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Old 03-08-2009, 14:34   #1
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Dominican Republic

Anyone going / been to the DR?

Would like to know some more about the island, good places to anchor, marinas yours experiences and ups and downs.

// Lisa
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Old 03-08-2009, 14:43   #2
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noonsite links to a free cruising guide for the domrep
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Old 03-08-2009, 15:10   #3
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We loved the DR, but not for anchorages. Stayed in Luperon for 5 weeks! Stayed in Samana fo another 3 weeks. Other than that,they seem to want to know where you are if you move, check in and out etc. North coast is pretty good distance between possible anchorages and they look exposed. South of Samana there is a national park that is beautiful, pretty much a day trip away, I believe it was Los Haiteses Park. Check out at Samana and get a permit to go there. Wonderful place.
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Old 03-08-2009, 15:11   #4
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See also here: http://www.thornlesspath.com/shortcourseondr.pdf and: Luperon Bay
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Old 03-08-2009, 15:21   #5
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Ok, have anyone been on the south side?

We are thinking to take the boat around the whole island, anyone that have ups and downs on that? What we should think about...
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Old 03-08-2009, 15:27   #6
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I've heard some pretty bad things about Haiti, but who knows? We traveled prety extensively with a rental car and by bus some. sometimes felt pretty uncomfortable, sometimes fine... DO not change money on the street!
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Old 03-08-2009, 17:06   #7
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My wife is from there (one of only four Domincans living in NZ), good, food, good music, nice people, bit thin on good anchorages, Luperon on the north coast is best. Apparently since i was there last there has been some marina type development on the south coast but shiny boat/ expensive stuff i believe.
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Old 03-08-2009, 18:18   #8
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Quote:
We are thinking to take the boat around the whole island, anyone that have ups and downs on that? What we should think about...
Quit thinking and just do it, if you are experienced sailors you will have no problems.

Download Frank Virgintinos free cruising guide, he is also the owner of Marina Zar-Par. The DR is our favorite place (by far!!) in the Carib for cultural/on land stuff. There are few good anchorages and those are isolated, if you like that it's great, I'll let you discover them, we've been there twice and plan on going back. It's not easy sailing like the Bahamas or BVI/USVI etc, but those are almost a little too easy.

Frank's guide is not comprehensive nor is it 100% accurate, it pays to explore a little.

