The Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos (March 12 – March 28, 2017)

The Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos (March 12 – March 28, 2017)

When cruising, sometimes you hurry and sometimes you wait. Flexibility and adaptability are the keys to the life we lead. As far as I am concerned, as long as I have a beach or a pool, a good book, and a few other cruisers to chat with, I am pretty much content. Good Wi-Fi makes life even better, especially for checking the weather that determines our progress. Oh, and a drinkable water supply in a marina and a nearby grocery store help too!

SamanaThe infinity pool at Puerto BahiaIMG_6798Funny about that life jacket.  The guide said it was a law that we wore them on the tour boat.  However, the boat’s engine broke down and they sent out a new boat for us.  We were told to leave our life jackets behind and, when on the the new boat, we noticed we were not required to have life jackets.  When we asked about the difference we were told that the captain of the new boat forgot to bring them.  We traveled for the rest of the day with no life preservers while the broken boat returned to shore with plenty.  That’s life in the DR.IMG_6800Some scenes from Los Haities National Park in Samana, DRIMG_6801IMG_6817A male Magnificent Frigate bird during breeding season.IMG_6835The female Magnificent Frigates.IMG_6824IMG_6841IMG_6852Our guide, CarlosIMG_6869IMG_6871IMG_6874IMG_6880IMG_6893IMG_6917One of the caves in the parkIMG_6928IMG_6934IMG_6939Cave drawings.

IMG_6957The strangest pina colada ever.  It had a whole pineapple crushed into the drink.IMG_6958That’s a lot of chairs at the beach on Cayo Laventado.IMG_6959John demonstrating how to relax a little.IMG_6961Leaving CayLaventado.IMG_6963

After spending more than a week in the lovely Cap Cana resort near Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, the winds and waves were finally favorable for us to leave on March 12th, for our next stop at Puerto Bahia in Samana, also in the DR. The twelve-hour day trip was a comfortable and easy ride and we were happy we waited for such good conditions. We stayed at this beautiful spot on our way south and I was more than happy to once again visit the gorgeous infinity pool on the grounds. However, a big reason to return to Samana was to see the Los Haities National Park, which we did not have time for previously. Although this park must be reached by water and has a lovely anchorage, we decided to play tourist for the day; therefore, we took a cab to the city and boarded a fast boat along with the other tourists for a fun trip to the park and the nearby island, Cayo Lavantado. It was a wonderful day and we were happy that our knowledgeable and fun tour guide, Carlos, guided us through the sights.

Although I wouldn’t have minded staying at Puerto Bahia longer, the weather dictated that it was time to leave for Ocean World in Puerto Plata, DR on March 15th. This was to be the first of the overnight trips we would do on our return trip to the states. As you may remember, we really didn’t like traveling through the night on our way south and none of the trips we did at that time were in especially calm seas. I worried again, put on a patch to quell as much seasickness as possible, and we set off for the seventeen and one-half hour trip to our next stop. To clarify why we would go so far at a time, the coast of the Dominican Republic does not have good anchorages and the distance between ports is long. We always need to leave a port in daylight and arrive at the next port in daylight. A trip of the length of Samana to Ocean World, therefore, requires an overnight voyage. A lot of cruisers don’t mind continuing through the night, but I really have trouble staying awake during my normal sleeping hours and John gets the brunt of the trip placed on him. I believe I only stayed at the helm for a couple of hours during the whole time, but John was a great sport about it and, aside from a slightly rough sea in the beginning, we had a good ride to Ocean World overall.

Ocean World is an unusual place that is made up of a marine theme park, a casino, a couple of restaurants, a timeshare, and a beautiful pool. Last time we were there we were able to use the pool as long as we purchased a drink from the bar. This time I was told that new owners took over and the pool could only be used if I paid $30 a day per person. Of course I was not going to pay that fee, so my opinion of the marina decreased quite a bit. I did get to go to the grocery store in town, though, as the store sends a car to pick up cruisers. My ride turned out to be quite a tour of Puerto Plata as the driver, who spoke only Spanish, told me we needed to stop by his house; once there I had to meet his son and see his granddaughter. He dropped me off at the store and then picked me up a half hour later. From there we stopped at several other places where he picked up items and dropped them off along the way. Motorcycles are tremendously popular in the DR and don’t seem very safe. During our drive we saw a crash between two of the vehicles, but everyone was all right. I have to say that I wondered what I got myself into for a while, but I did get to see a lot of the town and I arrived back safely to the marina a couple of hours after leaving.

banks1Along the Caicos Bankbanks2

John took this shot of his view from the helm.

