Number 9

19 January - 21 February 2004

Dear Friends and Supporters,


*************last minute addition**************

HURRAH! We arrived in Luperon, Dominican Republic at 0830 hours, 20 Feburary 2004. By 1000 hours, we had the Commandant of the Port, the Customs Officer and a Customs interpretor in one boat load followed by the Immigrations Officers (two) and the Immigration Fee collector. They all came to the boat and we went through the usual rather hillarious pidgin Spanish and pidgin English conversations, made friends and were even serenaded by one of the immigration officers accompanying himself on my Martin guitar. The singer was Bernardo, who is also the local protestant pastor. Typically, when they heard that I needed to see a doctor (knee specialist) they offered to call for an appointment, and even accompany us to Puerto Plata.

Read on only if interested in the gory details! (or skip down to Arden's less wordy comments below)


Well, it has been a long time since the last update and lots and lots of things have happened. The Far Bahamas (Georgetown, Exumas then south and east) are the true old Bahamas. We had difficulty making regular telephone calls and connecting to our simplistic email system, PocketMail.

We last left you worried that we were without our often patched but still trusty inflatable dinghy. A combination of prayer and human kindness has returned the dinghy to us. Shortly after sending the last update, we "signed on" to the Georgetown "Cruiser's Net", a single-side-band radio network where news and views are exchanged, and mentioned our boat name. After the net was over, we receieved several calls from boats in Georgetown reporting that they had heard on the "Waterway Net" earlier that morning that a boat named Maranantha had reported finding an inflatable belonging to the Golden Dawn on the rocks at Spirit Cay. This boat had a Bahamian cell phone and we are able to call them and learn that they had recovered the dinghy from the rocks and left it with the caretakers on Spirit Cay! Shortening the story a little, after sailing back north about 100 miles to Spirit Cay, we found out how incredible this story was. The boat had been at sea for six or seven days and nights, thru several periods of high winds. Usually, loose inflatables "turn turtle" in the wind, and float around upside down, engine in the water. Not "Old Scout" -- just parked herself on the rocky shore of Spirit Cay -- within sight of the only occupied dwelling for 25 miles in either direction on a string of privately owned, uninhabited rock and sand cays. The caretakers had spotted it the evening before, thinking that some boaters were inappropriately taking pleasure on the private island, but seeing it still there in the morning, had sent some visiting friends (on the Maranantha) to recover it. Old Scout was patched and in use within 24 hours of recovery. Its wonderful to know that there are such kind and honest people in the world.

Having recovered the dinghy, we returned to Georgetown, where we spent a week letting Jonathan participate in the local youth group made up of cruiser kids and local kids. He initiated "LAN parties" to which Jon brought our ethernet hub and all the kids brought their (or their parents) laptops, joining them into a local area network, and playing multi-player computer games.

It was a sad day for Jonathan when we left Georgetown and his new friends.

We stopped at Cape Santa Maria, then Conception Island, then Rum Cay.

We stayed several days at Rum Cay (on which no rum is made nor do they even grow sugar cane) and became temporary regulars at the afternoon dominos game played in the thatched gazebo (this name glorifies this simpliest of structures) on the beach in front of Ted Bain's restaurant/bar. Well, it was, until recently, a restaurant, but, according to the owner "The cook run off a coupla weeks ago". (The truth appeared only several days later when we learned that his daughter had gotten married and moved to Nassau.) Hartley Bain, Ted's nineteen year old son, presides at the dominos table, where local rules Double Six dominos is played using an ancient set of dominos worn round on every edge from use. We never really learned to play at the level of the local fellas, who could guess with frightening accuracy who held which "cards".

I have been very diligent at following the weather and trying to predict favorable "weather windows" during which to make each inter-island hop of our trip. This is much more important here in the "Out Islands" of the Far Bahamas. There is no search and rescue and there are few alternate ports or marinias to run into if the weather kicks up. I studied and worried and studied the weather reports some more and in the end picked a window to move from Rum Key to Mayaguana Island, which involved leaving just prior to the arrival of a cold front, behind which the National Weather Service said there would be 10 knot winds from the north, perfect for our island hop.

