Position Update 4/22/07 – Luperon to West Caicos (Molassas Reef Resort)

Our current position is:
21 41.9 N
72 27.66 W

We left Luperon at 4pm on Saturday, April 21. A couple days before we anticipated leaving but the winds were in our favor and we were ready to go, so we rinsed the mangrove mud/muck off the anchor, bid the harbor farewell on the VHF, and headed out with a couple others, Hark and Sundance, who were traveling the same direction as us.

The basin that we are anchored in (google Molassas Reef Resort) is a construction site for a new resort/marina. We are the only boat anchored in here and a couple of friendly Aussies that just left the work site in a go-fast boat were nice enough to cruise past us and ask if everything was all right. Once we told them everything was fine, we just needed some rest, they told us to make ourselves at home. Not much here yet to “make ourselves at home” with, but it was a nice gesture!

Conditions yesterday/last night were rockin’. Winds were between 15-20 from the NE (up to 27 knots apparent speed). We made great time but the seas, with the combo of wind chop and N swell, were more lumpy than we would have preferred. This swell is not going to dissipate until later in the week and the winds are forecast to pick up more tonight so we decided to stop here at West Caicos and get a good night’s rest before continuing on tomorrow to Mayaguana.

Luperon Revisited

April 19, 2007

We left Boqueron, Puerto Rico on Friday (Friday the 13th! Are we crazy?!) and we had an easy sail to Luperon, Dominican Republic — arriving here on Sunday afternoon (April 15th). The winds were actually too light for us most of the time and we had to motor more than we were hoping. But the seas were calm and as we passed south of Isla Desecheo in the Mona Passage on our first day out we caught a huge male Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi).

Bull Dorado west of Isla Desecheo - Mona Passage
Bull Dorado west of Isla Desecheo – Mona Passage

We didn’t have a scale to weigh him but he measured 56 inches in length. I didn’t cry this time but was amazed at the sight of his 10+ large, colorful companions swimming with him as Rod wheeled him in on our trusty caveman handline; their rainbow colors shining brightly just under the surface and some leaping from the water around us. It was beautiful and yes, emotional. I tried not to project meaning on this behavior but it was easy to think that they were rooting for his release, distracting us with their acrobatics, sticking with him to the end. We discussed letting him go because he was so big — without a freezer, we couldn’t eat that much fish! But Rod reasoned that we would be able to share the bounty with others along the way. His Mano a Fisho instinct had kicked into full gear and he wasn’t giving up. We ended up with 24 enormous fillets — many, many, many pounds of fish. We made delicious ceviche and grilled fillets for our dinner that night and the next. The rest of the fillets fed many happy cruisers and locals at a potluck dinner on Monday night.

When entering the Luperon harbor it felt like returning home to some degree. It was nice to know the minimally marked entrance, anticipate the many fish traps, and maneuver confidently around the shoals while looking for a spot to drop the hook for a week. Our old spot was taken by one of the MANY boats in the harbor — boats that we didn’t recognize. A new class. “Where were our friends?”, my heart tugged. We settled into a familiar spot and are now enjoying the great view that s/v Cobalt had last year.

The weather is weird this week as two strong cold fronts are moving off the east coast and effecting the weather more south than typical. That is the reason we decided against going on to West Caicos and ducked in to this safe harbor for the week. If the forecast holds through this week then we plan to leave next Monday (the 23rd), heading north past the Turks and Caicos and into the Bahamas. There are many options of places to stop and rest along the way but if the winds are good and our stamina strong then we will go as long as it feels right.

A couple of other boats, Hark and Sundance, are traveling the same direction as us and the harbor is very full of other boats, that we’ve yet to meet, that are waiting for the same weather window. On Monday it’s going to look like a regatta as everyone takes off out of here.

Even though we were hoping to skip a stop in Luperon on our way home we’re happy to be here now. The beauty of the mountains, which seem so lush and green after the dry southern coast of Puerto Rico, and the opportunity to replenish our supplies of the delicious Dominican coffee and cheap Brugal rum now make us wonder why we ever planned to NOT stop here again. But, checking in/out with the officials and paying the unofficial fees provided the reminder. However, it’s a small price to pay for the comfort of this harbor and the chance to reconnect with our local friends.

