Leaving George Town right after the Regatta finished, we headed for Long Island but looking at the weather upcoming decided for us to continue on to Rum Cay. We had heard a lot about Rum and wanted to be able to spend a few days there before heading for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Dominician Republic (DR).
Rum Cay is only 9 miles by 5 miles and has only about 70 people living on it. It has a marina that is not operational at this time- some kind of legal hassles but boats go in and tie up to the docks without having to pay. It has a very tricky entrance , shallow, narrow and with coral heads alongside so we elected to stay outside and dinghy in.
Art made by the owner was scattered around the marina grounds.
The mailboat has not come for more than one week so the shelves were mostly empty.However we stopped at the Last Chance grocery they were open! We did buy a loaf of coconut bread made on the island that was delicious.
Outside was the largest milkweed plant and pod we have ever seen.
Also saw this brain coral on the shore with these striations we had not seen before.
Saw sea cotton on the walks.
A highlight of the stay was going into the marina after the fishing boat had been out fishing. They returned with 6 large mahi mahi and a barracuda
The shark knew what was to happen next and gathered under the cleaning station. Soon we had 2 lemon shark, a few bull shark and maybe a dozen nurse shark ready to be fed.
When asked if we wanted any fish, my hand went up and we shared a pan of steaks with a German catamarran named Sud Oest with Chrisian, Angelika and 2 teenagers on board. We had not caught our own Mahi so we were very happy and put several steaks in the freezer for later.
It is a beautiful island with fringing reefs where John shot a large grouper that ran away with his spear. He hunted and hunted for the fish who pulled deep into the coral but never found it. We are sad to lose it but we are moving on to waters that allow our spear gun to be used.
When the weather indicated a lessening in the SE trades, we pulled anchor and started for the Turks and Caicos Islands. We were able to sail eastward the first day but then we lost the wind entirely so motored for 24 hours. It was a trip of 350 miles in the SE direction so we continued to motor/sail to Grand Turk. However just off of Grand Turk our wind came up out of the west!!! So we kept on as we now could sail directly for the DR at 6 knots with wind on the beam. Delightful! By nightfall we were about 35 miles from Luperon and the wind slowly died away to nothing again. We finished up with a 5 hour quiet motor to be able to enter the harbor at 0700 in daylight.
We did have success with fishing – we shared a blackfin tuna with a shark. 1/2 the fish gave us several meals worth and was easier to haul on deck.
Luperon harbor is a large enclosed bay on the north coast of DR not too far from the Haiti border. It is a small village with a few ex-pats living there. Many sailed in and moved ashore (built on Gringo Hill) and are very happy there. We took a mooring for $3/day and Papo the local entrepreneur helped us with the officials. He speaks decent English and is very willing to sell you any service for a very good price. He also seems to be related to everyone in town.
Checking in to the DR involved seeing no less than 7 different officials but only 3 had to come onboard. All were very pleasant although spoke no English. We are a little rusty at this as well. Each needed a bit of money and dollars were just as good as pesos.
Mosquitos and No-see-ums were reported to be bad when the wind dies so we started out with getting our old screens out and repaired them. We went to a tailor/sewing store to buy a bit of sunbrella for the repairs and ended up buying new foam for our mattresses. Our foam was over 23 years old so it was needed and at about 1/10th the price of foam in the USA.
We try to go for walks in different directions most days and have explored the countryside.
We took a car with another boat to Puerto Plata for the day. Here we visited the Amber Museum, government square and a large grocery store. On the way home we stopped at the local farmer who makes wonderful yogurt which we bought a a gallon of. Also had cheese like gouda,even wrapped in a red wax paper.
A highlight was an excursion we took with 3 other boats to an area about 45 minutes towards Santiago in the mountains that boasted 27 waterfalls to slide, jump or walk through. It was great fun! We had to rent a helmet, lifejacket and 2 guides and then afterwards we had a buffet lunch at the waterfall entrance. The total cost for the 6 hour trip was about $40 US including the transport there and back.
Now we are waiting for the next weather window to move along the north coast of DR through the Mona Passage and on to Puerto Rico. Again it is straight into the tradewinds so we wait for a weather patttern that includes diminished easterlies. Maybe this weekend!
Our new friend in this harbor is a boat called Krow(turned around spells work) newly retired couple from Cairns Australia. Roweena is a neonatal RN with lots of certifications for flight nursing, midwifery and neoICU work. Niels is a pilot whose career was flying for private corporations in mostly the Orient. Fun and interesting people to travel with. They are also heading eastward at least for now. Eventually they will sail back to Australia.
Who knows where Maraki will go next?