Monday 7 March – Sunday 20 March
Wow 2 weeks of catching up to do !!! We left Ocean World Puerto Plata at 11 am for an overnight trip down around the coast to Samana. We had the wind almost right on the nose and confused 6 foot swells making for a long bouncy night. We have been in worse conditions but this time for some reason when a wave would bury the bow water would leak thru the 4 front hatches into the forward head & state room!!! What a mess !!! We arrived at the entrance to Samana Bay just before sunrise so circled around for about 30 minutes so we could have better lighting going in. It is a pretty open, deep, and easy entrance BUT having light to be able to see is always preferred, especially with the LITTLE unlit fishing boats reported to be in the area. We are at the fuel dock of Puerto Bahia marina by 8 am. After getting into our slip, with water at a flat rate of $3.50 a day Steve scrubs down the the deck and I tackle cleaning the salt water mess from down below. Spend the afternoon checking out the beautiful grounds of the marina and residential property, what a place - we had a hard time deciding which pool to relax by. Later we get cleaned up & “dressed” up and enjoy a wonderful dinner at the Cafe Del Mar restaurant with Tammey & Joe. Tuesday we get a ride out of the complex to the main road and walk the 30 min. into Samana. Seeing the sights along the way, and seeing the 2 sides of the town – the local side and the tourist section where they bring cruise ship passengers to. Get a taxi ride back to the marina making plans to go spend a couple of days at the national park Los Haitises across the bay. One thing we have become used to is that plans change VERY fast. As Steve & Joe are listening to Chris Parker's weather report and getting weather updates, it is looking like a weather window to cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico is right then, or we would have to wait 10 to 14 days before it calms down again. Tammey & Joe are on a smaller boat and Tammey gets sea sick so they are looking for as calm a crossing as possible. There are places we all want to see in the DR but we decide to forgo them and take the weather window to go to Puerto Rico. We tell the marina we will be leaving and start to get ready as we wait for the navy to come give us our departure papers. In the DR you have to have departure papers from each port $10 per person from the navy (just one time check in fee for the boat). By noon we are underway heading east out of Samana Bay. As we are leaving we see one of the whale watching boats so slow down and we finally get to see a whale up close. He / she ?? did not jump out of the water like I was hoping for but we did get to see them break the surface several times. Just a small glimpse at these magnificent creatures made me feel a little better at leaving the DR so soon. That and the fact that we had beautiful calm weather and seas, motor sailing out of the bay, by 5 as the sun starts to set we are able to just sail at 8 to 9 knots until 2 in the morning when the light winds die altogether. We are anchored in Mayaguez harbor, dinghy out and ready to check in by 8, they are not set up for boaters to anchor there to check in, they prefer you go straight to Boqueron & get a taxi to go to the customs office in town. But this is right on our way to Boqueron and easier for us to stop & check in. They provide a phone # to expedite the check in process but we had trouble connecting, then there is no dinghy dock near by without paying a $25 docking fee. But Steve finds a place to land the dinghy (dirty beach) and walks the ¾ mile to the gated complex finds someone to let him in and then finds someone to check him in. It takes a while but he gets it done by 11 just as Tammera Sue comes into the harbor. Passing along the check in info as we leave, they have better luck with the phone # and their check in went much quicker. We are on our way down to Boqueron with Tammera Sue shortly behind us.
Boqueron is a neat little beach community with a great protected bay for anchoring in. Glad to be settled in relaxing for the evening to get a good nights rest, the LOUD music from shore did not even keep us awake . We also see a familiar boat Toucan Dream, Chris & Robin Blair fellow members of our boating club TMCA from the Kemah area. We had met them briefly in Ft. Pierce Fl after crossing paths in the Abacos and had been following their blog along very similar routes so we were glad to be able to meet up with them again. Saturday we spend the day with Tammey & Joe checking out the town, meeting Chris & Robin and Charlene & Bill from S/V RSVP for happy hour drinks at Shamar one of the more popular of the many watering holes in town. The beautiful beach next to town brings people from all over PR to spend the weekend starting on Wednesday night. Mornings all you can hear are the roosters but later in the day until 2-3 in the morning everyone on the beach and all the different bars & restaurants are trying to compete with music. Monday we rent a car with Tammey & Joe and go to the mountains. Rte 119 and 120 leading to and away from the town of Maricao are two of the most narrow and curvy roads we have ever been on. In true cruiser fashion we scavenge a bamboo stick from one of the many bamboo groves we drive by to become a walking stick for Alice. Joe's leather-man sawtooth blade cuts through the bamboo with a bit of elbow grease to fit it into the trunk of the car. The beautiful views and trees along the way make this a great side trip and a way to see more than our usual waterfront vistas. The Stone tower located at an altitude of 2900 ft gives us a great panoramic view of the area all the way to the southern coast