The D.R. is indeed a hidden gem. The loud bachata music, the newly born baby goats wandering the roads with their mamas, the beautiful smiling people… the list goes on. I now suspect that there will be more “Luperon Revisited” chapters in our lives.

Easter Weekend with the Casiano Family

April 10, 2007

Holy Week, the week before Easter, is observed and celebrated by all Puerto Ricans – whether that is by participating in church activities or beach activities or in most cases, both. On Viernes Santo (Good Friday) we watched the empty Boqueron beach fill to overflowing with colorful beach umbrellas and families enjoying the day together. The streets of Boqueron were lined with stands selling fresh (?) oysters and other more appetizing snacks to a growing crowd ranging from young surfer types to grandparents. And the normally quiet harbor was unusually choppy from all the small boats and jet skis zipping about.

With a new heat exchanger on its way from St. Thomas and the long Easter weekend delaying its delivery we had some extra time on our hands. So we made plans to spend Saturday, April 7 with Ricardo Casiano and his family. Ricardo works at the Micron Puerto Rico facility in Aguadilla and lives just 15 miles away in Mayaguez. He and his wife Cathy, who both grew up in Mayaguez, were very gracious to spend their time showing us some of the area sites in Cabo Rojo, a Taino Indian ceremonial site in Tibes, and the malecon (waterfront) "La Guancha" in Ponce'. We especially enjoyed winding down that evening strolling through the downtown plaza of Mayaguez with its historic fountain and statues while eating freshly made ice cream (ice cream!). We had such a fun time with them and their wonderful two kids, Cristina and Ricardito. They all made us feel very welcome in their beautiful home and were endless in the help they extended and offered to us while we are in Boqueron. Another great example of the life-long friends we have made along our way. We can only hope to have the opportunity in the future to return the hospitality.

What we saw when we returned to Boqueron that night around 10pm is nearly indescribable. Cathy had warned us earlier in the day that it was going to be crazy with people that night as Boqueron was a prime destination for the holiday weekend AND there was a free concert in the beach park for the occasion along with many other live bands and DJ's playing throughout town. It was like a Puerto Rican Woodstock. People were parking a mile outside of town and walking in, in droves, because there was no parking at all, anywhere. Even though we were exhausted from our long day, the atmosphere was so contagious that we couldn't resist a $1 Medalla (Puerto Rican cerveza) as we moved through the solid mass of people. Our favorite band among the many playing throughout the small town was one that seemed to be playing more traditional Puerto Rican folk songs which would ignite the crowd to sing along enthusiastically. We couldn't always translate what they were saying but we tried to sing along the best we could. Who knows what we were really singing – at the top of our lungs!

As midnight approached a countdown began: Dies, nueve, ocho… tres, dos, uno! Happy Easter!!! Auld Lang Syne started to play and we took that as our cue to head back out to Lucky Peek. From there all of the music from shore was intermingling as it made its way across the water to us creating a cacophonous lullaby. However, before we could wager how long it would keep us awake we were out. Should old acquaintance be forgot… Zzzzz….. Sweet dreams of new friends….

“Broqueron” (Broke in Boqueron)

Thursday April 5, 2007

One element of traveling by sailboat that we've had to accept is the adage of "hurry up and wait". We have found ourselves hurrying to wait for a variety of things along the way and most recently it was to due to a broken boat part. The irony in this is that in St. Thomas Rod held in his hands the very part we now needed, but because of the price tag we decided it could wait. Hindsight is so crystal clear.

As planned, we traveled quickly westward along the south coast of Puerto Rico. On April 1st we set speed records on Lucky Peek in the 25-30 knot ENE winds (force 6 on the Beaufort scale) as we sailed from the west coast of Vieques to the Boca de Infierno anchorage just outside Salinas, Puerto Rico. We were expecting 18-20 knots of wind that day so we prepared accordingly by setting the main sail with a double reef thereby reducing the sail area by approximately one-third. As the winds built and seas grew to 10+ feet that afternoon we were happy with our reefing decision and were very pleased with Lucky Peek's performance in those conditions. We gave our Monitor windvane (auto steering device that magically works with only the wind powering it) its first official work-out that day and "Monty" steered the boat like a pro. We were having great fun averaging 7+ knots to our destination with the instrument panel occasionally reporting speeds of 10.2 knots as we surfed down the waves! Woo-hooooo!!!

