March 9-23, 2021
The Dominican Republic is beautifully mountainous, which is particularly impressive coming from the flat as a pancake Bahamas. We went from having all the beauty under water, to here, where all the beauty rises high into the sky. For the first time in months we are not anchored, but tied up at Marina Bahia where we are nicely protected from most of the prevailing wind by the steep hill. The marina/resort has 3 restaurants, great coffee and croissants at the breakfast one next to the second floor pool over looking the marina, a real pizza oven that cranks out great thin crust pizza at the second, and a third at the infinity pool over looking the bay. The laundry and all-the-hot-water-you-want showers are great too.
We did chores upon arrival. The boat was super dirty, and we had to mop up all the salt water in the forepeak from when we stupidly left a hatch open underway and a big wave sent seawater down and all over the forward berth. The mattresses took 2 days to dry out. Sigh. All the sand was vacuumed, bathrooms polished, kitchen shined, etc, etc, #mylifeissoglamorous. One great thing about the DR, is labor rates are not bad, so a delightful guy named Leo cleaned the whole outside of the boat for three days while we cleaned inside and did I mention I did 4 loads of laundry? Leo was awesome. The transom sparkles, the teak looks new, and he literally took a toothbrush to the stainless. It reminds me of the feeling of picking up a big load of dry cleaning, that happy “I have new clothes” feeling. We have that new boat shine back in our eyes.
We live on a boat though, so there is trouble in paradise. Way back in the Bahamas, there was one odd day where the wind was light and the boat got hot and stuffy before sundown. I suggested turning on the AC for ten minutes, just to cool the boat before sundown. So we did. There was a funny clunk sound, and both A/C units died simultaneously. One unit is a year old, and the other is ten years old, plus. One cools the front of the boat and lives under the forepeak berth, the other cools the back of the boat and lives under the aft closet. Both control circuit boards blew out. They are on totally different wire runs from the generator that appears to be working normally. We now have new circuit boards, $500 later, but are afraid to install them, because why would we expect the same experiment in the same conditions to have a different result? It is an evil scary mystery. If the generator is somehow generating wonky power, that’s an expensive problem. The admiral is not amused.
But the admiral was pretty chill in the Bahamas with all the cool breezes, and decided to think about that tomorrow. Well, here in the marina, tomorrow has arrived. The sun is amazingly strong. On cloudless days, you can feel it pressing down on you like a giant hand, telling you to just give up and lie down. So, our second day in the marina, we spent the morning putting up our full boat awning. It’s a giant white shade tent that was custom made for the boat, with holes cut out for the mast and stays and where the sails come thru. It hangs about 5-6 ft over the deck and goes right out to the life lines. There is even little 18 inch flap of sunscreen that comes down along the edges to make sure the sun cant shine directly in the ports. It works phenomenally well keeping the boat cool. We have little fans scattered around the boat, but they make an annoying hum, and are only used under duress. I’m putting Jeff under a lot of pressure regarding this situation and I think his hair is finally starting to turn grey. It seems that the total stress level for the couple remains constant over time, and as I ramp down, he is ramping up. Am I gloating? I really try not to.
This whole fiasco reminds me of a story tell I frequently. It’s just after we bought Renegade, and my Mom and Dad have visited to see the boat and have a sail. My mom’s asking a bunch of questions about our plans and how we’ll do long passages, etc. She asks, “so how will you share duties under way? Will you be co-captains, or will you trade back and forth every other day, or what?” Jeff, who often let’s me do the talking in these circumstances, jumps in without even a split second of hesitation, and says firmly and matter-of-factly, “I’m the captain. There’s no getting around that.” My mom laughs (she knows my history as something of a bully), and I sputter and get all indignant. Over time, I came to understand that there really has to be one captain, and it doesn’t make sense to have the less experienced person in that role. But at the time, it was NO BUENO.
The first week in the DR, we just did chores and hung by the pool. We made some nice friends in the marina, an enjoyed a few afternoons by the infinity pool, bobbing around, drinking Prosecco by the bottle (it comes in these delightful ice buckets, and they pull over an umbrella to shade it where we can reach it from the pool. Once I felt so guilty about all the Prosecco and pizza, I went to the gym. Once.
The next week, we rented a car and went adventuring each day. We rode horses to El Limon, a beautiful waterfall, plunging into a river in the jungle where you could swim. We went to Las Terrenas, a beach town that we enjoyed exploring. It reminded us a bit of Tulum, Mexico. We had a gorgeous lunch on the beach, went to the fish market were the locals were bring in the catch of the day. Most fishermen have a panga and an outboard motor, but we saw one total bada$$ come through the surf in his panga with a home made sail, beat the breakers, drop sail in two seconds, and row the rest of the way to shore. That’s skill.
Driving through the countryside on a twisting climbing two lane road teaming with activity was awesome. Horses, cows, chickens, dogs, people, motorbikes, cars, and trucks all use the road. After the first day, Jeff was driving like a local, and could have made Mario Andretti suck in his breath. I think I may have said a few culturally appropriate Santa Marias.
Other trips included Playa El Valle, the anchorage we paused in on the way to Samana Bay, and with the wind more north, there were huge breakers, and we were astounded to see our boat had been right there!! Great local fish grilled at the beach restaurant, and I enjoyed a beer for possibly the first or second time in my life (never been a beer girl). Another great day was Playa Rincon. It is a huge beautiful beach with a protected end and a side with breakers, where a fresh water river comes out of the mangroves. It was fun to take a dip in the cooler river water as it joins the 82 degree ocean. Walking on the beach, we heard “Hey Renegade!” and met friends from the marina. That was cool, and the first time we’ve been hailed that way away from the boat. It’s definitely easier to remember boat names.
Today we returned the rental car, so I’ve had time to catch up on the blog. Things should start getting busy again, though, because half a dozen boats we knew from the Bahamas are arriving today. They have a chat group titled Eastbound Renegades.