Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ocean World to Samana

If talking about the weather is boring, then obsessing over it is torture. But we do what we have to do to travel safely and comfortably. At one point, though, the waiting and analyzing got so mentally irritating we were just about ready to cast off the lines and head out into anything to get the heck off the dock. We usually have a good time anywhere we go but the last week at Ocean World was pretty tough. We were done burning through cash, the pool was closed, the wind was relentless, the salt spray in the cockpit was making everything feel disgusting, and if we had to listen to the blaring sea lion show (which we had all memorized in English and Spanish) one more time someone was going to get cut. Compound that with the actual responsibility of planning our trip along the daunting (to us) north coast and, well, let's just say it wasn't the highlight of our travels so far. Thank goodness for our neighbors at OW, particularly Randal on Island Time; Lea and Roland on Victoria's Ghost; Vicki, Frank, Annika and Margaux on Lagom; and Lavonn on Cat's Meow.

Because of the concerns about drug and people trafficking, the customs requirements are pretty strict in the DR. Technically you're only supposed to have your boat in official ports of entry and when you want to leave you can only clear out to your next official port. Something like that. But there weren't any more official ports along the north coast and the next stop, Samana, was too far to make in one shot given the conditions. Regardless, our plan (as devised by others, most notably Bruce Van Sant) was to anchor in certain unofficial spots along the way to duck out of the winds that pipe up during the day and to rest. This also meant traveling at night to take advantage of the katabatic effect of the cool air sliding down the mountains and keeping the prevailing winds offshore until mid-morning.

It was a lot to think about, but overall, we had a comfortable, though tiring, trip and we're proud of how we operate as a team especially when we join forces to shout at the kids about waking someone up from a well deserved snooze. The best part was seeing this stunning coast from the water. It's really, really beautiful!  

We cleared out of Ocean World at 6AM and got out of the channel by 6:30. After watching those channel markers rock and roll for three weeks it was truly liberating to be past them and out on the seas again.  

Our first stop was Sosua which was only 15 miles from OW. But that gave us plenty of time to re-anchor 3 stinking times to avoid the coral. It's a busy beachy spot and we were nervous about being told to move. The whole unofficial-ness of these anchorages made us feel somewhat vulnerable.

We finally anchored with our stern just in front of a large patch of coral. It was great for the kids to snorkel over but it also meant having lots of glass bottom tour boats, kayakers and snorkelers peering into our living room as we were a bit of a curiousity.

Headed right for a squall in the night on our way to Rio San Juan.

There's always time for a big snuggle even when the mate is tired and cranky. 

When we arrived in Rio San Juan we plopped ourselves down amidst the small fishing fleet in a bay protected by a reef. We were told this crew was heading out for many days. 

One of the risks of anchoring in these spots is the potential for a shakedown. There's pretty much nothing you can do about it except be polite and play the game because, as we said, we weren't even supposed to be there. We allowed the guy in uniform, one other whose role we couldn't discern and another who claimed to be the translator, on board and let them take a quick peak around the outside of our boat. We answered their questions about our comings and goings, trotted out our cute kids and joked around about this and that. At first they told us we couldn't leave until 6 the next morning even though we were planning to leave at midnight. They explained that in the night, if we heard a boat coming around it would be the Comandante checking on us for our security but he would need gas money for this. This was total bs but we agreed on $10 and threw in 5 beers. Everybody was happy so they told us we could leave whenever we wanted! Andy took this pic as they were motoring away. The Comandante refused to have his pic taken but had no issues taking it #inthearse

We left Rio San Juan at midnight, dodging countless tiny fishing boats with teeny tiny lights, for about a 12 hour ride to Escondido. Rounding Cabo Frances Viejo seemed to take an eternity but we were told it would feel exactly like that.  

Approaching Escondido

Escondido was stunning. The small bay was bordered by sheer hills on all sides. with a long stretch of beach. There were a few people and occasionally a donkey would walk past. The wind would come rushing down the hills in rapid, noisy gusts that ended as quickly as they began. Small swells rolled the boat comfortably and we wished we could stay for a few days.  

Andy and Drew paddled ashore, had a coke and explored. This is a fishing boat manned by two people. 

Another fishing boat. This is the size of the things we were trying to avoid in pitch blackness along the coast at night. 

Tangent all alone in the distance. 

Just hanging out writing in the sand. See Tangent out there? 

This is what Escondido looks like at night. There's a light on that hill. 

Sunrise over a cape (cabo) as we make our way to Samana. 

These guys are really hard to see at night! 

We made it to Samana! First order of business: find the pool!

Overlooking Bahia Samana. 

We finally got the photo! 

We got a ride into Samana just to check it out. We were accosted by so many people trying to sell stuff - tours, hats, knick-knacks, sunglasses - that it was kind of exhausting. 

First chinese food in forever! It wasn't half bad. 

This parking lot has the best view.

One order of the muggets chickenen, please. 

We needed a ride back to the marina. Rather than spend a ton on a cab we decided to join the ranks of the rickety and helmetless and catch a ride on this moto-rickshaw thingy.

It was quite fast on the straightaways but almost didn't make it up the hills. 

Everyone is passing us. 

Photo op with our driver. It was a quick tour of Samana but there was no time to linger. We had to get to Puerto Rico! 

No comments:

Post a Comment