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Old 27-01-2017, 16:42   #1
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New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

There is a new administrative disposition in Dominican Republic. It is suppose to protect the sailors and the fishermen from bad weather risks.
The Armada is still giving the « despacho » but, nowaday, under the order of a « weather coordinator ». I should write « wheater ? Coordinator ? ». Colonel Perratas Mieres is the one in charge for the time being, and believe me, he will protect you more than any « chicken mother » could ever think of.
For example, when 25 knots wind are forecasted on Puerto Plata and Samana (Atlantic coast), the « man from Santo Domingo » will hold all despachos for the Carribbean Coast too, even if it´s forecasted 5 to 8 knots gusting 12 ! The result is you cannot (and surely not have to even try) left the place you’re in ! It´s like if someone, in your birthland, says : « Fresh wind forecasted in the Great Lakes, California Coast is closed »
This is why we had to stay 4 supplementary days in Salinas.
To get an international despacho, we had to go to Barahona, an easy 30 miles step from Salinas.
There, same story. 7 days and 30US$ for prolongation of the stay ! Winds between 5 to 15 knots, seas 1 to 2 feet. And it lasted 7 days.
We tried to explain the « boat built to cross oceans » and « weather knowledges and facilities to get forecasts » concepts but the commandantes of the Armada are totally afraid of Potatoes Mieres, and were only checking at the SMS sended by the un-knowledgeabal colonel, answering us : « Mañana... may be ». The colonel Piratas Mieres see no difference between a light fishing embarcation and a 40 feet long range cruiser. I really believe he see no difference between 10 knots and 35 knots wind either.
At least, when the wind start to blow a little, « the-man-who-never-have-a-look-at-his-windows » decided everything will be delivered soon.
It took 1 more day to get everything in order -40 US$ of mandatory propina included but not due- and to be freed from our chains, and I mean it, because you really feel like in prison in your boat.
Thank you to Sarayu for their support all along this unsupportable episode. This is an experience I’ll hope to never experiment again.

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Old 28-01-2017, 06:20   #2
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

With a northerly coming in, we opted to cruise the south coast of DR to have a quick look and in passage West. We checked in at Boca Chica, reading from the free cruisers guide that immigration facilities are available there. The guide warns of an agent type here who proposes to process your entry requirements. This guy must have been a leading time share salesman in a previous life, requiring $250 for his services. That's ok if your prepared to accept the cost, but based on TOTAL MISINFORMATION, that he gives you it can sway your decision. The immigration dept in in the Marina grounds and the Despachio is available outside the Marina (turn left and walk maybe 2 K)
Despacho, or permit to leave and enter the next port are a requirement here, there is no escaping it. We were further delayed down the track, a night in Punta Salinas. It's a pleasant enough anchorage. A hotel that is mentioned in the cruisers guide is well kept clear of, first world prices for barely third world service. A nearby local restaurant to the west is eager to have your business and has a dingy dock.

After a delay here of a day for our despacho, due to weather conditions we motor sailed to Barahona. Again a well protected anchorage with friendly locals. Here our travel plans where totally stalled. Clear skies, forecasts of perhaps 20 at most knots to the south around Isla Beata, ( maybe 10 knots around us) perfect sailing conditions downwind. We waited here 6 days for a despacho, with a Navy vessel in the harbour looking for an excuse to have a run, we were not allowed to leave. No amount of head banging, grovelling, could persuade the authorities to grant us our despacho.

DR is a pleasant enough cruise on the south coast. There is a lot of plastic floating and on shore, but good enough infrastructure is available for the cruiser.
Would I go there again? Not right now, that's for sure.
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Old 02-02-2017, 15:12   #3
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

There is also a new report from Boca Chica:

Dominican Republic, Boca Chica, Marina Zarpar: Violent Nightime Robbery - January 2017 —

If you're obliged to go thru DR, - and I see no usual reason you should do it - ,

BE EXTREMELY CAREFULL.
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Old 04-02-2017, 10:11   #4
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

