We woke up around 3:00am to start our journey across the Mona Passage. Asa helped pull up the anchor while Alisa and I stayed asleep in bed. Eventually, probably around 5:00am I made my way to the cockpit to see that Matt was alone. Asa had kept him company for a little while before heading back to bed himself. I was still not much relief for Matt as I laid in the cockpit and the rocking of the boat and the cool breeze put me back to sleep. Around 7:00am Matt yells “WHALES!” And I pop up immediately to see off in the distance some Humpback whales leaping out the water trying to see which one of them can make the biggest splash. HAHA! Awesome! I am not able to take any photos but I was wide awake from then on. Soon everyone was up and we tried to give Matt a little break.
We sailed through the night and arrived early the next morning to the Samana Marina. We docked the boat in an unfortunate slip with considerable surge that made our boat rock back and forth chaffing the lines and testing the fenders. Matt and I went to check into customs while Alisa and Asa stayed on the boat. The customs officer and marina staff remembered us from the year before, and made it easy to get through the check-in process. This is the only country so far that comes aboard our boat and goes through our things. One of the reasons we prefer to go to Samana rather than Luperon is because in the marina you are protected from the corruption in the government. These officials are not asking for additional “tips” every time you get off your boat. Also, it is a relatively cheap marina with five star amenities. It is such a treat to just step off the boat and choose a pool to lounge in, go to the gym, hike around the property, have a drink at the bar, etc. Life is easy. Life is good.
It is an interesting property because no one is ever staying here and the place is HUGE. However, it is Semana Santa and that means that the rich Dominicans are all staying here for the weekend, which has slowed down the wifi considerably and means my quiet time in the pool involves listening to children play.
The next day we head into town, with all kinds of plans ahead of us to research: we are going to catch a bus to Cabarete then to Jarabacoa before ending up in Santo Domingo. Let’s see how many plans we actually accomplish. Our journey into town starts by taking a bus from the marina to the property gates. Last year tis service was free, however this year they are charging $2.00 per person per trip. Which is crazy expensive! Matt makes an official complaint to management and we grudgingly climb into the bus. From the gate we walk down the hill to stand by the rode looking for a ride on a publico or moto concho. We see the bus and hail it down climbing in like sardines. Once in town we split up. Matt and I go off to try and get groceries, our never ending chore, especially when you have four people on the boat. Asa and Alisa do some exploring.
Our first plan in the DR actually involves leaving our beloved marina and sailing across the Bay to the National Park Los Haitises. Before we go I am trying desperately to get an Airbnb or hostel lined up in Cabarete and check the bus to Jarabacoa, etc. I am not able to confirm any details before it is time to leave to Los Haitises. Again our efforts are last minute during the Semana Santa weekend.
Wow!! We are so excited to be in Los Haitises, we launch the dinghy and go for a ride through the mangroves taking photos of the birds we see. We head over to what we think is a secluded eco-resort nearby. We park the dinghy and jump on a moto concho to go the distance of a 10 min walk (when you don’t know better). The place is packed and people are having a great time. There is a huge beautiful pool with manmade structures creating waterfalls, and it is quite a site to see! We separate and all walk around just people watching before meeting back up to have a drink. Once back at the dinghy we do a little more exploring before making our way back to the boat, the water is choppy and we all brace ourselves trying to avoid getting wet.
We get up early and head out to see the famous caves on the island. The caves were created by water erosion and date back to the Native Americans who adorned the caves with pictographs and petroglyphs. We spend the day walking in and out some of the most beautiful caves I have ever seen.
The day gets later and the waves get bigger as we make a mile long dinghy ride back to the boat, twice I had to pump water out. We were all soaking wet as we got back to the boat, but we needed to move fast to get the engine off the dinghy, the dinghy lifted up and tied to the back of the boat, and ready to sail across the bay back to our slip. Sadly, we ended up having to motor the whole way and at one point Matt started to wonder if we should turn around and go back. He was very concerned about getting into the dock, for good reason that I will do my best to explain. In this certain situation his boat would not have any power to steer/control in reverse. Which means that we have to turn into the dock and jump off the boat tying up the lines in time to stop the forward momentum of the boat crashing head first into the concrete dock. With the wind conditions the smallest breeze could push our boat into the dock. We go over our plan and positions multiple times. we get the fenders and lines ready, we discuss more about our mode of attack. It ended up very seamless.
We arrived back in Samana Marina to learn we still did not have a place to stay in Cabarete. So it was decided that we would rent a car and explore the Samana Peninsula looking for surf and will only go to Santo Domingo. I expressed my disappointment openly to anyone willing to listen. I did not mind missing Cabarete but I was extremely disappointed to miss Jarabacoa. We spent the Sunday at the marina just relaxing. The next day we got the car and went out for surf and exploring Samana Peninsula.
At this point I am looking forward to our trip to Santo Domingo!!