The Boca de Infierno anchorage is such an amazing place. It's comprised of a series of small mangrove islands and an extended reef that makes it a very protected and comfortable spot to stop even when the winds and seas are big. It was our own private paradise and we spent an extra day there to let the winds and seas calm down a bit before continuing on. We used our lay-over day preparing Lucky Peek for more speed-sailing, including lashing the dinghy down on the foredeck instead of towing it behind us. From Boca de Infierno we planned to sail on to Boqueron, 60some miles away, so we left at first light to try to make the distance before nightfall. What we didn't plan on was our engine overheating as we left the anchorage that morning. We had the option to sail into nearby Salinas to address the problem but we agreed to continue on to Boqueron, still feeling confident that we would make it there in the daylight since the winds were forecast to blow 11-17 knots that day. Hindsight is so crystal clear.

At 7pm, just off the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, we watched a beautiful sunset as we ghosted along at a whopping 1.7 knots. The winds were a no-show that day therefore we did not make the distance we had anticipated. However, we stayed our course as we were comfortable sailing into Bahia Boqueron in the dark because its entrance is wide and well marked. Shortly after nightfall we were encouraged by a doubling in wind speed – from 3 knots to 6 – and our boat speed increased to almost 3 knots in response. We excitedly set our sails in preparation for rounding the corner and heading northward to Boqueron. The full moon occasionally checked on us through the clouds and the nearby Cabo Rojo (El Faro) lighthouse provided a constant reminder of where the rocky shore breaks the water. Our optimism on the increase in wind was soon dashed by the change in wind direction – it was now blowing directly on our nose. From testing our engine earlier in the day we knew that it could run for 45 minute intervals before the temperature climbed to overheating. We were about 7 miles south of Boqueron which was farther than we could travel in 45 minutes under engine power alone so we had to either tack our way closer to Boqueron or alter our destination. We made two attempts at tacking upwind (well, if you can really call tacking 180 degrees going "upwind") before accepting that the latter option was the right answer. So at 9:30pm we drifted into the Cabo Rojo anchorage, under the beautiful Spanish "El Faro" Lighthouse, and called it a night.

The next morning we could fully appreciate the beauty of our location. Lucky Peek was the lone boat sitting on perfectly still, clear water beneath one of Puerto Rico's most picturesque settings – the Cabo Rojo lighthouse. It was a scene of tranquility except for our slight anxiety over what was causing Forrest to overheat. Rod suspected the heat exchanger was failing and through some highly technical troubleshooting (tasting the cooling water to see if it was salty) he determined that to be the case. Well, at least we knew where there was a new heat exchanger for a Perkins 4-108; in the shop in St. Thomas where Rod held it in his hands contemplating the purchase less than one month ago. (As a note in his defense, two mechanics had individually given the same advice that they did not think the early symptoms indicated a failing heat exchanger.) Rod's focus on a second round of self-flagellation was broken by a sudden sound… the wind generator had started turning. Wind! Time to move to Boqueron!

It wasn't a lot of wind but it was enough to move us through the water. We flew our festive orange and white striped asymmetrical spinnaker for a glorious down-wind sail to Boqueron in the light 5 knots of breeze. We were riding an emotional high and as a result Rod wasn't thinking clearly. He proposed that he put the camera in a Ziplock baggie and swim alongside Lucky Peek to take a picture of her flying her colorful kite. We spent some time discussing the logistics and debating just how fast a person could swim with fins on, etc. My position on the subject never wavered so my veto held.

Now finally anchored in Bahia Boqueron we are expecting the shipment of the new heat exchanger from St. Thomas. Once it is installed we'll be watching for the next weather window to leave Puerto Rico and cross the Mona Passage to the Turks and Caicos.

