On march 14th I arrived in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, and spent 3 weeks with Martin. It was easy to get to the marina via an taxi and so I found the First Step quickly.
The only problems was just that I was on the wrong side of the harbor and so I had to be picked up with the Dinghy, after I made notice of myself. Micha and Petra were on the boat for 2 more days, before the flew back home to Germany. The Marina Cap Cana was built like a mediterranean village around the lagoon, with bars, Hotels, stores and appartments. With all amenities, very nice staff and in a very good condition.
The marina office warned continuously every boat to drive slowly, because of a Manati that was swimming in the Marina.
|Manati in the Marina|
We also did a couple short sailing trips, and of course we had to bring the fishing rod out and caught some nice fishes.
Nach dem wir es ein paar Tage ruhig angehen lassen hatten, wollten wir dann aber auch etwas vom Land sehen. Wir liehen uns ein Auto, um damit zur Halbinsel Samana im Norden zu fahren. Auf der Fähre zw. Festland und Halbinsel solle die Chance "Buckelwale mit Kälbern" zu sehen sehr groß sein.
After we relaxed the first couple of days, we decided to see more from the country and so we rented a car to drive the the island Samana, in the north. As we were on the ferry to the island and back they said there is a very good chance to see humpback whales with their calves.
Surprising were the streets on this 150 kilometer long trip. Which were really well maintained. In Punta Cana was really impressive, that they had a countdown for the stoplight on a 4 lane road. Also over the country we came froward really quick. Only the little villages were bad, because of the many speed bumps, which held you to drive in walking speed.
As we arrived in Sabana de la Mar, a very big local, waving with his arms, tried to stop us on the entrance of the village. But we heard of the very high crime rate and just pretended, that we didn't see him and drove by. 2 minutes later we saw him, how he passed us on this motorbike and forced us to stop. And then he said, that he is a staff member from the national park. He brought us to the ferry and explained us, that the ferry sank 2 years ago in a storm. So we couldn't use it and we decided to make a change of plans. We went to a touristic center and after that Juan "Montezuma" brought us to an local restaurant to eat some tasty lobster, fish and seafood.
And so, with new strength, we drove, like we felt it, 20 kilometers to the national park. The street had huge potholes and thousand of stones and so we were only able to drive in walking speed. With a very little boat we drove through the mangroves to hidden caves, wich had still indian paintings and sculptures from the time after the columbian decade. Also we drove by of some tall islands to make a little rainforest walk.
Zurück ging es zu Fuß durch den Regenwald. Nach einem schweißtreibenden Fußmarsch durch den Dschungel, mussten wir erst mal ein eiskaltes Bier in der Bar trinken.
Now we had to walk back through the rain forest again. After a real sweaty food walk through the jungle we first had to drink a cold beer in the next bar.
"Montezuma", which was his nickname, shared his knowledge, in the best english, for 6 entire hours. And we were happy in the end, that we stopped and didn't let him go because of our first impression of him. Instead we had a wonderful, very instructive day.
Nachdem wir uns eine Woche in Punta Cana erholt hatten, ging es nun los mit dem eigentlichen segeln. Bisher hatte ich als Landratte nur bescheidene Segelerfahrung vom Bodensee. Unser erstes Ziel war die Insel Saona (Nationalpark), südlich von Punta Cana.
After we relaxed one week in Punta Cana, we started we the real sailing. I only had some sailing experience from the lake Konstanz in Germany. Our first destination was the Island Saona (National park), in the south of Punta Cana.
The tourist guide said, it is an amazing place. And so we were excited to see that, after we spent a lot of time in the civilization.
Nach dem ersten Ankermanöver nahmen wir ein Bad, machten uns ein lecker Abendessen und fielen nach 2-3 Bier zufrieden in unsere Kojen.
Wir versetzten also unser Schiff zum Abend in eine ruhigere Bucht. Wachten allerdings am Morgen mit einem widerlichen Geruch in der Nase auf, der vom nahegelegenen See, mit dem gedrehten Wind nun zu uns kam. Wir untersuchten die Ursache und fanden einen teilweise ausgetrockneten See, dessen verrottende Algen den Gestank produzierten.
And so we decided to bring the boat to another, more quiet bay in the evening. But we got woken up by a horrible smell, which came, with the changed wind direction from the closed by lake. We found out, that the lake was almost dried out and all the rotted sea gras produced a horrible smell.
So we had to leave again, even though it was just beautiful here.
And in the evening I saw a stingray in about a 100meter distance jump out of the water 2 times, he jumped up like 1-2meters high out of the water.
Am nächsten Morgen segelten wir also weiter. Der eigentliche Zielhafen war leider vollbelegt, wg. eines Wettfischens.
