Saturday, April 9, 2011

Puerto Rico from Puerto Del Rey Marina

Tuesday 29 March – Saturday 9 April

We leave Palmas Del Mar on Tuesday as the sun is rising and before the winds and waves pick up. Motor sailing, tacking east towards Vieques Island to avoid a rainstorm and get a better angle on the wind for the short hop up to Puerto Del Rey marina. We are docked by 11:30, check in and start making phone calls to the rigger to come check on why the main sail keeps jamming on the way out and to the welder about having an arch built. The rigger comes out to see what needs to be done, but tells us he is leaving to go sail in a race down island so we make an appointment for him to come do the work the following Tuesday when he returns. Meet with the welder and discuss options for our boat, showing him pictures we have taken along the way and looking at some other arches on boats here in the marina. Wednesday Tammera Sue gets to the marina after a couple of rolling nights at anchor off Vieques Island and we make plans to rent a car to do some Island touring. Thursday (April 1st- already) morning Tammey & I head out with the car to shop on our own without Steve & Joe getting impatient waiting on us and making us feel guilty about taking our time looking at things. A little thing that we seldom get a chance to do. Back to the boat to unload our “goods” from Wall Mart, and pick up the guys for lunch in near by Fajardo and then a West Marine visit. Steve's hard drive was starting to go so we went in search of a replacement and the equipment to do the transfer. The local Office Max did not have what we needed so we wound up sightseeing all the way to Canovanas to a Best Buy, where he was able to get what he needed, stopping at auto parts stores along the way for Joe to look for a fuel filter. A busy day of hunting and gathering of goods. Friday we are on our way to spend the day hiking a few trails in El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rainforest within the US National Forest System. 28,000 acres of forest that get more then 100 billion gallons of rain a year. The variety of trees, vines, and plants, all so lush is such a beautiful sight, hard to describe with words or even pictures. The drive up and hiking listening to all the different birds and frogs adding to this wonderful experience. A magical day in a magical place. Not wanting to stop during the hikes or drive thru the forest we have a very late lunch / early dinner at the Luquillo beach kiosks. Here 50+ vendors have set up various establishments offering a variety of food and drinks. Back to the boats to pack for our weekend trip to Old San Juan. Saturday we leave by 8 and are parked downtown Old San Juan by 9:30 ready for a day of sightseeing, stopping by the visitors center to get maps & info. Thinking we might be able to find a room at one of the FEW hotels right in town we check them out first but of course they are all booked, except a few very expensive rooms. Not a problem as there are many choices right outside Old San Juan in Condado where we book a room. That taken care of we start walking the streets toward San Cristobal Castle (AKA Fort). This is the largest fort ever built by the Spanish in the New World and is very impressive with magnificent views of the bay and town. This and San Felipe Del Morro Castle, which we visit later in the day, are remarkably well maintained and informative so you really get a sense of the history that took place here. Walking along the city wall next to the waterfront or the cobblestone streets with old homes and buildings we have a wonderful day. You could easily spend several days here just checking out all the different restaurants, having a drink and appetizer at each along the way. Off to the hotel, drop off our bags, share a bottle of wine with Tammey & Joe before heading out to Ashford street a block away to find a restaurant for dinner. This street is lined with all different kinds of restaurants so we walk up and down before choosing one serving Puerto Rican fare, eating alfresco watching people walk by. Sunday we go over to the outdoor mercado urbano (city market) sampling and buying a few things before checking out of the hotel. There is another West Marine in town so of course we have to stop by and it just so happens to be down the street from Plaza Las Americas, the largest mall in the Caribbean. Even with the guys we stop by for a quick hour run through and manage to pick up a few things. Off for a late lunch before heading back to the marina. Monday Tammey & I take the car to go shopping again (just because we can) while the guys work on a few boat projects. Monday night we dine on Tammera Sue as Tammey fixes a great salad that she has been trying to make since last Thursday, but with our late lunches we did not need dinner. Tuesday the rigger comes to work on the main sail, we take the boat out of the slip just off the end of the pier to anchor so we can let the sail in & out. As we are anchoring, the down part of the windlass is not working and making a loud grinding sound. Something to deal with later ! While Quino is up the mast working on fixing the problem he gives us a rig inspection and notices a cotter pin connecting the forestay to the mast is about to fail so he replaces that. Get the furling mechanism greased up and sail back in and it seems to go in and out much smoother now. YEAH !! Get the anchor up and back to the dock. I find a hair salon and manage to explain what color & cut I want to a lady who speaks very little English, and she does a good job for only $65. Wednesday Steve is trying to fix the windlass all morning, to no avail. Quino the rigger is down on another boat a few slips away and he recommends someone to come out and help. He makes it out mid afternoon and he & Steve still have a time trying to open the one side of the windlass where they think the problem is. They decide the whole unit will have to come off to go to the shop, Steve tackles that problem on his own, then Ken stops back by to bring it to his shop. Thursday morning, no good news on the windlass !!! More boat repairs here in paradise. The one we had the company is no longer in business, so we have to find a replacement that will be able to fit in the same spot and handle our anchor chain & rode. We get one ordered and sent overnight and it arrives late Friday afternoon. Saturday is installation day, drilling new holes and filling the old ones, rewiring etc. etc. boat projects are never easy ! There is also a boat show here at the marina this weekend, for power boats, but we will go by the vendor booths to see what gadgets they have to sell, you never know what you might find at a boat show ! HOPEFULLY we will be able to leave on Sunday and go over to the Spanish Virgin Islands of Culebra and Vieques for a few days before returning here on Friday to pick up Steve's son Sean. With Sean visiting for a week we will head over to explore the US Virgin Islands !!!

link to pictures:

link to pictures from Old San Juan;

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