Culebra and the Virgin Islands (May 19 – May 25, 2016)

Culebra and the Virgin Islands (May 19 – May 25, 2016)

We have never been repeat vacationers; never been ones to return to the same place year after year, or really, even more than once. Perhaps we are adventurers, or maybe we just have a bad case of wanderlust. There is so much to see in this world, and even at the expense of sometimes not exploring in depth; we have always wanted to see as much as we can. Going back to the same destination means one less adventure to be had. But there is one exception we have found in our travels, the British Virgin Islands. Our first trip to those beautiful, welcoming islands was over thirty years ago when we first sailed with our friends Alex and Marty Jakimenko and Rich and Jan Grady. The next visit was with our kids when they were teenagers, probably 18 or 19 years ago. We returned again with Jason, Kelly and Craig, and Jeff 9 years ago. Each of those times we chartered a sailboat and each of those times we thought how wonderful it would be to travel the islands on our own boat. Finally we made it. We received a text from Jason when we arrived here. He put it perfectly when he said, “The BVI on your own boat. That’s a dream come true.”

IMG_3193Walking around CulebraIMG_3197-2IMG_3199IMG_3210-2IMG_3195I hope he misses the bird!

Leaving Puerto Rico on May 19th, we started off for the four-hour crossing to Culebra. Craig, on La Sirena, had left the day before while we were still trying to get the Great Computer Debacle straightened out and he was waiting for us in an anchorage there. Again it was a rough crossing and again things that had never moved before flew around the salon; this resulted in securing me to my seat and terrifying both dogs. We arrived unharmed, had lunch, and then took the dinghy to the Dinghy Dock Restaurant to tie up and to walk around the pleasant and colorful town there.

We have noticed that, in many towns in the Caribbean, schedules lack any importance. During our walk, Craig wanted to stop at the little grocery store. The hours were clearly marked 9:00 to 5:00, and there was a sign that said OPEN, but the doors were locked and no one was around. We made our way back to the restaurant and got something cold to drink while we watched the resident tarpon swimming right next to us. About one-half hour later, Craig walked back up to the store and, sure enough, it was open again. You just have to be flexible around these countries!

IMG_3186Our first view of Mahoe Bay, St. John, USVIIMG_3234The buddy boats at their moorings.IMG_3243IMG_3226IMG_3229This boat came in to Mahoe Bay.  It’s not quite the classic look that AfterMath has, but it’s eye-catching!IMG_3222

The next day we finally had a calm, pleasant ride to the Virgin Islands. As soon as we got near the islands we both noticed a beautiful scent, which grew even stronger in the anchorage. The aroma reminded me of jasmine and frangipani flowers. In St. John, surrounded by green palms swaying in the gentle breeze, warm, salty, turquoise water lapping quietly at our boat and the shore, and smelling that intoxicating aroma, we rediscovered that these tropical islands have a way of awakening every one of our senses. We toasted our arrival in the Virgin Islands, sitting at the bow, congratulating ourselves for really making this voyage.

We have never spent much time in the U.S. islands in the past as our focus has been the BVI and, once cleared through, it is easier not to have to go through customs and immigration again. This time, however, we started our Virgin Island experience in St. John. Mahoe Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Marine Park; it is just spectacular and there are places to snorkel right near the mooring field.  In both the U. S. and the British Virgin Islands, moorings are secure and readily available. Much damage is caused to reefs when boaters use their anchors, as coral is easily broken; moorings prevent this damage.


After a night in Mahoe Bay, we moved to nearby Leinster Bay. Another beautiful anchorage in the National Park with nearby snorkeling, Leinster Bay is also very close to Tortola, BVI, where we would clear customs on Sunday morning.