Hurry up and wait.

The Bitter End

March 2007

Over the last 18 months we have happily adjusted to a much different pace of life from when we first embarked on this journey. Leisurely exploring areas of interest without a rigid timeline and sometimes (okay, a lot of times) staying in the same anchorage doing nothing but reading a good book(s) for days at a time. However, one day in mid February while cleaning out the Nav desk we came across a distantly familiar item. A calendar. As we took notice of the date we determined that we had to shift gears to see some of the remaining islands on our wish list before heading back to the States in April. So over the next 28 days we visited 11 different islands from 16 different anchorages!

St. Thomas –> Water Island –> Great St. James –> St. John –> Tortola –> Norman's Island –> Peter Island –> Marina Cay –> Anegada –> Virgin Gorda –> Beef Island

At the beginning of March our tour of the British Virgin Islands was winding down as we were approaching our designated date to clear out of customs. Our longest stay during this period of rapid travel was on Virgin Gorda where we spent nine days in the beautiful protected waters of North Sound (also known as Gorda Sound) which is home to the Bitter End Yacht Club. How appropriate for us because, yes, we had reached the bitter end of our journey eastward. We only planned on spending three days exploring the area but as additional days came and went we realized that we were struggling with the emotions of touching that figurative pole and turning back west. We took unstructured turns at being reflective, contemplative, moody, anxious, and sad. This adventure has been an amazing, life-enriching experience for both of us and for as much as we look forward to returning to friends, family, and a life on land, we were quite gloomy that it was coming to an end. When quiet tears slipped out we would lighten the moment by laughing over our crazy adventures and acknowledging that the expedition is far from over – we still have to get back to Florida!

By the end of March we had traveled back to St. Thomas and were in the fine company of our old friends Cindy and Greg on Day Dreamer and our newest friends, Andrew and Elke on Hark. We made plans to rendezvous in the Spanish Virgin Islands and explore the south coast of Vieques together. After spending almost three months in the busy waters of the US and British Virgin Islands we were looking forward to the secluded anchorages that Vieques offers. Ensenada Honda was our first stop and it did indeed offer seclusion. Perfect. No houses, no bars, no charter boats. It was a huge anchorage which would have easily held a couple hundred boats by BVI standards and there were two boats there when we arrived: Day Dreamer and another cruising boat that had arrived just ahead of them. We each anchored about a .5 mile apart so there was plenty room for Hark when they arrived the followed day from St. Croix. The biggest disruption in the anchorage was the bombs going off in the distance. Yes, bombs. Vieques has a number of unexploded ordinances left over from its military training days and the Navy is now sweeping through cleaning up the pesky things. We had been warned that a number of anchorages were off limits due to this activity but were still a bit startled when the first explosion took us by surprise. Fortunately for us, the bombs weren't scaring the sea life away; Rod and Andrew returned from an afternoon of spear fishing with two very large lobsters in hand! Dinner aboard Hark that night was an entertaining and delicious feast with the boys retelling their stories of the big hunt in growing magnitude.

From Vieques we traveled with Day Dreamer to the east coast of Puerto Rico and treated ourselves to a stay in the Puerto del Rey Marina in Ceiba. With over 1000 slips it is the largest marina in the Caribbean! We enjoyed long, hot showers with unlimited water and did our fiscal duty of shopping at the local West Marine in Fajardo. We left the marina the same day (March 31) as Cindy and Greg but were headed different directions. They were bound for Culebra and we were going back to Vieques for one night before transiting the south coast of Puerto Rico. We took five weeks to travel east along Puerto Rico in November/December and we now planned on taking only a few days to travel west to Boqueron. With the wind and seas at our back (FINALLY!!!) our course back should be swift.

In Boqueron we will prepare Lucky Peek and wait for an appropriate weather window to head out across the Mona Passage. If all goes well we will travel non-stop for 3-4 days to arrive in West Caicos. Even though we're running low on Santo Domingo coffee and Brugal rum we don't intend on stopping in the Dominican Republic along the way. However, it will be close by if we need to pause for rest or address something on Lucky Peek. From West Caicos we plan to move steadily through the southern Bahamas up to the Nassau area where we will stage to cross the Gulf Stream. From there it will take 3-4 non-stop days to reach our final destination of D-dock in HarborTown Marina on Merritt Island in Cape Canaveral. Sounds so easy when I sum it up in a tidy little paragraph!

