25 January, 2017
Isla Chivas. What can I say? We threaded our way in through the reef at midmorning. Warning buoys surrounded the Isla alerting to “unexploded ordinance”. Having read previous posts, we knew that the warnings pertained to expeditions to shore, not for anchoring. We coasted in to 12’ of water, and searched for a sandy patch to drop our hook. Suz expertly put the Girl’s bow over a white area, and I dropped the anchor dead center. Backing down, the anchor bit on the first try. We didn’t bother to launch “White Star”, instead got the kayaks wet. Our azure blue anchorage was ringed by white sand beaches-a postcard perfect setting. Kayaked around the bay, then walked the beaches, searching for “treasures” most of the day. We scored lots of beach glass, and some small urchins for our collection. Suz found a nice Helmet shell, but it was inhabited, so we threw him back, not wanting to ruin his day. Numerous signs on shore admonished us to follow the 3 R’s-Recognize, Retreat, and Report, concerning unexploded ordinance on shore. We didn’t see nuthin’. Returning to Alizann, we polished some of her stainless, giving her some much-needed love. Late afternoon brought in two ultra-lights with floats landing in the bay, providing a show for us. Dinner, Tuscan chicken in the Admiral’s new electric InstaPot, was taken over another sublime sunset.
We were off the hook by 07h00. The Admiral was crackin’ the whip for some fresh fish. I rigged up some Ballyhoo baits, and we headed for deep water on the way to Culebra, our next Spanish Virgin Island destination. All we got to show for our efforts was one Toothacuda, and 2 spoiled baits. Our Christmas present from our son, a baby monitor, however, performed admirably. When the fishing reel in the cockpit started spooling out, we heard it loud and clear, even over the music crankin’ in the pilothouse. We love technology! By 13h45 we had the hook set in the bay out of Dewey, (named for the Admiral) Culebra. We planned to stay here for a couple of days while we explored the island. After getting the boat squared away, we headed to shore in the dinghy on a quick reconnaissance mission. It only took an hour to walk all of the streets of Dewey. The little village was quite colorful, with gaily painted buildings, and many murals. We found that the “Dinghy Dock” restaurant/bar had a happy hour(s) with Medalla beers for two-fifty, but more importantly, the fastest internet connection that we had seen in a long time. Instead of taking 2-3 minutes (or more) to upload a picture, we could get one up in around 30 seconds. Bonus! Let’s have another beer. We were feeling the need for some exercise, so the following morning, we loaded the backpacks with our beach togs, and headed to Flamenco Beach, (another) one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It was a good three-mile haul, and we were rewarded with a truly beautiful beach, where we spent the day snoozin’, swimmin’, and strollin’. At one end of the mile-long beach was an old U.S. Army tank, slowly being reclaimed by the sea.
That kinda brings us to the U.S. military presence on Vieques/Culebra. During the 1940’s, the U.S. Navy purchased around 22,000 acres (or, about 2/3 of the island of Vieques) for military purposes. The Eastern end of the island was used for live-fire exercises, including ship to shore, and air to ground bombing. The Western end of the island was used as an ammunition depot. In around 2003, the Navy ceased operations, and returned the island to the Puerto Rican government. Since that time, the U.S. government has spent around $220 M to clean up contaminated lands on Vieques. Given the terrain (jungle and heavy overgrowth), the cleanup is far from complete. Thus, the numerous warning signs around certain areas of the island. No political commentary-Just sayin’.
Today, the 25th, we rented a jeep and did the beach tour of Culebra. We visited every beach on the map, sometimes traversing rocky two-tracks to get there. Didn’t do much sunbathing, but we saw and walked them all. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were good, but didn’t stick to the ribs, so when we returned to town we headed to the “Dinghy Dock”. The Grouper sandwich and the Ahi/Romaine salad hit the spot, washed down with some cold Cokes. Before we headed back to the Girl, we strolled over to “Mamacita’s” for a couple of Bushwackers (as recommended by friends at Palmas). Tomorrow, we’ll head over to Culebrita with the Girl, to do some SCUBA diving, after which we plan to anchor in Almodovar Bay, back on Culebra, for a couple of days before we head to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I’m guessin’ no interweb for awhile, so…..