Fun for Everyone
April/28/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
We have enjoyed a full day on this little island.
Walking along this spectacular beach and swimming in the water is almost enough to complete the day, but we've also hiked up to the lighthouse and on the way down, found another path to follow. It lead to the other side of the island and our private beach where we skinny dipped and cooled off.
When the water is so crystal clear and it is hard to ignore that "Lion's Paw" needed a good scrub (again). We both jumped into the water with mask & snorkel, fins, gloves and scrapers. Memories of "Barnacle Bill" from Lake Erie come to mind... I wonder if that name referred to the owner "Bill" or to the state of his boat? It is truly amazing to dive underneath the hull to scrape off barnacles and green algae growth from the hull, keel, intakes, bow thruster and prop. The best part about "working" in the islands, is that it's fun. Your in the water after all and it's warm and clear. You stop every now and then to watch the fish & rays swim by. You challenge yourself to stay underwater longer and longer, trying to improve your lung capacity, so that the next time you go snorkeling you can dive deeper or stay down longer; and the next challenge is to avoid scraping yourself along the side as you ascend from underneath the huge hull, which in your mind could be the 'belly of a whale' and you 'a pilot fish'.
At the end of the day, you're exhausted but satisfied that you've earned another day in this Caribbean paradise.
We have found Paradise
April/27/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
It took us only 1-1/2 hours from Dewey, on a lazy sail.. we were actually more interested in fishing.... to arrive here this morning.
We caught nothing today but as we rounded the corner and approached our new anchorage, we gazed upon one of the nicest beaches we've ever seen. We happily noticed that there wasn't a spec of garbage anywhere! I wish Janice was here to collect her sand sample. It is so white and clean.
We also have crystal clear waters, very similar to the Bahamas, surrounding us; so the first event is to jump in. We followed a small sea turtle as he wandered through the bay and I got my first picture of a smaller version of the turtle I saw when we entered the anchorage in Allan's Cay (that one must have been at least 5 ft wide).
Around 4pm, we joined the crew from "Vanilla" and walked Vicky, the dog along the crystal white sand beach that lay before us.
We cut the guys hair, and took another swim. Then we walked the beach to discover that the path on one side led to the "baths" similar to the ones in the BVI's. We discovered that the "baths" are very, very salty and one could easily float with effort. We just had to be cautious of the numerous sea urchins that lined the walls. We shared the experience with another couple whom were on their way back to the USA to be closer to their family. They had spent the least 7 years exploring the Mediterranean and had their boat shipped back to the Virgin's.
After returning to the beach, we noticed that our dinghy was heading out to sea. Steve and I had a nice jog along the beach. We usually put out a dinghy anchor but on this beach, but we were not allowed to anchor because it is a sea turtles nesting ground. We didn't pull the dinghy up high enough on the beach to prevent it from slipping away. We (Sylvain, Lise and I) sat in the water and watched Steve swim out to retrieve the dinghy. It was a good work out for his shoulders. Soon joined by Steve, we spent another hour or so lying about with just our heads out of the water. As is was about 5 pm, we decided to head back to the boat for dinner.
And that's one day in paradise.
The Friendly Little Town of Dewey
April/25/2010, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands
One of the many views from Lion's Paw
Today is Sunday and we are just chill'n.
The island of Culebra and her surrounding islets encompass over 7,000 acres of which over 2,800 are designated as a part of the U.S. National Refuge System. Hence there is little development and the land and water are a sanctuary for indigenous plants and animals. In 1936 the U.S. Navy began using some 2,000 acres for Culebra for bombing exercises until 1975.
How Fresh is that Tuna ?
Tonight we had tuna sashimi (hors d'oeuvre) and tuna fillets that were pink inside (quickly seared) for dinner. Sylvain became "The Man" when he caught his tuna. Um! My mouth is watering as I write this.
Great knife.. Thanks Heather
April/24/2010, Aft Deck
Steve is now the teacher after learning from other sailors and our book "The Cruisers handbook of Fishing".
