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Escuela de Vela

There is a local sailing school for island kids. I helped out for a day, launching the boats, towing them out to open water and watching to make sure they didn't end up in the mangroves, or sailing for Florida. It was the usual chaos of herding cats - and totally fun. Probably one of the only really positive things going on for kids on the island. I've been told the regular schools are a joke, meeting for only an hour or two a day, when they have class at all. But everywhere I've ever seen them, those little bathtub boats (Optimists) bring smiles and opportunity to young mariners.


Everywhere I've been, in Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, and now here in the DR, there are unfinished construction projects. Lots of them. From hotels and resorts and marinas down to shops and homes and shacks, there is no shortage of foundations and block walls. I'm not sure if they all got shut down after the 2008 financial crisis, or if starts are common, and completions rare.


This is the wall of the school. Most places have barbed wire and steel bars over the windows. Concrete block is the building material of choice. Lots of litter. Dogs roaming the streets, piles of garbage in vacant lots. Sad, because the country is so pretty in its natural form. I lock the boat every day.

General Luperon

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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.


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


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.


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

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

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.


The reverence didn't last too long.


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


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.

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Who: David Holubetz
Port: Telluride Colorado
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