Monthly Archives: July 2017

Ponce, Salinas, Patillas and Palmas, PR Stops.

Our early departure from Gilligan’s Island meant we arrived in Ponce by 7 am.  The anchorage was pretty quiet at that hour except for the Ponce Marine Policia who followed us into the anchorage and politely waited for us to anchor before approaching our boat.  Apparently when they spotted our boat and looked up our information, they did not show that we had checked into the country.  Fortunately Frank had a record of his conversation with the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS) officer and he had the confirmation number of our check in via the telephone.  The Ponce Police were very nice and respectful to us and soon the misunderstanding was resolved. The Policia returned our paperwork and wished us a happy Memorial Day weekend.  A police stop is one way to get your heart rate up early in the morning.

We didn’t spend enough time in Ponce to rent a car and go into the heart of town so we really don’t know what it has to offer.  Instead we walked the (mostly closed) boardwalk where only a handful of people were strolling about.  Apparently things don’t get started there until evening, (surprise) but we were too tired to go back to the boardwalk that night, especially with another 4 am wakeup planned. Obvously, we are not your source for information about Ponce.

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Beautiful scenes on our way to Jobos Bay

There was a bit of a storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and along with every other boater in the area, we were keeping an eye on the weather.  We left especially early for Salinas the next morning with the express purpose of looking into a suggested hurricane hole near the Salinas anchorage just in case the storm developed.

We guided LIB through the mangrove lined inlets and fingers just east of Salinas in Jobos Bay and basically toured the area to determine if it would be a good spot to wait out a hurricane if the storm developed.  (Yes, it is, but the area is protected and you cannot anchor there until a storm is imminent.)

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Mauna Kea looks pretty in the evening colors.

After a pretty thorough reconnaissance mission, we went back to Salinas and anchored near Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea.  We were really excited to catch up with the only other 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally boat gliding around Puerto Rico and still exploring outside of the States!

We spent a couple of days in Salinas hanging out with Ken and Laurie who were experts on the area since they had been there for more than two weeks. The marina in Salinas welcomes anchored cruisers and has a nice dinghy dock which we have learned is sometimes hard to find.  The marina has a little bar/restaurant as well as washer/dryer and showers.  Very helpful to the cruising community.

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Are you jealous of that exotic blue leopard material?

There is a decent grocery store about a third of a mile from the marina and Laurie lent us her collapsable grocery cart to make the walk home easier.  For these last two years, Frank and I have carried our groceries home in backpacks and reusable bags, but this little cart made the walk so much easier that I have already ordered my very own collapsable cart.

We hung out in Salina a few nights waiting to see what would become of the storm in the Atlantic that was projected to head toward Puerto Rico.  Fortunately the storm dissipated and we would not need to seek refuge in Jobos Bay.

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Look how bright and well defined the colors are in this rainbow!

Rain has been plentiful here in Puerto Rico so the salt water is routinely rinsed from our decks and we have seen many pretty rainbows.  I especially liked how vibrant the colors were in the rainbow pictured above.

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Patillas is at the foot of these lush hills.

Mauna Kea and Let It Be left Salinas and headed for Patillas where we would stop before our final jump to The Yacht Club Marina at Palmas del Mar; our stopping point for this hurricane season.

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Ken strikes a pose after anchoring Mauna Kea!

Once anchors were set and a quick rain shower had rinsed our decks, Laurie, Ken, Frank and I dinghied into town to stretch our legs and check out the town.  We strolled to the left, then we strolled to the right and about 30 minutes later we had pretty much traversed the waterfront area of Patillas and Captain had enjoyed plenty of sniffing and calling card deposits.

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Ken, Frank and Captain chilling in the shade and watching the activity.

Rain was threatening again so we found a little outdoor spot with plenty of umbrellas and enjoyed lunch while watching the comings and goings along the main street.  We were surprised that there seemed to be a lot going on here even though the town was tiny.

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Can you tell we were caught in the rain?  Maybe I need a selfie stick? Or longer arms?

Our lunch table was right on the main road and we had the perfect spot to observe the comings and goings in Patillas.

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Disco bus for elders??

I have no idea what was up with this bus but the folks on board were having a grand time and the lights on the bus were flashing all kinds of random patterns.  We couldn’t decide if it was a tour bus (but there were no blaring announcements) or if a retirement home had gone all out on their day bus!

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I wish I could have captured the lights and music in a picture!

Lights and bling are obviously emphasized in Patillas as is evidenced by the ice cream truck we saw on the main street just as we were finishing lunch.

WAIT!!!!!! Did you say ice cream truck? Well we paid our lunch bill and took off after that ice cream truck.  I felt like we were part of a cartoon comedy because every time we got close to the truck, he moved on!  But we persisted and finally managed to catch the ice cream man!

