Luperon, Dominican Republic
Date: Saturday 7th February 2015
Position: 19:53.937N 70:57.205W
We had a very clam night tied to a mooring buoy on the west side of West Caicos, and set off early Friday morning into a glorious day. Unusually I put the fishing line over the back of the boat almost as soon as we had cast off and the lure had hardly been in the water for more than a minute when the screaming line indicated that we had hooked a fish. It turned out to be a magnificent mahi mahi that provided us with several meals over the next few days.
There was very little wind and the sea was very flat. As we rounded the southern end of West Caicos we saw a couple of humpback whales about 400 metres away from the boat.
The weather forecasts had promised light conditions with the wind coming mostly from the east, meaning that we could not expect a wind that would allow us to sail. So we motored on through the rest of the day with very little to report. It was a pleasant surprise when around sunset the wind started to blow from the north and we were able to turn off the engine and start to sail. In fact the wind increased to around 20 knots which gave us a superb sail but with the consequence that we were going quite a bit faster than I had planned for and we were in danger of arriving off the coast of the Dominican Republic well before sunrise. So we had to reduce sail quite considerably to slow the boat down. When the wind is blowing around force 5 from a direction slightly aft of the beam it is surprising how much sail has to be reduced in order to have any significant impact on boat speed.
As it happened we managed to arrive a few miles away from Luperon just as the sky started to lighten. The smell of lush and fertile land after having been in a dry country like The Turks & Caicos and then at sea for 24 hours was particularly striking. The first sense was of the darkness of soil and leaf litter from damp forests, mixed with a tinge of wood smoke, then cut through with the more spicy aromas of pines and aromatic herbs. It was all quite intoxicating.
It is recommended not to attempt the entrance to Luperon without good light as the entrance lies between a couple of reefs that it is better to be able to see as you sail in. So we jigged around for a while about a mile offshore waiting for the sun to rise a little more. As we waited three US flagged boats came into view; they had clearly made the same calculation so as to arrive at daybreak. We also heard them chattering to each other excitedly on the VHF radio. It transpired that they had sailed in company from the eastern side of the Turks & Caicos Islands. We waited for them to make their way into the bay then followed a few minutes behind them.
The first impression of the bay upon whose shores the small town of Luperon lies was of a stunningly beautiful location. It is a magnificent anchorage consisting of a large sheltered bay with just a very narrow entrance. It is almost entirely surrounded by mangroves so any residual swell that does find its way into the bay is very quickly absorbed producing an area that is just about always flat calm. You cannot see the town from the water but what you can see are numerous wooded hills all a rich vibrant green, and in the distance towering blue tinged mountains. The water was less than inviting being a completely impenetrable turgid green/brown colour, but you can’t have everything. It was all so invigoratingly different from the Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas where we had spent the last few weeks.