Puerto Rico and USVI

April 12, 2023

After Jinhee’s return to the boat, we enjoyed the charms of Marina Cap Cana for a couple of days, before moving on to Puerto Rico.

Cap Cana has a bit of a Disney feel to it without the shops or children’s characters. It is a massive resort, in an even more massive development and it is mostly empty. Still quite beautiful to look at but it lacked a cozy feel that we had at Porto Bahia de Samana.

The sargassum grass that is expected to infiltrate the coasts of Florida was easier to see here, and had already started polluting the shores of the Dominican Republic and I can confirm it could be quite stinky.

Our slip at the marina was well protected in the marina and we were surrounded by fishing boats from 20’ to 70’.

I had an opportunity to ride my bike a few times and put in almost two hundred kilometres of riding over three days. It was both so therapeutic and also a bit dangerous. On the second ride, a long day at 110km, I didn’t prepare well, and didn’t think through my route, and so was without water for much of the last 40 km in the heat. Then at the very end of the ride, after I did get some water, I was entering a bike path covered in soft gravel and promptly crashed. Lots of road rash and two deep gouges, but I’ll have scars from my trip to the Dominican Republic.

On Tuesday morning we tried to leave early, but you need to sign out of the country and leave immediately, so at 7am we put on 300 gallons of fuel and went to sign out. It took a while and we departed by 9 am.

The winds were expected to be light and they generally were, but the somewhat notorious Mona passage retained her reputation for our time across. We were sailing into the wind, into the waves and into the current. It was slow going and quite rough for about 30 of the 72 miles we covered, but we did get the weather right.

Approaching Puerto Rico, we happened upon about 8, maybe 10 drift nets and luckily I saw them. We avoided disaster on the water again.

As expected we arrived at Puerto Real 12 hours after departing under a full moon and in the dark, nudging our way slowly through the entrance to the harbour.

The harbour itself is an almost completely encircled bay with 8-12 feet of water through most of the bay and while there were a lot of boats at anchor there was plenty of room for us on that first night.

We decided to take a slip for a couple of days to visit a grocery store, give me a chance to ride a bicycle and hang out with the crew on Mabuhay. The island was very lively, and while we didn’t have a lot of time to take in all of the excitement, Jinhee and Agnes (Mabuhay) were able to go to the grocery store and a fish market.

I was able to put in a modestly long bike ride. I would come back to Puerto Rico just to ride a bike. The roads were pretty safe, and the scenery was nice. The rolling hills were peppered with small farms, small towns and nice views. I was almost thrown from the bike in the local town where there is a drain, or perhaps a very weird cattle guard across the entire street. Riding at night may not be a great idea!

Given our schedule we had an incentive to move on, and so on Friday we untied and had what was supposed to be a short run to Caja de Muertos where we anchored off the island. It was a pretty short run, but the wind, waves and current were all pushing against us and the travelling was slow. The anchorage was okay, and we put out the stabilizer just to take out some of the roll, but it was a good stop. We didn’t go ashore. There were a lot of local boats, but the ‘park’ was destroyed in a recent hurricane so we passed on visiting the island. We are also pretty focused on getting to Antigua. (This was Good Friday)

Mabuhay decided to stay put for a day or two, and so we pressed on alone, to the west end of Isla de Vieques where we dropped anchor again. The route was even slower as we pushed eastward, but we dropped anchor in daylight and enjoyed a pretty relaxing evening.

Sunday would see another run of about the same length (55 nm) but the seas had settled just a bit. We were still knocked down to less than 4 knots a couple of times, but overall it was smoother and faster than the prior two days and we arrived in Christiansted (St. Croix), again dropping anchor before dark. It was a busy harbour with holiday makers on tour boats and a lot of local boats at anchor. Still it was nice to arrive and find a place to drop the hook (in the NW anchorage, north of marker “8”).

We plan to stay here until Wednesday the 12th while Jinhee takes a few important calls, then we will pull up anchor to head to St. Kitts.

Today is that day, and I hope to get this post out before we pull anchor at around lunch time.

While here, I didn’t get out on the bicycle, despite some interest, but we just relaxed, did some planning and work and took a couple of walks ashore. The harbour has some nice bars and restaurants and many cute shops. There is a cruise port on the opposite side of the island which delivers a few thousand tourists regularly. We did enjoy a beverage and some finger foods at Brew STX and perused many of the cute shops, but our boat is pretty full, so other than food, we didn’t contribute much to the economy.

While here we are also narrowing down our plans for the summer. We will head to Antigua within a week so we can fly home and do some work (it’s tax time), as well as visit family and friends, check on the house etc. When we return we will begin the path to Grenada.

We did find a spot to put the boat on the hard in Grenada during hurricane season, and we will likely do some work on the bottom and perhaps even some other cosmetic work on the boat. While we have faced a lot of difficulties during the Covid shutdown with boat storage and services, now that boats are moving again, the problems are magnified even further. We are lucky to have found a spot. The downside is that the insurance cost will be dramatically higher to continue on this journey and its irritating.

No matter, we will continue on our journey. When we return to the boat (in Antigua) at the end of April, we will have about eight weeks to enjoy the islands of the southern Caribbean, and hopefully a slower pace will allow us to be better tourists.

Once again, this post has no photos. I’m sorry. There are so many stories (feeding fish, seeing turtles, meeting locals, cute neighbourhoods, run-down buildings, stinky shorelines, the runway behind the boat, more grounded boats (and dashed dreams), and so many other stories. It’s a different life out here and we have a lot of images in our minds, but we don’t do a good job of capturing them. Perhaps we will try harder in the near future. Next up St. Kitts and Nevis for a couple of days.

The runway behind the boat . . .

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