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2000-2001 Voyage

Second Wind

IP350

Dennis & Debbie Roth

Pittsburgh

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Subject: Second Wind in Dominican Republic 
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 14:42:06 EST

Dear Family and Friends:

It's been a while since we've written. But we have been safe and having quite an adventure. We are now in a harbor on the north coast of the Dominican Republic at Luperon. Look at a map and see where we are. We can hardly believe it ourselves!! We're sorry that we haven't been able to communicate with you for a while. We have had considerable trouble with our Pocketmail not to mention the lack of telephone services (or for several days the lack of civilization of any kind!). So we haven't received your notes since December 10th.

We left Rum Cay in the Bahamas along with two other boats on December 12 and made an overnight passage to Mayaguana, Bahamas. The anchorage there was so uncomfortable that we left about 8 hours later for the Turks and Caicos arriving in Providenciales (Provo) the following morning. The entire passage was about 180 miles and lasted nearly two days. The experience was somewhere between awful and terrible. (Are we having fun yet???) The Turks and Caicos are beautiful. The anchorage at Provo was one of the prettiest we have been at. Gorgeous fine sand beach that was generally deserted. Unfortunately it was somewhat rolly so that Second Wind was always moving either up and down or side to side (or both!!) The wind was usually 20 to 25 knots from the east or southeast. Too strong and from the wrong direction for us to move onward. So we stayed at that anchorage for nearly a week. For a few days we rented a car and were able to visit the island. It is a great place to vacation. And we found the best oldies radio station, playing all the music from the 60's and early 70's, but the good songs!! Very nice people, great beaches, snorkeling, diving and fishing.

At about midnight on the fourth night there, the wind increased to about 35 knots and a boat ahead of us broke free (their anchor just pulled out) and drifted into us. We tried to fend them off but before we could, they smashed into our life lines and the posts (stantions) that hold them up. They bent two of the stantions and partially cut two of the life lines. These will need to be replaced. This is actually more damage than we sustained in three hurricanes!! But it doesn't affect the safety or functions of the boat so we will do our repairs later.

We celebrated Debbie's birthday with 4 other cruising couples at a restaurant in Provo. It was a great time and we have become good friends with all of them. You become very good friends very quickly out here. We think that is because we have so very much in common: experiences, worries/concerns, and interests.

On December 21 we traveled about 45 miles from Provo to another small Turks and Caicos island called Ambrigris Cay. It is essentially uninhabited although supposedly there are plans to build a marina there. Because the entire area is covered with random coral heads that are unmarked, you cannot travel at night. Generally we travel at about 6 knots (nautical miles per hour). Sun rise is at 6 AM and sunset is at 5 PM. But to be able to see the coral heads and turn to avoid them, the sun needs to be high in the sky (like between 10 AM and 3 PM) So how do we travel the 45 miles during those 5 hours if we can only make 6 knots? Well we left at dawn and took our chaces since the first part of the trip had only a few heads to worry about. We hoped to get to Ambergris by about 3PM. The weather seemed right, so off we went. Within about 2 hours the winds picked up to 25 knots and right on the nose!! If we went directly in the direction we wanted to, we could only go 3.8 knots and there was no way to get to Ambergris before night and no where to stop either. Tension!!! Stress!!! Well we discovered that by altering our course by about 20 degrees we could maintain about 5 knots. So we would turn left about 20 degress off course for about 10 minutes and then turn right and go 20 degrees off course the other way. The result was that we were essentially on course and making about 4.5 knots in the direction we wanted to go. The good news is that we did not hit any coral heads (we would be back in Pittsburgh now if that had happened) and we got to Ambergris at about 4 PM. One of the other cruising couples on the motor yacht Sylvia K that helped to celebrate Debbie's birthday was at Ambergris and it was comforting to be with friends. But there was no civilization here. No phone, no nothing. Except that the beaches are beautiful and the snorkeling around the coral heads was excellent. Are we having fun yet?

