Culebra Island, SVIDecember 23, 2016 in Puerto Rico ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C
Super excited for what this country has to offer!
Technically part of Puerto Rico and therefore US soil and US water, but not good enough to be mainland USA, but not far enough not to be, but still far enough not to be USVI which would require a new permit, but not a new passport stamp and new customs by phone and then not by phone and a registration number that isn't right but if you remove numbers it is... No wonder nobody could tell us the deal, because nobody knows. Customs won't even reboot their computer to complete the immigration process. I guess we'll wait and see how this plays out.
Culebra is one of two Spanish Virgin Islands, located just east of Puerto Rico. The other being Vieques. The islands themselves have stuggled (figuratively) to ever be put on the map. Having little significance to Puerto Rico or anywhere else, perhaps their biggest blip in history is that they have been host to US bomb testing over recent years.
As with all isolated islands unable to sustain any kind of industry, tourism has begun to take hold. And rightly so. Claimed to be the second best beach in the Caribbean, Playa Flemenco was a deilght! Anchoring on the opposite side of the headland (in an extremely calm anchorage) left us a short walk through an ex miltary explosive zone, and a hop through a chain link fence, short of the beach. We were greeted with a horrific tourist scene which we immediately avoided and found our spot on an endless expanse of white sand and tuquoise blue. Worth the walk and some.
Culebra also played host to Jools' first cray. Questionably qualified at diving and diving in questionably marine reserve waters, Jools had an announcement. He was not to leave this trip without his first crayfish. So it was to be. Mere hours later, at the bottom of the decent, tucked under a rock no bigger than a doormat, sat two delectable treats. Hesistant at first, then slow off the mark, dinner looked a distant dream. However, with Wallace in his veins, the scot delivered on his ambition and treated the boys to two tasty treats. In fact he completed the dive with a third which, selflessly was discarded for take at a later date. Mark my words. Muy bien. Feliz navidad!
Christmas eve was spent on the wifi at the Dinghy Dock, a restaurant on the waters edge, providing beers and dinner to the the local mariners. As we soon discovered, many locals live on their boats and use this as their local watering hole.
Christmas day brought strong wind. Holed up in a womderfully calm anchorage in Esenada Honda, we were reluctant to leave. However, our sense of adventure got the better of us. We battened the hatches and weighed anchor, confronting the onslaught that lay ahead. Culebrita was our destination, a short hop from Culebra itself, but said to host the second most beautiful beach in the Greater Antilles. A must do.
The waves were powerful, steepening up as they shoaled on the shallow water around us. We eventually made safe haven in paradise! Selflessly sharing the beach with only one other boat (who left a short time later) we basked in its beauty; rich white sand, foreshore lined with palm trees, and turquoise water! I whipped up a quick foccacia bread and Christmas lunch followed shortly after - a top ten sandwich in Jools' books. Not bad from boat rations!
The afternoon flashed by. We went swimming, explored ashore, got coconuts, made cocktails, climbed the mast, consumed some frosty beers and played a few games. A shame we couldn't be with the families but it was undoubtedly the next best thing!
We cruised back to Esenada Honda in the setting sun. A shallower, downwind route was much less rough and much faster getting us back to anchor in no time. With no fresh catch and no fresh meat, canned chicken was hardly going cut the mustard for a Chrissy dinner. Not being too happy about the situation, especially given my morning efforts to find a tasty bird, I absconded and turned my efforts to what we did have in good supply - beer and cocktails. Meanwhile, the boy's got creative. They made pastry and turned it into a pie, a massive chicken pie. It was definitely the first time I've had canned chicken pie for Christmas dinner but I tell you now - if I get any say in future Christmas dinners, it won't be the last!
Boxing day brought the gift that Christmas day couldn't. During our excursions on Christmas, we sailed past a reef that looked too good to be true. The reef protruded from a headland on the mainland, curling around between shallow rocky outcrops and clusters of mangroves. Behind the reef was a shallow anchorage, accessible (just) by an equally shallow channel. All of this was exposed to 20+ kts of prevailing wind. If you haven't yet caught my drift, let me give you a hint with a math problem: lots of wind + very flat water + windsurfing gear + windsurfer(s) = ? Unlike a regular math problem there was more than one answer to this one: a heap of fun, fantastic windsurf session, tired arms, torn sail, happy boys...I could go on. Extremely glad we made use of the opportunity nature provided us with!!Read more