Monday, January 2, 2017

Marina then onto our secret anchorage

Our house is FLOATING!  Yeah!

We schedule three days at the dock to shake down all the systems.  Toilet, water, electrical, solar, refrigerator, exercise engines, dinghy outboard, etc.  However, Mother Nature makes it a week.  With no good weather window in the five day forecast, El Capitan is reluctant to leave air conditioning & showers behind for an unknown amount of time at an anchorage.

Everyone is trying to get adjusted.  "Who keeps closing the DANG DOOR?!"

I swing by the marina office to see about a weekly rate.  "Hmmmm, you're already getting the weekly rate?..."  "Gracias.  Buenos Dias." as I bolt out of the office.

Quiet Thanksgiving on Odin. Reading, naps, internet & a little tv (brought Modern Family on dvd back with us). A little bored but getting adjusted to the slower life on the boat.  We're watching weather & waiting for an opportunity to get the sails on then scoot out of the marina

One morning I peek out to discover flat calm water.
"QUICK!  GET THE GENOA UP!"  Dragging it out into the cockpit and then up on deck is no small task.  Then it's out of the bag, feed onto the roller furler & furl before the First Mate becomes airborne.   This sucker is HUGE!  No pics.  It's all hands on deck.

Culebra Take #1--it doesn't look so bad.  "Hello, Vieques..."

And then, we think we have a day!  We're optimistic.  We go with the NOAA Offshore forecast (and ignore the Chris Parker forecast that is less optimistic).  It seems like the wind has let up, so we do one more weather check and shove off the dock.  The skies are gray but we don't care.  After all, we only needed to go 20 miles.  It's a 4-hour motor.  We can tough it out!  (Spoiler alert:  Not!)

The first hour isn't bad but I am quickly becoming sea sick.  Disappointed I'd lost my sea legs so quickly, I gut it out.  "These waves on the nose suck."  "Yeah." Chuckle.

At the end of hour two, I reluctantly duck down below to check on the cat who has decided sitting on the table in rough seas was a good idea.  "I think the waves are getting bigger."  "Really?"  "I just saw a 25 knot gust.  We should turn around."  Groan.  "The good news is it will be a short sail back to Pinero!"  We're only halfway to Culebra and our speed has dropped to 3 kts.  But I'm excited to try out the secret anchorage as we execute a 180.  I grab on to something, which is funny because the ride suddenly becomes awesome!  Quieter.  Smooths out.  I exhale the breath I've been holding.  We're flying (from 3 kts to 7+ kts) with the engines at idle.  As we near the coast, the wind abates to less than 10 kts (good to know!) so I quickly start programming in VanSant's coordinates.  Just to make it a little more exciting, one engine quits.  After a full day of "sailing" we are 3 miles from where we started!  (When we arrive in Culebra, this will be the question we are asked most often--"You stopped on the way to Culebra?!  How was it?  We've never been there!")

Bruce Van Sant's "Gentleman's Guide to Passage's South"
We know about Isla Pineros anchorage, because we've read about it in Van Sant's book.  However, we passed by the east coast by on the way to Culebra the first time.  The Captain passed it up for air conditioning on the way from Vieques back to Puerto del Rey.  This time, he was eager to go straight to Culebra.

Pavlidis, Puerto Rico: The East Coast
There's also a blurb in "Island Hopping Digital Guide to Puerto Rico: The East Coast" by Stephen Pavlidis.

Our friends s/v Outta Control confirmed it is a legitimate anchorage and that they've stayed there on their way to haul out at Puerto del Rey.

It doesn't show up on Active Captain, probably because it looks like it's in the Restricted Area.  I attempted to add it, but it's still pending.  I guess it's our little secret.  Shhhhhhhh, don't tell anyone else.

It's surprisingly protected from the trade winds and when tucked into 9 ft of water, there is a tide swing but it's minimal.   It's fun drifting by our anchor!

Our Garmin BlueCharts

Our first sunset over Pineros is spectacular

With nothing but time on my hands, I'm ready to try a Puerto Rican rice & beans recipe, Habichuelas Guisadas in the pressure cooker.

One peaceful, scenic day after another...

A spotted ray drifted by
After a few days of being lazy, we mozy out to put the mainsail back on.  Not an easy task.  I sneak up on deck and he let's me help (except I wander off to take pictures of rays)!

The main goes back on

Before:  UV damaged Dutchman line

After:  New Dutchman line

Just for fun, we also replace the Dutchman lines that help us drop our main sail.  We've snapped them a few times.  They are easy enough to replace but the sun's UV is brutal.

We're a sailboat again!

I love seeing this face peeking around the corner in the morning. "Heeellloooo!  Are you guys awake?  I can hear you in there!  I'm waaiiitinggg...". Everyone is getting back in their rhythm.

Chillin' in the cockpit

Can you see our anchor?  We get a glimpse as we drift by with the current change

We had to replace a phone while in Fajardo.  I suddenly realized, if they have an office here, does Binge On still work?  Um, yes!  We're watching TV!  And then Netflix adds the download feature.  We're all set.

Our anchor reset in the last storm but we're still in deep water

Our only neighbor, getting closer...
I had heard that many of the powerboats from the marina come out on the weekends.  However, we only see one sailboat.  They drop anchor nearby & head for the beach (apparently you can go as far as the beach!).  Later, they disappear in their tiny dinghy as two small squalls passed by.  Not only did their sailboat start dragging, but we could see their hatches are open!  They eventually show back up, hang out some sheets, raise anchor & motor away.

The perfect spot to decompress into our quieter life on the boat.  We'll be back!

Stats:  Total time 4:15, total mileage traveled 18.6, (actual mileage traveled 3.0), average speed 4.4, motored.

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