2009-2010 Caribbean / Bahamas Trip
Sunday, March 21st, La Parguera, Puerto Rico
I use as an excuse a sick Captain and an ailing computer to explain my tardiness in updating the log. Happily both have recovered or at least been remedied. The Captain's story first.
When I last updated the log we were in Coral Harbor, St. John donning our finery to celebrate the thirtieth wedding anniversary of friends who were visiting from Massachusetts. The plan was for six of us to cook a wonderful feast at the rental house, and to toast Linda & Paul's long union. Well, almost all went according to plan. Great food, the happy couple's amusing marital anecdotes and much toasting. The missing element was Roger. The previous day he had begun to feel lousy and by the day of the anniversary he was downright ill. I said to the troops "not to worry, he'll be up and around in a day or two". Our friends headed back to the states four days later without seeing a recovered Captain. They had offered to cart him to the clinic in Cruz Bay, which in hindsight might have been a good idea. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20. A week after the "flu" set in we were still trapped in Coral Harbor. Although a lovely vacation destination, Coral Harbor isn't where you want to be stuck with the flu. Evil weather was threatening to arrive to lock us in for another week. I drew the line. We were moving to St. Thomas to tie up in a marina and get Roger repaired. I donned the Captain's hat and we set off into the gray Saturday morning. To make a long story somewhat shorter, a successful landing was made at Crown Bay Marina in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The lovely facilities director, Jane from Maine drove us to the hospital. After an afternoon of tests and IV fluids we made our way back to the boat feeling somewhat perkier. After three days of grocery shopping and laundry we headed out of the Marina towards Culebra on Tuesday March 9th with the Captain feeling much improved. As to the cause of this illness, no conclusions were reached. while we were in St. Thomas. After discussion amongst the doctors and nurses of Dengue Fever and a variety of other possibilities, the thought was that the cause was probably viral. Three weeks later Roger is feeling pert, perky and MUCH more cheerful. WHEW.
As Roger began to feel better, the computer began to feel unwell. The keyboard was no longer able to type numbers. Not a crisis for log writing, I'll admit, but troublesome from a banking and bill-paying standpoint. This discovery was made in Salinas, our second stop in mainland Puerto Rico. This would need to be rectified and would cost as much as having the flu! But I am jumping ahead...
Prior to our computer meltdown we had enjoyed several stops in Puerto Rico. The first was at the Island of Culebra. After checking in, we located a guide to give us an Island tour. Aimee (pr: "I May") gave us the "all roads" tour which took about one hour. It's a lovely little island with several very pretty beaches, protected areas for birds and turtles and some nice restaurants. We had wonderful fish taco's at Mamacita's. The anchorage at Dakity Harbor was terrific. It was protected by a reef so it was very calm but there was a great breeze. The most amazing thing about it was that there were so few boats at anchor. It was such a relief after the U.S. Virgins.
Roger was feeling mostly better so after a few days we headed south toward the island of Vieques. On our way we encountered whales. In the past I could say without reservation "I love to see whales while out sailing". Now, I have to say, I will be a bit more specific. "I love to see whales when we are out sailing as long as they remain more than fifty yards away while breaching two stories in the air." The adrenaline I went through that morning was awe inspiring. I thought we were going to be crushed. One whale went straight up into the air in front of us while another zipped right by our starboard side. These were BIG, boat-squashing sized whales I'm describing here. Yes, I have been on whale watches before but this was DIFFERENT. Needless to say we survived the encounter. The several whales we have seen since our close encounter have been pleasingly distant.
After one rolly night at anchor in Sun Bay, Vieques we sailed to the main island of Puerto Rico. Sorry for the short shrift Vieques! We were still sailing short days and our intended destination that Saturday the 13th was Palmas del Mar. Both our guidebooks said it was a protected harbor surrounded by a swank gated community. The real draw was a local fish restaurant nearby. Mmmm! Sadly, it was not to be. The harbor at Palmas del Mar has been taken over by a marina. There wasn't enough room to anchor a row boat. The day turned out to be a bit longer than anticipated with the additional fifteen miles tacked on to get to Puerto Patillas but it was an enjoyable trip. We worked our way into the harbor but were still a bit open to the southeast swells. There were just two sailboats at anchor which warmed our hearts. We spent the late afternoon watching manatees and jumping rays and listening to the Latin music wafting from shore which spiced up our Saturday night.
On Sunday the 14th we headed west to Salinas. Salinas is a bit of a cruiser's hangout. It's a well protected, mangrove anchorage. Mangrove anchorages are nice if you like calm waters. They can be a bit buggy and warm when the wind isn't blowing though. The wind wasn't blowing and it was warm. We spent the afternoon watching families returning from their Sunday outings. Very relaxing. On Monday we tackled some chores. I headed off in search of the supermercado and then did some laundry. I met Roger at La Barkita for a lovely local lunch of rice, beans and stewed chicken ($6.00) after our labors. On our way back to the dinghy dock an older couple....no, I mean to say an OLD couple pulled up to us in their car and said "you look like cruisers, do you need a ride?" We said we were just walking the 50 yards to the marina dinghy dock but thank you. Needless to say we met them about four minutes later. Dick and Jane had just flown up from Trinidad that morning and were waiting for their sailboat, Jarandeb, to be delivered from Trinidad by friends. We chatted for several minutes and went our separate ways. An amazing pair.
