Monday, January 5, 2015

Dock to hook

After almost five months at dock in La Parguera, we were able to motor with our re-built engine to anchor out.  For non-cruising boaters, that may seem as interesting a blog topic as one about moving your car from your driveway to the street.  But keep in mind, we live on our boat, it is our only home.

So after months of motorsailing the southern shores of Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, we found a mechanic to rebuild our diesel engine in the town of La Parguera.  With the help of good friends, we found an available dock.  Docking space in Parguera are at a premium regardless of season.  Little did we know that our entire hurricane season would be spent at this conveniently placed dock just outside the town plaza.

What we have come to love about dock life is the amazing shore access.  We simply stepped off the boat, and walked less than a block to a basically fully stocked grocery.  This rather than prepping the dinghy, and schlepping our water jugs, gas jugs, shopping bags for a sometimes wet ride to town. We put our watermaker on hold and used dock water, a welcome excess for the hot days of summer and fall.  When the summer heat became most brutal, we hooked into the dock electricity and used the window AC for night comfort.

We developed a semi-regular pattern of walking with good neighbors, traversing the hills and valleys of Parguera, catching up on the history and local knowledge.  We were intrigued with the friendly faces of local men working in the plaza.  All were very polite, working with our awkward Spanish.  Vincent, Ray, Eric each living life on their own terms, happy to share space, always ready to assist.  We were a stone’s throw from Carmen’s Shell shop, a delightful collection of boat wear, shells, souvenirs, cold cerveza (beer) and the best Capriccio Sangria ever---produced exclusively in Puerto Rico, we think by Coca Cola.  We quickly learned to buy the 8% alcohol liter over the 14% alcohol cans . . . I cannot hold my liquor well enough for 14%.

We breakfasted with NBC Today, enjoying Savannah’s baby, Roker’s marathon, Jenna’s promotion, .  . . we became more attuned to world news, as well as NY news.  We no longer could access our VHF radio weatherman or Coconut Telegraph net.  But we spent hours in NY every morning. We lunched daily on the fresh, warm Cuban bread available at the grocery.  We added hielo (ice) to our daily purchase as the days got warmer, a great treat having iced beverages.  And we deviated from our soda-free existence by adding Diet Coke and Sprite Free to the shopping list.

So we have enjoyed a different side of Parguera this last week.  The one we had a few days prior to engine work.  One we had almost forgotten.  At hook we have gotten our boat legs back, we rock with the current and the wind.  We have a level of silence we had forgotten as night falls.  The music of the plaza is distant but we are close enough to hear the roosters crow.  It’s so peaceful.  We have stars to see at night instead of the dock lights.  The town looks magical from our perspective.

I start each day with snorkel, flippers and sometimes a scraper, doing laps around Horizon, enjoying the silence, the occasional fish, the pelicans.  Getting in touch with my inner mermaid, the one that likes to peel mayonnaise jars and algae.  Our weather man comes on at 7, the marine SSB net at 8. Otherwise, peace and quiet as the tradewinds settle in around 9.

Now a week later at anchor, we are still buying ice and sodas, now schlepping it by dinghy.  As we plan to depart soon, I have purchased extra bread, sodas. We slowly say goodbye to friends and good acquaintances.  We look forward to meeting more cruising boaters further down the coast, yet unknown.

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