S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Clearing In

Thursday, 9 March
N 19 degrees 54.01 minutes
W 070 degrees 56.99 minutes
Luperon Harbor

We arrived in Luperon on the 5th. We hit the coast just at sunrise. Local fishermen were already out, rowing engineless boats around the reefs outside the harbor. The land is so different from the Bahamas: lush greenery, birds everywhere, and tall mountains surrounding us. Unfortunately, the harbor here is too dirty for swimming, but the town is fascinating. A lot of cruisers have made it here and no further, choosing to settle where their money goes a long way and the harbor is surrounded by mountains--good protection from hurricanes.

We were approached within a few minutes of anchoring by two locals in a rough boat. Handy Andy had come by to sell his wares. He is the local go-to guy for diesel, water, oil, etc., and he will wash your boat, watch over your boat, or fetch anything you need...for a small fee. He sold us a DR courtesy flag, which we must fly from our starboard spreader while in country. We then sat back to wait for the Commandante to come out. We had the yellow "Q" flag flying, which lets the port authorities know that we wish to clear in. We waited for a few hours, then decided to go in to find him.

Our first clue that this was not Kansas anymore was the guard sitting at the top of the road leading to the dinghy dock. The shotgun on his knee was old, and obviously his personal possession. The shoulder strap was a length of clothesline. He did smile at us, though. And later he was seen dancing the merengue at his post with his gun.

We happened to arrive at the blue customs and immigration trailer at the same time as a few other boats. Officials soon materialized from nowhere.

It seemed to me that they were making the process up as they went along, or that it was the first time they had ever cleared anybody in (though the presence in the harbor of fifty other sailboats suggests otherwise). Certainly, they felt it necessary to discuss the procedures among themselves. To us, not much was said. After a while, one guy told us in English that the Commandante was not available just then, and that nothing could happen without his seeing us first. A few minutes later, they apparently reversed that decision and began processing us.

During the processing, I noticed a Red Sox hat in the office. I made it known that we were from Boston, and the ice was broken. A listing of most of the major DR ballplayers was issued, then news that the DR national team was playing Venezuala shortly. Newspapers were proffered with pictures of the team. We were in good, now. (Two days later, walking down the street, we heard an enormous din. We were beckoned into a sports bar, where the crowd was going wild. Pujols had just made a great hit.)

We went back to the boat and waited for the Commandante. He showed up, in full camo dress, with a representative from the Agriculture Department, and another to check for animals, plus the boat driver. All went smoothly. They didn't even make me pay extra for the one animal on board--Sock Monkey.

We were now free to roam the country. It so happened that we had arrived just in time for the independence celebration. Carnivale was on. We saw the crowning of the new queen, etc. Then drank two dollar, 40 oz. El Presidente beers to wash down our $3 chicken dinners. I love this place.

Sent via PocketMail
Email Anywhere


Post a Comment

<< Home