Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Dominican Republic - The land of baseball and merengue
Luperon - 28 December 2006 to 4 January 2007 - (19.53.9N-70.57.2W)
We entered Luperon early morning and found what we thought a suitable anchorage as marked in our guide. For some reason the authorities didn't like it and after their visit on board we had to move.
This is the first time we arrive to a place where authorities come on board just to tell you about all the check in offices you need to visit. But our guide did mention this and we knew exactly what needed to be done. We re-anchored and made them happy.
Two hours later Oscar was best friend with all the authorities after mentioning we came to this island to visit the land of the best baseball players in the world. Next thing we know, we are seated in a local baseball game, Oscar calling the strikes, with a local boy who had just signed a huge contract as a pitcher in an American league team.
The true life of Dominican culture is baseball. Much more than a national pastime, baseball is a major source of national pride and identity. In fact, almost 40 percent of players in the U.S. Major League Baseball and minor leagues come from Latin America- with most of those coming from the Dominican Republic. Some of their most famous Dominican players include Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Sammy Sosa.
Luperon is a small rural town, with little markets, restaurants and bus services to larger cities like Puerto Plata or Santiago. There is a restaurant and pub, owned by a former cruiser that takes care of many of your cruising needs, including laundry services with a drier (all other laundry services we saw depend on the weather to dry your clothes).
The people is simple and very welcoming, they do love music, it is impossible to walk on the streets without merengue coming from somewhere around. There are different types of taxi services, you can take the back seat in a motoconcho (motorbike), or share a very old car with about 9 other people, (the car built to fit 5 people at the most ....)
Take a nap and wait the arrival of the Port Captain. But if you want to get going, dinghy in to the Comandáncia with your papers.
After processing by the Port Captain see Customs, Immigration, Ports Authority, etc. in the blue building at the foot of the government dock.
From Bruce Van Sant's Guide:
If you want to travel longer distances, there are bus services, small vans to Puerto Plata or Santiago and big buses to Santo Domingo. We experienced both of them, having fun along the way even when the music is always loud and the number of people they fit is always double the capacity. But they are always good humored and you just need to go with the flow, even when a live chicken is produced just under your nose, while the lady carrying the chicken fights with the bus driver that insists live stock is not allowed on the bus or when it pours rain on your head and they insist it only rains inside the bus when it rains outside.
We went on a day trip to Santiago to attend a baseball game and experience the atmosphere, it was a fantastic day. A really nice guy helped us to choose excellent seats in the stadium and then took us for a car ride in the city to show us around. We found the Dominican people very easy going and really proud of their cities and heritage.
The docks at Luperon
A day trip to Santiago
We’ve heard there is no place more fun in the Caribbean than Santo Domingo on New Year's Eve. So we decided to leave Zenitude at the care of one of the many sailboats’ caretakers in Luperon and took a bus to Santo Domingo to spend New Year’s Eve there.
We booked a hotel close to the Malecon and later at night made our way there with our champagne bottle to celebrate the coming year under the stars.
Joining the thousands of merrymakers that gather along the Malecon along this sea-bordering boulevard with lots of bands blast merengue and other music throughout the night was fun.
The Malecon at nigth, above, and during the day, below, January first.
At midnight, we opened our bottle and while fireworks exploded we commemorated the New Year away from home but in a merry way. Next day we did a bit of sightseeing before returning to Zenitude.
Back in Luperon, we are told Zenitude went wondering around during a rough 30 knot wind day. She didn't hit anybody and went to rest close to the mangroves. Our boat caretaker in charge rescued her and re-anchor again. What a horrible surprise, we couldn't wait to see how she was. We found her anchored close to where we left her, the deck was a mess, ropes and mud everywhere, our caretaker nowhere to be found, it was hard to get the whole story but we found her standing with 3 anchors, no kidding, not 1 anchor as we left her, or 2 just in case, but 3 just to make sure! The amazing thing was, we didn't even know we had this third anchor on board!
Next day, when we finally found our boat caretaker we thank him and convince him with some incentive to help us recover the 2 extra anchors. We were back with 1 anchor, this time we wouldn't leave Zenitude for long until it was time to say farewell to Luperon.
Puerto Escondido - Sailing at night along the north coast - 4 to 5 January 2007 - (19.20.1N-69.16.0W)
We departed Luperon late in the afternoon to be able to leave with enough light but as close to sunset as possible waiting for the winds to calm down. Following Bruce Van Sant's guide we are planning to do all the easting in this part of the world at night, when the catabatic winds coming from the land neutralize the trade winds.
As expected the beginning of trip was rough but as the night came winds calmed down and the trip was good. We were doing good timing and decided to continue on. When morning came and the sun started rising high in the skies the trades picked up again and conditions got very rough indeed. Finally, at about 1.00 in the afternoon we entered Puerto Escondido to hide from the head winds that had reached 25 knots.
Puerto Escondido is a nice protected anchorage and we were able to rest while waiting for the night to continue on our way to Bahia Samana.
Bahia de Samana - Waiting for weather to cross the Mona Passage - 6 to 8 January 2007 - (19.11.9N-69.19.6W)
Leaving Puerto Escondido at 1.00 AM was quite an experience. Mr. Van Sant's guide recommends to sail very close to the coast without being intimidated by the huge wall of rocks that form the coast. It is quite deep and very protected from the winds, we followed thru and soon were out at sea. Winds were very light, however seas were high. We needed to do just 34 miles and had to slow down to be able to enter the bahia with day light.
By 7.30 in the morning we were at anchor. Here we had to deal with the authorities again and were able to get fuel to replenish our tanks after all the motoring from Luperon.
We spent another day in Samana waiting for Chris Parker's advice on good conditions on the feared Mona Passage, apparently we are being lucky, he forecasted ideal conditions if we leave tomorrow, just around sunset
Bahia de Samana