We spent two nights gently (usually) rolling at this anchorage and then on December 23 we traveled to Big Sand Cay. (But it certainly isn't big) It's a tiny little uninhabited island in the ocean at the south east end of the Turks and Caicos and about 80 miles from the Dominican Republic. The trip here was through more coral heads for about 10 miles and then 25 miles of ocean sailing. The coral heads tower up to within a foot or so of the surface in 25 to 30 feet of water. About half way through the maze of coral heads we saw what looked like a post sticking out of the water. When we got closer we saw a wind indicator and rigging attached to the top of the post. It was the mast of a sailboat that had hit the reef and sunk!!! We made it through the coral without incident and then turned about 90 degrees toward Big Sand across a small piece the ocean. Again the wind did not cooperate. It continued to blow about 20 knots right into our faces. We arrived at Big Sand late that afternoon to find a very rolly anchorage with waves and white caps all around us. We were still with our friends on Sylvia K. But the anchorage was too rough to even think about getting into our dinghies to visit or go ashore. We stayed here only one night and then left for Luperon, Dominican Republic (DR) the next afternoon, since the weather reports predicted less than 15 knots of winds and about 6 foot waves! That's the best we've seen so far in the forecasts.

We had been told that the winds along the northern coast of the DR become ferocious just after daybreak until late in the afternoon. But during the night from about midnight until daybreak, the effects of the island on the winds causes them to die down considerably out to as much as 30 miles off shore. So the plan was to arrive outside the harbor of Luperon before daybreak. We had to guess about how fast we would be able to travel since again the wind would be just about on our noses. And if we were wrong and got there too late, it might have been impossible to get into the harbor. We did have two other anchorages in the DR further west from Luperon that would have been fall back landfalls or in an extreme situation we could have gone slightly further west to Haiti. It turned out that this was the best overnight passage we have had on this adventure. We underestimated our travel time and arrived outside Luperon at 4AM. The seas did calm down about 25 miles offshore and it was almost like sailing on a lake. We circled around outside the harbor until sunrise (7AM) and entered the harbor. Arriving here was a wonderful feeling. We did it. We have arrived safely in the DR in a great anchorage. We are totally surrounded by dark green mountains that are thousands of feet tall. It's a totally different world from the one we have been in the past 5 weeks. The sense of relief was immeasurable. And the boat that is anchored right in front of us is another one of the couples that helped celebrate Debbie's birthday. As we pulled in they were yelling and cheering to us.

Just want to let our wine group friends know that rum isn't the only beverage onboard! We're drinking wine regularly so that Debbie can use all the empty wine bottles to put notes in them. We've selected "points of throwing" and are now getting to be experts at the bottle toss.

Once we do some exploring of Luperon and the Dominican Republic, we'll tell you about our land exploration. Are we having fun yet? We don't know but it has been an unforgettable adventure so far.

Hope that you're all fine and we wish you all a very happy new year!

Debbie and Dennis s/v Second Wind

Subject:  Happy Sailors!!
Date: Sat. Dec 30 2000 

Dear Family and Friends,

First we want to wish all of you a very happy and a very healthy New Year! It's so nice to be back in civilization and being able to be in touch with all of our family and friends, and being able to share our experiences with you. Glad to hear from so many of you-- so that we can keep up with what's happeening with you too!

Your reactions to our last e-mail was appropriate!! So YOU got sea-sick??? We're sorry!!! Just want you to know that we really haven't been seasick, but we're sorry if some of you had to run to the pharmacy to get some Bonine or Dramamine to make yourselves feel better! If all of our passages were like that, we wouldn't be here! Just want to assure you that we have been in NO danger! It's just that it was uncomfortable. With the wind always on the nose, that's just the way it is. Unfortunately, we're headed southeast and east, and that's the direction of the trade winds....from that direction, yes...on our nose. More about that later.

