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Boquerón, La Parquera, Gilligan’s Island… Ports of Puerto Rico

As I mentioned previously, we have been following the advice of Bruce Van Sant’s book, “Passages South” in which he shares his thoughts on how to move east against easterly winds.  Van Sant believes it is best to take advantage of lower wind speeds which occur during the night and motor a few hours each morning from one anchorage to another.  Per his suggestions, we awaken around 4 a.m., raise anchor, and move east along the southern shore of Puerto Rico for a few hours.

Ponce, PR

Sunrise is filled with pastel colors and soft breezes.

Although it is difficult to get out of bed when it is dark, we were rewarded with watching the day come alive and with calm seas, so the effort is definitely worth it! But getting up early means the days feel long and the evenings feel short since we go to bed earlier than usual.

Boqueron

Boqueron has a long, inviting shore.

After completing the Mona Passage and a good night of sleep at anchor in Mayaguez, we moved to Boqueron and anchored in a bay of flat water.

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We strolled the waterfront town and had lunch in Boqueron.

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Kelsey and Lauren relaxing in the park.

Next we meandered through the park along the water where we met three young ladies from the US who were on vacation.  After a brief conversation, we invited Kelsey, Lauren and Shaye to come out to LIB and relax on our boat for the afternoon.

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Captain had to join in the fun!

Shaye, Lauren and Kelsey are close in age to our own children and we were happy to share our “home” with them for a bit; very much like others have done for our sons as they travel.  We enjoyed getting to know these young ladies and hearing about their plans.  Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious and we are so happy they spent the afternoon with us.  Safe travels, girls. Keep in touch!

La Parguera

We actually had to turn left here, not go straight toward town.

Our next stop was La Parguera.  Finding our way into this small fishing village with crops of mangroves growing into small islands in front of the town made our initial entry a little challenging.  It is necessary to watch the chart and keep a close eye out for shallow water but we managed to work LIB into a nice anchoring spot behind one of those mangrove “islands.”

La Parguera-1

La Parguera is a sleepy town during daylight hours with deserted streets and most businesses closed.

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The same area of town after nightfall.

But once night falls, this little town is a jumble of people where families, teens and couples stroll the pedestrian area, live bands play loudly, food stands compete with restaurants and vendors hawk jewelry and trinkets from small stands.

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Puerto Rico night life.

There was even a tent with a mechanical horse race where bets were taken and money changed hands for winning numbers.  We placed a couple of big $1 bets, but walked away without winning.

After enjoying the bustling nightlife in La Parguera, we upped anchor around 4:30 a.m. and motored to Balnearia de Cana Gorda, a bay about 20 miles away.  By 8 o’clock our anchor was down and we were happily floating in front of a very pretty little resort called Copa Marina Resort, though there really wasn’t a marina there.

Copa Resort

LIB can be seen in the background.

We launched Day Tripper, our dinghy, and went to check out the Resort.  As luck would have it, there was a yummy breakfast buffet being served and cruisers were welcome. So we had a very nice breakfast, then spent a bit of time relaxing at the pool.  What a nice reward after our early morning departure.

Copa Resort has a nicely manicured beach and a few water toys for rent.  We decided to rent a Hobie Wave (because when does Frank ever want to sit still?) and spend a little time sailing around the bay.  We may or may not have had a little trouble tacking this little boat and I am certain we went further than we were “supposed” to go, but no one told us any limits when we started!

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We may have gone out further than allowed???

Frank and I spent couple of wet hours sailing that Hobie and we had plenty of laughs in the process!

We ended up staying in this bay for two nights because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  The Resort was welcoming, there was a popular public beach near the Resort where families gathered and played all day and just around the corner was the fairly famous “Gilligan’s Island.”

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Gilligan’s Island (Image taken from internet)

So this island is actually called Cayo Aurora and even though I don’t see the likeness to the one in the TV show, many people call this place Gilligan’s Island.  The picture above does not show how crowded this area is usually, but it does show you how pretty it is.  Trust me, usually there are boats, kayaks, floats, people and plenty of music throughout this island.

Frank and I took Day Tripper over and hung out in the water, avoiding the land where the mosquitos were happily feasting on slightly inebriated humans too oblivious to notice.  It was a great place to people watch and the current through the inlet kept the water moving and cool.  Truly a pretty island and a fun place to while away a bit of time.

Our next stop is Ponce, then on to Salinas where we will catch up to s/v Mauna Kea!