So we decided to sail on the next day. The port we actually decided to go to kicked us out, it was full because of a fishing tournament and so we turned on our engines and drove a couple miles back to the marina in Bajahibe. They also had a fishing tournament there and after a big shopping tour, we found ourself in a bar, where we watched the prize giving.
The after party just started to become quieter at about 3o'clock in the morning and so caribbean party music sang us asleep.
On the day after we rent us a car and drove to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.
We experience the already in the tourist guide mentioned traffic chaos in the metropole.
Up to 5 persons on a motorcycle that drove without care through every free spot, cars fully loaded with people and goods and taxis that would bring tears in every member of the association for technical inspections.
Es wurde später als gedacht und so mussten wir bei Dunkelheit zurückfahren. Meine mangelnde techn. Kompetenz ließ uns verfahren und wir fuhren, im Schritttempo, parallel zur eigentlichen Route durch einen ca. 2 km langen Straßenmarkt. Die getönten Seitenscheiben mussten wir unten lassen, so dass sich durch dieses Getümmel fahrend ein gewisses Unsicherheitsgefühl einstellte.
But in the afternoon we arrived the Island and we looked for a good anchor spot and got welcomed by a nice committee.
Bei unserem Leguanlandgang bekamen wir dann noch einmal 29 Pound frischen Lobster, die wir nun allerdings auch verarbeiten mussten. Das waren 25 Stück! Und der Gesamtpreis von 100,-€ war sensationell.
The commander was easy recognizable on his army hat and the cooles sunglasses of all. On the obligatory corruption-beer we asked questions about lobsters and iguanas. That wouldn't be a problem he said and on the next morning at 7 o'clock there was a guy named Njero that wanted to bring us to the iguanas. But because it was so early we just overslept him and did the trip at noon. At 10 o'clock came the first fisher and wanted to give us his caught lobsters. The message of the gringos with a taste for lobsters got passed around quickly.
On our discussion about the prize we saw, that the fisher only had one, half broken flipper and so we exchanged 5 lobsters with a new pair of flippers that we had left.
As we took a look at the iguanas we also got offered 29 pounds of lobsters, which we also still had to prepare. That were 25 lobsters!! And the whole price for it were only 100 euros, sensationell!!!
Auf der Insel sahen wir nicht nur Leguane, die zwischen den ärmlichen Behausungen der Fischer herumliefen sondern auch die Überreste eines Gefangenenlagers, des früheren Diktators Trujillo. Wir sprachen noch ein bisschen mit den Fischern, von denen 2 auch ausnahmsweise gut engl. sprachen.
After a couple hours of cooking and freezing the lobsters we were putting three on the grill and ate them- great, very tasty!
On the island we didn't just see iguanas, that were walking around the poorly build houses of the fishers, but also old pieces of an prison camp of the past dictator Trujillo.
We talked a little bit with the fishers, from where 2 spoke exceptionally good english.
But we did the tour only in spanish and sign language, which was pretty assuming.
Wir kauften uns auch noch mal ein paar Kilo der leckersten Bananen der Welt.
We had no service there for our phones and no internet and so we celebrated Martins birthday totally separated from the civilization, but still in a great atmosphere!!!
We enjoyed 2 days on this beautiful peace of scenery before we headed back. The bad winds forced us to make a stop in Barahona. Where we visited a little market, that offered all fruits and vegetables from the caribbean to very cheap prizes.
We also bought a couple kilograms of the best bananas on the world.
After a last swim we started our second night sail. But because of the wind that changed direction of up to 180 degrees the night was really uncomfortable. Because we had to change out sailing directions so often, we sailed 50% more miles, than calculated.
But the impressions - indescribable!!!
The moon, at this time, only rises as the sun rises too. Which makes the night absolutely dark and lightens up the stars. Every time, when the boat sails into the waves it makes the water to lighten up, which looks like you sail trough a ocean of fireflies.
And suddenly dolphins joined in that jumped out of the wave in front of the boat to catch some fishes.
I sat on the rudder and couldn't get enough from the night, as I got hit on my feet. Hmm?! There was nothing to see. But soon I smelled something that smelled like a old fish indeed, there was a little, flying fish laying around, that jumped up 1,5 meter against my feet.
Gegen Mittag kamen wir in Boca Chica an, in der Marina Zarpar wo wir schon einmal waren. Wir mochten diese Marina nicht. Der Menschenschlag war sehr speziell und das dominikanische System des Trinkgeldes wurde dort unverschämt auf die Spitze getrieben. Jede kleine Selbstverständlichkeit sollte dort extra bezahlt werden.
The bus actually drove and it was on point. After an very adventures drive in a bus on the dominican highway I arrived at the airport.
There would also be a good story from a funny toilet-visit in the bus, - but I guess that is too intimate...
Nun ordne ich Bilder und Erinnerungen an eine fantastische Zeit an Bord der First Step...
Now I am selecting my pictures and memories from my fantastic time on board of the First Step....