Only thing to avoid is the Puerto Plata Commercial Port no matter what!
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Old 03-08-2009, 23:09   #9
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Having lived in Luperon on my sailboat and traveled around some of the island by bus and car - there are a few things you need to know about the D.R. It is an island of poor people and wealthy people and very little in between. The citizens of the D.R. are proud and basically very honest and friendly. However, as Frank V describes in the beginning of his guide the annual wages of the people and the government officials is a pittance of what more modern countries earn. So there is a lot of "revenue/wage augmentation" practiced by the locals and officials whenever a cruising boat enters their waters. I must say they elevated it to an art form. Generally the amounts are small but some officials really push it up to some serious money. And they have the guns so you cannot argue with them even if you could speak their Spanish language.
It is illegal in the D.R. to leave any port without a dispachio and coastal cruising is forbidden. You must travel non-stop from your declared departure port to the next declared port and will encounter anywhere from minor to excessive fees when you arrive at the next port. The whole fee thing is highly variable and up to the whims of the local officials.
So you must sail from one transient/tourist marina to another or one recognized port of entry to another port of entry. Stopping in between is not legal but is done by some people and you can expect to pay heavily to locals who wear civilian clothes and claim to be Commandantes or some other form of official all of whom need to be adequately paid off by you before you can anchor and depart for the next port.
Along the north coast there are very few ports for cruisers and even less marinas. Actually, Ocean World just west of Puerto Plata is the only operating transient marina on the north coast. Luperon has one very small marina, Puerto Blanco but it rarely has space and very ramshackle. Samana on the north eastern coast has no marrinas but is a fabulous stopover. The national park just southwest of Samana - "Los Haitses - is raved about by all who have visited.
Despite the absolutely wonderful topography of the island and the fabulous friendliness of the people, the officials are not interested in cruising boats beyond what they can extract from them in fees and bribes. Having lived there I have no problem with this because without such "extra charges/fees" the official and his family would be in a bad way.
If you are a North American cruiser out on your first passage down island, you will usually be severely put out and pissed off at their "normal way of doing things." Europeans and others who have been exposed to this way of doing business in a poor countries have a much more enjoyable experience. But make no mistakes this is an alien way of life to North Americans and takes some getting used to.
Whether you go south around Hispaniola or stay along the north coast you will be fighting winds and ways - you are in the Tropics and the Trade winds blow east to west basically forever. The south coast has less of a westward current but the winds are pretty much the same. From the Bahamas you will be traveling south west then east to get around the south side whereas on the north coast you head south to the coast of the D.R. then track east to Samana or the Mona Passage.
Circumnavigation of Haitis is a "crap shoot". if your timing is correct you wil zip on around. But it you encounted Haitian boats filled with hundreds (really) trying to flee Haiti to the Bahamas and on to the USA - you probably will not survive the encounter.
IMHO unless you are coming from Central America/ Caymans/ Jamaica the south coast holds no advantages.
Regardless of taking the north coast or the south coast, once you get to the Mona Passage you will be bashing and crashing eastward directly in to the trade winds and significant seas and waves until you get to the Spanish Virgins/USVI, and east.
Having done the passage a dozen times in nine years, I have found that if you are willing to wait for a rare great weather window - which can happen tomorrow or next month you can have very benign and a pleasant crossing of the Mona. But the south coast of Puerto Rico is not picnic. Usually you up anchor at sunrise and can make 20 40 nm east before 9AM or 10AM when the normal trades howl again and the seas build to 6ft to 8 feet or more. There are 5 different places wonderfully spaced along the P.R. south coast to duck into each day and wait for the next morning.
You will be motor sailing the whole way if you wish to get anywhere before the "next coming". If you have a serious ocean sailboat you can sail but you will tacking between headings to to South America and Iceland. Again there are rare occurrences of really nice low winds and seas but don't bet on it unless you are willing to wait possibly a significant amount of time.
The Dominican Republic is not the USA or Canada or even the Bahamas, it is a unique country and for first timers a good lesson of life in poor 3rd world countries. It is well worth the trouble and hassles - if - you have an open mind and sense of tolerance and humility.
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:01   #10
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I loved Luperon when I was there a few years ago. Friendly people, sheltered anchorage,
fair prices.... I'll be back some time.
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:47   #11
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OK, I found Frank Virgintinos crusing guide, it is now posted on its official site;
Dominican Republic Cruising Guide

I also reed that the DR sens a few months ago have a new law, regarding the entree fees and coastal cruising. Now the Entree is 10 US for the boat, payed to the Navy and 10 US for every non Dominican citizen. The marina is suppose to help you out upon arrival and no one is allowed aboard your boat if the navy is not there (Iv heard stories about 10 people aboard before). And for what i heard they are following the new regulations! There is no need for a "despacho" in between stops you would like to do but they like you to call the navy on cannel 16 VHRF and call in departure and arrival, in spanish...if your staying at a marina they will help you out.

I will sail the south coast komming down for the wind Ward passage and i will stay 1 night in Haiti on a small island, Isla vach ? (Isla vaca). there is a small hotel and frendly people as fare as i heard of other sailors passed by.

for the trade winds i think we will do night sailing on the south coast. that way we will have wind from land (north) and hopfully small sea. Passing by PRs south cost we will take the "inner coastal", with a shallow draft, lokal friends and a good chart thats will be no problem.

