Ile A Vache, Haiti
Saturday 13 April – Tuesday 16 April
Saturday we have the morning free to do internet as we wait for our departure times. We were making water when our water maker gave us a trouble warning message. Turned out to be a blown fuse & melted fuse holder. We had an extra fuse and VERY LUCKY for us Ultra had a fuse holder so Steve was able to quickly fix that problem. Although it is still a mystery as to what caused the fuse to blow in the first place.
We will be sailing almost dead down wind 116 miles which will take about 15 to 16 hours depending on estimated travel speeds, we will be entering a new harbor so want to arrive with good light. The winds have been blowing strong from 8 AM to 8 PM, but die out during the evening. Ultra departed around 12:30 and us at 5:30 since Steve was downloading an update on his computer. IF we make good time it is easy to slow down but real hard to speed up without using the engine, and we will be in fuel conservation mode for our travels west where fuel stations are not so easily accessible.
We make great time to start with just the genoa out and calm seas. Once the sun sets the wind dies, and even though the seas are only 2 foot swells, every few minutes a 4-5 ft. wave comes along sending the boat into a spiral motion. We average about 6 knots and arrive in Port Morgan, Ile A Vache by 1 Sunday afternoon. Ultra had arrived about an hour earlier and called to warn us first about the barely visible fish traps and then about the boat boys.
As we are approaching the anchorage the boat boys start coming out in their wooden dug out canoes or surfboards looking for work. A little overwhelming as we are just 1 boat, hard to have 15-20 small jobs for these young men & kids to do. We explain that we have been sailing for 19 hours and are too tired and for them to come back. We get settled in and cleaned up but once we pop up into the cockpit they all start approaching again.
One older bigger stronger man, Karma, who seems to know more about boat jobs, we get to wax the side of the boat, another we had get a bucket of freshwater (saving our water-maker water) to wash down the boat to clean the salt off before waxing. Hand out some cookies and candy and to one an old snorkel mask and to the others we just have to say sorry no. They are all very polite and speak very good English as well as French saying they need money to help with their schooling. A beautiful place but very poor so the people are struggling to make the best life they can. Most live in the little village Caille Coq by our anchorage and they have no electricity or running water, there are NO cars on this island. There are 3 resorts near by, but not a lot of business so don't know how many people they employee. Later that day we go over to the hotel to take a walk and stretch our legs then by Ultra for a toast to end the day. After our long passage it is an early night for all of us.
Bill & JoAnne had talked to one of the boat boys about taking us to the market the following day. This is a big event that takes place on Mondays & Tuesdays at a village called Madame Bernard a couple of miles east of us. People from Les Cayes on the mainland come over on “boats” to sell their stuff, as well as locals from other villages on Ile A Vache. It is a sight to be seen, and several options to get there and back. We had first talked about walking, about 1 ½ hours then getting a water taxi back but no one could tell us how much the taxi would cost. Then we decided to take the dinghies, BUT Steve wanted to leave our dinghy here so the Karma could finish polishing the side of the boat AND Steve thought we were just going back to the hotel dock and walking. He missed the part where we were taking the dinghy ALL the way to the market. So we climb into Bill & JoAnne's dinghy with Ashley the guide and the 5 of us get soaked on the way to the market. Bill did a great job trying to keep us out of the waves but we got splashed pretty good, we even had water come in from the stern so JoAnne got a workout bailing the water out. Always an adventure. We got to the market area and were amazed at the scene. First a little detour to a nearby orphanage, run by Sister Flora a Franciscan nun, to drop off a few things then back to the market where we stepped back in time experiencing this marketplace. It was an amazing experience. Our trip back downwind was much drier and we were all grateful for that. Karma is still busy waxing the boat and doing a wonderful job. We have several others come up asking for work, but have to decline for now. Bill & JoAnne have several working cleaning their boat. Karma had also taken two 5 gallon fuel tanks to fill for us so we add 5 gallons of diesel. After Karma was done with the wax, another young man, Widlin, stopped by so Steve gave him the job of waxing the top deck. Several people stopped by to see about doing laundry for us and we do have some that needs to be done, but something about handing my laundry over to someone in a dug out canoe with salt water on the floor to take to a village with no electricity or running water did not sit well with me. I did some of my own hand wash items and glad we have plenty of sheets and towels so the dirty ones can wait. All afternoon people stop by trying to sell things or offer service. We understand but also just have to say no. We can not give out work or things to everyone.
Tuesday we were going to leave but the weather prediction was for less then 10 knots of wind, with a long way to go we want to sail and NOT motor, so we decide to wait until Wednesday to leave. We got approached as soon as we came up to the cockpit asking for work. I was doing another load of hand wash laundry, and Steve was replacing a broken light fitting in the guest quarters. One young man suggested he could clean the bottom of the dinghy, which was a good idea so we let him, we also gave him another old snorkel mask. After that we had to get off the boats for a walk and to not be solicited for more jobs.
Bill & JoAnne come by to pick us up just as Widlin came back to finish waxing the top decks, another great worker. We beach the dinghy by the village picking up three 13 year old boys to act as guides. Not that we really needed them but it was just easier to have them tag along and show us the way. Walk thru the village and over to another bay with a fancy hotel, the Abaka Bay Resort, has two helicopter pads to bring in guests. We have a drink and buy the boys a coke. Come back another way and the views are spectacular from up on the hill. Back around to see more of the village and to another hotel, this one not so fancy but a nice local place Steve & Bill have another beer and the boys another coke. Hope they didn't get sick as these are the big 20 oz bottles and I am sure they do not usually drink 2 in an afternoon.
Back at the boat Widlin is just finishing up, he even cleaned the rags he used with some left over water from my laundry. We give him one of our boat cards with a note on the back saying what a good worker he is. Karma also stopped by the boat to get a gallon of gas and we gave him a boat card also recommending his services. It is a hard road for them here, hope some of them can make a good life for themselves. I guess word got out about getting recommendations next thing we knew Ultra was surrounded by boat boys asking for them.
It has been a lovely time here and we were surprised to have internet. One side of the bay has a hotel with internet the other side homes with no electricity. A strange world. I know I keep saying we might not be having updates for a while and then we find internet, so not sure when the next update will be as we leave Ile A Vache Wednesday morning.
Link to pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/IleAVache?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNu8mPKQ5f6DAg&feat=directlink