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
For the purpose of today's blog, I have drawn a map of Culebra and its satellite islands. I have highlighted only the areas we have explored to date and hope to update this map as we delve into other parts of the islands...
Today I awoke with exploration on my mind. I wanted to see Cayo Luis Peņa, which lies on the western side of the island of Culebra. Sheryl may have gotten stung by a small jellyfish yesterday at Resaca Beach (at least we think that is what has caused the small, painful rash on her arm). Thinking it best not to aggravate the injury with a long day of paddling, Sheryl opted to stay behind in the morning hours while I kayaked alone. I would make the initial foray, as a scouting mission, and report back by lunchtime.
The waves had already started to build in Ensenada Honda by the time I departed, but I was going with the wind and soon found refuge in the flat calm of the canal. On the western side of the island, the lee provided much calmer water. I paddled around several points of land and through the bays between them. Each of the bays has a few mooring balls provided by the Department of Natural Resources (free of charge), but none were occupied. Although there is much less wind-driven chop on the leeward side of the island, the swell could make overnight mooring less comfortable here than our current anchorage in Ensenada Honda.
I kayaked all the way to Tamarindo Grande Beach, and gazed over to Cayo Luis Peņa. Although the water looked smooth, the winds were beginning to fill in for the day. I thought it best not to try the nearly one mile crossing to the island in a kayak alone. Instead, I had spotted what I believed to be a good place for snorkeling in a secluded bay just south of Tamarindo Grande Beach. I paddled back with a certain amount of zeal, anxious to share my findings with Sheryl.
The last stretch, across the bay leading to the canal, was the most challenging part of the paddle. The winds continued to pick up, and lower elevations on land provided less of a protective wind shadow. Thinking that it would become easy in the flat calm of the canal, I gave it all I had across this bay.
When I reached the canal, things did not get easier. I was facing a strong current flowing from the other side. The current strengthened as the canal narrowed at the bridge, such that I could barely keep forward momentum through this stretch. As soon as the current gave way, I faced the big chop out on Ensenada Honda. Approaching Prudence, Sheryl clocked 23-knot winds into which I was directly paddling.
After prying my fingers off of the kayak paddle, I shared my discoveries with Sheryl, and she quickly donned her swimsuit while I gathered our snorkel gear. We took off in Patience, in search of good snorkeling.
Good snorkeling is what we found. We pulled Patience up onto the sand (the small beach by the snorkel icon on my map) and tied her off to a tree. Unfortunately, hidden from my view, on the back side of the tree, was a nest of bees. I was stung twice before they retreated. No worries, though. I am not allergic, and a good salt-water soaking would take the 'sting' out of the wounds.
Bee stings were forgotten as soon as we entered the underwater world of the reefs. The coral in this isolated spot was in wonderful shape, and we saw all of the myriad species of fish which Sheryl had learned to identify in the Bahamas.
One new addition to our underwater sightings is the Hawksbill turtle (spotted and photographed by Sheryl)...
...and I spied a really huge lobster (too bad this is a park and fishing is not allowed).
More underwater photos can be found as new additions to our 'Spanish Virgin Islands' collections. Until the next time we have more Culebra explorations to share, enjoy, dear reader.