Friday, May 27, 2011

Caribbean Home

It feels like this leg of the Earthling adventure is coming to an end. It also feels like a big achievement to arrive in one of the important destinations of the original route. Destinations like St. Croix, which is our home in the Caribbean.
Antonio & Ellen Sanpere live here in St. Croix and since we got here we have been staying at their condo. They have been kind enough to offer us a clean hot shower and a comfortable large bed with ceiling fan which is any cruisers dream after months of sailing and living aboard. It feels like home here at the Sanpere's.

The last few days a couple of  projects were accomplished. The new manuel head is in place now. No more bucket! I got a new drill, grill, and other boating gear from Tony. And we will work on many other projects when we come back here for the 3rd leg of the adventure at the end of hurricane season in October.

Right now we are motorsailing sailing to Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands for a sailing race this weekend. Earthling will be the mothership to Tony's race boat, Cayennita Grande.

Love from The Virgin Islands

Saturday, May 21, 2011


In Puerto Rico it's mango season now. You see mango trees in bloom everywhere and under all of the trees there are tons of ripe mangos on the ground. Just pick one up and eat it!
Mangos are sweet and delicious fruits & there are a variety of different kinds . Last night we actually made chicken in mango sauce with rice and beans. I wish more people could have joined us for dinner. 
We were up the mountains with Tonõ and Carlos a few days ago and they were showing us how Puerto Rican's eat mangos. Mango fruits have a certain fiber in them that get stuck in your teeth. It's difficult to get the fibers out and  flossing is the only way to get them totally out. Our friend Carlos says it's great to eat mangos because it cleans between your teeth. 
On a different note, our head (toilet) broke down the other day. The toilet flush is an electric macerator, which is convenient but uses a lot of energy. I have been thinking to replace it with a manual flush, but wanted to wait till it breaks down first.  Well, that day has finally come. And without a backup. Our only solution to the bathroom problem is now a bucket. Yes, I said it. We now are using a bucket here on Earthling until we get to St. Croix, USVI on Monday where our new [manual] head is being shipped. We are so lucky to have our friend Antonio, who lives in St. Croix to get it through his port supply account. 

So the big mystery still was, what had jammed the head? 
Around the propeller on the macerator there were a lot of threads that were caught in it. I could not figure out where they were from. 
As I'm eating these sweet mangos, I suddenly had a moment of clarity. I told Kelly I solved the problem with the prop in the toilet. The threads in the bathroom were Mango fibers. They were identical to the ones I was picking out of my teeth. 
Ah hah! 
What we learned: 
Mangos + Macerator = Messy job.  
If you have eaten mangos and you have a macerator on your boat, watch out. 
Next port St. Croix, USVI
Love from Mango world

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Friends

Everytime a door closes another one opens. Our experience in Ponce has turned positive. 
The day after the robbery both of us were frustrated and sad and just wanted to leave. But it was not right to leave a new place with an extreme negative experience.

When we were walking back to our Velero (sailboat), we saw a couple of men fishing at the end of the pier. I thought to myself... Wouldn't you like to know who's hanging around your boat?

Based on our cruising experience in different countries the last few months; Locals in Puerto Rico are less open to get to know strangers and outsiders. But once you get to know them they feel like part of your family. 
We walked over to the two men fishing. 
I said, "Hola, are you guys fishing?"
Antonio turned around with a smile and said, "Yes, we are trying."
 Later on we were laughing about the fact that I asked such a stupid question. Of coarse they are fishing!
It didn't take long before we were connected on the same energy level with "Tonio" and Carlos. 
They offered us a beer and showed empathy for what happened to us the night before. Carlos is an artist and has many beautiful paintings. Please visit his gallery ( 
Tonio is a teacher and he is a copy of my best friend, Marko Lugaric. Tonio's nick name now is Marko! 
The night ended up with all of us on Earthling till 4am talking and having a good time. Now we have new best  friends in Ponce. The following day they drove around showing us Ponce, we went up the mountains by a beautiful waterfall, stopping at a little bar to have some Medalla (Puerto Rican cerveza). The nature of this country is very tropical and up in the mountains it is a rainforest with beautiful lush greenery, vines connecting trees from every direction like spider webs of branches, and Bamboo trees. There are so many types of Mango trees here, we can just stop and have a fresh one right from the tree. 
Carlos and Tonio have been very generous and giving. Carlos came over with a framed painting that he got from a fellow artist, and  gave it to us as a gift. This beautiful piece of art was painted in 1973 by Luis Alonso in San Juan. This is the most special gift I've ever recieved, it makes me emotional to even talk about it. 

We have spent a lot of time with our new friends in Ponce. Yesterday we sailed to Cardona Island, Tonio brought Puerto Rican chicken kabob that we grilled aboard from "Ramon's pincho frente al cash & Carry de Ponce". 
It was their first time sailing and they got to experience our life style on Earthling. In a few minutes from now they are picking us up to go and get some provisioning done and do laundry.

One of our purposes as humans in life is to help each other without any expectations. Giving without expecting is returned 10 fold. 