So much for our leisurely pace but with the easterly winds filling our sails as we make our way north we should have a fun ride home!

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

We are enjoying the North Sound of Virgin Gorda.
Happy Hour at the Saba Rock Resort is 2 for 1 rum punches!
A cruising budget requires seeking out the best happy hour deals.

Will post another update soon on the other islands we’ve been visiting in the BVI.

Terry and Anthony Visit Us in the Virgin Islands

Terry and Anthony Visit Us in the Virgin Islands

January 5 – January 18, 2007

Visitors! Yea! On January 5th my (Lisa) sister, Terry, and her husband, Anthony came to see us in the Virgin Islands. This was our first visit from family since embarking on this adventure, so needless to say we were pretty excited!

Since they arrived late on the 5th, we picked them up the morning of Saturday the 6th at the Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas. We started the first day of their stay with a hearty breakfast from the Tickles restaurant at the marina – great food and very friendly staff! We had a busy 13 days planned with them aboard so we were anxious to get going, but first things first – we had to spend a day checking out the mega duty-free shopping available in Charlotte Amalie. Charlotte Amalie (pronounced a-MAL-ya) is the capital of St. Thomas and must be some kind of cruise ship capital as well. There were 5 cruise ships docked in St. Thomas that day which means there were approximately 7,500 shoppers perusing the same narrow, 17th century shopping streets that we were walking. Not exactly a quaint experience but we found some good deals and Terry started her vacation with a new island dress and a St. Thomas tote bag to carry back home to announce to everyone that yes, she had been in the Virgin Islands!

We ended their first official day in the islands with a celebratory dinner out at the highly acclaimed Cuzzin’s restaurant. We toasted to our brother Greg and his wife Joyce who had graciously paid for this meal by means of a green paper Christmas gift. The only thing that would have made the evening better is if Greg and Joyce could have been there with us.

An extra day was spent in Charlotte Amalie as we waited for the winds to settle a bit before taking our new crew directly into the easterly trades. By Monday we were able to set out for the Christmas Cove anchorage at the island of Great St. James, just a short 7 miles away but a world apart in atmosphere. No cruise ships, no shopping, no inhabitants (except for deer and goats) – just other sailboats sitting peacefully at anchor on the crystal clear turquoise water. Now they were starting to see what this cruising thing is all about.

Over the next 9 days we cruised through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands making stops at Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay, Tortola, Norman’s Island, and then again at Great St. James before returning to St. Thomas. The days slipped by quickly as we fished, we swam, we snorkeled, we walked on beaches, we toured Tortola by car (our first car trip in the Virgin Islands!), we had great relaxing visits in the cockpit, and of course, we worked on the boat – well, we had to give them the full experience!

Anthony caught some yellow snappers one day for our dinner (he’s a true cruiser!), and we had some wonderful meals ashore during their stay. Our favorite restaurants were Myett’s in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola; Rhymers in Cane Garden Bay; and Cuzzin’s back in St. Thomas. We had a good dinner and memorable night aboard The Willie T. at Norman’s Island. One of those “what happens in the islands stays in the islands” evenings. (For those of you who are 18 and older: if you follow the hyperlink, click on “More!” and then the Fun Stuff link to see more about what goes on at the infamous Willie T.) Oh, the memories… Don’t worry Mom, the tattoos were temporary.

By the end of their trip Terry and Anthony had experienced light wind sailing (with necessary motor assist), heavy wind sailing in a nine foot head sea, and then fantastically comfortable down-wind sledding on nine foot seas when three out of four votes said “let’s change our destination for the day!”. The weather was perfect and we never had to practice any man-overboard drills. And they were finally getting the hang of getting in and out of the dinghy!

Terry and Anthony – Thanks for visiting and crewing on Lucky Peek. We miss you!

