"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you did not do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour, catch the tradewinds in your sails.

Mark Twain

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Visit Us

We have now moved to:


Please come and visit us, our adventure continues.

Muriel and Tutty Lee

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Into the Mountains

    Christopher Columbus’ brother Bartolome’ along with thirty Spanish nobles founded a town in 1495, and named it Santiago De Los Caballeros, while they were searching for gold in the interior of the island. Today, it is known simply as Santiago.

   After a severe earthquake that destroyed the old town, it was rebuilt on the eastern banks of the Rio Yaque.

            Farms here grow sugarcane for rum, or tobacco for fine cigars.

   We continued along the foot of the mountain range, called the Cordillera Central to the town of Jarabacoa. This area known as the Dominican Alpes, host some of the most beautiful houses in the country. Many are owned by foreigners.


  There are several natural sights to see here. One is the Salto de Jimenoa, a waterfall that cascades 20m to a refreshing pool below.


   In the distance from the town lies Pico Duarte 3,175m high, the highest point in the whole Caribbean. The peak lies at the southern border of one national park, with another right next door, and covers an area of 1,530 sq/kms. of rain forest.

   Driving here, in the DR commands your complete attention. Rule#1….There are no rules.

   Every type of vehicle use the roads, driving 5 abreast on a 3 lane highway. City driving is a symphony of horns with cars coming at you from all sides. Traffic lights cycle very slowly, some drivers ignore them all together, most intersections are jammed.

   We took a room at the Hotel California, and with the words of song,…”You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” , in our heads, we called it a day. It was a bit strange because we were the only ones there. We had the pool, courtyard, patio all to ourselves, breakfast included. The price……$25. 


    According to our guidebook, the road south from here was reported as poor. What a surprise we got when we found it to be newly paved. We drove slowly up over the steep mountain road to Constanza, another small farming town. Along the way, the hills are covered with terraced farms. The mild climate means apples, strawberries, and peaches can be successfully cultivated. These small communities in the mountains have constant spring like weather, so it was a nice reprieve from the heat along the coast.
                                               A  Town  called Canada Dry

Monday, 30 September 2013

Helping at the School

   Ever since we arrived back here from our visit back home, I have been actively looking for somewhere to volunteer. While having a conversation with the harbour masters Helper/ Brother-in –law, he told us his sister was a high school English teacher. She just happened to be visiting so we went over and introduced ourselves. We were invited to sit in on her class.

    Two days later, Katie aboard s/v Mezzaluna, who happens to be a 5th grade teacher, and I attended school. Soon after arriving we were taken to the principals’ office. We both laughed, not even one day, and we are already sent to the office. It was only to be introduced to the staff

                                        Notice the barb-wire on the fence, brings 
                                          a whole new meaning to....."Stay in School" 
    The class consisted of about 30 students who are in grade 12. We were very impressed with how well they are doing, considering that they haven’t any textbooks. All lessons are from teachers lectures.

    The next class we sat in on was a grade 10 who were studying about seasons around the world. We talked to them about winters in the north, and about all the clothes we must wear to fend off the cold. We brought photo’s showing outdoor activities such as skating, hiking, and skiing. The kids were quite interested.

   The teacher asked us if we could help her design a modern English classroom, much like we have in our own countries. Katie, who is from Wisconsin, and myself who was schooled in downtown Toronto, are up to the challenge. 

    We also told her that when we went to school, it was the students who rotated between classrooms not the teacher, which they do here. This way it gives the students some exercise, clears their heads, or a quick visit to the washroom. The teacher thought this was a great idea, she could keep her material in her own desk, and be more prepared to teach the lesson. She suggested it to the principal, who is willing to give it a try for the language classes. They are too short staffed to implement it school wide just yet, but are working on it.

I’m enjoying the time I spend with the students.

NOTE*  Our little friend Pelina, who we previously wrote about, has been attending school regularly, and enjoys it very much. We drove through her small town the other day. When we recognised her, we gave her and her friends a lift to school in our rental car.   

Monday, 23 September 2013

A History Lesson

   We returned to the historical site of La Isabela, the first settlement in the new world. Christopher Columbus came here on January, 1st/ 1493, after finding that the 39 men that he had left behind on his first voyage had all died from either, disease or at the hands of the natives. He then moved eastward along the north coast till he came to an idyllic bay on the mouth of the Bajabonica River. Here Columbus founded a settlement and named it in honour of the Spanish queen, “La Isabela”.

