Exploring Samana

Tuesday morning we took delivery of our hire car and headed off to Las Terrenas which is where there are a couple of large supermarkets – and we need to stock up on beer. We waited until we got to the Dominican Republic for this as we prefer the local Presidente to the Puerto Rican brews…. We drove through mountains on one of the only main roads on this part of the island – admiring the lush scenery whilst taking care on the hair pin bends.   The housing got poorer with people living in basic shacks without running water – there were large blue containers dotted around on the roadside which people were filling water containers from and carrying back to their houses.  And the crash barriers were useful places to hang washing out to dry…..

Hair pin bends everywhere So lush Poor housing Wash day

The motorbikes faded away to the towns and the only traffic jam we saw in the countryside was a few farmers on their horses – which appeared to be the main mode of transport.   These horses trot in the most spectacular way – with high knees and small steps – like they had been trained for dressage and reminded us of the Lipizzan horses at the Spanish school in Vienna.

Traffic jam

At the supermarket we found Presidente in cans – hurrah – but definitely did not like the price!   Outrageous when we know how much the large bottles cost in Semana – so got some bits and pieces and left the beer behind.   On the way back from the supermarket we drove along the beach which was dotted with lots of small hotels and restaurants – hoping to make a stop to take in the air.   As we were driving along on this narrow road, however, we spotted lots of palm fronds sticking out of the regular mainholes…… and, to our horror, we realised that this was a warning that there was no cover at all…… and these death traps occurred every 50 metres or so.   Picking our way through carefully we abandoned our idea of stopping and just got out of there!

Relieved to be off that road we drove down a tree covered avenue and then back into the mountains……. We admired the view of Cayo Levantado in the distance and the manicured grounds of the marina as we returned.

Tree canopy View out to Cayo Levantado Manicured marina - hotel grounds Manicured marina - hotel grounds 2

Having unpacked our shopping we headed back out into Samana Town – again it was very busy – and went to a local warehouse and picked up a couple of crates of large bottles of Presidente for 90 pesos each (67 pesos to the pound)…   These are incredibly good value as they hold over a pint!

Samana Town

Back to Morphie and we got ourselves cleaned up and ready to receive John and Nina for sundowners. This couple had come into the marina yesterday on an Island Packet 40 and we had helped them dock in the absence of any marina staff – so they are our next door neighbours.   We had a really nice evening together.

Morpheus and Sunkissed getting to know each other

Wednesday morning and back out in the car – this time our plan is to go to El Limon waterfalls.   We drove back into the mountains and stopped at one of the small restaurants that offer tours.   The horses looked quite stout and well looked after – compared to some of the skinny ones we had seen – and we agreed a price. The guy said it was about a 25 minute ride to the falls – so money exchanged hands and Richard and I were introduced to our trusty steeds – Paloma and Blanky – and we left with our two female guides….. through the plantation as our guides pointed out coffee, bananas, advocados, bread fruit just growing willy nilly about the place.

Our trusty nags Following the path

Of course, Richard gets the good horse which just trots along steady on her feet. Mine, meanwhile, was a stubborn mule who stopped, ate, pooped, refused to move, ran to catch up and stumbled on the rocks.   Not much fun when she stumbled on the path alongside a sheer drop!   After stopping for the horses to get a drink at a feeder to the falls we arrived at the National Park.

River running towards the waterfall Through the plantation Time for a drink

We got off and paid our entrance fee and then went down the path – and down and down and down the steps….   And this continued for 15 plus minutes. Phew that was a challenge with my dodgy legs!   We arrived at the bottom – took some shade in a little cave – and then went to the falls…. They were really spectacular and well worth the trip…. We even made friends with a parrot while there…..

River running towards the waterfall

Time to trek El Limon Waterfall 2 El Limon Waterfall 3 El Limon Waterfall Richard's new friend

El Limon Waterfall 4

Then it was time to turn around and go back up – wow that was very hard work and we had to stop to take our breath a few times….   We were very pleased to be reunited with our horses for the return trip through the plantation. Blanky seemed in a better mood on the way back thankfully LOL.

