Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cuba! ' by David

There will be a longer and more informative post in time but for now I would just like to inform everyone...including those folks at the NSA that we are in Cuba! It was a long motor across the Windward passage, or as I have come to call it the Windless passage but we finally got into Santiago de Cuba at 7am on Tuesday Feb. 27th.
Our welcome into Santiago was a pleasant surprise especially against the backdrop of Santo Domingo. Everyone was extraordinarliy friendly and have been helpful during our short stay.
I finally got rid of the beard that had taken over my face and this afternoon found a nice Cuban barber to trim me up. What an experience! I got a straight edged shave lying back and listening to Patsy Cline´s, ¨Crazy¨. It was marvelous and it felt good to be rid of the itchy growth that dominated my chin!
Our plans for the next month are as follows

We will leave Santiago tomorrow morning and get into Casilda-Trinidad on March 7th.
We hope to leave Trinidad and Casilda on March 11th and sail to Cayo Largo getting in on the 12th.

From Cayo Largo we will sail to Isla Juventud and the town of Nueva Gerona gettingo in to N Gerona on March 20th.
We will depart N Gerona on the 22nd of March and sail towards Marina Hemmingway getting in there on the 27th of March.

Mary, it is probably easiest for you to fly to Cayo Largo and sail the stretch from Cayo Largo to Nuevo Gerona, called by many the most beautiul cruising stretch in all of Cuba. You can then take a ferry from Nuevo Gerona to the mainland to get back to Habana.

It will probably be easiest if you met up with the boat at Marina Hemmingway on or about the 27th of March. Dick, Geert and i will sail the boat around the Cape and up the western coast and meet you at Marina Hemmingway there.

While we have only begun our adventure in Cuba it seems as if a month is not nearly enough to explore this amazing place. I hope to provide more substantial updates and accounts of our travels here. To all of you in the world I hope you stay warm and pleasant. Take it easy...


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Santiago de Cuba

Sea Scout arrived in Santiago de Cuba this morning. All is well. Santiago de Cuba has long been the second most important city on the island after Havana, and still remains the second largest. It is on a bay and is an important sea port.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Island life - by Geert

We went sailing with Manis and Lino in a 20 foot wooden boat named Nannantan bondje, which is creole for waiting for, or expecting the good lord. The boat has long bamboo poles for sprit and boom, and cotton sails that look like they were cut from old tablecloths or bedspreads. The wind was good and the boat sailed very fast. The mainsail is enormous, and cannot be reefed. For ballast we had two bags of sand that we moved around as needed to keep the boat level. On the wind Lino put a long pole athwartships, sticking out two meters on the high side. David climbed on holding on to a rope from the top of the mast. And on we went, Dick steering, David doing a trapeze act on the pole, and Manis and Lino bailing furiously.

We sailed to Ile Permantois, a tiny island north of Ile a Vache, It is home to about 60 people, all fishermen and thier families. They live in straw huts in the shade of palmtrees, fish in dugout canoes and little boats like Manis's, and dry thier catch on wooden racks on the beach. On a clear sunny day it looks like a paradise. In fact these people are rock bottom poor, They dry, and eat, even the tiniest minnow they catch.

Our sail was delayed because a woman from Ile a Vache had died in Les Cayes, on the nainland. She was eight months pregnant. According to local custom, a eccentric mixture of catholicism, voodoo and the influence of various protestant missionaries, babies, even unborn ones, have to be buried seperately. So the dead baby was removed from the dead mother. In the evening hundreds of people gathered and wailed on the beach when the bodies arrived by sailboat, in the pitch dark.

We have visitors every day. Islanders come to the boat in their dug out canoes, offering bananas, coconuts, mangoes and fresh eggs and lobster for sale. If we want beer, we hail a canoe to go and get it, and do our laundry the same way. Some islanders sell themselves. On several occasions we were offered women, by men. One afternoon Vilna, a woman who also does landry, came by peddling her canoe wearing hot pants and lots of costume jewelry. She asked in creole: Are there no women on this boat?

