Monday, March 28, 2011

Fiesta en Fajardo

Fajardo, Puerto Rico – We need a vacation!!  You may chuckle at this statement, but we are still in Fajardo and been living at a marina here for a week, and working nonstop, like crazy.  We are taking advantage of being in a US territory, where we have easier access to phone, internet and US store chains where we can find familiar products.  Puerto Rico is an interesting mix of both Latin and US cultures.  Driving down the street you can Subway, McDonald’s, CVS Pharmacy, Pep Boys, etc., but then  you go a couple blocks and you see the familiar Spanish colonial style main town plaza, and chickens loose on the road, etc.  Many speak Spanish and English with no accent in either language…. But there’s also the “Spanglish” you hear quite a bit. We happened to go to Dunkin’ Donuts and there written on the menu was a “dona” (which is the way you would pronounce “donut” with a Spanish accent)!  The Spanglish is so inculcated in the language that the written form has adopted the phonetic spelling of the English words.
We have cleaned the boat from top to bottom to reorganize and see what we had and what we were in need of.  Most of our food, beverages, cleaning products and paper goods are stored underneath our “sofa” in the main salon and beneath all our beds.  The boat is very spacious, but it is not easy to go under the bed to look for something every single time you need it, so we are continuously transferring things from big containers to smaller ones for easy daily access.  It’s a constant process….
Sebastian has been installing a new VHF radio system that has an incorporated boat detector.  This way, while sailing at night, you can see other boats pop up on the VHF screen and if they are registered, you can even see the type and name of the vessel.  We got new Sunbrella window coverings and screens made here too…. Pretty snazzy!
We also have done a lot of paperwork and phone calls.  Kate Mattson back home has done the saintly duty of taking care of our mail.  We all thought this would be an “easy” task, but it has been a little more complicated than we thought.  We certainly could not have done this trip without her so I want to take this moment to publicly thank her for all she is doing for us!  Still, with all her great organizational skills, some of the payments and paperwork have fallen through the cracks and it has been a good time here to catch up.  I spoke to Kate by phone yesterday and we think we are caught up for now.
I also want to thank my brother, Max, for taking care of some things in California for us, and want to thank my Dad who has sent us updated and timely weather information when we needed it most.  Love you guys!
A kindly couple Glen and Gail, retired TBIRDS, at the marina aboard “Encore” invited us to their boat the night before departing for a week-long sail with some friends.  They are Americans living in Puerto Rico and ended up lending us their car for the week… very, very sweet of them.  So, we went to Costco to reprovision and almost killed one another trying to get there… have you ever been in a situation where you can actually see your target, but you cannot understand how to get there?!  We circled and we circled Costco with the traffic getting thicker and more annoying, and we just could not see how to get in.  On top of that we were starving and it was hot… needless to say we were thrilled to arrive to Costco and eat their famous pizza…  I guess we’re not used to driving in traffic anymore!  We ended up buying tons of things preparing for Enrique and Pablos’ visits with their respective families… as well as the Atlantic crossing.  Lots and lots of peanut butter, cheese and crackers!
The kids have behaved amazingly well… it is difficult for them to stay on the boat parked in a  marina, but they have managed to keep themselves busy, even finding little friends to play with along the way.  It is also difficult for them to be dragged along to Costco and the landromat and West marine and all the other places we went.  We have been treating them - and oursleves - to lots of ice cream.
On a positive note, our friend Bill Butler came to visit us.  He is a sailing legend whom Sebastian met years ago when Bill sailed around Cape Horn and landed in Puerto Madryn, Argentina.  About 8 years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill for the first time when Sebastian and I came to Puerto Rico on vacation and spent a memorable Christmas Eve with him and his wife, Lirio.  Bill is “famous” among sailors because of his incredible story of survival.  The summary of his story can be found on the cover of his book “Our Last Chance” and goes like this:  Bill and Simone Butler set out to circumnavigate the world.  Instead they ended up adrift in a six- foot plastic life-raft when whales battered and sank their 38-foot sailboat “Siboney.”  In the following sixty-six days the Butlers fought for their lives against storm, predator, hunger and frustration.  Along the way, each found God and His amazing grace.  Bill has an incredible spirit and is wonderful to be around.
Nadya Sustache and her son Stefan came to visit us on the boat.  They are friends who used to live in Evanston and now have moved to Colorado.  Nadya is originally from Puerto Rico and is here visiting her family.  We spent the morning snacking on the boat and then went to a natural reserve surrounding te lighthouse on the most northeastern point of the island.  What a beautiful country… the sea, the mountains, rainforest, mangroves – very impressive.  It was great to get off the boat and sight-see but mostly to catch up with Nadya and meet her brother and sister-in-law.  Boy… I think we both miss Evanston! 
NEXT STOP:  still Culebra, another island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, considered one of the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Leaving tomorrow morning and should arrive in the early afternoon.
The two captains reunite.

