Beware of Esperanza, Vieques
10 February 2012 | Spanish Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are a great sailing experience. Mooring balls are frequently available, there is generally good holding and the locals are committed to making the sailing experience enjoyable. However, that is not true of every person and every port. We recently experienced a TERRIBLE TIME IN ESPERANZA, VIEQUES!
The sail with the Hoffman's to Vieques was a great downhill run from St. Thomas. We decided to take the longer run to Vieques over Culebra, both in the Spanish Virgins. We made it quickly to Esperanza and with winds up decided to use the town anchorage. There are no moorings available and with few well defined sailing guides, like Doyles great book on the BVI's, you are pretty much on your own. We found out early that the anchorage was tough to get a strong hold in. After a number of tries with our Rochna, we finally thought we were holding.
Off to shore, we went for the town pier. It is primarily for commercial use, very hard to tie to and a climb up to get out of the dingy. We were met by a visably angry Puerto Rican with a wandering eye and incomprehensible English. We were roughly greeted: informed something of the nature, i nscreaming broken english, that he was the only one assigned to manage the moorings. We understood nothing. We continued ashore and while walking up the street had a sense that Comocean was pulling through the anchorage. Next destination, Columbia or Venezuela. Neither on our route plan.
John Hoffman and I raced to the Dingy and were in persuit. When we got on board, my set anchoage way point showed we had pulled 487 feet! We reset the achorage and went back ashore. We asked a local artisan who we should ask about moorings. She led us to David, an American who informed us that one private mooring was availbale as long as we were off the next afternooon.
John and I took him up on it, no cost, great hospitality. The mooring was a wreck. We tied up in two areas, then decided to drop an anchor and lots of chain as back up, praying and relying on the constant easterly wind, we hoped we would not tangle in the night.
Dinner in Esperanza was fabulous. Perhaps one of the best meals I can ever rememebr. The little blue restaurant across the street from the town pier is one to not miss. Owned by a husband and wife from the mainland, they have great service and superb food.
The next morning we were greeted by an early wake up call. The wandering eyed Puerto Rican, screaming and pounding his white painted boat on the side of our hull. Plenty of damage we later learned, and his totally obnoxious ranting about how he controlled the moorings, how he was Puerto Rican, not the "American" David, and that we needed to get off immediately, and he was calling the local police to come charge us with a large fine. We tried to calm him, but could see he was truly not "right in the head". We pulled anchor and high tailed it to a better possible place to anchor. We pulled three more times across the grass bottom of the bay. Not feeling "safe" because of the incident, we moved to Puerto Ferrro, a bioluminiscent bay we had stayed at our first night, just outside Esperanza. This event screwed up plans for a rental car, and a trip to Mosquito Bay we had booked while in Esperanza.
Now for what it's worth, Puerto Ferro is a great anchorage. Protected by mangroves surrounding the bay. An easy entrance and a perfect hurrricane hole. We cooked out and had a great two evenings all by ourselves. We learned there is a road that comes right into the bay. Kayakers used it to get to this great lagoon. A kayaker took us for gas for the dingy. An American from Sacremento California, she had a home on the island. She informed us of the still lingering hatred for the U.S. over the use of the Island for bombing practice. She told us the hotels were usually crowded from the visiting Puerto Rican weekenders there to enjoy the beaches. One thing we do know...Vieques is not for sailboats! Save the diesle, there are better places to go for good food.