Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | July 2, 2011

Arrival in Fajardo, Puerto del Rey & New Hurricane Plan

N 18° 18.40′    W 65° 18.02′

Ensenada Honda, Culebra, Spanish Virgin Islands

“Focus on the journey not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”     – Greg Anderson

We arrived at Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo on June 28th. After 88 days under way, this marked the completion of the first major leg of our journey. Average miles per day traveled came in at a little less than 16, and translated to about 2 – 3 hours per day. We had many non-travel days, and a few days where we traveled all day. It is amazing that Bob easily made the same 1400 mile trip in one morning at work in an airplane. If we had taken minimal stops (which would have been brutal), we could have made the trip in less than 2 weeks, but would have missed all the fun along the way.

For me there was a sense of accomplishment in completing this portion of the trip, and doing so relatively comfortably, despite some ongoing struggles with seasickness. There were some passages I dreaded because of their length, desolate path or reputation for being troublesome. The Gulf Stream crossing, the jump from George Town to the Turks & Caicos, the passage to Luperón, the trip along the remote north Dominican coast and the Mona Passage crossing to Puerto Rico were somewhat scary to contemplate. As it turned out, most of those trips were fairly easy. Ironically the worst passage of all was through the familiar Florida Bay en route to Marathon, where I lost some galley items and my dinner to unexpected choppy seas. The lessons learned were to plan well, not be rushed, wait for good weather windows, and take full advantage of the advice of others who have traveled before us.

The original hurricane plan did not fall into place and arrival at Puerto del Rey, billed as “the largest marina in the Caribbean” was a let-down. We didn’t feel like celebrating. Even face to face, we could not get a firm commitment to enroll in the marina’s hurricane program. Not being regular customers was probably a factor, and we kept getting the “we’ll know soon” answer we had gotten since April. Even if they signed us up, we would be placed near the end of the priority list in the event that storm haul-outs were initiated. Some of the slips on the transient docks were in bad shape, with pilings worn away at the waterline and loose cleats. We didn’t want to risk having the boat in the water there in a big storm.

We spent a day visiting other marinas in Fajardo and made phone calls to St. Thomas to see if we could find any other options and concluded the best choice was to sign up for a seasonal slip at Palmas del Mar. The location is not quite as sheltered by its geographic surroundings, but the facility is new and well-built, with a huge boulder breakwater and extra high pilings. Resident boats there looked well cared for. Bob arranged for an extra-wide slip, which would allow a better storm tie. We still have the option to run to Salinas and secure the boat in the mangroves should we choose to do so. Our insurance company signed off on the plan.

As it turns out, our next door neighbor in the marina is another DeFever boat named “Moonshine”. We met the owners in 2009 on a boating vacation in Marathon when they were en route to Puerto Rico. Moonshine was triple tied with all sorts of chafe protection and ready for the storm season. We are glad to have conscientious neighbors and hope we can catch up with them during our time here.

Palmas del Mar Yacht Club and the nearby town of Humacao on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico will serve as our home base for the next 3 – 4 months. We will stay within a day’s travel of this location, much of it in the Spanish Virgin Islands, with perhaps some time in the British and US Virgin Islands. Humacao has convenient shopping, and we will likely come back to the marina for a week every month to re-provision, get mail, do boat chores that are more easily done in a facility, and take care of needs ashore. And, of course, we will also return if there is a severe weather threat.

Culebra is our first stop as we visit the Spanish Virgin Islands. We are anchored in Ensenada Honda (“deep cove”) just outside the town of Dewey. It is windy and raining right now as another tropical wave passes through, and there are whitecaps in the anchorage. We are keeping an eye on the radar looking for boats that might come loose from their anchors in the stiff winds. 

Puerto del Rey marina was pretty huge. Despite dog security measures, Lady somehow made the leap to the dock one day while we were out. She spent all day searching the docks trying to find us, and never even got to the entrance. She was next to the boat when we returned.

Anchorage and dinghy dock at the town of Dewey on Culebra

A little rough weather in the anchorage as a tropical shower passes through

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Responses

  1. Glad you found a safe haven, after being led astray by the first marina… Stay safe, we’ll be hoping for calm seas next week while we are in St. Maarten and thru the entire fall season for your awesome adventure!


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