This may be the last dispatch from Haiti. We plan to sail on to Cuba on Sunday.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some pictures from "Jacmel Kanaval"

A sign of life from the Free Republic

of Ile A Vache

We still are in Port Morgan at Ile a Vache, where, as rumour goes, people don't pay taxes and hardly obey the Haitian law. Why should they? They catch their own fish, harvest their own fruits and coconuts and potatoes and have no other infrastructure than 'bridle paths' where people and little horses and mules wall sometimes in line (there is hardly any room to pass). No electricity, water comes from a well. Haiti is almost an hour by motorboat from here.
Many stories are being told here. Which one should we believe?

Yesterday I visited the 'main village' called Madame Bernard for the second time. It takes a 'stiff walk' of more than one hour and a half to get there. And three liters of water and a liter of Coke (temperature is 30 degrees Celsius and more).
On Monday I visited the market. I've never been in Africa, but it felt like it. Yesterday I went to see an orphanage with 55 children, led by Soeur Flora. Twenty of them are handicapped (from autistic to spastic) and are taken care of twice a week by a postman from Quebec, who goes out swimming with them. It is sad to notice that these children are kept out of society and rejected by their parents, probably because people believe there is a curse on them. Therefore they also cannot go to the seashore on market days, to avoid confronting them with the people out there...
We plan to sail on to Cuba next Sunday. We will stay in Santiago shortly. The harbour seems to be really filthy... And we are looking forward to visit the archipelago west of the Sierra Maestra...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ile A Vache - by David

Ile A Vache
N 18 05 753
W 73 41 698

I am writing from the end of the world. If we do not drop off the face of the earth in the next few days we have surely been taken back in time. The world here is that of the 19th century and I feel as if I will not be able to escape (nor do I want to) for some time.
We are anchored in the calmest bay imaginable just a few meters from shore. In the evening as I look down into the black water I can see the constellations of Orion, Cygnus and Cassiopia reflecting off the bay. The ash from my cigar is the only disturbance in this calm anchorage and there is virtually no light pollution.
Ile A Vache is a paradise like island surrounded by palm trees, and beaches protecting the lush rolling green hills and fields that offer salvation for those seeking escape from the dust and grime of the mainland. The 2,000 or so inhabitants on this island work as subsitenence farmers, fishermen, and merchants. They have developed an extraordinary way to survive while living on about a dollar a day (minimum wage in Haiti is $3/day). The fisherman do not use motor boats as has become the norm in most of the world today. Rather they have become remarkably proffecient at constructing sailboats to use as work boats.
These sailboats cost between $100-300 USD to build and are a feat of humanity and engineering. The simplest are dug-out canoes with a bamboo mast and an extra long boom to provide balance for these keeless boats. Additionally they have a small jib which enables them to go wing on wing when catching the land breeze in the morning and the sea breeze in the afternoon. Their sails are made of black garbage bags taped together. As I say these are the simplest type of boat and where very common in Jacmel.
The next class of "yachts" are the more commercial fishing boats. They have a larger hull and actually have a deep keel that allows them to go upwind at a very high angle. They are usually double handed and the crew (as is the case in dinghy racing) operates the jib and provides ballast. In fact many of these types of boats have a trapeeze for the crew to hike out on when heeling over. These ships sail around the channel between Ile A Vache and Les Cayes dropping their nets in the morning and picking them up again by early afternoon. You can occasionally see smoke coming from the deck of the ship as it is obvious the skipper and crew are cooking lunch with charcoal.
Finally, the largest type of ship is the cargo freighter. These ships are anchored just offshore from Les Cayes where the cargo they carry is unloaded onto the dozens of gondolas there waiting and taken ashore to the dirty and grimy streets of Les Cayes. These cargo ships are wooden as well of course and are quite large, measuring some 30-35 feet in length and nearly 13 tonnes. They are quite intricate with a double head sail sometimes and lazyjacks to keep the main sail centered over the boom. They are more like vessels as Geert put it, than boats. They are quite deep and can accomodate (must accomodate) a large number of crew to man the sails and manage the cargo. They carry everything from charcoal to flower to people.
Geerts imagination has begun to run wild with adventures upon these primitive yet sound vessels. In fact we are going out tomorrow with a fishermen to work and sail on his ship. It will be very fun and interesting to see how well they sail and what exactly it takes to make one of these boats.
As we entered and left the harbor of Les Cayes I felt as if I was looking into the past and how the old shipping ports must have operated in the 1800's. Boston Harbor, Baltimore, San Francisco, etc. all must have been very similar to this before the advent of the steamship. As I said, I believe my journey back in time has only begun as Cuba awaits some 150 miles to the west.
Les Cayes is an unremarkable city, filthy and smelly yet lined with old French colonial homes that have been left to decay. The remind you of the Tennessee Williams play and subsuquent movie with Marlon Brando 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Keeping with Marlon Brando I felt that after hearing the echos of "Stella, Stella", I could see the young actor working as a longshoreman on the docks hauling charcoal off the gondolas and onto wheelbarrows. But that is as far as my imagination and analogy will go...!
Yesterday Geert and I rented two mediocre horses to ride and explore the island of Ile A Vache. When I asked what my horses name was the owner replied, "Horse". I was riding a horse with no name. Fitting as I saw it since I was the only American on the island. Regardless, what Geert and I found was breathtaking. We set off on our own to explore and came across countless people bringing fish to the market, hauling water, sweeping their dirt lawns, etc. We saw a husband and wife arguing, kids kicking a soccer ball made out of tape, and old men dancing to music playing on their new radio. How much of this place is the essence of mankind? They are without a million things that most of us have without thinking about and yet they still argue with their wives, play sports and dance.
This is not meant to further illustrate the cliche of western commercialism or meager happiness, rather to show how alike we all are. Our sorrows, our pleasures and day to day activities can be broken down to a common denominator across just about every culture in every part of the world. For me at least this is comforting. My individualtiy remains intact for my own joys and sorrows are unique to me, yet I find comfort in that despite everything the western world has said and done to Haiti, her people are like the rest of us. They love a sunny day, they love to run around and laugh, they cry, they fight and they survive. Maybe that is what I have learned from my short time in Haiti...we are all alike and no matter what we have going against us, as humans we endure and survive. Haiti has survived for 200 years and while we seach for ways to improve life here, we sometimes fail to remember her humanity and ability to survive.
Geert, Dick and I have many adventures ahead of us in the next two weeks before we depart for Cuba and I can only imagine Cuba will offer her own unique perspective on the human condition and my individual place in this world. For now, we are off to dinner with French sailor named Guy who is sailing around the world.
From the end of the world....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Landed on Ile a Vache - by Dick

