Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Week in Samaná

Even though our plans were altered, the stop in Samaná turned out to be a lot of fun. As I mentioned in the last post, we checked into the marina on Sunday morning and only planned on staying two nights.

The marina/resort is a great deal at only $1 per foot and allows access to their pools, restaurants, gym, spa, laundry, rec room, WiFi, and showers. I had heard good things about the place, but it was a lot better than I expected. They had an infinity pool located right by the water edge with an excellent view of the bay and a pool with a similar view by their restaurant, Le Deauville.  It was heaven for a pool girl like myself!! The grounds and lobby were beautiful, and the gym had a variety of up-to-date equipment. The not so good – showers that don’t always have hot water and one washer and two dryers that don’t always work. I’m used to cold showers and hand washing our laundry on the boat, but I expected more from such a nice place. All of the staff are exceptionally nice, especially Gavi, the marina manager, and he speaks excellent English. The place is kind of empty though, which is a shame since it is a great hotel. We heard that was here a few days ago to check it out and maybe promote it on their site so hopefully traffic will pick up some.

The first day we pulled in the marina, we met up with Robert and Virginia Scott from s/v Honeymoon Forever. We had met Robert the day before because they had brought friends out to Cayo Levantado, and he came over to introduce himself. They were going to go eat pizza on the waterfront in Samaná and invited us along. They were a fun couple to hang out with and gave us information about the town and the surrounding area. After we got back to the marina, we all relaxed by the pool and had a couple of cold bevies.

A couple of days later they invited us to go for a sail to Los Haitises National Park, and we readily accepted. It took about two hours to get there and it was raining on/off for a few hours, but it finally cleared up so we could go explore by dinghy. It was really beautiful, and we even found a bat cave to explore.

On Friday they invited us to join them again for a day trip, and we went to Cayo Levantado, which is a small tropical island. When we were anchored there the previous time, we couldn’t leave the boat because the dinghy wasn’t in working order. I was super excited to go back and swim in the clear blue water. The water and sand here were a lot better than the beaches near Luperón. Cayo Levantado is also known as Bacardi Island since the rum company shot several commercials there. There is a resort on the island, bars, a restaurant, and vendors selling snorkel equipment and souvenirs. We rented lounge chairs on the public beach for $2 a person, ate lunch, snorkeled, and soaked in the sun. It was a great day with great company, and we can’t thank Robert and Virginia enough for being so generous this week and taking us along.

We needed to stock up on veggies so we decided to head into town on Saturday and go to the open market. We hiked about a mile uphill to get to the hotel entrance and then took a 5 minute motoconcho ride to the market. The market is made up of several outdoor shops that are linked together and then a big covered indoor space where twenty or so people have tables set up for vegetables. You could buy broccoli, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, onions, pineapple, limes, peppers, celery, eggplant, coconut, tomatoes, potatoes…almost anything you could want. Outside of this area was the fish market and people selling whole chickens. I would have liked to buy a mahi mahi or tuna, but none of the fish was on ice, and we had no idea how old they were. The chickens were covered with flies so we skipped that too. I did get a new pair of sunglasses for only $3 since I lost my other pair the day before leaving Luperón.

Motoconcho ride into town

Hotel entrance

It was really nice being near facilities so we decided to stay at the marina until we leave for Puerto Rico, which should be tomorrow night. We had also read and heard a first-hand account about motor thefts on boats anchored in Samaná harbor so we didn’t want to take any chances. It looks like we will have a nice, calm sail all the way to Boquerón. So next time you hear from me, we’ll be in a new locale. See ya later!!

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The Trip from Luperón to Samaná

We are in…..the DR still. We did leave Luperón but had an uncomfortable ride on Friday night with winds 5 to 10 knots higher than forecasted so we turned south to Samaná instead of continuing east to Puerto Rico. Here is a rundown of the trip.

Night/Day 1 – Left around 6pm, had some turbulent water (it was like being caught in a washing machine, and I didn’t like it), almost hit a rowboat that didn’t have a light and only avoided them when David heard them yelling at us, and anchored around 9:30 a.m. Went to sleep and was woken up a couple of hours later by Navy officials who boarded without permission and before we could get up top. I was yelling “Un momento” as I was getting dressed, but they came aboard anyway. I mean the boat is our house, and it’s like police just walking through your door with no invitation. It was rude, but we did not say anything. In the DR, you cannot leave a port without getting a despachio, and we had gotten ours for Samaná. I think technically you aren’t supposed to anchor anywhere until you get to that port, but sailing/motoring during the day with 35 knots of wind is not something we would do. The trade winds weaken after 5 or 6 p.m. so that is the reason we move during the night. Bruce Van Zandt’s book explains all of this, and it’s the bible we’ve lived by after leaving Provo. Anyway, after we told the officials that we were just anchored for the day and not leaving the boat, they said, “No problema”, and went on their way. Finished cleaning the bottom. Discovered a busted seam in the dinghy, which meant it wouldn’t hold air in one tube, and we lost our mode of transportation to land. Not much we could do it there so we let it be.

Our last look at Luperon Harbor
Night/Day 2 – Left Rio San Juan around 8pm and had a nice, calm sail to Escondido. Anchored around 10 a.m. in a beautiful bay with cliffs, a pretty beach, and palm trees everywhere. Slept soundly for a few hours with no interruption from officials. Fixed the blower that the stupid rat broke when it chewed through the wires.  Found our water tank empty and then found that the fresh water pump was leaking, which helped drain the tank. Not having water is a big deal so we turned on the water maker, which was started making weird noises and not producing water. We were so frustrated at this point!! Long story short, David fixed it all (yes, I know what you are thinking and you’re correct…he is awesome!), and we pulled up the hook around 9 p.m. Our goal was to round the cape and make the thirty-five hour passage to Boquerón, Puerto Rico, but once we got near the cape, we had 20-25 knots of wind and short, steep waves coming from all directions, which sent the boat pitching like crazy. I was huddled in the corner of the cockpit with my eyes closed just waiting for it to stop. We weren’t in any danger, but there were a few scary moments (at least I thought so). The conditions improved after we rounded the cape, but since we were dead tired and had a long way to go, David made the executive decision to go to Samaná. We anchored at Cayo Levantado, which is near Samaná, at 5 a.m.

Time for morning watch

Dolphins and Escondido

Day 3 – Stayed at Caya Levantado to catch up on sleep. The island is beautiful, but it didn’t make a good anchorage because it was really rolly.

Day 4 – Moved to Puerto Bahia, which is a marina and hotel.

So there you have it. It was an exhausting trip so I am glad that we stopped in Samaná to re-group, fix a few things, and get some shut-eye.

Update on the rat: It is gone!! We caught it with a rat trap the first night at the marina. It was an destructive little bugger that broke the blower, which keeps the engine cool, chewed up several of my cloth grocery bags, including one my Granny made, got into the silverware drawer and chewed up a spatula and a couple of wooden spoons, and chewed through the lids of freeze-dried eggs and roast beef cans so we had to toss them.

He was an effective can opener.

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