Traveling with dogs is not quite as easy as traveling without as there are many rules and regulations that should be followed. The BVI has some of the strictest rules about getting a permit, but we had emailed the authorities there early and had all of the necessary test results and inoculations. (Thank you, Kelly!) The only problem was, the communications we received about the actual entry were numerous and kept changing. First they wanted to know where we would be clearing so they could courier the permit there. Then they said they could not send the permit, and they needed to know what day and what time we would be arriving because without providing this information we would likely have to wait at least 3 hours for someone to show up. By now, if you have read much of our blog, you know that dates and times are pretty hard for us! Finally after several emails, we decided on Sunday morning at 9:30 in Soper’s Hole on Tortola. The next email told us to call “Deveaux” an hour before we arrived at the port. Soper’s Hole was only a couple of miles from Leinster Bay, so I started calling Deveaux before we even left. Of course, I could not get an answer. Finally, as we were pulling in and picking up a mooring, Deveaux called and asked when we would arrive. I told him we were all ready in the port, and he asked me to have John leave the dogs on the boat and have customs call him while checking us in. John did as asked and customs made the call. Deveaux was apparently a vet who needed to approve the dogs, which he did – over the phone! As it turns out, no one in any country has really wanted to see any the dogs or proof of their immunizations and we are beginning to think that all our work trying to be vigilant is fruitless.

IMG_3315-3Soper’s Hole, Tortola, BVIIMG_3317-3IMG_3321-3

IMG_3329-3La Sirena under sail on our way to Jost Van DykeIMG_3376-3We made it!  One of my favorite spots in the world.IMG_3337-3IMG_3338-3IMG_3345-3Captain JohnIMG_3346-3And Captain Craig.  It seems gray beards are not optional!IMG_3351-3Foxy’s friendly bartender mixing up some painkillers.IMG_3352-3This adorable little guy was happy to pose with his biggest smile.IMG_3390-3That’s AfterMath out there!  IMG_3395-3Sights along the road in Jost Van DykeIMG_3396-3

We had never been in Soper’s Hole, so we took the dinghy for a little ride around the busy bay before heading to one of my favorite spots in the world: Jost Van Dyke. Jost Van Dyke is the home of Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Grill. When we first saw Foxy’s, over 30 years ago, it was a tiny little bar at the end of the street with a few picnic tables and nothing else. Foxy, the owner, sang and told stories and entertained every customer there. Now Foxy’s is much larger, and has four bars and a gift shop, but the atmosphere has not changed at all. This was the only time we have been there when we didn’t spot Foxy himself, but it was still wonderful to be there. There is just something about that place that lets you know you have arrived in Paradise.

After lunch at Foxy’s, John and Craig went to take care of the trash and I walked along the main street to meet them, taking pictures along the way. People always talk about how much more built up Jost Van Dyke is than it used to be, but the truth is that, while the dirt road now holds a few more businesses than it used to, they are little more than tiny open- air sheds or shops and they do not change the feeling of the island at all. Great Harbor now holds moorings and there are a lot of boats there, but there is plenty of room for everyone and everyone seems to have a wonderful time. And in the morning, you can still hear the wild goats calling from the hills.

IMG_3209Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVIIMG_3412Saba Rock Resort

IMG_3417The tarpon that come to be fed at Saba RockIMG_3440A walk around Bitter End Yacht ClubIMG_3444IMG_3458IMG_3460IMG_3463That is Saba Rock in the distanceIMG_3471IMG_3488IMG_3492Waterspouts about at Bitter EndIMG_3497IMG_3500IMG_3501

Leaving Jost Van Dyke yesterday, we traveled to the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. In the BVI, the islands are close and often offer protected waters, and true to form, it has been so wonderfully pleasant here. Our trips are short and the water is generally calm. We are now fast tracking a little bit on our way to Grenada for hurricane season, so we are missing some of our favorite islands, but we plan to take more time through them on the return trip. Just across the inlet from the Bitter End is Saba Rock Resort. It is, quite literally, a resort built on a very large rock with room for just a little grass and some hammocks behind it. We went to Saba Rock for their happy hour that ends with quite a ceremony for feeding the tarpon that live there. In typical tropical island form, everything happens with a story, and the gentleman who fed the tarpon turned it into an event, letting people take turns and throwing food very close to an occupied dinghy so the fish would jump and splash trying to grab the tasty treats.