Happy New Year!

Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
January 1, 2007

We are now in the British Virgin Islands!

On Wednesday, December 27th we had a brisk motor-sail in strong trades with a 5 foot constant sea from Culebra to Great St. James Island (just 1 mile east of St. Thomas and west of St. John). Great St. James is a small, unpopulated island that is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands and its western anchorage of Christmas Cove was wonderful – definitely worthy of a revisit. We were able to tuck in close to the island and had a nice sandy spot in 15 feet to drop the hook. The VHF is alive again with Big Boat traffic (Fast ferries, barges, cruise ships, yachts) and of course there are many charter boats here, which can be an amusing audio diversion.

We were anxious to get to Jost Van Dyke, BVI (“Jost” is pronounced with a “Y” and a long “o” – yoast) so we only spent one night at Christmas Cove before moving on. After going through Current Cut, which we timed to go with the current and got a nice assist from it, we entered a body of water that was very much like a washing machine. Wind and waves blasting from the east, fast ferry wakes from all sides, various currents running, and all the vacationing people on their charter boats for the week zipping around. This must be part of what is referred to as “Puke Alley”. We finally got far enough east that we turned off the engine (yay!) and sailed the remaining distance (all of 4 miles) north to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.

We celebrated New Year’s Eve in Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, home of the infamous “Foxy’s”, along with more charterers (people that rent boats) than you could shake a stick at. And if we had had a stick on board we would have been shakin’ it. “Foxy’s” on Jost Van Dyke is on many lists as one of the top ten places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Hence, our purpose for getting here when we did. We had heard that during New Year’s Eve the harbor fills up with so many boats that you can practically walk to shore from boat to boat so we intended on getting there early and claiming our spot. That warning turned out to be not too much of an exaggeration as by the 31st there were more than 200 boats in the small harbor.

When we reached Great Harbour, JVD on Thursday, December 28th we easily found a spot to drop the hook in 15 feet of water relatively close to shore. The anchor set well in the sand and Rod put on his mask and fins to dive down and check its setting. He surfaced with the excellent report that he had never seen it set so well. We were feeling pretty good – we had a primo spot and now we could just sit back, relax and rest up for the big party at Foxy’s on the 31st. But the relaxing part didn’t last long…

By Friday afternoon the boats continued arriving, but none were leaving, as had been the routine on Thursday and early Friday. Charter boats, with their vacationing crew, tend to be on the move every day so they can visit as many anchorages as possible in their holiday week. Which, by the way, the week between Christmas and the New Year is the busiest week of the year in the Caribbean charter boat industry. Lucky us. By Saturday one boat had already dragged anchor next to us and they were too busy sucking on their beers to notice that their boat was MOVING. Not until the swimmers that were hanging on their back swim step were getting squished between their boat and the boat behind them did it register that something was amiss. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady when I was yelling “YOU’RE DRAGGING!” We continued to watch boat after boat drag because they had inadequately set their anchors. One boat had an exercise obsessed lady on the back deck and she was so focused in her second hour of calisthenics that she didn’t notice they had dragged about 75 yards and were still on the move toward other boats. Rod’s ear piercing whistle got their attention and our wild hand gestures got the point across.

We considered leaving Great Harbour on Sunday the 31st because we could see the insanity building and Rod was recovering from his head wound (details below). But dammit, we had planned on being here and had claimed our spot in the anchorage three days before these stupid people started arriving. And it would have taken us hours just to remove all the fenders we had tied around our boat! However, we did end up not even leaving the boat NYE day/night for fear of being dragged down on or ourselves dragging from all the other boats anchoring on top of us and possibly fouling our anchor (which for certain happened once and we had to reset). During that reset a boat load of non-English speaking people hit the stern of our boat while we were backing down on our anchor and they didn’t seem to grasp the implications (or our English) of damaging our windvane as the side of their Sunsail charter boat was scraping along it. We had to have anxious words with them for them to understand that they needed to move their bleepin’ boat!