We landed on Ile a Vache, south of Haiti. The Netherlands are really far away. I just received an e-mail of a good friend Jan Roelofs. He is working on an initiative for a Dutch 'spiritual political party' in Holland. He trusts his country is heading in the right direction as it has a new government ‘guarding Christian values’ in ‘our world'. A world that’s far away from here.

This is an oasis; we are moored in a lagoon with little beaches, palm trees and huts where people live with their family, chickens and pigs. Fisherman are repairing their nets by hand and sailing vessels are being build the same way as they are for hundreds of years. Sailors are sailing up and down to the main island to transport people and food. Children are even going to school in uniforms and after returning home they try to sell us papayas and melons as they peddle to the Sea Scout in a ‘dug out’ canoe. They and all the other people here are very friendly; and curious as well.
There is a sign on the beach that the EU donated money to maintain their way of living. People seem to live relaxed. That is quite different from Port au Prince.

I am a week on my way now and it is incredible what I experience. I just swam to the shore (because David and Patrick took the dinghy for spearing lobsters) with my glasses, a towel and shirt in a plastic bag. There is an almost very nice, but not really very busy hotel run by French people.

After leaving the American civilization/culture in Miami in Port au Prince I landed in another world. I called Port au Prince a 'bustling city'. It may have been ‘the understatement of the day’. Of course we did not go into the really dangerous places as Cite Soleil. But it is anyhow considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world; moreover it was very busy, warm, full of people, full of trade and it smelled really bad because there is no service to clean the garbage from the streets. A ‘blanc’ is easily spotted. And, is as I felt, considered to be a ‘walking money tree’. But I also met people concerned with matters such as: where and how will I find food today? How to spend the rest of the day with no job to go (over 80 ! % has no work they are being paid for). Voodoo is serious business here. As is Catholicism, Baptism, and Jehovah’s witnesses. So, this is what’s on peoples minds.
There are also quite a number of American and European (and local) people making money by giving aid via professional NGO's and driving around is SUV’s. And there are people convinced that they are sent by God and thus have the power to start up an orphanage for at least twenty children with their own hands. There is no shortage of children who’s parents cannot take care of... All these tings are possible because ‘de facto’ there is no government. No structure. Of course there are also people working with a more balanced mind and heart. But in the end, it’s up to the strongest.

