West Bound on Schedule
Friday 1 March – Friday 15 March 2013
Friday morning we leave the lovely anchorage at Honeymoon Beach to go into Crown Bay Marina. Without the generator to charge the batteries they have been getting low, plus it is almost time to equalize them again. We are docked by 9:30, after checking in Steve goes over to the machine shop to check on the progress of our part repair while I sort out 3 loads of laundry. The laundromat is a self serve or drop off, and I plan on doing my own laundry. I know it sounds funny but sometimes it is nice to be able to do your own laundry. Not that I want to spend all day at the laundromat but some things need a gentle cycle and not a hot dryer that I think I do a better job with. I am done & back on the boat for lunch just as Steve finished washing the deck & cockpit. After lunch Steve gets the bus to go to Home Depot to get new batteries for his drill and some other supplies while I clean the inside of the boat. Steve makes another stop at the machine shop and is glad to learn that they are open a full day on Saturday but still not sure if we will get our part. Friday night on board trying to finish up my last blog and get pictures posted and the internet goes down ! Saturday morning internet back working so finish with blog. After lunch Steve goes to the machine shop and YES our part is ready. I guess Steve's persistence of stopping by and pleading with them paid off. They were supposed to fix the old part so we would have that as a spare but they did not have time for that. The new part is substantially better built so will hopefully hold up. Short trip up the road to the grocery store, where Steve realizes he left his credit card at the machine shop. I had my card so groceries bought and back on board Steve runs back to machine shop to get his card. Goes to put new part on the generator and realizes he also left the new belt there that they needed for sizing. One final trip back to the shop then he puts the part on and it works!! Steve starts putting away his tools and we get the boat ready to leave on Sunday. Sunday we check out of the marina at 10:30 and leave the slip shortly after making a quick stop at the fuel dock and are out the channel leaving St Thomas by 11:30. Clouds moved in making it a gray day but we have a great sail all the way to the island of Culebra, (Spanish Virgin Island, Puerto Rico) and pick up one of the last free moorings by 2:30 under clear skies behind the reef at Dakity, the area just as you enter the bay of Ensenada Honda. Steve calls to check us in with our local boater option cards, only this time they ask for the boat decal # (did not ask in USVI's). Well he had one only it was a year out of date, so they would not check us in. They told Steve he had to go to the airport to get a new decal #, and for some reason Steve thought they were telling him he had to go to the airport in San Juan. Once it was clear, after another call, that they meant the airport here in Culebra it was better but still thought it might interfere with our travel plans. The customs guy made it clear we could NOT leave without getting them that # or there would be a $5000.00 fine. Steve was able to get on line with a very slow internet connection and manage homeland securities web site to pay his $27.50 for the new decal #. We did not get the decal # , just an order # and when he called back they accepted that and gave us our clearance #. And we thought other countries were a pain to check into! We saw another boat we knew in the anchorage so went by to say HI to Chris & Yani on Magus then stopped by the boat Orion to say HI to Sue the lady that does the Culebra Cruisers Facebook page before going back to the boat for dinner. Monday we take a dinghy ride then move up to another mooring as it was a little rolly where we were. Defrost the freezer, have lunch then drop the genoa sail as it had seams on the sun cover where the thread had disintegrated and needed to be re-stitched. Even though this anchorage is behind a big reef there is not many fish or much to look at just rock but it was a wonderful swim after a hot day. An early dinner and early night to get ready for a long days sail to Salinas Puerto Rico. We are underway by 6:45 in drizzling rain and very light winds in calm seas. Once out the channel the rain stops but skies remain gray, passing the island the winds pick up and we are able to sail with full main & genoa up doing 7 to 7.5 knots in choppy seas with 1-2 foot swells. Even though I had my weathers on when I released our lines from the mooring & still had them on, I was cold, so went below to stay warm under a blanket, but Steve is comfortable in his shorts & T-shirt. We had a few more showers along the way and several wind shifts causing us to roll up the main but manage to sail almost the whole way with just the genoa, once in the lee of Puerto Rico the northerly swells are blocked and makes for a smooth sail. By 3 the rain has been gone for awhile and the sun is popping out between clouds so I bring my blanket up on deck to keep Steve company for the last stretch. By 4:30 we are anchored in Salinas, we get several Spanish speaking TV channels but NO internet on the boat. Wednesday we call and make a reservation for a rental car then go into the restaurant by the marina to use their internet. I connect right away but Steve's computer will not allow him to connect. He uses mine for a while then goes out to see if there is another place open he can connect. Finds a place not open but a guy is there so lets him use the wifi which he is able to connect with. His computer has been acting very strange lately, think it is getting old and overloaded. Back to the boat for lunch, and Steve gets some warmer clothes out to pack as we saw on the news about Chicago getting snow!! Not only has he not been away from the boat for any length of time he has not been in cold weather in an even longer time. Thursday we are waiting for the rental car at 10 & Sidney gets there with the car about 10:20 quickly do the paperwork and drive off taking highway 52 a beautiful