April/24/2010, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands
We are now anchored in front of the friendly little town of Dewey, Ensenada Honda, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands. It is beautiful and quiet and we are sharing the bay with at least a hundred boats. Everyone must be breathless too!
Bahia Salina Del Sur
April/23/2010, Isla de Vieques
Leaving Isla de Vieques for Isla de Culebra
There was a lovely beach at Bahia Salina del Sur, but I sadly spent the day in bed with a migraine...however Steve and the crew on "Vanilla" really had a wonderful day of snorkeling. The coral was dead but there was more fish then either Steve or Sylvain had ever seen. Vicky (the dog) loved the beach. We were warned not to walk further inland from the beach or to pick up any man-made objects (unexploded ordinates). You see for the last couple of decades Vieques has been quite the hot topic in Puerto Rico, thanks to the US military. The U.S. Navy used the area for aerial and naval bombardment until 2003 when the bombing on Vieques ceased.
For us cruisers, it means that a whole lot of beautiful anchorages have just opened up in the Spanish Virgin Islands... lets hope there are no unexploded ordinance where we drop our anchor...
Steve's Jumped In!
April/21/2010, Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico
Photo: Second sighting of Manatee.
Steve fell overboard today!
He say's he slipped in.
I had just come up from the galley, when Steve informed me that he was going into the dingy because the fishing lines were all tangled up. Frustrated by the entangled fishing lines, he decided it was best to undo the lure so that he could unwind one entangled line from the other end. As I reached for the auto pilot, I thought for an instant that he should be wearing his life jacket but Steve was heading back to the aft deck. I asked if we should slow down the boat. He suggested that he would decide if it was necessary. I throttled down slightly. We had two lines out, both sails up, and the motor at 15 rpm's.
As I backed off the throttle, Steve was already over the back, standing on the monitor and pulling the dinghy line towards him.
Suddenly I heard that dreaded splash! As I turned around, I shouted "Oh, Steve" and put the boat into neutral. At first I couldn't see him, but then I saw him hanging on for dear life, one arm slung over the side of the dinghy, the other hand grabbing the line that runs along side the craft. He looked to me a little stressed. "Hang on, hang on!" I panicked (noticing his struggle) and put the throttle into reverse (for a minute), hoping to slow the boat even more and hoping not to have him under the prop (back into neutral). The boat came to enough of a crawl, when Steve who could then muster enough of a shout; "Put the boat into the wind!"
Why didn't I think of that? I put the boat into irons and Steve pulled himself over the side of the dinghy.
The funny thing about this story; As he pulled himself to safety, I watched this white, skinny, bare ass land itself onto the floor. Steve was nude. The force of the water had been so great it stripped the clothing right off him. He claims that his bathing trunks were dragged below his knees. He tried to keep them but that prevented him from slinging himself aboard the dinghy. We both burst into laughter!
Now that's trolling!
After recovering from today's activity, I reminisced.
Mike lost his bathing suit while surfing in the water, with Thera alongside, hanging onto a line, tethered off the back of our then sailboat a 1988 C&C 30. He was around the age of 7 and both were wearing their life jackets. The wind was light and we were lazily sailing down wind. Our friend Jim was with us. We were enjoying an unusually warm water day. Suddenly we had a burst of a breeze and the boat took off. The kids were great swimmers and surfers (luckily) and they managed to keep their head above the water. By the time we let the lines go, to spill the wind and reduce speed; Mike started to cry. He had lost his bathing trucks and was in no way going to climb aboard (we were all laughing hysterically at his misfortune). Jim tried hard to calm Mike by explaining that things like this happened to all of us at one time or another and it was nothing to be embarrassed about (mind the pun). Finally, Mike climbed aboard.
April/21/2010, On our way from Puerto Rico to Isla de Vieques
Photo: A Cero Mackerel. How do we know? We have a book that helps us identify the fish we catch and it tells us the food quality... excellent to yucky (throw it back)...lol
Last Stop in Puerto Rico
April/21/2010, Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico
What was left of the Barracuda... hum? Trolling with a Barracuda as bate! Who ate him?