Jacmel compared to Porte au Prince was a provincial town. The fact that the waves were rolling from the sea into the harbor made Sea Scout rolling up and down. But the unrest that results in, is nothing compared to all the stories you hear about smuggling narcotics, relations, embargos, changes in who rules the country, very nice initiatives, big plans; about suspects who are three years in jail before they are brought to the court and then fall asleep in front of the judge, because they do not understand a word (the process is in French; a Haitian speaks Kreol). Haiti is more than any country a world of stories. Geert met in Jacmel the widow of a Dutch ex politician, who lives there: she created her own world.
You may have his report on carnival: read it, combine it with what I tell you now and you will know what I mean.

It took about twenty hours to sail from Jacmel to Ile a Vache. So we sailed on all night with a wind force three to five (and more or less the same speed) and a sometimes ‘bumpy’ sea. During watch there was nothing but stars and waves. The island was dark. Electricity is a scarce good here. But it was very much worth it. On board were also Patrick and Kate who initiate cultural projects in Jacmel. It all went well. Patrick and Kate just left with a motorboat to catch a plane back home. We are going to stay for a couple of days.
Here in this paradise. So that I can make up my mind again.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carnaval - by Geert

Giant bats that flap their painted plywood wings with a sharp, frightening sound, masked demons cracking long whips on the pavement, nearly naked men covered from head to toe with soot and shiny, pitch black paint, dragging rattling chains, long necked dragons, enormous insects and spiders, and many impersonations of the Voodoo devil Baron Samedi, carrying a coffin, or leading a band of zombies - there was a lot of scary stuff at last Sunday's Carnaval parade in Jacmel. And there were so many participants that it lasted all afternoon.

In the evening thousands dancing revelers took over the streets. They were spurred on by Ra-ra bands, groups of drummers and hornplayers, each with its own style. These bands don't march, they run - if there is room. Some streets were completely jammed with people. You could not move in any direction. I was warned against pickpockets, so I left my wallet on the boat. I did a little experiment: I put a banknote in each of my four pockets. At the end of the evening they were still there. I then lost some of the money in the central square, where dozens of little gambling stalls were set up. Many were handcrafted and painted roulette wheels, with very eccentric symbols and numbering.

I very quickly lost Dick and David in the melee, but that was all right. I must have hugged at least a hundred strangers, and this was only the first day of the Carnaval season.

We plan to set sail for Ile a Vache this afternoon. Meanwhile, Google made some changes to the Blogger website. All team members have to sign in again before they can post - a easy process.

Hailing you from California...

My part in this story is so far in the past,
and given how exciting reports from Haiti have been, I don't
want to cover stories that have already been covered so excellently.

I'm only trying to excuse myself for not writing sooner.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Port-Au-Prince - by David

This was originally an email but I decided to turn it into a posting on the blog. I hope you enjoy.

