The Spanish Virgin Islands – Culebra to Vieques

Thursday afternoon we headed into town – worked out where to get a golf buggy from; we went to get a loaf of bread from the bakery to find it was actually a café; the supermarket was closed; but at least we got rid of our rubbish!!!!   We wandered down to the ferry dock and spotted this statue throwing rocks – we think he is a monkey?!? Not sure of its significance but quite liked it anyway… The ferry had just come in so there was a traffic jam down the main high road – which is a very small street really with the odd gift shop along it.   And that’s about it for the main town!

Throwing stones at the Ferry Traffic jam in the high street

Back towards the Dinghy Dock where we had left dink chained up – and went into Mamacitas for a quick drink and snack. This used to be a very lively place when we visited five years ago, but now appears to have changed hands and the only other people were staff and a very drunk loud local lady.

Mamacitas Mamacitas 2

We enjoyed the view down the canal that goes completely through the island from one side to the other and then wandered back to the Dinghy Dock.

View out to the anchorage from the dinghy dock Canal running between two coasts

Not really feeling in the mood we had one beer – whilst enjoying the huge tarpon circulating along the dock – and then returned to Morphie with a quick detour to check Cutter Loose was safe and sound as Pat and Eric had gone to Puerto Rico overnight.

Huge tarpon patrol

Dinghy dock bar and restaurant

It started raining again so we ended up with a moody sunset before having an early dinner and to bed.

Moody sunset

Friday morning and we were up early. It was still grey and miserable but at least the rain was holding off and we optimistically put swimmers and towels in a beach bag to take with us. So we did the hot and steamy walk back to the airport enjoying the sights of the main road on the way…. The Government Building was new and impressive but oh so boring!   The local food was a revelation – a whole suckling pig in the back of a caravan…..   Was a bit early for us but I could have fancied trying that out for sure!

Main road out of town Pig roast

Government building

We picked up our buggy and headed off towards Punto Soldado.   The roads are narrow and winding up and down hills….. and then we came to a road block. Bit of work going on as they were moving a very large palm tree that had come down.

Different sort of road works

Moving on and we come to the end of the tarmac.   Another buggy was following us and had two local women in it – who said that there was a lovely beach down there….   So we followed them off road – went about half way down and decided that our buggy definitely did not have enough power to get back up the hill if we went any further so we abandoned that and turned around.   Culebra is very green and lush….and we were enjoying being out and about.   And, of course, it then started to drizzle….   Never mind…. The views were stunning and I can imagine they would be beautiful given better weather!

Green and lush Historical vehicle Garage come general store Richard on our buggy Raining! The airport Views out to sea Dead centre of town

We left that end of the island – went back through Dewey again – and followed the main road out towards the other point which is the opposite end of the entrance to Ensenada Honda.   Driving along and the rain stopped. Hurrah!   We found the museum in a cute building from 1905 which had been used as a storage facility for armaments.   The museum was slightly disappointing in that there really wasn’t much there apart from the odd piece of pottery and hand tools they had found on various digs. Although cute not sure I approve of what they did to this puffer fish either!

Museum building Museum exhibit Looking out into Ensenada Honda

In the buggy

Culebra was not colonised like so many of the other Caribbean islands – and there were less than 500 people who lived there until the islands were taken over by the US in 1905 who saw it as strategically valuable due to its close proximity to Puerto Rico.   The highlight of the museum visit was undoubtedly the film by Culebra OAPs who shared the stories of their lives – on island, off island and back again.   They were very poor with no running water, no electricity, no toys and few home comforts, with farming being the main way of making a living.   These OAPs seemed to come from all different ethnic backgrounds which was interesting, with many of them looking like they had Carib Indian ancestry.   The stories were amusing, sad, uplifting and quite shocking in places. But despite the hardships they all looked back and said they were happy….with many of them having returned to Culebra to retire having lived a lot of their adult lives in the US. The US Navy used the island for shelling practice and, at one point, they had 7,500 troops stationed here.   This was a great time for the locals to make some money by turning their porches into bars selling home-made liquor and crafts…. The women had to be careful though as the sailors were often randy as well as rowdy!!!!   Sadly the shelling practice often meant that people got displaced, animals were killed and some children were seriously injured by unexploded ordnance when they played with their shiny new toys.   This continued on and off – with breaks for the world wars – until 1975 when the shelling was stopped.   But, of course, this means that the island had not been developed throughout this period so is now struggling to catch up.   There is a lot that needs doing in terms of infrastructure and encouraging investment here.

While watching the film the heavens had opened again… but we braved the elements and continued on our tour.   Amazing how quickly the roads dry….  We headed off towards Mosquito Bay and came across the Costa Bonita Beach Resort.   We went through security and down to the main buildings. The restaurant was shut, the bar was shut, the place was deserted, and apart from the pool and reception being operational it appeared that this resort of condos had failed to attract many purchasers yet.   It was soulless and not inspiring whatsoever….

Main road continues Sad hotel & apartment complex

So we quickly moved on again.   Back through Dewey – over the bridge – and we are heading to Flamenco Beach now – which is supposed to be stunning. Well – it is – but, of course, the weather wasn’t quite right. Thankfully the rain stopped so we were able to wander the beach and was amazed at the surf raging…. Still strong north swells in the region right now.   The pelicans were out in force fishing too.

