We really enjoyed our time in Samana, Dominican Republic, however we really didn’t like Samana itself. Samana is a typical tourist town full of touts, souvenir shops and gringo houses. Although I really didn’t like the city of Samana, it had good provisions at affordable prices. After spending some time in the city we were glad we opted for a great marina just north of town. We spent days enjoying all the amenities (multiple infinity pools, hot showers, laundry, internet, AC). In fact, the marina was one of the highlights of our trip so far. The resort and marina went out of their way to ensure we had great time. They provided tables, chairs and umbrellas for our cruiser pot luck. Gave us access to the pool room where we had cable TV, AC, a pool table and a small bar. They even threw a cocktail party for us one evening. They spoiled us and we enjoyed every moment.
Although we were loving the marina time, we weren’t just sitting idle. Multiple times a day the boat captains gathered to discuss weather looking for a window to run the Mona Passage. As I mentioned on Facebook, the Mona Passage worried me the most of all the legs of our journey. Multiple factors combine to make the Mona a potentially dangerous passage. Very careful planning is required to ensure a smooth and safe passage over the 150 nautical mile run. So we kept a close eye on weather and jumped on the first weather window that appeared. We decided for a morning departure and to try and run the whole 150 miles in one shot (many people anchor at the far side of DR and wait again). It would have been best to leave DR at the crack of dawn, but that wasn’t possible due to Dominican beurocracy. Dominican Republic required us to check out with the Commedante on our day of departure so we had to wait till he started work. However the Commedante was a fantastic guy and agreed to come in at 7am so we could get an earlier departure (he usually arrives at 9am). So we checked out, completed our Amazon orders, and threw the mooring lines.
Once outside of Samana we had about 12 hours of motor sailing before we entered the actual Mona Passage (yes in the dark). Once entering the Mona, we would have another 20 hours before we arrived at Puerto Rico. So with a 30-32 hour passage ahead, we threw out the fishing lines and settled in for a long, hot and bumpy run. The great news, that is exactly how our passage went. We arrived in Puerto Rico after 30 hours of completely uneventful motor sailing. Unfortunately the only fish we caught were 2 stupid barracuda. I hate barracuda, they are stinky toothy bastards that require man handling to get off my hooks. I seem to hook 3-4 footers that require me to get forceful in holding them down. Once they are unhooked, I’m slimy and stinky. The worst part, is they are not even fun to catch as they don’t fight at all. They simply go limp once you begin reeling them in. Ok enough complaining….
Upon arriving in Peurto Rico, we opted to stay in another marina as it would allow us to provision (we were almost out of food) and get our Amazon orders. Believe it or not, but one of our Amazon orders was actually waiting for us (yay new sunglasses that the fish will eventually wear). The marina also provided rental cars that would allow us to get to Mayaguez and check in with US customs and border protection.
So the next day we rented a car and all piled in headed off to Mayaguez to become legal and fill our boat with food. It was one hell of a shock to the system to be back in the US lifestyle after months of remote(ish) cruising. Make no mistake about it, Puerto Rico is definitely a US territory. It boasts the same stores (Walmart, Home Depot, Sams Club, Costco, Sears) and has the same traffic problems as mainland USA. We braved our way through the traffic and people and were able to check in and fill our car with $1200 of food, booze and parts! I have never in my life seen a Walmart as busy as the one in Mayaguez. It was crazy, they even employ guards in towers to prevent parking lot fights over spots. I won’t lie, once we finished and I became comfortable with driving again I had a blast whipping through the Puerto Rican back roads where speed limits are a suggestion. More than once, I made those little KIA tires squeal in pain!
After all the other boats had done the same thing, the captains again began the weather huddle again looking for the next window to eastern Puerto Rico. The daily thunderstorms reminded us that hurricane season was fast approaching and we needed to move.
Tourist Area in Samana
More Tourist Shops (There was a Scotia Bank to the right just out of the picture).
Kendra (Captain of Sea Frog)
Darren (Sea Frog crew, he likes grog, he’s available ladies).
Second Cuda of the trip (we took a picture as the other boats thought I was lying about catching fish). This one was only about 2 feet!
Rhonda taking a shift and letting me sleep. She wouldn’t let me post the picture where her shirt was chaffin her
The time in the pools were hard on the little ones faces despite the sunscreen.
Land HO… This island lies about 20 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico but the Mona is behind you once you arrive here!