Flora Flotilla February 2013!
I have been visiting the small island of Ile-à-Vache, located at the southwest corner of Haiti, for over 15 years and have always found it to be a delight. It has been a safe and welcoming anchorage for sailing boats for as long as can be remembered. There are no cars, no electricity and no telephones. The anchorage at Port Morgan is at the northwest corner of the island. All approaches to this easy entrance bay must be from the west as the northeast side of the island has considerable amount of reef. [See “A Cruise Though the South Side of Hispaniola” in the May 2012 issue of Compass.]
Nearby is a community known as Madame Bernard. Just up the hill in Madame Bernard is the orphanage of St. Francis (L’Oeuvre St. François d’Assise) run by a Canadian nun, Sister Flora. She is all of five feet tall and probably weighs a hundred pounds wet. Sister Flora is both humble and strong and to meet her, regardless of one’s personal faith, is an experience that will leave you with a life-long memory.
For over 30 years Sister Flora has taken care of orphans in Haiti. Her clinic, orphanage and school are institutions on the island. She is loved by everyone. When asked what makes her sad, she replies, “When someone tells me that a child is too far gone and not worth investing in.” She never asks for anything and simply believes that those who will come to help and to give will come. She has a little smile that lets you know that everything is going to be all right. Her school and orphanage is neat and clean and she has built it over the years, brick by brick, through donations and with the help of volunteers.
In 2013 Marina ZarPar in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, will be sponsoring a cruise in company — the “Flora Flotilla” — to visit Ile-à-Vache. The flotilla is sched- uled to depart Boca Chica on February 8th. Boats that want to join should arrive at Marina ZarPar (www.marinazarpar.com) no later than February 4th. Meetings will be held to discuss routing and stops along the way.
I will organize and lead the group. The overall trip is approximately 250 nautical miles. The flotilla will take about four days to sail to Ile-à-Vache, stopping at lovely Isla Beata en route.
There will be no charge for the cruise other than the US$100 registration fee, which will be used to defray the cost of organizing the event. Any funds left over will be donated to the Sister Flora orphanage. Marina ZarPar will provide a 20-percent discount on slips and moorings for all flotilla vessels. Participants will be able to visit PriceSmart in the DR should they wish to purchase supplies for the orphanage. Good used clothing for children up to 15 years of age, books, pencils, crayons and any type of school supplies are very welcome. Sister Flora has told me that powdered milk is at the top of her list and is the item that the orphanage runs out of most often.
The cruise should prove to be exciting and interesting for those who want to visit Ile-à-Vache. In addition, any support that is given to the school and orphanage will be so very much appreciated.
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