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This post is a bit behind but an updated one will follow shortly!

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Approaching Ocean World. It needs that enormous breakwater to keep out the giant waves!

What a difference a few miles down the coast make. Three hours of early morning motoring brought us to Ocean World Marina, just West of Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic. Before leaving Luperon, we had to check out with the Navy (and theoretically Customs, but they let us off easy). That was a two-hour saga of disorganized bureaucracy, lots of waiting, and plenty of difficulty communicating. I did some provisioning in town wile Lee waiting with a uniformed navy officer for another man to get off his cell phone so the 3 of them could go out to Pirat for a mandatory check. The guy they were waiting for wandered in and out of town, talked on his phone, hung out with his friends, and just blew off the task at hand.

We had already waited almost an hour up at the navy building while people tried to fill out our paperwork and find the right person to stamp and sign the forms. It was comical and frustrating. Lee and the officials still hadn’t gone out to the boat when I returned with my groceries. I ended up waiting on the dock while the three of them went out in our dinghy since four people seemed like too many.

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Get us out of here! Lee rowed back to the boat when we returned from Santiago. We had left the dinghy sans engine so as not to tempt thieves.

That was the last straw for us when it came to Luperon. Between the dirty water, bizarre atmosphere in town, difficulty accomplishing anything, and abundance of cruisers we could not relate to, we’d had enough. Our cruising friends seemed the feel the same way. They left that night for Samana and we left our mooring at daylight the next morning.

Thus began our first experience “playing the night lee” as our favorite cruising guidebook likes to say. The idea is that the howling 20+ knot trade winds subside at night in Hispaniola’s shadow. This calm period generally starts sometime from sunset to midnight and ends around 9am (from our observations in Luperon). We left there around 6am for the 15 mile trip East to Ocean World Marina. Lee expected a little wind that might allow us to sail close hauled but there was nothing. We motored through choppy swells that instantly sent me below to sleep off my seasickness for the rest of the trip.

It’s a good thing we tried that little hop in the night lee because we found out we don’t like sailing like that, mostly because it’s not sailing. It isn’t arrogance or inexperience that makes Lee and I think we can beat into the trades down the north coast of the DR – it’s practicality and desire for enjoyment. Why would we want to waste diesel motoring through the chop when we and our boat are perfectly capable of sailing? Sure, to sail this coast we’d make long tacks offshore to find some calmer conditions but that’s a whole lot better than going a shorter distance with nothing but the roar of the engine and the deafening bang of our hull slamming down onto waves.

Okay, that’s the end of my sailing rant…for now. The conclusion, for Lee and I, is that we’d rather seek out conditions we enjoy and sail instead of motoring like frightened puppies (sorry, I said I was done ranting). Another conclusions we’ve come to in recent weeks, is that we really like the rhythm of long passages followed by longish layovers in a place until we’re ready to move on. As painful as it seemed at first, the overnight sails from Rum Cay and Mayaguana were actually kinda nice. They were certainly satisfying and I’m proud of all the miles we put under our keel. Those passages made Luperon seem like paradise for a while and made it much easier to leave since we’d had our fill of the place after a week.

Now we’re plotting the leg to Puerto Rico. At first we though we’d hop down the coast to Samana from here after a couple nights at Ocean World. Then Lee thought he spotted a weather window that could take us all the way to Puerto Rico from here. It would at least make the Mona passage (an infamous jump between the DR and PR) doable. We also found we needed more time in the marina to accomplish everything we wanted to do here. There’s laundry, scrubbing the deck, generally washing everything we can on the boat, fixing the dinghy, making phone calls, provisioning in Puerto Plata…the list could go on for much longer.

Here we are spending a third night at Ocean World. It’s an odd place with an aquarium/dolphin show, water park type thing, casino, restaurant, and gigantic mega-yacht marina. At first it looked like the place might be deserted but there are actually a few people at the aquarium and the casino-front pool. In our part of the marina, there are a few other sailboats. A group of three Dutch boats is on their way North. Lee and I have been alternating periods of hard work with time glued to our computers in the lobby of the marina office (the wifi isn’t working on the docks).

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Papaya with lime juice and plain yogurt, my sultry new obsession.

Right now it looks like we’ll leave today for Puerto Rico. The Mona passage awaits. The trade winds and seas are ready to prove us wrong about sailing this coast but we are hoping for a couple days of good sailing. My fruit supply is replenished with mangoes, papayas, bananas, plantains, some tropical fruit that starts with “z”, a pineapple, and a cantaloupe. I have vegetables like chayote, broccoli, carrots, radishes, and peppers are stashed away too. Pirat is spic and span, tightened down, lubed up, and ready to go!

Posted May 2, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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