29 January, 2017
Culebrita was a relaxing stop. We were over from Culebra in around an hour, so arrived around 09h00. There was only one mooring ball left there, and it looked to be in pretty bad shape, so we took some time to find a spot to anchor. The bottom rises pretty dramatically from deep water to the shore, and many coral heads were visible in the shallow water. After poking around a bit, we finally found a sandy patch in 15’ of water. After letting out 75’ of chain, our stern was now in 30’, and blue water wasn’t far behind. I was really being a weenie. Even after swimming the anchor and finding it to be well-set, I was worried that if the Girl dragged, the anchor would be in deep water without a chance to reset itself. It took about a half hour for me to be okay with leaving her for the day while we hiked onshore. We dropped the dinghy, and anchored her, tying her stern to shore. Our first goal was the Culebrita lighthouse, high atop the island. A half hour walk got us there. The original lighthouse is in a shambles, but we were able to explore both around and through the structure. It was pretty typical of the other Spanish colonial buildings that we had seen throughout Puerto Rico, built out of coral blocks, trimmed in brick, with a stucco coating. The aid to navigation is now provided by a light fixed upon a steel tower, fed by solar panels. The concrete pad that the tower sat on provided a superb vantage point from which to look out over the ocean, and, behind us, back over the island. We hiked the interior of the island, through dry forest, to a bay on the north side, to check out the anchorage there. Since the swell had been running out of the North due to several Cold Front passages coming off the U.S., we had expected the anchorage to be untenable. Before we were out of the woods, we could hear the surf beating on the shore ahead of us. The beach was beautiful, but the few boats moored there were all rolling significantly. We had a walk from end to end, and enjoyed our lunch in the shade of a palm tree just above the high water line. After lunch, we hiked back to the other side of the island, hauled anchor, and motored back over to Culebra, where we anchored behind the reef in Bahia Almovodar(las Pelas to locals). On the chart, this bay looks wide open to the sea, but in fact it is well-protected by a reef under one foot of water. It’s rather stunning to see the sea, which was running around three feet, stop suddenly as the waves hit the shallow water, becoming transformed to three inch ripples. We ended up staying for two nights, exploring the mangroves surrounding the bay by dinghy, and just enjoying the solitude (until just before dark on the second day, there was only one other boat in the bay, anchored ½ mile away). The Girl also got prettied up below the waterline when I donned the SCUBA gear and armed myself with various scrapers to relieve her of the slimies and crusties that she had accumulated.
We were outta there on Saturday morning. As predicted, the seas were running around 2-4’, winds 14kn. As soon as we hit deep water a couple hours out, the lines were in. After fishing for 5 hours, we had to ready the fenders and lines for our stay on St. Croix. All we had to show for our pescadarian efforts were a couple of short strikes resulting in ruined baits. No fish tonight. The entry in to Green Cay Marina is pretty narrow, and very shoal on one side, but we entered without incident. After beating into the wind for 7 hours, the Girl was pretty salt-encrusted, but an hour or so of attention from the crew brought her back to her spiffy self. The marina here is attached to a hotel/resort property, and staying at the marina allowed us use of the entire grounds, including the pool, tennis courts, spa, paddle boards, and etc. The next morning, we stopped by Rubicon, the Ocean Alexander that we had met in Ponce, Puerto Rico, to pay our respects to Chris (the guy who prevented our boat from smashing the dock there). He wasn’t on the boat, but the owner was, and we had a nice conversation with her. Our exploratory walk didn’t last long before we were seated at an outdoor table overlooking the ocean enjoying omelets. We spent the rest of day just hangin’ around the property. Suz got some computer work done, while I did some troubleshooting on, and repairing a hinky battery charger. Back over to the resort, under the shade of a palapa, I examined the inside of my eyelids while the tour director laid plans for our siege of the island in the coming week. We had sips that evening with Larry, Mark, and Judy aboard “Alizann”. Larry is a friend of a friend from Harbor Springs, MI, who lives on his boat here with his wife, Amy. He is a boatbuilder by trade. They sailed their home-built trimaran (a rocketship named “Morello”) down here three years ago. He is a foreman for a custom boat builder here, while she is a nurse in the hospital. Mark and Judy are our neighbors here on the dock, retired and hailing from Minnesota.
Getting kinda wordy, so we’ll start exploring St. Croix