Part 2: Bonaire - the story of the border guards
Bonaire had beautiful sunny weather. The owner of the marina lives across the road and watches what he does in the marina. Parking costs $10 at the pier and $5 at the buoy. I really wanted to make a staysail furling, in Venezuela it was impossible. The owner of the marina gave me the phone number of a master of all trades who repairs sailboats. After the call, he flew in 5 minutes, probably really needed money. The master clarified the problem, said that he would do everything and it would cost about $2000. With that, he drove away. And we went for a walk around the city.
We'd better not come back from the walk! At this time, a coast guard ship, the size of our BOD, stood in the roadstead, and landed troops on an inflatable boat right on the pier of the marina. The view is intimidating - all in black overalls and with machine guns. It is immediately clear that they are not cowards, they do not cover their faces with masks and therefore seemed to us even more sinister. We decided to wait for developments on the embankment in the distance, conducting covert surveillance.
Brave sailors approached all boats, including those that were in the water area. There were about a dozen boats in all. They climbed on board, checked something there. The crews were not on all the sailboats, they would stand near them, shout something and go on. We thought that we have more free time than they have, they will have to return for lunch, and that we have a chance. Indeed, the calculation turned out to be accurate.
About half an hour after their departure, we returned to the sailboat and immediately saw how this boat rolled off the side of the BOD and headed in our direction. Apparently, we weren't the only ones having fun with covert surveillance. We thought the ship had strong optics, so the escape plan was rejected. The guys were not terrible, everyone smiled warmly, rejoicing at our capture. We checked the documents. When asked about the reason for the lack of exit marks, he answered everything as it is, you already know the answer to this question. Treated with understanding. The boat was checked completely, as customski. At parting, they gave advice to visit customs and an immigration officer in the police.
Customs was easy. The chief said that he had seen how we were being searched, gave us some paper and again advised us to visit him again before leaving. The police said that today, Sunday, there is no immigration officer. Before we had time to rejoice, the policeman called him from the house. He came very angry. Wouldn't you be angry? But he spoke, the parasite, politely. The essence of his speech was that we have nothing to do here without a visa, he will now take us to the sailboat and control the departure. We referred to the Law of the Sea and the fact that the boat requires reonta terribly leaking deadwood stuffing box, non-working sump pump and something is wrong with the fastening of the forestay. Already agreed with the mechanic. The officer objected: “You somehow got here, so you can get out of here too.”
I categorically refused to clean up, pointing out that our wives and children were waiting for us at home. Alive! Then the officer called the mechanic and called him to the police. While this one, in need of money, was going to the police, we went out into the yard to smoke and I also called the mechanic and told him what exactly was wrong on our boat. The mechanic confirmed to the officer my version that we would drown right in the bay and that it would take at least 3 days to fix all this disgrace. “Not a minimum, but that they clean up after 3 days and no later!” We went for a walk around the city. TouristI'm skipping over again.
The next day, the mechanic said that there was no spin device on the island, but there is a wonderful one on the neighboring island. Curacao, worth only $2,500, will be delivered by plane tomorrow. For delivery and installation another $500. I had to give up unnecessary pleasure. The mechanic tried to fix our stupid autopilot and a small motor generator bought in Venezuela that refused to work after the third or fourth start. Both that, and another did not earn.
As an understanding person, I paid the mechanic for the work, I don’t remember how much, it means a little. But the mechanic made more money by bringing us a big gas bottle for $100. Apparently disappointed with his earnings, the mechanic told the immigration officer that he was already calm for our kids and the next morning, very early morning, I must say, we were awakened by the officer and the owner of the marina. The owner asked for money, and the officer insisted that we get out. We have already bought fresh vegetables, milk and meat for borscht.
Nothing kept us on Bonaire , except for an honest pioneer word given to the head of customs. The officer promised to deal with this pioneer word himself, and under his gaze we gave up the mooring lines. Bonaire saw us off with a view of the salt mountains, with which they apparently supply all of Europe. There are no other attractions on the island, in my opinion. Except for that of an immigration officer. We didn't have time to see the weather forecast.
It was beautiful sailboating weather, a breeze of 10-15 knots, little excitement. At the stern, the flag of Russia “proudly flies”, under the spreader - no less proudly pirate, with a skull and bones.
