Thursday, 26 April 2012

Vieques and South Coast Puerto Rico

Hi from Clare,                         Wednesday 25th April 2012

We left Culebra last Thursday and sailed to the small island of Vieques and then to the town of Salinas on the south coast of Puerto Rico. It has been a pretty quiet week traveling only 60 miles. The sailing we have done has been perfect; sun baking on deck or reading and snoozing in the cockpit. 

On Vieques Island we enjoyed flat calm anchorages, peaceful days and fun nights with friends from ‘Tuatara’ and ‘Tactical Directions’ sharing drinks, dinners and few rowdy hands of Rummy. It seems that everybody plays to a different set of rules and we all believe our rules are right; anyhow it all adds to the fun.

 Esenda Honda, Vieques and some of the mangrove alleyways

When in Vieques we had the large anchorage to ourselves. It is quite noticeable how the cruising community has reduced as the GFC drags on. Even in the more popular places like the BVIs the anchorages were not crowded and many a mooring buoy sat untouched. 

On our sail over to Salinas, Andrew caught a wonderful Mahi Mahi. Thank goodness as before that our two previous catches have been Barracuda. We threw one back but the other one died while we were retrieving our three pronged hook from its jaw. We felt a bit sickened by the whole experience and couldn’t return to fishing for the rest of the day. However the Mahi Mahi made up for that and we thoroughly enjoyed the eating – yum yum.

Salinas Anchorage and the boys at the local Beach Bar 

We have been in Salinas for a few days waiting for delivery of a Cruising Guide for the Bahamas and a Chart Chip for the Northern Bahamas. Much to our surprise we couldn’t purchase these here from West Marine in Puerto Rico even though they are in their catalogue and had to mail order them from Bluewater Books & Charts, Fort Lauderdale. They have arrived today after 3 days and so once the wind cooperates we will be off to the Bahamas.

In the meantime Salinas is a lovely spot. It too has a large calm anchorage surrounded by hills on one side and mangroves on the other. We are anchored off the small marina and the most noticeable thing is that there is no speeding in the anchorage, the No Wake policy actually works. We sat watching late Sunday as many power boats returned to the marina and no one was doing more than a few miles per hour.  Apparently the Coast Guard is very vigilant and the fines are hefty.  This is in total contrast to Trinidad where earlier this year a cruiser in his dinghy was run over by a speeding power boat just off the marina.  There are Dolphins and Manatees in the anchorage and the no wake policy may be as much to protect the Manatees.  I even saw one off the stern a couple of days ago – a strange looking creature shaped like an aquatic wombat.  

The people here are genuinely friendly. They look you in the eye and say hello and if they are in their car, they wave.  It is a small town with no tourist shops but the essentials are here. A local chap struck up a conversation with me outside the marina laundry. He was sitting on the bench sorting through an armful of novels he had retrieved from the cruisers swap library. He is a history professor and he comes down to the marina to exchange books as there is no community library in town. He said he knows how many boats come through here by how fast the books turn over. He was pretty interested in my Kindle and so I downloaded a sample book from Amazon to show him how quickly it arrives on the Kindle; he was amazed. He asked me all about our travels and said, with a far away look in his eye, that when he retires next year he is going to buy a 20-24ft yacht, and then he is off to do the same – I wondered how far he thought he was going!

Today Andrew has gone touring with Tony ‘Tactical’ and Carol and Steve from ‘Innamorata ‘. I opted to stay at home as I have a dose of Neuralgia and didn’t feel up to it.  They are heading up to the mountains and so Andrew has the camera to take some photos for us all.

We will probably leave tomorrow and continue along south coast and then up the west coast. With a bit of luck by the weekend the wind should be right for a four day sail to the Bahamas.

Love Candy xx