Love to all our friends and readers

Friday, May 13, 2011

We've Been Robbed

Last night we got robbed. We are docked across from Ponce yacht and fishing club. There are 4 other boats on this dock but we are the only live aboards. We have not been connected to land for a long time so it felt good to find a free dock and step over to land. 
The sounds from all the bars on the board walk a few hundred feet from here was so attracting  that we decided to go for couple of cervezas. We left the boat around 9:30pm and walked over to the board walk. We sat down at a bar where most people were hanging out and had a couple of beers, it was very pleasant. A few hours after it was way past our regular bed time, we decided it was time to head back. As we are approached the entrance to the dock we saw a guy running out and drove away in a hurry. Both Kelly and I suddenly had a bad feeling about that scene. We stepped down in the cabin and saw things thrown around,  it looked like someone has been here. Yes we had been robbed. We were in such shock and couldn't do much. We realized that lots of valuable items were gone. Items such as a handheld VHF radio, 2 fishing poles, heavy duty battery driven flashlight, 2 head lights, iPhone, iPod, laptop, flare gun, a folder of all the manuals for each equipment & boat, and my most important tools the Dewalt heavy duty drill and driver. 
We dont have much to start with and live on a very minimum budget. Now lots of our stuff is gone too. 
The feeling of being robbed is awful. You simply loose your trust for all your surrounding and everyone around you. I couldn't sleep peacefully last night and kept waking up as soon as I heard any little sound. 
Today we made a police report and I really hope at least some of the things get returned. We don't have  insurance so what's gone is gone and some of the things we can't afford buying again. This is a lesson learned and I take blame for that. We just have been too comfortable anchoring all the time and we rarely lock the boat. We should lock the boat no matter for how long or how far we are going. I guess we have been at sea too long and forgot that crime still exists and some people look at us as wealthy because we have a boat. Maybe we needed to learn this lesson sooner with limited loss than later with a greater loss. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Mona

 157 miles and 40hrs on the Mona passage brought us finally to Puerto Rico. Fair winds and calm seas were on our side for this passage. Only four tacks were required and here we arrived on Mother's Day to Boqueron, Happy Mother's Day to all mothers. Boqueron is a party town on the weekends and has a beautiful beach. The sound of all the music from the various bars was a nice welcome to this new country. The agenda originally was to be in PR in the middle of March, however there was so much to see all the way here and the purpose of this adventure is to explore and see the world.
The last exploration in DR was the national forest perserve on the southern end of Samana bay. We got to see some beautiful landscape and caves. It seemed not true for this part of the world and it looked more like South East Asia. We approached what looked like a dinghy dock with no sign of people around on one of these many forest covered tall rock islands. So we tied up and started walking the man made looking rock steps. As we looked up all we saw was massive open rock, we had arrived at yet another unknown place to explore. Oh my god it was beautiful. This cave had tunnels to separate smaller caves, it opened to the sky where trees grew straight through the rock all the way from bottom to top. It had parts open to the ocean. Complete with bats and all! It all ended with us meeting some fishermen that offered us shrimp and fish (camarones y pescado) that they had just caught. Dinner was great.
Tomorrow we are sailing to Ponce and another world to explore.
Love from Boqueron!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Samana Orchestra

It's six o'clock in the morning and I woke up by the sounds of the roosters in Samana. It's not one or two roosters, there are hundreds of them. It sounds like a rooster orchestra. I believe every house in Samana has at least one rooster in their back yard. We are anchored 700-800 ft from the city dock but the roosters are so loud that it feels we are on land.
Not only roosters are loud here, everything is loud!
Everybody has motorbikes here and they zip through all over the place. Yesterday we were sitting on the outdoor patio of an Internet cafe and the sounds of soft and loud motorcycles created a motorcycle orchestra. Motorbikes are the common transportation. You will see families of 5 on a motorbike. A lot of things are transported on motorbikes, anything from live animals to propane tanks and so forth. Kelly and I had the opportunity to ride one and it was a great experience.
Dominicans must be very proud of their music. It's good music but it's blasting everywhere. You hear the blasting music even up at 8000ft elevation where nobody would normally live! On the major street here in Samana music starts playing right after the rooster orchestra ends. Some general stores play the music so loud and I believe it's a marketing strategy to get attention and get more customers. To us it had the reverse effect.  We went into the store to look around and the music was so loud that we could not stand it and had to leave. 
All these sounds are ok, but the sound that bothers us the most is the sound of propaganda blasting from the old pick up trucks. It's pre-election time here and one way for politicians to market themselves is to have these recorded voices playing over and over again loud throughout the whole city and throughout the country. What a world we live in that leaders must market themselves and the more resources they have the more propaganda and the more known they will get.

Anyhow, today we are crossing to the national park on the other side of Samana bay, and in 36 hours from now we will say goodbye to Dominican and sail the Mona passage to Puerto Rico.
Thanks to the beautiful country and people of Rep. Dominica.
Love from Samana Orchestra