March 20 2015. Puerto Rico, Bay de Salinas, 17.57.31N 66.17.52W
Mon 23 Mar 2015 00:06
March 16. Well, after arriving at Culebra yesterday afternoon, this morning we motored up to the town at the top of Ensenada Honda, anchored, launched the dinghy to go ashore and walked to the airport to report to customs and immigration like the law abiding citizens we like to think we are. In fact, it turned out that we had committed a federal offense by not reporting our arrival in Culebra from the US Virgin Islands as soon as we had anchored yesterday. After a good ticking off and a threat of a $5000 fine next time we committed any sort of federal offence, the officer explained the rules about telephoning a given number for reporting in when arriving at the Spanish Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico from anywhere else and how to keep them informed when we go from one district to another within the Puerto Rico enclave. When we got back to the boat, we did find the information on the Puerto Rican Customs and Immigration website, which we should have studied once we purchased the sim card in Charlotte Amalie and we would recommend all other cruising yachts to do the same. Having grovelled suitably to him, the customs officer was then a great deal more helpful than the one at Charlotte Amalie, gave us a copy of all the numbers and a map of the island, so we set off and explored the town. There were lots of friendly Americans driving round in hired vehicles that looked like golf carts, who offered and lifts and told us not to walk to the lake with a picture of flamingos on it on the map as the flamingos had long since disappeared. In the evening we invited Geoff and Eileen from Ocean Gem to have a drink with us so they could tell us about their passage down from Florida and east to Dominica and Puerto Rico which sounded very unpleasant in the strong easterlies we have been having. Glad we are going the other way!!!
March 17. Sunny, calm day, so it was motor sailing with full sails to Vieques, which is frankly the most beautiful island we have been to yet. The east side of the Island is pretty much out of bounds to all tourists because of the “unexploded ordinances” the Americans left behind once they had finished using the island for target practice. We did go into the Bahia Salina del Sur, a beautiful bay with a slightly tricky entrance between 2 coral reefs, which we achieved with some careful navigation and increased heart rate. The buoy reported to be in the middle of the anchorage warning that anchoring was not permitted because of “unexploded ordinance” was no longer there, so we did anchor and had a snorkel, but did not go ashore because there were notices all round the beach forbidding trespassing. It is also a little unnerving to be swimming over so many artillery shells only some of which had clearly exploded.
Part of the beach at Esenada Salina Del Sur with its notices
And here’s what the notices said.
We were joined by 2 other yachts, but decided not to stay as it was an impossible place to get out of if the weather changed after dark and we could not walk anywhere. We continued on our way after lunch, admiring the stunning and unspoilt coastline and anchored in another beautiful bay to the west called Sun Bay, with an easy entrance and 3 other yachts.
The skipper on the beach at Sun Bay
Alcedo in the anchorage at Sun Bay
March 18. Very exciting and long dinghy ride to the town of Esperanza to buy some fresh fruit etc., but the anchorage there was not nearly so nice, so glad we stayed put and the dinghy ride was not impossible.
Local boats off the beach at Esperanza
Skipper looking just a little anxious during our hazardous trip by dinghy to Esperanza
After wandering around and studying the tourist literature, we decided we should book a not exactly cheap tour to see the bioluminescence at Mosquito Bay, known as the bio bay, an after dark excursion and not something you can do without permits and qualifications. We were met by Rebecca and Angel at the gates to the Sun Bay beach and nature reserve after waiting in the unwelcome company of a lot of biting “no see ums” (you are not allowed to wear any anti mosquito products in the bay except citronella, which the bugs seemed to love. The tour, in some very stable kayaks in a rather loosely controlled group, was fantastic, with the water glittering with the bioluminescence caused by the protozoan, Dinoflagellata, as we and all the many fish in the bay disturbed them. Similar to phosphorescence but more spectacular and with certain amount of entertainment from the members of the group playing bumper cars with their canoes. The Skipper was not the only competitive paddler!
March 19. We decided to stay another day and try and get the washing machine to work and also to discuss sailing plans for going north with Colin and Louise, who have an Omni 43, Pelerin and who had been anchored in the bay since we arrived. The electronic gizmos are beginning to take on characters of their own. The water maker won’t start off the engine generators but likes the new generator, while the washing machine hates the generator and will only work off the batteries. At least we know how to get the washing machine to work now and some of the clothes that were running around like a ripe cheese were captured and purified. After cleaning clothes and the boat, we had a walk and then an excellent pre-supper drink with Colin and Louise, who we hope very much to meet up with again further North.
March 29. A 54 nm sail to Bahia de Salinas, South coast of Puerto Rico, where we planned to lift up the keel and go right into the bay, which has a very shallow entrance, good practice and good shelter when in the bay. After motor sailing in rather frustrating conditions dead down wind, we were within about 10 miles of our destination when it started to blow 20 to 25 knots from the South East, not very entertaining as it is quite a difficult entrance and the boat was tending to heel with no sails up on the approach to the mouth of the bay, not good for lifting the keel!! However, by dint of motoring very slowly dead to windward, we lifted it enough to get into the bay, with as little as 1.8m under the transducer at times. The anchorage is completely landlocked once in the bay,but it continued to be very windy until about 19.30, when the wind suddenly moderated. No time to go ashore, but the Skipper did manage a temporary fix to the stack pack, where one of the attachments for the lift ropes had pulled out when we turned to reef the sail. Venetia, that’s two out of the eight so I expect more sewing will be needed when you join us! Stiff drink needed tonight to calm the nerves and block out the rather tuneless and very loud singing coming from the shore.
As the sun sets on the yachts anchored in Salinas.
..And looking at the yacht club at Salinas.
Tomorrow we plan to go to Ponce and spend a couple of days in the marina if they will have us, so we can fill up with fuel and water,catch up on washing etc. and hire a car and do a little inland exploring.