06/02/2010, Sun Bay
VIEQUES (Isla Nena )
Located 7 miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico
The day basically spent trying to find out what caused the problem with the gearbox and making a temporary fix. After much looking it was discovered that the metal pipe had parted under the nut and with the help of parts from Bob a new connection was made and hopefully it will hold until we are able to buy the correct parts in Puerto Rico.
Beached the dingy, locked it onto a coconut palm and made our way on foot to the town of Esperanza. A promenade on the waterfront lined with many bars, restaurants and shops and a lot of tourists. Very neat and interesting. Horses being ridden bareback down the middle of the street amongst the cars. We heard there are a lot of wild horses on the island. Popped into the local yacht club complex , looked through the book swap and sat with a beer watching the sights.
After a swim we headed back to the boats for supper and decided thereafter that because the seas were relatively calm, we would motor with the dingy ( 18hp motor ) to the bioluminescent bay , Mosquito Bay, which was the next bay along.
Armed with coffee and mosquito spray we set off. Truly amazing and unfortunately one would need a really good camera to do it justice. It is advertised as swimming with the stars and every movement in the water glows like tiny fireflies. Fun was had by all splashing in the water to see the sparkles. The tour operators charge up to $ 100.00 per person for this experience. So one of the advantages to the cruising life. Arrived back at the boat about 1.00 in the morning after this little adventure and slept later the next morning.
24th and 25th May.
We moved on to Green Beach, Punta Arenas on the northwest point of Vieques in preparation for our trip across to Puerto Rico. No residents in this area but a long deserted beach with good swimming. A restful day and night spent waiting for some wind.
We left Vieques for Puerto Rico in the morning with sails up in dead calm sea. Fortunately there was a little wind, followed by a lot of wind generated by 2 small squalls. Talacam was going 6- 7 knots for a while and it was a fairly good trip up until we were about to make landfall. Ahead of us was another squall which hit us with unexpected 33 knot winds. Needless to say, a scramble to get sails down and turn out to sea until this went over. More to this than I let on! Because the weather had now changed and there was more wind and rain to come Bob led us to an anchorage behind a reef for the night, off the town of Patillas. We had to negotiate our way through endless fish pods put out by the local fishermen to reach this spot. One does not want one of these wound around a prop!
9.30am anchors up on the way to Salinas. We had to motor all the way as there was no wind. The sea was calm but a bit rolly and weather overcast...... We arrived in Salinas at 2.30pm after an uneventful trip. One bit of excitement though. Bob caught a really big fish ( maybe a King fish ) on the approach to Salinas and we were all gearing up for fish dinner. But after getting it on deck the fish slithered its way back into the sea...... no fish dinner! Next time Bob.
The channel into Salinas anchorage was really a new experience for us, VERY shallow with 1 ft and less under the keel in places. Much stressing and pressing of buttons on the GPS changing 1 degree this way and that way so as to not touch ground. We managed to do this without mishap by not following Passat when we saw that they had touched bottom briefly. We were greeted with the sight of a many boats tucked in the calm anchorage surrounded by mangroves. Not inviting water for swimming but for the quiet water I trade this gladly.
FLAMENCO BEACH CULEBRA
Our last day in Culebra decided to walk across to see Flamenco Bay. A pleasant walk but a long one for Vossie. Long white beach with surrounding reefs. Very popular beach even though it wasn't the weekend. Lots of kiosks with food and drink. Also the beach of choice where people get married. There was also a camping site for tents only, no vehicles allowed.
The boys went off to locate the old abandoned tanks left behind by the US army and Debbie and I sat on the beach resting the legs and enjoying our beers.
Ended up catching a bus back to the dinghy which was a 10 minute ride and were dropped off in front of bar of choice, Bateys, where we had another beer before heading back to our boats to ready ourselves for departure to Vieques the following day.
We left Ensenada Honda at 11.00 am and snagged a mooring buoy when picking up the anchor. Vossie injured his hand during this exercise, cutting his finger,....not a good start to the day. The first part of the trip we had a good sail and things looked good but then we lost the wind and had to motor sail. Then we lost revs and another problem revealed itself, as I said bad start to the day. The gearbox was losing oil, so Vossie had to keep on topping with oil to get us to our destination.
Eventually we arrived in Sunbay, Vieques at 5.45pm. I steered us onto the mooring buoy and Vossie picked up and we were safe for the night. I'm getting better at this mooring exercise.
05/19/2010, Ensenada Honda
15th May, 2010
Left Culebrita back to Culebra for a few days. This turned out to be a sail in a big sea with 20-25 knot winds until we were once again in the lee of the islands. Not pleasant..... Talacam did very well though and was belting along quite happily with gunnels in the water. Picked up a buoy in Tamarindo Grande for the night and day. The snorkeling was by far the best seen to date. The reef was totally pristine and was like an underwater garden. A large variety of fish. Beautiful multicolored parrot fish. Debbie spotted a huge grouper which was tucked away in a hole which would not show itself despite us floating above its lair for some time. She also had the pleasure of spotting a nurse shark just before boarding Passat after the snorkeling. Glad I wasn't in the water at this stage. I am still a little nervous of barracuda and sharks in the water albeit nurse sharks. Ther corals and fans were magnificent ...a very healthy reef.