The original plan was to leave Virgin Gorda yesterday, but, as always, we a waited a day for better winds and seas and will leave today, Wednesday, July 25th. The delay was great news for me, as I never have had the time to fully explore the gorgeous Bitter End Resort. Yesterday was a joy; while John was planning our trip south, I went to shore for a few hours getting some good shots and then spending some relaxing time at the pool that overlooks the bay. After John picked me up in the dinghy we enjoyed a happy hour aboard with Nicki and Andy who arrived on their sailboat, Intrepid, Monday right after we did. We first met the Intrepid crew when we were in Georgetown in the Bahamas, then we docked next to them in the Turks and Caicos, and found them again in Puerto Rico. We were happily surprised when they grabbed the mooring right next to ours on Monday.

So, today we leave the British Virgin Islands and head for the Leeward Islands. The first stop, after an overnight 16-hour trip, will be St. Marteen. Once again I can’t wait to come back. I know I will discover islands along the way that will draw me in and that I will come to love, but I think I will always have a soft spot for these gorgeous British Virgin Islands to which we have returned over and over.

Here is where we are today.

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Puerto Rico and the Dreaded Mona Passage (April 29 – May 18, 2016)

Puerto Rico and the Dreaded Mona Passage (April 29 – May 18, 2016)

The Day came.  It was the Dreaded Day.  Since reading about the Mona Passage over a year ago, this was my biggest worry for the whole trip.  The passage connects the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  It separates the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and is an important shipping route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Panama Canal.  However, it has a reputation of being one of the most treacherous routes in the Caribbean, especially for boaters, as it is prone to unusual currents and huge waves.  All I had read made the Gulf Stream back in Florida sound like baby steps compared to the Mona Passage.

Craig, on La Sirena, and John decided we should leave Samana in the Dominican Republic at 2 PM in order to get the best conditions possible for the 25 hour trip.  I had prepared lunches and dinners ahead of time that could be taken out of the refrigerator whenever we were so inclined, and had stocked up on granola bars for breakfast and snacks.  The day started pretty well.  The waves were about 4 feet and Craig & John  were feeling assured that all would go well.  I had my patch on, which was about all I could do to get myself ready.  It wasn’t long, though, before it became apparent that I would have to ride inside AfterMath, as the waters were too rough for me to stay on my favorite spot, the seat on the bow.  Being inside is always hard for me, as the fresh air outside helps any feelings of queasiness.  I napped off and on for a while as John was at the wheel, but at about 11:00 PM, he needed a break.  I took over, but this time, I was not able to read as we traveled due to the waves.  Within about 1/2 hour I saw some weather activity on the radar and woke John to let him know.  He took over to both steer us around the storms and to keep Craig updated so that he could avoid them too.  Finally, John went back to sleep and I took the 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM shift at the wheel.  Lightning added to the creepiness of being out there at night, and while it was rough, it was no where as bad as I had expected.  But then it happened.  The waves just seemed to grow and grow and they came so often that there was no break between them.  We were tossed and turned and Craig, in his sailboat, looked like he was even worse off then we were.  For the next several hours the Mona Passage lived up to its name.  It was miserable for all of us, but thankfully, we made it.  None of us are looking forward to seeing that body of water ever again!

Finally at around 3:15 PM we reached our destination of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico.  The anchorage was a welcome site, although it was more of a commercial one than we were used to.  Customs and Immigration were supposed to be open until 4:00 PM.  We were slightly ahead of Craig so John dropped the dinghy in the water and headed to shore, hoping to get us checked in and then have time to go get Craig so he could check in too.  As it turned out, they were not open at all, although people were there in the building.  We were able, after a couple of hours, to get a phone number to call to check in and finally we were legally back in a U.S. territory, with a Puerto Rican courtesy flag flying on AfterMath.

The streets of Boqueron.