We cooked borscht, prepared a salad, ate. Very timely, because, having rounded Bonaire from the west, they headed north, to Santo-Domingo , in the Dominican Republic, and got the wind almost straight in the face, the trade wind, his mother. At first it was 20 knots with a rather large wave of 3 meters. Then it seemed to us that this was a big wave. The wind increased little by little, we took 2 reefs on the mainsail and changed the staysail from the main one to No. 2. As much as possible to the wind could go KK 20 degrees on the starboard tack, which suited us quite well. There were no paper charts, when the chartplotter was runningre they are not needed (IMHO, instructions require the mandatory presence of paper maps). When preparing to sail, I always write down the coordinates of several points on the route and the general QC. Together with the sailboat, we got 2 more handheld GPS, they would help to get to the place if the chartplotter fails. Stock up on fresh batteries. Fortunately, during the entire trip, neither the recorded coordinates, nor GPSs, nor even batteries came in handy ..
The balance of the sails and the underwater part allowed the sailboat to go close-hauled, up to gulfwind, with a fixed rudder. Leaving Maxim on the farm, I went to bed. The safety rules are simple. The design of the sailboat allows you to sit in the cockpit without a safety harness. It is strictly forbidden even to stick your nose out of the cockpit, if necessary, step on the deck - call an assistant - an observer. While the engine was running, in good weather they went on deck without insurance, but under supervision. When the engine is on strike, any movement on the deck -just buckled up. If I had fallen overboard, Maxim would have confidently approached me under the engine, under sail - I had my doubts.
In addition (maybe the burnt sea wolves will laugh), a floating polypropylene rope 40 m long with knots tied along the length was always lowered from the stern. It was tested during training in Venezuela and showed its effectiveness. At 8 knots, the man who fell overboard had 7 seconds of time to swim up and grab onto the rope. At 5 nodes - 12 sec. It ate at least half a knot of speed, but we weren't in a race. And the last rule: as soon as you think about whether to wake up the captain, you should wake him up at the same moment.
Well, Maxim woke me up. It became dark, in the tropics it gets dark very quickly. He did not wake me up immediately after sunset, but already closer to midnight (he was sorry), with the message that the wind was getting stronger. Indeed, now 30 knots and in gusts up to 35. The wave has become noticeably larger, but it is difficult to assess in the dark. The sailboat on the tops of the waves no longer slides off, but began to fall on the bow with a roar. Not splashes fly from under the cheekbones, but small waterfalls. I admire the sailboat: it climbs the wave well, keeps its course, and the helmsman under the cabin roof is dry. Max complains about the symptoms of modisease. I know the best way to treat her is with work. But first, myself. The air temperature for us Russians is high, maybe 25 degrees, but we are in some kind of light clothes because of the piercing wind. It’s a pity to wet it, so I undress completely, leaving only non-slip slippers, and with a harness I jump out into the wind and spray.
Maxim starts the engine and taxis at the right moments, helping me to cope with the sails. I take the mainsail to the last row of reefs, I take the mizzen to the only row of reefs on it. For the most difficult job - to change the staysail to a storm - I send Maxim. And there he was, poor thing, changing the sail at the bow, and the engine suddenly dropped speed. I increase the gas, I decrease it, the speed does not change. Several attempts and I myself, with my own hands! I turn it off to try to start again. Something must be done. He will never start again in his life!
Max goes either to sleep, or to suffer lying, and I try, wallowing at the top of the wave and then bringing myself up, to protect the sailboat from hitting the water. I see that the wind has steadily reached 35 knots and is not going to subside. Anticipating future difficulties, I call Max, since he is still awake, and we remove the mainsail completely. Max leaves again. I feel that I will quickly get tired, turning the steering wheel, sometimes I allow blows. I roll away to 0 -10 degrees, just in case I don’t fix the rudder, although with a storm staysail and mizzen on the reefs, the sailboat keeps its course by itself. I do not want to relax at night and in a storm, teven more, I began to notice signs of seasickness, but on an active steering wheel it’s still easier. Don't ask about our speed, I just don't remember, I think they gave 6 knots.