April/21/2010, Playa Salinas
Hi Gerry, We found Frank and Mariann and English Steve is still around.
Mariann and Frank now live on a huge acreage farm and she sells tomatoes and does canvas work right in front of the marina. Give her a call or email her. BTW: She may know the first owner of Lion's Paw... Debbie McGowan. It's a small world.
Off today. Spanish Virgin Islands next.
Thanks you everyone for your emails and news from home.
Thursday: We arrived in the afternoon and anchored outside of the channel to the Marina, hoping to get more air and less noise from the bars in town. We are getting fairly savvy at this. On the way from Caja de Muertos we caught another fish; well two actually; the first was a barracuda (which we tossed back) and the second was a Mutton Snapper which was big enough to share. Dinner was aboard "Vanilla". Tonight - BBQ (wrapped in tin foil) - Mutton snapper with orange and onion slices, butter, tarragon and salt 'n pepper; served with rice and a pineapple & mango salsa.
We hope to rent a car. We will be on the search for Frank and MaryAnn and English Steve. Lynne and Gerry - The Incredible Hull mentioned we should say "Hi" but don't know where to find them... I'm sure we'll be able to find them somewhere. We'll be here for a while. It's going to be our re-provisioning stop before heading to the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Friday: We rented a car at 1pm and headed to Ponce for the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was spent at Wal-mart! We headed home for a late dinner... but it was Steaks, baked potatoes and broccoli with cheese sauce. Yummy!
Saturday: Today we traveled by car to El Yunque Park. To Steve's delight, Sylvain drove. It took us around 2 hours. Lise and I sat in the back set with my new friend Vicky (the dog), who recognized me. As you will see by the photos, I dyed my hair today a warm brown colour. Keep an eye out for further photos. I am sure it is going to turn very brassy as the sun starts to bleach it..lol
El Yunque is the best known forest in Puerto Rico (and a finalist for the New Seven Wonders of Nature competition). It is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System and has been a U.S. Federal Forest Reserve for over a century. It was a king of Spain who originally set aside this paradise for preseveration centuries ago, and today its 28,000 acres house an incredible biodiversity. In the article we read, it was supposed to be easily accessed on 24 miles of clearly marked and well-maintained recreational trails. Unfortunately, we drove to a dead end. The road was closed. A family (with food, drink, chairs and tent) sat at the barred off road, by a waterfall and enjoyed an afternoon together. We literally walked by their table of fanfare and hopped over the steel fence and continued by foot up the road. The paved road that had obviously been closed for years cut a pathway along the steep mountain. We walked under huge stands of bamboo and viewed countless ferns and fauna along side. At one point we thought it pointless to continue, but luckily we persevered and continued. After all, we weren't challenged by the hike (paved road) and the forest was beautiful. It turned out that we didn't need to hike into its steep, huge, dense growth).
El Yunque is home to thousands of native plants including 150 fern species, 240 tree species (88 of these are endemic or rare and 23 are found exclusively in the forest). El Yunque National Forest has no large wildlife species but hundreds of smaller animals abound in the gentle forest, many of which exist nowhere else on the planet. And for us, they hid. We heard many birds in the trees, but we could only mock their songs back to them. It was a wonderful day, without bugs, a gentle breeze and a continuous welcomed sprinkle of rain.
Ps: Hi Ted, you should be in Luperon by now and we are sorry we missed you but we had to move on... insurance dictates that we arrive Grenada before the hurricane season. We would have liked to have stayed longer. Say "Hi" to Kim for me. I liked her (even though it was a short visit at the marina) and I believe we would have had a great time getting to know everyone better.
Isla Caja de Muertos
April/14/2010, Isla Caja de Muertos
Isla Caja de Muertos - Coffin Island looks very similar to Tombs Island in Georgian Bay. It looks like a head and a body with arms crossed and toes up; whereas Tombs Island looks like a corpse's box.
