Dominican Republic

Blue Sky's Voyage
George & Michael
Fri 27 Mar 2009 15:48
Hello Friends                        "18:26.7W 69:37.45W"
You'll see that we're heading west rapidly.
We had an interesting trip for the 290 miles* it took from the BVIs... At first, light winds just about kept the boat moving, then suddenly the wind came and we were bowling along at 8+ knots. The wind then rose progressively as we reduced sail as I tried to keep her under 7 knots for the night... until the wind stopped completely, so we had to motor past most of Puerto Rico, and saw these dolphins
(dolphin photos always work on the blog, what is it about dolphins?)
But on the W side of Puerto Rico is the Mona Passage, some 70 miles wide, where we enjoyed a bracing sail in 25-30 knots of wind with a strong opposing tide. That was a bit like driving a saloon car across a tank training range ... not much fun until the tide turned and the sea settled down a little. Once we were in the lee of the Dominican Republic it was all comfy again and we took turns napping.
Despite the curious passage, we arrived in the DR mid morning yesterday exactly on schedule and checked into the Marina Zarpar in Boca Chica, some 15m E of the capital, Santo Domingo.
As we were still tying up, a posse of Officials arrived and was eager to board. There was the Drugs man, the Coastguard, the Customs man and an army-dressed chap whose function wasn't clear, but he seemed to want to join the party. They all wanted to look in all the lockers and know what everything was; they seemed intrigued that we had so much food on board. When asked if we had drugs on board I showed them the medical locker full of paper bags of stuff from Boots in Plymouth - mystified... When presented with our Drug List (all items from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency offshore list) they seemed equally mystified though impressed that it was all printed up neatly, which clearly satisfied their curiosity. They were slightly confused that we'd come from Tortola, but when the name was repeated with a sort of Spanish accent they brightened up a bit and realised it was the BVI.
The Immigration man was equally entertaining, though he waited for me to be brought to his office. The marina chap seemed to have to explain how the forms needed to be filled in and what needed to be done - and then remind the Immigration man that there were charges to be levied ! All a contrast to Martinique, for example, where computer check-in takes about 2 minutes. Though it must be said that all the DR officials were very pleasant and polite in their business and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
And we think it will be even more interesting when we get to Cuba...
Anyway, that's about all we have worth reporting. Oops no it's not - I finally dealt with my Vista problems! Acer actually produce a utility which enables you to kill Vista on your computer so that you can revert to good old reliable XP, so I downloaded that, reformatted the C partition and found a shop in Road Town, Tortola which sold me a copy of XP Pro, clearly marked 'not for resale' all over the disk... Now I have a fast and effective computer which works with all my software - just the ticket!
If anyone is wondering why I've not relied to their email or feels ignored - sorry ! - but with all the computer issues, some things may well have been lost in the reformatting and sorting out. If you feel ignored, just ask me again and I'll get back asap.
Anyway, John and Trisha are flying out today and we hope to see them tomorrow. Watch this space for further reports...
Best Wishes
George & Michael
* water miles - ie. nautical miles through the water, less than the straight line distance as the current was favourable