South Coast of DR continued
Saturday 30 March – Friday 5 April
Saturday the skies have cleared and after a hectic early morning JoAnne & Bill & Steve & I catch a ride with the marine staff to first go by a auto part store. Bill needs some spare parts for his hydraulic steering system, and knows they will be hard to find. No luck at the auto store, so we get dropped off at the “bus station” to get the bus to town. We are going in to see the Zona Colonial, the historic section of the capital city Santo Domingo. The area is on the river and mixed in with all the buildings from the 1500's is a living neighborhood, with great architecture along with homes and cafe's and parks. We are on the bus by 11 and 30 minutes later get dropped off, just a word about the “bus stations” there is NOT just one like back in the states. Depending on where you want to go and whether you want the express bus makes a big difference where you get on & off the bus. Luckily Raul from the marina dropped us off at the right spot and told the guy which bus we wanted. He also explained how to find the bus station (alley) for the trip back. We have a fun time exploring the old neighborhood and wind up hiring a guide for a few hours to do a walking tour & point out and explain some of the historic buildings. We wind up taking a taxi to the bus station and are glad we did as it was very hard to find the one going to Boca Chica. We get on the almost full bus and a few minutes later after loading on a few more people to standing room only we get underway back to the marina. We had explained to the conductor as he came by to collect our $70 Pecos ($1.75 US) that we wanted to go to the marina next to Boca Chica. As we got close we told him we wanted to get off but he kept hand signaling to us to wait. Well we passed the marina and got left off at the beach, not very far as we had walked this same area with Sean & Carrie the week before. I guess he thought he was doing us a favor by bringing us to the beach where the BIG party was. It was a fun thing to see as we walked back to the marina, the place was a mad house, just full of people in & out of the water here to enjoy the Easter holiday weekend.
Easter Sunday we have rain almost all day long. JoAnne & Bill come to our boat for dinner, even though they made most of the food as they were out on a mooring and we still had our dinghy tied off from the trip up. Even with the bad weather there were still people down on the beach, can't imagine what it would have been like if weather was good. We have a nice Easter dinner and start making plans for our journey west.
Monday, first priority is to find a place where Bill can get his parts for his steering system, so back into town to a place called Tony Rodamentos and they have the parts and are able to make the ones they did not have. A few other errands in town then stop at the grocery store on the way back. They have an Ole store (like a WalMart) and they give you a free ride back to the marina. Don't think they have ever seen 4 people buy so much. We tried to explain that we lived on a boat and would not have access to a store like that for a while, but I think they just thought we were having a big party. Back to the boats to find room to put things away. Tell the marina that we will need our despacho for the following morning as early as they can get it.
Tuesday morning, Steve washes down the deck of the boat while I wash some clothes, taking advantage of the free water. We get our despacho a little later than what we wanted and are underway by 9:30 to make the 60+ mile journey. Winds are on the beam BUT very light so we have to motor sail the whole way. We read that diesel was available in Salinas but did not think there was a place to pull the big boat up to a fuel dock so were concerned about getting fuel. So we decided to keep the motor running for 8 ½ hours as opposed to sailing for 16 to 17 hours and arriving at 3-4 AM and figure out the fuel situation when we got there. As we pass the point to turn into the bay at 5:30 there are still a few fishermen out with big long nets. There is also a huge fish farm in the middle of the entrance to the bay visible to us and also GPS coordinates listed in guide. The channel has markers that lead you further into the bay and towards the anchorage. We are anchored in front of the Salinas Hotel, although we did not realize it was the hotel at the time by 6 PM. Talk to Ultra who is about 1 ½ hours behind and will be arriving after dark to let them know about the fishermen and their nets, and to let them know we will have dinner waiting when they arrive. They have a slow ride into the bay and once thru the channel markers we guide them in with our spot light. Veggie pasta on Ocean Star once they are settled in.
Wednesday we all sleep in then we need to find the Marina de Guerra (Coast guard) to check in. We first dinghy over to one of 2 places that we thought could be the hotel to find out it was a private residence. YES it could have been a hotel, it had 3 boats tied to a dock with a bar on it, two more moored nearby, and a helicopter pad. But it was a private residence. Some people live large and well. Our 2nd stop was the right place and the Marina Guerra guy was on the dock waiting for us, along with a captain from another boat. JoAnne speaks a little Spanish and we learn that he wants to come out to our boats to check them. We also communicate that we need diesel fuel for our boats. We learn that we have to get a ride in someones truck to a gas station about 3 miles away. We do not have jerry cans on Ocean Star as we hold a lot of fuel and have always been able to get fuel at a dock. Guess things are changing as we move west ! Luckily Ultra as a lot of them :). We were all in our dinghy so the guard climbs in with us and we go first to Ultra. As JoAnne is showing the guard their boat Steve & Bill start emptying cans of fuel into their tank. Then we load up five 5 gallon cans into our dinghy and go to our boat to “fuel up”, with the guard to check out our boat. He just looked around, really just wants to see the boats. He even helped us fill our tanks, as five gallon cans are heavy. JoAnne & Bill come by in their dinghy with their 5 empty cans along with 2 for gas just as we are finishing up. We load our 5 empty cans, along with the guard back into our dinghy. He takes us down the shore to another dock where we unload all the cans and go meet Louie.
Louis is going to take us to get fuel so we load all the cans into the back of his little pick up, Steve, Joanne & Bill pile into the back, while I get in the front with all the back packs and Louis and off we go to the fuel station. Get all the cans refilled and back to the dock. The guard is still there & he and someone else come to help carry them all down the dock and reload the dinghies. The dock was also at a restaurant that Louis owns. By now it is 2 and we are all hungry so we go upstairs for lunch. We had noticed a strange looking “building” on the way in and on the cover of the menu is it's picture, it is the salt pond right down the road. So after lunch we walk down to check it out. It is still producing salt and we get to see this laborious process up close and personal, like a walk back in time. Back to Ultra to unload all the now full jerry cans. Then a trip into the hotel to buy a drink and get the wifi code. We tried to order rum punch, but even though the waiter spoke a little English he told us they only had Presidente light beer. We saw the bar with liquor bottles so not sure what that story was about, Steve & Bill got a beer, JoAnne a coke & me a water. Back to the boats for a quiet evening doing internet.
Thursday a beautiful sunny, windy day, too windy to go dinghy exploring. We relax on board using the internet connection while we still can. Downloading and Studying maps of the new places we will be heading to. Ultra served up a great Tex Mex dinner and we brought the margaritas. Followed by a fun game of hearts.
Friday the winds have calmed down a little so we take the dinghies over to the beach. Which is on a very narrow stretch of land with the bay on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other. The sand is is volcanic so not the pretty white sand we are use to, and not very good snorkeling, but it is always good to walk along the beach. We got to see some fishermen hauling in their nets and emptying out their catch before going back out to deploy the nets again. We are always dodging these boats and their nets but we have a lot of respect for them as it is another hard job that the locals do. We enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach before stopping at the Marina de Guerra to get our despacho to leave on Saturday.
Next stop Barahona, not sure if we will have internet there, and are very sure we will not have it at the next few stops along the south coast of DR. So it may be a few weeks before the next blog update. Wish for fair winds and calm seas.