From Mayaguez, which is on the west coast of Puerto Rico, we began making our way around the island and down to the southern coast.  Still on the western end, we battled more waves, but only for a few hours.  Soon we arrived at our first stop, which was in Boqueron.  Boqueron is a funny little town that comes to life only on the weekends.  The few streets of the town are lined with little stands that seem to sell a lot of oysters, clams and the like.  There are countless bars and lots of cars going one way, but parking where ever the mood strikes them.  It is noisy and colorful and filled with people walking around with no apparent destination in mind.  It’s supposed to be the ‘Key West’ of Puerto Rico, but it wasn’t the Key West I love so much.  We made our way through Boqueron, but decided just one night was enough in this area.

IMG_3030Houses on the water in Parguera.IMG_3029IMG_3025IMG_3037These guys are huge!  At least 4 feet from tip of the nose to tip of the tail.IMG_3019A typical bar in Puerto Rico.  We found even the best restaurants to look a lot like this.IMG_3041In the mangroves.IMG_3013The view from the anchorage in PargueraIMG_3014

The next day we traveled to Parguera, now on the south coast, again dodging waves and heavy seas.  Apparently this was once a busy town, and maybe it still is on the weekend, but it was now Monday and there was hardly a sole to be seen.  There are also no dinghy docks in Parguera, so John dropped Craig and me off as we both really needed to find a few provisions.  We found a little grocery store there, but it really was not an appealing one and we bought very little in it.  We did meet our first Puerto Rican iguana there, who did not seem to be the least bit surprised by being approached by me holding a camera and taking his picture. After John picked us up we spent some time riding on Tangent, our dinghy, through the mangroves in the nearby islands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust a few of the fish at Guilligan’s Island.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



IMG_3048At the restaurant near Guilligan’s Island.IMG_3051IMG_3052IMG_3055IMG_3058IMG_3068IMG_3071

As Parquera didn’t have much to offer, we left on Tuesday, May 2nd, and made our to Guanica where a park called Guilligan’s Island, named after the TV show, was nearby.  We anchored near a lovely resort, but unfortunately, the anchorage was pretty rolly.  Rolling anchorages make for uncomfortable sleeping, but we all wanted to take a day at the park which was known for it’s shallow waters with easy snorkeling.  Wednesday morning we took the dinghy over to the park’s docks and spent a nice time enjoying the fish that swam among the mangroves before heading to a local restaurant where we had lunch.

Thursday, May 4, we went to a lovely hurricane hole in Ensenada, which was perfectly calm and wonderful.  We were all so happy to have a nice restful night with no waves or rolling at all.

Although Puerto Rico is the size of Connecticut, they say it takes 11 days to transit from the west side to the east side, which we surprisingly found to be true.  Because the trade winds come to life at mid morning, bringing 4-6’ seas, most cruisers travel between sunrise and 10 AM.  For sailboats, that means approximately 22 miles per day.  For us, not much better.  Add in delays for rough seas and high winds and 11 days start to become realistic.

IMG_3075Christopher came to meet us!IMG_3076Craig relaxing on AfterMath.IMG_2237The anchorage in SalinasIMG_2238IMG_2239IMG_2327As always, the weather is so important to us.  See the storm rolling in here?

The next day we continued along the south coast, again only riding for about 4 hours because the waves were heavy, and arrived at Ponce Yacht Club, where we stayed for two nights.  There was a pool there, although I admit i was the only person over the age of 18 in it.  Our next stop was in Salinas.  We stayed there a few nights while we waited for weather and mail.  The best part of Salinas was that, on Mother’s Day, we got to meet Christopher Alesevich, who is the son of our friends Chris and Sam.  Christopher lives near San Juan and we had asked him if we could have our mail sent to his house while we were in Puerto Rico.  He wanted to see AfterMath so he came to see us and spend the day.  We really loved having Christopher visit and we found him to be wonderful company.

IMG_3079Early morning in Puerto Patillas.  We left just as the sun was rising and were rewarded with this sight.

From Salinas we traveled to Puerto Patillas.  The anchorage there was again rolly, but we only stayed one night and we were visited by another couple on a boat that we had met back in the Turks and Caicos.  It is fun to meet people and find them again throughout our travels and always wonderful to hear about everyone’s adventures.

