With the ongoing changes to our itinerary, this advice comes to me as a new truth to live by.
We were excited about going to Samaná to get a look at the mountains that were conspicuously absent on the south coast of the island. I had been unaware of this when planning our cruise and am not afraid to admit my prior ignorance. Everything I had read about this mountainous country was of the lush beauty of the majestic landscape. The coffee and tobacco farms, the hikes to visit waterfalls, the cute little towns nestled in the valleys… Nobody told me there were vast areas of arid non-mountainous terrain… on the South Coast where we would be cruising!!!
|Looking for another way to the Guardia Post|
The decision regarding the timing of our Date-With-Mona was pushed back yet again. The weak weather window we had hoped to take had begun to deteriorate and it looked like we would be postponed for at least another week. So here we are out here bobbing on the Cumayasa River… with nowhere to go until at least Saturday, maybe longer.
We went ashore in the dinghy and spoke to el Commandante. He agreed to have our Despacho ready for us and would even deliver it to our boat at 6 a.m. the next day. Our spirits were buoyed up by the small smile that cracked his otherwise stern visage as he took the plate of brownies we presented to him. I guess that guy on Active Captain who said the people here were corrupt and illiterate was wrong… They have been nothing but nice to us and very understanding and gracious. Perhaps it's a two-way-street and you receive what you project...
|Anchored beneath the watchful eye of El Commandante|
|Lots of submerged obstructions in the river - proceed with caution|
|Looking upriver - could be a nice hurricane hole!|
|Low banks and cliffs|
The bends had typical riverside terrain with the inside curve being low and flat, but the outside of the curve was cliff.
|Bird nest atop a mast. Doesn't get out much I guess...|
|Ruins of the marina project mentioned in the guidebook|
|Cows on the bank|
So few people use this anchorage, maybe we should keep quiet about it... keep it all to ourselves... The spot we chose just off the Guardia Post was far enough up the river to dampen most of the swell coming in from the open water to the south, but not all. While the winds were up during the day, the boat pointed to the mouth of the river and into the wind and waves. But as evening came and the winds began to die, the boat turned somewhat broadside to the waves so we had a bit of rolling motion. Not the worst we’ve experienced but enough to mention. During the night the boat had reversed position and remained there until the winds came back up in the morning.
We'd had a little bit of trouble getting the anchor to hold close to the west bank, but found it easy after moving closer to the eastern bank of the river. I will also reiterate for future reference, that although the guide book says that the river is used for a hurricane hole, there are many submerged structures that we saw on our dinghy ride, and who knows how many more we did not see…
|Despacho in hand we were off before sunrise|
|River mouth was calm|
|Luxury cruiser heading for La Romana|
|Luxury Cruiser and a Cruise Ship TOO!|
|It passed within a mile of us headed for La Romana|
|Must be a sugar cane processing plant. We smelled molasses|
|We could see dozens of sailboats all headed toward Saona|
|Trim for speed!|
|We were using our hanked-on blade for high winds|
|We anchored just off the beach at Isla Saona|
|The Marina Guardia post is at the end of the pier|
|Our nearest neighbor - no English spoken here...|
While we relaxed we watched two helicopters land on the beach and wondered who might be arriving in such style.
Later in the afternoon, after our naps… a
fishing boat stopped by and we bought a huge snapper. It was fun!
We took the biggest fish they had but I was happy to see that many of
their other fish were much bigger than that last fishing boat that stopped by
with the aquarium fish for sale.
|Catch of the day!|
|Our fishermen leaving... Didn't get a pic when they were here...|
|The last tour boat leaving...|
We had lost an entire week.
|The Tourist beach|
|Ever wonder where that Taco Bell dog went?|
|Bruce's Catch of the day...|
|First time she's shown interest in a FISH!|
|Working on the British Ensign Courtesy Flag|
|Cutting the material|
|Stitching on the painted part|
|Fishermen at the end of the day|
We found it ironic that the two best places we had visited were our first stop (Bahia de las Aguilas) and our last. The reason? Because they are both pristine beaches and peaceful beauty. We were not threatened or hassled about moving or being here. We didn’t have the fear of a Despacho being withheld or bribes being demanded.
|Wave Signatures in Sand|
|My shell collection|
|I think this is a broken shark's tooth. What do you think?|
|The shell of a Flamingo Tongue Snail|
|That fish was GOOD!|
This is a beautiful country with friendly people and a lot to offer to Cruisers. Unfortunately it is spoiled by constant anxiety created by the Despacho process. It is a case of something that was created for the right reasons, but in practice has gone terribly wrong.
|Lots of seagrass was washed up onto the shore|
|The hull of a burned boat|
|Add this yellow shell to my collection|
|Can i have this piece of driftwood?|
|Sure... if I can have THIS one!|
|Tree begging for it...|
|This must be how I got all that sand in my swimsuit bottom...|
|Our favorite way to end the day|
|The only picture taken on April 4th|
We wanted to see for ourselves and not just take the words of some disgruntled sailors on the Internet… And while I won’t say that our experience was as difficult as others said it would be… it was provoking enough to color our experience in an unpleasant light. One that I am really trying hard to forget while remembering the wonderful experiences we’ve had here.
|Migrating butterflies everywhere!|
|We have the beaches all to ourselves after the tourists leave each day|
|We think this means they don't want you to take their coconuts...|
|Wind was blowing like crazy on the other side of the island|
|One lone starfish|
We will leave here in the morning with much relief to be free of the anxiety and restrictions. We will go out into the Mona. Where will we end up? Well… when dealing with the Ocean, we can’t presume to know…. Can we?