Date: 03 May 97 14:46:18 EDT
From: Nellie Gruender <104675.2134@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Jamaica..No Problem Mon
May 2, 1997
The Rainbow Chaser has arrived in Jamaica.
We left Great Inagua on Wed AM. Our wind was so poor that Gene was in the cockpit yelling obscenities about the fact that we would never....never...reach Jamaica by Friday in time to check in without paying double fees after 5 PM.
While we did have some calm periods, and we did use the motor some (funky transmission and all) but at 2400 on Thursday when I took over the watch from Gene we had hit the trade winds and we were hauling ......We were going really fast!!!!! At that point Gene was trying to figure out how to slow the boat down so we wouldn't get in too early on Friday AM and have to pay double fees.
I can't tell you how spooky it was to go between Cuba and Haiti at night. We have many tales to tell about the great experiences they had in Cuba, and the horrors they had in Haiti. We sailed between the two without incident.
In the end we arrived about 0630 on Friday, and sailed..yes sailed into the marina without the use of an engine. After being in beach bound Bahamas Jamaica was an incredible change. It has beautiful green covered mountains. It looked like paradise..a different kind from the Bahamas.
As we came in the harbor we were hailed by a Jamaican guy yelling at us to park at his marina and wait for customs and immigration. We did pull in, and since then we have made numerous friends. There is Johnny, the night security guard. (he was the one hailing us). He and Martin ( a self proclaimed boxer, herbalist, and local psycho) helped to tie us at the dock. They were most helpful in contacting customs, immigration, and the health dept. to check us in.
Our next visitor was Donovan. He is, according to him, the harbor master. What his job is we haven't quite figured out. He stopped to talk, and find out if we needed any assistance. When Gene asked about getting our propane tank filled he said of course "no problem mon". He said he would, of course, bring a receipt. He went on to say..you know no black man trusts a white man, and no white man trust a black man, we've been stealing from each other since the beginning of time. He didn't say it with any malice, just sort of matter of fact. Our next visitor was Alambre. He was to become our freund, and town guide.
After waiting forever for the health dept, an older gentleman finally came to the dock to inspect the boat. His papers that we had to fill out looked like they had been around for awhile, but he took all of our information. Now we had heard horror stories about the officials in Jamaica. The inspector, Grant, did indeed inspect the boat. He was Verrrrry interested in all of Gene's fishing gear. He hinted that he would like some leader line, but dropped it once Gene said he had only a little. He inspected Ninja, and she inspected him. He looked at our fridge, and said the freezer section wasn't cold enough ( hey it keeps ice frozen), he looked at our very bare food lockers, and he left.
Clark, the customs guy, much younger than Grant, found us in the Marina getting ready to eat lunch. He looked at all our stuff, and filled out a file on us worthy of the CIA. We had been told that we could get a cruising permit for all of Jamaica. He at first said that we could only go to entry ports...Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. When we asked about Orcabessa Bay, he then said well it's not a port of entry, but we do sometimes give permission to go there. We never did get a straight answer about his permission. He finally finished his file, and left. He said that we would need to go above the Police Dept. to do our immigration stuff.
Alambre guided us into town, and slipped us through the maze of downtown. Without him we would have been looking around forever. We went to immigration, and when Gene told the officer we wanted a visa for 4 weeks, he said can't you be done in 2 weeks. They finally agreed on a three week visa. We can extend if we need to. After immigration we went to the bank..and the phone office. We were the first people to send e-mail from the phone office. The girls there were fascinated.
After the phone office we went to the open market. Stuff I've never seen or heard of before. Alambre was a wealth of knowledge. He directed us to the people that wouldn't rip us off, and fronted for us. He was very unassuming and polite, and had a great time showing us around. Port Antonio is a busy place. We had a great time in town, and will go back tomorrow. For the time Alambre spent with us we paid in $10.00 US. Since the wage here is about $40.00/week he was very pleased. It was worth it to us to have him help.
For Sunday I've booked us to take a bamboo raft down the Rio Grande River (not the Texas variety). We were told by our boater friend Steve, who is Jamaican, that it was well worth the time. We're also going to one of the hotels on the side of the mountain near the marina. Not to stay, but for the view.
We're actually going to splurge and stay at the Marina for the next couple of nights. At $10.00/night (most we've seen so far have cost from $40.00 to $90.00/night) we decided it was a bargain.
Needless to say, we love it here so far and look forward to seeing the rest of the country before we leave to go to Grand Caymans to meet our friend James White, snorkel with the sting rays, and continue the adventure!.
More to come.
Port Antonio, Jamaica