Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back in the US!

After spending three months and 1 week in the Dominican Republic, we are now in Puerto Rico! I had been itching to leave since mid-October, but things kept get getting in the way, like boat projects and weather. I am sure my insistent questioning of when we could leave drove David up the wall! It feels so good to be on the move again and on our way to the Virgin Islands, which are some of the best cruising grounds in the world.

Our 215 nautical mile non-stop passage from Samaná, DR to Ponce, PR was quite uneventful, except for a couple of water spouts that popped up out of the blue. We had been motor sailing for a lot of the time since there wasn’t much wind, and we had clear skies with a few clouds. On the second day, I was in the galley preparing lunch, and David said, “Hey Babe, can you come up and take look at this?” I said of course, and when I went out to look, I confirmed what he already knew. “Holy crap, that’s a water spout!” Some water spouts have the same characteristics of land tornadoes so we definitely wanted to avoid it. We veered off course a little to head away from it and then saw another one forming in the near distance. Luckily they both dissipated, and we only encountered a little rainstorm.

Our little visitor
Since we had an exceptional weather window, we decided to bypass Boquerón and go directly to Ponce, which is Puerto Rico’s second largest city. I am a little disappointed that we missed the touristy beach village, but we were hoping that we would find a place in Ponce that could repair the dinghy. David tried patching it with no luck but did manage to slow the leak by using some rope. It still will only hold air for about 20 minutes before it needs to be aired up again so we will need a professional to fix it for good.

After 48 hours, we arrived in Ponce on Wednesday, November 25th. While in Marathon, FL, we both signed up for a Local Boater’s Card, which would allow us to check in via phone when arriving in the U.S. and U.S. territories instead of having Customs come out to the boat. (Side note: even with the card, customs can choose to board your boat if they want to.) However, when I called, the customs official told me that the type of card we registered for only works if you create and file a float plan before leaving for your destination. I am pretty sure that when we signed up months ago in Key West, the Customs officer didn’t tell us this or give us any options, but that was seven months ago so I could be wrong. At least now we know.

Anyway, the officer said that Customs needed to come out to the boat, and we needed to go to the fuel dock in order for them to do so. When I told David this, he said to ask if we could put it off until the next morning since we were tired from the long passage and already anchored. They told me that would be fine and to call back in the morning to talk to the officer on duty. The next day we called, and they said to bring the boat to the fuel dock so we did. Right off the bat, I could tell the male officer was one of those “strictly by the books, will give you a hard time” type of people. His hands were on his belt, he had a frown on his face, and he was stalking towards the boat. He asked when we arrived, and I told him yesterday. I could almost see the steam rising from his head when I told him that. “Yesterday?! You know you have to check in the minute you arrive at a port.” I calmly explained the conversation I had with his office yesterday, and he kept demanding the name of the person I had talked to, which I didn’t get. He then proceeded to call his office to presumably check my story and then chew someone out. The woman officer said it wasn’t a problem and went about the normal questions of being checked in. She was really sweet and after a few minutes of conversation, gave us a little info about the town. She even told us that when she sees us back here in two years she wants to see a baby…lol.

With that done, we anchored again and spent Thanksgiving Day on the boat eating left overs since most places were closed. We are usually surrounded by family and great food for the holidays so I was a little sad not to be spending it with them. However, I am very thankful to be on this year-long extended honeymoon and experiencing so many amazing new places!! Spending Thanksgiving in a tropical paradise with 80 degree weather isn't so bad, right? I am also very thankful for David. He is such a loving, caring husband, and I can’t imagine spending my days without him.

We had a very “American” day on Black Friday since Ponce has a large shopping mall with American stores, a cinema with American movies (with subtitles in Spanish), and American restaurants. We shopped at a few of my favorite stores, watched the new Bond movie Spectre, and ate at Macaroni Grill. Sometimes it feels good to be around familiar things!

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