// Safe Sailing!
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:53   #12
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- Read the posted notice by Frank carefully! At the top of the notice it states: Note that whilst this is a new law, it is not necessarily being enforced in all ports as yet.
- - This new law only applies to boats arriving and staying at Marinas and traveling between marinas.
- - The notice from Frank states that you MUST have a dispachio to move your boat even when traveling from one marina to another marina. The change is that now that the Marina can issue the Dispachio (for a fee) instead of having to visit the local Commandante's office. And you MUST have a Dispachio from the Commandante to depart the country.
- - The notice of the new law DOES NOT address arrivals at ports and harbors that DO NOT have marinas. I was informed this week by friends in some of the "no-marina" harbors that the old procedures are still in operation. Nothing has changed in regards to the prohibition of any "coastal cruising" except when you are going from one marina directly to another marina.
- - The new law is all very logical when you see that the Marinas cater to Sport Fisherman boats and Fishing tournaments and the rich people's Mega-Yachts. These people travel from marina to marina and are not interested in stopping anywhere in between. And they do not like the hassles of having "officials and their entourages" tramping around on their yachts.
- - Basically these new procedures DO NOT apply to small cruiser boats that do not wish to spend money in marinas.
Frank's submission to Noonsite contains his statement.
>> Everything is included in the above 2 charges for up to 90 days. If the boat is anchored or does not purchase fuel, there is no charge for anything.<<
- - I find this statement by Frank as "strange" in light of high "fees" normally charged and the illogic of the Dominican Government and especially "local" officials allowing "FREE" entry to and exit from the Dominican Republic. It is historically normal that "local" officials extract fees and sometimes very high fees even when they were prohibited from doing so by the "old system."
- - Stranger things have happened in the world, but that statement is really pushing reality. We will have to see how the "new" systems works over time. And it is historically normal in the Dominican Republic for "local" officials to totally ignore any "new Federal Laws" - they ignored the old laws - if such laws directly affect the "income/money" coming into their pockets.
And this is consistent with what I wrote about. The Dominican Republic is a "different" kind of place from anything North American's have experienced before and you had better be "flexible" and have lots of cash available to "grease" your way through the place. Each locality is operated as an "independent fiefdom" from the "Federal center." Frank's Zar-Par marina is inside the local district - Distrito Nacional -which is directly under the control of the "Federal" government of the D.R. located in Santo Domingo. What is done outside that district is likely to be highly variable.
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Old 20-08-2009, 08:12   #13
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Last March I crewed on a friend's boat, just a few days, to get away from Curacao ...
we planned on going to Ile de Vache, Haiti, but then, coming back would be a bit harder, so we decided to go to Boca Chica, South Coast DR ...
since it was just for a few days, we stayed in ZarPar Marina - Boca Chica (google that one) ... there are some moorings too ...
the marina was not cheap, 60$ a night (30$ each), but it was a short "vacation" for both of us and vacations cost money ...
I must say, we had some wonderful days, taking the cheap bus (an adventure on it's own) to Sto Domingo, or walking to Boca Chica village, going out dancing Bachata in the evening ...
priceless memories ...
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Old 20-08-2009, 11:54   #14
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The Dominican Republic is a "different" kind of place from anything North American's have experienced before and you had better be "flexible" ....
I agree with this, however, dont agree with bringing lots of cash though, I found the DR to be really cheap overall, and fees were very small...
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Old 20-08-2009, 15:25   #15
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Actually I should have said "small cash bills" like ones, fives and tens for passing out to local officials, etc. Normally my "cash stash" is in larger bills like twenty's and hundreds. Since the officials do not "make change" you should have little bills available. I normally find US$5 is greatly appreciated and US$10 will get you fast great service.
The locals all deal in pesos which are easily obtainable at banks and ATM machines. Carrying a large stash of large US bills is not really a large issue anymore since ATM machines are everywhere. Paying with local money marks you as a savvy gringo as compared to paying in US dollars marks you as "tourist" and "mark".
However, when sailing you should keep a good stash well hidden on the boat so in case you get all your ID's and bank cards stolen you have money to operate on until replacements can get to you - which can take a couple of months.
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