I am sitting on the roof of the Hospice St. Joseph in Port-Au-Prince. This city is hard to describe and it is quite unfortunate that i have only 2 days here. That said, I imagine most of the city is similar to what I saw today. Trash not only lining the street but composing the street. Beggars holding out their hands, hustlers walking with you and telling you names of thanks and demanding to be paid for this information.
It is quite difficult to look a child in the eye and deny them a dollar yet if i gave him/her a dollar i would have to give everyone a dollar. As my Haitian friend Patrick is just about beyond hope for Haiti.
The city faces west into the Atlantic Ocean. It is bound by mountains on all sidesand slums within. The most notorious slum is called Citi Solei and it lies on the water next to the road leading to the airport. That is a major reason for most of the kidnappings. Gangsters in Citi Solei can see when rich blancs fly in and they make prime targets for kidnapping or robbing. Kidnappings, muggings, torture and shootings occur almost daily in this city and in the evenings you can hear in the distance the pop of machine gun fire from the slums.
I walked through the largest market in PAP. This borders another dangerous slum appropriately called Bel Air. The market is really unbelievable. People sell everything and anything you could want or buy in all of Haiti. From food, art and soap to collanders and prostitutes this market is so infested with humanity you can barely breathe when inside the wrought iron edifice. It is more crowded than the Arab quarter in Jerusalem. You cannot make out where you are supposed to walk and what happens to be just a small space between vendors (there usually isnt any space at all to walk and you often must turn around and find another route).
The triaffic is its own story. Hundreds of tap-taps ferrying thousands of people clog the streets. Vendors compete for space on the curb (the curb is just where the trash begins to get less dense). These vendors, mostly women protect their baskets of merchandise or food from the pedestrians, motorpeds, tap-taps and UN convoys that fill the streets with black smoke and the perpetual caucophony of horns blaring.
As I weaved my way in and around these vendors the constant honking of tap-taps kept me aware that i was not invulnerable to being hit. The joke in Haiti is: Q: How many people can you fit in a tap-tap? A: One more.... This is true as people hold on and squeeze in together in ways the Vatican would call indecent. They all wear long pants and many are in suits or at least outfits that resemble business attire. Despite this you could not find a bead of sweat on the whole bus. It is remarkable how they stay cool while I am in shorts and a t-shirt nearly soaked through with sweat.
By this time the sun had begun its descent into the ocean and I began to hike back up the hill where St. Joseph rests looking out over this destitute city. The kids at the house were so intrigued by my sunglasses they demanded to try them on. It was great fun for all of us as each child (about 15) got to pose as a Tonton Macoute (the notorious private army that killed dissenters during the Duvalier era) wearing my sunglasses as I took their picture. It was marvelous! There was such joy in these kids' smile and it so contrasted the hardness of life that I saw downtown. The girls would take your hand and lean in for a kiss on the cheek, even the littlest ones. I would bend down and greet them in this fashion and it would seem that all trouble they have seen and will see is irrelevant. "Bonsoir" is all you have to say for their eyes to light up like a flash of life. It is exhilirating, intoxicating and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Are these kids not rich in life? I should think so. Most of them live in conditions that would considered cruel for our pets back home. Their parents earn in a year when we spend in a week to kennel our dogs. It is not the money as I see it, rather the byproduct of money. A carelessness about the simple pleasures in life perhaps. They are rewarding for these children whereas for us blancs we require much more to satiate our appetite for pleasure.

As I explore further into this place and her people I believe my first impressions will be confirmed. This is a place of devastating poverty. Much of which is the result of foreign economic dependence and domestic political and social unrest. Additionally, many Haitians I have come across represent the mindset that the world is out to serve them. They complain that they cannot feed their families yet they refuse to work when it is available. However, despite all this, those who have not yet become hardened by the horrors of this place have in them a genuine humanity that rips through your soul and makes a nest in your life. It is in these people that the future of Haiti rests upon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bay of Eagles - by Geert

I am very happy to be in Haiti. We had many challenges and some serious problems along the way, and we reached our first goal. Much more on Haiti later, I'm sure, but I first have to write about the extraordinary beauty of the Bahia de las Aguilas, our last anchorage in the Dominican Republic. Rounding Cabo Beata was tough, and getting past Cabo Falso, to the Northwest, even tougher. As soon as we were in the lee, Bahia de las Aguilas opened up like an immense zone of peace. The water was flat, there was a white sandy beach several miles long, rolling hills to the east offered protection against the trade wind, the north and south corners of the bay were dramatically marked by high cliffs.

It is an extraordinary anchorage because it is completely open to the west. Looking in that direction you have the feeling that you dropped anchor in the middle of a calm sea. Obviously, if the wind ever turned west, like during a tropical storm, you'd have to get out of there very quickly. But hurricane season is still many months away. We had splendid sunsets, while feasting on the lobster and octopus a local fisherman brought in every afternoon.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jacmel - by David

