April 26 - May 5, 2011... Culebra

We rolled all night on the mooring in Tortuga, and the wind and seas were forecast to get even higher. So, though we love Culebrita, we high-tailed it to Ensenada Honda in Culebra for some protection. Thought we would stay till the weather improved, then go back to Tortuga. Well the weather didn't really improve for about 10 days and by then we were happy to be where we were, in a very calm cove north of Punta Cabras, near the Fish and Wildlife Service dock.  Mornings we were visited by a dolphin! Usually when we ran the watermaker -- must be curious about the sound.

We spent our time kayaking through the mangrove channels and exploring the coastline of the ensenada. Lots of herons (blue, green, white, and night), pelicans, brown boobies, bananaquits, yellow warblers, and more. We also surprised a turtle in the middle of the bay -- other than swimming with the turtles, we never got this close to one at sea level. We tried to use the kayak as our principal means of transportation off the boat whenever possible. Our neighbors in the anchorage, Maddie and Skip on Saralane, were intrigued by the kayak thing and we encouraged them to give it a try too.

We also went for some long walks, the most ambitious being the 10-mile round-trip walk to Flamenco Beach on the north coast. Flamenco is beautiful, but the weather was cloudy that day and we didn't see it at its best. (The tostones from the beachside food stand were good though!) Patti had gotten some new boat/hiking shoes and managed to blister her heels immediately on the day before, so we were happy to come by the Colmado Genesis and get some band-aid first aid.

Last year we really enjoyed snorkeling at Melones, so thought we would try some of the west coast snorkeling areas again this year. The first day out we dinghyed through the Dewey cut and tried Tamarindo Bay. At the southern end of the bay, we saw all the likely suspects as well as a little turtle. The most interesting thing there was the series of cages with staghorn coral tied to them. Someone must be experimenting with growing coral to replant the reef. There were at least two dozen of these cages with pieces of coral of different sizes strapped on. Some pieces had been planted in the bottom as well. Fish were interested, so it seems that the project may be working to rebuild reef and attract life.

Next we dinghyed up to Carlos Rosario beach, hitched to a DRNA mooring, and swam towards what looked like rock. What a wonderful surprise! This was 'the wall' that we had heard about -- a coral garden with the most sea fans we had ever seen -- greens, purples, browns -- waving as the surf came over. There were lots of fish too; so much to look at, we were in sensory overload. We followed huge snappers as they swam lazily along the coral heads. We swam till we got too cold (even with our wetsuit tops, we couldn't stay in for more than an hour) and figured on coming back the next day. Which we did. Straight to Carlos Rosario this time, swimming towards Punta Noroeste. Fan gardens galore, bigger fish, and another little turtle, just posing for us! Lots to see -- and we were the only ones out there. Worth the time to explore.

The winds have finally died down to a manageable 10-15 knots and we think we'll be moving on tomorrow to Vieques. Short trip. Stay tuned.

Ensenada Honda, Culebra: 18d18.267'N 65d16.915'W

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