Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Favorite Anchorage…. So far

Pure white sand beach, ringed with palm trees, stretching around the whole bay and extending out into the crystal clear water. Paradise found! Better yet, it’s a Nature Preserve, so there are no beach bars, no homes, no businesses and no lights, except the 120 yr old light house at the top of a very steep climb. Crumbling into ruins, it must have one day been a magnificent structure with remnants of marble floors, huge 20 ft ceilings, 12 ft doors, courtyards and beautiful cornice trim. All surrounded by tropical forest full of wild goats and deer. There we sat at anchor down below in the bay, the only 2 boats in this beautiful paradise.

But all was not tranquil. At the far end of the bay is a huge rocky area known as the “Jacuzzi’s”. Waves rush through the narrow openings in the rocks and froth and bubble in a semi protected pool about 8 ft deep. Take your snorkel and wade in to enjoy the tunnels between the rocks that flow with fish and burst with bubbles like a glass of warm Alka Seltzer. We were sad to leave as we upped the anchor the next day and headed back to start the process of readying the boat for its long lonely summer on the hard (on land).

Next year we’ll stock up on provisions and head back to paradise for a nice long visit.

“ I don’t care if you pee your pants…. We’re not stopping.”

The last ferry back to Culebra, where our boat sat at anchor in the bay, leaves Fajardo promptly at 7 pm. We left Olde San Juan at 4 pm for what should have been a 1 hour trip at most.

Puerto Ricans play a weird game called “enny, meeny, minney road.” Sounds like fun? I think it is designed to make sure that you truly see their whole island before they let you leave.

The map we received from the car rental agency seemed pretty good, with all the major routes marked and colour coded.

Problem was they were marked on the map but someone forgot to mark them on the roads themselves!

There we are cruising along the green road # ???? couldn’t figure out if we were truly on the green road or not as we could find no road sign. Then we’re looking for the red road (or Hwy #3) on the map. The road does a really quick high speed Y and neither side is marked and there are no signs indicating where either branch is headed. So, enny, meeny, minney road and we chose the right branch as it seemed to go in the right direction. After 3 or 4 times playing this game, we are seeing the real Puerto Rico and the roads aren’t green or red, but dusty brown. Bill is driving like Mario Andretti at his last Rally, Cathy is doing her best to interpret the map and Gord and I tightened our seat belts and were just plain thankful that we’re not driving or navigating because we are lost and the clock is ticking on that 7 pm ferry. Bill totally kept his cool and his only comment was thrown over his shoulder in such an offhand way that it could have been easily missed. “I don’t care if you pee your pants, We’re not stopping!!”

At 6:45 we finally found Hwy 3 and with his Indy license in hand, Bill whizzed us into town right past the car rental agency. We jumped out, Bill literally threw the keys at the clerk and we took off at a run for the ferry 2 blocks away.

We stepped aboard at exactly 7 pm and couldn’t get over the fact that we had actually made the ferry. What a day!

By the way, just so you know. There is no bathroom aboard the ferry… after all it’s just a 90 min ride!!

Olde San Juan

Now here is a place that I would love to go back and spend some time exploring. We had just enough time to go for a quick tour of the Olde town after our visit to the rain forest.

So quaint and very European feeling. The streets were paved with blue glazed paving bricks that were eons old and still vivid blue in colour. It will definitely be on next year’s list of places to anchor and explore.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Singing in the Rain

Puerto Rico has the only true rainforest in the whole United States Territories (called El Yunque and is 28,000 square miles compliments of President Roosevelt back in 1913) and we were sitting in the port of Dewey on the Island of Culebra, just a $1.00 ferry ride away. So why not?

Everyone that knows Gord and I would agree that a 6:30 am ferry would be quite the challenge for us. However, where there’s a will there is a way, and of course a good alarm clock got us to the ferry on time. Arriving at the port of Fajardo on the west side of Puerto Rico with Bill and Cathy from Dream Maker, we rented a car and were on our way.