Arrived Haiti 1230 EST Feb. 5, 2007
I have entered another world where few of the rules that apply to life elsewhere exist. The street is like a warzone held together by the crumbling dust of the french colonial houses that used to line the street. The dock is in disrepair and many planks are missing but they provide enough support to take a running start from 20 yards away and do a flying squirrel into the clear blue water below. After spending several hours fiddling with the dock lines (we have 8 in total plus an anchor i swam out to set) we joined our friends Patrick and Kate for lunch across from the main plaza in Jacmel. Lunch was delightful and yet it provided me my first glimpse of this beautiful but hard place.
"Bonjour Blanc", said the woman who may have been only 50 but looked about 100 years old. She held out her hands through the holes in the concrete that separated the terrace where we ate and the street.
Women walked up and down the streets with enormous baskets on top of their heads carrying things to and from the market. Men waited on their mopeds to ferry people around, and children in their uniforms danced happily down the street as they were let out of school for the day. "Bonjour Blanc" they would say with smiles that revealed their white teeth.
Geert and I then left Patrick and Kate to explore some on our own. We were hassled by the hustlers that were so quick to jump on our arrival. "Capitan, capitan, you give me dollar. I watch your boat." And on it went until we had to take stern action and tell them we could walk alone without their help. Despite this, the Haitian people are incredibly friendly and nearly always have a smile on their face. While I have only been here 24 hours it is already apparent how hard working they are. As I talked with Geert last night I commented on how used many of them have been by the government over the past 200 years. I hope to learn more as I get deeper into the people and culture.
This morning Geert and I changed money at a local store that Patrick recommended and we walked through the market. This was another world in itself. People, food, goods, flies all coexist in this market and it is difficult to describe. Everything is sold, and it is quite organized with a meat section, a vegetable section a produce section, a fish section, etc. The flies can be sometimes unbearable but Geert came up with a wonderful phrase that he attributed to the writer Saul Bellow, we have just taken a "humanity bath". He and Saul were dead on in that description. Never before have i seen humanity work at its most honest. The constant political upheavals have forced these people to survive on a subsistence economy. Hundreds of women get up each morning from their homes in the mountains and walk the 20 or so kilometers with their goods balanced on their heads into the market of Jacmel. They then sit amongst the other vendors and flies that feed off their goods and sell what they can. In the evening they return through the same road. It is, as i say, the most honest form of humanity i have ever seen. I must explore further.
Today I am helping Patrick and Kate paint the gallery in preparation for the show on Sat. night. Another entry in the blog will be required for what is promised to be an amazing evening of art, food, dancing, music and culture. I will not reveal the extent of the show so as to whet the appetite of the readers but i can say that this weekend is the national carnival fesitval a full week before the real carnival. 50,000 people come from all over Haiti to Jacmel for their carnival as it is usually the best and Patrick and Kates show will be the event that kicks it all off. Very exciting.
As for our plans in the future, Geert and I are meeting with the mayor and his wife tomorrow and on Thursday I plan to go into Port-Au-Prince and meet with Dick to explore that city. More poverty awaits me there but hopefully more intrigue and adventure. Again I am very excited.
After Carnival this weekend, we hope to sail with our friends to Ile la Vache and Les Cayes and explore the hundreds of bays and islands that are scattered along the southwestern coast of Haiti. We will then return in time for the next and more regular carnival that precedes lent.
We have adventures ahead of us that will hopefully trump those we have left behind. Haiti was one of our main destinations and there is certainly a sense that we have finally arrived and can begin to really explore. For Geert, hopefully the boat can avoid any more trouble and he can get to work on his stories. As for me I am off to do some manual labor and paint. I havent found what im looking for just yet ( im not even sure I know what im looking for) but here in Jacmel i definitely feel one step closer. Till next time....

Monday, February 05, 2007

In Haiti!

Sea Scout arrived in Jacmel. All is well.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Land breeze - by Geert

One of te remakable things about sailing along the coast of large, mountainous islands like Puerto Rico and Hispaniola is the land breeze. During the day the tradewinds blow steadily out of the east. At night, when the land cools off faster than the sea, the wind first dies, and than shifts to the north (along the southern coast, at least). This land breeze is often strong enought for good sailing. It is aslo quite predictable.

In order to reach the Bahia de las Aguilas we have to round Cabo Beata. This cape is known for strong currents and especially for big swells. The waves are biggest during the day, when thay are pushed up by the tradewinds. We will try to reach the cape at daybreak, when the land breeze dies. The tradewinds usually pick up around 9 AM, and today blow at 25 knots.