Puerto Rico South Coast
31 January 2013 | Salinas - Puerto Rico
Bert Blue Sky NE 20kn
Last week on Tuesday morning we arrived in Boquerón on the South West coast of Puerto Rico. Stories told not to expect too much of the location and town. This was maybe the cause that we liked it so much and stayed in the beautiful bay until Sunday morning. The town is small but it has everything we needed for food and parts. It has the reputation of a party town for students of the University of Mayaguez that is close by and bohemians, but it reminded us of Key West before the tourists took over. We enjoyed our beer in one of the sidewalk cafes and watched the world go by. We even got invited to a strip (from the waist up) domino game. However, this crossed the line for Dorothy. We made beautiful beach walks, but did a lot of work on the boat as well. We had a broken fresh water pump, a replacement of the fuel filter of the generator which was more difficult than expected and with no fuel dock we had to fill the tank with dinghy rides with 2 jerry cans at a time. We met a Dutch couple Ria Sprenger and Jan Huls from The Netherlands on board of their boat Kismet, who were on their way from Turkey, Brazil, Suriname, Curacao, and Puerto Rico to West Palm Beach and we had a great time sharing stories. The anchorage was great and we slept very well except the last night when a north westerly swell caused Island Girl to roll.
We left the bay at 6:15 AM and had a good motor sail to La Parguera. We found a great anchorage and enjoyed our dinghy rides along the beautiful houses partly built over the water and the mangrove islands. We visited Isla Cueva, home to some 400 monkeys related to those on Cayo Santiago on the east coast of Puerto Rico imported from India for research. On the map Isla Cueva looks like a peninsula, but there is an absolutely gorgeous mangrove lined channel between the island and the mainland which we passed paddling the dinghy under a canopy of mangroves. La Parguera is best known for its bioluminescent lagoon called Bahia Fosforescente. Here millions of tiny luminescent dinoflagellates (a microscopic plankton) light up the surrounding water due to any sort of disturbance. Because there was a huge rainless thunderstorm coming from the mountains we did not want to leave Island Girl and we missed this show.
On 01/29/13 we left La Parguera at 6:30 AM for a short motor sail to Cayos de Cana Gordo or better known as Gilligan’s Island. The island was originally called Cayo Aurora after a woman who escaped from a nearby farm and swam to the island where she lived free for many years as a female Robinson Crusoe. Currently it is a very well maintained state park with a lot of weekend visitors, but during the week it is very quiet. We played in the water on a small but very private beach, met some people who are staying in a very nice beach resort on the mainland and used a ferry to Gilligan’s Island. The reefs and the mangroves protect the knee deep water and with a clear sandy bottom, an ideal place to play in the water.
We wanted to move further east but the weather prediction did not give good news until Sunday afternoon. We checked about a night sail and it turned out that Wednesday night after the trade wind diminished that we had an opportunity. We checked with Chris Parker, the Caribbean weather guru and it was a go. However, when we went to bed at 7:30 PM the wind was still in the low 20th knots and the water was still very rough. At 10:30 PM when we woke up it looked a lot better and we left at 11:00 PM. Since at night we did not want to pass through the reefs we had to make a one hour detour and so actually we started our 35 miles trip at 12:00 midnight. During the first part when we had to stay outside the reefs we had very nice 6 to 8 feet but long swells. A big part of the trip we could stay behind the reefs in relatively flat water. The coast line east of Gilligan’s Island is very developed and it gave us a great view of all the lights up high in the mountains. Very soon after we left we saw a long row of blinking red lights on the horizon and we started guessing what those could be: a channel, an airport and we had many other ideas. It also seemed that we never came closer to the strip of lights. Finally just before the channel to our destination we saw an endless row of very high wind ‘mills’ each of them with a red blinking light.
Halfway the trip is an island called Caja de Muertos or Coffin Island. The island has a very nice pirate history and on top of the hill is a historic Spanish lighthouse built in 1887. Due to strong North/East winds we could not use the anchorage close to the island and we put a visit to Caja Muertos on our bucket list.
We arrived still in the dark in Salinas and waited in front of the channel for some daylight and had the anchor down at 7:00AM. We will stay in Salinas until the weather improves and our next destination will be Las Palmas del Mar on the east coast of Puerto Rico.