily routine that involves downloading (by radio) the NWS daily Offshore Forecast at 5:30am, listening to George's forecast at 7:15 on the ham frequencies, and David Jones' forecast at 8:30 on the marine frequencies--anddownloading weatherfax surface analysis and seastate charts. Arrange for bottom cleaning to remove accumulated growth and barnacles. Remove growth from anchor chain and remark it. It's been a busy time, and while we'll miss Luperón, it'll be good to be back on the move.
November 10, 2002: Our website is almost ready to launch, so this may be the last postcard we send, other than to let you know how to access Callipgia's website, and then notify you again each time it is updated.Three weeks in Australia is not nearly enough. We prepared for this trip by reading the vastly entertaining, informative, and infuriating book (no Table of Contents, no Index) "It's a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson, and the continent has lived up to every expectation. Friendly, friendly people. Phenomenal variety of wildlife, many in large numbers. Gorgeous mountain scenery and coasts in Victoria and New South Wales, where we spent our time. Kids wear brimmed hats whenever they're outside, because they're living under a big and growing hole in the ozone layer. We took a long train ride between Melbourne and Sydney to watch Rorie run the marathon (3 hrs, 22 mins in 95+ degree heat). Sydney is the most beautiful, livable, pedestrian-friendly city and harbour we've ever visited. Distressing, though, to learn about Australia's continuing horrifying record of treatment of the Aboriginal population, and of non-white immigrants. If you ever have the opportunity to visit--do not pass it up. We surely hope to come back with more time to explore. We have substituted World Press Review instead of Time or Newsweek to get our monthly dose of news and pointy-headed opinion. The U.S. media certainly portrays a much different world view, and view of America, then is seen by other countries. The lead editorial in this morning's Sydney paper begins with "The U.S. continues to rewrite the rules of war, raising new challenges to peace. Under the broad banner of 'war against terrorism', the summary execution of people in other countries has become settled policy, sanctioned by President George Bush...." It is amazing to us that the U.S. is seen by everyone else as the world's biggest threat to peace, a violator of International Law, a destroyer of human rights, and the biggest purveyor of weapons of mass destruction--yet the American public can't understand why our country is hated, and thinks it's doing the world a favor by 'saving everybody'. From what? Uncle Sam and his brain-washed media are surely running amok. Yikes!!!!
August 28, 2002: We're getting ready to leave Callipygia anchored in Luperón and head to DC from Puerto Plata on Sept 5th. From there, Bill is going to Halifax, Massachussetts and Maine and I'm going to Minneapolis and Juneau. We're very much looking forward to quality time with family and friends. On October 20 we go to Australia for 3 weeks to visit my brother, then come back to DC for a week before returning to Luperón on November 23. Thank goodness for Frequent Flyer miles. Once we get back here, it'll be the tail end of the hurricane season. We'll start readying ourselves and Callipygia to move on down the Island Chain. When in Minneapolis, I'm hoping--with Craig's help--to set up a website for us to keep you updated with our travels, including pix. Pat
August 23, 2002: Hot. Sunny. Windy. Ever something unexpected. A few quick highlights:
August 10, 2002: We're back from Pico Duarte. Wouldn't have missed it for anything. Totally awesome, magnificent. Words really can't describe. We took lots of photos, so will tell you about it along with pix in a few weeks. The guides and cook from the village at the bottom of the mountain, La Cienaga, where we had our base camp were fantastic. Truly wonderful. Very poor by our material standards, but completely enchanting. I spoke mucho (poor) Spanish with them. The mules were incredible. The trail for much of the way is VERY steep, and terribly eroded It is 24 km and 6,300 feet up from La Cienaga to the top. Mules went places not sure we could have done on foot. We also did some portions (1/4?) on foot (up and down) but time didn't permit more. It would have taken us a week to get to the top on foot. With mules, 1.5 days. Legs ache from walking and butts ache from mule-sitting! Going to get a massage for each of us from Louisa, Luperón's blind masseuse. She's terrific! And within our budget -- 1 hour costs 100 pesos which is US$6.
July 25, 2002: No day is typical, so I'll describe yesterday. I'm on my own for a bit, since Bill is back in the US for a week, doing medical appointments and family stuff. I wake to the alarm clock at 5:15am, get up and check e-mail while radio propagation is good. A couple of messages--nice to know people still care about us! Make coffee while listen on Single Side Band radio to station NMN's (aka November Mike November), transmission of the 5:30 am National Weather Service Offshore Forecast for the Caribbean and Tropical/Southwest North Atlantic. Transcribe the report in shorthand in the Weather Notebook--no weather window for heading east in the next 5 days. Go up into cockpit around 6am and sit and watch the sunrise, coffee mug in hand. Noseeums not bad. Hazy sky--probably dust from the Sahara carried across by the trade winds Suck in the beauty of early morning: gentle green hills surrounding this mangrove lined lagoon; other boats at anchor against background of yet another gorgeous sunrise; unknown bird (red feet) flies across Callipygia's stern; different bird alights on a mangrove branch 100' away--get out binoculars and examine it--either a young green heron or a juvenile black-capped night heron. I notice a group of egrets flying east across the bay, going to their day's work. I'll see them again in late afternoon, flocking west, going Home to their roost in the mangroves. Go out on foredeck and do exercise routine. Log 7am weather observations: wind 5 knots from east-southeast; hazy, a few cirrus clouds high above; barometer 1018.5mb (highish--going to be a windy day); air temp 79 degrees, relative humidity 80%.