In the morning I tried to revive the engine. "Volvo-Penta", 76 hp. Did not work out. I checked the fuel at one of the injectors, it seems to be there, pumped air. It is useless, I decided to leave resuscitation to the Dominican Republic. The waves became 6 meters high. I know that sailboatsmen, looking from the deck, tend to overestimate the height of the wave. I made an allowance for this, but they were exactly the height of the middle of the mast. Main mast on WAKAWA 11 meters. And waves with a short period, one after another. The next three days passed under the blueprint. The wind kept for several hours at 40 knots with small gusts in a big direction, for severalonly hours 35 knots and also with gusts. There was no sun, it was completely cloudy. We saw several passing and oncoming ships, it was harder for them on the waves than ours. Closer to the Dominican Republic, we were twice circled by an aircraft of the Puerto Rican Coast Guard. Well done, fly in this weather! And the first time he flew when we were 100 miles from the coast. We both suffered from seasickness, no vomit, but with a headache and a sudden loss of ability to work. Or maybe we just covered up our laziness with this disease? The food was not cooked, they drank a lot of tea with cookies, maybe they atechips, green peas and sweet corn.
They approached Dominicana at 17:00, 5 miles to the left of Santo Domingo . To approach, it was necessary to make a left tack for 2 hours, in this case we would have approached the shore in the dark, and we don’t even know where to stumble there. None of us wanted to drift all night. We looked on the chartplotter, in the west, in 50 miles, there is a wonderful bay, nothing is visible closer. We turned there, got a full backstay on the starboard tack and, closer to the shore, a weakening of the wind. They put the mainsail, the main staysail and freed the mizzen from the reefs. Speed up to 10 knots! While rushing, I asked in Russianether force. The radio station on the sailboat is only VHF, but I know that there are many Russian and Ukrainian sailors in those parts, they work under contracts. One Russian responded from a ship docked in a port on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. I asked if there was a hiding place closer than Salinos? He said no, just there.
About 6 hours later, in complete darkness, we went into a cozy bay, went deep into it, guided by the echo sounder and lights on the shore, and dropped anchor about 50 meters from the shore. Peace and quiet. Max has a burning desire to visit the shore right now, the sea has got him! I dissuaded, then gave the go-ahead. He left in a rubber boat under oars, but immediately returned. “There, on the shore, a dog of an unknown breed runs and a man of an unknown breed also wanders around with a flashlight.” How I allowed him to land on the shore I do not understand then, nor now. Probably affected by a strong mouthfrom a four-day storm. You shouldn't joke with the state border. At one o'clock in the morning, both went to bed, happy that they were not pumping. Ahead is a new unexplored country with many adventures on the coast. We decided to break away in full. We had no idea that the adventure would exceed our expectations!
An hour later, we were awakened by a bright light and a loud voice over a radio megaphone in English: “Everyone on the Vakawa, go on deck!”. We responded with interest to this invitation. A small boat was standing next to the sailboat, and there were 5-7 people on the boat with machine guns aimed at us. We didn't even think that they were pirates. After conferring with Maxim, we decided not to show resistance and proceeded to the bow, keeping our hands in sight, as we were asked. When asked from the boat if there were other people on board, they shook their heads. It's good that this is not the Bulgarian coast.
The boat began to slowly approach our side and we saw that they all had their fingers on the triggers. Then it stopped bothering us, as we were ordered to lie down on the roof of the cabin face down, stretch our arms forward and not move, and in this position you won’t see much. One of the submachine gunners loomed over us, and the others, judging by the sounds, were looking around the cabins for evidence of our veracity. Or vice versa. It was not possible to get enough sleep in this position, because soon, leaving one submachine gunner at the bow and stern, the boat took us in tow, took us toabout a mile inland and moored us to a warship. Then there was a check of documents, a search throughout the sailboat and a bunch of questions. All questions were answered honestly, we had no reason to lie. In the morning everything calmed down and we were allowed to sleep. One of the machine gunners remained in the cockpit and watched with interest how we behave in a dream.
We woke us up at 8 am and the first thing we saw through the entrance hatch, behind a man with a machine gun, was our native Russian flag flying at the stern of our sailboat right in the center of the Calderas Dominican naval base. The Russians have already arrived!!! We prudently lowered the pirate flag when approaching the Dominicana .
