9 – 15 March 2014: Boquerón, PR to Punta Colorada, SVI – 18 17N 65 16W
We spent a few sociable days and nights in Boquerón. The anchorage was comfortable, the small town pleasant and the happy hours ashore cheap and cheerful. It was also a top spot for skipper to undertake one of his favourite maintenance jobs – unblocking the toilet!! This time it was a major, all the pipes needed removing and cleaning, so the adjacent cupboards are emptied, the shelves removed and chaos begins. You can only imagine what fun that is, and best we not mention the smell!!
When the trade winds eased again (and the toilet was back in working order) there was a mass exodus, we headed down the western shore of Puerto Rico, left the Mona Passage behind us and officially re-entered the Caribbean, last seen over a year ago when we left Mexico and headed to Cuba.
We anchored the night tucked up deep inside Bahia de Guanica, not the most scenic anchorage but it was flat, peaceful and had a great tapas bar and winery ashore. We joined plenty of locals under the palm trees for a lazy Sunday afternoon in company with Jim and Carola off Koza and Iain and Fiona off British yacht Ruffian. We hadn't met the Ruffians before but Koza had and they are good friends with our friends on Serafina. They are travelling west and onto the States and heard us calling each other on the VHF Radio so gave Koza a call and we all met up for a lovely afternoon, only slightly spoiled by extensive rain!
The southern coast of Puerto Rico has off shore islands, reefs or mainland harbours about every 20 miles, so it is perfect for leaving early morning and heading east to the next anchorage before the trade winds kick in mid morning, so this was our plan for getting to windward. Our next stop was Ponce, we nudged our way into the small anchorage and settled in for a couple of nights.
Ponce is an old Spanish settlement, complete with the trademark Cathedral, central open plaza and surrounding handsome buildings. We eventually made it into town after kindly being picked up by a local and dropped at the plaza. It was much further than we thought and there were no taxis in sight, we would have turned around if he had not stopped for us. We visited the Parque de Bombas, nowadays the tourist information - most recently a fire station and certainly an eye catching number painted in black and red stripes.
The plaza centrepiece the Fountain of Lions was switched off, the Cathedral doors padlocked: old town Ponce was definitely closed but it was late Monday afternoon, maybe that’s why. But when we walked further afield, extending a block or two from the plaza it was clear that Ponce has fallen victim to the same fate as many towns we have seen when malls or large shopping areas with department stores move in – the life and livelihood is taken from the old town, shops are left empty and decay sets in. Unless there is a community of inner city dwellers or a thriving tourist industry there is no longer any need to go “downtown”and the soul and life of the area is lost.
Having said that the immediate area around the plaza was lovely, hundreds of birds filled the trees in the plaza and there was an extensive display of painted lion statues (as you can see from all the photos) which certainly brightened everything up, but there were very few people.
Our early starts motoring along the southern coast continued, next stop was tucked up in the entrance to the harbour at Salinas. The depth in the entrance was marginal for us, but it was fully sheltered with towering mangroves so we went as far as we dared and plopped down the anchor.
There wasn’t much in the immediate vicinity ashore but we heard there was a supermarket out of town so walked off into the heat of the day in search of fresh food. We waved down a pickup to ask directions and next thing we were being whisked off in air-conditioned comfort – excellent. Just a shame we never managed a ride back in the heat with the groceries!
Going Out With a Bang
We had one more stop on Puerto Rico, tucked behind the reef at Puerto Patillas. The charts were a little vague so we slowly entered the anchorage and found a spot to anchor in sand. There was an uncharted patch over to our right that looked a little reefy but far enough away not to be a problem. The wind changed direction just on dark and we were treated to rather a rolly night, so when we were both awake at 5am we decided we may as well leave as we had 50 miles to cover to Culebra.
It was still very dark so with skipper lifting the anchor the admiral was on the helm (yep, that’s me), with anchor up I turned left away from that previously spotted dodgey looking spot and headed out. But something went wrong with my navigation or maybe we found another crunchy spot – either way we came to a rather abrupt halt in the dark, whoops! Luckily we were going very slow, skipper immediately relieved me of my steering duties and we escaped mother earths clutches without further mishaps. Not a good start to the day, and all before daybreak!!
Off To The Spanish Virgin Islands