May 29, 2010... Culebrita’s Weekend Party

On Saturday, we did have the camera ready as close to 100 boats showed up for the great weekend party!  So, our solitude was somewhat disturbed, but did we ever get a kick out of this cultural event.  The choreography of all these boats pivoting and anchoring stern to the beach, putting out two anchors, and rafting up with all the other boats was riveting.  We watched for hours.  We don't know if it is like this every weekend; but these people know how to party!

May 26-28, 2010... Culebrita

Wednesday morning we left Culebra and sailed over to Culebrita, a small island just off of Culebra that is mostly a nature preserve.  We had a terrific sail, one of the very few we've had lately.  We anchored in Bahia de Tortuga (Turtle Bay) -- the only boat in the basin.  This is another truly beautiful place with green green hills overlooking turquoise water and wonderful sand beaches.  Our weather wasn't the best for a couple of days but we did take a hike up through the extremely dense vegetation to the lighthouse and snorkeled a couple of times.  The second time we saw two turtles and thousands of reef fish.  Too bad we didn't take the camera. 

Culebrita:  +18° 19' 11.40", -65° 13' 41.94"

May 21-25, 2010... Culebra, Puerto Rico

Friday morning we were underway again.  We had waited for more favorable conditions, but there is no getting around the fact that for the trip along the south coast of Vieques we were beating into the wind.  Rounding the eastern point was difficult as the confused waters pushed us around.  But, once we turned north for Culebra, we were golden.  What a great sail!  Too bad it was only for 9 miles.  Anchored in Ensenada Honda we were happy to be in a flat anchorage after 4 nights of rolling in Vieques.  
Exploring Culebra was lots of fun.  Galen took to the hills and hiked and ran over much of the island.  Patti and John took to the sea and snorkeled the reefs off Playa Melones (where we saw a turtle!)  The little town of Dewey had everything we needed from grocery stores to restaurants to a post office all easily accessible from the town dock.  Saturday night at Mamacita's we had a great dinner and stayed for the conga drum band.  At our boat we had the entire food chain hanging out -- little fish by the thousands were circled by snappers and a lone tarpon skulked under them all.  Every so often we would hear the thwack of another fish jumping.  The predictable noises heard were the coqui (tree frogs) who sang us to sleep every night and the roosters waking us in the morning (or the middle of the night...)  Sometimes it was the horn of the 6:30am ferry that got us going.  But Culebra is a very relaxing and beautiful place.
Galen's time aboard the Anhinga ended on Tuesday.  We walked him to the airport for his 20 minute flight (with only 5 passengers) which left 1/2 hour early.  He probably arrived in San Juan before we made it back to the boat.  We hope the flight to Florida was uneventful and that Galen, who left with a bag of dirty clothes and a gorgeous suntan, has a better appreciation for life on a cruising boat.
Ensenada Honda, Culebra:  +18° 18' 28.92", -65° 17' 49.26"

