We have been having a blast in Luperon. Yes, this isn’t where we expected to be at the end of March (we thought we would be in Puerto Rico by now) but we are leaning into the experience of Luperon and it had rewarded us in spades.
Last weekend we took a taxi to see the 27 Waterfalls, a tourist attraction about 40 minutes from Luperon. This was an awesome time with our good friends Barry and Andrea from the boat Caretta. Our pup Ocean also came along for the ride, which made for quite the clown car experience in the Camry that served as our taxi. And on the way, our taxi driver helped me with my Spanish, especially with my accent which is severely lacking. I got a pretty weird look when I asked about the big onion walking in the field (the word for onion and for horse are very similar!!).
At the waterfalls, Barry, Andrea and Mike all enjoyed sliding down and around the waterfalls. Barry and Mike were even adventurous enough to jump off a few! Dogs weren’t allowed at the waterfalls so Ocean and I stayed in the main tourist area. No worries though, we still got to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Not surprisingly, it is the people that are making our stay in Luperon so special. We have become chummy with lots of our fellow cruisers who are also awaiting a weather window to travel south. Wherever we go, there is a friend or two hanging out, enjoying a beer or watching a baseball game or ready to go snorkelling. Some of our new friends are amazing free divers so Mike got to learn how to get an extra 10 feet out of his dives. That got him deep enough to actually hear whale calls under the water (Humpback Whales come to the Dominican Republic during the winter to have their offspring in warm water). Wow!
Even Ocean is getting used to having a friend or two around to enjoy the days and evenings. Of course, there are the friendly local town dogs but a few cruisers have pups too, including our friends on Bye Felicia who just got a little 8-week old Yorkshire Terrier. Little Rex is definitely in love with our Ocean!
Yes, we are ready to keep moving south, but getting the right weather window matters. We thought we might have found a decent couple of days this week to start travelling east along the north coast of the Dominican Republic but it was really on the edge of our comfort level. One quick call to our weather router Chris Parker confirmed what we feared. The window was just a little too tight and salty, leaving no room for error. We decided to stay. The good news is that our pod of buddy boats is growing. There are at least six of us looking for the weather to turn in our favour.
While we wait, we continue to have great fun and both Mike and I are improving our Spanish every day. I will even get a chance to give back to Luperon for three days over the next week. The cruising community has arranged a vaccination clinic for all the stray dogs and I have volunteered to load syringes and manage the dogs getting vaccinated. What an opportunity!
So, do we feel “stuck” in Luperon? Not at all! These are great days and great moments that will stay with us for a long time 😊.
Click the button below to see where Wild Horses is anchored right now!
On this journey I have shared a lot about sunsets, beaches, meeting great people and the joy of exploring new places. Certainly, these are the highlights that keep us going. What I haven’t talked much about is the sometimes tough mental aspect of living and cruising on your boat. We have had small pockets of very stressful times (like our alternator alignment issues and our leaking bow thruster) but our more common angst is usually over weather. More correctly, about the weather we need to move further south safely and comfortably. Not everyone reads weather the same way and we are not always in sync with our boat buddies. This can be tough on us mentally, for sure. Being left behind is never fun. But Mike and I have always said that we don’t want to choose to be uncomfortable or unsafe, even if it means saying “see you later” to boating friends.
Most of the time we are just looking for great wind to be able to sail from place to place. These days, though, it is more about getting through some dicey passages with maximum safety, a little bit of comfort and with zero fear or seasickness. Yeah, it can get that bad. For us, we try to study the weather with no hidden agendas. We remove any inkling of a schedule or emotion. When the weather is great and we are well-rested, this is a super easy exercise. Let’s go! When the weather is really not great and is sprinkled with several bits of “maybe” and a few short hours of “pretty good”, but you have already been here for two weeks and all your other boat buddies have already left? Well, that’s when things get a little challenging. Being patient while waiting for the weather gods to cooperate is tough.
All of this is top of mind these days as we sit in Luperon, Dominican Republic. Our next passage is to go all the way east of the country to the town of Samana. From there, we will cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. Both passages need a good long (24 hour) dose of mild weather. Unfortunately, the prevailing weather at this time of year is a strong E-NE wind that whips up every afternoon. Since we are travelling east, we would be travelling directly into it and the high waves and ocean swell that it generates. Yuck. One option is to just grin, bear it and get through. Our two boat buddies went with this option. Without going into details, lots of rocking, rolling and seasickness was part of both of their passages. The other option is to wait and wait and wait for a proper weather window where the wind is mild. These windows come around, only not often. We just need to be patient.
