As the calendar rolls toward November, cruisers in Luperon start to think about what adventures the upcoming sailing season will bring. We started to focus on getting Ddraig and ourselves ready to go. One of the hardest parts about this lifestyle is knowing you have to say goodbye to people you’ve grown close to. Some of them you will see again in different ports down the line while others are sailing in the complete opposite direction or staying where they are. We watched a few boats leave before us and before long, the weather looked right for us to go.
Fortunately, we weren’t leaving all of our friends behind because we had decided to buddy boat with Don and Lisa who cruise with their kids Cam and Grace, and Honey Badger the cat, on SV Kraken. They happened to follow us into Luperon on the morning we arrived and almost exactly five months later, on November 12, they would be following us out again.
We had heard conflicting information about the requirements for checking out of the DR so we set up a meeting with Jose, one of the Luperon city council members. He agreed to walk us through the process and with his help, on the day before we left, all of the paperwork for both the boats and crews was completed in just over an hour with no extra costs above the posted fees. He didn’t ask for any compensation for his time and effort but we were happy to make a contribution to his annual Christmas basket fund. Early the next morning, a representative from the Commandant showed up with our dispacho and we were officially cleared to leave the country.
I was feeling a little apprehensive about sailing again after being in one place for so long but we dropped the mooring and motored out of the harbor without any issues. Pretty soon we were out in blue water and man did it feel great! The weather conditions were just as we expected, with some wind and waves right on the nose so it was much more of a motor than a sail along the Dominican coast. Neither the wind or waves were very high so Russell put the mainsail up to help stabilize us and we weren’t too uncomfortable. We found ourselves easily falling back into our sailing routine and my nerves quickly settled down.
Getting to Puerto Rico meant we had to cross the Mona Passage. This crossing is notorious for being difficult due to currents, winds from the wrong direction, waves and storms. Fortunately for us, we didn’t see too much of either and had a mostly comfortable ride. At 8:30 am on November 14, we dropped anchor in Puerto Real, PR, forty-seven hours after leaving Luperon. We were able to use the CBP Roam app on my phone to check in and were quickly, legally, back in US territory.
The anchorage at Puerto Real is well protected with good holding. And I can’t say enough about the folks at Marina Pescaderia. They were super friendly and helpful. Even though we were anchored out, we were able to use the laundry at no extra charge and rented a car through them. We topped off our diesel, filled our water tanks and pumped out the holding tanks at their very easily accessed fuel dock.
One day we took the dinghy out exploring and went up into a cut in the mangroves. As we followed the cut in, we started to see things falling out of the trees into the water. At first, we thought there was something in the trees (monkeys?) throwing things but soon figured out it was iguanas jumping into the water. It was the coolest (and slightly disturbing) thing I had ever seen. Another day a very large iguana let us get to within three feet of where he was sunning himself on a branch. He just sat and watched as we took pictures of him.
A couple of days after we got to Puerto Real, we were joined in the anchorage by Andrew, Jazz and their cat, Captain aboard their boat Villa Veritas. The next few days were spent on boat chores, shopping and searching out happy hours. We found walking around town was not as easy as it had been in the DR. There seemed to be a lot of dogs roaming loose that were very aggressive. We soon figured out not to try to walk anywhere without carrying a stick. While there were a large number of street dogs in the DR, none of them had ever been threatening.
Our next stop was Boquerón just a short sail away. Boquerón is a cute little beach town that, we were told, is very busy during the tourist season. While we were there, most of the shops and restaurants were closed. We did find a couple of restaurants and, more importantly, a few bars open so life was good.
Thanksgiving was the next day so we went in search of a turkey. Thanksgiving isn’t a big holiday in Puerto Rico like it is in America (they were already well into their Christmas celebrations!) so we really weren’t sure how successful we would be. There were only a couple of mini-markets in town. The one we walked to didn’t have a turkey so we asked if there was any place in town to get one. The cashier told us her husband could have one for us in about an hour if we wanted to come back. I think he happened to be on a buying trip for the store at the time. So, an hour and a half later we had our turkey!
Thanksgiving morning, we put that baby on the grill and a few hours later it was perfect! Being a Southern girl, there are certain must haves on the Thanksgiving menu, foremost is cornbread dressing. That afternoon, we piled the food and ourselves into the dinghy and met up with the crews from Kraken and Veritas for our very first beach Thanksgiving. Thanks to everyone’s contributions we had a full traditional meal in a, for us, very non-traditional setting. We were able to introduce southern cornbread dressing to some folks who had never tried it and believe there are some converts!
Later that day we made phone calls back home to family then toasted the day with a glass of wine. Our lives now are so very different but we’re thankful every day for Ddraig and to be able to live this lifestyle.