Wednesday, December 23, 2015

US Virgins Finally!

After what seemed like a Eternity we were finally in position to make the short windward leg to St Thomas and St Johns from Culebra! The wind was on our nose as usual and blowing around 20 but we knew we only had 20 miles or less to reach the protection of St Thomas! It was a spirited motor sail but in no time we were anchored up in Linbergh bay and drinking libations at the beach bar there. Linbergh in just south and a bit east of the airport, actually the runway goes parallel to the bay, so lots of jet noise on takeoff!
     We spent a couple of days there did some shopping, as it turned out they had the cheapest rum prices of any of the islands in the entire Caribbean! Cruzan was 7 dollars a fifth, Pussers was 12 bucks! a couple of days here and we were ready to move on to honeymoon bay, a neat little anchorage just south of Red Hook. had a wonderful two day stay here, lots of snorkeling and the pizza boat was really cool! there is a sailboat anchored in the bay that was outfitted with a pizza oven and they make and sell  great pizza!

After our stay here we were off  the 3 miles or so to cruz bay St Johns, this island is fantastic, it might just be the most beautiful island in the Caribbean if you are judging by the beaches! The island was owned by Rockefeller and he gave it to the US on the condition it become a state park, so its got very few developments and lots of prestine undeveloped waterfront! Another great thing about this island is the senior discounts on mooring balls, 62 or older us citizens get a mooring for $7.50! that sure beats the heck out of the 30 bucks in the BVI! Francis and Majo are our fav anchorages, we stayed at Majo for two weeks!

Cruz bay is just kinky enough to be interesting, and just big enough to get most of what you need in the way of provisions etc! Caneel bay is the site of rockefellers resort and its the nearest mooring field to Cruz bay, just a short dingy ride in! the bay was way to crowded to find a spot plus the all the other bays are way more cool!

We really enjoyed our stay in St Johns but it was time to keep moving east, some of our last eastng til we finally get to sail south. Next up, just a 5 mile sail to famous Sophers Hole and the BVI!

Cruise Ships at St Thomas

Cruz Bay, St Johns
Approaching Francis Bay in St Johns
The ferry from Cruz bay to St Thomas
The busses that ran from Cruz bay to the beaches were like thrill Rides up and down the mountains at breakneck speeds!
Looking down on Majo Bay! Discovery is in the center!

East down the Puerto Rico coast

After a enjoyable time in Puerto Real and topping off our fuel tank with every drop of cheap fuel we could take on, we needed to begin our passage east toward the Spanish virgins! Unlike our other passages we weren't going to get a unusual beneficial weather window, forecast was the normal one for this time of year, wind out of the east 20-25 knots.

Reality hit us as we rounded the point at Cabo Rojos and the lighthouse guarding it, bam 4-6 ft waves and 20 knots on the nose! So we started a seemingly endless series of tacks out to sea and then back toward shore, motor sailing our way east carving out eating careful to stay just enough off the wind to avoid the bashing and the filling loosening battering that heading to close to the wind produced with our flat bottom production boat!

We decided after 6 hrs of this beating to tuck tail and head for a he safety of a anchorage about 19 miles from Cabo Rojos called Gilligans island! Protected from the waves by mangroves and reef it would allow us to rest and rethink our plan to sail the south coast of Puerto Rico toward the Virgins. But before we made it a combination of a gust ( around 25knts) and a big wave, was too much for the sun rottened straps attaching the clew car on our deeply reefed roller furling main, it blew out sounding like the report from a shotgun! We took here up into the wind ( easy because we were motors ailing like usual), we quickly rolled the sail up and continued toward our next anchorage.

We huddled with our buddy boats and mapped out a new strategy, we would take advantage of the catabatic winds coming off the mountains at night that knocked down the east wind and waves, this should make for a tolerable motor sail overnight to our next anchorage Salinas.

Set the alarm for midnight and we snaked our way out the anchorage and we're happy to encounter much better sea state than the day time. This made for a beautiful motor sail down the coast with the lights from the shore only a few miles away!

We arrived early the next morning at daybreak with plenty of light to find our way into the salinas anchorage, and a busy one it was, but as usual there is always room for a few more boats and morning found us well hooked and beginning to look for a sailmaker to repair the damaged mainsail!

Light House on the far south western corner of Puerto Rico!

The busy anchorage at Salinas with the mountains in the background!

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DR to Puerto Rico Via the Mona Passage!

Anita and I at the outfitting shack at the  Dominique Cascades Waterfalls!
Anita taking the plunge at one of the waterfalls we could not slide down! This was not the tallest waterfall we jumped!
We had a great one week stay in  Luperion the people and the waterfalls really made it special  and would have enjoyed a longer stay but a weather window presented itself, a mild cold front predicted by Chris Parker would give us beam seas and brisk but safe wind conditions so off we went!
We left Luperion at first light and managed to negotiate the tight channel out of the harbor with no issues and found the conditions off shore to be as expected so on we pressed, sailing on a beam reach under full main and staysail for almost 24 hrs! we reached the eastern point of the DR and turned south til we were around the hourglass shoals. We were able to sail all the way til we reached the red sea bouy marking the entrance to Samana bay! We motored the rest of the way until we reached our destination Bahi Puerto Marina!
We had a great stay in Samana. I would highly recommend the Marina over staying in the harbor at Samana. Very safe and great accomodations! Five star resort and only 75 cents a foot! We had heard about issues with theft and such in the harbor which is too bad, but the town is delightful and the Marina is the best choice.
Again were were on a tight schedule and another weather window came up that promised a quite passage across the Mons passage so we had to take the shot, but the down side was only staying in Samana 2 days!
We arranged for the commandant to meet us at the boat at 6 am so we could get a early start. You must  be aware you pay to get into the DR and you will pay to leave, it was the most expensive of all the Caribbean countries we visited, we paid about 125 US to clear in at Luperion, and 20 US to exit Samana.
Our trip to Puerto Rico was another great one . We were treated to a whale watching fest on the way out Samana bay, its noted as a great place to see whales and it sure lived up to its reputation! The 100 miles or so to Puerto Real was very uneventful, we arrived mid morning and dropped the hook and enjoyed a peaceful stay in this great little town! Besides the normal stuff its got the cheapest diesel fuel in the Caribbean!
 We took a field trip to Ponce , its a city with perhaps the best examples of Spanish architecture in the Caribbean. The girls are standing in front of the firehouse in Ponce this is one of the oldest structures on the Island!
 One of the beautiful beaches on the Island!
 Another shot of down town Ponce!

Discovery on a mooring at Culebrita, a great little Island off of Culebra, Spanish Virgins
Anita posing in front of the old fire station now museum in Ponce
 Walking thru the rainforest state park in Puerto Rico
 Anchored off the south Puerto Rico coast on our way east
Record Shop in downtown Ponce