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Haiti, Ile a Vache: The Flora Flotilla leads the way for more secure yachting facilities in Haiti

By Sue Richards — last modified Mar 16, 2013 03:56 PM
Contributors: Frank Virgintino
Following the completion of the inaugural flotilla from the Dominican Republic to Ile de Vache last month, noonsite finds out from flotilla organiser Frank Virgintino, how the mission went and what plans there are for future yachting facilities in Haiti.

Published: 2013-03-08 00:00:00
Topics: Rallies
Countries: Dominican Republic , Haiti

Much needed supplies

The Flora Flotilla departed from Marina Zarpar in Boca Chica on the 9th of February. The object was to bring supplies to Sister Flora who has worked for 34 years on the island at the school and orphanage she established.  Some boats came in flotilla from Boca Chica while others arrived from the United States, Canada and the Bahamas as well as other points in the Caribbean.

The Anchorage at Ile de VacheAll together there was more than 20 boats anchored in the bay at Ile a Vache - "an all time high for the island", Frank told us. "Many had brought supplies for the orphanage of Sister Flora and over the following week, boats discharged their "cargos" which were taken up to the orphanage and received by Sister Flora with great humility and gratitude".

Event activities

Many of the boats participated in shoreside activities at CaiCoq and the flotilla dinner, paid for by Marina ZarFlotilla Dinner at Ile de Vache Par of Boca Chica, DR (event organisers) with live music was a big success. There followed a free auction of fishing supplies attended by local fisherman. Used sails and other fishing gear were given to the auction winners. These are the types of supplies, along with school equipment and second-hand clothes for all ages, that are useful for visiting cruisers to bring with them.

Ile a Vache

Ile a Vache is an island off the southwest Coast of Haiti and more and more cruisers call at this beautiful, friendly spot each year.  It is both safe and interesting.  A local resident, Sam Altema, has acted over the years as a host for the cruising boats that visit, helping with repairs and local tours and information.

The Open market at Madame BernardThe island is slowly changing and while previously there was no electricity or cars on the island, there is now a few generators and inverter installations. There are also a few motorbikes on the island, most of which are in the capital of Madame Bernard.

To clear into Haiti while at Ile a Vache, one must go to the mainland at Les Cayes and pay $10 US per person to clear in; a one time fee that includes clearing out.  If cruisers do not want to cross the bay to go to the mainland, they can arrange to pay someone to take the passports for them.

While water and internet are not available on the island, they are available with all other normal services at the mainland town of Les Cayes.  ATM machines, welders and fabricators, supermarkets and other supplies and repairs are available there also.  Les Cayes does not have a protected anchorage but is easily reached from Ile a Vache by one of the many daily ferries that make the trip.

Plans for new facilities for visiting cruisers

Plans are well underway for the installation of a "mooring marina" at Ile a Vache, spearheaded by Frank Virgintino.  The “marina” will be owned by the residents of Caye Coq, the village at the harbour, and all receipts would be to the benefit of the village. Also in the planning are procedures that would enable cruisers to enjoy the facility and have a safe visit (24 hour security for all boats on moorings, assistance with immigration, dinghy dock, repairs facilities, trained tour guides etc.).The moorings are being procured in the US and the team behind making this happen are currently trying to source a commercial boat and associated transport to get the moorings economically from the US to Ile a Vache.

Once the first installation of this type is in place, it is intended that the project would be replicated at other locations in Haiti.

Frank Virgintino comments, “If this project can be successfully undertaken, we hope to establish four mooring marinas that can provide jobs for the local villages where they are located.  Moreover cruising boats will have 4 well described safe stops in Haiti which would facilitate the reopening of Haiti to cruising boats”.

Haiti, Ile a Vache: The Flora Flotilla leads the way for more secure yachting facilities in Haiti

Support is welcomed to help raise funds for this project. Contact Frank Virgintino at fvirgintino@gmail.com

The cruising guide to Haiti by Frank Virgintino is available free at www.freecruisingguide.com and also in eformat book form at Amazon.com and other ebook sellers.

Read previous reports on the Sister Flora Flotilla here.

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