Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Southeastward from George Town, Bahamas to Dominican Republic

Azure waters on Grace Bay. Submitted photos

Azure waters on Grace Bay. Submitted photos

By Frances Diebler

After spending a wonderful, rest­ful, pleasant, exciting time in George Town Exuma in the Baha­mas, the time came when we had to move on. We had to say farewell to some of our sailing friends and companions as we con­tinued southeast toward the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. For us at that time, the transition from the Bahamas to some of the islands of the Eastern Caribbean was rather remarkable. We spent Easter Sunday at a small albeit pleasant island, Rum Cay. Everywhere we stopped so far we were welcomed by the local people who wanted to meet us and invite us into their homes.

Continuing to the southeast we dropped down to Providencials (Provo) at Sapadillo Bay. This is the main town in the Turks and Caicos Island group. This area is so pristine with its beautiful beaches and all white architecture nestled against green blue waterside. We did find that this area was rather upscale and expensive. At that time it was, and still is, a haven for “the rich and famous.” I felt right at home.  After all, we didn’t just fly in for the week­end; it took us months to get here. Travel­ing at 6 mph on a sailboat is not for anyone who is in a hurry.

Everything was white including the sand. You can just imagine how beauti­ful the scenery was with bright blue skies, aqua water and all white buildings. The surrounding waters are rather shallow, so you have to time your entrances and exits according to the tides. Also, be mindful of

 

 

the wind direction and velocity. While you are there, just bask in the beauty of the is­land, the calmness of the water and feeling of a gentle breeze on your face. There were many times on this voyage that I looked around and asked myself if we were really here. This was one of those times.

To get around the island, we rented a car for two reasons. First we wanted to see the island and at that time there were no fueling facilities available to us. We would have to jerry jug diesel fuel from a town service station to the boat. When we arrived, there was a group of boats that contracted a fuel truck to come to the gov­ernment dock. The government dock was very unstable from the surge making fuel­ing difficult, as well as jeopardizing our hull.

Provo, as it is called, is a very sophis­ticated and upscale town. We rented a car and drove all over from Grace Bay where the large resort hotels and casino are to visit the only Conch Farm in the world. As far as I know now, this farm is no lon­ger active. Banking is a very big business here. The Turks and Caicos are a com­monwealth of Great Britain and a tax free haven for foreign assets. Also, where there are banks there are lawyers. Every other building housed law firms. There was no town center. Everything was spread out. Compared to the islands that we had just visited, these were very grand and upscale islands.

After this grand respite, we had to sail on to our next port of call; the

 

 

Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola. This leg of our journey would take us three days and two nights to get there.

Underway again, the next morning we were making our way across the coral studded, reef strewn banks to Six Hills which is just a rocky outcropping where we would spend the night. We pulled up close to the rocky outcroppings and anchored for the night. Of course, the wind and sea had to be quite calm to do this comfortably. We did this so that the next morning we could head toward Lurperon, Dominican Republic, and arrive in daylight. This area is strewn with coral heads which are really mean looking. With the right light you can safely navigate around them. The initial passage to the DR is rather tension filled as one of us had to be on watch until we reached deep water. Coral heads are everywhere and are dangerous to vessels traveling these waters.

Six Hills was the right choice for us to anchor and be ready for daybreak the next morning. This offered us a prevailing wind and a direct shot (24 hrs) the next morning to Luperon, Dominican Republic.

So far this has been perhaps a bit boring, but hopefully, about to change. Excitement was in the air this morning, May 26th, as we upped anchor and made our way across the rest of the Caicos Banks, clearing the Turks Passage into deeper water which would take us to the Dominican Republic. Turks Passage was a bit rough and choppy as all this deeper water

 

 

had to “climb the shallower banks.” Once out into the ocean, the seas were long swells and very comfortable and predictable; i.e. up one side, down the other, etc. The wind was E-SE 12-16 K. Fortunately for us, the wind was more E of S and we had one of the best sails we’ve had in a very long time. We left the anchorage at 0800 Friday, May 26th and sailed all day and night. We arrived off the coast of the DR, Luperon, too early to go in, about 0500 hrs Saturday, May 27th. We slowed down the boat and just milled about waiting for daylight before entering the harbor. Even though I had almost no sleep, just catnaps, here I was defrosting my freezers at 0500. Who said, “Sailors have more fun?”

As we slowly made way, we began to smell the verdant aroma of flowers and grass as well as the very strong smell of cattle. It is really a strange sensation to be offshore in the dark and begin to smell the different aromas coming from the land.

As daybreak came, we began to make our entrance into Luperon Harbor, Dominican Republic. As we slowly motored in, I could not believe that we were now in the exact place that The Pinta from Columbus’ fleet had actually anchored and hid among the heavy foliage in 1492! Now we were there in the same spot. What a feeling of exhilaration!

To be continued…

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *