Heading South to the Dominican Republic

While at Southside Marina we asked the three musketeers, Simon, Charlyn, and Bob, what they thought about Luperon, Dominican Republic, (DR) as a place to leave the boat for a couple of weeks. We had been hearing conflicting reports about the lay of the land. Simon and Charlyn said they would probably skip it. Bob was silent. Van Sant’s guide seems to treat it like a cruising Mecca; Pavlidis in his guide appears neutral; Frank Virgintino in his Guide to the DR and Haiti has little good to say other except that Luperon is a good hurricane hole that will foul your bottom in no time, almost overnight. Close friends of ours who had just returned said to skip it. So, with a bit of reluctance, we decided to “skip it”. I asked about Manzanillo; Bob, who was normally quiet and soft spoken, said ” I would not go there”. That’s all he said, and he just looked at me. So, I decided to skip that too. We pointed our bow towards Ocean World Marina, realizing it would cost us to leave the boat there, but knowing we would have a safe place to moor the boat for a week or two. We would be flying home for yet another grandchild. What you do for one, you do for all. And it was a good decision. More on this later.

 Ready to leave Big Sand Cay
Ready to leave Big Sand Cay

We pointed the bow southeast with a reasonable forecast of winds ENE 11 to 16, but I reefed the main as we left Big Sand behind anticipating we might see more wind after sunset. Well, this was one of those days when the forecast was off a bit. The winds became E, then ESE at 12 to 17, then 20, giving us apparent winds of 20+, close reaching at first, then later at night, hard on the nose. We sailed until around midnight with the reefed main and the 100% jib, screaming along at 7.5 to 8.5 knots with the boat working hard. I was watching the Radar around 2300, and I began to pick out the boats that had left some hours before us. Realizing I would soon be on top of them, I hailed them to determine their heading and destination; they were all headed to Luperon, motor sailing to hold course and making 3.5 to 4.5 knots, rocking and rolling as they went. You could almost hear them sigh when they heard how fast we were moving, but while speed is often safer, there are times when you must think and plan ahead. We didn’t want to reach the DR in the dark; we were working the boat hard, and the ride was bumpy and noisy; so, to solve several minor problems at once, I decided to roll up the jib, slow the boat down, and motor sail easily towards the coast. We reached Ocean World just before 0800 just as the marina staff came on duty.
Approach to Ocean World as Seen from Shore
Approach to Ocean World as Seen from Shore

In calm weather, and that is nearly every morning before 0900, the approach to Ocean World Marina is straightforward. Most days, if you come in after that hour, you better know your boat’s handling characteristics because the swell rolling in from the North Atlantic can be huge and the winds very strong on the beam as you make the 90 degree turn into the basin. The rock breakwater is about 30 feet tall and 60 feet wide or more at the base. One day we watched a 45 foot Swan heading out at around 1400 hours, heading east into a 20 knot wind – fools do tread. They barely made it out the cut with the boat showing her keel, rudder, and bow as she crashed, crawled, and rolled out the entrance cut through the reef. It took them almost 20 minutes to cover the same ground we covered in five on the way in. I held my breath for them and I paid attention as Ocean Angel is nearly identical. 
60 foot Motor Yacht
60 foot Motor Yacht

The 60 foot cruiser at the outer dock broke most of her dock lines when hurricane Earl passed 200 miles to the north of the marina a few years ago. Swell from the north can make this marina a real trap. Good to remember.

Explore the DR