RoRCs Report January 2018 - Caribbean and Mediterranean

RoRCs Report January 2018 - Caribbean and Mediterranean

The latest news and whereabouts [January] of our Club’s Roving Rear Commodores in Caribbean and Mediterranean Waters.

By David Blackburn - 30/01/2018

David Bridges in Blue Yonder - Sept 2016 – 2019

Happy 2018 sailors! Here's hoping it will be a great one with many new ocean adventures for all of us.

January finds BLUE YONDER docked once again in Ft Lauderdale where we arrived in mid-November, 2017. Marilyn & I left Norfolk Oct 21 heading south staying ahead of the impending cold. We had a delightful trip with a combination of ICW in NC & FL and offshore around SC & GA other than a stop in Charleston. Charleston is always a highlight of any coastal trip in the SE US & this one was no exception. Wonderful food and tours of history. The boisterous weather drove us inside at St Augustine, Florida, another wonderful watering hole for sailors.

Since arriving in Florida it seems we should be starting a Highway Cruising Club, having done two round trip drives to Norfolk, VA & back for Thanksgiving and then again for the Christmas & New Year to spend with families. The trips were smooth save the 3" paralyzing snow storm in SC & GA. They definitely aren't equipped for that anomaly!

We've had the good fortune to visit with several OCCers along the way but no large gatherings this season.. As always it's wonderful to run into a boat flying the burgee for an immediate introduction. Please get them up there so we can more easily find each other.

Currently we are preparing to cruise south following the sun later this month, destination to be determined. We're carrying guide books and dreams for two oceans, Atlantic & Pacific. We haven't been able to decide yet so we're ready for whichever one the winds & fates take us. It's a joy to cruise, free of a schedule and even a definite destination....finally I think I've reached the point in life where I truly appreciate that it really is the journey and not the destination....enjoy every day wherever it may be. That's much easier and more fun now that I have a mate to share it all with.

Best wishes for wherever life takes you until Spring.

Bill and Laurie Balme in Toodle-OO - Sept 2016 – 2019

Toodle-oo! has been quite active these past few months, coming down from New England to the Caribbean again on the Salty Dawg Rally and then heading straight down to Dominica to do some relief work there (see reports elsewhere in this newsletter).

We spent a very enjoyable Christmas in Les Saintes and then a memorable New Year at Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua where we enjoyed the company of many other OCC boats - on a Beach Bar Pub Crawl, a New Year's Eve dock party with Suzie Too and then a Bocce Ball tournament on New Year's Day - Suzy Too coming out victorious! (the pub crawl got a little silly! :-) )

From here we'll be heading down to Grenada and then making our way back towards Antigua where we expect to leave from for the Azores Pursuit Rally in late May.

Photo: First PAYS dinner in Dominica since the hurricanes. (Photo credit: Laurie Balme)

Simon and Hilda Julien in Brisa - Sept 2016 – 2019

This report comes while moored on a recently replaced mooring at Portsmouth, Dominica. By the time of our arrival in early January from Antigua after launching in mid December we had some idea what to expect from the various updating reports given over the OCC Caribbean net by members who had previously visited. Many members including Baloo (Bob and Ann Beck) and Toodle-OO (Bill and Laurie Balm) had already made significant contributions, for example, by removing some of the many galvanized roof sheets littered in the Bay.

Assistance had also been given in the rebuilding of the PAYS facility. But nothing could fully prepare us for seeing the scale of the devastation even 4 months after the onslaught of Maria. What we had not anticipated was the amount of debris that had to be dealt with in addition to the more obvious almost total rebuilding requirement. Throughout the island complete houses as well as most roofs had been wiped out depositing the components and contents over a wide area. Other houses had been swept away by rivers which had turned into torrents and spared nothing and no one in their path. Very few properties had escaped without major damage.

Many people remain living in temporary accommodation in very challenging circumstances with limited or no power and many without mains water. In addition to considerable efforts by many different NGOs visiting sailors have added to the vitally needed contributions.

However what has impressed us most is the way that the remarkably resilient and as ever friendly community who despite severely testing circumstances have worked so incredibly hard to tidy up and start to rebuild. Shops have been reopened, often in different or temporary premises. House construction is underway. Basic food supplies, fuel and propane are all available and communications have been upgraded with 4G cell phone networks.

Although OCC members have set a good example, visitor numbers have been slow to pick up. With the University closed, cruise ship visits cancelled and with fewer than ever land based tourists the impact of sailboat visitors has become more significant.

Our welcome has been warmer than ever. Tours of the affected areas are of great interest with observation of the unexpectedly rapid though still minor regrowth of the forested and farmland areas being of particular note. Dominica looks different and it will obviously take many years fully to recover but it remains a unique and wonderful island. We hope it remains firmly in cruisers destination plans.

Dominica dominates our thoughts on this occasion but elsewhere in the Caribbean the usual range of OCC inspired social activities continue many brought about following contact through the morning OCC Caribbean Net (0730 local 6227khz changing to 4027khz at approx 0745). Despite somewhat more challenging propagation conditions than normal thus far some 35 different boats have checked in with many more expected as the season progresses and new arrivals and members are welcomed. There have been Christmas and New Year gatherings in Antigua, Iles de Saintes, Bequia, St Anne and no doubt elsewhere. Best wishes to all in the Caribbean for a great season, we look forward to meeting as many as we can.

David and Juliet Fosh in Reflections - May 2014 – 2018

Marina di Cala del Sole in Licata, Sicily, has been a very successful winter stop over. An international group of cruisers gathered for a Christmas lunch for 25 as a potluck, including turkey. New Year was celebrated on a Scottish Bowman 40 with 30 on board. Celebrations in the town saw us dancing in the street and several concerts. A food festival of Sicilian food was organised by the town for the cruisers. Our plans for this year are flexible, including perhaps Malta and Tunisia. We will be in UK for February.

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