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Why are there so few yachts in the DR?

By Sue Richards last modified May 20, 2010 10:00 AM

Published: 2010-05-20 10:00:20
Countries: Dominican Republic

We sailed to Dominican Republic (DR) mostly to apply for American tourist Visas, but also because we wanted to see one of the bigger islands in the Caribbean and to get off the tourist and charter boat track.

I must say that the DR surprised us in a most positive way. The country has so much to offer and is completely unspoiled by yachts. Most of the anchorages you will enjoy for yourself.

Our port of entry in DR was Boca Chica and Marina Zar-Par, which is just east of Santo Domingo, the capitol of DR. It is the best marina we have visited so far in the Caribbean. We have never received such a good reception on entry. I nearly wished that we had more lines to tie up the boat with because there were so many of the marina staff urging to give you a hand. And these friendly helping hands we felt during our whole monthly stay in marina Zar-Par.

The Dominican Republic is known to be a corrupt country and it is common that you need to bribe the authorities when you clear in to the country. In marina Zar-Par you pay a fixed fee to the Harbor Master and he takes care of everything. This makes the clearing quick and easy!

The marina is well designed with wide wooden pontoons, which are not boringly straight but in various directions. Each pontoon has a pavilion with tables and chairs where you and your sailing friends can socialize, dine or have a drink. The marina also has good washing machines and dryers, which you always are in need of and free fast WiFi internet!

There is no published Cruising Guide over Dominican Republic but Marina Zar-Par provides you with a free electronic cruising guide which is really good. (Editors Note: There is a link to this guide from all the DR noonsite pages).

The Dominican Republic farm and produce nearly all groceries you can think of, which makes it a joy to go to the supermarket. There is a good supermarket near the marina with everything from electronics, clothes and food. The marina also provides a free taxi service to the store which makes your provisioning easy. It is really cheap too, as most things in Dominican Republic are compared to the rest of the Caribbean. We stocked up for the next goal on our trip which was Cuba where it is hard to find anything. If you can´t find what you need in the close supermarket you can go in to Santa Domingo where you can find everything you need. We went with the bus several times and it is an experience in its self, plus it is very cheap.

We were in need of some new equipment. Our computer, which we use for navigation, broke; one of our autopilots stopped functioning and we needed some spare parts for the engine; plus some new clothes where the fabric had not been eaten by the sun. It is not always easy to understand where you can find and buy equipment in Dominican Republic but the marina provides you with all the knowledge and connections that you need. We received a tremendous help from the marina, for which we are very thankful!

We also applied for a USA tourist visa in Santo Domingo which went without complications. But you need to be prepared that it will take time. Our whole application time from start until we had the passports back, took us nearly 15 working days.

Thank you for a pleasant stay in DR and Marina Zar-Par!

Best regards
Helena & Tobbe at S/Y Mare