Monthly Archives: January 2015

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic – by Theresa

We arrived in the Dominican Republic (DR) on the eve of “Natalicio Juan Pablo Duarte,” a DR national holiday celebrating the birthday of the country’s founder. As such, we were treated to local fireworks displays, parades and festivities.

Dominican Republic countryside

Dominican Republic countryside

In addition to enjoying the local cultural celebrations, we have all been putting our Rosetta Stone lessons into practice. Earlier this week, Ronan impressed the marina concierge when he communicated, in Spanish, our need for a rental car for the following day. When the car arrived, we headed off to explore the island, first to Puerto Plato, a medium sized metropolitan area, and then to Luperón, which is more rural. We opted not to pull the boat into port in Luperón, however, we used the rental car opportunity to visually survey the port as it is a well known hurricane hole should the need for such protection present itself.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

We next headed to Isabel de Torres which is famous for a cable car that takes you to the summit of a 760 meter mountain. In the National Park, atop the mountain, is a 16 meter high Christ the Redeemer statue, similar to the one found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The National Park also has botanical gardens, hiking trails and caves that we all enjoyed exploring.

Christ the Redeemer, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

Christ the Redeemer, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

As is typical in the Dominican Republic, the heat of the day pushes the warm, moist marine layer of air up the mountain slopes where it cools and condenses, creating clouds and rain that enveloped the mountain top. We rode the cable car down the mountainside, through the clouds, and returned to the boat just before the afternoon thundershowers.

The next leg(s) of our journey will have us traversing the north coast of the Dominican Republic eastward towards Puerto Rico. Since there is significant northern exposure, we are continuing to wait for an appropriate weather window that will allow us to continue our journey.



Pilot's Discretion Route, Bahamas to The Domincan Republic

Southern Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and the Dominican Republic – by Randy


Since we last posted, we have covered some significant territory. We left Clarence Town, Long Island on January 20 to continue our voyage south. The route we elected to follow took us through a fairly remote section of the Bahamas so we really did not expect to see many other boats along the way. Our first day out we stopped to anchor in Atwood Harbor, Acklins Island. The harbor is fairly small with a beautiful white sand beach, protected from weather in all but a northerly swell. Since we had been underway for 10 hours without seeing another vessel either visually or on the radar, you can imagine our surprise when two sailboats showed up to anchor just after our arrival. The good news is the harbor had plenty of room and we all settled in for a good nights rest.


The next day, we were underway at first light, our destination, Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana. Mayaguana is one of the southernmost Bahamian islands known primarily for the role it played during the heyday of the United States manned space missions. At one point the US had an extensive missile tracking complex on the island. That complex has long since been shut down and the only reminders of it’s past existence are an 11,000 ft runway, a dilapidated and unusable cargo ship dock and a decaying series of fuel tanks. On our trip in we spent most of the day motoring in company with the 177′ Megayacht “Bacchus”. Bacchus continued on non stop to the Turks and Caicos but given that we had left our professional crew behind in Safety Harbor, we elected to stop for a good nights rest before pressing on to our next country.

Our arrival into Abraham’s Bay was uneventful and we spent the night in our 5 mile long harbor completely alone.


After one night in Mayaguana we were off to the second foreign country on our itinerary. As we approached the Turks and Caicos we found a great deal more traffic in the area than we had seen in the southern Bahamas. The radar and AIS were both lighting up with constant targets as we approached the Caicos bank from the north.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Upon entering Turks & Caicos waters, Ryan hoisted the quarantine flag. We pulled into the South Side Marina in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos at about 4pm. After arriving, I proceeded to meet with the customs and immigration officials to handle the clearing in procedures.

R&R on flag duty hoisting the Turks & Caicos courtesy flag

R&R on flag duty hoisting the Turks & Caicos courtesy flag

All of the officials were extremely professional and pleasant and although at times it can feel like things are in slow motion in the islands, we were cleared in and the Turks and Caicos courtesy flag was flying from our jack staff in time for dinner.

Given the distances we had travelled the previous couple of days and the length of the trip from the Turks and Caicos to the Dominican Republic,  we elected to spend a couple of days resting up in Providenciales.


On Saturday, January 24th, we got underway for what would be our third country in one week.The trip from Providenciales to our next stop, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic took us across an area known as the Caicos bank. As the name implies, we had to run about 50 miles across an area where the average depth was 8′ or less and there are numerous coral heads scattered throughout the area that reduce that depth even more. As we exited the Caicos bank into the North Atlantic the depths go from the aforementioned 8′ to more than 6000′ in the distance of less than a mile. That kind of sudden change to the shape and depth of the sea creates an extensive area of strong currents and square waves that provided us the roughest ride we have experienced to date on this trip. Although we had seen larger seas when we crossed from the Abacos to Eleuthera, the waves had a much longer period, making them much easier to traverse. For a distance of about 20 miles we were constantly burying the bow of the Pilot’s Discretion into the oncoming waves. Once sufficiently clear of the Caicos Bank, the ride in the Atlantic became much more pleasant and we settled in for the next 90 miles of our journey. Approaching the Dominican Republic, it is clear that both the topography and the climate are far different from the Bahamas.

