10 March 2007 | Southeast Puerto Rico
We slept in today and didn't start prepping the boat until 03:30. We were on our standard "get as far east as you can and have lots of ditch anchorages prepped" plan. The Virgin Islands were within spitting distance and our goal was to make Vieques.
Half of the Vieques island had been a firing range for US military aircraft until recently. That half of the island is now open to cruisers as long as you don't go beyond the high tide mark. There are also many areas where you are advised not to anchor due to the possibility of unexploded ordinance on the bottom (I'd hate to get my anchor hung up on a few tons of TNT). The firing range is, oddly, one of the most pristine places in the Virgins.
We weighed anchor a little before 4AM and drifted slowly back from Caya de Muertos on a gentle breeze. As we motored around the Puerto Rico side of Muertos the wind pick up substantially as did the seas. We moved out as quickly as possible to make the most of the moderated pre-dawn conditions, such as they were.
Just as the day before conditions continued to deteriorate as the day advanced. It got rough enough by 7:00 that we decided give up on Vieques and start looking for an anchorage. It was a hazy morning and visibility wasn't great with spray was coming over the bow regularly now.
We were doing our best to press on because my parents were slated to arrive late tomorrow. The anchorage at Trellis Bay is a short walk from the main BVI airport on Beef Island. We were hoping to make it to Trellis Bay to pick them up when they arrived.
Sometime before 8AM we decided to get to cover. Things were just too unpleasant on the high seas. The Cruising Guide noted a nice anchorage in the Boca del Infierno area. We were just about to pass the entrance and we decided to make a hard left. This of course put the wind and seas on our beam which was even less fun. While I don't enjoy beating into the wind and waves at least things are nice and calm in the cockpit due to the hard bimini and wind screen.
As we approached the cut it was looking pretty rough. The chart showed a minimum of 12 feet on the way in and reefs on both side. As we got a bit closer we realized that the entire entrance was breaking. I like white water rafting and all but not with the house. So we turned back onto the wind and pounded our way up the coast for Punta Figueras.
As we approached the point we began to get a break in the seas from some of the outlying reefs. When we finally made the point we decided to move east for one more anchorage in the lee of Punta Viento. As we approached our target, Puerto Patillas things really settled down. The bay formed by the large reef and Punta Viento is very settled and if you were tucked in far enough would be decent in just about any wind, although seas from the south might be a bit rough.
We dropped anchor at 8:45 and put the boat away. We were settled in amongst 3 or 4 other cruisers, one boat of which we had met in Provo. It was still early so we decided to take Roq ashore and see if we could scare up some lunch.
Puerto Patillas is a small town with a public beach and several snack shops and bars. We tied Little Star up at the dock in front of the fisherman's co-op. A young man was cleaning some good looking Mahi Mahi as we walked into town.
It is always fun to explore new places and we enjoyed our outing. That said Purto Patillas is not the crown jewel of Puerto Rico. It is fairly dirty, in town and at the beach, and the food we sampled at a few of the eateries was fair. When we returned to the dock three kids were jumping around on our dingy. The kids spoke pretty good English and I asked them to stay off of the boat. No parents in sight, they more or less ignored me. When Hideko and Roq caught up we departed briskly.
When we got back aboard the big boat we prepared everything for another early departure. It was still possible to make Trellis by the time my parents arrived but it was going to be a long day with a lot of miles.