Arriving at Luperon, Dominican Republic we found another world. It's beautiful scenery here. The tall mountains even have palm trees growing everywhere, even on the ridges. Everything is green and lush. The town of Luperon is a small village. In fact, it really reminds us of many of the Mexican villages that we visited 26 years ago. Many of the "buildings" are wood, or various scavenged materials, and have thatched roofs. This is not a tourist area, these are truely thatched houses. Loud music from boom boxes is playing music, and the people are always outside visiting with each other. There are some block buildings, but many "shacks" are built between the buildings. People live in these "houses" and sell things from them also. Frequently there's no sign, you just look in to see what they have to sell. There are several fresh produce stores which have great produce. Here in the DR they don't use pesticides or fertilizer, so all of it is organic!! And everything is picked when it is ripe. That's the "good ol' days" that we never even knew. We are enjoying sweet fresh pineapples for 60 cents each, mandarin tangerines, and avocadoes that you can hold with 2 hands! The tomatoes taste like tomatoes should!! Comparing the food here to what was available in the Bahamas is unbelievable. Although we haven't purchased the meat from the market here, we can tell you about it. They butcher an animal in the morning, and it's sold by noon. And the chickens.... well, you can buy it plucked or not plucked! You carry it with the feet attached!! Yes, it's really fresh! What a different world when you're used to the supermarket! Our Spanish is improving each day with all of the practice since most of the people don't speak English.

There's a small marina here with 10 slips but minmal services. They do have a restaurant with local food. Although the majority of the boats here in Luperon on on their way either north or south, some get stuck here. One boat has been here 18 months. A few others 10 to 12 months. All together there are about 50 boats here in the harbor. Some of the boaters have started yoga classes and beginner and advanced Spanish lessons. Also, someone bakes bread twice a week.

As has been the case in all of our encounters with cruisers, we have continued to meet some very nice people here. There was a dinner on Christmas night at the marina, with turkey and the trimmings. At a nearby restaurant we'll be celebrating New Year's. Restaurants are everywhere, having from 3 to 10 tables, so they're small. There's only 1 air conditioned one here. The larger meal is at lunch, and a typical meal is chicken, rice, fried plantains ( the banana family), yucca (dryish potato taste) and maybe a salad like cole slaw. The portions are enormous and served family style, for usually $2 to 3 dollars. So different than the Bahamas where the food was poor at best and very expensive. The local beer, El Presidente,u in the 20 oz size is 25 pesos. (16 pesos to the dollar so about US$1.50). And the people are so nice. Everyone says hi, or "ola". We can walk around the town, but if we want to we can ride on the back of a motor scooter for a quarter. You see women with children and even babies with them riding on the back of a motor scooter!!! It's not bad once you've tried it.

The cheapest way to travel from Luperon is to take a motorscooter or walk to the guagua station. Here there are minivans (for about 6 people)-- the vans go to the next town of Imbert about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. Then you can get on a bus for any of the major nearby cities like Puerto Plata, Santiago, or Santo Domingo. The public transportation is fantastic, and very inexpensive. But it's not run by the government. It's free enterprise at it's best.

Another way to get out of town is to rent a car with a driver which is what we did yesterday. Along with another couple we hired Yancy and his car and we visited Puerto Plata. It's the major town on the north coast of the DR and is about 60 km from here. So for a day we played tourist. We met up with a lot of other tour buses from the various resorts in this area. Tourism is a major component of the economy in the northern part of the DR. Our driver spoke only Spanish so we really reviewed our vocabulary. Along the way to Puerto Plato, we shared the road with horse -drawn rickshaws, burros, and men on horseback!!! It's the same scene of those pictures that you probably saw in your geography books years ago, and it's still here. It's amazing how the cars and motor scooters are zooming by too. What a scene on these 2 lane roads with 4 vehicles passing at once!! Along the way we saw cocoa trees (for making chocolate), sugar cane, land planted with corn and assorted vegetables, and cattle grazing. No machinery here for farming, all just done by hand.