Rod’s head wound: We had watched a 47′ charter catamaran anchor in front of us and observed them put out about 2:1 scope (5:1 is the norm). We were keeping an eye on it, especially when about 5 minutes after they dropped the hook they loaded into their dinghy and left the boat. We went below for a few minutes and came up to see it heading our way, which wasn’t going to take too long since it was only about 15 feet in front of us to begin with. The cruisers behind us had already seen it and had jumped in their dinghy to board the cat and start its engines. While we were fending it off the cruiser guy got on the cat and drove it away from us. Turned out there was a guy on board who was down below asleep – both he and the guy now driving the cat looked pretty surprised when sleepy guy came into the cockpit! Using their handy electric windlass they pulled up their anchor, which had now grabbed our chain. Rod jumped in the water to go under the cat and unhook our chain from their anchor. (This is now all happening right off our starboard side.) They had already pulled the anchor all the way out of the water and now their windlass was stuck and the anchor wouldn’t go back down. So Rod had to monkey himself onto the anchor to pull our chain off of it and during this maneuver as soon as the chain came free the anchor swung free and bashed him in the face. Rod was sent flying backward into the water — I thought it had knocked him unconscious so I was, um, calm challenged. His lights didn’t go completely out so he resurfaced quickly and got back on our boat. Meanwhile, two other boats are swarming in around us to anchor, Rod’s forehead is bleeding and tweety birds are flying around his head, and we have a fouled hook that we have to deal with. Needless to say, we were in no short supply of adrenaline at this point. Now you can imagine our state of mind when that boat wouldn’t get off our stern and didn’t seem to comprehend the damage they were nearly causing to our boat/home. It was as if they were thinking “Hey, relax man, have a drink, you’re on vacation.” Shaw.

It took many hours for our nerves to settle down after all this. Rod’s head is okay – he had a big goose egg knot with the skin split in the middle, but no stitches were required. Good thing, because my suturing abilities might have left a scar.

Even though we didn’t go ashore for the festivities that night we enjoyed sitting on the foredeck listening to the live music from Foxy’s – which stayed live until 5am. It was a warm evening, we shared a nice kiss at midnight under the bright stars, and the boats continued to drag around us.

Hope everyone had a safe closing to 2006 and we wish you all the best in 2007.

Happy New Year!

Christmas in Culebra

Culebra, Spanish Virgin Islands
December 2006

We are now in the Spanish Virgin Islands! The Spanish Virgin Islands of Vieques and Culebra lie less than 20 miles to the east of Puerto Rico and are a short jump even for a slow moving sailboat. In route we spent a day and a night on the west coast of Vieques (where until two years ago the U.S. Navy used to play with bombs) and then we sailed on to Culebra. We are now snugged into Ensenada Honda on the south coast of Culebra by the small town of Dewey and will stay put for a bit as the winds are forecasted to pick back up and blow stink (sailor talk for strong winds). We’re in the good company of Receta, Magus, and Indigo, among about 25 other boats in the harbor.

We left Salinas on Sunday, December 17th in a light drizzle of rain and motored the short distance of 5 miles to anchor behind the small island of Boca de Infierno (“Mouth of Hell” – not a very welcoming name for what is really a nice little remote spot). Lucky Peek could barely make way with the reef that had grown on the prop and bottom from our time in Playa de Salinas. It was a slow trip to B. de I. but it felt great to be out of the landcuffs of Salinas and away from its commercial temptations. Rod freed the sealife from the boat once we arrived so we anticipated making better speed on our next leg to Punta Patilla. We stayed an additional day/night at B. de I. to enjoy its quiet seclusion by swimming, lying in the sun, reading, chatting about what life is going to be like when we return, and napping. We even mixed up a batch of pina coladas in our newly purchased boat inverter-friendly blender! How will we ever adapt to life on land again?

