Our return to Puerto Rico was everything trade wind sailing is supposed to be, downwind or off-wind, surfing down the rolling indigo waves, covering lots of easy miles every day. We cleared out of the BVI at West End in less than 5 minutes for the stunning sum of one US dollar. Just a few minutes later, 45 to be exact, we anchored in Francis Bay St Johns clearing back into the US by cell phone with our Local Boater ID card – all in less than 5 minutes. We were breathing huge sighs of relief to be back on Ocean Angel, off by ourselves with nothing but time on our hands. We sailed west by way of Culebra, pausing there to wait for an easy day of beam reaching down to the island of Vieques, site of the former US Navy bombing range which drew so much controversy and protests from local residents living on the island. Today, the cancer rate on Vieques is something like 100 times normal; I can’t imagine why. And the U.S. government continues to tell us that all the chemicals in our diet can’t hurt us. Sure, what’s next?
For this leg of the journey, Culebra was just an anchorage where we could safely wait for good weather, a place to rest before swinging south to explore the island of Vieques. We snugged in close to downtown Dewey, looked around to see who was there, and started watching our weather forecasts. We planned to return to Culebra for a few days after our first guests joined us in Fajardo.
The weather was kindly, and soon we shot out the mouth of the harbor on a southerly heading for Vieques with wind on the beam at 15 knots. As we neared the northeast corner of Vieques, I told Joy we could expect some larger rolling seas as we came in off the deep water and turned west along the southern shore. Wherever deep water shoals, be it near the coast or 50 miles offshore, the waves build and get steeper until they have a chance to wear themselves out a bit over the shallow water. I was unprepared for the dramatic change in the waves; the seas leapt from the easy 4 to 6 foot waves to roiling 12 to 15 foot combers as millions of gallons of water thrust themselves onto the shallow coastal shore. These big rolling waves lasted for about two miles until their energy was exhausted pounding the near-shore shelf. We were glad to see them pass.
Trade wind sailing made short work of the 40 or so miles from Culebra to Ensenada Honda, literally Slingshot Cove, on Vieques south shore. We plan every day’s sailing and anchorages strictly based on weather, and all our senses. If we’re not comfortable with a certain place, we continue on until we found one we like. You’d never believe such a peaceful, quiet anchorage, could be tucked in behind a series of reefs, just a stone’s throw from the thrashing waves pounding the south coast outside the reef. Only one other boat was in this entire anchorage, and our view of the surrounding world and the universe above was beyond description. The night’s stars lit up our world as if it were daylight. We could see constellations and stars we’d never seen before. Waves quietly broke on the reefs to our south, just enough to create that gentle, swishing breath that lulled us to sleep after our day’s sail.
We’d planned to explore a bit, but our forecast showed very strong winds arriving in another two days, so we decided to move a few miles west while we still could.