In Puerto Plata, we visited the fort, went to a bank, since there isn't one in Luperon, bought some produce at the market area, toured the Brugal rum factory (yes, free tastings too!) and then to the real supermarket, like at home. But the highlight of the trip was a visit to the Amber Museum, where specimens of the amber stone from the Dominican Republic are. The amber is formed by the sap of a tree and after millions of year turns into stone. In many of these amber stones are remains of small animals(flying insects, ants, etc.), leaves, petals or bark. The movie Jurrasic Park was partially filmed here, since the idea for the movie came from amber. DNA information has been taken from these insects and analyzed, so it's a researcher's dream to find something exciting here. Amber is still being mined here by hand today.

You may have been able to read between the line of our last email that this trip has been a little bit more difficult (mostly in a mental way) than we expected. The daily routine has been to spend an hour or two hearing different weather reports and then trying to decide whether or not to move forward to the next destination. All of those moves have been to the east and into the wind and that's the way it will be until we get to the Virgin Islands. Geographically we are more than half way there. But in terms of travel days we have traveled 14 days and have 18 traveling days, most directly to the east, to go. Well "if it ain't fun don't do it", so we have hired a captain to deliver Second Wind to the east coast of Puerto Rico. From there it will only be four delivery days, some of which will be cruising the Spanish Virgin Islands (east of Puerto Rico). So rather than going into the wind for the next month, he'll do it in a week or so. We plan to tour around the DR and Puerto Rico this next week or so and then fly to meet Second Wind at Palmas del Mar. From there we'll be about 80 miles from the Virgin Islands.

Again, our thoughts of a happy year ahead are with you.

Debbie and Dennis

Subject: We Caught a Fish!
Date: January 1, 2001-----already?

Hope that the New Year will be a good one for you! We're looking forward to enjoying cruising this year!!! Up to now you may have been envious, invisioning us under palm trees, plastered with suntan lotion, reading a book while drinking a rum punch. We'll let you know if and when that happens!! From our journals.... you know better now!

Well, more exciting news! Bought the fishing line- fake, wiggly red bait- sharp knife ....and ready to go. We caught a fish!! But......The other morning we had trouble flushing our toilet and within minutes the engine alarm went off. Both of these use the same thruhull to get water. Troubleshooting to find the problem, we thought the intake thru-hull must be clogged with a plastic bag, but the water gushed through the thruhull. Then we disconnected the next hose segment since the water didn't seem to want to go through it, and the head of a 6 inch fish greeted us. The entire fish somehow had been sucked into the hose!!!! Yuck!! At least the fish had just been caught, and was fresh! That problem was easily solved!!

It's been funny reading in the guide books about the development and colonization of each of the islands along the way in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and the DR. Just as George Washington visited almost every city (and every bed) on the east coast of the US, almost every island along the way claims that Christopher Columbus landed there first!!! It seems all the historians definitely place him landing first on whatever island we were at. Here in the Dominican Republic even Columbus' brother founded a city!

Within the next few days we plan to visit the area here, and then head over to Puerto Rico. So you may not hear from us for about a week, unless we have easy email access. But you'll still hear about our land adventures too!

Also just want to tell you that Debbie is returning to Pittsburgh for a week on January 16th, so that she can visit with her father and check the mail (pounds or tons??). While away, Dennis' best friend, Bill Sherman, will join him for comraderie, rum tasting, sailing and fishing (since Debbie's not onboard).

Enjoy the new year!

