Tales of the Itinerant Sailor

Cruising 2009

Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor

By

Steven Jones  

The Third Mate

Harry had decided to leave Fairwind, fly back to England to work, to build up his cruising kitty, and to bring back the necessary parts for his Ford Diesel.  But the next available flight out of Cuba is not for two weeks.  He knows that he can fly out of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, close to Luperon where I am headed.  We talk about him sailing with me, helping with the watches and other responsibilities.  It is decided.

We are under way July 11 at 1000 hours.  With all that has happened this week, I expect the full cadre of officials and a sniff dog.  Right on!  Strong head winds initially, but as we approach Guantanamo, the US Navyís presence in Cuba, I raise the head sail.  Our goal is to arrive at Puerto Escondido, a well-protected bay just on the other side of Guantanamo, before dark and set anchor there for the night.

Now, the US Navy has a Red Zone around the base.  It reaches two miles to either side and two miles out from shore.  It is clearly marked on my chart.  I can see  that the wind is pushing me a little inside this zone.  What can a little bit hurt, right?  Wrong.  Well before we are out of the zone, on the far side, I could see a naval patrol boat heading our way.  Fast.  Before we are out of the zone it approaches with two onboard guns at the ready, waving us out of the Zone.  It is equal distance to the boundary on the east, where I wanted to go, and the boundary on the south, which takes us away from our goal.  The officer-in-charge is adamant:  Go south.  Consequently, it is well after dark before arriving at the channel leading into the bay.  By myself, I would not have entered.  With an extra set of eyes, we enter and drop the hook.

We are under way early the next morning.  For the next 36 hours we motor into the wind, first off the coast of Cuba, then into the heavy seas of the Windward Passage, arriving off the north coast of Haiti at daybreak on July 13.  I elect to take the Canal de la Torture as it is a more direct route to Manzanillo Bay, the Dominican Republic.  As we pass Haiti, again I marvel at the lack of trees on this tropical island. 

Street Scene in Santiago de Cuba

Haitian cat boat ferrying passengers to the treeless Ile de la Tortue

Upon leaving the channel, we are back into heavy seas and wind.  A Haitian Patrol Boat approaches and asks if we are OK, and do we need anything.  Friendly.  Helpful.  A far different treatment then we received from the American Navy off Guantanamo!

Arrive Manzanillo Bay in the wee hours of the morning, drop anchor in front of the comendanteís  office and go to bed.  Sleep doesnít come easy as this port, located

just across the border from Haiti, has one long commercial pier that usually stays busy 24 hours a day. 

The comendante comes out in a launch the next morning to check us in.  We stay just the day, walking into town to get more fuel, and depart the next morning.

Iíve sailed this coast before.  Trade Winds are almost unmanageable between 1000 and 2200 hours.  About mid day we turn in to Monte Cristi. This shallow bay has a rocky bottom and is not a good anchorage.  While Harry stays with the boat, I go by launch into town.  Carmen Rosa Aracena (from Santo Domingo) has a sister, Hilda, who lives here and owns a restaurant.  I go to visit and return a couple hours later with two take-out lunches.  Good call, Steve.  We try to sleep the rest of the afternoon.

We are under way before dark and arrive in Luperon the next morning right on schedule:  0800 hours.  It is July 16.  Here, it is necessary to go in to shore to check in.  After so doing, Harry sets about trying to make arrangements to catch a flight out of Puerto Plata for England.  I call Carmen Rosa in Santo Domingo then make my own arrangements to fly back to the Pacific Northwest in August.  First, of course, I have to make arrangements for the security of the Sirius II while she is left at anchor in Luperon Bay.  Gregory Boyd of DreamboatWorks provides this service and I now feel comfortable leaving the boat here during the peak of the hurricane season.

The Interrogations The Promise Requited

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

Contact: siriusii@hotmail.com