Tag Archives: #puertorico

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

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Kool Kat in her slip at Palmas del Mar Marina

OK, our last post had us arriving at Palmas del Mar Marina on the east coast of Puerto Rico where we planned to hire a car to provision in preparation for The Bahamas.  All our cruising friends had told us that you need to be well-provisioned before visiting this incredible archipelago of islands. According to Wikipedia, it encompasses more than 470,000 sq kms!

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So much to see….

From what we understand there is very little agriculture so most foodstuffs are brought in, often by mail boat once a week and, when that food has gone, it’s gone until the next boat arrives. Because it is imported, food can also be expensive. Cruising guides have stressed that boaters need to be independent as there may be little or no services available. So, with all this advice in mind, we got busy!

Inventories were taken in the pantry, laundry and workshop! Use-by dates were checked and some stuff was tossed! We then set about trying to estimate how many meals x how many days we might need and exactly which boat spares we should buy, just in case!

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We stocked up at Walmart, Econo and West Marine. Oh, and Gwen and I stocked up at JC Penney’s and Marshall’s too as we didn’t have anything warm to wear in the cold Bahamas, LOL! New goods were added to the inventory and excess packaging was removed, not only minimising opportunities for little beasties to stowaway on our boat, but also to reduce the amount of rubbish we’d create in The Bahamas.

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I hope we’ve got enough……
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Definitely got enough tea bags!

In the midst of all this activity we celebrated Australia Day with the Inaugural Australia Day Film Festival on Kool Kat! Banyan (Alex and Dave) and Slow Waltz (Gwen and Guillaume) joined us to watch Aussie movies Red Dog and Gettin’ Square, which is only fair as we helped celebrate Canada Day last 1st July. We had a little Vegemite overload with Banyan and Slow Waltz bringing Vegemite popcorn yes, you read that correctly, Vegemite popcorn, which accompanied our Vegemite on salada-like biscuits and Vegemite and cheese scrolls. Thank goodness I also made Anzacs and mini banana muffins! I should add Mal showed a short Youtube video called ‘Straya’ which is quite a hoot!

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Yep, that’s the Vegemite popcorn in the green bowl! It was scrummy!
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They tasted better than they looked!

So, back to our planning for The Bahamas. Guillaume and Mal had been checking the weather watching for a good window where we could bypass the Dominican Republic and sail straight to either Great Inagua (bottom of The Bahamas) or The Turks and Caicos, a small country next to The Bahamas. The window needs to be 3-4 days of good sailing weather and there was one coming up which looked perfect.

Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.
Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.

We said our goodbyes to Alex and Dave and headed off with Slow Waltz to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, where we would stop for the night before commencing our journey across the Mona Passage and into the great beyond! But before long Slow Waltz had trouble with the autohelm and an autohelm is not what you want to have out of action when doing a big passage, well, any passage really! So, we both pulled into Salinas on the south coast of Puerto Rico to see what was what. Luckily for us, our hot water service gave up  the ghost whilst there. We’re lucky because if this had happened elsewhere further into our trip we would have been having cold showers for a very long time! Everyone tells us that The Bahamas is a lot cooler than we’ve been used to in the Eastern Caribbean so we wanted a working hot water service! We were able to order a new one, along with some other items and, because Puerto Rico is a US territory, delivery was estimated as three days and not hellishly expensive.

We moved to Guilligan’s Island and then on to Puerto Real on the west coast to wait for the goods and so we would be ready to go as soon as the next window opens up. Our trip was beautiful with dolphins and interesting terrain to keep us occupied.

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Dolphins playing off Kool Kat’s bow
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They love to jump and surf the waves
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The stunning lighthouse, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, on southwest corner of Puerto Rico
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Sunrise over the sleepy port of Puerto Real
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Homes in the fishing village of Puerto Real

The goods arrived true to their word in three days and Mal successfully installed it. Slow Waltz have also got their autohelm working and we’re all ready to go!

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One new fully-installed hot water service!

So now, we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. The winds are very light and there doesn’t seem to be a big enough weather window for The Bahamas so, we think we will do one overnight hop across the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic where, once again, we’ll be waiting, waiting, waiting.

Until next time, Sue and Mal xx

Postscript: We’ve woken this morning (Sunday 7th February) to 20-30kn winds so we’re off! Woohoo!

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So much to do and see!