IMG_2342Here we traveled by car back to some of the places we had been by boat.  This is Patillas from the top of the mountains.IMG_2343IMG_2344All beaches in Puerto Rico are public.  Here is one we stopped at to take a walk.IMG_3106This family was very happy to pose when I asked if I could take their picture.IMG_2347

IMG_3104IMG_2348The view from a roadside restaurant.IMG_3092Another iguana that climbed the wall and posed for us.IMG_3109Salinas by land.IMG_3110Salinas has a very nice town square.IMG_3120Back to Ponce by car.  There is a beautifully restored area in the city and we enjoyed walking around it.IMG_3122Craig and John walking down the streets of Ponce.IMG_3128IMG_3133The fire department museum in Ponce.IMG_3136A lovely church on the town square in Ponce.IMG_3139A couple of views from the streets of Ponce.IMG_3142IMG_3154Off to Guavate, where this kind of establishment is the norm.  IMG_3156Lots of noise, music, dancing and eating.  This couple waved for me to take their picture.IMG_3159The Puerto Rican people seem to know how to have fun on a Sunday afternoon.IMG_3161IMG_3163Lots of little stands everywhere you go in Puerto Rico.IMG_3166IMG_3167John had read that you should eat Pig on a Stick in Guavate.  We had already eaten and did not partake of any of this poor guy.

IMG_3172In the forest near San Lorenzo.IMG_3176More scenes along the way.IMG_3181IMG_3183IMG_3185

Finally from Puerto Patillas, we made our way around to the east coast and to Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo.  The marina here is huge; there are 1000 slips and it is such a long walk to get to the office or the shops that golf carts travel the docks to pick you up and to bring you back.  The golf carts have trailers, which are very handy when bringing groceries or supplies to the boat! At the marina, there is a Thrify car rental, and we took advantage of the convenience and rented a car for a few days.  One day was spent re-provisioning, one was spent touring, and one was used to get Kirby a haircut and to pick up some more mail we had sent to Christopher.  John had some maintenance done on the boat while I was out getting a pedicure and enjoying a little shopping time while Kirby was being groomed.  All was well and we were set to leave on Monday, May 16, when my computer died.  On Sunday it started acting strangely and I quickly backed it up on two separate external hard drives.  This was a good thing as, after that backup, the computer never turned on again.  The next two days were very frustrating as we worked to get me a new Mac Book Pro to replace the 5 year old one that died.  Today, I write this blog on my new computer, that is not completely set up yet, but did allow me to upload my pictures and write this post.

Craig left yesterday and made his way to Culebra, one of the two Spanish Virgin Islands, and he is waiting for us to join him tomorrow.  We will get up early and make our way from Puerto Rico to the Culebra and then, the next day, arrive in St. John, a U.S. Virgin Island.  From there, the British Virgin Islands await, one of our favorite places to be.

So, tomorrow we leave Puerto Rico.  The winds and the waves here have been a trial for us, but I can’t leave without giving my thoughts on what this island is truly like.  Here the people are friendly, and most of them speak English if you ask, but calling businesses on the phone is a challenge, because most introductions are in Spanish, that is, if they answer the phone.  It is a noisy place, with music blaring in every store, restaurant, or bar.  It is colorful, though, everywhere you go.  The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, with water and mountains, lush greenery and flowers of every color.  The trees and plants here that grow wild are those that I bought and planted in my yard in Bradenton, Florida.  Driving is interesting as no one seems to mind going the wrong way in the street if it makes their life easier.  Part of the U.S., but it’s own country, we have had lots of fun in Puerto Rico.

Here is where we are today!




