Monday, 7 April 2014

The Virgins – First Are The Spanish ….. Mar 2014

16 – 25 March 2014:  Culebra & Culebrita, Spanish Virgin Islands – 18 19N 65 14W

The Virgin Islands At Last

When we left the USA in December our goal for the season was to get to the Virgin Islands.  Finally, 14 weeks after leaving South Carolina and 50 miles after our crunchy start to the day in Puerto Rico we pulled in behind the reef entrance to Ensenada Honda on Culebra, part of the Spanish Virgin Islands, we were there at last.

We had never heard of the Spanish Virgins before arriving in the Caribbean, basically they consist of a handful of Puerto Rican offshore islands that lie between Puerto Ricos east coast and the US Virgin Islands further to the east.

We spent a lazy couple of days in the peaceful anchorage inside the reef then moved all of a mile and a half up to the head of Ensenada Honda to Dewey township.  Another hectic round of socializing ensued as we met up with Aussies Koza and Feijao and Brits on Greta May.

P3160028Much Needed Exercise

We haven’t been swimming much this season, and the only walking we have been partaking in is the enforced visits to the supermarkets (too hot in the sun) so we decided to stretch our legs with a bike ride over to the top of Culebra to “one of the five most beautiful beaches in the world”.   It was a hot and sweaty outing with a nasty hill in the middle just to get the heart rate pumping and the legs wobbling.
The beach was packed, we never give much consideration to the day of the week, they are all the same to us, but it seems it was the weekend and the crowds had come over from Puerto Rico to enjoy all manor of activities – paddleboarding, surfing, swimming, tank spotting but mainly lying on the beach and baking in the sun.

Paddle, shoot or surf at Flamenco Beach, Culebra 
We left Balvenie and Koza at anchor in Dewey for 3 days and the 4 of us caught the ferry back across to Puerto Rico, picked up a hire car and set off to explore San Juan and inland Puerto Rico.  More to come on that excursion on a separate blog posting.

P3240012Cute Little Culebrita

We moved on a few short miles across to Culebras smaller neighbour and anchored off the southwest corner just inside the reef.  We were hopeful that the snorkelling would be good, but not today.  We had an easy walk up the hill to the abandoned lighthouse, the views were stunning. 

We could see down into the small bay at the top of the island, it beckoned us with its horseshoe bay, white sandy beach and outlying reef.  It was back to Balvenie, anchor up and around into Bahia Tortuga.P3240015

Turned Turtles and Bubbling Baths

We entered through the gap between the reefs, not something to be done with a northerly swell but we had good conditions, found a spot to drop and settled in to watch the afternoons entertainment of turtle catching.

A small power boat laid a net down the side of the bay, several people with snorkel gear jumped in and patrolled the net continuously and removed several captured turtles and one ray.  The ray was returned to the water but the turtles were put in big tubs, eventually the net was removed and off they went.
P3240036 It all looked rather professional although there was no signage on the boat or crew.  We certainly hope the turtles didn’t appear on a menu somewhere that night!! 

Our afternoon excursion was off to the baths.  Set into the headland on the eastern tip of the bay are a couple of rock pools.  The larger pool had quite some surge and big waves crashing into it and looked very  lively.  But set above it was a much smaller pool, just the biggest of the waves managed to flow over the rock wall providing plenty of bubbles and much entertainment.  There were even a few colourful tropical fish swimming around, all up a top spot for a relaxing afternoons dip.
An almost perfect end to the day was happy hour ashore with the Kozas, watching the sun dip in the west.  I say almost perfect because the no-see-ums decided to join us too, such a shame as it was a magic spot. P3240071
A Northerly Swell is Coming …. So We Best Be Going

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