Since our last post we visited the northern-most point of our journey for this season, Puerto Rico, and have now started our trip home to Grenada. In our last post we had just arrived in St Croix, the southern-most island in the USVI (United States Virgin Islands).

We spent about 10 days on St Croix with good friends Gwen & Guillaume from Slow Waltz and Dalynn and Glenn from Amoray. Initially we anchored off  the pretty township of Christiansted but after a few days moved around to the beautiful anchorage of Fredriksted. We hired a car for a  day tour and, given the driving is on the left-hand side of the road, I volunteered to drive. The strange thing is they have American cars so the driver sits on the left! Crazy! When it came to returning the car it was evident we were subject to the ‘GG curse’: a flat tyre only to be replaced by a flat spare tyre! Note to self: don’t hire a car with Gwen and Guillaume.

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Ready for our day-trip around the island.

We enjoyed a wide variety of cultural activities: rum sampling, hermit crab races and Art Thursday, which is where we heard about “chaney”. Apparently, during a slave uprising in 1878, plantation houses were attacked, set on fire and valuable items such as china bowls and jugs were smashed. Crucian children found the broken shards and used them as play money. The term chaney is a combination of “china” and “money”. They have been found across the island and created into jewellery. Dalynn and I purchased two pieces and were also lucky enough to find a piece when scouring the beach in Fredriksted. Cool!

The diving under the Fredriksted Pier was sensational. We had two very special finds: two seahorses and one baby octopus being harassed by a blue-headed wrasse.  Whilst enjoying a beach BBQ organised by Lynne and Eric of s/v Amarula, we discovered there is a  ‘friendly’ green turtle called Charlie near our anchorage. Apparently a local has been feeding him sardines so we went to meet him. He was pretty friendly and swam amongst us but when I stupidly put my hand out he bit my finger! He wasn’t too happy with the taste so didn’t hang around too long. We were super lucky to also experience swimming with dolphins in this location too. How good is that!

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Charlie bit me!

Leaving St Croix behind, we sailed north-west with Slow Waltz to Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands. We discovered Culebra is part of Puerto Rico and that there isn’t really a “Spanish” Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is part of the US but, for some reason, we had to clear-out of the USVI in St Croix and clear-in to Puerto Rico, exactly as if it’s another country. Anyway, Culebra was great and we loved it.  Playa Flamenco is a beautiful beach and down one end there are abandoned tanks once used  by the US for target practice but now decorated with funky graffiti. Apparently there is unexploded ordinance on the island so we ensured we stayed on the walking tracks thereby avoiding any unwanted explosions!

Again, we had another ‘special’ find: a mobile octopus. We see them hidden in crevices but very rarely out and about so this was a good sighting. Check out our Team Kool Kat Youtube Channel for a 36-second video of his amazing variety of camouflages.

Street art on the tiny island of Culebra was gorgeous.

Whilst in Culebra we took advantage of the $1US fare for the 1.5hr trip by ferry to mainland Puerto Rico. Again, we hired a car and spent the day in the capital, San Juan, and doing some much-needed shopping at the fabulously-priced US malls. Given they drive on the right-hand side, Guillaume offered to do the driving. No arguments from us there and we’re delighted to say the ‘GG curse’ has been lifted – no flat tyres!

Old San Juan was a pleasant surprise – so European and very elegant. The streets have blue cobblestones, there is a majestic fort and the city villas were stunning!

We enjoyed our taster and vowed to return to Puerto Rico next season for a decent amount of time.

So now we need to turn around and go back down the island chain. Back to the BVIs to clear-in and out at Jost Van Dyke. We stopped at The Baths on Virgin Gorda and left for Sint Maarten from Cooper Island. Check out our video of The Baths on youtube.

We did an overnight sail to Sint Maarten which means with 80+ nm to cover we left Cooper Is at 5pm anticipating a 14hr sail. Normally we’d have a schedule of two hours on and two hours off for each of us. Unfortunately, I was ill and Mal had to do the whole night without any help from me! Needless to say he was exhausted when we arrived in Simpson Bay. I was well enough to do the anchoring but egads the remote control for the windlass wasn’t working so I had to motor around for almost an hour whilst Mal worked out what was wrong! A broken connection! Mal did a quick temporary fix joining the wires back together and we eventually dropped the hook 15 hrs after leaving the BVIs.

Aah, the joys of sailing! I’ll put a halt here so until next time, keep well, and warm if you are in Oz.

Cheers, Sue and Mal xx