Friday, April 30, 2010

Casa de Campo, La Ramona, DR April 28 N18.13 – 70.33W

After enjoying a week of Luis’s wonderful hospitality he left to visit family on the island and we decided to take advantage of more laid down weather and work our way to east to La Ramona where we will check out of the DR.  Sofia has a home at the very exclusive Casa de Campo El Resort which houses among other things, two golf courses, a polo field, and a 5 star Marina with golf carts buzzing back and forth to take you here and there.  

There are some very big boats here and this full service Marina has just completed hosting the 2010 Rolex Farr 40 Pre-Worlds and there are many of the hulls still sitting alongside waiting for their next race.  We are berthed on the wall they used last week for the race and the yacht names remain…our slip was occupied by Strunt je Light.  Here is a look at the results.


This is a first class resort marina and a 5 star establishment.  You can get most anything you want or need here and service with a smile. We will spend the next couple of days getting organized for our passage thru the Mona Channel…not one to be taken lightly and will certainly be done with the most favorable weather conditions.

Salinas DR, April April 20, N18.12 W070.32.

Salinas is where Luis has his home.  As we arrived in the early morning hours passing the large fish farming nets leading into the bay, Luis was met on the marina dock behind his home by his man servant Mellow (pronounced MAYYO)…and we watched with a smile as Sofia got off the boat and kissed the ground…then quickly had Luis and Mayyo unloading her suitcases…she was happy to be back.

This is a wide open bay tucked away inside a peninsula where fishing and fish farming are the economy.  Luis home was built with a very open plan and an additional tower of two extra levels for hammocks and star gazing.  He has two pools with a third under construction and his property is ideally suited next to a marina and a helicopter landing pad.  It is adjacent to the Salinas hotel which is quite busy for such a small place. 

Luis opened his home to us like we were family and we enjoyed the next few days lazing in his pool…getting pampered by his manicurist…snoozing in the hammocks strung about and eating great meals most of which were prepared either in full or in part by Chef Luis.

Isla Beata, DR April 18 – N18.12 –W70.32

This quiet bustling little fishing village located 3 miles off the mainland used to be a prison island altho only the foundation remains of the prison are still visible.  The island now is houses a Navy station albeit very small…and a couple of dozen fishing huts kinda joined together like row housing…all with their individual style…and it was only recently that they have allowed women and children on the island.  There are a number of dogs and a few good size hogs and every day you can see the fresh catch hanging in the sun to dry.  Kaija and Doc scoured the beaches from one to the other and she was happy with her find of beach glass which is a lot harder to come by than one might think.  

This is also home to a protected species of Iguana a rather large Iguana looking rather like it belonged on the set of Jurrassic Park.  Kaija enjoyed taking photos as they seemed to enjoy posing and Doc wasn’t quite sure what to make of it all.

This is the perfect staging spot for our final run to Salinas.  From here one can walk over the island and see the state of the sea swell caused by the depth of water offshore rising over 3000 feet in the matter of a mile, an underwater mountain if you like.  It is this swell and the heavy winds that make this coastline reputedly dangerous.  We can pick our weather wisely, however Luis and Sofia are excited about returning after two years sailing in the Carib and Sofia’s son and wife are expecting their first child so she as Grandmamma is excited to say the least, so there is a little pressure to make the home stretch sooner than later.

We didn’t have long to wait, as we departed the following afternoon for the overnight leg to Salinas.

Eagle Bay Dominican Republic, April 14 – 19 N17.50 – W071.37

It was noon when we weighed anchor and headed nine miles south to Eagles Bay.  This is a destination location for people of the Dominican Republic.   There are miles of beautiful white sandy beaches with a number of camping sites, under every shady tree and weekends are a big time here as it is a number of hours for most DR’s to drive being on the most western shore of their country.

This was a great stop to rest up.  We enjoyed lazing in the gin clear water which was the PURRRFECT temperature…whatever temperature it was…it was perfect.  Kaija & Doc enjoyed long walks gunk holing the beach. The wind piped up so we decided to just relax and enjoy this beautiful picture postcard surrounding.

Finally, the winds lightened and we decided to head the 19 miles south east to the southernmost tip of DR…the one most sailors dread because of its known for it’s  unseakindly state most of the time as our new friends Tony and Suzie can attest as they had gone on a couple days beforehand when the wind was blowing 30 kts with 15 ft seas.

Cabo Rojo, Dominican Republic - April 14 N17.50 W071.37

We arrived in Cabo Rojo after 118 easy motor sailing miles in very light easterly winds and comfortable seas.  Again, timing is everything in passage making…but in our experience cruising the south shore in the lee of the trades is the way to go when heading east.   Upon our arrival in this old Bauxite mining port town, there was only one other sailboat in the large bay and it wasn’t long before the local boat arrived carrying the officials.  While this process is made somewhat more difficult because of language, we had Luis with us who is native to Dominican Republic and it wasn’t long before he had everything in order which was no small feat and included a call to a Navy friend who enabled the signing of ‘important’ documents and we received our Zarpe or Importation Permit to travel in Dominican Rep waters. 

Ile La Vache, Haiti - April 10 - N18.06 – W73.41

We arrived in Ile La Vache after a crossing of 214 miles in relatively light conditions which meant it was a motor sail.  Better that than slogging into heavy wind and seas which are typical for this time of year.  Still traveling with S/v Fruko we met up with Michele and Isabelle S/v Oef and met Tony and Suzie on S/v de Capa.  The four of them had been in Haiti for a couple of weeks helping with relief efforts after the terrible earthquake on mainland Haiti.  Even tho the island is miles offshore the people here felt the effects and many were suffering the after affects that resulted.  Despite all they had suffered, we found most of the young people well clothed (most newly contributed thru the efforts of the aid brought into the country) and were eager to do any sort or work to make some money.  Thru the efforts of Tony and Suzie and Michele and Isabella there is a plan to raise enough money to build a new town dock which would enable better access for boats arriving to load and unload their cargo.  The bay and anchorage are ideal for cruisers trying to make passage east or west between Jamaica and Dominican Republic, our next stop.

We left early on the morning of April 13 and spent the first couple of hours dodging the fish pot, traps, nets and small fishing skiffs in the large open bay.  Apparently, so we were told, it is a trick of these wily fishermen to catch unsuspecting boaters in their nets and then claim damage and hold them ‘ransom’ until reparations are made.  I felt somewhat more at ease working our way thru this ‘minefield’ being one of four vessels transiting and making it more difficult for the fisherman to surround any of us.  Alas, all was well and we departed for the 118 crossing to Cabo Rojo, DR.