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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

DR to St.Thomas USVI

Hi All...Ben here...a little bleary eyed from the night at sea with these two yahoo's. 

Apparently the engines were perfectly fine and they could have turned them off if they wanted to, and I could have had a nice walk and happy hour. But they're excited about a good "weather window" that will get us to St.Thomas in time to meet Sandy and Dimitry for their vacation next week.  I'm happy about that, so what's a little loss of sleep?

 As the sun came up and I went up to the Poop Deck for my morning constitution, I got my first  view of the Dominican Republic.  It has a lot more mountains than the previous islands we've been passing, and they're covered with tropical trees and steep rock that comes straight down to meet the ocean. 

Every once in a while we pass a really beautiful complex.  I wonder if Rin-Tin-Tin or Lassie used to have vacation home there. 
 We can travel much closer to these islands because the water is real deep all the way up to the land. Izzy doesn't get that "hair on fire" thing that Jeff always laughs about when we get into shallow water. 

Sometimes she's downright relaxed.

We passed some guys in a row boat way out from the shore who were fishing.  They waved at me,  and I waved back.  I tossed them some bottled water as our boat got closer.  I think they were hoping for a beer. 
It seems to be a common thing for these men to be way far from the shore in the hot sun trying to catch fish in their little boats without any motors.  Makes me think Jeff and Izzy are pretty wimpy fishermen when we have all the tools to make it easy to fish, yet they hardly ever get a bite!  I bet the Dominican Republic fishermen would like to fish from our boat ...with the shady cockpit, the engines and the full beer fridge.

After lunch time we came to the Samana Bay

There's a town and a bay with moorings and anchored boats, but we were looking for the new Puerto Bahia Marina that our guide books talked about. 
Since it wasn't on the charts, we had to get some directions from some French boaters who were relaxing naked as a jaybird in their boat in the harbor. 
We put up our Quarantine flag that signals that we are visiting and have not yet gotten permission from Customs and Immigration to go ashore and continued farther into the bay to find the marina.  

It wasn't hard to recognize, with all the fishing and sailboats docked inside the inlet. 
This is Puerto Bahia Marina - Samana, Dominican Republic.
It's a beautiful place with lots of activity. 

and a fuel dock! 

Oh no...not fuel day again!

Jeff's bound to be in a grouchy mood after this!
When we got to our slip, the customs people came to check us in to the country, check our papers and collect the fees.  This time were were four of them...each with a different fee and different forms.  It took a long time and it was getting hot, so when they left
Izzy decided to cheer Jeff up with a walk around the beautiful marina.

This is the open lobby with comfy sofas and chairs, smooth shiny floors and a nice breeze blowing through to cool us off.  I wasn't allowed to test out the sofa. 

Up those winding stairs, there was a roof top party room and
an infinity pool. 
Jeff and Izzy took a dip to ease the painful wallet that Jeff had developed from the fuel purchase.
They were thinking that was the cat's meow (so to speak) until they looked over the edge and spied the ocean side infinity pool!  Of course they had to try that out too, frolicking in the warm clear water while sipping on a rum punch. 
I, on the other hand, got a milk bone and a hosing in the cockpit....a dog's life... 
No time to stay in the Dominican Republic since we're on a mission to get to St.Thomas in a few days, so we took off early in the morning for our last stop in the Dominican Republic - Punta Cano, on the far east side of this big island.  It was a long day on flat seas and the heat and humidity are starting to kick in.  We arrived at 6 pm - too late for customs.  Just as well, it was too hard to get off the boat in this marina- lots of rocks and quite a jump to the shore.  So the only logical thing to do was to begin  Happy Hour!
I wonder if I only get that bowl of water again ...Where's the RUM?

 From here we can get an early start on the passage between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico...over the dreaded Mona Passage.  Boaters have described this passage as like being in a washing machine...even on a sunny day if the wind and tides are just right.  The Customs people didn't come at 8 AM to check us out of the country as we were told, so we had to wait until 9:30 to leave for our long passage.  Fortunatly, the ASPCA must have been looking out for me on the "Izzy R" that day, and calmed the seas so we could take a more direct route to Puerto Rico, going a little north of the Mona Passage, but south of the hour glass shape on the charts that designates that infamous Maytag effect.   
It got dark again that night before we arrived in Puerto Rico.  Lucky for us that we spotted the lighted marker at our destination at the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse at dusk.  Jeff kept our slow boat aimed at the flashing light, and guided us into the bay at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico in the dark.  We anchored for the night and breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn't hit anything on the way in.   Good that there were no other boats in the bay!  In the morning when we lifted the anchor at 7 AM, we found a mooring ball floating next to our bow.  Another disaster magically avoided. 
We headed to Ponce - arriving in time for check into Puerto Rican Customs and a quick walk around the town to a get a bite to eat, and to the marine store - Jeff's favorite place.  It's only two days before Sandy and Dimitry arrive in St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands, so we don't have time to stay and sight see or go to PetsMart .  That can wait until we return on our trip back north next season. 
We pushed on the next day at dawn,  still rubbing the sand men out of my eyes, on our way to our last Puerto Rican stop before the Virgin Islands.   There were some tense moments at the helm when we realized that our chartplotter wasn't working to show us the way out of the harbor and on up to our next stop!   Jeff and Izzy had to rely on the skills they learned in their Navigation class back in Newport Beach four years ago to plot our course on the paper charts.  Izzy was a bit flustered, but Jeff, being an old sailor, said it was kind of like riding a bike...not sure what that means, but anyway together they figured out where to go without hitting anything.  In about an hour the instruments magically came back on and confirmed that their calculations were good.   Whew! 
That after noon we arrived  at the beautiful Palmas del Mar Yacht Club.   
It has something for everyone...ocean views,
swimming pool

Tiki Bar 
Places to rest 
and critters to chase!
In the evening, Jeff and Izzy got a ride from the marina guy in the golf cart up to the Palmia Nova Plaza, where there were shops and restaurants and a big fountain in the middle.  A dog would have liked to go, but he wasn't invited.  I guess someone had to guard the boat.
They had dinner at a place called the C Bar, and made friends with the owner and his four sons who run it.  He gave them some tips on the places to go in the British Virgin Islands when Sandy and Dimitry arrive. 
After dinner the bartender offered them some Moonshine to top off the meal!  She's pouring it out of a jug that she keeps under the counter. 
We'll have to come back here, too.  Nice place with nice people!

Our early morning departure was picture perfect!
Until the chartplotter decided to take a nap again!  More calculating and plotting...hair on fire...a few cuss words...
I decided to lay low in case they were looking for someone to blame it on.  If you've been reading these blogs of our trip, you know Jeff's propensity for using me as the scape goat for anything that goes wrong.  Case in point, the oyster bed dinghy disaster of 2009 in my first blog.
( Click on this link to see my account of this fiasco at:
  http://www.jeff-izzy.blogspot.com/2009/03/merry-christmas-from-jeff-izzy-and-ben.html )

Luckily the instruments came back on in an hour or so, and we could all relax a little heading into St.Thomas this afternoon. 
We pulled into a slip at a little marina in Frenchtown and watched the hillside turn into a magical twinkling wonderland as the sun went down.
Sandy and Dimitry will be here tomorrow! Jeff and Izzy are busy cleaning the boat and preparing the V-berth for them.  My job is just entertainment, so I'd better get some sleep so I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed (dog talk!) when they arrive.

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