This is the answer of F.Virgintino in Noonsite :
"""
The real issue is one of safety and you will find it throughout the Greater Antilles and for good reason. Heading east from Cuba, Hispaniola or Puerto Rico, strong NE winds, E winds and SE winds can cause difficult conditions especially near capes and highlands - such is the case between Salinas and Barahona/Punta Beata. I once spent 7 days "locked up" in San Juan due to strong NE winds, because the Coast Guard would not let us depart.
The Coasts Guard of the Greater Antilles is very aware of vessels moving in high winds and large seas. Frequently motors quit on boats due to sludge in the tanks clogging filters and many times boats are lost and crew injured or worse. In the case of the Dominican Republic, when winds become strong, the Coast Guard in Santo Domingo review wind and sea conditions and make a "small craft" decision for the entire island. Sometimes it is extended to include commercial craft as well.
The writer of this report suggests that the hold up was related to extorting an extra tip. There is no question that tips are a way of life in these countries, but in the case they describe, the orders did not come from Salinas, they came from Coast Guard Central in Santo Domingo. Once the Coast Guard there decides that "small craft warnings go up", it is no different than in the States; boats are advised to stay in harbour. In the DR, because of the need for a despacho, truly one cannot leave. This can lead to upset and frustration, but it comes out of a commitment of the Coast Guard doing their job.
Let's take the reverse. High winds and large seas are the conditions and the Coast Guard allows boats to depart. Someone loses their boat and/or gets hurt and then asks "why was I allowed to depart in those conditions?"
When we are cruising, all manner and sorts of things happen and not always to our satisfaction. However, to cruise happy (and safe), as we visit different countries, we must realise that we subject ourselves to their jurisdiction and judgement. While we may be captains and masters of our little ships, we are subject to local laws and customs.
"""

It upseted me so much that I answered on Noonsite ( it could be moderate :-D ) :
""
I was not suggesting the extorsion was part of the hold up. Why are you writing this ? I was just writing these facts as a result of our detention.
My point is only, if you go to DR be carefull ( whithout pointing out the real lack of security),you won´t sail the way you want. That's it.
I'm sailing for nearly 30 years all over the world. so I'm quite aware of what should happen or not.
Anyway, thank you to justify the DR point of vue as you did, but I'm quite sure there is more reports of robery and attaks than desasters at sea. Maybe, you could use your influence to have something done for that too.
""

In fact, M.Virgintino let´s suppose that I suggested the delay was to take more money. This is not the true. I just pointed out that because of the delay it costed me between 80 to 120 US$ more. In writing this, F.Virgintino give us a proof of dishonest practice. I'm not really surprise by this way of answer. Everybody knows that F.Virgintino's involved in the Marina ZarPar of Boca Chica, the same one where the "Violent Nightime Robbery" of the 26th January 2017 happened.
I would have better read a direct answer from the armada. With a little bit of honesty, it would be easier to believe the "sludge in the tanks" argumentation. Really poor isn' it ? F.Virgintino let's suppose We, are not real sailors... OK, I'm glad to have 28 years of lucky days all over the world !
Then, the SE wind story about Salinas.... but F.Virgintino didn't read it well : The aviso was for a N to NE wind in Puerto Plata.... What is his point there ?
Anyway thank you for the lack of justification and the false arguments he gave us. It give even more reality to my post.
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Old 04-02-2017, 22:28   #5
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

My experience at the Ocean World Marina at Cofresi near Puerto Plata supports the extortion assertion. I was stuck there for 7 days trying to get crew. BTW, that was not helped by all the superfluous negative comments on Immediate crew needed Dominican Republic to Miami. What those members of this forum like Steady Hand and Raven Odyssey did not realize is that by jacking up my post for crew they were prolonging my visit to hell in the DR.

The marina only has solid concrete piers with about 8-12" of fenderable surface near the top. Even for my tall catamaran at low tide it was almost over my deck. So you had to suspend the boat between these piers far enough off to avoid tidal problems. There was a constant swell. The boat acted like a weight on a spring going back and forth storing and releasing energy in the lines. The tension on the cleats demanded 24x7 attention as the tide changed or the boat would spring back against the cleats with 26,000 lbs of undue force. The power boat in the slip next to mine did have one of its mooring cleats torn out of the fiberglass. I constantly cringed at the pressure noise on my cleats and the squeaking of the lines. I was told the nearest source for snubbers was Santo Domingo.

If some of my responses to my crew needed post are a bit unkind realize that I was trying to escape from hell and couldn't. Members of this forum piling on didn't help.

Anyway, I finally got crew and was ready to depart at 9am except for the port commandant. And he said no for the "safety" and national policy reasons stated above. That another boat had left the day before in worse conditions made no difference. We had to stay and couldn't even talk to the commandant. It is interesting to note that customs and immigration personnel are actually paid by the marina to reduce abuse.

Finally, about 1 pm a flunkie told us the commandant had children he needed to feed and would let us depart after 6pm for $60. I only had a 50€ note and that was accepted. A little before 6pm some military types came by and gave us written permission.

