Dominican Republic

Michael Hughes and Ger White
Mon 5 Jan 2009 13:10
We arrived safely at the ZarPar marina at Boca Chica at around 1030 on Saturday--lovely sailing wind overnight, with seas becoming calmer as we closed the land--bit of shipping heading through the Mona Channel, but light traffic and no problems--wind weakened for last 5 hours or so, but still making 5 knots under sail, so avoided temptation to start the engine and sailed right into the Andres Bay--sails down and through the marked channel, round the back of La Piedra island to marina--under VHF guidance from Raul at the marina, whose English is excellent which makes him a key player here--most only speak Spanish which is not our forte and a problem if no translator.
Lots of officials--coastguard, customs, immigration--but Raul took us round it all and translated so it was easy enough.
The marina is very calm--and state of the art--very new--110 and 240 volt, water, laundry etc. Not cheap for a poor country--but a lot less than Solent!!
So all clearing in sorted out for us to enjoy a good lunch ashore at the marina restaurant--no menu, a friendly lady shows what she's got in the fridge--which is plenty choice enough--and you discuss how you want it cooked, what trimmings --and a Presidente beer later it arrives at table and is delicious--and very reasonable--a couple of beers, a couple of glasses wine and 2 meals for £25. All in a great setting, al fresco under the awning--don't get that in the Solent either!!
Then 12 hours sleep--catching up-- and a slow Sunday--much of which spent sorting out the forward heads clearing the pipes from a huge amount of limescale which was causing a blockage--yugh!! but it's working a dream now!!
I think we'll like the DR. It's very different to the Caribbean we've been to so far--which is British and French influence. This is Spanish/Latin influence--loud music everywhere, people dancing etc etc. Much more in common with Brazil than the windward and leeward islands.
Our first lunch was enhanced by meeting Frank Virgintino who wrote the cruising guide I printed off the internet--larger than life, hugely knowledgable about the DR which he has been cruising for many years--an American but speaks good Spanish--has a lovely 75 ft yacht with a huge history--lots of info about where to go and what to see. Turns out he is based at this marina, indeed has a stake in it-- all in all a good choice for first landfall.
So all well aboard Simanderal!