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Herb, the weather guru, continued to recommend waiting another day or two, but his forecast suggested that there might actually be a succession of good travel days.  The next morning, March 1, dawned clear with a fairly light wind.   Bob and Jerry were anxious to leave, and despite my trepidation, we secured the boat and headed out about 11:00 a.m.  We traveled that day, all that night, and arrived at Mayaguana about 8:00 a.m.  We anchored just off the beach to rest in preparation for an evening departure.  Promise, a catamaran with Emory and Yvonne, had left Rum Cay several hours before us and was already anchored at Mayaguana.  We rested during the day and Bob studied the charts.   When we left Mayaguana, we would be leaving the Bahamas and the next port would be another country where we would have to enter customs, surrender the guns Bob had on board, and then pick them up before leaving that country.  Bob did not want to do go through all that hassle for the short time he planned to stay in the Caicos.  He prepared a route to cross the Caicos Banks and stage for a departure to the Dominican Republic, flying a yellow "Q" (quarantine) flag and not checking in with Customs.  Sam and Jerry wanted to go into Provo for several days so we decided to go our separate ways.  Promise, however, had the same agenda as Bob and so we scheduled a departure for about 5:30 p.m.

We bade Rainbow's End goodbye and sailed off as the sun set.  We had a beautiful sail into the night.  With no moon, the sky was a black velvety backdrop for the millions of twinkling stars and blinking airplane lights moving across the sky.  Every now and then, a shooting star would trail brightly across the sky.  Around 3:00 a.m., we reached the waypoint to angle toward the banks and into Caicos waters at daybreak.  Promise radioed that he had decided to continue to the Dominican Republic since the wind and seas were perfect for the passage.  Bob and I decided to continue also. 

We sailed into daybreak and all that day.  Promise went through a school of tuna and caught more than they could use.  They graciously approached our stern with a Ziploc full of fillets.  Bob reached out with our fishing net and retrieved the bag.  The seas were so calm that he grilled the tuna and we put up the cockpit table for a relaxing meal.  Other people who have made that same passage describe waves up to the spreaders and report being swept east by the current, almost to Haiti.  We were lucky.

On Friday, March 3, we arrived at Luperon, Dominican Republic.   On my night watch, I had seen the high mountains with binoculars.  I was not prepared for the lush green vegetation that came into view after daybreak.  The Bahamian islands tend to be low, rocky, and sandy, with scrubby vegetation indigenous to an arid climate.  Here, there were trees, grass, rolling hills, and mountains.  At a distance, it was almost like middle Tennessee except for the occasional palm trees and the fact that much of the vegetation was tropical.   Ficus trees grow huge here.  I remember trying to maintain them as houseplants in another life!

The Bahamas do not "feel" like a foreign country, rather like an extension of the US with everyone speaking English and using American money interchangeably with Bahamian currency.  Although the Bahamians are "billed" as a friendly people, they are not warm like the people in the Dominican Republic.  One cruiser described the Bahamians as viewing us cruisers with veiled contempt.  I didn't get that strong of an impression, but the Bahamians were not as accepting as the people in the D.R.

There is no question that we are in a foreign country now.  The currency is the peso, 16 to a dollar.  Some of the stores and restaurants will accept American money but are not really comfortable with the exchange.  Few people speak English.  So far, our restaurant experiences have been limited by our vocabulary.  The prices are very reasonable. For example, the first night a meal of  fried chicken, French fries, cole slaw, and bottled water cost $6.00 for both of us.  It's almost cheaper to eat out than cook on the boat.

A lot of boats get to George Town but never go further which explains its nickname "Chicken Harbor."  But if  boats get to Luperon, most  have committed to making the trip south or are returning from the south.  There are a few who fall in love with this area and stay but most eventually leave.  People project a short stop for the DR but find that they enjoy the island, its people and its prices so much that they spend weeks or even months here.  The harbor is very protected and calm but without sufficient tidal flow to clean it out.  Barnacles grow on the propeller and the bottom of the boat and the dinghy.   Mangroves line the shore and the bottom is mud rather than sand.  The water is not clear but brackish around the edges and brownish green, not the turquoise of the Bahamas.

We encountered the first Tennessean of the trip.  He was from Athens and Knoxville and claimed to be flying a UT flag which I haven't seen yet. He could not pass up the chance to make a derogatory comment about Vanderbilt!

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