From March 30 to April 30, cruisers again took part in the Trans-Cariabes. Rally participants this year took two tons of humanitarian necessities to Sister Flora’s orphanage at Ile à Vache on the south coast of Haiti.
The route was little different from previous years: Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba (Cienfuegos). Twelve boats registered this year, a bit less than last year (20 boats) due to the economic crisis.
Canadians, Italians and French participants gathered at Marina Bas du Fort, Guadeloupe for the start of this windless edition. The 180 nautical miles between Guadeloupe and Saint Martin were covered in 36 hours; wind was already gone and most of the boats decided to use the Rivière Salée passage to save time and spare gas for the long journey north.
At Saint Martin’s Marina Fort Louis, a wonderful welcome took place, the first evening at the Saint Martin rescue center (SNSM) for the welcome briefing and the second evening at the marina for the wine tasting and cheese party.
The stopover at Saint Martin also meant for all the boats taking care of the two tons of goods to load for Haiti – powdered milk, pencils, erasers, notebooks, and so on. Sister Flora’s orphanage had sent their needs after the earthquake and we knew exactly what was urgently needed. Saint Martin Rotary Club action was predominant as well as the efforts of Corinne, a medical doctor and former participant from Martinique who managed to send by plane all the powdered milk needed to Saint Martin.
We were soon all set for the departure for Dominican Republic and its beautiful first stop at the wonderful Marina Casa de Campo, where we stayed three nights relaxing and visiting the historical quarter of Santo Domingo.
Then started the adventure itself; the next following stops were Isla Catalina, Isla Beata crowded with its famous Iguanas Buffalos, ugly but friendly animals. Then at last, what everyone was looking for, we arrived and anchored at the famous Bahia Las Aguilas, a five-mile long, spotless beach, next to the Haitian border.
A short over night ride took us to the well known Ile à Vache, where we could at last deliver all the humanitarian goods we had taken along. Sister Flora’s two boats came along and took all we had on board and went straight back to the orphanage of the small village called Madame Bernard. The next day at the village was market day; we organized an excursion to visit both the market and the orphanage. Participants were happy to see that all the boxes were stored nicely in a locked room. The 400 pupils from the school thanked us with their smiles and friendliness. The Madame Bernard market was one of the poorest most people had ever seen in their lives, an interesting experience no doubt.
After two days we took off for Marina Errol Flynn at Port Antonio in Jamaica. Two days there, full of reggae gave us a hint of this beautiful island, so special and so attractive.
Cienfuegos, our final destination, was reached after a long and very slow windless navigation. We arrived late but managed to settle at Marina Marlin, where a wonderful welcome awaited us. The next day we all went on a tour to Trinidad and Havana city; the magic of the island operated again, as every year, and people were astonished to discover this wonderful island and its specificities.
That ended this year’s north Caribbean adventure. Half of the boats went to Rio Dulce of Guatemala to finish their journey and store their boats for the hurricane season. Come and join us next year: from April 2 till 22, 2011.
Report submitted by Stéphane Legendre, Club Transcaraibes