Saturday, April 7, 2007

To get an idea of the size of the Punta Cana property, the second largest international airport of DR, a Club Med, a Trump Development, a shopping area, the Punta Cana Resort, and some golf courses take up only a small fraction of the area. The marina is the most undervalued and overlooked part of the whole place. It costs us just $21.00/night and included complete access to the resort and all its services!

The wide powder sand beach with towering coconut trees and emerald blue water was beautiful. Adjoining the resort area is a vacation home golf community. Several “big name” celebrities own homes here. For kicks, Robert and I took a real estate tour and were shown some investment opportunities. The designs were right out of Architectural Digest. The home we toured had outdoor indoor hallways connecting bedrooms, walk ways over fountain ponds inside, 20’ waterfall in the living room, the Fen Shwee or whoever thing and was wildly impractical for day to day living. Neither Robert or I thought to bring our check books and had to pass on purchasing one.

Victor our DR real estate agent was very professional and proud of the development he represented. He informed us that Bill Clinton was golfing today and drove us up to the tee box at #16 to watch him tee off. Bill spent way too much time over the ball, hit it fat, and simply smiled and laughed about it. It was so odd to see our former president in a golf shirt and shorts! All those years in suits no one ever saw that he had the whitest chicken legs I’ve ever seen.

The we all enjoyed time sailing hobie's (the kids actually learned how to tack and sail), hiking, swimming in fresh water pools, beach pools, the kid's club. We had a real vacation inside a vacation. After coloring Easter eggs with LeoCat, we enjoyed a parting dinner and show with our good friends. Sailing on Easter Sunday was not what we had in mind for the holiday, but you take the weather when you can get it. We resumed our motoring across the infamous Mona Passage bound for Little America, Puerto Rico. Goodbyes are always difficult but a reality of the cruising life. We were Side By Side and alone once more. The kids we not as found of the DR "Easter Bunny" as we had hoped.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Side By Side in DISTRESS at Punta Cana!….I knew that too would be a grabber.

The miles and miles of sand beaches on the east end of DR are spectacular. I imagine that is what motivated Julio Iglesies and two other investors to buy some 18,000 acres of the eastern end of DR and over time have turned it into a semi eco friendly resort. Our approach to enter the marina through the reef was well marked once we could see the bowling ball sized markers in the ocean. Crab pot markers show up better than these do. To ad to the confusion, a newly constructed marina next door also laid out a line of identical balls in the ocean.

We unknowingly had snagged a discarded crab pot line on our starboard propeller while we were motoring on our SB engine only. We had both engines running through the cut but still only the SB in gear. When we came into the marina area, Angie engaged the port engine to turn the boat toward the fuel dock. Pludwunk, pludwunk, pludwunk went the strangled propeller. Uh Oh! Concrete pylons, boats on the docks, and one 48’ space (we’re 42’) off our quarter and slightly upwind in the 18 knot trade winds.

Without two engines a cat has as much control as a 30’ rowboat with one oar. There is not enough room to power up and out, or distance to drop the anchor, or time to get another cup of coffee to clear our tired heads. So here we go, a one oared semi controlled crash. The 3 Spanish speaking locals on the dock don’t understand our predicament. Probably because we are yelling in English and don’t have time to go below and get out our English to Spanish dictionary to explain what our distress is. Fortunately Minon emerged and was able to gather we only had one engine and were “drift-crashing” using the wind and one engine.

We let the boat drift in such a way that the bow was closest to the wall and just clearing the pylon in front of the boat and securing the bow line. They then shortened the line as we reversed and swung the stern into the space. “Squish!” went the fenders. It was a perfect crash landing. Lesson learned: put both engines in gear before docking when you need them.

The Crisis Creating Crabpot

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Sunday, April 1, 2007


I knew that would make you want to read this! Ha Ha

Settling our tab at Ocean World Marina was more than a month’s cruising budget! Our VMG (velocity made good) was hampered by an undocumented 1.5 knot current along the coast. We anticipated a 30 hour passage east but realized night would arrive before we would. Leocat and we concurred that a small hook of land past Samana would be a suitable stopover.

As we approached the bay of Punta Macao, the sights and sounds of what looked like an MTV Spring Break bash pulsated through our bodies. Today was DR’s Labor Day and everyone was working at having a good time on the beach. Not being “official” in stopping off we opted to land our dinghies on a side beach near the cliffs and possibly check out the scene. Our plans were changed when a boat load of DR military types landed there skiff next to us. They (in Spanish) declared that this is not an official port and we must leave; to which we (ie. Minon) replied it was too dangerous to enter Punta Cana at night. They reiterated 3 times we must go to which we (ie Minon) replied we will when it is safe to arrive. Then they just turned and got back in their boat having done their job of informing and policing.

Meanwhile, while we were still on the beach, a group of overzealous party goers decided to swim out to our boat. Much to Angie’s dismay, they took the liberty of climbing up the bow of our boat and using it as a diving platform. It would have been much easier to use the swim platform.
“Well aren’t you going to do something!?” she asked as I observed the strength, size and agility of the half dozen or so drunken Caballeros.

“Well yah, but how do you want me to handle it?”, as I watched in surprise.

“Get in the dinghy everyone,” Angie declared as we headed out to “battle Pirates”.

Before we even had the engine started the same DR military skiff headed toward our boat and gestured for the revelers to get back to the swim area. They probably wanted us to leave knowing that our floating swim raft meant more policing work for them.

As the sun set the DJ’s sounds were replaced with a live band that played the most alluring blends of Latin, Reggae, Hip Hop fusion that we have ever heard. We would have loved to have been in the mix of sweat, sounds, and celebration but we have to be responsible parents now! The music wound down at 9:00PM as we were drifting off to sleep before our 3:00 AM scheduled departure.