Now you would expect a rainforest to be rainy, but true to form we also picked a day that did nothing but rain, even without the forest, so we all donned our best cruiser rain gear (which in case you’re wondering consists of those cool big yellow plastic bags with a hood attached). Not exactly designer but definitely dry. We trekked with a rented Guide named Frank, who was so passionate about the flaura and fauna that he almost brought tears to our eyes! He took us past waterfalls, huge Neolithic plants, mating snails (honest!) and claimed that if you filled Yankee Stadium with water and multiplied that by 40 miles high, that is how much rain falls here per year – no wonder the waterfalls were truly entrancing and how awesome and beautiful nature can be. There were few singing birds, but the millions of tree frogs sing like beautiful birds. I’m thinking that all 40 miles was dropped on us that day!

Entreprenuers......Caribbean Style

It’s a laid back lifestyle and almost everything can be put off till “manana”.

Some shops rarely open and the open shops still honour their siestas. (Closed for a nap from 1:00 pm till 4:00 pm).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Now this is what I pictured when I thought about cruising in the Caribbean Islands.  Pastel coured homes and shops, picturesque signs,  friendly people, turquiose water, sandy beaches and narrow hilly streets in a quaint seaside village.

Lots of Waterside bars and restaurants. Colourful and unique .   Even the gas stations are not your normal drive up, unless you're in a boat of course.

Back to the Virgins

Just a few more weeks till we put the boat way for the summer, with lots to tidy, scrub and bag. I figured I better head back and help out while I wait for court documents to arrive and of course I'd had a really good Sadie fix  It was an uneventful flight down, no missed connections and no lost baggage ( unlike the trip up).
Bill and Cathy -washed up
I think paradise disappeared while I was gone or else I let the good weather back in Canada. Its windy wavy and rainy. But look at that "Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow. "We've headed west in search of sunny skies and sandy beaches. we want to check out the Spanish Virgin Islands, especially Culebra and Culebrita. We have our own personal guides; Bill and Cathy on Dream Maker, they have been there several times and are leading the way and showing us the ropes. We have such a good time together exploring, snorkelling ( sometimes washing up on shore)and sharing potluck, cards and wii. We're thankful they've become such good friends.

Home and Alone

I'm going home and we're both going to be alone.  Leaving your boat , even if for a short stint home, is accomplished with great anticipation and regret, all at the same time. 
I had to go home for the final culmination to that ongoing legal fight that I've been having with the crooked partner that I aquired when my late husband , John passed away.  I headed home, knowing I needed to be there to look those judges in the eye, happy that I would be seeing my daughter Tiffany and grandaughter Sadie, but sad to leave this beautiful laid back lifestyle and of course Gord alone on the boat and wondering how it was going at home.
I prayed only that the judges would see the truth. I have to say I do not have enormous faith in our legal system. It gives too many rights to the bad guy - shouldn't their rights be forfitted when they break the laws of our land. Its so disheartening that they can break the law, then those same laws allows them to not only hide behind it, but use it to keep victimizing the innocent.  When is enough, enough and the victims rights are put front and centre. 
Hundreds of thousands later, justice finally prevailed, the appeals court panel saw the truth and put an end to the bleeding. I won, I won, I won!!!! It felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders and I slept well for the first time in years.
Another thing screwy about our legal system is: I have my judgement, but now its up to me to hire more lawyers to try and collect, no assistance for the courts, no freezing of assets and no direction to the guilty party about paying up.  Kind of sounds like a make work project between the judges and the lawyers to me.
What's truly scary about our  """justice system""" ( I use that term very loosely) is that is so expensive due to the crazy amount of legal paperwork required, that apparently no one reads and the loop holes allowed that an average, hardworking taxpayer could probably not afford "justice" in any form.

Back to the boat, Gord was alone and managed just fine to move from harbour to harbour several times by himself. I wish I had been there to see him run between the cockpit ( 40 ft) away and the anchor at the bow. alternately putting the boat in forward, running up and upping or dropping the anchor , then back to put it into neutral or gear, whichever. Quite a feat!  I'm proud of him!
Sailboat owners Gord and Sue aboard their 55' Whitby Ketch "Ocean Wings" share their adventures and travels as they start their retirement, living their dream of seeing the world from oceanside.
Ocean Wings is a recent purchase and our first foray into the Sailing Lifestyle. We're excited and a little scared. Join us in our adventure.