Debbie and Dennis 

Subject: The Dominica Republic
Date: January 19, 2001

Hi Again! Well, you all know that we arrived here safely on December 25th. In the harbor were about 50 other boats. some are heading back west but most are going east, like us. It is such a nice safe harbor and the town is so friendly that some have been here for months. The town of Luperon is about 30 mile west of Puerto Plata on the north coast of the DR.Since that time, we found an amazing country. The harbor that we anchored in was Luperon,a very small town, that had it's roads paved 2 years ago. Well, January 3rd we took a bus from Luperon to Santo Domingo, the capital. The bus was supposed to have TV and air conditioning, but they were broken. The bus driver told us that the "air conditioning is by God"!! The bus stopped many times along the way, picking up passengers at the side of the road. In fact, it was standing room only for many of the unhappy passengers. The mountains were beautiful and quite rugged. They are forested. In the major valleys is very fertile crop land. This country has lots of food. Even in the poor little towns no one seemed skinny or hungry. Taking the public bus was a good way to see the country. Twice herds of cows crossed the road we traveled. At one stop some venders came on board with a locally made candy. Of course we bought some and it was delicious. The trip took about 5 hours and we arived in Santo Domingo just about at dusk. The city is alive with people, and motor bikes, and street vendors. As we have seen people here visit with each other all of the time outside. And there is always music playing. We stayed in the old city that was founded but Columbus's brother in about 1495. Most of the old buildings and churches and cathedrals were built in the early to mid 1500's. The stone work was beautiful. We also toured Columbus' house, along the water where you'd expect it to be. It was more of a mansion than a house! Santo Domingo has a great natural harbor and it was the base for most of the Spanish conquerors of the new world, Ponce de Leon, Cortez, etc. We used a tour guide and between his English and our Spanish we learned a lot. Tour guides were all around, anxious to walk with you and tell you lots! Of course, knowing Spanish really helped in restaurants and shops. While we visited the capital, our 2 captains delivered Second Wind to Salinas Puerto Rico. Their passage was nearly non stop for about 4 days. Apparently the Mona Passage between the DR and PR was rough. It didn't look too bad to us from 15000 feet as we flew to San Juan, and met them in Salinas. Now we're anchored in Salinas an excellent protected harbor. We plan to do some repairs, (remember that antenna that came off) and general maintenance. Also, we plan to re-provision since there are lots of stores in Ponce, not too far from here. There's always something to add to the list of things to do. Now our single side band radio isn't working, so we've gotta figure that out! Debbbie is coming back to Pburgh on Jan 16 for a week. Bill Sherman will be coming down for that same week and if the weather is good-to St. Thomas.D/D

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Subject: Speaking Spanish!
Date: January 14, 2001, 14:00 hrs

Buenas Dias Here we are in Puerto Rico and having now spent nearly 3 weeks in Spanish speaking countries, we are actually comfortably conversing en Espanol. We've been able to do a lot refitting. First, rather than argue over who would be hoisted up the 50 feet to the top of the mast, we hired a rigger to climb and attach our new antenna to the top. Finally we have a good VHF antenna. The higher the antenna is, the more distance you can send and receive---so the jury-rigged antenna came down and is now a spare. Also while here in the anchorage in Salinas, PR - on the south coast, a sailmaker repaired some canvas on our bimini top. And the Single Side Band radio piece was overnighted to us from Seattle. Dennis installed it and it's working. We're happy to have these things fixed. While here, we rented a car and drove to Ponce, PR, where we shopped at a big supermarket, like in the states, and even went to Walmart for other things on our list!! There are McDonalds, Wendys, Pep Boys, but most of the employees speak little English. Even picking up the Payless car was all in Spanish!!! The anchorage here in Salinas is very nice. There is marina here, and they have a restaurant, pool, laundry (yeah!) and lots of small restaurants within walking distance. THe actual anchorage is calm, so we're able to sleep well, and wake up to all the roosters. They just run wild all over the place!! There are probably about 25 boats anchored here. We met a couple from Pittsburgh!!! They greeted us on the radio with "Hey Second Wind, How younz guys doin'" And we responded "Djeat yet?" They were living in San Francisco until they decided to do a 10 year float plan. Along their way they traveled along the west coast, Baja California, the Panama Canal and through the countries of Central America. It's fun to meet so many cruisers who really have traveled very far!! And we can hear their stories of their travels. We left today {Saturday Jan 13} ans anchored in a small bay near Patilla, in the southeast corner of PR. Tomorrow we plan to travel to Fajardo, on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. Today the winds were light, 5-10 knots, with 1-3 foot seas, and we just couldn't pass up a good day like that for traveling. So we went 20 miles in 3 1/2 hours! Sunday's trip will be long --around 40 miles, but with the same forecast. Finally weather more or less in our favor! This afternoon we saw a small fishing boat with 3 guys in it and waved them over. We wanted to see if they had any fresh fish that they would sell to us. They gave us a fish for free!!! We offered them beer, but they took Coke instead. But we also asked about lobster, and they had 3 that they sold to us. Our plans, subject to change of course, because sailing plans are set in jello.....are to sail to a marina in Fajardo and get a slip there for 2 nights. We'll do fun stuff like laundry, pick up some things we couldn't find in Ponce or Salinas, and then on Tuesday, the crew changes. Bill Sherman flies down from Pittsburgh, and Debbie goes north. Today we passed into 65 degrees west longitude, which has been one of our goals. We're anchored at 65.59.8'!!! We're really getting closer now, only 80 miles to St Thomas. Hooray!! We heard that the entire country has been cold, so all of you stay warm. One "cold" day here we tried rum in hot chocolate, and it's great! Stay warm. 
Love, Debbie and Dennis (Denny to some)

