Cofresi, Dominican Republic
14 May 2011 | Ocean World Marina
Captain Chris, Sunny and Warm
We took a tour of the Brugal Rum bottling plant in Puerto Plata, with free samples of course.
We started our exit of the Turks & Caicos by motoring in a dead calm to the south edge of the banks for a night at French Cay. It is surreal to motor through fifteen feet of water seeing starfish on the bottom! The snorkeling there was a bit disappointing compared to West Caicos, so we sat back and watched the birds. The ocean swell did not make it here, making for a comfortable anchorage on the only sand we could find at the northwest end. The wind picked up overnight, just in time for us to motor straight into it to make the anchorage at Ambergris Cays. We wandered around and did some beachcombing on Big Ambergris, until the security guard gave us a ride back to the dinghy. There were numerous coral heads in the vicinity of the anchorage there to snorkel on that were entertaining, as well as watching the squid hanging around the anchor chain. We motored off the banks to the rolly anchorage at South Caicos to await better weather for the transit across the Turks Passage, and then motorsailed to Grand Turk.
We explored the town of Cockburn on our own, eating cracked conch at Barbie's with the locals, and picking up some fresh groceries. The next day we mingled with the cruise ship passengers at the shopping/dining complex, and of course had to have a cheeseburger and Landshark at Margaritaville. Having cleared out in the morning and holding our outbound papers, we were able to purchase some duty free liquor before taking off the next morning for Big Sand Cay.
Facebook followers have seen the photos of the Mahi we caught on the transit. We were sailing past an area where birds were diving, and I could see some flying fish flushing. When I turned to look for our lure, I saw a blue flash streaking for it and then we had "fish on"! We rolled in the jib to slow the boat down, and then I brought in the handline and held him alongside while Linda gaffed him. The shot of alcohol that is supposed to calm the fish actually got him riled up, but putting it in the trash bag helped until we could anchor and filet, with Linda reading instructions from our fishing handbook while I wielded the knife. We had time for a quick beach stroll before returning and pulling anchor, bound for the Dominican Republic.
We had a decent northeast wind and were able to sail through the night with only a few other ships crossing our path. One tug and tow was headed for the same piece of ocean we were, so although technically sailboats have right of way, in reality the "law of gross tonnage" took over and we fell off to go astern of the tow. We took down the sails after breakfast and motored up to Ocean World Marina to clear into the country after averaging 5 knots throughout the 85 mile passage.
Clearing customs and immigration were straightforward, with the Ocean World employee acting as translator when necessary. We fueled up while at the dock, then moved to our slip. The piers are fixed concrete, and a bit high for most of us. The marina appears to be intended for megayachts, and most of it is empty, except for the back 2-3 piers which are a few feet lower and have all the sailboats and trawlers. There are evidently a few holes below the waterline in the breakwall, which makes for a surge in the marina. Even though the water appears calm, the boats buck and strain at the mooring lines periodically making chafing gear (protection for the mooring lines against the concrete) necessary.
We met back up with Marionette, and rented a car with DeeDee to tour the area and go shopping. The restaurants in the area have good food, but are not as inexpensive as the more remote towns like Luperon. We've enjoyed relaxing, playing dominoes, and getting boat chores done while plugged into shore power, but alas, the budget is rearing its ugly head again, and we intend to leave here in the next day or two and explore some of the more remote areas!