I'm still having chart problems...my Raymarine chartplotter
isn't working quite right and I'm afraid that my laptop
is headed for a serious rebuild
. But, if I'm not mistaken there are several other shoals near the Silver Banks and it'd be like threading a needle to get through there without crossing them. With wind
and currents, my understanding is that they are going to be really rough, if not dangerous. If it was like the Caicos Banks, it'd be interesting to dink around and dive...but I've been in Puerto Rico
for several years and it seems like the wind
always blows around here. It is the Trades, after all.
We ended up navigating inside the Hourglass shoals (see Van Sant's book), which I think is counter to most sailing methods of getting from Samana to Boqueron. But we wanted the shortest time in the Mona and the run from Punta Cana to Boqueron is about as short as you can get. We ended up waiting in a marina in Punta Cana for several days for weather
but eventually got SE winds, which allowed us to sail across rather than motoring. But the winds were pretty high...25 kt +
Our friends, who were about 6 hours ahead of us decided to take the more traditional Zig-zag tack across the Mona and hit pretty bad weather
. They said it was one of the worst crossings they'd ever done and they had sailed from Europe
to the New World. It's really a weather dependent trip!!
As for our successes along the North Coast of the DR...there were a few ports
worth seeing, we skipped Luperon, but it was mostly a slog. And we didn't get the kind of katabatic wind that you are supposed to see. There is a problem with Van Sant's technique: You have to check in with the DR Marina de Guerra (Navy) at every place you anchor
. They want to check your despacho from the last port and then they have to give you one for the next leg. They don't want to give you a despacho until the day you leave, i.e., after 8:00 AM. So you don't get to leave at 4:00 AM as recommended. But in many anchorages
there were no Navy
guys to report to so we just snuck in and out. I understand that there is a movement afoot to minimize or eliminate the despachos and accompanying bribes but I don't know what has happened.
Why would I take the Southern Route
? Well, there are a few nice anchorages
along the North but it's mostly a chore. I really liked Monte Cristi and might consider making an even longer trip by crossing from the TCI to Monte Cristi and then heading around the Windward Passage
. My experience in Puerto Rico
is that the North (Atlantic) coast is pretty rough while the South (Caribbean) is much mellower. I suspect that the DR will be similar. The weather seems to come out of the North and East. I think it would be a long run from the TCI to Ile a Vache so it'd be useful to have at least three people for the watches. Although there seems to be a bit of paranoia about sailing the coast of Haiti
, I've not heard of any piracy
if you stay a ways offshore
. But, I haven't done a careful check.
Also, the Dominican National Park at Les Haitises (near Samana) is really outstanding. Samana is an interesting town but the port captain
and local Navy
were a pain in the neck when we were there. Perhaps they've been rotated out and new people are running things.
I guess I have an opinion that the southern coast would be more fun...no data though!
If you are in a hurry, then the offshore route
to Fajardo, PR or the USVI is the way to go. But you'd better leave from the Central Bahamas
or farther North or you're going to find it difficult to get the weather to sail East.
Just to reinforce what ausaviator noted. The winds and weather are everything on this trip. In the winter it tends to blow pretty hard so you need to pay attention to weather and be prepared for weeks of sitting and waiting. We waited in the TCI, then in Puerto Plata, then in Samana, and finally in Punta Cana.
I strongly recommend getting some weather service