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Subject: Halfway Through Our Adventure!
Date: January 26, 2001

Hi Everyone,

We're about halfway through our adventure now. We are just returning from a week (for Debbie) and a long weekend (for Dennis) in Pittsburgh. Bill Sherman got quite sick (cold/flu) the day he arrived. So he and Dennis flew back to Pgh instead of moving on to St. Thomas. We suspect that you might have a lot of unanswered questions about this trip of ours. Like.... Are there pirates out there? Are you afraid of them? How do you do we get food or water? Do we really have friends and family members this crazy? The answer to that is YES!!! Ask your question, any question,(well, almost any question!!!) and we will respond. Don't worry, you'll remain anynomous!!

Also, last call for dinghy names!! The contest ends on Superbowl Sunday, whenever that is! The prize is not, we repeat NOT, a one week vacation on Big Sand Cay in the Turks and Caicos. Hope you're not too disappointed by that!!

We're in Puerto Rico, at the marina in Fajardo now, with plans to move east within a few days. Remember, please don't hit the reply button. You've all been good about that! Thank you so much!

Debbie and Dennis

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Subject: Superbowl Sunday
Date: January 29, 2001

It's Superbowl Sunday and no TV onboard to watch the commercials. Since the Steelers aren't playing, the game isn't worth watching anyhow!!! We're anchored here in the harbor off Dewey, Culebra just 20 miles east of Fajardo, PR. It's part of Puerto Rico. We arrived here 2 days ago at the edge of Paradise! St. Thomas is just 20 miles further east, and the BVI's 20 miles beyond that! Finally, there's no hurry to move along very fast. Culebra is a small island with only about 2000 residents. "Tourists" from Puerto Rico take the 1 1/2 hour ferry here to go to one of beautiful beaches or snorkeling areas. There are small guest houses and "hotels" in this area. It's really an unspoiled island, since there are no resorts or any named hotel or restaurant here. Just local places to eat...nothing fancy. We're finally feeling very relaxed. It's about time! We could stay here a while.

Typical weather report from Virgin Islands Radio.: High 80 to 85 low 70 to 75. 20to 40% chance of rain. Winds 15 to 20 kts from the NE. But even in paradise things aren't perfect. So today because of a small front we have had showers off and on. The wind is 20 to 25 kts. And because of a gale way up in the North Atlantic there are swells (waves) throughout this part of the Caribbean of 9 to 14 feet.

Since we're less than a day from St Thomas and only another day to the BVI's we'll wait for the waves and winds to calm down a little before moving on.