Ah, pride cometh before the fall. 25 miles out from Rum Cay, at 1530 hours, the front arrived, and stayed. The sky blackened as if the sun had set and the wind went from 0 to 20/25 knots in minutes. We gloried in sailing at 8.8 knots (race speed for a boat our size) until the wind kicked up to 35 knots. That's a lot of wind. Waves jumped to 6 to 8 feet, confused and choppy, we struggled on, getting some of the sail off, and then began to lose steering ability -- we could not keep the boat turned to starboard, it only wanted to go to port, into the wind and waves. [Imagine driving your car on the interstate, and discovering that your brakes have gone and the cruise control is stuck at 65, and the car will only turn left -- oh, and its is raining cats and dogs, its night and your headlights are out too!] After an hour, we had to give up our original destination (Mayaguana) and decided to cut to Plana Cays. Ooops, Plana Cays are surrounded by reefs and must only be approached with afternoon sun and in calm weather. OK, lets cut to Atwood Harbour, Acklins Island. Ooops, Atwood is "a deathtrap in any wind from the North" and must only be approached in good light and calm weather. "Lord, we need some help here". Salvation. Directly downwind (90 degrees west of our intended course) lies Landrail Point, Crooked Island. A lighthouse visible for 15 miles marks the reef, after which lies a gently slooped clear sand beach two miles long, sheltered by the island from all winds north and east. Picture Capt'n Kip sitting at the helm with a deathgrip on the wheel and Arden involved in continuous fervent prayer. [Jonathan, always ready for a bit of snooze, slept through most of this.] Every time we needed to adjust the course to starboard (the "right"), it was necessary to make a 270+ degress turn to port (the "left") through the teeth of the winds and waves. [Imagine that in your car on the interstate allegory -- Need to change lanes to the right? Do a donut to the left.] As you have guessed, after four harrowing hours, we rounded the northwest corner of Crooked Island, guided by the lighthouse around the reef, and sailed gently to a stop off the beautiful beach at Landrail Point. Thank you, Father.

Safe and sound, but in the morning facing repairs. Steering gear was forced out of alignment by the force of the wind and waves, easily reset and tightened (only to require re-tightening after arrival in Luperon). To our horror, we found the forestay (the 1/2 inch thick stainless steel wire rope that holds the mast up and also holds the big genoa sail) hanging there limp, supported only by a little piece of rope. The massive hardened stainless steel clevis pin that held the forestay to the mast at the masttop had disappeared in the night. But for the grace of God, we might have lost the headsail and even possibly the mast. As it was, we were faced with trying to find a 15 mm by 2 1/2 inch clevis pin on an island that lacked even a grocery store. As always, a solution was supplied -- this time in the form of a retired sea dog (Fritz Damler, now a novelist and who's radio handle is "Sand Dog") who hand-manufactured the necessary clevis pin from a stainless steel bolt and delivered it to the boat by dinhgy.

While we were undergoing repairs, Andy Gibson, a professional fishing and diving guide, included Jonathan on a snorkling trip. Jon caught two lobsters and a grouper. We ate the biggest lobster with lots of butter. The Gibson family is the highlight of Landrail Point, and we met them all - the matriarch, Marina, and children: Wilhelmina (aka "Willie"), Wentworth (aka "Woody"), and Andy. This island only got electricity and telephone service in the last few years. We tried but could not make calls home from here.

Repaired, rested and refueled (by eight 5 gallon gerrycans ferried out in the dinghy) we rounded the lighthouse going east and made for Atwood Harbour, Acklins Island. Spent a lovely afternoon there, playing bocci ball on the beach. The weather and wind were just right for an overnight to Mayaguana, so instead of spending the night, we took off and made the hop, in comfort.

Mayaguana was unremarkable, though beautiful, except we managed to receive and send a precious few emails.

Another overnight brought us to the Turks and Caicos Islands. This is one of the few remaining pieces of the once far-flung British Empire. The first day we got "robbed" by a taxi driver who charged us $30 for a ride into town (after saying "Oh, it won't cost much. Don't worry, I have a meter, see?") only to find out the UPS office was closed. It turns out there are no set rates, and the meter is a scam: the driver sets it to any rate he wants. Pay phones here only work with special pre-paid cards, which require a ride into town to buy (see taxi cab story). Disgruntled, we moved to a "full service marina" - well, we were able to fuel up, and there was a shower (cold water only - semi-outdoor) and a washing machine (if you washed twice, once with soap and once without, you got the clothes clean and rinsed) but no dryer. Naturally, once the clothes were washed and hung out, it rained. On the other hand, the people were extremely friendly there at Southside Marina. Alex, the captain of the Beaches Resort dive boat drove me to immigration to clear out of the country and to the UPS office to pick up our forwarded mail. Another dive boat crew filled Jonathan's scuba tank for free. And the marina owner, Robert Pratt, took us to the grocery store and waited while we shopped. We ended our relationship with "Provo" (the short name for "Providenciales") on an upnote.

By this stage of the trip, I have shifted to taking part in one of the weather guru's radio networks (Chris Parker, of the Caribbean Weather Service) giving local weather conditions in exchange to personalized weather forecasts specifically designed for individual boats. Following Chris's advice, we crossed the Caicos Banks to the Ambregris Cays, and then (after christening the starboard keel with elkhorn coral) on to Big Sand Cay.

The windward (east facing) side of Big Sand Cay has collected an enormous quantity and dazzling variety of detritus and debris, mostly plastic, washed in on the trade winds from as far away as Africa. Lesson learned: throw no plastic into the sea.

We sat out a cold front passage (and its accompanying high winds) at Big Sand, and following Chris Parker's advice, left 12 hours later following the front south to Hispanola.