We enjoyed our short stay here at this state park. We all went snorkelling at the reef Charlie and Steve found earlier that morning. As you will see by the photos, they speared a couple of lobsters (Steve's first) and a mutton snapper and hog fish.
Steve's exhausted. For four days, three hours of snorkelling and free diving with spear in hand and all with an athlete more than 10 years younger;
but the most fun Steve has had since getting here (sorry Janice, he's found someone else who loves the water just as much as you did).
Charlie and Lizz aboard "Kaya" were leaving tomorrow which saddened us all but mostly Steve because he really enjoyed his time in the water learning how to spot dinner. Steve's only complaint is that he would like to be able to see. We need to get him a prescription mask. Dinner aboard Lion's Paw was butter flied lobster tail with tri-coloured fusilli pasta.
A big hug and thanks to Charlie and Lizz for such a wonderful time and a spark of new "life" skills to work on.
April/13/2010, Cayos De Cana Gorda (Gilligan's Island)
Gilligan's Island, earlier got called Cayo Aurora after an extraordinary women who, at the age of 40, escaped misery and mistreatment in the workers' barracks of nearby La Ballena farm, and swam to the island. There she made a Robinson Crusoe home and lived off the sea until quite ancient. The locals renamed it after a 1970's American T.V. show because it looked like the one on T.V. and one of the fishermen looked like the lead actor, Bob Denver.
It is a small island where almost everyone from Puerto Rico comes to picnic. The Ferry's stops bringing people to the island after the magic number of 400. "Vanilla" arrived here on the weekend and they were totally shocked at the number of people who went to the island to spend the day there. We noticed that there were also private boats bringing loads of people to the island and as you will see by our pictures, there are many anchored at the island too. We wondered where all those people defecated with only one washroom located at the dock?
It was a wonderful spot to watch the guys soar around with their kite boards and Steve and Charlie managed to snorkel around each morning. Lizz and I enjoyed a Yoga class on the dock. Lise enjoyed kayaking around the bay and later we saw Sylvain sail boarding That evening we had "Kaya" and "Vanilla" over for one last Bouillabaisse (the last of our Maui, Maui) and an Apple Betty (what I do with apples we don't care for); fantastic rice (Vanilla) and jerked Mutton Snapper (Kaya). It was an early evening because we were all heading out the next morning . .up at 5am tomorrow.
Steve's Notes again
April/10/2010, La Parguera
La Parguera is water oriented town. There are houses on stilts along the shore and rings of reefs and mangrove islands protecting the bay. There are no beaches but that doesn't deter the locals. The town has put at least a hundred mooring balls in the lee of the islands and reefs and boats of all sizes from huge sport fisherman boats to 2-hp dinghies go out to the balls to party on the water. You can hear the Spanish music blasting (the Spanish like their music loud). They even have "taxi and bus" service out to the main little island that has a large dock set up.
This is also a big Kite boarding destination and Charlie off of "Kaya" has been blasting around the bay with the locals on his kite board. I got involved when Charlie zipped by our boat, gave a big wave, jumped high in the air, seemed to make a good landing, then crashed. The kite got all tangled up and I was the rescue boat. I don't know whether I was a help or a hindrance but we got to shore, straightened the lines out and he was off again.
April/10/2010, La Parguera
The first night here we anchored in the hurricane hole also called Bahia Fosforedente. We forgot all about the phosphorescent part and went to bed but were woken up at 10pm to the sound of a tour boat bringing people to swim in the bay. After they left, I figured that if they were paying to go swimming, then I should take a dip. I dove bare-assed into the water and lit up like a Christmas tree. Every time I moved there was a trail of sparkling light caused by the millions of tiny luminescent dinoflagellates (microscopic plankton). Unfortunately I couldn't manage to fart because that would have been something to see.
Just hanging out.
April/10/2010, La Parguera
Steve's out with Charlie snorkelling among the reefs that outline the coast here.