The mountains of Hispaniola become visible both on radar and to the naked eye about 40 miles out. The mountains in conjunction with the abundant moisture from the Atlantic create towering cumulous clouds that usually result in afternoon thunderstorms.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

R&R on flag duty hoisting the Domincan Republic flag

R&R on flag duty hoisting the Domincan Republic flag

After clearing customs and immigration at Ocean World Marina in Puerta Plata, Domincan Republic, the boys manned their flag duty station once again to fly the Domincan Republic courtesy flag. The current weather forecasts indicate that we will have a few days to explore Puerto Plata before we have a sufficient weather window to embark on the next leg of our journey. We intend to use that time to explore the Dominican countryside and culture. We will report what we find in our next post.



Clarence Town, Long Island Bahamas (Latitude 23°06.123” N Longitude 074°57.604” W) – by Randy

"Shark Warning" sign at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

“Shark Warning” sign at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

We are currently tucked into a slip at the Flying Fish Marina in Clarence Town, Long Island. When we departed Georgetown, Exumas, we were officially heading out of the Exumas as well as leaving the main cruising grounds favored by boaters when they envision a trip to the Bahamas.

On our trip south from George Town, we had another geographical milestone when we crossed the Tropic of Cancer (the latitude demarcation denoting the furthest north the sun travels in the summertime) at 23°30.000 N. We are officially now in “The Tropics.”

From here on, we will be in an area that is primarily a route to and from the Caribbean. That said, Clarence Town is justifiably a destination worth visiting even if you were not transiting to points south.

One of the two churches built by Father Jerome, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas

One of the two churches built by Father Jerome, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas

The town is famous for two skyline churches designed by Father Jerome. Father Jerome was a priest, trained as an architect at the end of the eighteen hundreds. He arrived in the Bahamas in 1908 with the mission of building church structures stout enough to withstand the force of the many hurricanes that have hit the islands. As such, all of his churches are made out of stone and are quite imposing and impressive.

Church, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas

Church, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas






The locals take great pride in their quaint island community and we found them all welcoming and always willing to lend a hand to a stranger.

The marina here is a first rate facility that caters to large sport fishing boats that ply the waters between here and the Turks and Caicos. Each day we have been here, we have seen several 75′ plus Hatteras and Viking Sport Fishing boats come in and take on 1500- 2000 gallons of fuel each.

Bull Sharks at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Bull Sharks at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

While here, the crews from the boats have been cleaning their catch at the dock and that has provided us an opportunity to once again be entertained by the shark population indigenous to these waters. The sharks that we saw in the Exumas were a mix of primarily nurse sharks with a few black tip and lemon sharks, but here it is a different story. We are seeing almost exclusively bull sharks and they have put on quite a show for us as you can see in the video below.

They are so aggressive that when we accidentally dropped the end of our hose into the water a bunch of bull sharks hit it and shredded it instantly! When the next weather window presents itself we will continue our journey south and will post again from the Turks and Caicos.



Sting Rays off Volley Ball Beach, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas

Georgetown – by Randy

Pilot's Discretion Position Report

Pilot’s Discretion Position Report

As you can see from our latest position update, we are currently anchored in Georgetown, Exumas. We have been here just over 1 week and I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the community and surrounding area are. We had heard mixed reviews of Georgetown from various people who had travelled here before us so we were not quite sure what to expect. As it turns out, we have found Georgetown to be a great stop as we prepare to head south out of the Bahamas and on to the Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic.

There are currently about 150 cruising boats in the harbor at Georgetown and as a result there is an entire infrastructure set up to address any cruising boat needs. We have found it easy to reprovision here with multiple well stocked grocery stores, hardware and marine supply stores. There are several waterfront restaurants that are very dog friendly which makes Patton a happy guy as he gets to travel with us when we elect to have a meal ashore. One of our favorite spots is the Chat and Chill beachfront restaurant located on Volleyball Beach. Every day at about 2pm, the cruising kids and their parents gather at the beach for loosely organized games of volleyball or to swing on the rope swings or just to relax.

In addition there are a group of large stingrays that appear to almost be domesticated. They show no fear of human contact and in fact will come right up to you and eat conch out of your hands.

With all of the activities, it is no surprise that Ryan and Ronan have pronounced Georgetown as their “new favorite place.” It has been fun to watch the boys process this trip as they have consistently reported to us that each new stop is just a little more special than the last.

As for our immediate itinerary, it appears that we will be in Georgetown for about another week as we wait for a series of cold fronts and their associated strong winds to work their way through our location. The current forecasts show a potential window of settled weather around the 15th of January so we will be ready to get underway. Should the weather be suitable, we will head south and east for Clarence Town, Long Island. After that, we will proceed via Acklins island and Mayaguana before stopping over in our next country, the Turks and Caicos. We will update you next from there.