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Join the Flotilla to Cruise the South Coast of Hispaniola

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This is a rare opportunity to cruise the South Coast with knowledgeable leaders!

A flotilla of cruising boats will organize at Marina ZarPar in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic during the first week of February 2013. Weather permitting the flotilla will depart to cruise west to Isla Beata, a small island, off Cape Beata at the western end of the Dominican Republic on February 7, 2013. From Isla Beata the group will continue west to Ile a Vache, Haiti where it will anchor at Port Morgan and visit the fishing village of Caille Coq. Additional visits will be made to the village of Madame Bernard to visit the open market as well as to the school/orphanage, L’Oeuvre Saint Francois whose founder and Director is Sister Flora Blanchette. After a week at Ile a Vache, those who choose to visit Jamaica, the Caymans and Cuba will proceed west. The remaining flotilla will go east to Jacmel, Haiti where it will anchor and spend two days in this colorful and safe tourist town. Afterwards, the flotilla will continue east to Bahia Las Aguillas, a 5 mile white sand bay in the Dominican Republic, 15 miles north of Cabo Beata. From Bahia Las Aguillas it will move south to Isla Beata where we will wait for good weather to follow a starboard tack to Las Salinas in the Dominican Republic where we will complete entry requirements back into the DR. From Las Salinas the group will head east to Boca Chica where a celebration party will be held.

All registered participants will be allowed to be part of the flotilla for a $100 US fee per boat; the total of which will be donated to the Sister Flora orphanage at Ile a Vache. All registrants will receive dockage and moorings at Marina ZarPar for ½ the normal price. (Moorings will be $9.00 per night including the use of all marina facilities and slips will be $.50 US per foot per night).

Space in the flotilla will be limited to a maximum of 25 boats. You can register for the flotilla by writing to me at: fvirgintino@gmail.com.

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This will be an extraordinary event to cruise the south coast of Hispaniola as well as to participate in helping the orphanage that Sister Flora has worked so hard to create.

You can review the routes for this cruise at www.freecruisingguide.com where you can download free the cruising guide for the Dominican Republic as well as the free cruising guide for Haiti; now in its second edition. Don’t miss this fantastic event.

Sister Flora Blanchette is a Canadian Nun who has been in Haiti for more than 35 years. She founded the L’ouvre Saint Francois orphanage and school on Ile a Vache over 30 years ago and today has over 300 children in her care. At 70 years old and just under 5’, she is spry and energetic. She does not solicit donations and has no particular religious persuasion that she requires. Her only mission is to take care of the children that cannot take care of themselves. I asked her at lunch that she served at the school to me and a few others, what it is that could make her sad. She said, “What makes me sad is when a child arrives in poor condition and someone says that it is not worth the time and effort to try to bring them back to health because they are too far gone.” I sat next to her and can tell you first hand that she is conversive and attentive but her focus comes from a faith that is clearly unshakable.

The school/orphanage is located on Ile a Vache, a small island at the southwest corner of Haiti.

For many years, the harbor at Port Morgan has been a safe anchorage for cruising sailors. It is safe and extraordinarily beautiful. The small town of Caille Coq is just behind the anchorage and is one of 36 fishing villages on the island.

There is no electric and no cars on the island. Cruising sailors have worked to assist the people on the island over the years, the foremost group being the Friends of Ile a Vache, a Canadian group which can be visited at: www.friendsofileavachehaiti.com

The village of Caille Coq is pleasant and peaceful to walk through and if you smile and say Como ca va to those that you meet, you will be greeted accordingly. Do not take photos without permission as in Haiti shooting photos is considered quite personal and bad etiquette to do without consent.

Just to the west of Caille Coq is the larger village of Madame Bernard where there is a market on Monday and Thursdays reminiscent of pictures you have seen in National Geographic circa 1950. You can visit the market by walking to it, an interesting and safe walk of about an hour and a half. Or you can go by dinghy or take your boat and anchor there for the day. The market is filled with noise and movement and things both familiar and strange. Whether you enjoy the market or not, it will leave an indelible mark on your memory; one of the reasons we all go cruising.

Just up the hill a ways is the L’Ouvre Saint Francois School and orphanage. You can visit it and see firsthand the work that they undertake with resources so scarce that you will be bewildered to understand how they are able to continue. Sometimes even adequate fresh water is a luxury and is not taken for granted.

The FLORA FLOTILLA will visit the school and orphanage as part of a reception that will celebrate our arrival. The boats that are part of the flotilla will donate whatever cargo they carried from Santo Domingo. As the boats organize at Boca Chica, a day will be set aside to go to Price Smart in Santo Domingo for those that wish to make purchases of supplies to donate to the school.

Having recently visited Ile a Vache, one morning early on, I was walking along the path in the village and met a community elder. I asked him how life was for him all of these years on Ile a Vache. He replied quickly with a small smile and said, “nous n’avons pas le lait, mais nous vivons dans la paix.’ Translated, ‘We have no milk, but we live in peace.’ His response was in French although the local language is Creole. Both languages are taught in school.

Make your reservation now; come sail the adventure.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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