Tales of the Itinerant Sailor

Cruising 2009

Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor

By

Steven Jones  

The Odyssey Continues

William with a dolphin fish

William becomes the fisherman, lands this dolphin fish our first day out of Haiti

November 14, 2009.  We depart Ile a Vashe with William as Second Mate.  I had one regular meal at the hotel before we left.  Otherwise, I am still not feeling very vibrant.  We have three people to pull watch now, which is an important improvement.  Harry is still running the boat at about Ĺ RPM, which seems to minimize the oil leak.  But it is not enough speed against the Trade Winds. We are not making good time.  As we approach the Dominican Republic, it becomes obvious that with the extra hours of running the engine, we are again running out of fuel.  Just across the border is Pedernales, but it is out of our way.  But we need fuel, so this becomes our course.

I have been to Pedernales twice before by car.  I donít recall any anchorage nor port facilities near the town.  There arenít.  We anchor near the commercial bauxite dock, which is a distance from the town.  Refueling becomes an odyssey in itself.  First, the navy guard comes out, learns of our needs, and is willing to supply fuel for over twice the going rate.  No way.  Harry and William go ashore to find fuel on their own.  Soon, Harry sends William back to the boat to ask of me (of course I am still sleeping) for more money to pay all the intermediaries who will be involved in this fuel transaction.  This takes all day.  Finally, we are underway again for Boca Chica.

On the night of November 17, while we see clearly the lights of Santo Domingo, I am on watch and am aware of the bright lights of another vessel that seems to be running parallel to our course off to the starboard side.  Later, I wake William to relieve me and point out the vessel to our starboard.  Then, I cuddle up in the cockpit to sleep.  Sometime later, William alerts me to the fact that there is a vessel bearing down on us.  It appears to be the same vessel that we have been watching for several hours.  But now it is close.  Damn close.  Closer than any vessel that I have experienced at sea before.

I holler at Harry.  I donít know why, except that it his boat that is about to be crunched by another, much bigger boat.  No response from Harry.  Maybe he has reoccurring diarrhea.  I am about to.

I begin to understand how Jonah must have felt before being swallowed by the whale.  She comes closer.  I hear the water slapping off the hull.  The noise of the engine, although not loud, becomes deafening.  Either this pilot is playing a not very funny game or is totally incompetent.  Either way he is an idiot.  Thoughts rage through my mind:  Do I turn to starboard or to port?  Slow down or speed up?

In the end, I do none of the above.  I figure that the boatís crew must know of our whereabouts, as we have had each other in sight for over three hours.  I elect to stay the course, as the least dangerous maneuver.  Just as the jaws of the whale are about to close, as I am counting the teeth, the boat slowly slides past us.  We watch cautiously as the boat slowly moves away toward Santo Domingo.  Another feat of survival of the Itinerant Sailor.

November 18, 2010.   Even the arrival at Boca Chica doesnít come without some fanfare.  First, there is some discussion about the best route for entering the harbor, between William, who has been here before on a boat delivery, and Harry, who is the Captain.  Then, just as we are approaching the dock at  Zarpar Marina, the shifter cable breaks and Harry has no control over the boat.  Fortunately, there are enough dock hands available to assist in the landing.  When I go to clean up later. I find that the fresh water pump no longer works.

As soon as I can, I find a telephone and call Carmen Rosa.  At about mid afternoon she and her friend Milna come out to take me with them to Santo Domingo.  The original plan was to return to the Sirius II in Luperon to continue my voyage, but by now I have had enough sailing.  I do check on the boat, but stay with Carmen Rosa through December.

Lost at Sea Epilogue

Cruising 2009: Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor
Copyright © 2010 Steven Jones. All Rights Reserved.

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