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.