Old San Juan is lovely. I tell Matt that he and I should come back alone some year. I can imagine spending a week exploring this historic city more slowly –seeing the old buildings, sitting at outdoor cafes, wandering along the stone paseos above the ocean, meandering through the art galleries, etc. That, however, is not our pace at the moment. After seeing a little more (La Fortaleza, the Cathedral, Ponce de Leon’s family residence, various statues and fountains), we leave Old San Juan and head east on the north coast toward Arecibo where we were advised to stop at La Cueva del Indo. What I was expecting was a cave with some petroglyphs. What we got was much, much more. Continue reading
On Wednesday, we wake up at 5 am to get going and are out by 6 am. It is a LONG sail, mostly because of the constant motion. The winds start off at 25-30 knots with 6-8 foot seas. The winds slow to 18-25 knots in the afternoon but the swells stay high, with waves hitting us every 3-4 seconds and tilting us 30 degrees one way, 20 degrees the other. We see at least 50 flying fish through the course of the day. Continue reading
[We’ve been anchored out so no Wi-Fi connection recently]. Our time in Fajardo (east side of PR) could best be described as sopping wet (although a very bright spot was getting a Valentine’s Day care package from Matt’s mom). Due to the boat drenching, we stay at the Fajardo Inn on Saturday and Sunday. We dislike paying for the hotel and a marina so we move back on the boat Monday night. So far, every day has been pouring rain so it’s taking forever for the boat cushions to dry. My side of the berth is still wet so I’m sleeping on a piece of plywood and a sleeping bag out in the cabin (I do not recommend this. It’s not until morning that I think, Wait, … why was I sleeping on the plywood?). Continue reading
We stay only one night at anchor in Culebra. After arriving, we dinghy to shore and then walk to the airport to check in at customs (that, in itself, is a whole other experience). On the walk back, we stop at a restaurant for an early dinner and play billiards with the boys. The next morning we dinghy to a beach. The boys play on the sand while Matt and I snorkel. It’s good snorkeling but it’s stormy so visibility isn’t great and the water is rough. After a while, we dinghy back to the boat for school and lunch. There is a torrential downpour that lasts all afternoon, filling the dinghy with 18 inches of water. We close all the hatches and portholes.
At bedtime we realize that Malachi didn’t tighten the screws on his porthole and that half his berth cushion is soaked. Matt pulls everything out and piles it in the salon. We plan to leave for Puerto Rico in the morning. Continue reading
Culebra is one of the Spanish Virgin Islands. Matt estimates the sail from St. Thomas is about 5 hours. The weather is unsettled and will be for the next 5 days. Our initial departure date was Feb. 1 so we are behind schedule. It’s going to be rolly with 6-foot waves and 25 knot winds but we decide to go anyway. Matt has seen the boat in 50-knot winds and is not concerned. It’s been a while since we were underway and I’m so preoccupied with getting the boys settled with breakfast and Sea-Bands, stowing things, closing the top hatches, etc. that I close some, but not all, of the side portholes. We pull up the anchor and, as we leave, I get hit twice with spray. Matt sees me scowling and I say that I just had a bucket bath the night before and was hoping to stay clean. Plus, I’m wearing my favorite shirts and t-shirt that
were just washed. Salt water can be an issue on boats because it doesn’t really dry – it stays tacky and damp and uncomfortable. I can see Matt inwardly roll his eyes (what kind of sailor doesn’t like to be salty?). Later in the day, we are all up on deck when I remember something we need to get in Puerto Rico. I go down below and sit on the settee and pull the small notebook from my purse. I’m literally there for a total of 2 minutes. In that span of time (and it’s the only time it happens during the entire sail), a huge wave comes crashing over the side of the boat and directly into the side porthole below which I’m sitting. Gallons of salt water pour in over my head, drenching me, half the settee cushion and the floor of the cabin. I sit stunned – still not quite believing this has just happened. It does not feel like a scene from a movie, but rather one from a cartoon. I stand up and, as if from a distance, I can see that I have two choices: to laugh at the utter hilarity of the situation (which a more
advanced soul would do) or to flip out. I flip out and loudly let loose with a word that rhymes with ‘luck’ (said at least 5 times to ensure the boys learn it properly). I probably look like a cartoon character … head about to explode or blow off. I slide my way across the wet cabin floor to the companionway and go up on deck. The boys’ eyes are huge as they struggle to understand how I could possibly have gotten soaking wet down in the safety of the cabin. I stand there, dripping from head to toe. Matt looks at me, wisely choosing not to laugh. I sit on deck trying to dry off and wondering what the Universe is trying to teach me. Get over the saltwater thing? Don’t expect things to be perfect? Loosen up? I can’t figure it out and give up. Matt and I sit up on the mid-deck while the boys go below to lay in their berths and combat seasickness. I can finally laugh about getting wet and Matt and I talk about the upcoming passages (beyond the day sails, there will be about six 24-36 hour overnight sails). He didn’t sleep much and says he is tired. “What keeps running through my head are the lyrics from that country song ‘you’re gonna miss this …’ I say to him. We sit up on deck and sing it together. It’s a cool moment. Later, I am emptying out my purse because it too got soaking wet and needs to be rinsed. In a pocket I never use, I find a sizeable check given to us as a Christmas gift. I had completely forgotten about it. So … as for the salt water soak (or anything else in life), … Good? Bad? Who knows.
We leave Antigua the next day (2/10). Our flight is in the morning so there is no time to do anything but shower and pack up. On the flight back, we meet a gentleman who just helped crew a boat from the Canary Islands to Antigua. Two days out, their water maker and diesel engine died. They were rationed to one liter of water per person per day and had no autopilot. He didn’t shower for thirty days. Ugh. On the way back, I flip through the inflight magazine. There is an article about whales. The same whales we saw off of Cape Cod, MA are now wintering off the coast of the Dominican Republic. I am so excited! We will be sailing right through their mating and breeding areas on our way to the Bahamas. Continue reading
We decided on this volcano because, if the boys aren’t impressed with it, they will at least be enraptured by the helicopter ride. The other alternative would have been La Soufriere (on St. Vincent) which Matt and I hiked up in 2004. The elevation is 4,000 feet and we weren’t sure how the boys would do on the strenuous hike (although, frankly, they’re beginning to surpass us). It also required more complex travel arrangements from St. Thomas. Continue reading
We had debated about where to leave the boat during the two-night trip to Antigua. I suggested a mooring ball but the ones in these bays are all private. We didn’t really want to pay for a marina but leaving it anchored is uncomfortable (what if the wind changes direction and the anchor comes loose?). When we pulled into the bay outside Crown Bay Marina we anchored and then had to re-anchor, which is unusual for us, so we were
concerned about it holding. In the midst of this, a dinghy pulls up and another boat owner offers us the use of a free private mooring ball for a few days. It always amazes me how things work out. On Saturday, we get ready to go. We dinghy to the marina with laundry and do errands, including getting huge bags of ice to try and keep the fridge cool while we’re gone. The added bonus of this marina is there is a homemade ice cream shop right at the dock. Continue reading
We will be heading to the Bahamas, with stops in Culebra (a Spanish virgin island), Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Turks & Caicos on the way. If we sailed continuously doing overnights Matt estimates it would take about six days. There are so many cool places on the way that we plan to meander our way west and expect it will take about 3 weeks. Matt’s mom and sister already have flights scheduled to meet us in the Bahamas on March 10 so we do have some time constraints.