Tag Archives: Dominican Republic

Approaching Providenciales Turks & Caicos

TURKS & CAICOS (May 2018) – by Theresa

Sunrise departure, Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican RepublicSunrise departure, Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

BIG SAND CAY (May 2018)

Leaving the Dominican Republic (DR) astern, after a glorious sunrise departure, our first stop in Turks & Caicos was at Big Sand Cay, a small uninhabited Cay approximately 80 nautical miles northwest of the Dominican Republic. As we approached Big Sand Cay, we only saw a few other boats at anchor, so we had visions of a restful evening, virtually alone, on this idyllic cay, beautifully set off by itself in the Atlantic Ocean.

We tucked into the bay with only a small handful of other boats, just as the wind started to really pick up. With the winds howling around 20 knots, we watched a fellow cruiser scale his mast because he was unable to furl his Genoa and drop anchor.

Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

Shortly after the sailor secured his catamaran, we sat back and enjoyed the quiet solitude of the anchorage.

Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

Later, the fun really kicked in. I guess we read the wrong travel brochure because after we set our anchor, an entire flotilla of sailboats, of all shapes and sizes, descended upon our tranquil overnight stop. Big Sand Cay was now the overnight destination of choice for over 25 cruising boats. Just to ensure that everyone was properly entertained, Mother Nature put on a thunderstorm and lightning show complete with winds gusting to 42 knots. We had put out 10 to 1 scope on our ground tackle in anticipation of just such an event, so we were secure and staying firmly in place. The same could not be said for many of our neighboring boats, and, as a result, the radios were alive with stressful conversations as boats dragged their anchors all around us. Thankfully, the storms died down shortly after 1 a.m., so we did still manage to get some rest before our sunrise departure west to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

Sunrise departure, Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

Sunrise departure, Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS & CAICOS (May 2018)

As we approached  Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, the skies once again darkened and the winds picked up considerably. The channel to our next port of call, South Side Marina, is narrow, with shallow depths and little room for maneuverability on a good day. We rode out the storm just outside of the channel, allowing it to simmer down before entering.

Approaching Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Approaching Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Approaching Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Approaching Providenciales Turks & Caicos

When we finally entered the channel, we had to navigate around a sailboat, run hard aground, nearly in the middle of the channel.

This sailboat ran aground in the channel approach to Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

This sailboat ran aground in the channel approach to South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

With precision maneuvers, we passed her starboard side and cleared in to Bob Pratt’s  South Side Marina. (Note: the sailboat sat in the channel until high tide came in and then floated herself free.)

We stopped at South Side Marina on our journey south in 2015 [See Turks & Caicos (2015)].  The boys had, obviously, grown quite a bit since then!

Bob’s place, upstairs, was as beautiful as we had remembered, complete with bocce ball, and Bob’s sweet new dog “Maddie.”

Bob's place at Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Bob Pratt’s place at South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

R&R bocce ball at Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

R&R bocce ball at South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

South Side Marina Harbor Master’s dog Maddie resting at South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

The views, at and around, the marina are nothing short of breath-taking.

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

The marina is only a few miles away from the airport, which makes it a good place to pick up or drop off guests. Marina owner, Bob Pratt, provides courtesy transportation to nearby grocery store(s) for provisioning and makes everyone feel at home.

When it came time to continue our northbound journey, we fueled up and headed back out the channel.

Ronan assisting with the fueling at Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Ronan assisting with the fueling at South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Randy fueling up at Southside Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Randy fueling up at South Side Marina, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Southside Marina, looking towards the channel, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

South Side Marina, looking towards the channel, Providenciales Turks & Caicos

We set our course northwest towards our next stop, the remote Mayaguana and  Acklins Islands in the southern Bahamas . . .

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (April 2018)- by Theresa

We had a smooth 80+ mile passage across the Mona Passage, a notoriously rough open water passage which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Immediately upon arrival in the Dominican Republic (DR), we were boarded by Immigration, Customs, Navy, and Department of Agriculture, all of whom had their requisite paperwork and fee(s).

Boats travelling in the Dominican Republic must obtain a “Despacho” (written permission to travel between ports) from the DR Navy prior to every departure. Cruising up the east coast of the Dominican Republic, and westward across its north coast, we pulled into three ports: Marina Cap Cana , in Punta Cana; Puerto Bahia Marina, in Samana; and Ocean World Marina, in Puerto Plata. We had visited, and wrote about, each of these ports on our journey south [See Puerto Plato, Domincan Republic (2015) and Samana & Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (2015)], so this post will be brief, and utilized only to share some updated photos and anecdotes from our most recent visit.

MARINA CAP CANA, PUNTA CANA (April 2018)

Cap Cana Marina & Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Resort, Dominican Republic

Waterside dining & infinity pool, Cap Cana Marina, Dominican Republic

Waterside dining & infinity pool, Cap Cana Marina, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

The boys had more than enough outdoor activities to keep them busy.

