Yesterday we were all checked out and cleared to leave the Dominican Republic at 6:00am. All we had to do was check in with the Navy and give them their $20.00 US Bill and we were free to go. But, alas, the search for replacement bulbs the day before had been fruitless and we had to bite the bullet and replace the lights altogether (this was a good idea anyway as the old ones were in very bad shape) but the new nav lights would not be delivered to the boat until around 9:00am. I got up at 6:00am and had a little chat, mostly via sign language as my Spanish is almost nonexistant and his English was worse, with the Navy guy. Dispite the language barrier I was able to explain that we were fixing the lights and needed to leave at 10:00am instead of 6:00am. Once he understood he smiled and said “No problemo!”
The new lights were delivered right on time, which is actually a small miracle in itself, and Richard worked his magic with the electrical connections and we were ready to go at 10:00am. Jimmy went to tell the Navy guy that we were just finishing up and would be ready to leave by the time they made it to the boat and the Navy guy said, through an interpreter,…. “NOOOOOO…. Now you cannot leave… you have to recheck in with customs, immigration and the drug enforcement guy will have to come and inspect your vessel once again…. Then we can check you out…” Jimmy came and told me the news and I responded in a typical Kristofer manner… “Well fine lets just leave!” I thought better of it and went to talk to them myself and it turned out that the Customs lady and immigration officials both thought this was all silly and that we were fine to leave with the papers they had given us for 6:00am. The navy guy himself didn’t care either, as long as he got his $20.00, it turned out it was the drug enforcement official we were waiting on. He wanted to come back to inspect the vessel again. He had arrived the day before after we had already been docked and checked in for six hours (plenty of time for a full shipment to have been unloaded had we been drug dealers) he looked around the boat, lifted the cusion on the vberth bunk, opened the door to the head, and got on the phone with a buddy who wanted to chat with us about the boat being for sale (it had signs up) he said he wanted to come see the boat at 4:00am the next day since they were going fishing that day. We told him 4:00am was too early but to come by that evening… “noooo can’t do that……” So it was painfully obvious to us that the drug enforcement guy had simply decided to hold us there until his buddies were done fishing and could come look at the boat by telling the Navy he needed to inspect us again.
This sort of silly abuse of power is one of the things that disgusts me with the DR. We had stuff like this happen to us on our last visit to Luperon. Most people just shrug and hand out cash like toilet paper to every little government flunky that shows up… I HATE it! But there is really nothing one can do. I did go back up and chat with the marina and tell them that this was the sort of story that would keep cruisers from stopping at a nice place like theirs and that if we didn’t get underway soon I would have to spread the word. We waited and around noon the Navy guy showed up with a marina employee who pretended to do a drug inspection, we handed out the $20.00 and sailed off.
There was no wind for the rest of the day and night and today continues to by flat calm so we are burning fuel hoping for wind. We have enough fuel to motor 500 of the 700 miles we have left…
I have to mention two things from last night:
The sunset was the most beautiful one I have ever seen in my life, the colors in the clouds where the sun itself had set were reflecting the teal colors of the shallow banks of the Bahamas and then the sky turned a light pink fading into a light purple and as you looked all the way toward the eastern horizon over your shoulder it turned darker and darker purple into an almost violet color, the sea itself was dark purple all around us with flashes of the teal reflected on it. Simply amazing.
Then in the pitch dark before the moon had rison we began to feel bumps in the hull and when we looked closer there were whole branches and at one point a whole HUGE tree including the roots floated by us within reach had we reached out our arms. It gave Jimmy quite a fright at the helm. We were forced to shut down the engine and sail at 3 knots for a couple of hours so we didn’t snag something in the prop and so if we hit something it might not sink us.
All is well so far today. Thanks for the weather messages and continuing encouragement… if youu would like to send us a message on the Iridium check out the blog at the beginning of this passage to find out how. We love to get them and they are free for you to send and for us to receive.
Passing Haiti Right Now (check out the SPOT),
Captain Tofer, Richard and Jimmy