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Luperon, Dominican Republic

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 26, 2008 07:04 PM

Published: 2008-06-26 19:04:24
Countries: Dominican Republic

Luperon is one of those places where it is very easy to get stuck. There is a great community feel about Luperon, with a lot of regular social activities and plenty of very friendly and helpful mid to long-term residents to help out and give advice. Everything just gets…. comfortable.

The channel into Luperon is currently fairly well marked with (now) coloured marks (red to starboard on entry). When you arrive, if you need any assistance, advice for entry or anything at all, call on VHF Ch. 68 and you will have plenty of good help and advice. There may be some sorts of advice which is better gained from your fellow yachties than locals. A cruisers net is run every Wednesday and Sunday morning at 0800 on Ch. 72 .

There are two small marinas in Luperon itself. The Puerto Blanco marina and the Luperon Yacht Club. Most people however, chose to anchor. You can contact both marinas on VHF Ch. 68 or see them personally.

When anchoring, remember a few things; it is best to lay your anchor East to West (i.e. so you are facing the entrance to the bay). If you arrive during a calm period the boats could be facing any number of ways. Lay your chain out, it is unlikely however that you will be able to dig in your anchor and there is a very good chance if you try you will be relaying your anchor a number of times. As it was described to me, “the bottom is like ketchup, lay the chain, in a couple of days it will sink down and then be able to dig in”. If you arrive when trades are very strong, try to remain on your boat as much as possible until you are sure your anchor has held. Boats will often drag in the harbour during high winds. But again there are more than a few helpful hands to help out whether you are there or not.

Clearing in and Charges
The officials and charges are unfortunately not something that I can inform you on with any guarantees as things are very prone to change. However, at our departure we were assured that fixed charges and notices of these would be made official and posted or put into a “welcome pack” very soon. Here on in I can only comment on what we were charged and/or told.

The agriculture folks (yes, I can’t remember their official name), will come out to your boat – be sure to fly your yellow Q flag so they can find you. Agriculture will charge US$10 per person (we were charged two lots of US$10, so I imagine it was per person but not necessarily).

The Commandancia may also come out to you. From what we were led to believe he will now be charging US$20 when you arrive. The Commandancia has just started charging boats who are leaving, those who did not pay on entry, the US$20 apparently for their clearance – we negotiated this to nothing, with difficulty, for various justified reasons. The Commandancia in Luperon has been changing constantly and each seems to come up with different charges and fees. Be aware and talk personally (not over the VHF) to some of the other yachties to see what the current situation is. They may also ask for a donation/gift/payment or fee for the fuel they used to get to you.

Once these two have been dealt with, You must visit immigration and the port control/captain/authority. Immigration will charge US$52.50 for the captain and US$10 for each crewmember for a “tourist card”. This is valid for two weeks. You may then extend up to three months for approx. 400 or 600 pesos each. The immigration fees are/were posted on the door to the office. Talk to the longer term yachties if you wish to stay longer, many have gained residency here. Port authority require US$10 port entry fee and on departure will charge US$15 per month you have stayed. All up, for us personally, it was all pretty expensive.

Things to Do
Once you are there, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, cheap food and lots of fantastic country to see. In Luperon itself, the main get-together is the Sunday flea-market/swap-meet at the Puerto Blanco marina, starting at 1000, followed by a bar-be-cue lunch. A non-denominational church service occurs at Casa La Roca, 2 minutes walk from Puerto Blanco at 9am on Sundays. Tuesday is games night up at the Luperon Yacht Club, with texas hold-em, scrabble and my personal favourite of “crazy-yacht-club” dominoes, or really whatever you want to play, bring it along. Wednesday is movie night at Layola restaurant. Friday is Karaoke at the Puerto Blanco marina (unless Karaoke Dave decides to go sailing again). And… well, there’s all sorts of other things going on – again, ask the longer-term yachties – you’ll figure out who they are pretty quickly.

The water in the harbour itself is pretty dirty, but just outside in the outer harbour it is clean and there are plenty of nice beaches to swim at. Alternatively, there’s a few pools to chose from if you are desperate for a swim.

Internet is available from Mac at Puerto Blanco marina (wireless), alternatively you can go to town and use the internet at the Claro on the main road (fast and good) when there is a machine free and when they have power. Capt Steve’s has (fairly slow but constant) dial-up internet and you can take your own laptop along and plug in. Along with showers, pool, foosball etc, internet is free at Capt Steves when you have a meal. Personally, for reliability, speed and decent value we preferred to use the wireless or computer terminals at Puerto Blanco. The cost is/was 60 pesos an hour.

There are plenty of good restaurants in Luperon, ask around and try a few different places. Prices and quality both range somewhat. Personal favourite meals would have to be the seafood pasta at Puerto Blanco marina, grouper fingers at Steve’s Place and the chicken medallions at the Upper Deck. In saying that, there’s plenty of great food further a-field. Check out what Gladys has on the beach by the resort on a Sunday.

If you wish to travel into Puerto Plata (food shopping, sightseeing), Imbert (ATMs, Thursday market) or beyond, you can travel either by Guah-guah (cheapest but not necessarily comfortable) or taxi (much more pricey). The Guah-guah (mini-van) prices are posted inside the van, 45 pesos will get you to Imbert. Taxis (cars) will also operate at guah-guah prices – make sure you and the driver are clear you are not going “solo” if you want to only pay guah-guah prices; then be ready to cram at least 7 people into the car. There is a coach to Santo Domingo from Imbert and a bit rougher one direct from Luperon. If you wish to do some shopping, tour around or really anything, call Nino. Nino speaks enough English and charges far less than a taxi. You can negotiate with him depending on where you want to go and he’s always helpful and friendly. If you can’t find someone with his phone number, stop in at Casa Lopez, the small supermarket on moto-concho corner (the one and only traffic light in Luperon) and Ana Lopez will phone him for you.

Yacht Services
Diesel, water, drinking water, bottom cleaning and other services can be provided by Rafael or Handy Andy. Call them on VHF Ch. 68. I personally had an issue with the quantity of diesel delivered on one occasion by one of the guys, just be aware.

When leaving Luperon, allow some time (or do it a day ahead) for cleaning Your chain. Have the bottom and prop cleaned by one of the local guys (Rafael, HandyAndy or Papo). After 8 weeks I spent about 2 hours cleaning the top half of the chain. I had good sized barnacles on the upper part of the chain, then becoming a red slime, then changing to thick mud where the chain was buried. You will also possibly find that the chain will be twisted, your boat having turned with the changing land-breeze, sea-breeze and trades.

Luperon has recently become more popular as a place to spend hurricane season. Although your insurance may not agree, it is relatively out of the main hurricane area, has good areas to tuck into (mangroves etc.) and anything that did come would generally lose most of it’s force on the southern side of the DR.

There’s not too much else I can really write that would be helpful except to say that your best source of information and advice is asking around a variety of yachties and residents. Most people suspect that the variations in charges/fees etc will settle down once the elections are over. Hopefully.

Have fun, enjoy the company and finally make the break (if you want to).

Kerri Walker
S/Y Mariposa