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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Def Jammin' on Durate day

Yesterday, the 26th of January, was Duarte Day in the Dominican Republic, and that means it’s a holiday. The Dominicans have a lot, and I mean a lot, of holidays. It’s quite often a saint, as they’ve got religion, and there’s quite a few saints to go at, and they try not to miss one. Then there’s all sorts of big political stuff like Independence Day and other memorable big dates that mark the history of the island, and then comes the important people days, and I would suppose some of the less important people persons too. When you’ve got a beautiful island like the Dominican Republic, with its vibrant street life, its lush countryside, and its stunning beaches, why work when it could be a holiday. It seems to me that one thing each new government does is to find a reason to add to the number of holidays they have here, that way they stay popular, and get re-elected.

So yesterday it was Duarte Day, and he must be pretty important because the highest mountain in the whole of the Caribbean is named after him, Pico Duarte, and at 6000 meters quite a hike, and quite a statement. Seemingly when the dictator Trujillio was in charge the mountain was renamed Mount Trujillio, as dictators do I suppose, but after his passing/assassination it reverted to Pico Duarte. Anyway there are lots of Dominican flags flying everywhere today, out of houses, on car pendants, big ones and little ones.  Even in this backwater town the local Luperonese take it seriously, get drunk, and play the music loud. Ouch! My Rock n roll tinnitus rings out a little more than usual.

Duarte Day or not, it was a Monday morning so we go down to the boatyard, Marina Tropical, to carry out a little replacement surgery on Picaroon. We’ve received the cutlass bearing we ordered from the states and have had it in the freezer all night. This seemingly, and I can see the science, will shrink the bearing a few miggies of a millimetre, making insertion a little easier. The first problem we encounter is that overnight the bearing has welded itself to the freezer wall. We attack it with a wooden spoon and then a serious knife till eventually she popped free, and we transferred it to our portable cool box. It felt a bit like Christian Barnnard doing his first heart transplant as the ambulance, our Nissan pathfinder, slithered down the muddy track to Marina Tropical.

Now the moment of truth, had we ordered the right size, would it slip in easily or be a pig. I tested it against the shaft and it seemed to be right. So with a bit of wood and a hammer, I sunk the new cutlass bearing into the void that is Picaroons back end, and with the minimum of fuss she was all the way home and we had a new cutlass bearing in place.  
I call Hillbilly Bob on VHF 68. Bob has done quite a few transmission flanges in his time and offered to help out when we do ours. What about now I said, Be over there in fifteen minutes, he says. After a few tries at getting the flange started, Bob reckons we need some of his tools, a sledge hammer and chisels that are on his boat. On the way back to the boatyard Bob’s outboard gives up and we paddle our way over to Rebel Rouser to enlist Robert to tow us into Marina Tropical.  .

This cruising community in Luperon, like the cruising community back in Salinas, is without doubt a joy to be a part of. Selfless, always ready to help, if they know how.. And today, as I have lost my hearing, (the Menieres disease is back with a vengeance, leaving me almost deaf) Robert  is my ears as we brae the shaft onto the flange from the rear of the  boat with hillbilly Bob doing the lining up inside. Within an hour or so, it’s all back together, and I hardly lifted a finger. We’ll buy them a beer or three next time we meet up in JRs.
That afternoon we arranged to go and visit Rudolf, who was the guy that advised us to change the bearing. He’s hold up in the Aparta-Hotel due to having his leg in a splint after falling off of his motor bike last week. He can’t get on or off his boat due to his injury so is staying temporarily in this hotel. We decided to make this Monday afternoon a little jam session at Rudolf’s hotel to cheer him up. Dave, moored next to us came over with his friend Chris, newly arrived, who both have guitars, and Alisha, Rudolf’s wife has a new uke she just bought in Santa Domingo, me and Jackie tagged along with ukes and guitars. My hearing decided to close down to about 30% so the session was tricky for me, but we jam about for a few hours, drink a few beers and have a good time, lots of laughs and a few tunes and to my surprise, the first doobie I’ve seen since leaving the UK over a year ago. After all it was Duarte Day and needed to be celebrated properly.

We’ve been here in Luperon now for almost six months and I suppose we’ve become part of the community, well the community of boaters. We do trivia quiz on Wednesdays at JRs, we lunch with the cruisers at Petulas bar where Cat, formally from Liverpool, has opened a bar with her Dominican fiancé Johnny, and sip a cerveza in Wendys bar with Norm who we met when we were back in Salinas, PR. He owns Wendys, and the Happy Cows Farm just outside of Luperon. About 50% of the cruisers are sort of residents, and the rest are slowly passing through, it’s a tricky place to leave, but we are determined not to be sucked into the “comforts” of Luperon.

The bottom Primer is going on today, Tuesday, we sat around watching paint dry, praying for the rain to stay away, and hopefully by Friday we’ll be back in the water. I jammed the stuffing box with flax wadding and just hope that my tutorial from Steve in Salinas DR taught me how to do it right otherwise the boat could be taking on water when she gets re-launched. The two new coats of anti- foul go on in the next couple of days and then we’re back in the water. We’ll need to do some motoring about in the bay to prove that the prop is lined up OK and that my stuffing box doesn’t leak, which being my first stuffing box solo flight repair, is going to be a tense moment, when we launch on Friday, if we launch on Friday, that’s still in the lap of the weather gods because rain could stop play on our hull painting and delay the proceedings.

Once we get back in the water, and all being well with our fix on the cutlass bearing, stuffing box and flange we’re going to pick one of Jackie’s preferred routes and set sail, maybe for Cuba, and the rhythms of Salsa.