La Paguera

Colorful homes in La Parguera.

sunrise

Gratuitous sunrise

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44

 

 

 

 

Lions and Tigers and Mona. Oh My!

Mona_passage

Map taken from the internet


Like the childhood fears in the Wizard of Oz, The Mona Passage looms large in the minds of sailors who are moving east, and we had heard enough stories that we approached it with slight trepidation.

As soon as Frank returned from his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on an Outremer 5X catamaran, we began looking for a weather window to move from Marina Puerto Bahia, on the Samana Peninsula, DR to Puerto Rico.  The trade winds are easterly and we would be moving directly into them across a passage that is well known for its’ consistent winds and waves, The Mona Passage.  But the move had to be made and we were anxious to go.  Not because we were tired of the Dominican Republic, but because we needed to move on in preparation of hurricane season.

Fortunately, just days after Frank’s return, a window appeared and we decided to sail.  Now, understand, this window was by no means perfect but there is rarely a perfect weather window for the Mona Passage, especially during this time of year.

Let It Be is usually in great shape, but we had a few glitches arise before departing that we decided to live with until we arrived in PR.  The biggest issue is that our anemometer is not working so we do not have any readings of the wind speed or wind direction from the top of our mast.

But hey, we have some experience with estimating wind speeds (thank you kiteboarding) so we were willing to go without that instrument.

Next up is our IridiumGo!  For some reason it is showing our position, but it is not delivering internet so we would not have updated weather reports.  Still, the Mona is only about a day and a half passage.  We would make do and get the Iridium repaired in PR.

Per the recommendation of Van Sant’s book, “Passages South, The Thornless Path,” we chose to leave in the late afternoon Sunday and make this a night, day, night passage.

Well the Mona lived up to her reputaion of sloppy seas and strong easterly winds.  We departed from Puerto Bahia around 5 pm and all was well until darkness fell and I began feeling less than chipper.  I took the first watch.  Unfortunately mine was a short watch since I didn’t feel great. But, as usual, Frank stepped up and took the helm until I could get some rest and find my rhythm.

We had a couple of surprises during our trip.  One was that our navigation lights were not working!?  But we have a tri-colored light at the top of the mast and allowed that to be our beacon.

I took over the watch around 5 am after we had turned away from the Dominican Republic shore and took a northeastern tack to have a better wind angle.  We raised the main and jib as the sun rose and Frank headed below for some much needed rest.

We were happily moving along our predicted route; Frank was asleep and I was just settling in to listen to an audio book when BOOM…. EVERYTHING started flapping.  The attachment ring of the jib clew pulled completely out of our sail!  That was quite a wake up call! (This attachment holds the bottom rear corner of the front sail down to the deck.)

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The clew of our jib without an attachment point.

I pulled in the jib as quickly as I could and made sure the sheets were well secured, then alerted Frank to the problem.  We decided to continue our predetermined path and leave the main sail up.  Unfortunately our speed over ground immediately dropped from about 7.5 knots to about 5.5 knots…. Our trip just became much longer!

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A ring without a function

Still, this was not a life threatening issue but it does change the motion of the boat to something a little less pleasant.   We work very hard to make sure LIB is in excellent condition and it is unusual for us to feel like we are “limping along.”

Thankfully, that was the last mishap we had during our crossing.  The seas were not friendly but we would estimate that the winds were not more than 20 knots, so actually we were pretty fortunate.

Because of our slower than expected progress, we did not reach our intended first harbor of Boqueron but instead slowly entered Puerto Rico at Mayaguez around 9 pm on Monday evening.  Mayaguez is a wide open anchorage and we felt comfortable entering after dark, a practice we avoid 99.5 percent of the time.

We have been exceedingly happy with our North 3Di sails and we had excellent service and help from Andrew Dove, Antigua North Sails, during our purchase process.  So after we had a good night of sleep, Frank contacted Andrew about our jib issue.

Andrew was amazingly quick in responding to Frank’s email and he was very apologetic about our jib issue.  Andrew has assured us that North Sails will repair our sail at their cost including having the sail shipped to and from a nearby loft to make sure the repairs are performed perfectly.

Based on our buying experience and the excellent service we received, we are not at all surprise that North Sails is stepping up to help us.  But it is very nice to have it happen so quickly and easily.

Boqueron

Anchored off the beach at Boqueron, Puerto Rico

So now we are back in Puerto Rico and exploring the southern shore as we work our way eastward toward Palmas del Mar.  It feels good to be in a U.S. Territory as we approach the July 4th Holiday.

And it feels really good to have the Mona Passage behind us.

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