Posted by: August Sandberg | 23/03/2013

Dominican Republic

7 (7)Double rainbow all the way

After a pleasurable stay in the modern civilization of Puerto Rico, Værbitt’s considerably heavier crew set of once again. We drifted out from the yacht club, and turned our helm to port, towards the west, Cuba and new adventures.

But the boat turned to starboard. In the process of mending the rudder chain, the eminent mechanic had also inverted the steering. We aimed carefully for a bouy in the bay of the marina, made fast, and delayed our departure to the next day.

Funfact: In my defence, an inverted steering makes a lot of sense. In order to make a boat turn to starboard with a clockwise turn of the wheel, the wire connecting the wheel to the rudder needs to be crossed in most systems ( What I failed to remember). In fact, all ships used to have inverted steering, all up til the 1920’s, when the car became popular. Constructing a steering system for wheels on shafts were easier the other way around, and to rid the world of this potential lethal source of confusion, boats we’re soon given”normal” steering as well.

This great story saved some of my pride, and when the rudder was mended again, my fellow crew was barely making fun of me any more. Once again we turned west, and this time the boat followed. We had two days of brilliant sailing and lots of effective tanning before the forecast turned sour. We we’re not in any kind off rush, so we decided to snuggle up somewhere along the coast of the Dominican Republic and wait for the storm to pass. The beautiful country of the Dominican Republic is located between Puerto Rico and Cuba as Haiti’s windward Siamese twin. And that’s all we knew about the place.

We found a perfect, protected bay on the map, and reached the inlet of “Luperion” in the dead of night. It was completely dark, and there were no navigational lights or sign of life anywhere. The map also seemed to have missed some of its coordinates, as we brushed past shorelines that the gps promised were hundreds of meters away. Our computer-based backup chart told us that we were  sailing on dry land. A searchlight in the bow could easily see the shallow bottom through the muddy water, but as it was sandy, we kept going. And after a 30 minute long heart attack trough mangroves and reefs, we were safely anchored.

43Luperion Bay by night

We did not stay long, but the Dominican Republic did not make a good first impression. Everyone was speeding on motorcycles everywhere, the food was bad and never enough, and the streets were filled with garbage, where we could clearly recognise our handwriting on one of the empty tins that the Department of Agriculture had collected from the boat for “safe disposal”.

But the anchorage was safe and comfortable, and after the heavy winds had passed, Værbitt continued westward.


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