Arrival May 2013
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two countries. Both by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba), with an estimated 10 million people, one million of which in the capital city, Santo Domingo.
19 May 2013
After a 20 hour sail from Ile a Vache we arrived in the Dom Rep at Bahia De Las Aquillas a remote picturesque beach. We stayed here a night and the next day sailed a further 20NM to Isla Beata. Before arriving at Beata we encountered our worse squall to date with 40kt winds and torrential heavy rain lasting 3hrs. Fortunately, we were rewarded with a beautiful surprise when we arrived at Isla Beata. This was a fishing camp occupied by 200 or so fisherman working a fish cooperative. For 6 months each year they lived in make shift huts along the beach. One fisherman wanted to sell us one of the biggest spiny lobsters we had seen it must have been at least 12lb. We also learned that they now set fish traps and nets in 150m deep water. This was a shock. Until then during a night sail we reckoned with pots up to 50m water depth. Now we would have to stay further offshore in depths beyond 150m. The next day we passed one trap in exactly 150m of water.
Originally we had planned to sail from Ile a Vache in Haiti to Cartagena in Columbia which is out of the main Caribbean hurricane belt. However, after reviewing the limited long term marina opportunities in Columbia we decided to head for Curaçoa where we knew were better facilities. Sailing directly from Ile a Vache would have meant sailing hard into the wind where it regularly blows 20-25kts which is not desirable if one can avoid it. So to avoid sailing into such strong winds we decided to sail east along the south coast of Hispaniola using the relative shelter of the coast and the opportunity to stop on the way.
21 May 2013
Boca Chica is a small sheltered bay protected by a reef on the south coast of the Dominican Republic, a large bath tub, the water is warm and in most places very shallow, sort of hip height. We came 25 years ago to stay in then the only hotel , the beach was lovely and nature all around. Developments have just exploded, one beach bar beside the other, competing with their loudspeakers to attract business, one hotel and restaurant after the other, the place has changed, unfortunately not for the better. Wild dogs are howling at night, rubbish flies around. No wonder there are hardly any tourists here but for the odd sex tourists, very very sad. Missioners have told us, even child prostitution is high, how awful, people are so desperate! There is also a big container port and a yacht club which does not help either. Weekends in Boca Chica are to be avoided, locals from the capital party all night, racing around with jet skies or motorboats, we can only hope for a big squall and rain to have a good night's rest. You may wonder, why are we here? We have to make some easting to be able to sail relatively comfortable across to Curacao. Hope the wind will turn and lessen soon.
21 May 2013
After leaving the channel between Isla Beata and the mainland at 5am we encountered 30kt head winds and rough seas. It became apparent we would not make it to Las Salinas before nightfall so late noon we eased the sheets and headed for Barahona arriving before dark. Barahona is a commercial port and we new we would have to deal with immigration and customs. This turned out to be a painless exercise as they were waiting for us as we dropped anchor in a basin used by ships bringing coal to the adjacent power station.
We departed Isla Beata with another boat 'Baloo'. We lost radio contact during the day but expected to see them in Barahona. We assumed they had decided to press on to Las Salinas.
The follow day we went ashore dinghying to the public concrete dock. Here we were extremely lucky to meet Larry, an American captain of a large salvage vessel who volunteered to take us with his pickup to get fuel and some provisions. We quickly learned the town was not for tourist and walking around alone quickly attracted many beggars. we were extremely thankful for Larry's help !
Larry was a treasure hunter engaged by a joint venture between the DR government and American private investors to locate the gold from sunken ships around the coast of the DR. He had located over 180 sunken boats but told us it was difficult to get to them because of the constant high winds and seas around the coast.