Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Dominican Republic

Here we come
For me who had never been to a Spanish speaking place, I was delighted to have a chance to see the people of this island Hispaniola. Ingrid and I had been attempting hard at learning some useful Spanish which contained phrases about food, directions etc. The best we could come up with from our several lame tries was 'Animate' with an exaggerated Spanish accent which we thought would be useful to cheer up any reluctant customs officer. Mads left all the linguistical challenges to the female crew. Not to be outdone, we imagined that our African French tinged with a bit of slow Spanish would suffice. How wrong we were. We did not understand anything. NADA baby. Flagrant gestures and wide grins were the saviours of our days.

We had a pleasurable sail from Turks and Caicos due south to Luperon harbour on the north coast of the DR, the amber coast as it is sometimes called. By early morning we found ourselves some 10 miles west of Luperon. We had to quickly make it to the anchorage before the trade winds started piping in at 25 knots. We coasted along the beautiful landscape, which we had seen from a distance. It is an amazing trick to the eye when you set your eyes on DR from a distance. Coming from flat Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, it is awesome to see the towering mountains of this island. You are almost deceived and think that the island is closer that it is, only to realise you are still a good 30 miles out.

We made it into Luperon, a harbour in the mangroves, protected by reefs on each side. Here the water is very murky so we had to slowly make our progress into the western channel. There were more boats than we had anticipated and by the look of things it seemed we could not find any space to anchor. We were also weary to continue further down the channel as we knew there were shallow areas in the middle of the anchorage. We found one spot and decided we would return to it if there was nothing better further down the channel. Not clever. We got stuck in the mud. The depth went from 4 metres to 1 metre in a matter of seconds. We had thought we were quite clever and we could avoid running aground if we sailed really close to big boats. Ah well, that just shows you that you can't always trust your eyes especially when you cannot see the bottom. Though everyone was in the middle of breakfast, lots of dinghies came out to push us out of the mud. We were showered with friendly laughs and were told that we were the third boat to have fallen into the same triap that morning. That made us feel much better. You don't want to be the only clown in the circus.

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