   The town held nearly 5000 inhabitants, there were no women on the ships as they were considered “mala suerte” (bad luck).

   The foundation of the admirals’ house still remains, with the original roof tiles piled alongside. These were formed on the thighs of the craftsman before being brought from Spain. Even the design on the exterior stucco can be clearly seen.


                                                 Model of the original Home

   In the 1950’s the dictator, Rafael Trujillo, ordered a crew to clean up the site in preparation for a visit by Spanish archaeologists. There was a mix up in communication, and they bulldozed the remarkably intact ruins. Some of the site has now been restored, but there is no word on the dozer driver. An archaeologist from Venezuela excavated this site, and then sent the data to the University of Florida, who used computers to make sense of the findings. Rocks on the ground mark the original buildings, including the outline of the church, where the first mass was celebrated by a priest who accompanied Columbus. Floor tiles from the original are now inlaid in the reconstructed, Templo de Las  Americas, less than ¼ mile away.

   The site also has a number of grave sites. The Spanish were laid to rest with their arms crossed over their chest; the Tainos were put in a fetal position. They believed they were going to be reborn to a new mother, so they had to be in the correct position.

   When Columbus came here, there were approximately 300,000 Taino Indians, but by the 16th century most had died off.
   Columbus abandoned La Isabela in 1496, after being stricken with malaria, and moved to and built Santo Domingo. This city is now the oldest continuous inhabited city in the new world.
                                            500 year old tree on the shore

Friday, 20 September 2013

Simple Living

   In just over a year, we have learnt to live more environmentally friendly. Something we only did in earnest one day of the year, on Earth Day back in Canada. All our energy comes from the sun using solar panels, the wind using our trusted Airmaax wind vane.

All the houses here are equipped much like our home and run on batteries as well. When the hydro goes off, which it does almost everyday they automatically switch to their backup. When the power comes back on, the battery bank is recharged til the next time it is needed.
This very simple system can not run properly if the correct lights are not chosen. Our main cabin light is from a company called Alpenglow, it uses ultra-low amperage and changes to red to save night vision. These are the same lights they use on the space shuttle. Actually, all lights on Mistress are LED. Outside deck lights are garden variety solar lights, they are not marine grade but are inexpensive and easily replaced. Coming back to the boat at night, we can easily pick her out in the crowded anchorage from at least a quarter a mile away. With only the light from the moon, the nights are very dark.
We have two important areas that we installed battery operated motion detector lights. One comes on as we step out of bed, the second as we step into the bathroom. These we found at a regular hardware store, again very reasonably priced.

Our anchor light, which legally must be illuminated from sundown to sun-up is from Davis Instruments, plugged into the 12 volt system. Most boats have changed their masthead anchor lights to LED, which turn on automatically, something I wished I had done while the mast was down. It now requires a trip to the top in a Bosun’s chair, a secure harness, much like child’s swing.

The most important light we have, one I never thought about came as a gift, our useful headlamp. We use it all the time, for reading in the cockpit at night, to oil changes, and general boat maintenance. An extremely useful tool. Thanks, Bonnie and Rob.

All our small batteries, the C’s, D’s, AA’s, and AAA’s are recharged by solar charger that I found at a science store. The Ni-Cads don’t last as long as regular alkaline batteries, so we have a good supply of them.
One of the things we constantly watch, not only here but all around the world is the weather. We use the Internet, radio, and our Vantage Vue weather station as to whether we are going to the beach or sticking close, because there is a storm on the horizon. When a hurricane forms of the coast of Africa, and is predicted to pass over our area, we have around 4 days to prepare. The first thing is to find a secure location in the mangroves, then stripping everything off the deck, including sails and the dodger. We would then set up the anchoring system, using all lines on board tied to the roots along with the anchors, spread out in “spider web” fashion, to keep us safe during the blow.
Another thing that people on land take for granted is “Hot” water. Turn on the tap…..out it pours. Showers on board consist of , soaking down, lathering up, and rinsing off. Hot water is provided Sun shower bag hanging on deck, the hose runs below. We both use less than 2 ½ gallons together.

Some days we complain about , How hot it is, or How our boat looks like Beverly Hillbillies, but we really are ….”Having the time of our lives.


The Store Mason's Chandellery               thestoremasons.com    

Sawtech, solar panels                                 sawtechnology.com

Airmaax                                                          electromaax.com   

Alpenglow, low watt lights                          alpenglowlights.com

Davis, anchor light                                        davisnet.com