Monday, April 14, 2008

Spanish Virgin Islands

The Spanish Virgin Islands lie due east of Puerto Rico. They are part of the Virgin Island archipelago but they differ politically and culturally. They are Spanish Speaking islands but many of the inhabitants also speak English. The two biggest islands are Isla de Vieques and Isla de Culebra.

We had not planned to visit Vieques but when we left the east coast of Puerto Rico the wind was blowing in our face and the seas were right on the bow. Looking at this map you can see why we made a quick right hand turn and put up our sails.....aahhhhh, nice.

Vieques was used for target practice by the US and NATO navies. Over the last few years they have moved on but there is still alot of munitions clean up going on. The word is "do not pick up anything that looks man made on the beaches".

We found ourselves anchored off the small seaside of community of Esperanza. The winds were again blowing and the north swell would keep us at anchor for a few days.
This unfortunate boat broke anchor and was swept up on a sandbar, lucky him it wasn't a reef. The captain and crew were out biking riding and so the other boaters in the anchorage did their best to get the boat free. It was not to be and the little Dutch boat sat there until his bike riding owner came back. It took the aide of a big powerboat to pull him free.
We can always find something to do on shore while waiting for the weather to improve.
The local pub is guessed it BANANAS!

The town is not big but has two small grocery stores. Where are they? Ask a local and they will tell you "go up that street and go that way and then when you get to the big rock, turn left". OK, got that, here is the rock and sure enough the store was to the left
With a little break in the weather we pulled up our anchor. It wasn't easy because we had found an abandoned pipe and our anchor was tucked under it, nice and snug. Good thing it wasn't a bomb. Steve had to dive down and free it, way to go Captain!

Just a bit east we found this great anchorage. There was one other boat there for one night and then we had the place to ourselves. Does not get better than this.

A little solitude is good for the soul.
A little reflection...thinking about?

Soon we were heading east again. Heading for Culebra.

Culebra is a pretty little island. The town of Dewey lies in a large cove. There is a great anchorage here and lots of boaters visit.Visitors also arrive by plane and an hour and a half ferry ride from Puerto Rico costs around $2.25. No cruise ships dock here.

The island is all about tourism. There are plenty of restaurants and bars.

Our favorite place without a doubt was Mamacitas. The food was great, the staff was nice and the guests were interesting.No french fries for this guy.

There were some cute small shops to visit but sometimes on a small island you get unusual business hours

You can rent cars, jeeps or golf carts to see the sights.Jim and Roxanne on Dawn Dancer joined us for a day of exploring.

The island is almost surrounded by reef with lots of good anchorages.

The island has it's share of big houses but it is the small brightly colored houses that make the island what it is......Caribbean. Security is important

Flamenco Beach is spectacularly beautiful
Across the bay from Culebra lies the small island of Culebrita. This island is uninhabited but is a favorite weekend spot for local Puerto Ricans. Big power boats with big sound systems make the 20+ mile trip to the island. Let the party begin.

It was fun watching the families pulling little ones in intertubes and skiing on two skis. It reminded us of our former life.

There are great hiking trails on the island. This old lighthouse looks to be retired but it is still providing a bright light for mariners using solar panels.The stairs to the top were kind of rickety but up went Steve

The view was worth it
We are surrounded by islands

And off in the distance lies St. Thomas, our next port of call. It is a mere 20 miles due east. The highlight of these past few days and nights was seeing the Southern Cross. The Southern Cross is a small constellation seen only below the 25th latitude. It was used by ancient mariners to locate south. So now we know why we came this di dah.

See you in St. Thomas

Steve and Anne