Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | July 23, 2011

Vieques & Culebra – Spanish Virgins

 N 18° 17.8′ W 65° 15.3′

Bahía de Almodóvar, Culebra

We left Palmas on Tuesday for the two hour trip to Isla de Vieques, one of the Spanish Virgin Islands east of the Puerto Rican mainland. The history of Vieques is intriguing, especially its use by the US Navy for bombing practice. After much controversy and public protest, in 2003 the Navy closed Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on the eastern side of Puerto Rico and discontinued using Vieques. The land on the eastern and western portions of the island is now part of the Caribbean Wildlife Refuge. The park is proud of its diverse habitats representing coastal beaches, mangrove wetlands, and sub-tropical forests. There are two towns on the 21 x 4 mile island: Isabel Segunda on the north side and Esperanza on the south side. Developing tourism has been a goal since the naval base closure. With the large park lands, numerous gorgeous beaches, fishing, water sports, biophosphorescent bays, along with numerous little hotels, guest houses and restaurants, Vieques would be a wonderful vacation destination for one seeking to get away from civilization and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Ideally we would have rented a car to cover the entire island, but did not find a suitable calm anchorage in close proximity to town to leave the boat and dogs. There are no public marina facilities on the island which might help boost nautical tourism.

We spent one night anchored off the southwest tip of the island at Punta Arenas, a beautiful location with a palm-lined beach, shallow azure seas and a scenic view of the El Yunque rainforest mountain on the mainland. The anchorage was a little rolly during our visit, and we moved on after one night to explore the south coast of the island. Puerto Real, the bay off the town of Esperanza, was even more rolly, so we skipped on to Sun Bay. With a southerly wind component, it, too was not comfortable, but we made note to return under different wind conditions since the huge beach there looked fabulous.

The next stop was Puerto Ferro, one of the bioluminescent bays on the island. It is a protected mangrove bay, and we had the place to ourselves at night. Mosquito Bay next door is touted as an “eighth wonder of the world” and kayak and electric boat operators offer tours on moonless nights to view the light show created by tiny organisms in the water. It was complicated to hook up with a tour group since we couldn’t get into Esperanza, so we did our own bio bay tour in Puerto Ferro via dinghy. It wasn’t spectacular, but you could see little lights when the water was disturbed and it made an interesting nighttime activity. The dogs, who love predictable routines, thought we were nuts to be out at bedtime steering the dinghy in circles, splashing the water. But they came along anyway preferring never to be left behind.

The weather forecast called for stronger winds and an approaching tropical wave over the weekend. We decided to move north to Isla de Culebra where there are more sheltered anchorages, and check out the north coast of Vieques another time. We also need to meet a Dell service tech in Culebra on Monday, since a part has arrived for our navigational laptop, which is having an LCD screen problem. We told them no rush, it could wait until we returned to Palmas on the mainland. However, once the warranty work was finally approved and outsourced to a service contractor, there is apparently an incentive to speedily complete the job. They were willing to send a tech out to wherever the boat might be as long as we could provide a street address! We gave the address of the Club Seabourne, a small resort hotel with a dinghy dock close to the Dakity anchorage. Hope the tech doesn’t mind the working conditions.

Thursday we made the 3 hour trip to Culebra and encountered 5 foot seas on a beam reach, a new point of sail for this cruise. The forces caused refrigerator #1 to open while under way, and some of the contents fell out. We were lucky that we didn’t have breakage. Lesson learned: Always use the locks on the fridge while under way, even if you haven’t needed them for the last 1400 miles.  

Bob strongly believes in back-up systems whenever feasible, and this is proving to be a wise philosophy. The new Northern Lights generator stopped working, and while we are awaiting a replacement part, the old Westerbeke generator is plugging away keeping our batteries charged and refrigeration and electrical appliances working. Then the electric head (toilet) in our cabin stopped flushing. Not good. We are using the head in the guest quarters while Bob investigates that problem. I stopped whining about my duties in the hot galley as chief cook, since today it beats being chief plumber.

Sunset at anchor,Punta Arenas, Vieques

Punta Arenas anchorage

 
 

View of El Yunque rainforest mountain from Punta Arenas

 
 

Sun Bay, one of the many gorgeous beaches on Vieques

Traveling the south coast of Vieques

 

At anchor in Puerto Ferro, a protected mangrove bay

 
 
 

A paddle boarding tour came through Puerto Ferro in the afternoon

Bahia de Almodóvar anchorage, Culebra, on arrival Thurs pm. The park service provides free moorings at this reef-protected spot. Culebrita is in the distance, and we can spot St. Thomas and Sail Rock to the east.

This is our view on Saturday. It's a holiday weekend here and the local "Puerto Rican Navy" has arrived. Sport Fishes are the vessel of choice. They tend to moor these boats with the stern into the wind.

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Responses

  1. I just enjoyed my own personal, visual tour thanks to the postings from the Mar Azul. This could become a viable new option for you… ❤


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