Rio San Juan
03 March 2007 | Dominican Republic
We were up at 4AM to get the boat ready. I was not looking forward to driving out of Luperon in the dark but there wasn't really anywhere to stage up outside of the harbor and we were pretty much at the back of the anchorage with only two boats behind us. I suppose we could have anchored out by the entrance to the basin but that just didn't seem like a great idea. Besides I really wanted to sleep in our exact spot one more night. Or at least part of a night.
We weighed anchor at 5AM and followed our track line carefully back the way we came in, creeping along with the depth gauge front and center. Every once in a while I glanced at the chart plotter to see our track line and saw our little digital boat traveling across the hillside a half mile away from where we really were. Did I mention that the Navionics electronic charts of the DR are useless?
When we got out into the real wind it was already 20 knots and Swingin' on a Star piped right up to 8 knots with a reef in the main. Oddly enough the wind calmed down around sun up and we had an hour or two of 15 knot wind. Our plan was to go as far as we could stand to go and then pull in to the nearest port. With our fairly small scale Wavy Line chart of Hispaniola, bogus electronic charts, a Small Scale US Gov chart and the Van Sant cruising guide, we were overly dependant on Van Sant. Fortunately his guide for the DR and Puerto Rico is dynamite and spot on.
We passed Ocean World and Puerto Plata as the wind began to pick up. Before long I was seeing 27 knots and watching the kids on the kite boards just off shore literally launching themselves into the air 30 or 50 feet. White horses everywhere, you know the drill. Time to tuck in for the day.
We had to slog along for another hour or so to get to Rio San Juan. Hideko was taking a nap and so I was trying to stay somewhat near the coast to get a little bit of lee from the cape ahead of us. As I tacked toward shore however I found myself going from no bottom to 200 feet to 100 feet to 40 feet in a matter of moments. I bore off, more and more until I had almost done a 180 to get back into deep water. The low depth was 20 feet and well off shore. Plenty of water sure, but left a stain in my pants all the same. We stayed a bit further out on the final approach.
We used the Van Sant guide to enter the invisible reef outside of the anchorage. This reef is impossible to see unless it is breaking or you have great light. There are some really beat fishing boats anchored to one side and you can not approach them directly even though it looks like good water all the way up. The Van Sant guide puts you right in the anchorage with no fuss.
Rio San Juan looks quaint but we didn't go ashore so I don't really know what it is like. They did play loud music until late in the night. The wind buried it most of the time though so it was fine. As we got ready to shut down for the night we met a nice Italian sailor who was departing with the only other cruising boat in the anchorage in the middle of the night. We bade them well and hit the sack with our own target of 4AM.