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Voyage of Traveler / Blog » Warning: Do Not Visit San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Voyage of Traveler / Blog

March 4, 2010

Warning: Do Not Visit San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Filed under: Year 3: July09 - July10 Greece to Newport Beach, CA, Caribbean — mrlawlerjr @ 9:07 am

San Pedro de Macoris
Dominican Republic
18-28N, 69-53W
March 3, 2010

Unless you are a glutton for punishment, I strongly urge any fellow yachties headed to the Dominican Republic to avoid San Pedro de Macoris, one of the four Ports of Entry on the south coast.  The check in procedure took an incredible 4.5 (!) very frustrating hours.  I have visited 52 countries in the past three years on this circumnavigation and this was, by far, the worst experience.

The authorities are just not set up for yachts.  From the way the officials acted (bumbling, unsure of what to do), it is obviously rare for a yacht to visit here.  At least 20 officials had to look at our papers, all of which were in order. We bounced back and forth between the Port Authority, Immigration, Customs, the Navy and someone from the Department of Agriculture.  Even though we were the only boat in the harbor and most of them watched us arrive, we were nevertheless asked about ten times, mindlessly, “Cuando llagaron?” (When did you arrive?) No one spoke any English.

The immigration fee is $10 per person for a Tourist Card, plus a $43 tourist fee for the yacht(?), which had to be paid in US dollars in exact change. It took a bookkeeper a half an hour to calculate the Port Authority fee, which came to $93, and it had to be paid in local pesos, in exact change. While we waited patiently I noticed the bookkeeper had a 2009 calendar on her desk turned to the month of January (14 months old.) They do not take credit cards, and the nearest bank is a dangerous 15 minute walk through town. Don’t go alone, and you will have a very hard time finding it unless a local takes you there.

Then the officials insisted on inspecting the boat, and required that I bring my boat to their rough concrete wharf, which had a few widely-spaced filthy black truck tires for fenders for ships and no cleats or any way for a yacht to tie up to the wharf.  Plus the wind was about ten knots and blowing onto the wharf with some chop.  I politely refused explaining that I did not want to damage my boat.  After a half an hour or so of arguing about it, they decided to go out to my boat, which was at anchor about 100 yards off the wharf.  I don’t know if it was intentional or gross negligence, but the guy driving their shore boat rammed my boat causing a long deep scratch to the gel coat topside.  And seven (!) officials felt it was necessary to board my boat for the inspection, five of them wearing filthy black soled work boots and the other two wore tennis shoes.  I asked that they please take their shoes off to come aboard, but they refused.  I then politely insisted, but only two out of seven were willing to take their shoes off, so I firmly refused to let the others step into the cockpit or go below and told them to get back on their shore boat.  It then got ugly, lots of shouting and name calling.  I pointed to the moron who crashed into my boat and called him “stupido y peligroso,” causing the other officials to laugh.  But I was angry.

The harbor is the worst we have seen, anywhere in the world.  You must anchor directly next to a very noisy power plant that puts out a huge amount of exhaust and runs 24 hours.  The water in the harbor is way too polluted to swim in or make water.

And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the city worth visiting.  It is filthy, unsafe and wholly unattractive.  We did not see one bar or restaurant that we would want to try (and we are not picky.)  We were the only tourists in the entire city.  And I can see why.  You’ve been warned.

Michael Lawler
Yacht “Traveler”
www.voyageoftraveler.com

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