Thursday, December 26, 2013

Off to the Dominican Republic!

Weather finally turned in our favor on Christmas Day.  The winds and seas had calmed considerably.

We decided to leave Big Sand Cay on the day after Christmas, departing at 5:00 p.m. for an overnight passage to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  The 88 NM trip would take us an estimated 15 to 16 hours traveling 5.5 to 6 knots/hour with an arrival time of around 9 o'clock the following morning.  East to Southeast winds were predicted in the 15-20 knot range, hitting us right on the nose. Motor-sailing... again!  It's tough getting east around here!!  

LA getting Genesis Ready for our Overnight Sail
Since the winds were predicted for 15 to 20 knots, we figured we'd better get ready for 20 to 25 knots.  (Those weather reports never err on the side of calmer winds!) We reefed down the main to give us a smoother ride during the night.

As we left the island at sunset, the seas were pretty rough.  We expected this and knew that we would have to get away from the shallower water before the waves would settle down somewhat.  However, It ended up being a fairly rough passage. The seas didn't settle down as much as we'd hoped.  The waves were breaking over the top of our decks and splashed over the dodger periodically, so it made for a wet ride. We huddled up under the dodger and tried to stay dry.

Looking Bright-Eyed and Bushy Tailed in the Early AM

We took three hour watches at the helm. No big ships sighted on this passage, so it made our watches easier.  After my trip from Six Hills to Big Sand, I was worried I was going to have another bout of seasickness. Thankfully, none! On our off passage time, we took turns sleeping on the starboard settee, bolstered with pillows to minimize rolling. Neither one of us got much sleep until our last off watch.

LA, Looking Refreshed after an Overnight Passage

We manned the helm together starting at daybreak.  The seas had begun to calm considerably and the passage was nice.  We had coffee and watched the sun rise.

The sun came up and we could see the mountains of the Dominican Republic faintly in the distance.  They appeared through a fog and we thought we were imagining them, but as we got closer and the sun got higher, we clearly saw that we were indeed looking at mountains. It was exciting!  After looking at the flat lands of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, we were ready for some different landscapes! 

As the approached the islands, we got our first close-up view of the mountains!  

We are going to love exploring this island!

Here we are approaching Ocean World Marina in Puerto Plata, DR.  We knew very little about the marina since we had not originally planned to make landfall there. The entrance was well marked on the chart and we had no trouble getting to the fuel dock. Ocean World is a very large marina complex.  

Once at the fuel dock, a marina representative brought three officials to visit our boat to clear customs:  Customs, Immigration, and the Navy.   We completed marina entrance papers for the marina representative, and two sets of forms for the officials.  The marina representative translated English to Spanish for the officials.  We showed our boat documentation papers and our passports.  We had our departure papers from the Turks and Caicos, but they did not ask for them.  We paid $43 cash to Customs for the boat to enter. We were informed that we would also have to check out with these same agencies... even if we were going to another port in Dominican Republic.  Unusual for us, but whatever... we're in the DR now!  Since we also had to check out with these officials we decided to give each of them a tip, which is the custom here.  We tipped them $20 each and gave each one a reggae-mix music CD.  They went away happy.  We were escorted off the boat and led to an on-site immigration officer.  We completed tourist immigration forms, had our passport stamped, received a 30 day tourist card and paid a total of $20. Another $20 tip and a music CD.   We were informed that the military division of Drug Enforcement would come to our slip to inspect the boat, but they never came.

We fueled up the boat at the fuel dock with the assistance of the dock master and his assistant, then headed to our slip where they assisted us in getting securely tied to the slip.
Another $40 in tips, two music CD's.  

Yes, we tipped a lot.  We knew before we arrived that it is the custom here.  We knew that we were going to be leaving our boat in the marina while we traveled to Santo Domingo for several days.  It was a small price to pay to make sure that our boat would be watched after by all in the marina during our absence, and that we would be able to check out through customs with no problems.  Just the cost of doing business around here.  When in Rome....

So, here we are in the Dominican Republic!  We are eager to get out and do some exploring in this beautiful country.  Until next time!

Genesis at the Dock at Ocean World Marina.
Note the Mountains in the Background!

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