Sunday 25th March 2012
Distance run: 23 nmiles
We planned to have a chill-out day on Friday and then leave with the light on Saturday to make for Salinas, just 20nmiles along the coast. So we were just chilling out in the cockpit on Friday morning when we noticed a Police rib towing a boat into the anchorage. Any boat anchoring is a source of entertainment, but one that is being towed is even more so, and we settled down to watch. Then Steve realised it was Prairie Fox with Rudy & Gagi on board, so we hurriedly dropped the rib in the water and Steve went over to see what he could do to help. Their boat was towed to a suitable anchoring spot and the hook dropped. It appears that they left Boca Chica as planned on Monday, but had made little headway towards Martinique with the wind direction and so eventually decided to make for Puerto Rico. After some time of drifting around in no wind, when the SeaTow boat said they would charge $350 per hour to tow them in (they were at least 3 hours out) and they refused, then the Coastguard boat said they were unable to tow them in so they drifted around a bit more, they were eventually towed in by the local Policia who asked them to simply say they had ‘guided’ them in!
They were both exhausted and very glad to be in Ponce, and as they were unable to take the boat to the fuel dock, Steve took Rudy ashore to do their checking in. That sorted, we then left them to catch up with some sleep, which was obviously much needed because when Steve went back around 1700 to invite them for beers, he found Rudy fast asleep in the cockpit where he apparently stayed until the next morning!
We had an early night after drinks with Doug & his daughter Shelby from Rigel, who also planned to leave early the next day.
We were up at 0530 on Saturday and had the anchor up soon after 0600 just as the skies were lightening. We motored past Rigel where there was not a sign of life, and out of the bay. There was little wind and the sea was calm, and we motored for the first 5 miles, then motor-sailed as the wind picked up to 10-12 knots. We hopefully switched off the engine and put out the full genoa at one point, but had to give up on that after half an hour as we were almost heading back the way we had come! So we motor-sailed the rest of the way and as we started across the next open bay the wind picked up to 20 knots with gusts to 25, which was absolutely NOT what had been forecast! As we were fairly close in the seas were not too choppy though, and as we neared the entrance to Salinas Bay it began to drop again.
The charts said that parts of the entrance are 7’ depths so we were navigating carefully in, but the depth never dropped below 0.4 metres below the keel, and we found plenty of room inside so we picked a good spot and dropped the anchor. It bit first time and by mid-morning we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying a nice cup of tea. The bay is almost completely surrounded by mangroves with the hills in the background, very picturesque.
We took the rib ashore and tied up in the one marina here. When we checked at the office how much we needed to pay to use the dinghy dock, we were told it is free as long as we don’t leave the dinghy there overnight. When we asked about a hire car, they immediately phoned for one and said it would be here 0900 Monday. What a difference to Ponce!