It is important to note that the entrance to the marina is horrible with a big breakwater on one side, reefs on the other, and breaking waves in and out of the channel. The choice of 6pm put us exactly at low tide. One super yacht had come in a few days before, struck the reef, fired the captain, and was waiting for a determination to tow or repair. Fortunately the waves are breaking straight into the harbor. Faced with certain hell staying put and a difficult few hundred yards I decided to leave and then realized that the boat that departed the day before after 6pm had probably been in the same straits. Nothing to do with safety, just and excuse to extort some money.

I was most concerned about losing rudder control with the breakers in the narrow channel so we entered with both engines at 3,000 rpm. I slowed down a little when even the tall flotation bows of the Lagoon 400 took waves over them. Crossing the Atlantic had nothing on this departure. Somewhere in the process our bowsprit broke (partly from a faulty installation) and the shaft broke on our hydro charger, also. I slowed down a little and we exited to the open sea full of thanksgiving. A friend who observed from a balcony on land said it looked horrible.

So, not only are they arbitrary and uneducated in their departure bans, but when they are bribed to let you out you might get the worst possible time.

I won't go back. Be careful out there and go easy on your fellow sailors who may be facing difficulties you don't understand. And for those who heaped criticism on my ad for crew, here's an unsolicited response from one of the crew who helped me out of this particular hell even while paying for his own food.

"I wanted to write and thank you for the opportunity to join you on your passage from DR to Miami. It was a great experience and has helped me be more prepared for cruising with my family in the future. I hope to be able to follow your travels and see you meet all of your goals. Thanks again for having me onboard, and I wish you the best sailing in the future."
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Old 05-02-2017, 07:15   #6
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

Yes the DR is a different kind of place, but not much different than any developing country where people are scrounging just to feed their families and keep shoes and clothes on their children. The average wage in the DR compared to US wages is less than $4,000.00 per year. Now this would be a good wage by Dominican standards. These poor people are absolutely wonderful for the most part, but the extortion that one experiences is real, but it can be minimized using the right tactics. for instance, most people coming to the DR are not familiar with things and need a little advice on where to go or what to do and usually ask a bunch of questions. WHO YOU ASK can make all of the difference in the world with being "Held up" during your departure. If you were gracious with the comandante when checking in and slid him 500 pesos which is $10.60 us he would be most eager to help you. I have found that it is our choice when entering the DR if our stay will be positive or negative. Be what the Dominicans consider "Tacano" (a tight wad), and unpleasant, and you will be extorted for sure. On the other hand, pulling into Ocean World and requesting a line handler on the radio prior to docking and tipping them $5.00 US each will get your power hooked up correctly, and your boat completely washed while setting the stage for a very nice stay.

I call it "Pocket Change" and one can either understand that tipping people there small amounts is better overall for their DR experience, or they can chose to be held up and extorted for some money while making their DR experience horrible. I've never been held up on my despacho nor have I ever been extorted or been held up for propina (tips), because I prefer to give them freely and make the most of a difficult situation in a very poor country where even the Bosses and Govt. workers are extremely poor. To the poster that had to pay $60.00 to leave, I'd bet you that I have never tipped any more than that amount during any of my trips there, and didn't have the problems that you had.. I'm sure that many on this forum will disagree with my post, but I'm one that truly enjoys the Dominican Republic even with the issues that have been posted on this thread. The difference is that I understand how to minimize these issues, so I can enjoy my visits..
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Old 07-02-2017, 19:47   #7
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

Quote:
Originally Posted by JstaRebel View Post
Yes the DR is a different kind of place, but not much different than any developing country where people are scrounging just to feed their families and keep shoes and clothes on their children. The average wage in the DR compared to US wages is less than $4,000.00 per year. Now this would be a good wage by Dominican standards. These poor people are absolutely wonderful for the most part, but the extortion that one experiences is real, but it can be minimized using the right tactics. for instance, most people coming to the DR are not familiar with things and need a little advice on where to go or what to do and usually ask a bunch of questions. WHO YOU ASK can make all of the difference in the world with being "Held up" during your departure. If you were gracious with the comandante when checking in and slid him 500 pesos which is $10.60 us he would be most eager to help you. I have found that it is our choice when entering the DR if our stay will be positive or negative. Be what the Dominicans consider "Tacano" (a tight wad), and unpleasant, and you will be extorted for sure. On the other hand, pulling into Ocean World and requesting a line handler on the radio prior to docking and tipping them $5.00 US each will get your power hooked up correctly, and your boat completely washed while setting the stage for a very nice stay.

