Originally Posted by lisaandersson
I keep reading about how hard it is to "cross by" the Dominican Republic and not getting to "paradise" until your on Puerto Ricos east coast
. Is there anyone that has entered "paradise" a lot before that? I know i did...!
- - There seems to be three parallel threads on this subject currently - the others being the Thorny vs Thornless Path
and the Dominican Republic
. I put a discussion message in the latter about the "realities" of the D.R. I would consider retiring and living permanently in the D.R. as the island has all the adventure and opportunities to live comfortably in "style" on a "USA Social Security" retirement income
. But there are some major sociological and psychological hurdles to to get over about the island. Otherwise, you will hate the place instead of loving it as I and others do.
- - If you only visit and view the island from an isolated viewpoint with minimal contact with the locals and ex-pat community, you will be either be basing your assessment of the island on the corrupt officials and filthy harbors or great touring and adventure opportunities. But if you spend a hurricane
season or more there and get to know the people and topography you will then either thoroughly hate the place or love it.
As discussed in my other posts in the other threads and as Frank Virgintino talks about in the first part of the his guide - you are entering a very different "universe" that what you are used to a North American.
- - So where does "Paradise" start? For some it is in the Bahamas which is in my opinion a better cruising grounds than the Virgin Islands
and a lot closer. But still the Bahamas are sometimes known as "Miami-east" when you are in the developed areas. Next is the Dominican Republic which is "Paradise" when you consider the topography of the island, the fabulous "natural/organic food
," the extremely inexpensive cost of living and the simple life of the people. But it is also "hell" if you consider the graft and corruption, poverty of the people, and gender discrimination.
- - As you move east, Puerto Rico's "other part" - that being anywhere other than San Juan
and the northeast coast - is a fabulous island. Everything we are used to as North Americans is available in the stores and mega-malls along with great vistas and touring opportunities up into the mountains and rain forest. However, the blatant language bigotry if you do not speak Spanish can really get to you since this is supposed to part of the USA.
- - Next comes the Spanish Virgins and US Virgins which when you get around the huge cruise ship
tourist thing are very pleasant places. I stopped for 4 days and spent 4 months there.
- - The British Virgins are the premier cruising grounds for "newbies" to the chartering experience. And once you get around the hordes of charterers it is very pleasant if a bit expensive.
- - So it is all subjective as to where "Paradise" starts. Your "Paradise" can be radically different from mine or somebody else. This is where the value of the Eastern Caribbean
comes into its own. All the islands offer different small "Paradises" and most likely one or more of them just might fit your ideas/definition of the term.
- - In terms of sailing/cruising the waters, the degree of difficulty increases as you leave North American waters and enter the Bahamas and beyond. Normally the first - stressful and uncomfortable passage is the T&C to the D.R. crossing. 20 to 35 knots on the beam with 8 to more foot waves on your beam for 14 hours plus or minus. It can be a sleigh ride for some and shear hell for others unless you are experienced and prepared and have a sound vessel that can take it. Next is the bash east to Puerto Rico where you are going dead upwind and up current for 24 hours (+/-) from Luperon to Samana or 42 to 48 hours non-stop to Puerto Rico. Then 2 to 5 days of bashing for a few hours in the early morning along the Puerto Rico south coast as you hop from one fabulous little anchorage to another.
This is where the guides like Van Sant's Gentleman's Guide South earn their cost. The hints and suggestions if learned and properly applied to the characteristics of your vessel can turn the "less than nice experience" of crashing and bashing eastward into a tolerable experience. I would suggest that a lot of the "bad" in the experience is due to inexperience or otherwise put - "On the job training
." Once you have a half dozen of these passages under your "sea-belt" they become only a "bother" rather than a "defining experience" in your life.
- - And when you do get to Point Tuna - I always tell new folks you will have earned your "now I am a real cruiser" badge. Then the rest of the down-island experience really is "Paradise." And as a cruising couple you will either morph into a single-hander experience or truly be "partners in life" joyously enjoying each other and all that "real" life has to offer. That earns you "double Paradise" medal.