We left Puerto Rico at 6pm and after our jail time and expenses we were slightly jaded by the American System. After 3 hours of sailing we were almost 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico before a speedboat with spot lights blazing was circling us. They weren’t on AIS, nor were they communicating via radio. After 3 circles of Charm Offensive and the creation of a washing machine on the ocean they finally contacted us. In a stern American voice, “State your purpose”, I said “sailing vessel Charm Offensive, we are leaving your country and on route to the Dominican Republic, over”. They said please check your nav lights to which there was no problem but couldn’t be seen as there spotlight was so blinding. They then did one more circle and the U.S. coast guard took off at a rate of knots. We enjoyed San Juan but were also pleased to be out of this tightly controlled country.
What a contrast it was to arrive in Luperon, a well protected natural harbor on the most North Western point of the Dominican Republic. We had customs come aboard in jeans and a t-shirt; they wanted beers and bribes to which we reluctantly obliged. Having a quick check in we were ready to check out the town. As you enter from the dock there is a big sign “Gringo cruisers welcome” we got some photos and went in search of some foam to make our cockpit seats more comfortable. With foam in hand we returned to the boat for dinner before heading out to the local night spots. I meet a nice local girl who invited me to a local wedding the next night. The wedding was interesting with lots of dancing and a pig on a spit.
The following day we hired motorbikes for $10 from people in the street and went in search of an ATM. The ATM was a good 25km away in the next town; we shot along the country road looking at cows and palm trees, an interesting sight and mix I had never seen before. Nick C being a motorbike enthusiast decided to light a cigarette and ride along, I might add we had only thongs, singlets and no helmets. Not something I would normally do but when in Rome. So Nick C with Cigarette in hand was flying through one of the little country towns when all of a sudden a speed bump appeared out of nowhere, whilst the law of Physics had imminent death written all over it, Nick’s expertise somehow kicked into gear and all he ended up with was the scare of a lifetime for both him and Chris B who was travelling nearby.