Beachside tennis courts, Cap Cana Marina, Dominican Republic

Beachside tennis courts, Cap Cana Marina, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

Cap Cana Marina & Beach Resort, Dominican Republic

PUERTO BAHIA MARINA, SAMANA (April 2018)

Puerto Bahia Marina is an idyllic full service resort marina tucked away in the north end of Samana Bay. While we were there, we encountered a lovely young couple, Doug and Roxanna, vacationing from Georgia, U.S.A., who recognized us solely from having read our blog. Avid boaters themselves, with cruising dreams of their own, Doug & Roxanna reviewed our blog searching for information on cruising the Caribbean. It was nice to hear that our blog has provided relevant information and inspired others to follow their cruising dreams. Fair winds Doug and Roxanna!

Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

There was no shortage of activities in Puerto Bahia.

Billiard room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Billiard room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Billiard room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Billiard room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Infinity Pool, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Infinity Pool, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

R&R in the game room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Dominican Republic

R&R in the game room, Puerto Bahia Marina, Dominican Republic

Ryan ready for chess, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Ryan ready for chess, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Ocean Club, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Ocean Club, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Ocean Club infinity pool, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

Ocean Club infinity pool, Puerto Bahia Marina, Samana, Dominican Republic

I was once again, astounded to see how much the boys had grown since our last visit to the Dominican Republic on our southbound journey in 2015.

OCEAN WORLD MARINA, PUERTO PLATA (April 2018)

Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina & Casino, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina & Casino, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina & Casino, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Ocean World Marina & Casino, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Sunrise departure, Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Sunrise departure, Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

We staged in Ocean World until the next appropriate weather window. Continuing our journey north from the Dominican Republic, we next set our course to Big Sand Cay, Turks and Caicos …

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! – by Randy

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

 

Pool at Cap Cana Marina, DR

The North Coast of the Dominican Republic, Samana and Punta Cana – by Randy

Pilot's Discretion DR North Coast track

Pilot’s Discretion DR North Coast track

As I write this we are tucked in a slip at the Cap Cana Marina in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We have travelled the approximately 200 nautical miles from Ocean World, Puerto Plata to position ourselves at the southeastern edge of the Dominican Republic so that we will be in a favorable location to initiate our crossing to Puerto Rico via the Mona Passage next week. The journey across the north coast of the Dominican Republic, including stops at Marina Puerto Bahia de Samana and Punta Cana, has been spectacular.

Northern coastline of the Dominican Republic

Northern coastline of the Dominican Republic

We left Ocean World before dawn on February 4. As the sun rose, we were underway, enjoying our morning coffee as the light revealed a truly amazing coastline off our starboard beam. The Dominican mountains come to the waters edge, terminating in sheer cliffs that the Atlantic breakers continuously pummel in a spectacular display of natures might. It was quite awe inspiring being able to watch from the comfort of the Pilots’ Discretion as we cruised a couple of miles offshore.

Once around Cabo Samana, we entered the calm waters of Samana Bay which is a very large, protected bay on the east coast of the D.R. We pulled into Marina Puerto Bahia de Samana for fuel and a couple nights rest. We have been very surprised by the quality of the marine facilities that we have found in a country that in many areas lacks the basic necessities of life. The marina infrastructure is second to none and in many cases, far nicer than most marinas that you would find in Florida or other boating centers in the United States.

While in Samana we took the opportunity to hire a couple of very hard working “boat boys” to wash the Pilots’ Discretion and polish her stainless steel. We also had a diver clean the hull and running gear in preparation for our crossing of the Mona Passage.

On February 6th, we were once again underway at dawn, this time we were leaving in company with six sailboats who were all going in the same general direction as us. The sight of the sailboats off our beam and stern as the sun rose was really beautiful and reminded us why we love our time at sea so much.

It wasn’t long after departure that it became evident that we would not be running in company with our new sailing friends for long. We were operating at our slowest idle speed and it was clear that we were still pulling away from the gaggle of sailboats. As we watched the sailboats disappear off our stern, we set up for a 10 knot cruise and made the turn southeast to round Cabo Engano and make our way to Punta Cana.

Whale breaching the surface just off our port side

Whale breaching the surface just off our port side

About an hour into our day we began to see what this area is famous for; dozens of migrating humpback whales were visable all around us. Some we could only see the moisture rising as they were breathing through their blowholes off in the distance but on a few occasions, a whale would breach the surface and put on a show within a few hundred yards of the Pilots’ Discretion. In the words of the boys, “that was awesome!”

The videos of the whales do not come close to capturing the magnificence of the spectacle that they provided us; it truly was one of those “you had to be there” moments.

We are going to spend a few days here in Cap Cana as we attend to some routine maintenance items before heading off for Puerto Rico. The good news for  us is that Frank Castillo, the Cap Cana Marina Dockmaster has gone way out of his way to help us in any way that he can as we prepare for the next leg of our journey. We will post next from Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

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

ACKLINS ISLANDS , BAHAMAS

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.

MAYAGUANA, BAHAMAS

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.

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS & CAICOS

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.

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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.

PUERTO PLATA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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.

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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.