Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | September 30, 2011

To Vieques In Search of a Rolly Anchorage

N 18° 04.67′   W 65° 47.8′ 

Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico

We left Palmas on Monday for a five-day outing to Vieques, the closest of the Spanish Virgins Islands. Ophelia was still hanging around to the northeast but not threatening our weather.

After two weeks in port Bob was getting what he calls “marina-itis”. I think the recent marina time was not much fun for him since he had so many chores. The last project he tackled before we left was stowing the tools and supplies that had overflowed into the guest cabin during our move aboard.


When Bob organizes he takes all the contents from the target area and place them in the middle of the main salon, our common living area 😦


It took him two full days – but wow – so nice to have the guest cabin neat and usable . The main cabin is back in order too.


Bob had another set of projects for the time at anchor. He wanted to test the newly installed anti-roll system and scrape the hull again. So we headed over to nearby Vieques and spent time at the beautiful Punta Arenas and Sun Bay anchorages.

We have electronic stabilizers to use while under way. They have a fin-like attachment below the waterline on both sides of the boat that move in response to the sea conditions and temper side to side motion. With my tendency to get seasick, the stabilizers offer a much more comfortable ride. If they don’t work, I don’t cruise.

The electronic stabilizers aren’t useful when we are not under way and many anchorages are impacted by swell. Waves aimed at the front or back of the boat aren’t so bad, but when they are aimed at the sides they cause a rolling motion. Rolling can be annoying, sometimes uncomfortable to the point of seasickness and can present safety issues. The dinghy is stored on top of the boat and is launched with a small crane. If the boat rolls while the dinghy is being raised or lowered the dinghy can swing out of control and crash into the side of the boat. We have done that and when the outboard motor hits the hull it is not a pleasant experience for any of us. Especially for we crew members who are held accountable for keeping the 350 pound dinghy under control.


The anti-roll system is a simple mechanical device that can be deployed as needed

A metal fan is lowered from the pole into the water and it opens and closes to dampen the boat’s movement. As you can see, the roll stopper is not the greatest looking addition. The poles sticking out to the side make us look like a shrimp boat. But we trawler boaters value comfort over aesthetics. We decided to install one on the starboard side of the boat and if it showed any promise then decide if was worth investing in a second device for the port side.

Unlike our last visit to Vieques, the anchorages were smoother this time, with winds coming from the north. We had a mild roll at Punta Arenas, just a couple of degrees. While the roll stopper did seem to make an impact we need to test it under harsher conditions. Where’s a rolly anchorage when you want one? I will probably regret thinking that.

Underwater growth on the hull was interfering with the watermaker intake, and Bob spent the better part of two days scraping and cleaning to remove the barnacles and get the watermaker back on-line. He is hopeful that this will be the last scraping needed until the boat is hauled and painted this fall.


We found a very shallow anchorage at Punta Arenas which was helpful in case Bob dropped a tool while working under the boat


Public Sun Bay beach is located next to town and considered a safe beach with no mines fields. We picked up a free mooring here.


The Captain at the tiller of his beloved go-fast dinghy. We quickly made the two mile trip from the Sun Bay anchorage to visit the town of Esperanza. We still couldn't keep up with the flying fish scooting along above the surface.


Esperanza was a quiet laid back village with small guest houses, restaurants & shops, and activities that included kayak tours of the nearby bio-luminescent bay



Horses roamed the Esperanza waterfront, and they are one form of transportation to get around town


This is an example of one of the fine dinghy docks we have encountered along the way. Seriously, we often have to improvise. First class dinghy facilities just aren't a priority in most places.


Evidence of continued public unrest related to past military operations on the island


The history of Vieques is intriguing. The island has a much higher cancer rate than the mainland, likely because of environmental contamination from past chemical weapons testing. Many parts of the island are still off-limits due to the potential presence of unexploded devices. It is unclear why the government doesn’t clean it up.  If I understand correctly, that is what the author of the sign above is calling for.

This paper published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) provides some fascinating insight on the situation: .  After reading it, I think we should dump the batch of water we made while on Vieques. 

We are back at Palmas, and planning to wrap up our time on the Puerto Rico mainland within the next two weeks. Generator #1 has failed again, so Bob has one more project for the list. Just like a house, there is always something to fix on a boat.



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