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A Day at the Beach and Friends They Come and They Go
05-Mar-2008, Dewey, Culebra, Puerto Rico

CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Ensenada Honda, off the town of Dewey, on the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico

18 18.245' N, 065 17.867' W

When we bought our first sailboat, Ashiya, we quickly learned that there are always plenty of boat chores to be done. So much so that the list seems endless and one could easily get distracted from the joy of boating (which includes everything from sailing to simply sitting and reading a book in the cockpit). Since we only got to the boat on weekends, we adopted a loose guideline for achieving balance of these two forces. Do a little work on one weekend, have a little fun on the next.

Since we are going to be here for a time in Culebra, we are striving for the same kind of balance. Hence, after a day of de-saltifying everything on deck, we took time out yesterday to walk back to the beach. Flamenco Beach appears to be less crowded although no less beautiful during the week, and we found a nice spot in the sand to sit and read.

One of the things I enjoyed while growing up in Indiana were the occasional trips to the beaches of Lake Michigan. On a windy day, the waves crashing ashore can equal any ocean experience. It was there that I learned to body surf. For those who have never done it, body surfing involves no special equipment, just a certain reckless regard for one's own skin and bones.

Body surfing is all about timing. You wait in the water, just at the point where most of the waves are peaking, but not cresting. Patiently, you watch for one to come along which is large enough to carry you and is just at the point of turning from peak to crest. If you lie your body into the wave at just the right time, arms stretched above your head, you will be shot forward as though thrust out of a cannon. The trick now is to keep your back and arms straight and body rigidly horizontal. Any downward turn can spell disaster, and disaster comes in the form of being slammed into the sand by the immense force of the wave. At best, skin is lost to the sandy sea bottom. At worst, you are bent in half in the wrong direction like a wishbone after Thanksgiving dinner.

During our first visit to the beach on Sunday, I did a little body surfing and was pleased to find that the fine powder of sand doesn't threaten one's skin as much as many beaches I have experienced previously. However, the back-wrenching tumble was still a very real possibility. Yesterday's trip to the beach brought a gift to us. Two discarded body boards had blown up against the fence. Although they weren't in great shape (cloth torn in spots and styrofoam broken within), they worked well enough for Sheryl and I to give bodyboarding a try.

Sheryl's first attempt to surf on the body board shoved way too much sand down her suit, and thereafter she was content to use the board as a simple floatation device. I, on the other hand, quickly became hooked. Timing was even more important than when body surfing without the board, because one cannot paddle as easily as one can swim to get the correct position on the wave. Once you do, though, the bodyboard keeps you up high on the wave and horizontal (well, at least as horizontal as a broken board can). The ride is exhilarating, even if the waves on that day were a little on the tame side...



Once we had had enough salt and sand, we headed for the outdoor showers to rinse off. Yes, that is right, unlimited free-flowing fresh water. The shower alone makes it worth a 2.5-mile walk to the beach (although it would be even better if the showers allowed for one to rinse off sans suit). We returned to Dewey, clean and fresh, with our new battered and broken body boards tucked beneath our arms.

New arrivals in the harbor include some old friends of ours. We ran across Simon & Hilda from s/v Calisto in town the day before. We met them at Warderick Wells in the Bahamas, but have not seen or heard from them since. And, upon our return from the beach, we found Mer Soleil at anchor next to Prudence, so we diverted the dinghy to say hello to Kenny and Kathy. Unfortunately, the visit was a short one, because we had already agreed to joining Simon & Hilda for sundowners. It was a lovely visit with this more experienced cruising couple and it was after dark by the time we returned to our own boat.

This morning, tempted by what was supposed to be a good weather window, both Calisto and Mer Soleil pulled up anchor and headed out toward St. Thomas. Sheryl and I happily slept through the morning hours of their departure, content with the notion that (at least for a while) we will not be chasing nor will we be chased by any form of weather window, door, or even escape hatch. Staying in one location is more of a luxury than you can imagine.

Instead of moving the boat, we intend to chalk up another mark on the productive side of the tally. The v-berth is our focus. A re-inventory, reorganization, and general cleaning of all our stored spare parts is in order (several weeks ago we noticed that salt water was making its way from the anchor locker to the precious storage area beneath our beds). Therefore, dear Reader, I suppose that I should stop writing and start working. Have a wonderful day, wherever you are.

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