Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Running errands in Culebra

The bridge:  All directions involve the bridge.  You'll find it.  It's big.  "Go across the bridge..."  "Before the bridge..."  "Go under the bridge..."

Part of the fun of cruising is--every island is a new adventure.  We're always happy to explore.  But sometimes, just after we arrive, we're looking for a cheap meal, a grocery store and some internet.  If you like to do the "cruisers scavenger hunt" on your own, then this post is not for you!

They are a little secretive on Culebra about resources.
"In town.  Near the ferry terminal.  You can't miss it."  "Where's the ferry terminal & YES I CAN!"  Welcome to the Caribbean. 

On our boat, El Capitan (mi amor, mi esposa!) turns into a grumpy husband as soon as we hit shore.  The quicker I can get things done, the better.  So here we go... 

FaceBook Culebra Cruisers and Boaters:  Your best resource for up-to-date information is the FB Culebra Cruisers page.  Be sure to read the pinned post at the top for more of the basics.

Also, check out our Google Map Year 2 for some more details (I've started adding notes to each pin):  s/v Odin Year 2 (Culebra)

We asked our instructor during our "Learn to Cruise" course, "How do we know where the dinghy dock is?"  "{shrug} You just know.  Maybe it's in the guidebook.  Or you could follow other people."  When we started cruising, we'd normally sit and watch until we saw another cruiser head into town.  Now, we're braver, but it's not always obvious.  We don't want to offend the locals or be annoying tourists.  We've been told there are no private docks in Culebra, whatever that means.  These are the docks we've used & not been chased off.

This is from land, but look for the turquoise roof at the end of the dock.

Dinghy dock access #1:  If you're anchored in the main bay of Ensenada Honda, then The Town Dock will be to your right as you head towards the bridge.  (It is currently available for dinghies but the new power pedestals suggest this is geared towards the power boaters).  Park where there is a board to climb up on, preferably closer to shore.  Use a stern anchor.  It can be busy on weekends or holidays as bigger power boats come in, so take that into consideration.  Trash cans at the end of the dock.

"Meet you at The Dinghy Dock?"

Dinghy dock access #2:  Dinghy Dock Restaurant is across from the Town Dock, next to the bridge (left).  You really can't miss this one!  You can leave your dinghy here while you run into town but don't abuse the privilege.  We try to limit this dock to days we have time to stop for a drink or lunch (or of course, when meeting other cruisers!).  As is customary everywhere, leave a long painter.  It can get busy here!  They have fast internet and sell water for $0.25/gallon (park on the far left side so the hose can reach.  Pay cash at the bar).

The L-shaped (and brightly painted) secret dock

Dinghy dock access #3:  The "secret dinghy dock"or El Batey to the locals.  Use a stern anchor.  Good for Flamenco Beach, holidays when the Town Dock is full (New Years!), the hardware store (ferreteria) and Grocery #3.

Your landmark at the secret dinghy dock

Colmado Milka:  butcher & liquor

Grocery #1:  The favorite grocery on the island is Colmado Milka.  They have a good selection including a butcher & liquor.  It can be busy on weekends & holidays.  OK, pretty much all the time.  It wasn't obvious to us at first, but they do have a tiny dock (platform!) in the canal.  It is closest to the Dinghy Dock Restaurant:  Make a right out of the DDR and go straight (don't cross the bridge).  From the Town Dock, go left, across the bridge and then a quick right.

Superette Mayra:  slightly different selection

Grocery #2:  Superette Mayra is closed for siesta (12:30ish-3:30) & most holidays but has bigger aisles and a slightly different selection (coconut milk, grapefruit juice & Planter's cocktail peanuts!).  We try to swing through here on the way TO lunch.  Closest to the Town Dock:  Go right and in one block it's on your right.

Costa del Sol supermercado:  good prices

Grocery #3:  Costa del Sol is popular with campers heading to Flamenco Beach.  Good prices.  Good liquor selection (the tiny closet left of the refrigerated section).  Lots of junk food!  Mostly likely to be open on a holiday.  Shortest walk is from Dinghy Dock #3

Right from the secret dock.  Veer left at the Ferreteria/airport.  Watch up the hill on your left for the Heineken sign.

Veggie market!  Tues & Friday

Veggie Market:  Check the Culebra Cruisers FB page for up to date info, but the market was Tuesdays & Fridays for us--"mornings until whenever".  Welcome to the Caribbean.  This became a nice "cruiser meet-up" spot.  We frequently met friends here then stopped at PanDeli for cafe con leche.  Closest to the Town Dock & the same street as Zacos Tacos--towards the ferry terminal (see Google Maps link above).

The "laundry dinghy dock"

Laundry:  Upon arriving, Tammy on s/v Dos Libras said, "Hey, want to go do laundry?"  Sure!  We loaded everything into her dinghy and went searching for the "dilapidated dock over there".  We ran aground a few times while trying to consult Google Maps and our Spanish dictionary (what did we do before iPhones...).  Then we waded in, turned right and walked a short distance down the road to the laundromat.  No air conditioning.  No wifi.  But we still had fun (and I met new friends every time I went).  Good times.  We were the popular girls in town because WE KNEW WHERE THE LAUNDROMAT WAS :-)  NOTE:  Since I wrote this, we found ANOTHER secret dock near the laundry.  You'll have to find that one on your own.

La Surana Apartments & Laundromat

Zacos Tacos

Zacos Tacos:  Mandatory stop for cruisers.  Mandatory.  Chickens.  Iguanas.  Medalla on tap.  Good meet-up place.  I recommend their tacos...

"Head towards the ferry dock..." (hint: the same road as Zacos Tacos)

PanDeli:  Cheap breakfast, good wifi, locals line up for their pan de agua.  Excellent cafe con leche.

Library:  A library!  You don't see many of those in the Caribbean!  Internet, nice patio & great selection of books about Puerto Rico.

Internet:  I had luck at the ferry dock, Pandeli or Dinghy Dock Restaurant (the library's was out while I was there).

We are not in Missouri anymore...

Gas station:  This isn't hard to find but it's a fun photo.  You can dinghy over by taking the canal (next to grocery #1, so I tend to run next door while he fuels up).  Leave room for the bigger power boats that come in to the fuel hose up by the car pumps.  Move WAY off to the side (towards the haul out end) if you are going to both leave to do errands.

Ferry (la lancha):  The ferry is also a mystery.  There is no official website for the government run ferry (Correction:  There is.  Es en Espanol).  Beware of tourism websites with varying schedules.  You can't buy tickets online (but apparently you can buy tickets for the next day if you go down to the ticket counter).  What I know is there is a 6:30 am ferry from Culebra to Fajardo (be there by 5:30 am & purchase a round-trip ticket).  I arrange a rental car through Thrifty then call them for a pick-up at the ferry terminal (braver friends than I take the publicos.  Next time).  Stop at Golden Sweet Bakery for breakfast!  Be back by 2:00 pm for the 3:00 ferry.  I see crazy stories on the internet about lines for the ferry, so I avoid weekends & holidays (Thanksgiving through Three Kings weekend--Jan 6--is crazy).

And THAT is how you run errands in Culebra, mi amigos!


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