Culebra and Puerto Rico

Our settled weather window didn’t arrive, strong trade winds continued to howl around the rigging and one day we had a storm come over which tested the holding.  For us, no problem, but two others anchored behind us obviously felt they were dragging and motored around for over an hour still with anchors down waiting out the storm.  We had seen it on the satellite pictures in the morning so knew it was coming.  After a pleasant lunch on board in beautiful sunshine,  I spotted it on the horizon.  By the time we had put the dinghy down and tied it to the back, the storm hit with almost hail like rain and strong winds of over 35 knots.  Once it had passed the wind dropped to nothing and the sun came back out, it was two hours before the 20 knot trade winds returned.

 

We have had some great walks on the island, there are many tracks to explore through the wilderness in search of some lovely beaches.

There is a channel which runs through from Ensenada Honda to a bay called ‘Bahia de Sardinas’ where the ferry from Puerto Rico docks.  The lifting bridge between the two no longer lifts and the channel looks rather shallow in places so it’s now only navigable by small motor boats and dinghies.

m_Bar in channel Culebram_Channel from Ensenada Honda to west coastm_Channel out to west coast

When we checked the forecast on Thursday morning last week the prediction was for two days of 10-15 knots (although we actually still had 20). So we decided to leave Culebra and head off to Puerto Rico so that we could top up with diesel.  Our tank gauge is playing a good game of guess the level, some days it reads on the red, others it rockets up to three quarters full.  With a year of very little motoring and solar panels topping up our batteries so the generator isn’t run as regularly, we were a little unsure of our usage and were rather hoping that we weren’t on the red, especially as we hold 1500 litres! But at the equivalent of 52 pence per litre we were eager to fill up before heading south where prices are much higher.

With 20 knots of constant wind from the east we had a wonderful sail to Puerto Del Ray on the east coast of Puerto Rico, a huge marina in Caribbean standards.  As we filled with diesel the gauge continued to skip about joyfully, finally settling on the red again when the fuel came up the breather pipe.  We were full, the tank had been three quarters full after all. Happy days!

There is very little shelter on this windward coast, so we tacked our way north to find shelter behind Isleta Marina, a small island just half a mile offshore with reef and shallow water around it. It has two high rise buildings on it and a small marina.  Wrecks scatter themselves all around, I counted 16 within a couple of hundred metres of us and I am sure there must be many more under water.

The wind howled again all night, not quite the lull that had been predicted, and the next day we decided that getting ashore in the dinghy would be too wet an affair  so we will leave exploring Puerto Rico for another time.  We set sail back down the channel on the outside of the reef toward the island of Vieques, Joy seemed in her element bashing through the waves at 6 knots. As we sheeted in sails to round the western tip of Vieques and head east along the south coast, we came out of the protection of the islands and into a short steep sea. Joy, as ever, amazed us for a 37 ton lump of steel, tacking back and forth with ease along the coast close hauled despite this not being her..or our… favourite point of sail.  We watched as a sail boat in the far distance heading towards us furled in his sails about 5 miles out and motored in to his anchorage.  We put in our last of many tacks and sailed into Sun Bay, just east of the village of Esperanza on Vieques, and dropped anchors just about 6pm.  Yes, two anchors as the swell was rolling in to the bay, so a with a kedge anchor holding the aft into the swell  it was a very pleasant motion. It was WAY past beer O’clock!

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