In the meantime, we are here in Luperon and very content actually. We have lots to do tinkering about town or on the boat. The food is delicious and cheap. Ocean has lots of access to shore, ocean swimming and attention from people and other dogs. And we have quite a few boating friends in the anchorage to share our stories, meals and even a beer or two. 😊
Click the link below to see where we are now!
Our last day in the Bahamas was an interesting one. We had staged our departure at a remote anchorage on the south shore of Great Inagua in order to shorten the distance we would have to travel to Luperon, Dominican Republic. Instead of 160 nautical miles, we were now looking at 147 nautical miles. This would shave 3 hours off our trip and allow us to leave at daybreak, instead of in the middle of the night. We were thankful for our decision the next morning as we started weighing anchor. Our anchor chain had wrapped itself around a coral head and refused to budge. The only thing we could do was to try to unwrap the chain by moving the boat back and forth and sideways, all while trying not to hit the coral head. Half an hour later...success! This was stressful enough in the daylight - I couldn't imagine the stress if we were trying these maneuvers in complete darkness.
Thankfully, our passage was a very easy one. This wasn't luck though. We spent many hours reviewing weather by ourselves, with our buddy boats and also via a phone call to expert weather forecaster Chris Parker at the Marine Weather Center.
We were able to sail for several hours before the wind turned directly at our bow, where it stayed for 20 hours of our 27 hour trip. To continue to sail would mean tacking the boat across the wind several times, adding many, many hours to an already long passage. So, on went the motor! The sea state was relatively calm for most if the passage, making us far more comfortable than on our last overnight run. This time we got to play some Backgammon and watch a few downloaded shows to pass the time. Fabulous! We did a two hour on and off watch cycle and it worked great since neither of us can naturally nap for more than an hour at a time while on passage. Oh, and we still had an almost full moon to light our way!
We saw the first signs of the Dominican Republic at daybreak. The beautiful trees and mountains are such a contrast to the flat terrain of the Bahamas! Winding our way into the harbour, we were immediately hailed on the VHF radio by a few boaters anchored in the harbour. They gave us the lay of the land and confirmed that they had already contacted the Armada (Dominican Navy) to come check us in. Another big difference between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic! No computer apps here! In the Dominican you are boarded by the Armada who check your papers, take pictures of you and your boat and then give you clearance to go into Port to finish the check in process with Immigration, Customs, the Port Authority and the Department of Agriculture. Lots of steps but the offices are housed together, air conditioned and the friendly and smiling authorities were quite fine with Ocean being in their tiny 8 x 8 rooms. Easy and very welcoming!
After check in, we needed to go find SIM cards for our cell phones, which was perfect because it also gave us a chance to explore a bit of the town of Luperon. Only we didn't get very far. It was now almost noon and our tummies needed sustenance! We popped into a local eatery for lunch and a giant cerveza (beer) to celebrate our successful passage. It was a wonderful moment to share with our three buddy boats. We had traveled very successfully together throughout the passage, sailing almost in formation. We also took care of one another, checking in overnight and whenever anything notable occurred underway, like cruise ships passing by, moving into the Atlantic time zone, and when our buddy boat "That's It" caught a Mahi-Mahi fish. Oh, and also when they caught their second Mahi-Mahi! Yummy fish dinner coming up!
Luperon has held lots of surprises for us. Everything is super inexpensive (after the very pricey Bahamas, this was a huge delight). And, the locals do not speak any English. No worries, my basic Spanish plus lots of hand movements is getting us through! For Ocean, she has had to do her own acclimatization. Her two triggers in life are motorcycles and other dogs. With both, she must be reminded to stay calm. Well, in Luperon almost everyone gets around by motorcycle and there are stray dogs everywhere. Yikes! Strangely enough, Ocean is finding a nice balance through it all. There are so many motorcycles, she just learned to ignore them. And the stray dogs? They no longer find her interesting. After several days of walking around town, she has become "just another Luperon dog" to them. This isn't true for the locals though. Everyone is impressed with our perro muy grande (very big dog) and that she is a Pastor Aleman (German Shepherd). So much attention!
The next leg of our journey will be to sail to Semana on the east coast of the Dominican Republic. From there, we will await a weather window for crossing the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. With the weather being wet and windy with high waves and swell for the next week, we will be staying put in Luperon. We are happy though! It will give us a chance to explore the country from our safe and comfortable home base in Luperon.
Click the link below to see where we are right now!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.