The bridge

Big surf conditions Nice beach Not a bobbing day Pelicans looking for fish

We carried on around the headland and came across an abandoned US tank on the beach.   Walking back through the scrubland we came across another painted tank…..   On the path behind the beach there is a campground and there are loads of tents and paraphernalia around. Looks like some of the people are actually living here – some of the areas looked like permanent encampments. Wouldn’t fancy living there – scrubby sand, sand fleas, mosquitos from the nearby lagoon….   But at least there is fresh running water, showers and toilet blocks so I guess on a bright and sunny day I might have had a different opinion LOL.

Abandoned tank 2 Abandoned tank

Back to the car park and we were hungry – had been hoping to find a beach-fronted restaurant where we could chill over food and watch the waves. Sadly all there was were fast food concessions and so we ended up with burger and chips sitting on a stool trying to keep out of the rain….   Oh well!!!

Food concessions

By this time we had had enough really so decided to return the buggy.    Not like us to take a vehicle back two hours early but we were soaked through – and we’d rattled our fillings a number of times when hitting potholes covered over by standing water LOL.   The rental place gave us a lift back and so we went to the Dinghy Dock and had a beer….   The skies were getting darker again and we thought we’d make a run for it – well, glad we did!   We just got on board when the heavens opened…… and it was torrential for a long time…… I was getting worried about dink getting swamped as we hadn’t had time to lift him up before the rains came.

Panorama of Ensenada Honda Dink filling up Raining hard Whiteout in the anchorage

We ended up with a quiet night on board and an early night……having watched a pretty stormy sunset.

Moody sunset 2

Saturday morning and it was still raining….. So we had a lazy day and didn’t get much achieved at all.   Later on in the afternoon it cleared up a bit so we made a dash for the Dinghy Dock.   Sitting in the bar and Eric and Pat came in with their guests from home. We enjoyed a drink with them before they headed back to their boat.   We were going to have a Valentine’s dinner out – but didn’t feel hungry – so decided to go back to Morphie for another early night after another stormy sunset.

Moody sunset

Sunday morning and I awoke early to some great colours in the sky – so I went up top and watched the most stunning sunrise….   Wow!

Sunrise in the anchorage

We got Morphie ready to go to sea, picked up our anchor, and said our farewells to Culebra.    We had enjoyed ourselves here but time to move on.   We had planned to go straight to Puerto Rico but decided to let this weather move through first – so it is to Vieques instead.   Only a 25 mile sail away and, of course, as we navigated through the reef the heavens opened again….   Little bit of wind – again weirdly from the West rather than the East – but we managed to motor sail under genoa and lift our speed by a knot as a result.   And that was the scene set for the day – raining, swelly, some wind, got wet and had to dodge lobster pots along the shore line for quite a way.

Goodbye Culebra Motor sailing along..... Poor visibility as heavens opened

We arrived into Vieques around 12.30 and were dismayed to find that a lot of the anchorage had been covered in mooring balls.   But we found a spot behind Cayo Real – a long way from shore but this anchorage has a reputation for being a bit lawless and we wanted to be beyond swimming distance!   Just as I was dropping the anchor this dinghy turned up and this English guy shouts “That is the worst place to anchor – you’ll never get a set – it is all grass – you’ll definitely drag.   The balls are good – only $25 a night…”  We explained to him that we had been here five years ago and didn’t have a problem so we’ll try anchoring first – but thanks for the advice. Anyway we got a good set straight away with loads of scope out in 12 feet of water with plenty of swinging room and then this guy Chase turns up. Tells us loads of stories about how he is now the guy who looks after the bay – and that Vieques is now safe as the local drug lord had dealt with – very harshly – anybody who had stolen dinghies in the past.   Since then no dinghies have gone missing….   This is now considered a safe place for cruisers.   Glad to hear it.

Of course it rained on and off so we decided to go ashore later – in the meantime Cutter Loose sailed in behind us and anchored closer in.   So we waved hello and hoped to see them again later.

Cutter Loose arriving

About 4.30 ish we went into town – enjoyed a walk along the boardwalk and the views out to the anchorage – and settled into Lazy Jacks the cruisers bar because it has free wifi  We were joined later on for a quick one by the Cutter Loose crew before they went off to do the bio pool experience.

Vieques anchorage Vieques boardwalk Cruisers bar

On the way back to the boat we came across a bar offering to look after husbands which Richard thought was a great idea LOL.  We were surprised by the number of bars and restaurants that had opened since our last visit – but I guess the recession had hit them pretty hard by then.   Back on board Morphie we had cheese and biscuits for dinner and another early night.

Husband day care centre! Vieques sunset

Monday morning and we could hear the rain pelting down on the coach roof above us – so we had a lazy start. We waved goodbye to Cutter Loose as they passed by on their way to Puerto Rico – don’t envy them the miserable sailing day today that’s for sure!

Final wave.... Cutter Loose coming by to say goodbye

Richard did some boat jobs while I was blogging and we waited for a lull in the rain to go ashore.   We made it ashore but got soaked on the short walk to the supermarket!  With the weather being so inclement – and with strong swells forecast again for tonight through to Wednesday morning – we are thinking of staying here for a little while just to sit it out as our next stop is into a marina in Puerto Rico so that we can hire a car and explore the island. Really would like some sun for that!!!!

Bye for now