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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Fate or what

We have been talking about going to The Dominican Republic for Christmas, perhaps for six weeks, but it's just impossible to find flights at anything like a reasonable price. Shall we go before Christmas, or maybe wait till February, when our apartments free. We've been back to Dom Rep every year since 2005, after buying an apartment there in 2006. We are planning to retire there in a few years, well I don't know about retiring, as we're as poor as church mice, but we intend to live out our autumn years where the sun shines, and maybe do something to bring in a few pennies.
So back to our dilemma of before or after christmas, and what about our continued quest to learn to sail. We have checked out sailing courses in Dom Rep but try as we might our trawling through the internet for courses has turned up nothing in the Dominican Republic. The nearest courses are in the British Virgin Islands, which is not far from Dom Rep but it's not easy to get there, and not cheap. Now whilst surfing around we did turn up one interesting place in Dom Rep and that's a place called Luperon. This an inlet on the north coast, about an hours drive from where we have our apartment. Seems this is a favourite haunt of Caribbean cruisers, as a safe haven from hurricanes, and a stop over point. It sounds like a place we would like, and they also sell yachts there, so we will definitely pay a visit on our next holiday.
We finally decided to book our holiday for late November, for four weeks. Jackie then emailed a guy called Gill who runs the boat sales in Luperon, who she had an exchange of emails with a couple of months ago regarding maybe staying on a boat there. She decided to ask him if there was anybody he knew who could teach us to sail as we had drawn a blank on the internet. He came straight back to us saying he would ask around and maybe knew someone.
Next thing we have an email back saying he's had a word with a guy called Ray, who is English, and gave us his email address. Jackie mails Ray, and Ray mails us back to say he's an ex RYA instructor and yachtmaster, now 70 and living in Luperon and will be happy to help us get some sailing lessons. In fact he's taking part in a round Hispanola reggata the weeks we're there and will be glad to have us aboard to crew. We can't believe our luck, we get to go on holiday to Dom Rep and to go sailing with a RYA instructor, how cool is that, fate or what.

Barcelona and Windermere

I can't believe it's been almost four weeks since we went on our start yachting course in Largs, but I suppose we've been busy at Ford Park with events every weekend to organise. Not that we've put our cruising life on the back burner, it's still with us every day, reading Ellen Macathur, taking on the world, again, and reading sailing blogs along with other books about sailing.
We have been also trying to decide where we go next with our sailing courses. We've found a company that runs RYA courses on Lake Windermere, which is only twenty minutes away and although it's not ocean sailing we could at least learn the basics with them. We have also been looking at doing courses in Gibralter and the Canaries, they're all about the same prices except for the air fares to get there, but at least it would be a bit warmer, well a whole lot warmer that here in England.
In the meantime we've been down to Barcelona for four days, mainly to see Leonard Cohen, but also as a bit of a mini holiday. We stayed in a hostal near to the port, and more importantly near to the Marina. Barcelona is a great city with lots of sights to see, but we soon made a bee line down to the marina to check out the boats. The place is absolutely crammed with yachts, so we were in our element, browsing these beautiful crafts, mostly way beyond our wildest dreams, but heck, this is some perverse heaven. We picked out the ones we would like, which usually were the more quirky and homely looking, if it had wooden grab rails and a bit of a teak deck that would be ours. We spent half the first day at the Marina, it seemed the natural way to start in Barcelona, maybe we're a bit obsessed. We even booked onto a jazz cruise on a giant catamaran, although that turned out to be a bit of a swizz as although they raised the sail once out beyond the harbour there was no wind and they kept the engine ticking over whilst we listened to a lone sax player busking along to backing tracks, very unsatisfying.
Back to Cumbria, and we finally connected with Neil, who runs OB Sailing, at Ferry Nab, on Windermere. He's got Four boats, Benetau and Janeaux's 34, 36, 38 footers and he seems like a good place to go next with our mission. We spent about half an hour chatting and it looks like this will be our next step to at least get the basics, he reckons about five days sailing will give us enough skills to sail by ourselves, at least up the lake, anchor up, and back to Bowness. That will cost us about one thousand pounds, then we could maybe go back to Largs to do our Dayskipper. We'll need to do that to get the hang of navigation which we won't get on the lake. Neils going on Holiday for a couple of weeks so we'll have to book something when he gets back.