Provo, Caicos to Luperon, Dominican Republic
Our passage to the D.R. was not what we had hoped for after spending several days waiting for a weather window. There were eight boats that left Provo the same morning; three in our group (Alexus decided to stay behind), four in another group and one loner named Mystery. After only a few hours out, one of the boats in the group of four hit a coral head, doing enough damage that she had to be towed back to Provo. That really makes for a bad day for everyone that knows about it. You pull together as a group in those situations, doing what you can, if you can, to help. There was really nothing that could be done except to stay behind, which Master Bullfrog did, offering moral support while they waited for a tow. Stress intensified for everyone after that and it was a long hard day; not only because of the coral but, we were pounding into the waves the entire way.
We were still in treacherous water because of all the coral heads when we reached Ambergris Cay, Turks/Caicos that afternoon. It took careful watching, hoping, praying, and a certain amount of bravado to make it into the anchorage. By the time Master Bullfrog reached the anchorage, vision through the water had deteriorated to a point of real danger. Fortunately, Mystery had set waypoints going into the anchorage and was able to lead her in by dinghy. How great it would have been to have a chartplotter at this point.
|The seas continued to worsen during the night and the next
day kept us in a very rolly, rough anchorage. This was the most
heart-wrenching, desperate time for me during our cruise. My daughter,
Sylisha, was about to celebrate her birthday. I had never been in a
situation that I couldn't talk to my children on their birthdays. In
addition to that she was having surgery the day after her birthday. Not
being there with her was tough enough but to not be able to even talk to her
or receive word about her surgery was unbearable. Had I known we would be
stuck without phone access, I would have stayed in Provo. I tried thinking
of everything I could to get to a phone but we were miles and miles away from
everywhere. Of course, I blamed Bob and of course he couldn't understand
what the problem was. I guess I cried for hours after I realized there was
simply nothing I could do to talk to my baby. After a lot of yelling, crying
, and screaming, I gave thanks that we at least had email. Much to Bob's
credit, he let me have my yelling time without becoming angry, too
defensive, or throwing me overboard. I think he may have been in shock that
I could act like that.
Anyway, I logged on to the email account to send the bad news that we would have no phone access. Instead I picked up an email with more bad news. A very dear, long-time friend had just come through a long, tough battle with cancer. She had chosen not to tell anyone except her husband and son. To think she went through all that broke my heart; and to do it with no friends or family to support her really hurt. And I couldn't even call her. That night was spent crying and praying - for her part of the time and for Sylisha part of the time. I would trade all the cruising adventures we've enjoyed or ever hope to enjoy just to have been there for my daughter and my friend. Many people may not understand why this was so bad, but for me, it was a price far higher than I ever want to pay for any adventure.
It was a great overnight sail to Luperon. The seas didn't turn rough until we were approaching the inlet. That was the worst time for the fuel pump to go out and the only time it was NOT good to be in a group of other boats. We were all bobbing back and forth waiting for daylight. I dodged boats while Bob changed out the pump. Alexus, who had decided to take a different route, joined us before our entry into the anchorage.
Going into Luperon is very tricky and the cruising guide coordinates are not what they should be. A power boat sat inside the entrance and talked each Captain in, one at a time. Even with that help, it was still tough getting in and one boat ran aground.
The anchorage was crowded and we re-anchored several times trying to get a good set. Anchoring in the super muddy bottom was unlike anything we'd done before. The normal way of anchoring just didn't work. We finally had to just let the anchor settle into the muck. The longer we stayed, the deeper into the muck it settled.
What a marvelous place the Luperon anchorage is. After the arid Bahamas, it was like a mountainous forest. Of course, it's not really like that but that's how it felt. It was so good to see green again. To be in calm waters again was so heavenly. And PHONES that were affordable and working - what a treat.
Everything in Luperon was so much better than the Bahamas (our opinion), even the people. The Bahamians in the outer islands are complacent, lethargic, and not very friendly. The folks in Luperon are lively, energetic, and so very nice. Even though few of them speak English, they try to understand your broken Spanish and/or hand motions and offer assistance. I was attempting to buy ice but had no idea how to say it in anything except English. The lady responds with what sounds like "yellow?" (hielo in Spanish). Now, I knew we didn't want yellow ice and I began shaking my head, "No, no, no yellow ice". She smiled, took me by the hand and led me to the ice machine. What can you do?
The town is poor but clean. Every morning the residents sweep the streets in front of their house/business and leave the dirt in little piles. It gets strewn around during the day by folks walking by but it's swept back into a neat little pile the next morning. The houses you walk by with the open doors are always very tidy. At lunch time, tables are brought out onto the sidewalk and lunch is served, at a very low price.
Eating out was so inexpensive, you felt required to do it. One night we had huge plates of paella and a nice salad for 40 pesos each (about $2.32). Extra-large bottles of El Presidente beer is about a buck in most restaurants and even I liked it. For the most part the food is not too impressive but we did find a German owned pizza place that was pretty good.
There were tons of cruisers in Luperon and something was always going on. You could always find someone to eat with, shop with, share a ride with, take a tour with, or just do nothing with. It is a great little cruiser community.
Another great treat was having someone do our laundry. There are no public Laundromats, so that is the only choice except hand washing. I don't remember for sure, but I think it was around $7.00 USD for (what I would have done as) four loads to be washed, dried and folded.
Las Vega, D.R.
We took a day trip to Las Vega for an Independence Day Carnival. There were about 15 cruising couples that went in our caravan. It was an all day affair that included transportation, lunch, and all the rum & coke you could drink for $30.00/person.
The people are quite beautiful with their Latin influence. Absolutely no one, except the American tourists, had on shorts despite the heat.
Kathy, from My Time Too, poses with two handsome locals. These kids stayed on a patio with us during much of the parade. They didn't speak English but would signal us when we were to stand and cheer for the good guy. What a delight it was to watch them having such a good time.
It was a great day except for Dave loosing his wallet to pickpockets. OK, I didn't say they were all honest.
One day-trip took us into Puerta Plata for shopping and provisioning. This was a real experience. The store requires you to check your purses and backpacks at the door. After Dave's experience, we decided to lock ours in the van, hoping we could trust the driver more than the grocery store security.
Selecting food was a gamble on many items because packaging and labeling was different than we'd seen and, of course, in Spanish. I'd taken Spanish in high school but can remember only a few basic words. We did ok -not great but ok- ended up with only one item (liquid yogurt) that we couldn't use. It was a good experience and gave us more opportunity to see the country.
We stopped along the way to tour Isabelle, which claims to be the oldest city of The New World. There is a foundation of a home that is supposed to be Columbus' first home. The photo on the left is a view from a church there.
We thoroughly enjoyed our week in Luperon and the areas we toured. It would have been nice to stay longer but we had plans to meet company in St. Thomas and were pushing the clock already. We should have waited for a better weather window but ...hindsight and all that.
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