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I didn’t see any bomb pops but we found plenty to enjoy.

After strolling the beach front and eating our ice cream, we had pretty much exhausted Patillas so we headed back to our sailboats and simply enjoyed the view from our boats.

Once again we were leaving before sun up so it was early to bed for all of us.  But at least we had a chance to walk around a bit, and had a short jog chasing the ice cream truck!

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A stellar final sunrise!

Our final sunrise as we motored toward Palmas del Mar was stunning.  The sun sprayed golden rays across the ocean and brought forth a beautiful day for our final push along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

We arrived at The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar and were warmly welcomed my the great team who runs this marina.  In the fall of 2015 when we were preparing LIB to be our live aboard home, we had spent almost two months here and we were thrilled to see the same fabulous folks here upon our return.

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Sunset from The Yacht Club

I truly cannot say enough positive things about the staff at The Yacht Club Marina.  They are the most caring, helpful, happy and kind people we have met.  And they are very organized and efficient.

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Full moon rises over the rock jetty at The Yacht Club

This is a wonderful place to while away our time during hurricane season and if we must be on the dock, I can’t think of a better place.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We would love to hear from you in the comments below.  If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44

 

 

 

Christmas in July, BVI

The information for this blog post has been heavily taken from a Business BVI article written by Todd VanSickle and published July 24, 2015.

We are still in Puerto Rico but I thought I would share this interesting bit of information about Puerto Rico and the BVIs since both have been important places in our lives with Let It Be.

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In July the charter companies in the BVIs have a bit of a slow down as hurricane season becomes a factor in decisions about visiting the area.  Of course the reduced number of charters and tourists have a negative affect on BVI businesses. However, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico is a mere 90 miles from the BVIs and it is from this island that the BVIs receives an economic boost each year.

For the last 30 plus years, each July huge numbers of boaters take off from Puerto Rico and set off to visit, shop, swim and party in the BVIs.  According to an article published in Business BVI in July of 2015, it is estimated that 2,000 boats from PR visit the BVIs in July!  According to Javier Lopez, organizer of Christmas in July (as of 2015), at least 800 Puerto Rican boats visited the BVIs during the week long Christmas in July event in 2015.

Having traveled by boat in Puerto Rico, I can tell  you from our own observations that the boaters here in PR know how to have fun!  Gatherings are numerous for any occasion and for no occasion at all.  Along with our friends, we agree you can identify a PR party boat because it will have; 1. loud music on an excellent stereo system, 2. some sort of flag(s) will be prominently displayed, 3. plenty of people will be on board, 4. magically the boats will be drawn together like magnets.

I say all this with the greatest of respect. I love the way people here in PR include family members of all ages and how much laughter is shared.  This is a fun-loving, happy and welcoming community and we have enjoyed observing it and on occasion being involved in it.

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Let this picture prove the numbers are not exaggerated! (Internet photo)

In the article referenced, Mr. Lopez says that the boaters who participate in Christmas in July refer to themselves as the “Puerto Rican Navy” and we have heard this term for years.  It is a bit confusing until you understand that it is simply an affectionate term used because the boaters travel in groups and support one another.

Amazingly, Mr. Lopez states that this is a very affluent group of boaters with an average income of $600k to $1.5M annually! With that sort of financial means, you can understand why this flotilla has become such an important and encouraged group among the BVI businesses.

So, if you have the opportunity to travel to the BVIs in July, be aware that the Puerto Rican Navy sort of take over during Christmas in July!  The usual beat of the islands will be replaced by some loud and catchy latin music and the number of boaters might be overwhelming.  But the BVIs are so large that you have the opportunity to embrace the Puerto Rican Navy and join in their parties or you can observe where they are heading and go the other way.  Beautiful beaches and perfect anchorages are so plentiful in the BVI that you can find serenity or parties any time of year.

So how about you? Does Christmas in July, partying with a huge number of power boaters and the feel of the base resonating in your chest sound like fun? Or do you prefer the quieter anchorages where the sound of nature and waves upon the shore are the melodies that surround you?

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44

 

 

 

 

Boquerón, La Parquera, Gilligan’s Island… Ports of Puerto Rico

As I mentioned previously, we have been following the advice of Bruce Van Sant’s book, “Passages South” in which he shares his thoughts on how to move east against easterly winds.  Van Sant believes it is best to take advantage of lower wind speeds which occur during the night and motor a few hours each morning from one anchorage to another.  Per his suggestions, we awaken around 4 a.m., raise anchor, and move east along the southern shore of Puerto Rico for a few hours.

Ponce, PR

Sunrise is filled with pastel colors and soft breezes.

