Thursday was spent doing laundry, going grocery shopping, treating our fresh water tanks with chlorine, and various other tasks in preparation for getting underway again. In the late afternoon, we were blessed with another visit from the S/V Stop Work Order crew. The kids brought over thank-you-notes for Cindy’s kindness on the day before in giving them gifts and spending some time with each of them. So thoughtful of these children!
Just before 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning, we released our dock lines and weaved our way out of Ponce Harbor. We planned on a long day of passage-making. At 5:30, still shrouded in the blackness of the night, we rounded the southwest point of Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island), so named because either it looks like a coffin, or because of a love affair between a young Portuguese pirate and a married woman (the married woman was the one in the coffin). Take your pick. From there we continued in an eastward direction along the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The day was not a great sailing day due to almost non-existent winds, but it was perfect for motoring. We’ll take any offered opportunity for making progress directly into the trade winds. We had less than 5 knots of wind most of the day and very calm seas.
As we made our way into the Vieques Sound off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, we encountered a benign 3 foot ocean swell from the NNW. The wind increased to about 7-8 knots, but the conditions were still harmless. Shortly after we rounded the western tip of Vieques we were greeted with some fishing action. I had put both lines in the water around noon time. Suddenly, a fish hit the port side line, but the line quickly went slack. Whatever it was broke the line. Actually, the swivel itself broke. Oh well! I didn’t wait much longer, however, to have some action on that same line. This time we hauled in a 3-foot long King Mackerel. As I was just about to finish cleaning and filleting that fish, something hit our starboard line. I dropped what I was doing and ran over to that rod and reel and landed a pretty little Spanish Mackerel (maybe 22-24” long). I didn’t bother to put the lines back in the water, because those two fish will make 3-4 meals for us.
As we approached our planned destination, it was very cool to see Puerto Rico behind us, Vieques to our starboard side, Culebra to port, and St. Thomas and St. John in front of us. In Culebra, we are actually closer to St. Thomas than Puerto Rico. Just after 5 p.m., we made our way through the reef at the entrance to Ensenada Honda. We picked up a free mooring ball at Ensenada Dakity behind the reef. After making sure all was secure, we had an excellent meal of Spanish Mackerel fish tacos. Soon thereafter, the sun set and we were ready to relax from a 13-hour, 87.5 nautical mile passage from Ponce to the Spanish Virgin Island of Culebra.
We went to bed early, but didn’t sleep too well. First of all, it was too hot with little air movement. Additionally, we weren’t all that confident in our mooring. In retrospect, we probably should have just changed our mind and anchored. The ball was cracked and the line was smaller than all my dock lines and looked like it had broken before and had re-tied into place a couple of times. Oh, well. Both, Beatitude and her crew survived to see another day. The next morning, I jumped into the water off the boat and enjoyed a nice snorkel. There wasn’t a lot to see other than a sea urchin and a number of 2-3” long fish. Then, around 11 a.m., we released the mooring lines and motored the 1.8 nautical miles down the harbor and dropped our hook in 13 feet of water in the Ensenada Honda anchorage which is directly across from Dewey, the main town in Culebra.
In the afternoon, we walked through the small town of Dewey, named after the famous U.S. admiral. A few minutes later, we settled into the wonderful little waterside restaurant called The Dinghy Dock, complete with its own… you guessed it… dinghy dock! We had come for an early dinner and to use the free wifi, but were a little disappointed to find out dinner was not served until 6 pm (and it was 3:30). But the bar was open, so we sat down and enjoyed some rum-containing beverages. Instead of using the wifi, however, we immediately met another cruising couple, Ric and Sherry, who invited us to sit down at their table. Come to find out, they had their boat, Sheric, at Regatta Pointe Marina while we were there. We don’t remember ever formally meeting each other, but we all knew the same people and reminisced about all the characters who occupied the marina. They are making their way south through the Windward Islands over the next few months, as we are. Later, we were joined by another cruising couple aboard the catamaran, Muse, who they had met a few days earlier. They are also journeying down through the eastern Caribbean islands (aka, the Windward Islands). Besides seeing them here for the next few days, I’m sure we’ll meet up again on, in the words of Blake Shelton, some beach somewhere.
On Sunday morning, we made our way back into town to attend church. This week we attended the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen Catholic Church. The priest was a jovial, rotund fellow who wore a brown monk’s robe beneath his vestments. We really enjoyed the service, especially since the priest periodically spoke a few sentences in English, including re-reading the gospel text in English. Additionally, we were provided with the words to the worship songs in Spanish. In the last Puerto Rican church we visited, we couldn’t sing along because we had no words. It was pretty cool.
After the morning service, we had a bite to eat in another waterside restaurant called Mamacita’s. It’s great experiencing the laid back vibe of the islands. We then returned to Beatitude for the afternoon and were greeted a couple of hours later by our new friends, Ric and Sherry, who felt sorry for us this morning when they looked in our dinghy and saw our poor gas can. Fortunately, it is double-lined because the exterior liner is completely cracked and looks like water should be rushing in to fill our gas container when it rains. So far, though, the interior liner has held up. Their compassion manifested itself in the form of a new gas can that they had barely used. Now, I just have to figure out how to make the linkages from our old fuel hose to the new can. What a wonderful bunch of people cruisers are!