We're here in a very comfortable anchorage with two boating friends that we met way back in the Turks & Caicos. (They were both at Debbie's bday party). As we've written before, a good day is when you fix more things than break. When we left our last two anchorages in PR we could tell that our windlass (the electric device that pulls up our chain and anchor) was dying. We had had it rebuilt in FL last spring but upon further review it was too small for daily use with 200 feet of chain plus anchor. While we were at the marina in Fajardo, we had a new one installed. Boy is it strong now! OK so now we were slightly ahead for about 24 hours. Then the very next morning after our passage to Culebra, our watermaker developed a leak when it is producing water. It's part of the main pump for which we do not have the right spare part. Yes, the leak is in a locker inside the boat. We've jury-rigged something so that we can still make fresh water but we have to sponge out about 1 gallon of sea water for every five gallons of fresh water we make each half hour. Fortunately there's a distributor in St. John, who we've already contacted! Next week we'll deal with the repair of it. That makes us even with repairs. But, good news, about half of the teak has been sanded and been coated with Cetol. So we are still slightly ahead.

We feel like we are in paradise. Beautiful weather, beaches and snorkeling.

We're happy!!! And, the answer to the question you all have, we are finally having fun!!!

Debbie and Dennis

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Subject: USVI--Slowwwwwwwwwwing Down!
Date: Sunday, February 11, 2001

At last!!! We're here! What a stressful 3 months we spent getting here! But here we are, in St. Thomas, USVI !! The first 4 days we spent at Crown Bay Marina. I think it's one of the nicest marinas we've ever stayed at. The staff has been so helpful and nice. There's a great market, a restaurant, rental car office, communications store, marine store, etc. Second Wind is one of the smallest boats here. Four other Island Packets are also here. The motor yachts docked here are charter boats 100 -150 feet long. Their crews are always polishing them and keeping them looking first class! That's why we're working on shining our stainless and chrome, and re-doing our teak wood on the exterior. Just to be looking first class too! These are the yachts that you see in photos or magazines, and wonder if they are real!! Anyway, there are lots of them, even anchored in the bay right next to us now. While in the marina, we hosed so much salt off Second Wind from the trip here from Culebra. The salt just dries everywhere on the boat. Another couple who we have traveled with since Rum Cay, are also on an Island Packet 350. They are from Milwaukee and we've become good friends. One day we rented a car and we toured the island. The views were absolutely beautiful, seeing the turquoise water and high, green mountains Everyday the radio announces all the cruise ships (BIG) who are in the for the day. Debbie and 2 friends went to town for lunch and window shopping one day. So, they joined about 6,000 plus tourists seeing all the jewelry and liquor that's for sale. The sidewalks and stores were pretty crowded! Now we're at anchor in blue water in a little bay just outside the marina area. The watermaker part hasn't arrived yet, so we'll probably stay here until it arrives in the next day or two. The four couples who met in Marsh Harbour in November are here now, so we've gotten together to share the tales of our journeys. Each day we're with someone who we've met along the way! It's just so easy to meet people while sailing and become friends with them. We'll get around to answering the few questions that you've sent but first there's a beach to visit and then a rum punch and then relaxing in the hammock......

Debbie and Dennis

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Subject: WE-SAIL-----Finally!  St. John
Date: Sunday, Feb. 18, 2001

Hi Everyone,

It's good to finally be in the cruising mode again. After leaving St. Thomas, we headed to St. John. Well, we were still headed east, so into the wind we went...again. Having a trip only about 12 miles long helped us to handle it. The first night we picked up a mooring ball at Caneel Bay. It was in 47 feet of water, so we wouldn't have wanted to anchor in such deep water. This is a deluxe resort, of the rich and famous! They only recently put air conditioning in, but still don't have telephones in the rooms. It's a popular place, even with room prices starting at $450 night without an ocean view!! We snorkeled off the beach there, and then headed to shore to explore for the day because all the ferries going by made it a very, very rolly anchorage.