After staying the night we moved back to Dewey in the hope of picking up internet and watching the ferries from the outside. Picked up a buoy and did a dinghy trip into town for a garbage run. This is a real problem on the boat, having to manage the garbage. One does not realize the amount of garbage we can generate. After disposing of this we went onto our supermarket and stocked up on some fresh veg. and had a few beers sitting outside the supermarket. Bought some snacks which we also fed to the cats, kittens and chickens which came from all directions when the word got around that there was food going around. Cheap entertainment for a few hours watching Debbie chase off a rooster trying to steal food from the chicks.
Supper was a 9 egg omelette as Vossie dropped the dozen eggs we bought on the way back to the boat. Extravagant on a cruising budget but very good nonetheless. This evening we were rewarded with quite a bit of rain and managed to catch enough to do some washing in the morning. Very precious this rain!
Got a bit rolly in this anchorage in the morning so decided to move back to Ensenada Honda bay where it is very calm and protected. What a trip! Decided to motor into the wind because it was not far but Talacam was making very little headway. She was scooping water over the bow every second wave and all I can say is that our decks are now very clean. The planks on the bowsprit were ripped off during this episode and all in all not a pleasant trip. However made it safely into harbor and a much needed recuperation period, for me especially. Did another trip into town this afternoon, doing a detour to the watering hole before and after shopping. And.... I ask myself, why do we need to make excuses for the detour!
Anyway Vossie had a hankering for fish and so supper was a wonderful fish burger by my very own Wimpy chef...very good it was too!
We will check the weather out tomorrow and a decision will be made to move to Vieques tomorrow or not. Very much looking forward to the bio-luminescent bay in Vieques which is one of few in the world.
Thereafter on to Salinas in Puerto Rico.
05/15/2010, Archipelago Culebra
Tuesday May 11
Picked up anchor and moved onto Mosquito Bay just outside the entrance to Ensenada Honda. Did some snorkeling and had friends over for supper ( pork sausage on the braai ). A perfect sunset.......
Wednesday 12th May
Around midday we moved onto Puerto Manglar , a very sheltered and calm bay with mooring buoys and this was to be our first attempt to pick up with me steering. Buoys are situated just inside the reef area and after choosing one and approaching slowly for Vossie to pick up, which he did, I stalled the engine and could not reverse to stop the boat. So............we drifted forward and touched bottom which fortunately was sand. We managed to get ourselves out of this situation and were successful on our second attempt with Bob standing by to help if necessary. Spent the afternoon going around in the dinghy looking at the very healthy mangroves and reefs and deciding on a good snorkeling site. Quite a good variety of fish and saw beautiful angel fish which are so docile and just lie there and look at you. Supper was had on Passat.
Thursday 13th May
After dropping the mooring buoy, we negotiated our way through the shallow channel and headed for Culebrita. Isla Culebrita (little Culebra, little snake) is a small island off the eastern coast of Culebra. Culebrita is a nature reserve and home of one of the oldest lighthouse in the Caribbean.
Stunning coral reefs and again mooring buoys to pick up. And again running aground in the attempt. I really need more instruction with this exercise. Eventually, with the help of our steadfast friend, Bob, we were comfortably on the mooring and spent a good night.
Friday 14th May
Set off at 9am with our snorkel gear and refreshment for our hike up to the lighthouse and then through the trails to visit the other side of the island. Very interesting site with stunning views from the top of the lighthouse. Vossie and Bob dared to climb the rusty old stairs, as boys will do, while Debbie and I remained on solid ground, as girls will do.
Construction of the Culebrita Lighthouse began on September 25, 1882, and it was completed on February 25, 1886. The Spanish Crown built the lighthouse to help secure its claim over the main island of Culebra.
It was the oldest operating lighthouse in the Caribbean until 1975 when the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard finally closed the facility. The United States Coast Guard has replaced the lighthouse with a solar powered light beacon.
Back down the hill to wander through the narrow trail to view the other side. On the way with Debbie leading she came face to face with a buck, surprising both of them. Too quick for a photo unfortunately.
The trail opened up to beach lined with palm trees and long white beach. Lovely sight. The opposite direction led to the north facing bay which was considerably rougher. After walking a little along the beach we trailed it back to our anchorage and ended up snorkeling there, which we found a little disappointing, although this area is reported to have some of the best waters for snorkeling. Spent the afternoon and evening on the boat relaxing after our fun filled morning.