Although it is difficult to get out of bed when it is dark, we were rewarded with watching the day come alive and with calm seas, so the effort is definitely worth it! But getting up early means the days feel long and the evenings feel short since we go to bed earlier than usual.

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Boqueron has a long, inviting shore.

After completing the Mona Passage and a good night of sleep at anchor in Mayaguez, we moved to Boqueron and anchored in a bay of flat water.

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We strolled the waterfront town and had lunch in Boqueron.

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Kelsey and Lauren relaxing in the park.

Next we meandered through the park along the water where we met three young ladies from the US who were on vacation.  After a brief conversation, we invited Kelsey, Lauren and Shaye to come out to LIB and relax on our boat for the afternoon.

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Captain had to join in the fun!

Shaye, Lauren and Kelsey are close in age to our own children and we were happy to share our “home” with them for a bit; very much like others have done for our sons as they travel.  We enjoyed getting to know these young ladies and hearing about their plans.  Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious and we are so happy they spent the afternoon with us.  Safe travels, girls. Keep in touch!

La Parguera

We actually had to turn left here, not go straight toward town.

Our next stop was La Parguera.  Finding our way into this small fishing village with crops of mangroves growing into small islands in front of the town made our initial entry a little challenging.  It is necessary to watch the chart and keep a close eye out for shallow water but we managed to work LIB into a nice anchoring spot behind one of those mangrove “islands.”

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La Parguera is a sleepy town during daylight hours with deserted streets and most businesses closed.

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The same area of town after nightfall.

But once night falls, this little town is a jumble of people where families, teens and couples stroll the pedestrian area, live bands play loudly, food stands compete with restaurants and vendors hawk jewelry and trinkets from small stands.

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Puerto Rico night life.

There was even a tent with a mechanical horse race where bets were taken and money changed hands for winning numbers.  We placed a couple of big $1 bets, but walked away without winning.

After enjoying the bustling nightlife in La Parguera, we upped anchor around 4:30 a.m. and motored to Balnearia de Cana Gorda, a bay about 20 miles away.  By 8 o’clock our anchor was down and we were happily floating in front of a very pretty little resort called Copa Marina Resort, though there really wasn’t a marina there.

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LIB can be seen in the background.

We launched Day Tripper, our dinghy, and went to check out the Resort.  As luck would have it, there was a yummy breakfast buffet being served and cruisers were welcome. So we had a very nice breakfast, then spent a bit of time relaxing at the pool.  What a nice reward after our early morning departure.

Copa Resort has a nicely manicured beach and a few water toys for rent.  We decided to rent a Hobie Wave (because when does Frank ever want to sit still?) and spend a little time sailing around the bay.  We may or may not have had a little trouble tacking this little boat and I am certain we went further than we were “supposed” to go, but no one told us any limits when we started!

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We may have gone out further than allowed???

Frank and I spent couple of wet hours sailing that Hobie and we had plenty of laughs in the process!

We ended up staying in this bay for two nights because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave.  The Resort was welcoming, there was a popular public beach near the Resort where families gathered and played all day and just around the corner was the fairly famous “Gilligan’s Island.”

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Gilligan’s Island (Image taken from internet)

So this island is actually called Cayo Aurora and even though I don’t see the likeness to the one in the TV show, many people call this place Gilligan’s Island.  The picture above does not show how crowded this area is usually, but it does show you how pretty it is.  Trust me, usually there are boats, kayaks, floats, people and plenty of music throughout this island.

Frank and I took Day Tripper over and hung out in the water, avoiding the land where the mosquitos were happily feasting on slightly inebriated humans too oblivious to notice.  It was a great place to people watch and the current through the inlet kept the water moving and cool.  Truly a pretty island and a fun place to while away a bit of time.

Our next stop is Ponce, then on to Salinas where we will catch up to s/v Mauna Kea!

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Colorful homes in La Parguera.

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Gratuitous sunrise

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. If you are interested in seeing more of our everyday activities, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44

 

 

 

 

While Frank Was Away, I Still Played

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A bird’s eye view of Marina Puerto Bahia

While Frank was sailing across the Atlantic between Bermuda and Spain on a different boat, I hung out on Let It Be with Captain in Marina Puerto Bahia, DR.  While I enjoy time to myself, three weeks was a bit long and I was super happy when my friend, Anneva, decided to make an impromptu visit.

After picking Anneva up in at the airport on the southern side of the Dominican Republic, we drove back to Samana on the northern shore.  After an uneventful flight, Anneva had the chance to experience DR driving.  Driving in the DR is interesting because there are so, so many motorcycles and people pass each other without much regard for conventional passing rules.  SO you are driving uphill and the road turns so much that you can’t see what is coming…. perfect time to pass!