road going from the south side of the island up and through the mountains to the north side of the island. First stop is a T-Mobile store as Steve's chip will not work in his phone. He had called T-Mobile on my phone that did work and they said just go by and get another sim card, no charge. The young lady helping us took her time and made several calls but could not get his phone to work. She did get his chip to work in my phone so it was determined the phone was the problem. It had worked in several countries since he got it just not in the US. She recommended we go to the next town up to a place called Dr. Mobile and maybe he could fix the problem. We get there and the problem turns out to be that Steve's phone is just a dual band NOT a quad band phone that he was told it was when he bought it after ours were stolen down in Bequia. $32 later Steve has another new phone, just a little Nokia that his T-Mobile chip works in. Now when he gets to Chicago he can connect with his brother flying in from Dallas to meet his sister picking them up. By this time it is 2, and Steve's flight is at 4. Thought we would have time to stop for lunch but not knowing the area we decide to just drop him off at the airport. He can get something to eat there and I can find something when I make a stop to shop. We had seen a few stores by the T-Mobile store and also passed a “mall” on the way to the airport. I missed the exit to the mall so thought I would just turn around, well this beautiful highway 52 has very few exits and they are far between and even when you do exit, getting back on to go the opposite way is NOT just making a U-turn. I finally got back to the “mall” (think really small version of any US mall) grabbed a big soft pretzel and spent time looking. Time flies when you are just browsing looking for things you might need, had some idea of things we needed but finding / looking for what will actually work takes a lot of time. I was out of there by 4:30, as I still had a ways to drive and did not want to be going back to the marina the 1st time in the dark. Finding the exit I knew would be easy, but the little back roads to the marina are a little tricky and sure enough I made a wrong turn and had to have some young men on bikes show me the way. Friday I go shopping again, and I'm amazed how long it takes to go through Wall-Mart. Good thing Steve is in Chicago as he would have no patience for all day shopping. Back to the marina & out to the boat by 6 again. Saturday morning into the marina for internet, bring computer back to the boat then take the car to go to the town of Ponce. Need to go to Customs to get Clearance papers to go to the DR. Steve had told me it was by the area where we anchored last time we were in PR, so I found that area with no problem, only customs was not there. Luckily I had the phone # so was able to call but his directions were not that clear either & I went to the wrong place again. I saw a police car so waved them down and they just said follow us and lead me there. Sure are some nice friendly people in PR. Got our clearance document then stopped by another mall on my way back to the marina. Sunday no way can I even think about going to another store !!! Plus Sidney said since I was not using the car that day he would not charge me for it. Went to the marina to use internet then a quiet afternoon on the boat reading with a couple of Manatee sightings. Meanwhile Steve is having a wonderful visit with his brother and 4 sisters as they celebrate with their mom for her 90th birthday. Monday I head out early as I am going to go by the “big” Mall of Americas on my way to the airport to pick up Steve. I get a text from him that he was boarding on time but did not see the 2nd text telling me there was a problem with the plane so they had to switch planes and would now arrive 2 hours later. I had enough shopping so was actually getting to the airport a little early, now I was a LOT early but did not want to do any more driving or shopping so just parked the car and went and had a drink to wait. His plane got in around 4 and we headed back to the boat, stopping at a couple of auto part stores to see if they had any bearings. Steve wants to keep extras on hand for if & when we have a problem with the generator again. Stop at the grocery store and get back to the boat by 7:30. Tuesday the rental car needs to be turned in by 10 so we make an early quick run to Wall-Mart to get a few things I forgot. Back to the boat to get ready to leave on Wednesday. Wednesday we head out around 8, but first have to go out off shore and drift so Steve can put the dinghy down and use the snake to unclog the head that clogged before he left. That lovely job taken care of, we get on course to head west and have a nice sail to Boqueron for the night to be in position to do the passage to Dominican Republic the following day. Thursday morning we get the boat ready for the passage, take the dinghy motor off, check oil, make dinner to be heated up later underway, and make sure everything is secure. We leave at noon and wind is from the SE not E & NE as predicted so we have a nice sail for the first 4 hours. Then the winds start to die down and we have to motor sail at first but then wind up just motoring for the next 18 hours. Would have been nice to have had more wind BUT the seas were calm so it made for a good passage, we were at the fuel dock by 10 am Friday. Customs and coast guard met us there along with the marina personal to inspect the boat for clearing in, then the marina employee took Steve to immigration to pay our importation fees and also took him to the bank. We got fuel and moved over to our slip 3 hours later, one of the longest check-ins we have ever had but they were all very nice and friendly and helpful. So glad the weather cooperated keeping us on schedule, arriving safe & on time. Saturday we will check out the area and see where we can visit and do some planning for our guests arriving.
link to pictures; https://plus.google.com/photos/103931849054358791487/albums/5855800754643777761?authkey=CJmV1buch86xQw