After two nights in the warm embrace of Salinas and before tackling our computer problems in the big city of Ponce we decided to take a break at Isla Caja de Muertos. Coffin Island for us English speakers. It was a little Bahamian interlude. The water was clear and blue, the breeze was blowing and the lee side of the island was very calm. Once again we were one of two boats at anchor. We recognized the other boat as one we had seen in Salinas. On the morning of our first full day at Caja de Muertos we stopped to say hello to our neighbors. Hannes & Sabine on Cayenne were great fun. They have sailed their Amel Santorin from the Black Sea, across the Atlantic to the Caribbean over the last three years. We spent hours talking about all the things that sailors talk about before finally taking our leave to go ashore and explore but not before plans were made to meet again in Cayos de Cana Gorda a few days hence.
Our next adventure involved dropping the hook in Ponce to go in search of a new laptop. As we pulled into the harbor we spied a boat with a familiar name in front of us. Dick & Jane's Jarandeb! On our way to the Ponce Yacht Club dock to get day passes we stopped to say hello to the "friends of Dick & Jane". Ian, the delivery Captain, was a very friendly gentleman from South Africa. He and his two crew had just arrived the previous day from Trinidad and one of the crew was having Customs & Immigration problems. Despite that Ian was cheerful and full of energy. We remarked that Dick & Jane were amazing. "Well into their eighties, they are" Ian told us. They had spent the last eight years living aboard in Trinidad and had decided if they were going to continue getting older they better have access to Medicare. Hence the move to Salinas. We would see the whole crew later, Dick & Jane included, at the Yacht Club Restaurant celebrating the curing of their customs problems.
We, meanwhile had a very successful day. The Marina called us a cab and we made our way with fear & loathing to the local Wal-Mart. We bought a new keyboard, a spare laptop and made our way into historic downtown Ponce for lunch. Ponce reminded us of Santo Domingo, DR a bit. It is far smaller, but has the crumbling old Spanish architecture. We had shrimp sautéed in butter, rice, beans and salad for lunch. Yum! Then it was back to the Marina with our goodies. After dropping our packages we headed back in to avail ourselves of the pool and the showers. A very productive day which wasn't nearly as painful as we anticipated.
After one whirlwind day in Ponce we headed to Cayos de Cana Gorda. This three island group on the south central coast of Puerto Rico includes one island which is locally called "Gilligan's Island". Don't ask me why. We found Cayenne alone in the anchorage and dropped the hook nearby. Sabine had stumbled upon a hiking trail map at a nearby resort where they had lunched the previous day and plans were made for a hike. Bright and early Saturday morning we tied the dinghy at the shore and, with map in hand we headed off. The trail begins on the main road then was to branch onto a "secondary road". There was no secondary road to be found. At one point we saw an overgrown path but dismissed it. After several hours we found ourselves in downtown Guanica, well past any possible "secondary road". We weren't too crushed by our wayward outing since the first building we came upon as we entered the village was "Jay's Empanadillas." which had a blinking beer sign in the window. Despite the early hour we fortified ourselves with empanadillas and hydrated with several Madalla's (the local beer) and made our way safely home. In the evening we had a second visit from a vacationing couple from Maryland. The previous night they had snorkeled out to see us and this evening they visited by kayak. The following day they were headed home. It's funny the people you meet.
Today we find ourselves at our next to last stop in Puerto Rico, La Parguera. From here we will go on to Boqueron then across the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic. The Spanish Virgins and Puerto Rico have been a very enjoyable several weeks for us. The people here have been wonderful and the un-crowded anchorages were an enjoyable change.
The sail continues...
Wednesday, March 31st, Luperon, Dominican Republic
Here we are on our fourth day in Luperon. The chores are done and we are awaiting the taxi bearing our friends who are arriving from Oregon today.
Early last week we spent a good deal of time eating fried food and drinking beer in Boqueron with the Cayenne's and some Canadian's on a boat called Steel Away. Happily for our waistlines we were forced to depart Puerto Rico, the "Isla del Encanto", to make our way west to meet our guests arriving in the Dominican Republic. Our initial plan was to leave Boqueron, head across the Mona Passage, across the top of the Dominican Republic and make landfall at Ocean World Marina near Puerta Plata. The threat of northeast swells, which make exiting the Marina interesting had us reconsider that plan and instead head directly for Luperon. After a simultaneously painful (no wind) and painless (no problems) forty hour passage we dropped the hook in Luperon Sunday morning. After the standard welcome by the Dominican Navy and the attending paperwork at Immigration we were free to go back to the boat to sleep.
Monday morning bright and early Papi turned up with his dory full of diesel fuel. Papi and Handy Andy, his cohort, will bring you whatever fluids your boat desires. Shango desired diesel after our trip and was promptly topped up. "Check-in Part II" (Port Authority and Agriculture) was followed by a spectacular lunch at Shaggy's Barstool Sailor. Grilled grouper sandwiches with mango chutney. Finally food that wasn't fried! Shaggy's Mother, Lynn arranged to get us three local chickens, quartered and frozen. She also gave us the name of her favorite taxi driver to pick up Jim and Lorraine at the airport AND take us grocery shopping the next day. A very successful afternoon. Thanks Shaggy's!
Tuesday morning found me at the veggie market at eight a.m. The veggie market occurs once a week when the truck pulls up across from the dentist's office. There was quite a crowd gathered. I was the only gringo to be seen. The selection was very good and I enjoyed being back in the fray of local vendors. It was my first "local" market since Martinique. The withdrawal had been something awful.
Once the Oregonians have arrived and settled in we'll make our way towards the Bahamas. We're hoping to make our first stop at Lantern Head Harbor, Great Inagua. More later.
2009-2010 Trip Logs