Our dear friend Bill visiting Begonia


Our new friend Zarymar...

Nonstop action between the three...

Finally discovered the hose after running back and forth between boats all day in the sun.

Automatic best friends

Nadya and family visit

A mutiny of kids on the Begonia
Notice the nice new blue window coverings? Keeps the sun out and the salon much coller inside

The Fearsome Foursome

View from lighthouse

Evanston buddies meet in PR

Coastal scenery

Lighthouse Cabeza de San Juan

Monkeys in the mangroves

Precious Costo cargo...
... so precious... MacGyver is willing to dive into the marina water to...
... to retrieve the half-pound of goat cheese that fell into the water!!!! Thank goodness it was vacuum-packed!

Such poses!

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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Viva Vieques!

Sewing ourArgentinean flag that has been beat up by the wind, salt and sun.

All done.

Not thrilled to be on 3am night watch.

Benjie learning how to kayak!

Sofi showing kayak skills

The best day ever!

Fun at the beach

Fun at the beach and pic-nic
Fajardo, Puerto Rico - We have been extremely out of touch for the last couple of weeks.  As usual, no real internet to speak of.  We have been cruising the southern coast of Puerto Rico for the 10 days or so and crossed over to the island of Vieques, just east of the main island.  Most of you know Vieques as the former site where the US government would test its weaponry.  That has all changed since 2003 and what exists now on Vieques are cute, and bustling little tourist towns.  The island seems yet to be taken over by huge resorts and high-rises, so it still is ideal for a little of the "real" Puerto Rico, where you actually see people on horseback riding through the "city" - no saddle or anything of course. 

We have been traveling with another couple since the Dominican Republic and having a blast eating, drinking and being merry with them.  They can be seen in some pics below.  Today will be the first time we have not been together for about a month now.

We arrived back on the mainland in Fajardo (east coast of PR) and staying at a marina where we hope to really clean the boat, reorganize, fix broken thigns, take care of some business work and do our taxes!!  We plan on going to Costco for reprovisioning and West Marine (= Disneyland for sailors). Lots to accomplish in one week, but we are determined to work hard. However, we already have a couple of (great) "distractions:"  Bill Butler a dear sailing freind of Sebastian's whom we visited here in PR about 10 years ago and Nadya, a friend from Evanston who is here with her husband and child visiting her family. So... the taxes can wait, right?!  : )  We are very excited to have vistors to the boat and see old friends.  This is what the trip is all about for us.

NEXT STOP:  Culebra, another, smaller island off the northeast coast of PR and considered one of the Spanish Virgin Islanads

Anyway, pictures speak louder than words, so here go some more...
Sebastian delighted to be eating "mofongo" in La Parguera
Sofia, our hippie chick!