Thankfully the drive was also uneventful, but I wouldn’t call it relaxed.

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Anneva relaxing in the Puerto Bahia pool.

However, we did manage to relax once we returned to the marina.  Captain loved having Anneva here because Anneva is really good at morning scratches or afternoon ones or evening ones!  Cappy loved all the walks and attention.

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The walks are often shady but it is still hot and humid

The first day of Anneva’s stay, we hung out around the marina, took a few walks, chilled by the pool and generally gabbed the day away as we caught up on the many months since we last visited in person.

We spent one day exploring Las Terranas, a town about 30 minutes away with many shops, restaurants and beaches.

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How beautiful is this?

Our first stop was the beach above and we decided just to park ourselves here for the day! We were not at all interested in shopping, we had comfy beach chairs and most of the beach to ourselves, so we decided we couldn’t do much better.  Plus we had more catching up to do!

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Anneva looks like she might take this boat for a spin.

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Ancient artifact?

A DR beach day isn’t complete without a vendor or two trying to sell us something.  Anneva just couldn’t resist this terra cotta frog which we were told is “an ancient Taino Indian artifact.”  The gentleman assured us that he had dug up this frog and showed us the bottom surface which had a circular pattern carved into it.  He told us the Tainos would have placed the frog in a fire, then used bottom surface to brand or tattoo.  We aren’t sure if he meant brand their animals or tattoo people.  Either way, the story was too good to pass up the trinket even if we don’t believe for a minute that it is authentic.

Of course all of this conversation took place in Spanish, so who knows what the real story was and exactly what our vendor was trying to say!

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Strolling along the beach.

Our dock neighbors, Andre and Josee, graciously offered to show Anneva and me some of their favorite places, so we took off in our rental car and spent a fabulous day exploring.

I sound like a total ditz but I cannot tell you exactly where these pictures were taken because  I was busy driving and watching the motorcycles.  (Frank and I have dubbed the motorcycles  here “mosquitos” because they are a bit pest-like and numerous.)

First stop was fresh, local bread cooked over this open flame!

Andre knows a lot of great places to buy local fruits or veggies and some great restaurants.  We had barely begun driving when he told us to stop at a road side house where we would buy fresh bread.   Lloila, the lady in this picture, bakes bread in her home right on the street, over the open flame in the picture.  This flat bread was a little sweet and unlike any I have tried before.

Now that we wouldn’t starve, ha, we proceeded to a blow hole along the coast.  The contrast between the lush greens, the rock sea wall and the blue water was beautiful.

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A low pitched rumble accompanied the gush of water through the blow hole.

We drove along the coast through some very small towns and stopped at pretty beaches just for the views.  But it wasn’t too long before Andre and Josee had us stop at a bar/eco center so we could buy a drink and enjoy another view.

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We walked past chicken coups and vegetable plants along a shaded walkway.

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Until we came to this stunning little bar/cafe!

But we only stayed here long enough to buy water and soak in the beauty because Andre had a special lunch spot in mind.

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Choosing fish for our lunch.

We stopped at yet another beach where Andre and Josee assured us the lunch was typical DR and freshly caught.  As soon as we arrived, we picked out “our fish” then went to swim in the ocean for 30 or 45 minutes while lunch was prepared.

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A little Presidente to complement the fish, rice and plantains. 

Neither Anneva nor myself are huge fish eaters and we were a little hesitant when it was served as a complete fish – head, tail, eyes and all!  Once we got past having our lunch stare back at us, it was very good.

The remainder of the day was spent moving from one beautiful lookout stop to another.  Although Andre did have us drive through some pretty questionable roads where Anneva and I thought the car might disappear into the potholes!

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El Monte Azule was closed but we still enjoyed the view.

At one especially narrow and potted road, we decided to park the car and walk up the hill to El Monte Azule which Andre told us had a gorgeous 360 degree view that included both the Atlantic Ocean and Samana Bay.  The walk was steep and hot but we were game.  Unfortunately the restaurant was closed so we couldn’t see the total 360 view but we still thought what we could see was worth the effort.

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Josee and Andre at Monte Azule

After walking back to our car and driving between potholes, we headed back toward Puerto Bahia. We had an excellent day with Josee and Andre and saw many places we would never have found on our own!

Thank you SO much Josee and André for a really wonderful day!

Unfortunately Anneva only had a couple of days to stay in the DR, so the next day we drove back to the southern coast and spent the afternoon in Santa Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.  (Here is a post about Santa Domingo.)

I am so thankful that Anneva was willing to fly to the DR and hang out with me.  Although her visit went much too quickly, she broke up the isolation of my time alone on LIB and it was absolutely fabulous to spent time with her! Thanks Anneva!!!

 

 

 

 

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