Judy from Hanoah (30' Pearson Vanguard) rows by and asks if I want to go for a walk. Clamber into her dinghy and go ashore, walk up the hill and turn right onto path that goes over the plateau between the bay and the ocean, down to a little beach and back to dinghy. Nice 3-mile walk, enough time for Judy to tell me about herself--she's a nurse practitioner--going to volunteer for a month at a camp near Jarabacoa in the mountains next week. Back to Callipygia and listen to SSB radio at 8:15am, first the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (incident--robbery--in Dominica (the most southerly Leeward Island)), then David Jones with the Caribbean weather. Some familiar call signs checking in, I'm getting to know a few of these disembodied voices, slowly becoming part of the radio community. Glad to have struggled through and got HAM license. Run engine for an hour to charge batteries and the refrigerator--we need an alternative electrical power supply, wind bugger and/or solar panels. Spend next hour figuring out how to adjust tension on ancient manual (Singer) sewing machine I borrowed for a couple of days from sailboat Chinook-of-Canada (we met Brian and Debbie in Provo and travelled in touch with them to Luperón). Once tension problem solved, I spent most of the day sewing the two awnings I'm making to shade the deck when we're in harbour. By the time I'm finished its 3:30pm, and the trade winds are up, amplified by the sea-breeze, to 20-25 knots, gusting to 30. Clamber into our inflatable dinghy with sewing machine and start motor--but after a minute, it dies. Sh... I forgot to turn on the fuel. Restart the motor and head over to Chinook to return the machine. Neither machine nor I get wet since Chinook is downwind from Callipygia. Visit with Debbie for a little while (she too is on her own, Brian, a retired elementary school teacher, has gone back to Canada to see his kids for two weeks). Going Home I get soaked as dinghy bounces up and down on front of the white-crested wind-waves--reminds me why we try not to go upwind in the dinghy at this time of day. As I approach Callipygia, I'm yet again struck with her beauty and how much we love our Home. Back on board, I clean up the sewing debris (thread, bits of fabric, lint, bent pins) and put everything away. Phew! cabin is shipshape again!
I hail Steve on Tangera on VHF radio to arrange for Callipygia's bottom care while we're in Luperón. Stuff grows FAST in this lagoon, it's teeming with life (eel grass, lobster, fish, sea-lice, krill, barnacle embryos, moss). Steve stops by in his dinghy and comes aboard. I arrange for him to dive down and clean the propeller, shaft, and thru hulls--bottom is probably OK since new paint applied during haul-out in Bahamas. Charge will be $10. Steve tells me he's been doing boat care here in Luperón for nearly 3 years. He tells me about hurricane Hugo (Category IV) which hit the anchorage where he was in Culebra, Spanish Virgins, several years ago. He tied his boat into a mangrove creek. Boat, undamaged, was covered in red mangrove juice when the mangroves got denuded of leaves and bark by the wind After Steve departs, I read for a while, eat supper, watch the sun go down, have a Sunshower in the cockpit, and brush teeth. I swat a few remaining weevil-moths from that infested bag of cashews I discarded yesterday. Moon, just past full, will rise at 9:30pm, so I sit in cockpit for a while looking at the stars until his shining round face creeps up above the mangrove-lined horizon. I salute him, and go to bed. Pat
July 20, 2002: It's just over a year, now, since we left for Maine and we're still trying to make sense of what we've bitten off, who we are now, and what we do next. I wish I could convey in words what it's like. I'll try with some postcards. This first year has alternated between making a passage (of about 600 to 1,000 miles) and then living aboard in a new place for a couple of months, hemmed in by weather or schedule. Constant transition--like having a baby. No sooner do we think we have a routine/got-a-grip then everything changes. Initially, there was so much to do to get ready (so many things to learn, upgrade, fix, maintain, store, inventory, organize) that we were too busy to think. The to-do list was immense, and while one thing was getting done, two more slid onto it. Then, we learned that the to-do list never goes away. Things break, deteriorate, get used up, and passages need to be planned/prepared for--so then it becomes a question of what's (most) important. We're in an emotional movie. We are (not always in harmony) excited and/or anxious, then at perfect peace; intensely engaged then dreadfully bored; filled with happiness and joy then depressed and lonely; annoyed/irritated/angry/hurt then understanding/accepting; scared witless/feeling really stupid then amazingly resourceful. We know that's life, but somehow now our emotional climate seems much more "in our face". We oscillate between doing--intensely involved in a task--and being--intensely aware of feelings, sensations, and environment. Wouldn't miss this for anything.
July 18, 2002: We're in Luperón, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic--there hasn't been a glimmer of a weather window to go east since we got here a few weeks ago. So, we've a bit reluctantly decided we'll just stay here through the hurricane season. Not as far south as we hoped, but living is cheap, and its as good a hurricane hole as there is in the Caribbean. We'll explore the DR, work on our Spanish, and adjust to living aboard not going anywhere. And, this is as safe a place to leave Callipygia as any when we do our US/Aussie travel in the fall. We've made some friends, including one who's offered to watch/take care of Callipygia while we're gone. In fact, yesterday, he helped us scope out the anchorage, take soundings, and pick/move to a more sheltered spot near where the water is deep enough to get close in to tie off in the mangroves in the event a 'cane came this way. It's also well protected from boats dragging in the main anchorage, and gives us some relief from the relentless afternoon summer trade winds. Recently, two boats dragged anchor in the main anchorage and took out some other boats, including one next to us. Seems like other boats are the biggest problem in a big blow.
July 11, 2002: If you go on the Internet to Winlink.org and then pick Station Locator, then enter KG4QFM (our callsign), you will find our current position pinpointed on a series of increasingly more detailed maps. We'll endeavour to keep this updated as we move along so if you want to know where we are at any point, you can check this website.