Trek back up Horse stop Reunited with Paloma Reunited with Blanky

Back at the roadside we enjoyed soursop and bananas with the guides and their families before returning to the car.   Had been quite an adventure…

Our guides

Back in the car and we abandoned ideas of continuing on to the beach and decided to return to the marina and that beautiful pool…..   Had a lovely bobbing time……. We enjoyed the final views out to sea and watching the fisherman beating into the waves home.

Busy at the pool again Cafe del Mar View across to Los Haitises from the pool Fisherman returning

Wednesday evening and there was a cocktail party for cruisers in the marina – so we cleaned up and wandered along. It was a good social end to the day.

Thursday morning and we were up very early as we were heading out to sail up to Ocean World Marina on the north coast near Puerto Plata an overnight 120 mile sail away.   We started on pink and blue jobs – Richard did an engine check and spotted a dodgy fan belt so changed that out – I went shopping for fresh produce and paid our marina bill. In the meantime we returned the car keys and the Commandante, the Naval Intelligence and the Drug Enforcement guys all came on board to give us our despacho (permission) to leave port.  All done and we slipped out at 11 am enjoying the views of Puerto Bahia as we left……

Goodbye Puerto Bahia Marina

We motored straight into wind and waves out of Samana Bay and were treated to a couple of huge humpback whales broaching on the way – but didn’t get close enough or stay long enough for us to get photos – but wow nevertheless!!!   We turned the corner, pulled out the sails, and enjoyed the views of the lush coastline….. Then it was time to go into our shift pattern and I was alone sailing downwind with full genoa to watch the sunset.

Admiring the coast Sailing into the sunset

Sunset at sea

Nothing much happened after that – then Richard came on watch at 9pm.   At midnight we swapped again and there was a ship going across our bow – so I stood watch and had a very exciting three hours!   After the tanker crossed our bow I had two coming from behind – one was a large cargo ship and the other was the Independence of the Seas.  And the cruise ship was heading straight at our stern.   The cargo ship started to pass us to starboard and I radioed the cruise ship to check they could see us – he confirmed he could and he changed direction slightly to pass about a quarter of a mile on our port side.   Was a pretty spectacular sight as he passed!   Phew….all done….oh, hang on, another one coming at us.   This large container ship passed us to starboard going in the opposite direction so all that was left were stern lights as Richard came up for his 3am watch.   Was pretty tired by now so fell into my bunk gratefully!  And, guess what, Richard never saw another ship all night…… but really enjoyed watching the sun come up.

Sunrise at sea

Beautiful sailing day, the skies were blue and the sea was bluer….. and we spotted Puerto Plata in the distance.   Then the wind died too low to push us along at any reasonable speed so we motor sailed the last few miles….

Sailing towards Puerto Plata

We entered the marina after a 26 hour passage and pulled into the fuel dock – have never seen docks this high in our lives!!!

On the fuel dock

We were met by the Commandante, the marina manager and the drugs people who did not come on board – instead I went with them to the office while Richard stayed with Morphie to ensure that the lines didn’t chafe through on the dock.   Formalities done and we were given information on our slip and we moved off.   We got docked in our allocated slip and, again, the fixed concrete docks are very high so Richard made some quick chafe protection gear out of flexible conduit he had purchased at a builders yard near El Limon for this exact purpose.  We had been warned by other cruisers that it can be rolly in this marina and they had ropes sawn through by the concrete docks – in fact, they all had renamed the place Motion World LOL.

Chafe protection

All secure, we washed down Morphie and then went ashore…..wearing our compulsory wristbands to identify us to the security staff.   Ocean World Marina is part of the Ocean World Park complex and it has a pretty tacky building fronting it….and we were served restorative beers in paper bags at the terrace. Whatever next?!?!   After a little wander around outside the complex we returned to Morphie for an early dinner and to bed – pretty tired.

Ocean World Restorative beer

This morning – Saturday – and we are planning to wander to the main road and see if we can get a bus into town…..   Richard has just checked the lines and spotted this….. would have lost this rope for sure during the night without his preventative measures!


We will be here for a little while waiting for passage weather – lovely and settled right now but not enough wind!

Bye for now