Crossing to Dominican Republic (April 23 – April 28, 2016)

Crossing to Dominican Republic (April 23 – April 28, 2016)

Gone. Gone are the days of floating peacefully along the canals of Canada. Gone are the days of watching shrimp boats, lit by tiny fairy lights, spread their nets and slowly move through still waters. Gone are the days of passing through the tall grasses of the low country. Gone are the days of dolphins swimming next to our boat in the glasslike Intracoastal Waterway. Gone are the days of visiting with kids in Annapolis and Florida. Gone are the days where the biggest challenge is judging our speed so that we make the next bridge opening without having to wait an hour. We are in the big time now. Those waves that had me leave the boat and let Jeff help John back in New Jersey would be welcome. We travel all day and all night to get to our next destination. Our first overnight passage was to the Dominican Republic.

Saturday, April 23, arrived. I was not excited about doing an overnight trip, but there was no place to stop between the islands. The day before, John and our buddy boat captain, Craig, studied the weather once again. Craig had talked to Chris Parker, the professional Caribbean maritime weather forecaster. Every weather site was reviewed again and again so that the most advantageous time of departure could be determined. The weather seemed like it would be pretty good. Seas were expected to be three to five feet. It was the best we could expect for the foreseeable future, so it was time to go.

We waited in the Turks and Caicos for the tide to come in so we had enough water for AfterMath and La Sirena, Craig’s 37-foot Island Packet sailboat, to safely leave South Side Marina. At 9:00 AM, it was time to go. I had meals prepared that could be eaten cold and we were stocked with granola bars and bottles of water. The first sixty miles were spent in the Caicos Bank. The area, surrounded by reefs and islands, provides calm waters and made for a pleasant passage. We then exited into the Atlantic Ocean for a 90-mile crossing over open seas to the Dominican Republic. Seas were three to five feet and most of the trip was done in darkness.

Boating at night has its challenges. Night travel is advantageous because the winds generally die down some at night, reducing the windswept waves riding on top of the swells. Night passage also allows mariners to leave in light and arrive in light, which is critical when entering or leaving unfamiliar ports. However, because it is dark, you cannot see the sea state and judge when the boat will be hitting the waves. The sea state is normally measured in seconds, which is the time between swells. Generally, we want 8 seconds or more between swells. Anything less makes for uncomfortable ride. Although John says we had an 8 second swell and seas were only three to five feet, I would beg to disagree. Maybe it is because I have a hard time staying awake late at night, or it may be because I do much better when I can be outside as we move along, but I did not enjoy my first overnight passage very much.

IMG_2964The first sight of the Dominican Republic with its gorgeous mountains.IMG_2969La Sirena entering the Dominican RepublicIMG_2975Ocean WorldIMG_2981The lovely pool at Ocean World.  I was asked to stop taking pictures at the pool because they didn’t have the cushions that usually surround it out just yet.  It was prettier with the cushions, but I still think it looked nice like this!IMG_2991IMG_2140The seal show from our boat

We arrived in Ocean World in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and immediately checked in with the Navy, Immigration, and Customs. Thankfully, the check in went smoothly for us and for Jake and Kirby. The officials were not the least bit interested in our thick file of records we keep for the dogs. We only stayed in Ocean World one night, but it was an interesting place. There is a marine park there, complete with dolphins, seals, and tigers (I’m not sure why they are included in a marine park), but other than seeing the seal show from the boat, we did not participate. There was a gorgeous pool at the hotel/casino there, and I did get to spend some quality time enjoying the water after the trip across the ocean.

We were able to spend a little time in the marina the next morning before we once again met with the Navy and Customs where we were issued a despacho that allowed us to travel to our next port of call in the Dominican Republic, Samana. This leg would also require an overnight passage to facilitate a daytime departure and arrival. We started at 2:00 PM on Monday, and arrived in Semana about 8:00 AM the following morning. This leg had us travel along the coastline, which makes for rougher conditions due to shallower water depth, wind, current, tides, and what is known as cape effect. Therefore, our ride would be far less comfortable than our previous overnight passage. It is the first time we have ever had chairs fall over, lamps fly off shelves, and constant banging inside cabinets as we traveled, even with our stabilizers turned on. Generally, it was miserable.