The next day we eagerly moved to Great Cruz Bay, St. John, where we had our watermaker repaired. Picked up another mooring ball there, and found many liveaboards, working couples and families in this anchorage. Not as many cruisers, since the moorings here cost money. On shore we pulled our dinghy onto the beach, which happened to be the Westin Resort!!! We stayed here about a week, waiting for the winds to decrease, from the 30 plus knots. Saw gusts into the 40 knot range. It wasn't too rough using the Westin resort for an afternoon place to 'hang out'and eat French fries. It's funny which foods you begin to crave when you're on a boat. One day we rented a car and toured the island, which was so interesting. Saw lots of wild donkeys, goats and chickens!! Visited all the anchorages to check them out by land. Another day Debbie snorkeled with a friend at Trunk Bay, the National Underwater Park. It was interesting, but the snorkeling has been better in many other places. Then, 2 days ago we SAILED!!!!! Second Wind had thought that she was a trawler or motor sailor, but we showed her!! The sail from Great Cruz Bay to Francis Bay,(both on St. John) was fun!! The winds were 20-30 knots, but we reefed the sails and enjoyed it so much. Didn't travel very far, only the 7 miles, but we didn't care if it took all day. However, we were there in less than 2 hours, just taking our time while avoiding going into the wind at all! On land here is the Majo Bay campgrounds where there is the range of tents and cottages and eco-huts. This camping resort is completely full now, and their reservations fill up 6 months to a year in advance. The beach is nice, and there's snorkeling around here. Lots of large schools of fish are everywhere. A couple of other friends are also here, so our evenings have been spent having dinner and having fun with our friends. Every night the stars fill up the entire sky, and we see the lights of St. Thomas in the background. I think we could stay here forever!!! But, we plan on being here only another day or two. It's been so nice hearing from you all. And rest assured, a group of friends from our neighborhood in Treesdale will be here to recount all the dinghy votes, and chads next week! There are 4 couples chartering a crewed (captain and cook provided) catamaran sailboat in the British Virgin Islands (BVI's) for a week. Second Wind's crew will join them for a week of fun!!!!! Finally, finally we are here, relaxing a bit, and getting rid of all that stress from our trip down!! It certainly was an adventure! Love, Debbie and Dennis

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Latest Report

Subject: Cruisin' with our friends and closing up shop!!
Date: Sunday, March 11, 2001

Hi Everyone! The past week was exceptional! The weather was perfect, the food excellent as we sailed (or motored) around the British Virgin Islands. Four couples from our neighborhood chartered a crewed catamaran. (That's with a captain and cook.) We joined them for all meals and just hung out with them all day long! We traveled around to many of the British Virgin Islands: Peter, Norman, Tortola, Marina Cay, Virgin Gorda, and Cooper. It was a great time- snorkeling, swimming, playing gin and 500----a wonderful week!! And now we are in Virgin Gorda marina, where we are closing up Second Wind. There are a few thousand things to do, and we're not in a very big hurry to get them done!! We've set up our folding bicycles and have ridden around a bit. One night we went out with another couple for dinner to a resort, Little Dix Bay. What a beautiful evening with a full moon! Our friends that we were with are also on an Island Packet, named Our Island. They are headed to Australia from here, via the Panama Canal. So they expect to arrive home in October! Virgin Gorda (looked like a fat virgin to Columbus) has a valley area where The Baths are. These are boulders that you can walk, swim and climb around. The other areas of the island is green, mountainous land. You see some chickens and roosters around, but what has surprised us were all the goats, cows and bulls just walking and grazing along the road, acting just like they were people!! We did stay out of their way!! Three other cruising boats are coming here to the marina next week to say goodbye to us, so we'll have a good time with MIMA, Banana Split and Crystal Clear. We've become very good friends with these cruisers, meeting them all in the out-out-out islands in the Bahamas. Frequently we traveled together and waited for weather together!! Other times we'd just arrive somewhere, and there they were. I know that we'll be keeping in touch with them even when we return to Pittsburgh. So, one more week to go here, and then we're headed to the USA. The nor'easter remains is now here. There are enormous swells from the north-northeast with breaking waves.....but no snow to shovel here. It's amazing seeing the waves breaking on the reef off the coast. But, you won't be hearing about the high winds, light winds, big seas, calm seas or wave heights now. This adventure is winding down. Stay tuned for the next one!! We'll let you know when we return to Pittsburgh. Can't wait to garden, take music lessons, work on our house, golf and enjoy our friends and our home! Hope that you all are well. We still can receive emails and encourage them. 

Debbie and Dennis

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