May 16-20, 2010... Vieques, Puerto Rico

We left Salinas intending to stay overnight in the Bahia de Jobos and then departing for Vieques.  But once at Jobos, we decided to press on and anchor in Puerto Patillas -- one of the last possible anchorages on the south coast of Puerto Rico.  The weather was squally, but we got to Puerto Patillas just fine after being welcomed back to the ocean by dolphins.
The next day we set out early from Puerto Patillas for Vieques.  The trip was not extraordinarily long, but it was a slog.  We went through or avoided at least 4 squalls and the winds blasted through the 25 knot mark.  Beating to windward is such a joy!  It wasn't comfortable, but when we finally got to Vieques, we were so happy.  In fact, Patti remarked on our getting there without breaking anything.  Jinx!!  We were a mile from the anchorage outside Esperanza when the mainsail outhaul car broke free of the track and ball bearings started raining down on Anhinga.  We managed to pull in the sail with no problems -- but now we had a fixit issue.  That wasn't our only casualty -- our coffeemaker also gave up the ghost -- a real tragedy.  Sigh. 
Vieques is a beautiful place.  Very hilly, very green.  Sun Bay has a gorgeous beach and is nicely maintained.  There are also horses roaming free along the roads and pasturing wherever they please.  At least a dozen wander through the Sun Bay grounds.  To explore the island we walked from the beach to Esperanza -- a cute little town with a malecon and lots of restaurants.  From there we hitchhiked to the other side of the island to Isabel Segundo (or Isabel II), the capital.  We hitched several times crossing the island and were picked up quickly every time.  The people of Vieques couldn't be nicer.  Isabel II is very different from Esperanza; a real town, not just a place catering to tourists.  Again, beautiful buildings and a view of the sea to the north.  We re-provisioned at the supermarket there and bought another coffee pot.  (thank goodness!)    
We also walked to Mosquito Bay and swam out to experience the bioluminescence.  Unlike La Parguera's biobay, this one is very heavily advertised and lots of tours go there.  So, we were a little out of place swimming out for the experience when there were kayak tours with 40 people and an electric pontoon boat hauling 30 people out to the bay.  We would have come in by dinghy from the ocean had the waves not been up over 6 feet -- but thems the breaks.  Back at Sun Bay, it was also fun to snorkel off the boat.  We jumped in once and saw a brown spotted eagle ray right below us.  Definitely a highlight.  Galen braved the swells to kayak the bay criss-crossing it a few times.  Finally, our last night the waves diminished enough for us to go out to sea in the dinghy and round the bend to get into Esperanza.  We ate (too much) at a fabulous restaurant called El Quenepo after dancing on the malecon near Belly Buttons where the music of Stevie Ray Vaughn got us moving.  Next, Culebra.
16 May:  Puerto Patillas:  +17° 58' 38.76", -65° 59' 5.22"
17 May:  Sun Bay, Esperanza, Vieques:  +18° 5' 26.46", -65° 27' 22.98"

May 14-15, 2010... Salinas

By far, the funniest thing related to wildlife happened in Salinas.  One afternoon, walking up the companionway, Patti looks out of the boat and notices something unusual -- a MANATEE clasped to our dinghy floating out behind the boat.  Now, we had heard there were manatees in Salinas, and kept looking for them, not seeing any.  Then voila!  This manatee was apparently eating some of the terrific stuff growing on the bottom of the dinghy.  Luckily it didn't sink the dinghy or try to get into it because this thing was BIG.  This was not an isolated incident -- we had heard about this before from other cruisers.
Salinas is a terrific little town.  It has the beach area near the waterfront and marina, where there are restaurants catering to the weekend crowd from San Juan, and a downtown with a town square and beautiful public buildings and churches.  One of these jewels is an old market arcade building from 1925 that has a shoemaker, barber shop, snack bar, and a couple of bars.  We heard fabulous music coming from there so we stopped.  Some musicians were playing along with recorded music.  A local man told us that at night, the musicians jam outside the building.  We decided to return that evening to see.  There were three sets of conga drums with musicians taking turns on them, another drummer with a cowbell, and a man on maracas.  The beat was great and the music continued nonstop.  Even better than the music was the people watching.  What a great place.  Check out the great sunset from last night.