Hindsight is so clear, isn’t it? We left Boca de Infierno knowing that the seas were still around 8+ feet from the east but we knew that just another day later the seas would be down which would make the run from Punta Patilla to Vieques much more enjoyable. So, we headed out – rockin’ and a-rollin’, a-pitchin’ and a-almost hurlin’. I made the cardinal mistake of going below to respond to a call on the VHF and spent way to much time chatting with Magus, giving them a conditions report. I emerged with a slightly green pallor to receive a head-shaking scolding from Rod. Lesson learned – do not go below in these seas. Relief was in sight as the Punta Patilla anchorage came into view that afternoon, but we still had to navigate around a couple of reefs before we could relax and call it a day. No problems there but once we got the hook down the boat still had an uncomfortable roll due to the swell that was making its way around the island. We didn’t get much rest that night but it made getting an early start the next morning pretty easy – if the boat is going to be moving around then we may as well be under way.

We had a beautiful sail on to Vieques and picked up one of the many free (!) moorings for the night at Green Beach on the west coast. The discomfort from the previous day was already melting away in the warm sun. So what did we learn? Well, had we waited just one more day at Boca de Infierno we would have had the pleasure of flat seas into Punta Patilla followed by a planned 3am departure to go straight to Culebra, but skipping the stop at Vieques. Magus and Indigo planned well by waiting.

Green Beach was a beautiful, quiet spot and we would have liked to have stayed at least another night but the winds were picking up to honking speed so we wanted to scoot on to the more protected waters of Ensenada Honda on the south coast of Culebra. So that is where we are now and we love it here! There are only about 2000 people that live on the island and from the sampling of locals that we’ve seen the population is made up of an eclectic mix of Puertorriquenos, retired U.S. Snow-birds, along with a sizable hippy contingent.

Christmas is right around the corner and we’ve been invited to a couple of Christmas day celebrations by the welcoming people of Culebra. One of which is at Flamenco Beach on the north side of the island – it’s reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. So it looks like we’ll be having a white Christmas after all. White sand, that is.

Merry Christmas to all!

Feliz Cumpleanos, Lisa!

Salinas, Puerto Rico
December 12, 2007

The safe harbor at Playa de Salinas on the southern coast of Puerto Rico is one of the most protected anchorages of Puerto Rico’s 300 mile coastline. It provided a secure place in which to leave Lucky Peek for a few days and do some inland touring of La Isla del Encanto (The Island of Enchantment).

We spent a day in nearby Ponce’, which is rich in 18th century architecture and offered an impressive art museum – with air conditioning! We stayed a couple of nights in Old San Juan, walking through the 16th century El Morro fort and strolling through the city’s historical district. Old San Juan is chock full of history – more than this update is going to even touch. The drive along the northern coast offered some contrasting vistas from the dry southern coast. Lush, green landscapes with sudden rock outcroppings. Brightly painted houses perched atop hills that seemed impossible to reach by car. Kinda sounds like a picture out of a Dr. Seus story – it wasn’t quite like that but it was just as visually interesting.

In Aguadilla we visited the Micron Puerto Rico facility where Ricardo and Alexis were gracious with their time to show us around the site and have lunch with us at The Hungry Belly on the beach by Punta Jacinto. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and soaked up the information they shared on Puerto Rico, the people, the culture, the politics. Stories much better told in person that any guide book could offer.

And then there was the shopping. Costco, Home Depot, Sears, West Marine, K-Mart, and a large store that shall remain unnamed to protect us from those who believe it evil. We spent four, yes four, hours in Costco. Then, you won’t believe this, we spent another 2 1/2 hours in the unnamed store that rhymes with DrawlMart. We are insane. This was all after spending 1 1/2 hours in West Marine and an hour in another marine store. Our feet and bank accounts were groaning by midnight when we made it back to the boat. The little rental car was stuffed full and we weren’t sure where everything was going to go on the boat! But we now have enough canned food on board to feed an army for a year. Or at least it will feed us for the next three months.

With the provisions creatively packed away and the rental car returned (with only minor damage) we were now preparing to leave Salinas and make way for the Spanish Virgin Islands. But first we had to have a little celebration – my (Lisa’s) birthday! The morning of December 12th I awoke to the aroma of freshly grilled banana pancakes and as the day lazily progressed Rod continued to pamper me and make my day special. We went to a nice dinner that night at a shoreside restaurant and toasted to another great year of life. Another year of adventure and ample usage of sunscreen so I can lie about my age.