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General Luperon
04/22/2012

Like all Latin American countries, they are very proud of past military accomplishments here in the Dominican Republic. This statue stands proudly in the town square (which is actually a triangle).

Steve's Daughters
04/20/2012

The help at Steve's is pretty good too, and bilingual as a bonus. The younger is Coral and she is 3. The older is Stephanie and she is 6, and kicked my butt playing billiards. I wish I could have gotten a picture of them in the kitchen, peeling potatoes.

Steve's Place
04/20/2012

Lots of options for cheap food and internet, but I like Steve's Place the best. He was a cruiser years ago, who landed here, met a local girl and never looked back. For $ 3 you can have a nice meal. Smoothies made by his wife Annie are $ 1.40. It's shady and set up and back from the street, which is noisy and dusty. And they have a nice clean pool in back, which you can use free. Super nice folks.

Two Bucks a Day
04/19/2012

The harbor here is very tranquil. Lots of boats, some occupied and some left for the summer. The harbor guys even come out to your boat to see if you need anything. Easy to see why some boaters never leave. $ 2 a day for a mooring ball, instead of the $ 20 I had to pay in Turks and Caicos just to tie up the dinghy for a few hours. I thought it was funny that the daily rate was $ 2, or the weekly rate $ 15. I pay by the day :)

All Is Well
04/18/2012

You're looking at a happy camper. Luperon has been good so far. First thing I did was go to a doctor to have him look at my ears, which have been problematic for a month or so. They didn't have the right equipment here, so I had to go to Puerto Plata, to a big hospital. I just walked in, pointed to my ears and sat down to wait. 20 minutes later I was being examined, another 20 minutes to clean them out, $ 60 for the visit and I left. They even gave me the tool they used, so I can do it myself next time. The pharmacy was next door, and they filled the prescription for the drops, even gave me extra. No one ever asked my name, my insurance info, my HMO, my political leanings, drug test, urine sample ... Funny how a country as backwards as the DR is so much better for public health.

Luperon
04/16/2012

I made it to Luperon ! The Dominican Republic is green and mountainous, with lots of rainshowers. I'm moored in a nice calm protected bay which is very close to the town. Everything is super cheap. The people are friendly and there are lots of cruisers. There's wi fi and ice cream and a big free dinghy dock.

The trip across was 21 hours of mostly easy winds and seas. I took short catnaps of 20 minutes or so through the night. It was weird to wake up in total darkness, only the iPad to tell me where I was.

About half way across the bilge alarm went off and would not stop. Water was filling faster than the pump could keep up, and it self-destructed. The heat exchanger boot had split and seawater was spraying the engine compartment. Not good. I turned off the engine and drifted under sail. Tore everything out of the lazarette and quarter berth for access. And performed the same hanging upside down repair Chris and I did in Provo, removing the heat exchanger and replacing the boots. Only this time I was by myself, it was dark and the boat was bobbing around the Atlantic Ocean. Did I mention I was exhausted ? I don't like doing anything strenuous after my bedtime ...

Then the autopilot broke yet again. I thought that had been fixed in Provo too, but this time the whole feedback arm bent into a pretzel. So the boat is sailing into the wind, then falling off, then turning on the waves, all while I try to hammer the connecting rod straight, reattach it and recalibrate the AP. Very frustrating.

But I made it ! The camera is also broken, so I will try to take pictures with the iPad, then email them to myself, import them into iPhoto, resize and attach to the sailblog. Here's the first attempt : a mural on the main drag, showing the harbor.

Working Up the Nerve
04/10/2012

The passage to the Dominican Republic will be about 100 nautical miles on the Atlantic Ocean, depending on where I leave from and where I land. I have never done this long of a passage, and it will require sailing (or motoring) through the night. The trip should take about 24 hours. I am hoping the engine, bilge pump and autopilot all hold up. I am fueled, watered, propaned, stocked with groceries and as ready as I'll ever be. Glorious Hispaniola awaits me.

Farewell to T & C
04/10/2012

It's been a fun two and a half weeks, but it's time to move on. Turks and Caicos was pretty nice, but also very expensive. I'm headed south, into the Caribbean, on my own again. There's a mixture of feeling glad to have the boat back to myself and also missing the camaraderie of a good friend alongside.

End of a Great Week
04/07/2012

The last week is probably the most fun I've had since leaving Florida. I was worried about how it would go with a visitor on the boat, fearing we might get on each other's nerves, or be bored, or seasick, or not have enough to eat, or not have enough room, or ... All of which were ungrounded. Chris proved to be a great companion : adaptable, cheerful, helpful, never seasick, always engaged and enthusiastic and easy to hang with. I am feeling quite blessed just now.

Napping
04/06/2012

A nice spot for a kick back in the pine needles. Nereia is anchored in the distance, but hard to see in the photo.

Perfection
04/06/2012

The last day of Chris' visit we found the perfect beach. Really stunning, and miles of it all to ourselves. The water was the most amazing electric aqua blue, and the sand fine as powder. The water was warm and the surf mild. We spent the day just soaking it all in, burning it into memory forever. Never saw another person the whole time, just a bunch of tourists going by in the excursion boats looking wistfully in our direction.

Flamingos
04/05/2012

Real live flamingos, in their natural setting. They look just like the plastic lawn ornaments, but they move around. This shot is a long zoom.

Coming Out
04/05/2012

We emerged after a few hours into brilliant daylight, with dangling vegetation hanging through holes in the roof above us. A very powerful and particularly satisfying experience for me. They say the Lucayans used the caves as a sacred power spot, for journeying inward and for rites of passage. It was the coolest thing I've seen yet on the cruise. Our 'guide' was a little worried when we finally emerged, smeared with bat guano and sporting big smiles.

Inside of Cow
04/05/2012

We always used to say, in Wisconsin, "Darker than the inside of a cow" as though we knew what the inside of a cow looked like. Well, here is what it looks like deep inside a cave.

Goofball
04/05/2012

The reverence didn't last too long.

Later
04/05/2012

Eventually it will look something like this. A very large example, stunning to behold. We stood back in reverence.

Formation
04/05/2012

Ever wonder how a stalagmite grows ? Here it is, in action. Drip ... drip ... drip. Just wait a thousand years and these cones will be joined.

Deeper
04/05/2012

The cave went deep into the mountain, splitting into different caverns and passages, some easy to walk through and some a scramble. There were tunnels underwater too, but we didn't have scuba gear. Lots of bats ! Really freaky to have them circling around you. Up in the ceiling cavities there were hundreds of them, making their bizarre squeaking noises as we passed by a few feet below.

Conch Bay Caves
04/05/2012

We sailed over to North Caicos and took a long dinghy ride to a marina where they charged $ 20 just to tie up the dinghy. Then rented a car, as there were no bicycles like the guidebook had promised. Drove 60 some miles to visit the larges cave system in the Caribbean. Here I am with our guide, who wouldn't go in more than a few feet. But as long as we paid our $ 10 and proved we had flashlights, we were free to go deeper.

Amanyara Resort
04/04/2012

We anchored off this very swank resort. Super high end. We landed the dink and they escorted us to the bar. I had a little cup of ice cream for $ 16 and Chris had two fish tacos for $ 20. Plus government tax of 11%. Plus gratuity of 15%. Yikes. I walked around the place a bit when they weren't looking and it was beyond cool. No photos allowed. We thought about staying for just one night, a bit of luxury in the midst of the rough sailing life. But at $ 1000 a night for the cheapest room, we decided sleeping on the boat was good enough for us.

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