May 12-13, 2010... And, Further East

Wednesday morning we had the anchor up by 6am and were underway for Ponce where we had an appointment for watermaker parts.  Our salinity probe failed and a new one awaited us there.  The trip was pretty good, though the trades did kick up and take us for a ride.  Good though to be sailing again.  And remember tacking?  Yup.  We did that too.  We arrived in Ponce and anchored off the yacht club.  We had more fun anchoring in 20 knot winds, but the anchor held.  Hail Rocna.  Luis Santos of Maritime Sanitation arrived and walked John through a whole bunch of stuff -- they were busy with the watermaker for hours.  In the end, Patti was out of a job as the substitute human salinity probe.  Luis left and we settled into to dinner as the malecon (boardwalk) woke up and the music started.  We decided to leave in the wee hours for Salinas as we weren't thrilled with the Ponce anchorage and its view of the industrial port, and we wanted to make tracks east.
Thursday morning we left Ponce at 4am.  As we were right next to the ship channel, we had pretty good navigation aids and it was no sweat getting going.  The reason we wanted to leave early was to get as much easting done before daylight.  We had stronger winds than expected, but they were out of the northeast making our voyage pretty easy.  We stuck pretty close to the coast and that kept the seas lower.  All in all, we had a terrific little 20-mile journey and had the anchor down in Salinas by 9am (after boring holes in the water in Rincon Bay for 45 minutes as we waited for the end of the watermaking session -- we didn't want to make water in Salinas as it is a mangrove area and the silt would clog our filters.)  Just after we arrived a small squall blew through and John and Galen ran out on deck for fresh water washdowns!  Somehow showering is more fun when it is in the rain.  John and Patti jumped in the kayak for an exploratory paddle after dropping Galen off at the dock where he started his hike.  Afternoon naps all around.  Dinner out tonight!
12 May:  Ponce:  +17° 57' 57.78", -66° 37' 13.86"
13 May:  Salinas:  +17° 57' 14.52", -66° 17' 31.02"

May 10-11, 2010... Cayos de Cana Gorda (Gilligan’s Island)

Up early, we left La Parguera just after sunrise Monday hoping to avoid the worst of the trade winds by moving east before they started blowing.  We motorsailed as there wasn't sufficient wind to sail and arrived in Guanica Bay by 9:30am.  We were the only cruising boat here so parking was not a problem.  Getting in so early in the day was confusing.  By nightfall, we thought we had been here two days vice one.  John and Patti explored the mangrove islands by kayak,  Galen stayed on the boat and worked on his diving and somersaults over the side.  We all went to San Jacinto, the closest town, by dinghy to look around a little more.  Galen walked up into the hills to get a view of the  water from there and to see what was over the other side.  
Tuesday we went snorkeling on the reef close by.  Big coral heads; lots of fish swimming in schools -- bigger than the ones we had seen before.  Afterwards John did some boat bottom scraping (you gotta love boat chores you do in a bathing suit with a mask and snorkel.)  But, he got some unexpected attention from a couple of remoras -- one of which seemed to want to attach itself to John who had to defend himself and whack it away.  The afternoon turned stormy and we stayed aboard closing hatches, opening them when we thought the rains had passed and closing them again when they returned.  Over the course of the afternoon we turned 360 degrees as the winds came from everywhere.  Lazy night, getting ready to move again.  Tomorrow, Ponce.

Guanica Bay:  +17° 56' 51.06", -66° 52' 19.62"

May 7-9, 2010... La Parguera

La Parguera is known for its coral reefs and we tried a couple of snorkeling spots near the moorings at Cayo Enrique, one of which we were steered to by the boat captain at the University Oceanographic Institute.  They were okay, but nothing compared to the spot we discovered on our own closer to our boat.  John took the camera with us and we got our first underwater photos.  There really were some good coral heads and lots of fish, and only the swells, pruny fingers, and fatigue kept us from spending even more time there.  
One afternoon we took the dinghy to a mangrove canal separating the mainland from Isla Cuevas.  This is a gorgeous spot where the mangroves hang over the water providing complete shade.  Another night we also visited the phosphorescent bay where thousands of tiny microorganisms light up when agitated.  Galen jumped in first, and after seeing him sparkle with little lights all over, Patti and John followed.  Quite a beautiful sight.  We also treated ourselves to one of the best restaurant dinners we've had in a long time.  When in La Parguera, go to Aguazul for scrumptious and imaginatively prepared dishes.

Holy mackerel!    We almost forgot to mention that the first morning in La Parguera we had 4 King Mackerel investigate our boat.  They were at least 3 feet long and one of them may have been as long as 4-5 feet.  We don't know what is growing on our bottom, but the mackerel were certainly interested!

