Many people consider the Bahamas to be in the Caribbean, but the Caribbean Sea actually is encompassed by the islands to the south – Cuba, Hispañola, the Leewards and Windwards – and the curved coastline of South and Central America. So only after traversing the Windward Passage were we really and truly in the Caribbean in our own boat, a dream fulfilled. We had a three-day passage from Monte Cristi to the southern coast of the DR, through the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba. Luckily, we had no problems that required us to put ashore, since our insurance covers us in neither of these countries. The first two days were terrific, the third horrific, with 30-knot winds on the nose and choppy seas. Not dangerous, just uncomfortable. We were glad to finally anchor off of the white-sand beach at Bahia de Aguilas (Bay of Eagles). We passed a couple of peaceful days here before heading on. A couple of interesting things about our passage. First was coming through the Windward Passage, where we were contacted by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter doing patrols. It was the middle of the night and we saw a ship approaching us, and when it finally hailed us, it was good to hear an American voice. They just asked the usual questions – captain’s and owner’s names, registration, last port and destination, etc. – then wished us a safe sail. Second was our impression of Haiti from offshore. The mountains were perpetually shrouded by clouds or mist or smoke, which made them rather mysterious. The haze may well have been smoke, because downwind there was a constant smell of burning, so strong that it made Chris feel ill one night on watch. And near the border, it was easy to distinguish Haitian lands from those of the Dominican Republic; the Haitian landscape was sparsely vegetated due to the severe deforestation, whereas the DR hills were well forested. A shame. You can certainly see why Haiti has such problems with landslides and mudflow when they get heavy rains.