IMG_2213One of the infinity pools at Puerto Bahia, SamanaIMG_2218IMG_2209Beautiful water and grounds at the resortIMG_2221IMG_2204

In Samana we stayed in Puerto Bahia, a lovely resort with two infinity pools, lush landscaping, a beautiful lobby, and even a welcome event for cruisers. I made good use of both of the pools there. We also rented a car to tour the island; that turned in to quite an adventure of its own!

IMG_2144Following Wesley anywhere he took us!IMG_2149IMG_2150IMG_2165Driving in the Dominicah Republic is a bit wild.  They say if you are in an accident the driver is sent right to jail.  Thankfully, we didn’t find out if that was true.IMG_2167That’s Wesley in the gray striped shirt on the right.  He wasn’t happy until we got all the way into town.IMG_2169IMG_2171Lots of man hole covers seem to be missing in Las Terrenas.  This is how they are marked.  There are countless holes open like this with a palm tree branch stuck in them.  

The Dominican Republic is a direct opposite from the Bahamas. The Bahamas are rocky islands with little vegetation, but the Dominican Republic is lush, mountainous, and green. When we rented a car, I told John I would really like to get into the mountains as well as get to a beach. The excursions office at Puerto Bahia told us that Las Terrenas, a beach town, would be a nice place to visit when we were driving around, so we headed down one of the two roads that led to the area. When we were about half way there, a crowd of people in the street stopped us. A policeman who was there told us we could not continue along the road as it was closed. Hoping we could really keep going, we asked what was happening. Through broken English, we found out that there was a protest going on and that the road was shut, as it was very dangerous. A young man on a motorcycle approached us and asked where we were going. We told him we wanted to get to Las Terrenas. “No problem”, he said, “there is another way. Do you want a guide?” We told him that we would be fine, but he led us out of the road anyway. When we got to a turn off, he again asked if we would like a guide. A friend of his rode up on another motorcycle, and we were told this friend was a good guy and would guide us to our destination. Finally, after negotiating a cost of $20, we were on our way. In just minutes after accepting our guide, Wesley, we followed him onto a street that we would have never thought was traversable. All rock, dirt, mud, puddles, and steep hills, we traveled for close to an hour through the mountains and back roads of the Samana Peninsula. It was absolutely gorgeous, but we were not sure our rented Pathfinder was really up to the challenge. There was even one hill that took us three tries to make, backing up and getting a running start before we succeeded. When we finally reached our destination, we were very thankful to Wesley and we gave him an extra $5 for getting us there in one piece.

IMG_2174Our Pathfinder, on the right, after we made it to the beach.IMG_2175The view from the restaurant.IMG_2189IMG_2192Craig, La Sirena’s owner and captain, and our friend through these adventures.IMG_2197Craig and John at the restaurant

After our exciting drive, we decided to have lunch at a lovely little restaurant on the beach. The seafood was fresh and delicious and the shade, the cooling breeze and the turquoise water were relaxing and refreshing. It is a good thing we were refreshed because our ride back to the resort, on a lovely highway that traverses the mountains, was stressful. At the very beginning of the highway, the transmission went out on the rental car. We had no reverse and almost no forward. The 26 mile drive, through curves and up and down mountains, was slow, but we made it back to the resort where we parked the car sideways over a few parking places so the agent didn’t need to reverse out of a spot. John called the rental company and when they came to pick up the car they were very apologetic and offered him a good deal on another car for the next day. He thought we had done enough driving through the Dominican Republic, and refused the offer.

The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country and we would love to go back and spend more time on the way back. The people there are very friendly and helpful. At the marina in Samana there are boat boys who are ready to help you with anything you would like for a small tip. They also offer to do work on your boat for you while you are there. John had all of the stainless polished and some scraping, sanding, and refinishing of teak done for a price that was too good to pass up. We really hated to leave Puerto Bahia, but the time had come to prepare for our crossing to Puerto Rico.

We made our plans, determined the time to cross, prepared the boat, medicated the dogs and me, and got ready for another overnight. Ready for the dreaded next leg. The crossing of the Mona Passage.

To be continued……