I call it "Pocket Change" and one can either understand that tipping people there small amounts is better overall for their DR experience, or they can chose to be held up and extorted for some money while making their DR experience horrible. I've never been held up on my despacho nor have I ever been extorted or been held up for propina (tips), because I prefer to give them freely and make the most of a difficult situation in a very poor country where even the Bosses and Govt. workers are extremely poor. To the poster that had to pay $60.00 to leave, I'd bet you that I have never tipped any more than that amount during any of my trips there, and didn't have the problems that you had.. I'm sure that many on this forum will disagree with my post, but I'm one that truly enjoys the Dominican Republic even with the issues that have been posted on this thread. The difference is that I understand how to minimize these issues, so I can enjoy my visits..
Let's say you didn't read right. We were 2 boats : Australians and Frenchs with quite some experience (world wide sailors for 28 years). We were always very curteous , calm and never considering them as a "developping country people" as you like to write it down.. Biers and tip were there at the check in and to be delivered, we offer more money than usual but..... they were just AFRAID of Perratas Mieres because they're commandantes ( really nothing in their army) at Salinas or Barahona and Mieres is colonel in Santo Domingo. They gave both the same explanation : "We have to obey or we will loose our job ! ". In Casa de Campo or Boca Chica I'm quite sure they absolutely don't care of the Mieres circus because they are paid by the marina ( but I'm sure you knew already that).
What upseted me is that we didn't have any option. Usually, DR is like a full lot of North and South American countries : you have to tip (or nothing happen). But in this case, nothing could help. Then when we could leave, they just organised themselves to have a big tip and asking for thanks. Yes it's DR, but open your eyes and read the answer of Virgintino, you will find that it happens more than you can think. Your unique experience isn't enough and if you try to call "prior to docking" you're living in dreams... nobody answer the VHF because they don´t have a VHF working and there's no dock at all.

We're in 2017, I guess things have changed since your last trip in DR. I hope you still will be able to enjoy your next trip to DR as you so well know how to do it
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Old 08-02-2017, 03:41   #8
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

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Originally Posted by Even Keel View Post
Let's say you didn't read right. We were 2 boats : Australians and Frenchs with quite some experience (world wide sailors for 28 years). We were always very curteous , calm and never considering them as a "developping country people" as you like to write it down.. Biers and tip were there at the check in and to be delivered, we offer more money than usual but..... they were just AFRAID of Perratas Mieres because they're commandantes ( really nothing in their army) at Salinas or Barahona and Mieres is colonel in Santo Domingo. They gave both the same explanation : "We have to obey or we will loose our job ! ". In Casa de Campo or Boca Chica I'm quite sure they absolutely don't care of the Mieres circus because they are paid by the marina ( but I'm sure you knew already that).
What upseted me is that we didn't have any option. Usually, DR is like a full lot of North and South American countries : you have to tip (or nothing happen). But in this case, nothing could help. Then when we could leave, they just organised themselves to have a big tip and asking for thanks. Yes it's DR, but open your eyes and read the answer of Virgintino, you will find that it happens more than you can think. Your unique experience isn't enough and if you try to call "prior to docking" you're living in dreams... nobody answer the VHF because they don´t have a VHF working and there's no dock at all.

We're in 2017, I guess things have changed since your last trip in DR. I hope you still will be able to enjoy your next trip to DR as you so well know how to do it

I'm sorry as it seems as if my reply has offended you in some way. However, I travel to the DR regularly and have for the last 11 years, so my comments are not just from a single experience. I was simply trying to explain based upon my experience there how to better get around the extortion practices that this thread was discussing. The DR is a wonderful place and allowing your adventure to be ruined by policies that can be easily neutralized is a shame.
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Old 08-02-2017, 10:43   #9
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Re: New despacho dispositions in Dominican Republic

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Originally Posted by Jsta_Rebel View Post
I'm sorry as it seems as if my reply has offended you in some way. However, I travel to the DR regularly and have for the last 11 years, so my comments are not just from a single experience. I was simply trying to explain based upon my experience there how to better get around the extortion practices that this thread was discussing. The DR is a wonderful place and allowing your adventure to be ruined by policies that can be easily neutralized is a shame.
You didn't offended me at all and your answer is typical of what I wrote.
My point is, even with your "good practices" (that we used all over the western atlantic ), we've been stuck, at least in Salinas and Barahona, whatever you can write.
Thank you to give some of the good infos needed to cruise in DR.
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