05/11/2010, Ensenada Honda
Thursday 6th May
Woke up fresh and ready to start exploring parts of the island. Took the dinghy through the shallow channel to the outer bay and made our way over to a small island which is a marine reserve called Isla de Pena. After beaching the dinghy we walked across a narrow cut and were rewarded with the sight of a beautiful bay, crystal clear water and calm. After wandering around a little and deciding that returning to spend time in this bay was definite, we headed back to town. Spent the rest of the day finding our way about the town of Dewey. Had a light lunch at the bakery, discovered a few supermarkets, a dive shop combo hardware store and a boatyard with a lift that looked as if it hadn't moved in a long time. We were pleasantly surprised at the prices in the supermarkets which were on the whole better than St Maarten. Saw a few iguana swimming in the mangroves and also a peacock in a backyard. And , need I say it..., this exploring is very thirsty work. ...........
Friday 7th May
Went on shore in the afternoon to visit the vegetable vendor who comes to Culebra on the cargo ferry from Puerto Rico every Friday with fresh veges. We bought some fruit and veg and then visited the supermarket to stock with eggs, bread and milk. On the way back to the dinghy stopped for refreshment at our little place and met with friends who joined us and we all sat about talking. This turned into a little party of sorts which had us trailing home, very happily, much later than planned.
Saturday 8th May
Spent a much needed quiet morning recovering on Talacam and then joined Bob and Debbie on Passat to motor just outside the bay to find cleaner water as Bob needed to put the water maker on to fill his tanks. After lunch we all went off to do a bit of snorkeling and then back to the boat and made our way back to anchorage for sundowner time.
Sunday 9th May
After a nice breakfast Vossie tackled a few odd jobs in the morning getting the pole ready and adding a few extra cleats.
Then took Talacam for a afternoon sail to test out various sail settings on different points of sail with Bob and Debbie as our guests. We stopped for lunch in a quiet little anchorage and then did our return trip. They really are a great help and very patient. Re anchored back in Ensanada Honda Bay for our planned trip on the ferry the next day
Monday 10th May
Today we had decided to go on the early ferry to Fajardo on the eastern side of Puerto Rico. Having to rise very early, to which we are not accustomed, to catch the 6.30am ferry, we picked up Bob and Debbie and took ourselves off in the dinghy in a bit of a rush and hot footed it downtown to the ferry dock to buy tickets.
After a very pleasant 1.5 hr ferry ride we docked in Puerto Real and started a long walk to find a marine shop as we all needed a few items for the boats. This walk took us up and over a rather steep hill through a residential area. Almost every yard had an abundance of fruit trees namely breadfruit, mangoes, coconuts, and papaya. Very tempting, but we resisted.
We finally found the lsmall shopping centre and found some of the items needed. Unfortunately we were unable to find the oil filters we needed and Debbie also needed some sewing materials which we could only buy in Fajardo town so we decided to carry on walking to find the town of Fajado.
On the way we stopped off at a Burger King and had a much needed break and a bite to eat. As we had been told that we could catch a bus from nearby this point we proceeded to find the bus stop. Unfortunately the public transport is not so regular so after a short wait the consensus was to carry on walking. It wasn't too far and we found the store and were successful in getting what was needed. By this time we decided that we deserved a ride back seeing the legs were a little tired and we were directed to the bus/taxi terminal. After some negotiation and agreeing on a reasonable fare , we did a detour to West Marine, a bigger marine store situated on the highway 3, to see if we could find our filters and a bow roller as ours had split in half. Partially successful with bow roller, but no filters.....
The driver patiently waited while we shopped and then took us back to the ferry dock. We were a little early but found a good watering hole nearby to fill the time until 3pm when the ferry was due to leave back to Culebra. As our luck would have it, departure time came and went and eventually on enquiry found out that the passenger ferry has broken down and we would have to come back on the cargo ferry instead at 4.00pm....so guess where we spent the extra hour!
Finally arrived back at the boat at about 6.30pm after a very pleasant, exercise filled day and looking forward to a restful night.
Tuesday May 11th
Fully recovered from our trip yesterday and are busy making water, which task we have fallen behind on, and charging batteries. Hopefully we will also get some rain to catch water as well.
We will probably move onto another anchorage later today depending on what the weather has in store for the rest of the week.
At last we have arrived in Spanish Virgins which Vossie has been talking about forever. Entrance to Ensenada Honda bay was a little hairy to say the least, much dodging of shallows but it was well marked and we made it safely to anchor. Absolutely calm in the bay and have woken to brilliant sunshine and perfect weather.
We checked in yesterday pm, got a cruising permit and then did a few beer hops. Today we will do a little exploring on the dinghy. Then move the boat out of the bay and start visiting the various anchorages and then onto Puerto Rico.
We had a good sail from St Thomas and Talacam sailed well. Although we are a litttle nervous of big winds ,she on the other hand loves it. We are getting at this as Vossie tries out various sail settings.
As we explore more I will add to this blog with photos.
So breakfast is now in order and then take the dingy down off the deck and on to explore.