Just as a warning, I am writing this almost a year later…. So memories are a bit fuzzy, and sadly we took almost no photos, or videos……
Once we left the pristine beaches and water of Bahia de Aguilias and pulled into the inner harbor of Barahona, we quickly got to work at getting to know the lay of the land. We had read that checking into the country could be difficult but if you had beer then it could be easier. We were worried because we had ZERO beer aboard Prism. We were so low on the alcoholic beverages ( as they were very expensive in the Bahamas) it would make any pirate upset. We were hopeful that with big smiles, all the correct paperwork and patience, we would be checked in with no problems and be out to lunch before we knew it.
Lucky for us, it worked out just the way we had hopped and we were off into town getting SIM cards, buying fresh food and looking for the best bus ticket to get Kailey to Luperon.
The next morning we waved goodbye to Kailey and then did nothing for a few days as we waited for FIN to pull into the anchorage. They were lucky and had a completely different passage than us, and arrived fresh and ready to explore. The only sad part was that they had to bypass Aguillias in order to make the weather window around Cabo Beata. However, here we were reunited again and ready to explore.
The first thing on my list of things to do was get some LARIMAR. If you have ever seen any photo of me for the last 10 years, I am wearing at least one piece of this beautiful blue stone.
The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Mining records show that Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren of the Barahona Parish requested permission on 22 November 1916 to explore and exploit the mine of a certain blue rock that he had discovered. Pectolites were not yet known in the Dominican Republic, and the request was rejected.
Miguel Méndez and Peace Corps volunteer Norman Rilling rediscovered Larimar in 1974 on a beach at the foot of the Bahoruco Mountain Range, the coastal province of Barahona. Natives believed that the stone came from the sea, and they called the gem Blue Stone. Méndez took his young daughter’s name Larissa and the Spanish word for sea (mar) and formed Larimar, to suggest the colors of the Caribbean Sea where it was found. The few stones that they found were alluvial sediment, washed into the sea by the Bahoruco River. An upstream search revealed the in situ outcrops in the range and soon the Los Chupaderos mine was formed.
The customs officer who checked us in, noticed my necklace and let me know that his wife makes jewelry with the stone and he would love to set up a meeting for us to buy some from him.
First we took to the streets and found stores filled to the brim with the stuff, I was so ready to buy it all!
Once I was blue enough to be a smerff, we headed out to see what else there was to do and see in Barahona.
We thought about visiting the mine, but we were all too cheap to pay for the cab ride out to it, so we all stuck around town and just took in the scene.
There was not all that much to do in the town itself, and to be honest, we were really just walking around the streets taking in the people and the little shops. Together, we thought about renting a car or scooters to get up into the mountains or to visit some things around, but we just didn’t have the urge to make it actually happen. There was something that was just keeping us in place, it must have been the fact that the wind was just blowing so hard from the east it was hard to think about anything else.
Cruising the DR is not that easy, they have some strict rules about anchoring and moving around. You have to get clearance to move to a new spot and most places do not have anchorages, so you have to use a marina.
Jon and I were definitely on a time crunch at this point, as we needed to get to get back to California for our family trip to Italy. It was now April 1st and we had a bingo date of April 8th waiting for a weather window in order to sail to Curaçao. If a window did not show itself, then we would have to sail to PR and leave our boat there for our trip to Italy. Which would then make us come back to PR after our trip, THEN sail down to Curaçao so Prism would be out of the hurricane belt and then fly back home to California again to spend the summer working our old jobs.
The immigration officer in Barahona did warn us not to venture out too much at night, but also that night time is when the city became a live. Most of the street venders opened around 7 pm, so we did not get to try a lot of the street food, sadly. Not to mention that the “dinghy dock” was the very large and rough concrete sea wall at the immigration building, which made dinghy landing quite difficult. The dock was exposed to the strong East winds and only had a very sad rope ladder to climb up.
Jon took it upon himself to rebuild this ladder, which made getting on top of the dock a bit easier. But we still needed to bring large fenders with us to keep our dinghys from being impaled by rebar.
So we spent our days hanging together, having beers at the little spot in the inner harbor until the weather looked better.
We made an appointment with the official whos’ wife made the Larimar jewelry. He charged by the gram and it was more money than the pieces from the local shops, but we figured to get on the good side of the officials we should buy from him.
We had 2 days till our BINGO and wouldn’t you know it, a window showed itself! We all went out to dinner our last night together. We were all shocked at how good this dinner spot was and how affordable! We kicked ourselves for not venturing out more at night to seek out more of the local bites!
