DR Heading West
Saturday 6 April – Saturday 13 April
We depart our anchorage in Salinas at 10 Saturday morning, Ultra had already left at 8:30. We have a slow rolly sail, winds are light and seas have good long rollers but we are able to sail. By 2 we finally put the motor on for the last hour and are anchored by 3 next to Ultra in the small basin at Barahona. As we are anchoring we hear a guy yelling over at Ultra, who are doing their best to ignore him. We are pretty sure he is one of the “officials” we need to check in with but he just needs to wait a few minutes to let us get anchored, settled in and put the dinghies down. At one point he looks like he is telling us to bring the big boats up to this “dock” which neither of us would fit into. By 3:30 Bill & JoAnne come by to pick up Steve and they go over to check in. The guy in the red pants that had been yelling to us is with immigration and he and 2 other officials along with a local that speaks better English all go over to Ultra. Yes it was a full dinghy. Ultra gets cleared in then they come to our boat to clear us in. We let them know we need our international despacho to leave the country, as this is the last port to do that at. We need to go to the main office to get our passports stamped. Bill drops off all 3 customs guys at the nearby dock, and comes back to our boat with JoAnne & the the interpreter to pick up Steve & I. We go over to the government dock, which is a big concrete dock NOT made for dinghies. The locals are looking at us like it's OK to leave your dinghy here, but they don't understand that it would shred the dinghy. So we climb out using a fishing boat and Bill takes the dinghy down to another vessel tied up to ask the captain if we could tie to his boat. It is a research vessel exploring sunken ships and he kindly says yes. Next we pile 6 people into a tiny car to go to the immigration office. Get our passports stamped and will have our despacho the following morning. Car ride back towards the docks we see some stores are open so get out and stock up on a few more provisions. Dinner on Ocean Star that evening.
Sunday Bill, JoAnne & Steve go over to the nearby dock to get our despacho but learn via the translator they have to go to the main office. They go back over to the government dock and tie up to the research vessel again and this time walk to the immigration office. Some how the walk up was shorter than the car ride the day before. Back to the boats and we are cleared to leave the DR even though we have several more stops to make. We all go over to Ultra and spend the afternoon planing and making routes for our upcoming passages, then finish with dinner on Ultra. Bill brings us back to our boat (our dinghy is still raised up on the arch) and we climb aboard, as Steve is unlocking the companion way I hear some one talking. It is in Spanish so I am looking around in the water for either someone swimming or in a boat. Then I see a young man sitting down behind our starboard side steering wheel, and yell to Steve that someone is on our boat. He yells at the guy, asking what are you doing. I yell for Bill to come back with the dinghy. Not sure what he wanted, he was NOT threatening if anything he was afraid of us and rightly so. The boat had been locked up and it did not appear that he even tried to get in, all the items in the cockpit (shoes, cushions, towels) were not moved. You could see the blue paint from the bottom of our boat that had come off on his feet and the paint was just by the aft section where he was crouched down. Think that is why he started talking, to let us know he was there. He tried to say something in Spanish about home but we did not understand and did not want any part of whatever he thought he was doing. Bill took him to the near by shore even though he wanted to go a little further, but Bill was not going for that. Guess we will now also keep a look out for stowaways.
Monday we are underway to Isla Beata by 7:30, Ultra having departed earlier, we both have great sails over. Anchored by 3 off a beautiful beach in turquoise water with a little fishing camp and a Marina de Guerra outpost. Just relax on the boats that evening and enjoy the quiet, and a sky full of stars at night. Tuesday after lunch we go “check in” just stop by the guard house to let him know we have our papers. They are making soup with an enormous lobster, easily 5 lbs, and allow us to take some photos. We walk the beach in both directions when it ends it goes to jagged iron rock, which we walk along for a while also. The NE end being a lot more jagged. Back to the boats to get our snorkeling gear and head over to the headland to snorkel and explore some caves. After the hot walk the cool clear water feels wonderful. Back to the boats to clean off and watch another beautiful sunset followed by dinner on Ocean Star.
Wednesday underway by 11:30, Ultra left at 10, to head over to Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of eagles). We have a great sail over with full sails doing 8.5 to 9.5 knots downwind. With a lunch stop along the way in a bay that looked like it might be good for snorkeling BUT was NOT good anchoring as holding was terrible. On to Bahia de las Aguilas where at 4 PM we find GREAT holding in sand & turtle grass (no turtles or conch) and a BEAUTIFUL ISLOLATED beach ! One of those extraordinary rare spots that you just imagine what sailing is all about. Breath taking even to us after 3+ years of sailing and anchoring in many beautiful spots. Sunset and dinner on Ultra as we admire our surroundings.
Thursday late morning JoAnne & I go in to walk the beach. Run into a couple of locals who speak English and are so friendly and happy and surprised to see us. This is even a remote spot for locals, who come from Barahona about 70 miles away by land. Back to boats at 1:30 for a swim & lunch. Bill & JoAnne go out in the dinghy to see if there is any good snorkeling, but just grass. Stop back at our boat for an afternoon drink then a boat of fishermen come by to sell us lobster. The negotiation on price went on for some time with some pretty funny interpretation before we finally settled on an agreed price. We had them break off the heads so they could keep them and they cleaned the tails for us also. Dinner on Ultra of grilled lobster tails & Steve made carrots & rice & a cucumber salad to go with it.
Friday underway at 8:30 to go 5 miles to Cabo Rojo to see if we can get last minute internet, NOT a very pretty anchorage, an Alcoa mine creating a lot of dirt in the air. We worked our way in to anchor up wind of this and the beach is supposed to be pretty but with the industry around it no longer is. That and as I was up on the bow coming in watching for sand to anchor in I saw a LOT of jelly fish !!!!! We are anchored by 10:30 and YES we have internet.
We were just going to stop for a few hours and rest before doing our overnight to Ile A Vache. Ultra left at 2:30 then an hour later they called and said they were coming back. A wind gust of 35 K broke their main sail baton, and when they got in discovered the main sail was pulling away from the sail slugs. These downwind runs can be hard on a rig also. They got things repaired and we all had a restful night changing plans to depart the following day on Saturday.