From Puerto Real we decided to make the run to Ponce. We left at about six a.m., contrary to Van Sant’s recommendation. The day started off beautiful, an awesome sunrise, nice calm waters, not much wind. So, another motor sail day, eight hours and we’ll be done.
Not quite. Rounding the corner at Cabo Rojo…and there was wind. Oh yes, lots of wind, climbing steadily, and waves…now we are into it! Might be a tad more than eight hours we’re thinking. The waves and winds increased steadily. There were a large number of fishing nets to be mindful of, and they are very difficult to see in six foot waves. And of course, the crazy fishermen, miles offshore in their sixteen foot or so open boats, bobbing up and down in the waves, very difficult to see unless on the crest of a wave.
The wind and waves worsened. It was turning into an unpleasant ride. Not unsafe, but quite unpleasant. Very fast moving freighters thrown into the mix just added to the whole day. And of course the pilot boats all around us with no apparent regard about their wake. Pilot boats are the boats which take licensed marine pilots out to the freighters to bring them into the harbours. By law, each and every freighter has to have a pilot on board when entering or leaving a harbour. We were very happy to have our dodger and bimini, the waves were washing the deck and spray flying over the top of the bimini. How many hours to go? Geesh! Should have listened to Van Sant by the looks of this.
We finally arrived in Ponce after completing one of those trips that you’d like to forget. Now, time to anchor and set up for the night. Ponce Harbour is mainly a commercial harbour with a small anchorage for boats such as us located just outside of the Ponce yacht and fishing club. There is a bit of a current here, and with the mooring balls taking up most of the anchorage, anchoring was a wee bit of fun. Our friends from s/v Odin had hailed us to see if we were coming in to the docks, they offered to help us with our dock lines as there are no staff working on a Sunday…hmm, no staff working on a Sunday? Interesting. Beth and I had decided to anchor out, thanked Bonnie for her offer of assistance, and finally, after three or four attempts, got our hook to set. Good for the night! Yay! We had a nice light dinner of snack type foods, and settled in. Bonnie had called customs for us to advise them that there were boaters in the harbour to check in…us….and they said to call them in the morning. Bueno! Manyana!
Puerto Ricans love their music…and they love it loud. The music never stopped…..not until about 3 a.m. or so…and just when I was sure it could not get any louder…it would! Not a little either, at least 4000 decibels at a time louder…and louder..and louder. Holy crap! When is this going to end? Morning arrived, and now the task at hand, to check in with customs. I called the yacht club to request that customs visit our boat, which is what we were directed to do by the customs folks on the phone the day before. Van Sant’s book reiterated the same message. So, I called the yacht club on the vhf, and was promptly told that they don’t do that, I would have to go in and make the call. OK. directions received on how to get to the office, I hop in the dinghy and away I go. Arrival at the office finds a nice serene setting….or so I thought. I interacted with one of the staff, who informed me that there was a ten dollar charge to use the phone. Ten dollars? Really? I hand over the cash, and the lady points at an old phone, red in color, located under a noisy air conditioning unit. Aaah, the hot line….under a cooling device…..Bueno! I make the call, and the officer tells me that I have to come out to the airport to see them. Ok…and they hang up their end of the hot line. I hang up, and I ask the lady how to get to the airport. She replies…you have to move your dinghy, you can’t leave it here. What? I just paid ten dollars…..no, you can’t leave your dinghy at the dock. Kidding me, right? No, she says. Would you like to move your boat into a dock? I said to her….are you serious? I was just ripped off for ten dollars to make a phone call, I can’t leave my dinghy at the dinghy dock, and you want me to move my boat into your docks? I don’t think so, in fact, I said to her, you can look out that window right there, and I’ll be waving at you from my boat which I have anchored for free. Perhaps if you were a tad more considerate we would move into your docks, but we will not make that move now. And out the door I went.
I’ll fast forward this a bit…..left dinghy at a dock where the manager even called a cab for me, and no charge to leave the dink. Cab to the airport, into CBP, and out, with the cab rides $100 poorer. Geesh! Departed Ponce the next day, anchored o’night in a nice anchorage at Patillas. Next day, a nice easy ride to a marina at Palmas Dal Mar. AWESOME marina, we love PR. While there we met some great folks who had just purchased a used Hunter 450 Passage, Malcom and Kim. What great people! We had two road trips while there, Beth and I went into San Juan where I purchased new deck shoes and sandals, and we spent another fortune at Worst Marine. We also took a road trip with Malcom and Kim (aboard First Light), and obtained our exit papers from CBP. Only $19 this time…..
We departed Palmas dal Mar marina,
and headed off to Vieques to meet up with one of our many buddy boats Vidorra. We anchored out with them, and Beth and I really enjoyed their hospitality that night….grilled taters, and burgers and dogs! Awesome!
Next day, we headed out for the BVI’s. A somewhat bumpy ride, but a good one none the less.
We took some great action shots of each others boats, and cleared in at West End. Very nice customs and immigration folks, and we walked out of there $52 U.S. dollars lighter, but good for a one month stay.
The next day, we sped off to the Indians, where we snorkelled, and then anchored for the night out in front of Willie T’s bar in the Bight at Norman’s Island.
The next day, off to Virgin Gorda, where we currently sit awaiting a weather window to depart to Sint Maarten.
Keep your stick on the ice!