Samana is tropical anchorage on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic just about a long day’s passage from the Turks and Caicos’. Of course any passage duration depends on weather and sea conditions, and although not uncomfortable , the time was almost 8 hours longer than expected. As we’ve experienced in our smaller Tobago 35, winds are often on the nose or so close that it’s difficult to make headway toward your destination. Even Dragonfly goes slow when the winds are less than 35 degrees, however when we put the “iron genny” in gear, Dragonfly still manages 5 knots in the worst of conditions. On this last passage we experienced everything from no wind to 37.8 knots of wind, so we had ample opportunity to try various sail configurations. What was interesting was that we’d go off watch and 3 hours later start a new watch and find that our elusive destination was still 19 hours off. We’d chosen to head further down the Dominican coast ahead of the front so that we’d have a more idyllic anchorage to layover in. It just took us so long we missed the local New Years celebration and even the Time Square celebration an hour later via Sirius radio.
Never having visited the Dominican Republic it’s been interesting to study up on the history of Hispaniola since Columbus retired here. Once a major sugar source for the western world they now import sugar from Venezuela. They had been an early producer of gold before the Spanish overran Central America, but we learned that the Canadians have just started mining gold again after 500 years employing 20,000 locals. Their only major exports now are tropical fruits and any fish they catch only gets consumed domestically. Without an Almanac or Wikipedia it’s not totally clear many of the facts we like to learn like literacy or GDP.
The DR feels, and looks not unlike Guatemala or Honduras at it’s coast lines where there are mountains such as traveling up the Rio Dulce. The street scapes of the single town we’ve visited are so similar in their cinder block facades and the wares and merchandise all similar to any central american town. Lacking a supermarket they have dozens of “mini-marts” or stalls in the Mercado that sell the dry goods of daily life and produce is sold from roving pick-up truck beds or in the two dozen stalls in the central mercado.
Above is a photo of ice for a fishing boat that would be hand (or bucket) loaded from a shoreline to the fishing boats 20′ out in the water. And next is a home-brew dive compress better known as a hookah they almost all the fishermen use to walk the bottom picking up conch or spearfishing. It was particularly interesting to see how the local celebrated the new years day by having a street party with large speakers atop various cars blaring their choice of the most popular dance tunes. What was most funny was they were directly across the road from the dozen of side by side outdoor 20×40 combination beer stands with cement slab dance floors. Speaking of dancing the entire country has a latin salsa hip swing that seems to come as often a an american teenager says “like”. And BTW our captian Al has that same virus any time he gets within wavelength of those rhythmic beats.