line. A stop at San German, the 2nd oldest town in Puerto Rico, on the way back down to check out a couple of old churches. Then to wind down the day a stop at the mall with a Wall Mart then the grocery store loading up the car on the way back to Boqueron. We learned a lot of places are closed on Monday & Tuesday which was not so great sight seeing but we were sure glad when we could pull right up in front of the dinghy dock to unload the car. Tuesday we left to sail down to one of 3 different anchorages we had read about a short distance down around the coast. We had a great sail but with the onshore winds none of them looked very settled so we sailed back to Boqueron and re-anchored there for another night. With the right conditions the southern coast of PR is full of anchorages just a short trip away. Wednesday we leave early to head out all the way to La Parguera, a whole 20 miles away skipping the 3 anchorages in between that we looked at the day before, arriving by 11 am. Go into town for lunch and Steve & I stop by a dive shop where we sign up to do a dive on the famous reef wall on Thursday morning. Wednesday night we get our hamburger fix satisfied on board Tammera Sue for dinner. Thursday we do our dives in the am, Steve has not had anyone question his level of certification since Emerald Bay. 1st dive was a good one with great visibility but the 2nd location visibility was not the best, and since I went down 1st to have time to equalize I started to get low on air first. Steve came back up with me thru the safety stop just in case but I still had a couple breaths of air left after surfacing. Back to shore and one of the dive masters shows us where Phosphorescent Bay is, too far to go by dinghy at night, so look into one of the many tour boats that go over there. Phosphorescent Bay has millions of luminescent microscopic plankton that light up when the water is disturbed. On the way back to the boat we see that Charlene and Bill on S/V RSVP have come into the inner harbor and anchored so we stop by to visit. Tammey & Joe on their way into town stop by also and we all decide it would be worth the $6 boat ride over to check it out later at 8 in the evening. We were going to go into town early with Tammey & Joe for dinner but the evening shower lasted a lot longer than usual and we all dined on our our boats. Thought we were going to get rained out but at 7:30 it finally stopped raining so we dingy-ed in. It was a cool boat ride over but we were disappointed with the phosphorescence -- we had seen better on some of our moonless overnight passages. Friday morning Tammera Sue heads out early as we defrost the freezer, and Steve smooths down a bamboo walking stick he scavenged for me along our mountain drive where there were lots of bamboo thickets. We finish up a few things around the boat and head out after lunch. Another short motor sail and we are anchored just east of Guanica near a small chain of Islands, one is nicknamed Gilligan’s Island. Some locals who used the Island thought it looked like the 1970's TV show Island, and a fisherman looked like the Gilligan actor so the nickname has stuck. It is now a state park and we fail to see the resemblance but it is another great anchorage to enjoy as we hop along the southern coast of PR. Dinner on board Ocean Star with Tammey & Joe after watching the sun setting in the west as the moon is rising in the east. Saturday we have a lazy morning, then an inside boat project and next thing we know it's almost noon. Joe has been busy cleaning the bottom of their boat and RSVP has arrived at the anchorage so we make plans to go into “town” for lunch around 1 which gives Steve a little time to start cleaning the bottom of our boat. We all go in to the little San Jacinto restaurant by the dinghy dock & ferry dock, as it is 1 of 2 choices in the area. Have a nice lunch hanging out and talking. Next go for a little walk to work off lunch. Not much in this area by the anchorage, just a residential neighborhood and a resort, so we take a walk to the hotel & walk along the beach. Back to the boats, Steve finishes cleaning the bottom while I clean out one of the Lazarettes and the swim platform locker. Watch another beautiful sunset followed by a beautiful full moon rise, life is good in Paradise. Sunday we leave the anchorage at 8 just behind RSVP, Tammera Sue is already underway we are all heading to Ponce (PONE-say) another short 3 hour hop down the coast. The anchorage is a little tricky as the harbor is 25-30 feet deep so we have to let out a lot of scope on the anchor rode, so we need a lot of swing room which between the boats already there and the mooring balls proves to be challenging. We find a place a little further out, passing a dock that we are not sure if it is commercial or what, just hoping if it is we will not be in any ones way. We find out later it is an OLD commercial dock that is now free for boaters to use. After finally getting the anchor set we meet Tammey & Joe in at the marina to ask about their facilities, turns out the office is closed so we could have done like RSVP and just pulled into a slip. Talk to Chris from Toucan Dream who has been here a couple of days to find out that the marina and area are not as convenient to things as we thought. Walk over to the Boardwalk to stretch our legs stopping for a few drinks. Monday we will make a few phone calls to see about getting some boat work done then decide whether to stay here or go to Salinas and rent a car and do some more Island touring.
link to pictures; https://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/ToPuertoRico?feat=directlink
These pictures from Samana were posted to FB, so to some they may be duplicates;