The next day we checked out. It was easy enough and we were not charged anything. But we were “rushed” a little with the timing. The only down fall about checking out of the DR, is that once you check out, you HAVE to leave within the hour. We did not know this until we had all our paperwork and the official was doing the final inspection of our boat. When we mentioned that we were planning on departing around 2 in the morning, he said that was not possible. It was now around 5pm, and the winds were still piping from the east. They were forecasted to be way down around 1 am, hence why we were planning on a 2 am departure. Plus we still had to prep Prism for the passage. When I told the official that we could in no way leave the harbor within an hour for even just safety reasons he said too bad.
I texted the local immigration guy on whatsapp ( he had been giving us local intel the whole time we were there). When I asked him what the ramifications could be from not leaving right away he replied with ” Well, everyone goes home at 6, so there is no one to really see if you have left or not.”
We took that information with a gain of salt and worked as fast as we could to get Prism ready for the passage. This passage was going to start out a bit rough too, as we needed to move as far east as possible before turning south with our bow pointed at Bonaire.
With the East trade winds forecasted to be lower for the next few days, we readied Prism and were ready to leave the harbor around 8 pm. We did not want to push our luck any further than 2 hours past our official departure time. Away we went waving goodbye to FIN once again, knowing we would not see them for over 6 months 🙁
April 5, 2022 8pm
As we left Barahona, Prism was faced with wind and waves on the bow as we hugged the south coast of the DR. “Where in the hell are those kadabatic winds?” We kept asking each other. Lucky for us this bash was not as bad as the one around Haiti, so we just held on and made our way east. As forecasted, the east winds did die down a little, which helped us keep moving along even during the daylight hours. We reached the south east tip of the DR around 10pm, just a little over 24 hours of straight motoring.
We anchored for the night off of Las Palmillas. In the morning we prepped Prism a bit more for our passage, did a final rig inspection, made some meals for the passage and checked the weather one last time.
When everything looked good, we weighed anchor and set off with our bow still pointed East as we round the tip of the DR and worked our way across the Mono Passage.
April 7, 2022 through April 10, 2022
All winds and seas from the EAST
- 15g17 knts. Seas: 4-5ft
- 15g17 knts Seas: 5ft
- 17g20 knts. Seas 5-6ft
- 20g23 knts. Seas 6ft growing to 7ft
- 17g20 knts. Seas 6-7ft
- 17g20 knts. Seas 7ft
- SE Winds: >10knts. Seas: SE >4ft
- Motor sailing East. Making 6.5 knts
- SE Winds: 10-12 knts. Seas: SE 4ft@6 sec.
- Sailing: 1 reef in Main, Staysail & Yankee
- making 5-6 knots
- SE Winds: 10g15 knts. Seas: E 4ft@6 Sec.
- Sailing: Full Main, Staysail & Yankee
- making 5.5 knts
- ESE Winds: 18g20 knts. Seas: E 7ft@ 6 sec
- Sailing: Dbbl reef Main, Staysail & Yankee
- making 6.5 -7 knots
- 6am: ESE 18g20
- dbbl reef main, Staysail & Yankee- making 6.5 knots
- 10am: ESE 10g13. Seas 6ft @ 6 Sec
- single reef, staysail & yankee- making 5.5 knots
- 4pm: SE 10knts. Seas: 6ft@6 sec.
- sailing: full main, staysail & Yankee-making 4 knts
- Turned motor on, entered current and was getting pushed too far West. Motor Sailing making 5.5 knots
- SE 15g17. Seas: E 5-6 ft
- Sailing: 1 reef, Staysail & yankee
- making 5.5 knots
- 6am: SE 13knots. Seas 3-4 ft
- 1 reef, staysail & yankee- making 5.5knots
- 9am: E 15knots: Seas 4ft
- 1 reef & working Jib- making 5.5 knts
- 10am: E 15 knots. Seas Confused 4-6 feet.
- Sailing- JIB ONLY- making 6 knots
Sunday April 10, 2022 at 11:30 am: Anchor down in Spanish Waters
The passage went very smooth, Jon and I were both very happy with how comfortable Prism sailed, even though we had wind forward of the beam almost the whole time. We did not get hit by any squalls, in fact I do not think we had any clouds in the sky the whole time.
I was so pleased that the passage went well, the Caribbean Hole, as it is called, can be a nasty place to sail. I figured it was going to be more like our passage from Panama to the Caymans back in 2017. It was such a relief to actually have a nice passage again. It seems like it had been forever sense we actually enjoyed sailing. Looking back we realize just how hard the sailing had been over the last few years along the east coast.
Because the fact this passage was so nice, it made me look forward to….. whoa…okay… wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…..but it did make me not dread the sail back north come winter.