We left the Dominican Republic from Ocean World on March 19th for a twenty-four and one-half hour crossing to the Turks and Caicos. Once again we traveled overnight, but it was a very easy crossing and, with John doing all but three and one-half hours of the work, I got plenty of rest and relaxation. After the one hundred and ten mile Atlantic Ocean crossing we arrived in the Caicos Bank with forty miles more to go. There I was back on the bow in the sunlight enjoying the beautiful sight (I always stay inside when it is dark out). This is an area that is calm and lovely, stretching about forty miles in length and twenty miles in width. It is full of reefs, preventing a straight course; the water is shallow, at about eight feet deep, and crystal clear turquoise blue. The blue sky is so clear and the color so deep that it almost looks violet and I am reminded that so many colors in nature blend in spectacular ways.

In Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, we docked at South Side Marina, a friendly little spot where we stayed almost a year ago now. The owner, Bob, guided us in by radio, as the entrance is very tricky and narrow. In fact, since we have been here we have watched a few others run aground and be stuck right outside the channel. Safely tied up we soon filled the boat with water again. None of the water at marinas is safe to drink in the Dominican Republic and, although we carry about 400 gallons of water on AfterMath, it took us a long time to get from Puerto Rico where we filled up last. We use our water in our tanks for drinking as well as everything else, so we did not want to contaminate it with the water that was not safe. This meant that, as time went on, we started showering at the marinas and I stopped doing laundry aboard. It was nice to know that we could fill up our tanks again and have plenty of water again.

IMG_6966At the fish fry.IMG_6970IMG_6972Note that this gentleman is playing a rusty saw.IMG_6976

Wednesday night at South Side Marina is barbeque and potluck dinner night, so we joined in and enjoyed the company of other cruisers. On Thursday night we attended the local fish fry at a nearby beach; it is a loud and crowded event that is more like a street fair than anything else. We enjoyed the food and the music and the company we had with other cruisers we met at the marina.

IMG_6981The tidal lake across the street from the marina.  There is a gentleman out here on the right fishing for bonefish.IMG_6983The view from Bob’s Bar.IMG_6990Some views from the hill next to the marina.IMG_6992IMG_7001IMG_7007IMG_7015IMG_7016IMG_7017IMG_7021IMG_7024A few shots taken from the path around the marina.IMG_7032IMG_7034IMG_7038IMG_7048IMG_7057

While again waiting for good weather, we have had fun visiting with others, taking a walk to the tidal lake across the street from the marina, and taking a look at the spectacular view from the hill next to us. Tomorrow we will leave South Side and anchor at Sapodilla Bay in preparation for our 60-mile trip that will bring us back to the Bahamas. We are anxious to get back, of course, but I have to admit that I am starting to realize I will miss these amazing places we have been visiting over the past year in the Caribbean.

Today I end with this quote:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. ~ Henry David Thoreau

 This is where we are today:


The Mona Passage and Cap Cana (February 25 to March 11, 2017)

The Mona Passage and Cap Cana (February 25 to March 11, 2017)

The day finally arrived: the day for the Dreaded Mona Passage. We moved AfterMath away from the dock on Saturday, February 25th and anchored just outside the marina so we wouldn’t have to deal with dock lines or worry about waking others who were sleeping when we started our engines early Sunday morning. I was prepared with a scopolamine patch stuck behind my ear, medication that helps prevent seasickness. Every item, both inside and outside the boat, that could move when a wave hit was secured, put in a cabinet, placed down on the floor, and otherwise tied up. I even stowed my cameras because I was sure I wouldn’t be using them for this leg of the trip. We had a cup of coffee as we waited for enough light to pick our way out of the bay, and then we entered it: The Dreaded Mona Passage. But then there was nothing. No waves, no wind, not even a whitecap for almost the whole way across. While I knew John would pick a great day, you just never know on this dangerous stretch of water, and I had myself all worked up for nothing at all. I sat outside and read for the entire eleven hours it took us to make our way from Puerto Real in Puerto Rico to Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. The weather was perfect, as was the sea, and one more passage going north and west proved to be much kinder than going south and east.

