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s/v Skylark
It's Always An Adventure
Mountains of Puerto Rico
03/31/2013, Spanish VI Puerto Rico

We arrived in Salinas, Puerto Rico yesterday afternoon. Our plan was to stop somewhere along the way for an overnight stay, but we carried on and made it from Esperanza, Vieques to Salinas in 8 hours. It was a wild ride the last 2/3 of the trip, with mixed up seas between Vieques and Puerto Rico proper as the winds built from 10-20k. As we sailed down the south coast of PR the seas became more consistent out of the ENE but the wind kept building into the mid 20k range, capping out at 28k for the last few hours. We went from being in 1000' of water to an abrupt drop down to 50', causing the seas to get short and steep with breaking waves. Thankfully we were going with the wind and waves but being pushed at 7-8k in those conditions was somewhat unnerving when the water got so shallow. As we rounded the mangrove islands of Bahia de Jobos, we encountered a tug pulling a barge occupying the very channel we wanted to scoot in to get out of the heavy seas. We opted not to share the channel which would have required us to cut in front of him because there was no slowing down to go behind him. We stayed out in the seas and once we passed the mangroves, we rounded up towards Salinas. Whew!

This photo was taken just as we approached Salinas. In this shot, look for the choppy seas, mangroves, sun on the incredibly stunning mountain range, clouds building and storm clouds on top. It pretty much sums up the moment. A lot going on at once.

We'll be here a few days, renting a car and exploring Old San Juan tomorrow or the next day. Our friend Pip on s/v Picaroon is here while his wife Heather is off consulting in Indonesia.

Belly Buttons Bar
03/31/2013, Spanish VI, Esperanza, Vieques, PR

Love the name of this bright, colorful bar.

05/01/2013 | Amanda
More Scenes from Vieques
03/31/2013, Spanish VI, Esperanza, Vieques, PR

I ran out of wifi when I was posting photos on the blog yesterday so here's what I intended to include. This man and horse were trotting very rapidly down the street in Esperanza. His horse was quite short with a high-stepped, quick gait like a Lipizzan or Andalusian. I believe he was was doing something called the Spanish Walk, but I am speculating. The rider spoke no English and since we speak no Spanish, we weren't able to determine what kind of horse it was. Anyone know the answer?

04/01/2013 | Chuck
I suspect it's a Paso Fino. They have a unique gait that only the Paso Finos have, where each hoove is moving at a different time from the other three. It's called the fino gait. These are the horses that Terri's brother trains. They're very popular in Latin American countries.

While in Salinas look for a friend of ours on Wandering Albatros, a Westsail 32. Her name is Mary Liz. I think she's still in Salinas. Ask any of the locals, they'll probably know where she is. Mary Liz would be a good resource for local knowledge.
04/02/2013 | Ed Easter
Thanks for the information about the horses, Chuck. We'll look for your friend while we're here.
04/02/2013 | Chuck
I think it's too late. Terri says Mary Liz has moved on to St. Thomas.
A New Experience
03/30/2013, Spanish VI, Esperanza, Vieques, PR

One of the main reasons we came to Esperanza was to experience what is called the the Bio Bay, a spectacular bioluminescent bay which creates blue-green light in the water. It is created by micro-organisms thriving in an environment uniquely suited to their needs. Our timing was a little off since we had a full moon to contend with, but we went on a kayaking tour early enough that the moon was rising only on our return. The brighter the moon, the less luminescent the water. Mosquito Bay has up to 720,000 single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water. These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night. The high concentration of these creatures (Pyrodimium bahamense) can create enough light to read a book from. (information taken from an internet webpage for Island Adventures). It was enchanting and well worth the trip. We weren't able to take any photos of the experience, unfortunately. This photo is on the promenade in Esperanza, which is a lively, bustling community.

Isla de Vieques
Elizabeth (internet Photo)
03/30/2013, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Isla de Vieques is an interesting gem in the Spanish Virgins, exquisite with long, white beaches and mostly undeveloped hillsides, thanks in large part to the US Navy. I'm not sure the people of Puerto Rico, and especially not the 10,000 or so inhabitants of this island would give much thanks to our Navy but it is because of us using it as a bombing range and testing ground that it remains mostly undeveloped. Why? Risk of unexploded explosives throughout the island. At least that's how the story goes. It is known around the world as the site of four years of protests against the Navy, which ultimately led to their departure in 2003. The good news is the former testing ground has been made into a national wildlife refuge and as a result much natural beauty has been preserved. It has a strong Spanish influence and while Puerto Rico is part of the United States, we don't feel like we're anywhere familiar. Most people speak English but not everyone.

04/01/2013 | Jan
How did I miss that there are Spanish Virgins? Continue to learn many things from you, Spanish Virgins (yes I know we are talking about islands) is (are) one. I missed anything about protests there as well, so thank you for helping my political awareness. What an interesting time this particular stretch seems to be! And I'm still watching basketball. Also mending clothes. There seems to be an imbalance here...
04/02/2013 | Ed Easter
Jan, we also didn't know much about this area before we started cruising. I'm sure Ed was more aware than I was. We are finding the Spanish VI to be stunning with much undeveloped land and clear water for underwater exploration. The mangroves are always mysterious and worth seeing. We hope your basketball team is winning!
Healthy Coral
03/30/2013, Spanish VI, Point Tamarind Grande, Culebra

The coral isn't always healthy in the Islands, which makes us sad to see. But in this little spot, it was looking strong and in good shape. This is elk horn coral.

Underwater Scene
03/30/2013, Spanish VI, Pointe Tamarind Grande, Culebra

Beautiful parrot fish, matching well with the surrounding seascape.

04/01/2013 | Jan
ooh la la! Hypnotic in their beauty. Thanks for posting the underwater scenes.
Dinghy Anchored
03/30/2013, Spanish VI, Pointe Tamarind Grande, Culebra

We only spent one night at this anchorage but found it lovely with excellent snorkeling. Thank you to our friends on s/v Saralane for encouraging us to stop near here. The place they suggested no longer has mooring balls so we came across to this anchorage instead. The abundance of coral prohibits any anchoring so it's either tethering to a mooring ball or moving on. Luna enjoyed her beach time, we enjoyed the underwater scene and the next day continued on our way.

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