We have arrived in St Maarten after a great sail from Sint Eustatius. We booked into Simpson Bay Marina for a week as we need to have our diesel engine looked at. We have been seeing small air bubbles in our racor filters and when we try to start, we always have to bump up the rpms. The specialist came over yesterday and told us that there was air at the secondary filter which probably causing the hard starting. And he said the air is not normal. Of course, Caliber claims the air is normal and not to worry about it. So now we are not sure what to do….
We were thrilled when we arrived to discover several cruisers here: Mark and Velma on Kardia with whom we had spent several wonderful days with on St Lucia, and Steve on Broad Reaching. We have not seen Steve since the US Virgin islands last April and it was great to catch up with all his news.
Karen twisted her ankle the other night on the way to dinner. So a few days are required for that to mend before we can head off to the Virgin Islands, trying to catch up with Steve again! It will also give us a chance to update the blog. We have got our netbook working again so watch for updates.
We sailed overnight to Samana bay. Cruise ships stop at Samana so their passengers can go whale watching in this bay where humpback whales nurse their calves. We spent a few days in the main town of Samana before deciding to see more of the bay.
We sailed across the bay to Los Haitises National Park which Bruce van Sant called the “Bora Bora of the Caribbean”. There were 4 boats that sailed with us that day and we out sailed them all…the nearest boat to us was Broad Reaching…fortunately we reached the objective bay and stopped the “race” before they could catch us!
We toured into the mangroves in our dinghies to see the caves and pictographs left by the indigenous Taïno.
Pictographs in the Cuevas Ferrocarril (Railway Caves, named such because a railway used to run past the mouth of the caves) show that herons were common in those days as well.
And of course we socialized with other boaters that we have met along the way…
It was another overnight sail, complete with frightening thunder cells and rain squalls, to get to Ocean World Marina near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Ocean World Marina has a Marine Park, similar to that in San Diego including friendly dolphins, and a casino. The marina was clean and secure and fairly empty, so we were able to negotiate a reasonable rate with them. But there WAS a lot of surge here and the authorities (Coast Guard/Military) will not issue a clearance to leave this marina if the swells/seas are too large.
Richard and I hired a taxi for a day to explore Puerto Plata that included a visit to the central square, the old Spanish fort, a cigar factory and the requisite visit to the local rum distillery. The Brugal Rum Distillery was actually a blending and bottling plant, the rum having been distilled far away amid the cane fields. But we were able to taste and purchase their product.
We rented a car one day with the crew off Broad Reaching: Steve and Jerry. Richard drove around the area and we experienced the local parade at Luperon for their Independence day. We ate dinner at a truck stop – lots of meat and rice. For vitiamins one needs to eat the marvelous local fruits.
The driving in the DR is quite different than at home. The locals use mainly motorcycles and scooters, even most taxis are motorcycles… It is like a race when the lights turn green and all the motorcycles try to get out in front of the cars.
On February 15th we left West Plana Cay in the Bahamas for an overnight passage to the Turks and Caicos Islands. We were still buddy boating with Broad Reaching, Goin’ South and Beach House which made the night seem so much shorter when one can call other boaters to chat. We had to motor all the way but we were treated to a very special sunrise just as we neared Providenciales Island. Boats need to go between the reefs in early morning to easily see the coral heads.
Because we have a fairly shallow draft (just over 5 feet) we were able to go into a small marina, South Side Marina (on the south side of Provo and hence its name), where we spent several days . The water colour here is just incredible!
We decided to be tourists and took a snorkelling tour that also taught us how to dive for and clean conch. They made conch salad for all the guests with the freshly cleaned RAW conch (it is marinated in lime juice to “cook” it)
On February 23rd, it was another overnight sail to get us to Ocean World Marina near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic..again we were doused by rain squalls cascading down the slopes of the island.