I didn’t sleep well last night like I expected to. My muscles cramped and my stomach revolted. Charlie’s horses just kept visiting my calves and I didn’t really appreciate it. I also found new bruises every time I changed position. Fortunately, we had already decided today would be a day of rest and catching up on boat projects. Besides, there is a chance of a weather window tomorrow. We are having a blast and don’t want to leave the Dominican Republic, but we will check Chris Parker’s email tonight and see how things look. Meanwhile, Gizmo is feeling more at home on the boat and seems to be feeling a bit better now that I am giving him his pain meds daily instead of every other day.
The weather window that was expected for March 22, came to fruition and we decided to take it. We started the check out process last night and finished around 7:30 this morning with a visit to the boat by Customs and Immigration. We left Ocean World Marina in Puerto Plata around 8:00 in the morning to go to an anchorage located halfway to Bahia de Samana (Samana Bay). However, the water was so extremely calm and the weather so mellow that we decided to skip the anchorage and go straight to Cap Cana Marina in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is the jump off point for Puerto Rico. We motored/motorsailed all day and night and arrived around 1:30 PM at Cap Cana Marina.
At least a section of this trip was part of the dreaded Mona Passage that goes from the north coast of the Dominican Republic to the west coast of Puerto Rico. I call it dreaded because it is reputed to be a very dangerous passage, In fact, our guide, Paulina, lost five friends that were making that passage in a boat hauling people illegally to Puerto Rico. Books and blogs all stress the potential dangers, so we definitely wanted to take this 3-4 day weather window. Here is an article on “Sea of Dead,” the deadly Mona Passage.
Fortunately, we chose well and the trip was uneventful. The most excitement came when humpback whales breached in front of us. About eight times a whale came up headfirst and kept going until its entire body was out of the water and only the end of its tail was still under water. Then it came back down with a huge splash. Even the waterspouts were impressive. The pressure the whales blow out must be pretty strong to make such a tall spray. I had never seen such an amazing sight before. Dave wanted me to capture it on my camera, but they were too far. I could have put my long distance zoom lens on, but I would not have had time to find the whale, zoom, and focus before it would be back in the water. So I just sat back and watched and enjoyed the moment. Meanwhile Gizmo made himself comfortable on my pillow. He did join us later in the cockpit.
Cap Cana Marina is total chaos. They are not set up for cruisers. It is a fishing boat marina and private docks for condos that are going up quickly. The area has been under construction for years and they are still adding to it. Most of the condos appear to be empty, so they rent out the slips. First, they don’t answer the hailing channel 16, only 72 and you must somehow know this. Then they only take in consideration length and draft of vessel, so they tried to put us in a slip that was two feet too narrow! Then they put us on a sea wall where their electricity is not working. We, fortunately, are okay with that because we have solar and a generator as back up, if needed. Checking in was simple, because we had a despacho (port to port authorization paper) for immigration/customs. But we were placed by the marina entrance and the place is a huge, rambling property and our buddy boats were placed at least a 15 minute walk away ambling between condos and restaurants (or a 40 minute walk following the water around the marina).
We met Why Knot IV for drinks at the marina bar while we waited for Mile High Dream to arrive and discussed our plans for continuing. Dave received Chris Parker’s email, which said now is the only window in the foreseeable future. Since we cannot leave the marina until after 8:00 AM tomorrow, Dave thought we might head to Mona Island, spend the night, then finish the trip across the next day. The weather for Wednesday looked iffy, though, so Dave called Chris for his opinion. He said not to stop. Leave tomorrow morning and go straight to Boqueron. Since we will arrive at night, just drop the anchor when we arrive. It is wide open and easily accessible. So this is what we will do.
However, Why Knot IV has some friends that came to the DR to visit with them, so they do not want to leave in the morning. This means we are unexpectedly parting ways with Francois and Vanessa on Why Knot IV. They will come across on the next weather window and meet up with us then. We have to have the boat hauled out and have some work done on it, so we will be in Puerto Rico for at least a couple weeks. At least once we arrive there, the hardest parts are done and we should have short hops across to the Virgin Islands, then easier sailing down the island chain to Grenada. Mile High Dream wants to continue on and will make the crossing with us tomorrow. We are hoping for small swells and light wind! Meanwhile, Gizmo is either too hot to snuggle into his bed or he’s becoming quite the goofball and missed.
Leaving Why Knot IV behind doesn’t feel right and the decision is so sudden/abrupt that we were not prepared for the parting. We have really enjoyed traveling with them and certainly hope we do meet up in PR in a week or so!