Friday, 27 March 2015

Leaving St Thomas and onto Culebra

The Spanish Virgins 

Currently in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Leaving St Thomas and onto Culebra.
Friday 13th lived up to its reputation it turned out to be pretty awful and very expensive.
We had checked out yesterday from St Thomas (12/0/3) so we could make an early start to our next destination Culebra PR not a great distance and the weather had now settled down and the sea swell would be under 2 metres but very overcast never mind.
So off we go through the cut St Thomas from Frenchtown at 08:45 the seaplanes hadn’t started to come in yet, I do get a little nervous sometimes lol.

A very dull day departing St Thomas
A yacht in dry dock 
As we were heading West up went the parasailor perfect for the conditions under 20 knots just off our starboard quarter, we were flying along at 8 knots at first and having a nice smooth ride. A little over 2 hours into the journey the wind dropped a little but we were constantly watching the storms behind us on the radar we could see the rain in the distance over St Thomas.
So by around 11:00 we were almost at our destination and the storms were coming towards us we thought why get the sail wet lets snuff it in plenty of time in case the winds increased (we only had 12 knots by then).
Don went forward just about reached the rope to snuff while I stood with the sheets ready to release when “bang” we watched the sail rip apart and poor Don had a heck of a job to bring in the sail. We were very upset knowing that at the time the wind had only reached 14 knots by then and we went through all the right moves so we know we had done nothing wrong. When we reached Culebra we checked the sail and where its parted is at the stitching but the sail from the bottom has ripped the fabric pretty bad. 

So the 13th was a horrible day and very expensive if the Parasailor can’t be replaced under warranty.

The Spanish Virgins Culebra PR:
13:15 18 17N 65 17W dropped the hook. Calm conditions but very overcast.
 We missed this place last time due to the weather and swell coming in from the south so as other cruisers had recommended it for the beaches and the big anchorage we entered a huge bay. The bay is around a mile and a half in with various reefs each side which look stunning. At the end of the bay are a few hotels and the Dinghy Dock restaurant and bar. Some fellow cruisers were pretty close to us from Beyzano, Rob and Rhian we met them and they helped us with directions to the airport so we could check in and buy the cruising licence for the US. We had called the customs as required with all our details and were told to go to the office.

The Dinghy dock bar, it does get quite busy
Tarpon outside the bar
As it was pouring down we took a taxi to the airport but when we arrived there were 3 couples before us and only one guy doing everything. He asked who had called beforehand as we had but said he couldn’t deal with all of us, another couple had come in since. Well we waited for what must have been a couple of hours then paid our 38 $ for a year and then walked back to the dock. Considering we have checked in other islands in cafe’s in a few minutes ourselves it makes this a bit of a joke.

Well Rob and Rhian were still in the bar they introduced us to folks from a couple of yachts that they knew and we had a smashing evening eating drinking and exchanging stories and details. Pity we didn’t have the camera with us we didn’t return to the boat before we met the others.

Weekend madness: Well we know from previous trips in this part of the world that the folks from Puerto Rico know how to party so on Saturday the whole place filled up with mostly powerboats playing loud music and fun and frolics too. We were sandwiched between a huge catamaran with lots of folks onboard and another power boat just next to us which left their noisy generator on all night long.

The island is pretty small just over 11 miles wide and roughly 3 miles long has no local transport so we walked quite a lot, we noticed a lot of golf buggies around so on Tuesday 17th we took advantage to rent one.

Our very noisy and slow transport for the day but it beats walking
Wow, the buggies are noisy and very slow, you can feel every bump in the road and there are lots of them. First of all we went to the east of the island as far as we could the turned back and went west, there are only 2 main roads so its very easy. 
Playa Larga on the north east side

Good to see that the turtles can still come and still be safe
We found out that the hospital and pharmacy are closed due to some dispute so who know what happens if anyone is seriously ill. At one side of the island is a very famous beach named Flamenco which we thought would be quiet being a weekday but it was pretty busy in some parts. 

The island used to be used a lot by the military for target practice and there are a couple of tanks still here one of them is on the beach, both have been painted in very bright colours. They say that Flamenco beach is one of the best in the world but we don’t agree we have been to much nicer. The views while we travelled about  are pretty good, some of the houses are pretty big and normally pitched high on the hillside to take advantage of the views.

Flamenco beach

People camp at the beach
Its a very small airport 
Some of the houses have great views 

This is a view of part of the reef at the entrance of the bay

Don washing the sand off his feet
The information centre very "arty"
Thankfully the internet is pretty fast here and we were able to pick it up on the boat so getting weather forecasts was easy without having to go ashore and to update the blog.
The wind had gone we had water like glass
A little way from the dinghy dock is a old lifting bridge which obviously doesn't any more we took a ride through on the dinghy to the bay on the other side to take a peek.
Now de funked bridge
Even if it did lift this is there just a few metres alongside
We found this fella throwing big rocks in the water
We noticed a decent forecast for our next stop which is Vieques another 23 ish mile trip Should be good.

Glenys and Don
Agua Therapy

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