Friday, April 29, 2011

Weather…. or not?

Our plan was to hang around Salinas for a few days, rent a car and travel around Puerto Rico a bit… hike and swim under the waterfalls in El Yunque, go see a coffee plantation, check out the big telescope in Arecibo and whatever else turned up along the way. 
Looking north over Puerto Rico's velvet hills
The weather had other plans for us and again it was either GO when the wind was right or be locked in for ten days or so. We’re still trying to make tracks to St. Croix to visit with Skip’s parents so we put Salinas, El Yunque and the rest on our ‘go back to’ list and picked up the anchor. Not before giving a few haircuts though....

Martin goes first....
...then Johanna
The shorthaired crew of Snowbird

Early morning departure from Salinas

Early morning calm seas with half moon 
We headed for Cayo Santiago to see if we could spot the monkeys that run wild on the island – but the wind and seas picked up much more than forecast and more than we wanted to fight so we ducked into Palmas del Mar. The current charts show this harbor as a big comfy anchorage, but we arrived to find it full of new concrete docks and hardly room enough to turn the boat around to slip over to the fuel dock. Go figure. We spent the night rafted up with Snowbird alongside the deserted fuel dock inside the harbor. 

We’d put out our fishing lines as soon as we got into deep water away from Salinas; we caught two barracuda and lost two lures. One lure was taken by a barracuda, the other one I accidentally let go when trying to untangle the spaghetti mess our lines made in the water when we tacked and they crossed. Oops. But… I got a photo of them both before they went in the water so we can remember them! (Miles... this is the 'business end of the rig' photo you'd asked for!)

Gone but not forgotten....
These two are on the injured reserve list.
The trade winds have been blowing hard east at 15 to 20 knots, the ocean swells have been hovering around 10 feet and the wind driven waves have been a pretty constant 5 to 6 feet. We’re still sailing right into all this motion so we take advantage of any slight southerly or northerly component to the wind – and just deal with the big seas. It’s a bit calmer in the early morning and early evening so we sail very early or at the end of the day. 

Someone's party decorations = Ocean junk
We left Palmas del Mar before dawn and had a great sail over to Green Beach at the west end of Vieques. We spent the day soaking up the view, swimming, snorkeling, collecting coconuts and cooking up octopus. 

Green Beach, Vieques
Now what?
OK.... now what!?
We’d been here on land years ago and loved it so we were looking forward to coming back by boat and spending some time. The weather gods said “Ha ha ha ha ha! I don’t think so.” and so sadly, Vieques too is on our ‘go back to’ list. This weather thing is getting old… but after the beating we took offshore I’m not tempted to argue with Mother Nature. We left Green Beach behind and sailed to Isla Pineros, a tiny island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Our charts, which continue to surprise us, note this anchorage as “well protected”. Perhaps in some alternate universe… but not the night we were there. We pitched and rolled all night and got up before dawn cursing the rolling seas and went back out into the wind and swells to make our way to Culebra. We travel at about 5 knots in these conditions, which is comparable to a good jogging pace. This twenty mile trip took us five and a half hours. Think about that the next time you drive twenty miles.

 The best part of leaving Isla Pineros.... (I want to live in THAT building)
So, we’ve put a lot of places on the ‘revisit’ list and we’re now in Culebra… it’s beautiful. We’ve been walking around the island checking out the beaches and the town and meeting new people and their animals. 

I can't get enough of the flowers either....

This guy doesn't quite have his landing gear up yet....
We trekked out to Flamenco Beach on the north side of the island and watched the waves pounding the beach. Yellow caution flags kept most swimmers out of the water, but there were still people enjoying the place. 

We've been making use of the coconuts we collected on Vieques... but I'll leave that for another post. The octopus was probably enough of a culinary adventure for this post.


Miles said...

Peeps, thanks for the photos of the lures. Very nicely styled. Maddy again with the dropsies, really? So you said you caught a barracuda but I didn't see a picture of it. Hmmm. I remember being on Flamenco Beach several years ago and the waves were crashing then too. Looking forward to seeing good pictures of you guys with Grammy and Grandad.

Madeline said...

Thanks for bringing that up Miles. YES... I continue to drip things overboard. The barracuda took our lure and took his leave before I got a shot off. (Did I mention he was BIG?) We'll put the lines out on the way to St Thomas... standby for fish pix.

Madeline said...

Uh... that would be DROP things overboard. Where's my proof reader!?

Kim said...

Maddie - LOVE reading your blogs. The combination of your words and photos is so engaging. Thank you for sharing the beauty and intrigue of your journey...xoxoxox

Leslie said...

I'd like to know who the first person was that looked into a bucket of octopus and said, "Hmm, let's see how this tastes."


Miles said...

I'm with Leslie

Madeline said...

I don't know who first declared octopus 'food' but my first attempt at preparing it turned out pretty good. With a little help from Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich (unbeknownst to them) I figured out how to cook it. It's a good thing too because I just realized we still have one octopus left in the freezer! Now I'm a little worried about what else might be hiding in there that I'm unaware of.

rpmutschler said...

REALLY??!?!!!? An octopus in your freezer....? Now, that's not something you hear everyday. I can't believe you guys actually ate that thing! Sorry, that looked disgusting.
Maybe you should have Daddy bring you a "hoagie"....or some butterscotch krimpets....huh Skip?

Cindy Barnard said...

So great to get your latest post. Snorkling 101 especially entertaining. Wonderful pic of Mom and Dad. Think I need that for our wall.
Kim phrased my own appreciation for your blog perfectly and I am also in Leslie's camp vis a vis the octopus. But then again, who was the first to look at a lobster and say, I bet if we cook this baby until it gets red, crack open the shell, we'll find tender yummy meat that would be really good with a little melted butter and/or lemon?
The sun is out today in NH, just so you know.