GUYS. I totally forgot to do a blog last week. Is that a problem?
Okay, so I’m going to break with convention slightly and do one big Puerto Rico blog, even though we made two videos. So here goes.
We arrived into Culebra after a relaxing sail from Christmas Cove, St Thomas. First things, first- we had to check in. Nick called the Customs and Immigration number and was given instructions to come to the airport as soon as we could after anchoring. Okie dokie! We anchored in Ensenada Honda, climbed into the dinghy, aimed for the only dinghy dock we could see, tied up and then tried to figure out where the hell the airport might be. We picked a likely direction (ie, NOT towards the coast and the beach) and trudged away, stopping briefly for directions (we received a blank look and an uncertain wave in the direction we were heading), before seeing a reassuring sign with a little airplane on it. It actually wasn’t that far, but it was a bit of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it situation. The airport was essentially a field with a tiny building on it. We went in, found the Customs office and was checked in by a very thorough and friendly official who made sure we knew exactly what we needed to know (ie, call Customs whenever we move the boat into a different ‘zone’). We were officially checked into the USA (again) and celebrated with tacos and margaritas.
We spent a couple of days chilling in Culebra before deciding to head over to Culebrita. We’d been told that this little island was basically tropical paradise and we couldn’t possibly visit Culebra without staying there at least overnight. We motor-sailed the 5 miles and joined the many, many day boats in the smallish bay. There were a few free mooring buoys, despite the crowds (many boats were all attached to a single buoy or simply anchored right up to the beach) and we tied up, dived on it- no problems there- and got to work cleaning the hull, scraping the propellor free of barnacles, and cleaning the underside of the dinghy. I say ‘we’. I jumped in the water and helped until my arm got a bit sore, then jumped out and left Nick to it.
We actually ended up only sharing the bay with one other boat that night- everyone else left. But we didn’t feel the need to stay longer, so we headed back to the main anchorage for one last night (and tacos!) before the sail to Fajardo the following day.
The forecast was a mild 8-10 knots from the east. We decided that we were feeling too lazy to lift the outboard, let alone the dinghy, so we just left them tethered to the boat. It was going to be a motor anyway.
Well, half an hour and 25 knots later, we were regretting our decision hugely. The dinghy was bucking like crazy behind us as we nervously watched, wondering out loud what our options would be if (or when) the bloody thing overturned. Nick then noticed the fastening bolts becoming loose.
“Terysa! Take the wheel- turn us into the wind. Stall the boat.”
“I gotta climb into the dinghy and tighten the outboard bolts. It’s about to fall off.”
“Okay, climbing in now. Wish me luck!”
“Nick, if you fall overboard and drown, I’m going to be scarred for life!”
I almost couldn’t watch as Nick unsteadily made his way from the transom into the bucking dinghy, and then, after tightening the bolts, repeated the process in reverse. Once he was back on board I calmed down a bit, and we continued on our merry way. An hour later the winds had died off completely, and an hour after that we were making our way into Puerto Del Ray, the biggest marina in the Caribbean.
The next few days were extremely exciting for us, and extremely boring for anyone reading or watching this- which is why we didn’t bother filming. We had our first Walmart/Kmart/West Marine/Costco/Other big supermarket experience since leaving the UK two years ago. To say we went overboard would be an understatement. I never thought I’d be the type of person who’d get excited about pretty blue plastic plates, insulated cups, and new pillows for the forecabin, but there you go.
We set off, the boat weighing considerably more than it had a few days previously, and headed to San Juan. It was a beautiful day with perfect sailing conditions: 10 knots on the beam, bright sunshine, almost no swell. We launched the code zero, sat back and chilled out until we arrived into the large harbour leading towards the marina.
The marina was underwhelming and, being Good Friday, there were no staff available to receive us. We had already been assigned a slip the day before, so we just headed there and parked the boat with little difficulty. Nick spotted a security guard- the only employee there that day- who was able to clear us in, provide the wifi code (most important) and the access cards.
Over the next week we had the most wonderful time exploring the Old Town in San Juan. It was reminiscent of any large town in southern Spain and was utterly beautiful, full of history. The Puerto Ricans were also incredibly friendly- everyone had a smile for us, was happy to chat and was extremely helpful. We met new friends through Bo and Allison called Brian and Lauren, who were in the process of moving off their boat and into an apartment in the Old Town, and the six of us had a great time eating, drinking and chatting.
Until next week!