We arrived at Cap Cana in the late afternoon and were met by the friendly dockhands and dock master there. As soon as we were tied up, Frank, the dock master asked me if I would put Kirby on a leash so he could take him for a little walk. Of course I obliged and Kirby and Frank had a great time while John and I got ready for the visit of the Customs and Immigration people. In the Dominican Republic, before you leave the boat, a group of varying numbers shows up and boards your boat. We had a party of five that included Customs, Immigration, Department of Agriculture, the Navy, and the Port Captain. Everyone had their papers to check and their fees to charge, of course. Also, it is expected that tips should be given to all who “visit”.

IMG_6785The beaches at Cap CanaIMG_6786IMG_6787IMG_6783IMG_6790A pool at the beachIMG_6771The lovely scenery and pools around Cap CanaIMG_6777IMG_6778IMG_6764At the marina.  AfterMath is over on the right.IMG_6768Most of the bikes around the marina are not locked, but this one is locked to an anchor.  Pretty creative for a marina bike!IMG_6756IMG_6762IMG_6726John and Kirby walking through the section known as the Fishing Village at Cap CanaIMG_6730IMG_6739IMG_6732

Cap Cana was easy to settle into. We were eager to walk around and explore on Monday morning and it wasn’t long until we realized that the marina is just a tiny part of this huge development that right now includes condos, schools, spas, five star hotels, restaurants, golf courses, beaches, an adventure park, and much more. It is a home base for fishing boats that seem to constantly bring in red snapper and huge mahi-mahi. The area is also famous for the excellent sailfish and marlin fishing and boats leave daily with tourists who want to try their hand at catching these sport fish.  What is currently on the property is just the beginning, however, as there is endless land still to be developed. For us, though, it quickly became obvious that we would be enjoying the area for a while as the waves for our next 80 mile leg were predicted to be in the 10 to 12 foot range for the foreseeable future.  Therefore, we adjusted our plans and knew we would stay in this safe marina for a couple of weeks. Although we know we need to keep moving, I was pretty happy visiting the beaches just about every day and enjoying the sun, the water, and a lot of good books on my Kindle. John, who is not quite the beach lover I am, even had to admit that these were ideal beaches to relax on, and he joined me on some of my afternoons by the sea.

IMG_6744At the beach in Bayahibe.IMG_6745IMG_6749IMG_6750IMG_6753The little restaurant we found on the beach before most of the crowd showed up.IMG_6754Our view from our lunch table.

Usually, when visiting a country, we either take a tour or rent a car. Here, in the Dominican Republic, we decided a car would be advantageous as we could get a few errands done such as grocery shopping and finding a hardware store in addition to doing some sightseeing. We spent several hours just driving around Cap Cana one afternoon and then, the following day, we took a drive to Bayahibe, a small town that used to be a fishing village, but now is the home to many big and beautiful resorts. We found a public beach and enjoyed strolling around before having a lovely lunch in a restaurant on the beach. Of course, it is always entertaining to order in a country that speaks very limited English. My rusty Spanish worked pretty well, but we did laugh that we ordered two different items, mine three hundred pesos less than John’s, but we both got the same exact lunch. The waitress called them by different names as she set them down, and I only had to pay 600 pesos for mine while John’s was 900. It was delicious though, and just another part of the adventure.

So, tomorrow we leave Cap Cana and go to Samana. There we hope to see some of the humpback whales that enter the bay for breeding season and we will spend a few days in a national park we missed on our way south. Again, the weather doesn’t look perfect, so I will stick on a patch and hope for the best. But no matter what, we know how fortunate we are to be healthy and able to live this dream of ours. We know each day is a gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed. We send special love to a very dear friend who is going through some tough health issues now. Be brave, we miss you and love you.

Here is where we are today:

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