I wanted to go but I knew I would not have the stamina to spend 2 or more hours in the water. I admire Nancy (Steve's sister) and Thera, for they could do just that. My hands get pickled just doing dishes (very similar to Mike's). I can't wait for a spot where we can just jump over the side to snorkel, in crystal clear warm waters. Perhaps the Virgin Islands.
I am sitting on the computer; finally having made time to enter the information noted on the various boat cards that we have collected along the way. On the back of one is the note:
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Thank you Will and Ann s/v "Como No". . . a Cape Dory 40 Cutter.
We met Will and Ann for a brief moment while anchored at Boquerón.
One morning on channel 16, Will asked if anyone needed propane. He had organized a drop off at a home up the street, whom had a truck and offered to do a propane run for "us" vehicle-less boaters; and that's all it takes to meet someone while cruising.
We had admired their awning that covered their boat and Will proudly told us that they had it made in Thailand. It turns out that they had been around the world. What started out as a 2 year adventure (they sold everything) ended up as a 13 year one (so far). They left Boquerón and were headed for the Yucatan Peninsula.
April/9/2010, Puerto Rico
So this is what they meant by "Easterly Trade Winds"...lol
Ahh! Puerto Rico "the Island of Enchantment", the smallest and most easterly of the Greater Antilles, approximately 110 miles long and 35 miles wide, with a mountainous interior that lies directly in the path of the easterly trade winds.
We are now transiting the southern coast of Puerto Rico. Experienced cruisers have told us that the southern coast is the toughest. We'll be heading eastward into the prevailing winds and seas and it is a TOUGH beat.
Ha! "We've read all about that" and "Haven't we heard that before?"
Yesterday, we left our quiet anchorage in Boquerón around 0600. We had a trip of 22 miles. "Don't sweat the small stuff"..right?
We had to round Cabo Jojo (the south western tip of Puerto Rico); safely pass by the Arrecife de Margarita (the longest reef along the Puerto Rican shoreline) and arrive at our next anchorage La Parguera (about 8-1/2 miles east of Cabo Jojo) before the trades picked up.
We left too late!
To our surprise (we now refer to ourselves as "Dumb and Dumber"), we encountered steady 25kt easterly trade winds and huge easterly swells at least 6-7 ft even though on the North and West side of the coast they were experiencing North-West swells. This is why we read that it is best to leave your anchorage at 0300 and get into our next anchorage by 0800-0900.
For those following us, when you look at the map and see the "staging" anchorage at Cabo Jojo is only an hour away from Boquerón, don't be fooled. Make the extra step to stage to Cabo Jojo the day before because you just can't make La Parquera in time.
We arrived by 11 am and dropped the anchor with white caps and 28 kts winds blowing.
Cabo Jojo lighthouse
Marg and I have continuously separated our garbage since we left - Blue Box - Green Box - Paper and Plastic and we've had to through it all in the same container unless we have an opportunity to toss the green box on shore. I have started throwing more and more green box stuff over board. At first I started with just fish parts (what comes from the sea goes back to the sea) but now I toss more veggies. I figure, if the locals are tossing plastic bottles in the ocean, my carrot peels are minor. Talk about buying local... we were in Boquerón Puerto Rico and went to the local grocery store and were only offered carrots from Holland Marsh. Now my mother was never fond of marsh produce but when you are 18,000 mile south, you buy what you can. You have to wonder whether there isn't a carrot farm between here and central Ontario. What do the rabbits in the U.S eat?!
Puerto Rico Customs
April/5/2010, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
They almost didn't let me in. I look nothing like my passport photo.
The most popular anchorage along the western shore, Boqueron has a bohemian atmosphere and is popular with the college kids from Mayaquez and the beach is one of the most popular on the island. The center of action is at the end of the dinghy dock and on the night of our arrival, we had five live bands competing for ones patronage as they blared their music across the anchorage until 3 am. After all it was Easter weekend!