New month, new theme:  the SOLAR SYSTEM

MacGyver, the contortionist, fixing something under our salon settee.
Sebas catches a BARRACUDA.... look at those teeth! 
Jo-Jo and Jen-Jo - still in love after 30 year.!  That's "RomantaSea" for you!
Victor the Fisherman, selling us fish boat-to-boat.
K and the Kidz in Isabel Segunda, Vieques, PR
Fort at the top of the hill in Isabel Segunda.
Still at the fort.

MacGyver, the contortionist, fixes something under the water! ; )
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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carnaval and Zumba in the DR

LA PARGUERA, Puerto Rico - Les escribe el Capitan nuevamente, la escritora oficial se esta tomando un descanso, con lo cual la gente que no habla español, se estara quejando nuevamente, y el proximo blog en ingles tendremos la gente que no habla ingles renegando. Trataremos de alternar idiomas, entonces todos pueden leer un poco de nuestra aventura.
Salimos de Ocean World Puerto Plata, RD. hace una semana. Continuamos nuestra conflictiva relacion con las marinas. Siempre cuando estamos llegando a un lugar nuevo o pais nuevo decimos de ir a una marina para poder familiarizarnos con los lugareños. Despues de arribar, nos damos cuenta que no es de mucha ayuda, que los baños quedan en la otra punta, que estan sucios, que la lavanderia es super cara (total la gente que anda en veleros tienen mucho dinero) y que la pileta esta fuera de servicio o que los niños no pueden estar ahi por que es solo para adultos. Con lo cual estamos fondeando mas seguido y disfrutando de nuestra pequeña isla privada con una gran pileta de agua salada alrededor.
El cruce desde RD fue muy tranquilo, aunque usamos el motor casi todo el tiempo ya que seguimos navegando en contra del viento. Las 250 millas de distancia la hicimos en 40 horas, la primera oficial del barco hizo guardias junto con el capitan, y una de las dos noches hasta mas horas, el capitan orgulloso!
Llegamos a la ciudad de Boqueron en Puerto Rico, un pueblo muy pintoresco y limpio con un monton de bares sobre la playa rodeados de palmeras con musica salsa, que es la musica mas comun en este pais.
Seguimos experimentando con las entradas a los paises, siempre con algo nuevo para aprender y algo nuevo para ponerse de mal humor. Creo que un requisito para toda la gente que atiende a los veleros seria tener que navegar, antes de ejercer su cargo, para entender un poco como uno se siente despues de 40 horas en el mar sin dormir mucho, comer en una mesa o ir al baño con casco para no romperse la cabeza!!
Despues de dos dias en Boqueron, llendo a la playa, comiendo comida fresca y rica, charlando con amigos nautas, y con la pilas cargadas, nos sentimos con ganas de continuar con nuestro viaje.
Salimos el lunes 7 de marzo en la maniana con rumbo a La Parguera, unas 20 millas alrededor de Cabo Rojo, donde es que estamos ahora. El lugar es un paraiso, estamos fondeados atras de un cayo en 8 metros de profundidad donde vemos el fondo claramente.
Los niños siguen disfrutando mucho el viaje, aprendiendo de todo, especialmente del mar. Estamos super contentos de lo tanto mas comodos que se sienten en el agua y lo tanto mas comodos que nosotros nos sentimos con ellos en el agua. Tienen que verlos a Sofi y Benjie nadando solos y visitando todos lo barcos en el fondeadero!!

Cena con amigos en Luperon
Carnaval Puerto Plara
Zumba, a fondo!!
Estefania, amiga de Luperon RD.
Otra vez enseñando ingenieria Argentina de Sifon
Los chicos y su amiga Victoria de Alemania
Tragos a la tarde con nuestra amiga Joane
Carnaval Puerto Plata
Para los navegantes, piloto de repuesto e ingenieria Argentina
No es mi mejor foto, Benjie Bien.
Celebrando otro atardecer en el paraiso
Liona, amigos del Falcon's Nest, Canada
Pata dura y Bachata!!
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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.