On the east side of Puerto Rico there are several islands known as the Spanish Virgins, and while they lack the notoriety of the British and US Virgins, they also lack the crowds of their more famous cousins. I was delighted to remain under the predictable jurisdiction of the US, and we met a super customs agent when we checked into Culebra. He asked us if everyone in Quebec spoke English because he had just tried to check in another Canadian boat and had had a Monty Pythonesque experience. Trying to convey the name of the boat using the phonetic alphabet caused certain language barriers. The boat name was Gite (all names have been changed to protect the individuals…) and when the lady tried to pass this over the phone she said “e” instead of “I”. Assuming a simple mispronunciation the officer said, “I “ as in India. She responded, “no I as in Islam…” after a pause, he tried to help her out and repeated, “I “ as in India to which she became impatient and said no “e” as in Islam. His retelling of the story to us ended with….”standby for boarding”. We have taught you the phonetic alphabet over the past two years, but for the next few days we modified it to be “G is for guns, I is for Islam, T is for terrorism and E is for explosives…”
We toured the island on a golf cart and had a super lunch at Zaco’s Tacos before heading over to the smaller, uninhabited island of Culebrita. Our friends on Del Max had lost their boat on the reef here a year ago, which focused our attention as we negotiated the entrance through the reefs. When we arrive in the bay there were only three other boats and it was the quintessential postcard beach with clear blue water and white sand. We hiked, swam, paddle boarded, barbecued and generally relaxed for three days. We were joined by 4 Coconuts and Steph and Tim on the always hospitable Endless Pleasure, which made the stay even more animated and social.
Sharing cruising stories, dominoes, maintenance frustrations, and long-range plans over a bottle of local rum never seems to get old.
We left there after three days and sailed SW to Vieques, a large island off the south coast of Puerto Rico. There were rumoured to be herds of wild horses on the islands so with Kathryn’s insistence, we stopped for the night and went ashore in search of horses. We were picked up by one of those quintessentially unique expats that are sprinkled throughout the islands, and everyone has a story. She generously offered us the tailgate of her pickup, and off we went in search of wild horses. Turned out we didn’t need to go far because the horses were everywhere. On the road, in the parks, on the beach and Kathryn was taking pictures like a Japanese tourist at Fort Henry. It was a fun morning (we survived…) and when we got back to the boats, we pulled anchor and headed off to Puerto del Ray marina in Puerto Rico. We planned to spend the week at the marina in Puerto Rico which advertised hot water showers, shore power, and a pool. We were living large.