May 6, 2010... We’ve Turned the Corner

We were up early this morning to depart Boqueron, hoping to get out soon after daybreak.  A very muddy anchor chain and anchor, as well as a barnacled dinghy motor, kept us in the anchorage a little longer, but we were out of the bay and as far south as Cabo Rojo by 8am.  Passing the lighthouse we turned the corner and motorsailed along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.   A few miles in we were seeing the reefs off La Parguera and headed northeast just as the winds started picking up above 15 knots.  Entering the channel the waves stopped breaking and we found a spot to anchor just west of Magueyes Island and south of the mangrove keys.  Glad to be settled, we explored town by dinghy seeing the beautiful houses over the water.  Finding a place to tie up, we walked through town, stopped at the fishing cooperative to buy some grouper fillets to barbeque tonight.  Back to the boat to rest up for some snorkeling tomorrow.
La Parguera, Puerto Rico:  +17° 58' 15.18", -67° 3' 10.86"

May 1-5, 2010... Saying Goodbye to Boqueron

Galen's arrival means we will be moving on to cruise the south coast.  With all the good memories of the last few weeks in Boqueron, we wanted to make sure we saw the people we met here once again.  So Sunday night we shared a wonderful sushi dinner with Henry and Martha and wished them well on their next move as they head to France for the summer.  Maybe we'll see them in the Kuna Yala when they get back to their boat in the fall.   Monday, Chuck and Loleen took us on a car trip up into the mountains to Maricao, stopping at the St John the Baptist shrine where Chuck unexpectedly adopted a stray kitten that wormed its way into his heart.  The kitten was not sure what to make of the car trip, but did ok as we stopped to visit the very picturesque town of San German.  
We drove to Ponce airport to collect Galen on Tuesday and made no wrong turns for the 60 km trip (until we missed the airport parking lot entrance and had to circle back.)  Wednesday, after a quick tour of Boqueron and the beach, Galen settled into shipboard life as we prepared to get underway Thursday morning.  That meant raising the anchor chain foot-by-foot to scrub and chip away the accumulated growth of weeds and barnacles - yuck!  We raised the kayak and found a similar story.  Guess we'll see more when we raise the dinghy...  But, it's all good.  It means we will be underway again.  Tomorrow we sail to La Parguera.

April 25-30, 2010... Loving Boqueron

This past week has been a whirlwind (by slacker cruiser standards) as our social life picked up and our engagement calendar filled.  Chuck on Ronin arrived back in town and invited us to his house for dinner; then Henry and Martha took us out for an all day drive (originally just a food shopping trip) and we lunched in Rincon; the Kiwi Navy was in port for a few days and Margaret invited us for Roy's birthday party on Barnstorm; then Henry and Martha had us to dinner (actually at their friend Dave's house) where we sat into the wee hours (way past cruiser midnight...) enjoying conversation with Dave's fellow Nebraskans (including Ruth - a transplanted New Yorker) and eating and eating; and finally Chuck took us up into the mountains east of Mayaguez to Loleen's farm where she made us a fabulous dinner after giving us a tour of the northwest coast and introducing us to her aunt and uncle who live next door.  It's exhausting just writing about it.  
As one of the cruisers with longevity in this harbor, we notice which boats belong where.  One morning we went up into the cockpit and saw Ronin a few hundred yards off our bow instead of a mile away near the beach.  Once again in rescue mode; into the dinghy we went and roused Carl, who got Mark and Mike and Crystal, and we shepherded Ronin back and re-anchored with a Danforth vice Delta anchor.  We wonder if a boat a week drags in this harbor?  
Friday we woke up with no obligations and filled our day with laundry, fueling, boat chores, kayaking, and then simply nothing.  Aaahhhh.  The hard rain over night gave us a nice clean deck wash and Saturday is yet another beautiful sunny day in Boqueron.   We are eagerly awaiting and preparing for Patti's son Galen's visit.  He arrives Tuesday at Ponce airport and will be cruising with us for three weeks.  There is so much to see in Puerto Rico and we can't wait to share that with Galen.