The last few hours into Luperon were filled with high winds and heavy swell (wind on the beam, swell following), and again the heavy following seas forced the steering gear out of align, but not as badly as before. We passsed into Luperon Harbor at 0830, being shepherded through the mud shoals by a friendly yachtie in his dinghy. While we were worried and harried by the high winds and heavy swell in the harbor entrance, we passed half a dozen 10-20 foot open boats, powered by oars alone, fishing as if nothing whatsoever unusual was going on. The sight humbled this tin sailor.

Having traveled 2496 nautical miles*, we have arrived at last.


Good bye emerald waters and white uninhabited beaches on dessert islands; hello mountains, jungle, birds and rivers muddying the waters. Goodbye exorbitant prices for food,fuel and water; hello bags of fruit and vegetables for $2.50. Goodbye English, hello Espanol. Goodbye to reefs and rays and sharks; hello waterfall slides, motorscooters everywhere and telephones calls home (ten minutes for a buck).

And so ends the Bahamian run, island hopping, snorkeling and private anchorages of exquisite lovliness.

Its the people we've met who string it all together in helpful bundles to make the trip a necklace of happy memories. Not only recovering the dinghy but other providential people in our path have led me to agree with my sister who remarked "you must have angels on that trip".

In between there have been some nightmarish rides which I can only compare to giving birth-so glad its over, can hardly remember the pain and when can we do it again. Being "stressed out" takes on new dimensions in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sea, with no steerage and tormenting winds as Kip described above. Pinned to the couch (too rocky to go anywhere) I concentrated on The Lord sleeping peacefully in the stern of his boat with a storm raging on Galilee. It helped to calm me but even so it took me about 12 hours to defrost from the cold fear of such a night. Oh me of little faith has grown and learned what trust in the Lord must be.

You might have noticed we have arrived in the Domincan Republic instead of Haiti as originally planned. We received a warning from another missionary ship already there to the extent that we should avoid that end of the island unless we had a telex from God to go there. Well we didn't, so we didn't. Its not the end of the story, though. We will still try to deliver the goodies to the orphanage when the political scene is less hot, by going around the south shore of DR. We were out of provisions and pretty travel worn anyway, so here we are in the harbor of Luperon with about 100 other boaters. Their little lights like fireflies all around us.

Jon launched a sailboat he manufactured along the way today in Luperon. He was real proud. I hope he says a few words about it. He now carries a mop of curly yellow white hair which makes the little girls stare. He ripped half a fingernail off helping someone unfoul their spinnaker sail. And he has become quite a hunter with the spear underwater.

I have never known Kip at a loss for words, but its happened here with his condensed Spanish vocabulary. He is making a valiant effort and may rue the day he didn't study in high school! He has brought us through all the trials, helped us enjoy the glad days and continues to be Captain Courageous. The fight is not over yet; we still have to beat into the trade winds and make our way around Hispaniola to Santo Domingo. Whose idea was this anyway????


Spear Fishing and Lobstering: Spearfishing is lots of fun, I have been getting a lot of fish. One day when Mom and I went out to spearfish, I saw a lobster in a hole about two feet back into the coral. I shot him and hit him right in the head, pulled him out and took him to the dinghy. He was so big that he feed the whole family, diped in melted garlic butter. Yummy! Since then, I have caught several more lobsters and fish. The lobsters here are not like Maine lobsters, they don't have the bib claws, but the tails are bigger.

Sailing Dinghy: The day after we got in to Luperon, I finally finshed my sailing dinghy. It was lots of fun. After the first sail, which was mostly trying to get back to the boat, I made some adjustments and took it out again. It was much easier. It still needs a few adjustments, but is going to be great.

Our best wishes to you all, Let us hear from you,

The Hansens

Kip, Arden, and Jonathan Hansen


The Family-to-Family Project
c/o Kip and Arden Hansen
153 Malden Tpke
Saugerties, NY 12477
(845) 246 0131 (home - messages)

* 2496 nautical miles equals 2872.35 miles.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We no longer have USA cell phone service. All communication to us must be:

1) BEST = via e-mail at (we will hopefully be able to get e-mail at every landfall - please text messages only [not HTML messages], no attachments or images)


2) via phone message left on our Saugerties, NY phone (845 246 0131 - these should reach us within one week - please state clearly if the matter is urgent and our sons, Brett and Ben, will make every effort to contact us at the first opportunity)


3) via the "Contact Us" page on our web site at (the comment section is limited to just 256 characters -- we will have access to the Internet less often than simple e-mail.)


4) via postal mail sent to our Saugerties address -- Kip, Arden and Jon Hansen, The Family-to-Family Project, 153 Malden Tpke, Saugerties, NY 12477. Mail is forwarded to us periodically. Any mail sent after this e-mail will not be forwarded to us until we have arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This may be a month or so.


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