Luperon, Ho! - January 24, 2021
Arrived Luperon, Dominican Republic this evening at about 7pm, having just crossed into Atlantic Standard time. So now we are an hour ahead of our friends on the East Coast, at least until the States changes the time, whenever that is, I lose track.
We left Rum Cay Thursday afternoon en route to the Virgin Islands via Great Inagua Island. In previous visits to the Bahamas, we’ve always been required to check in to the country, but we haven’t been required to check out in person, which is great, because the out islands of the Bahamas are really remote and far apart, and customs and immigration offices are few and far between, which can cause complexities, so it’s nice to not be required to clear out.
And then there was COVID.
Before leaving Rum Cay, we called Customs and explained that we were sailing to the DR and were planning to transit via Crooked Island so we would like see if we could avoid coming in person to check out since there is no Customs and Immigration office on Crooked Island and It would add about 4 hours to our passage to go to Great Inagua, the closest Customs and Immigration office to check out in person.
They said nope, due to COVID, you must check out in person. I’m still not really sure what COVID has to do with this, but regardless, gotta do what we gotta do in these times. We are coming back to the Bahamas in May and we need to do the entry and exit protocols properly to be welcomed back.
We sailed from Rum Cay overnight to Great Inagua, arriving in the Harbour where we must check out of customs at about 6am. Immediately we were hailed over the radio: “vessel entering the Harbour, what are your intentions?”
We explained that we had come to check out of the country as we are planning to continue our passage to the Virgin Islands via Luperon, Dominican Republic. They said that is fine, please proceed to the Customs Dock. We asked, can we anchor out and come in by tender? The answer was “no, we must inspect the vessel.” You May pay the fee and stay at the dock for 24 hours. We did not have 24 hours to burn, so basically we had to pay for overnight dockage that we did not want or need, but let’s not dwell on that.
Additionally, we have NEVER been inspected upon departure, only upon arrival. But again. Whatever... When in Rome, right?
We came in and tied off to the Customs dock with the kind assistance of George, the Harbourmaster. He was an exceedingly nice and friendly guy and he came to catch our lines and to see if we needed anything while we awaited Customs and Immigration. Once we were secure at the dock, he left.
Enter Stevie. Stevie is a loquacious Bahamian gentlemen who was eager to impart his ideas for entrepreneurship upon us. His new idea is to sponsor a “Catamaran Carnival” due to all the catamarans that are now coming in to Great Inagua. Stevie had LOTS of great ideas, most of which were unintelligible to me due to his N95 mask, but I am sure that all of the ideas were top notch. He told us his brother was the Immigration officer and he would call him to hurry him up. Thanks, Stevie!
About 45 mins later, after having been attacked by noseeums in the DAYTIME (which is rare), I moved from the outside table into the salon. And all of a sudden, I notice unexpected movement outside.
There before me, right in the cockpit, was an Immigration officer, somewhat sheepish in having just boarded the vessel unannounced. He asked if we needed assistance. I let him know that yes, we were interested in checking out of the Bahamas, so he very politely requested our entry paperwork and vessel documentation and departed. On his way off the vessel, thinking we had made a connection, we excitedly asked, “Hey! Are you Stevie’s brother?!?” We were met with a blank stare. Oh well. So much for networking at the Customs dock!
After 30 - 45 mins of inactivity on the dock, Dirk wandered ashore to see if he could be of assistance in procuring our exit paperwork. The reply was no, now we are waiting for Customs to arrive. So we cooled our jets for another hour or so (this is Island time, my friends!) during which I prepared a lunch for later, ran the dishwasher, and Dirk met a couple of other boat crews, and eventually Customs came and did their magic.
There was really never an inspection, but, again, whatever...
We shoved off en route to Luperon, Dominican Republic, with a quick pit stop along the way at Lantern Head Point on Great Inagua. We had lunch, did some exploring and then steeled ourselves for the 24 hour passage to Luperon.
There are a couple more stories along the way, but too much for this post. So I will close now saying that we made it safely to Luperon, we’re greeted here very warmly, had a great pizza and cocktails (after no grog for two nights) and are just about ready to hit the bunks after a day and a half of passage sleeping. Which is really not sleeping much at all. Nite nite!