Some people examined the sailboat and us again. We were searched. Then we were paid an official visit by a pleasant young man in a beautiful, clean and pressed uniform with a bunch of chevrons and stars. As they found out later, base commander and West Point graduate. He asked many different questions in perfect English, the subtext of the questions was: "You better tell yourself where you hide the drugs." Tired of denying it, I asked him to bring dogs, which in a country located at the crossroads of drug trafficking, cannot be missing. He proudly confirmed thatdogs, of course, are found in his country, but for 21 days he never introduced us to them. In his office, he made copies of all our documents and asked me to write an explanation of what happy circumstances provided him with the honor of meeting with us. I, in turn, asked to be connected to the Russian Embassy. Answer: "There is no Russian Embassy in the Dominican Republic, the consulate will be notified today." He asked us for passports for registration of temporary stay in the country. We later exchanged this paper for a full-fledged visa to PaPort and Immigration Office in Santo Domingo. The officer politely asked us not to leave the sailboat. But we didn’t need it: there was a lot of rum, food too, and there were already 10 packs of tasty and cheap Venezuelan beer. A sailor with a machine gun moved to the deck of a military ship, they even put a chair for him there. They changed often, and what is incomprehensible to us, everyone had a strong thirst. Often we sat together in our cockpit and chatted with cans of beer in our hands. Undoubtedly, this was Post #1 for them. Guys who have criminal experience, say, just curious, andCan we have such relations between the guards and the protected in Russia? Maxim was even given a machine gun in his hands, showed how to juggle the shutter.
On the first day there was another raid on the sailboat. Climbing people in uniform and with three letters on their backs. I found out that these people are from the Dominican Security Service. I don’t know if they are good at ensuring the security of their country, but they could not ensure the safety of Max’s new sneakers and an audio player with a charger. The loss was discovered after they left. The charger was from the phone. We, naive, were waiting for the arrival of the consul. They did not wait for the consul, but three working-looking men came with the message that they, mechanics, had been sent by the deputy. commandand the base for the repair of our engine. They managed to do only two things: drink beer and unscrew the return pipe from one end. When they began to zealously blow into this pipe, I rudely kicked them out, spitting on the friendship of peoples. We had to screw the tube into place ourselves. On the third day, apparently thanks to the good recommendations of our guards, we got the freedom to go on all four sides. The sailboat remained under arrest. “No, no, not under arrest. Under investigation,” the deputy constantly corrected me. commander. For me, so horseradish radish is not sweeter.
Our hundred-kilometer path lay in the glorious city of Santo-Domingo to the Russian consul. She may be a Russian Consul, but she offered to speak with Her Excellency in Spanish, since she does not know either Russian or English. The suspicion crept in that she graduated from MGIMO for a bribe. But her secretary, a young girl, diligently studied at the Moscow Institute of Friendship of Peoples. Both are purebred Dominicans. The secretary explained to the Consul in good Spanish why we were pestering her, and to us, in good Russian, the Consul was aware of ourtheir problems (the handsome officer did not deceive), there are still some points that the Dominican authorities want to clarify, you see, you are already free, soon your sailboat will be free too. Reassured and getting hold of the phone number of the consulate, we went to the cargo port, where we got hold of one more number - the head of a diesel repair company. He turned out to be a Greek, which inspired hope that he would not blow through the return line. He will arrive on Monday (and today is Thursday April 10) in Calderas, if we are still there, and if they let us go, in the Santo-Domingo marina. We decideand stay in the capital for three days and be tourists. We rented a hotel, the cheapest one we could find (why didn't we think of calling the MIDA graduate and asking her?). Gorgeous "Ambassador" for $120 for both, got on some kind of promotion.
The city is interesting, it turns out Columbus was the first governor. The Colonial Zone, a city within a city, a tourist center is lovingly preserved. Right across the river is the marina. But with the hotel no luck. We finished dinner at the hotel restaurant, we were left alone with one waiter at one in the morning. They forgot the camera there, realized it in the morning, visited the restaurant - there was no fotik, but they promised to ask the waiter at the resting house. To no avail. The receptionist was notified. A day later, to no avail. Met with the manager of the hotel, pressed on solidlyth his establishments. We received assurances that everything will be found. To no avail! We were very happy: the institution is really solid and we will receive a sincere apology with deep regrets instead of a bill for accommodation. Yeah...
We returned to base on Sunday. Hooray! We are being issued documents for passage to Santo Domingo. Right in the evening, with the expectation of arriving in the city by morning, we raise the sails and barely, under a slight tailwind, go out to the Caribbean Sea.