Bruce Van Sant’s “Guide to Passages South” tells you that Salinas is the place to stop for any extensive repairs, provisioning, or simple relaxing in safe harbor. He is absolutely right We love Salinas and all the people we met while we were here. The harbor is a bay reached by following a winding shallow channel through the mangroves, so no wave action can find its way in. The bay is large enough that the breeze blows nicely so laying to anchor is comfortable, even in the heat of summer. Marina de Salinas lies on the west side of the bay, and is the only marina with deep water transient slips. We decided that if the docks were accessible for Joy, we’d spend some time here at the dock as we wanted to travel, explore, shop, and take care of boat chores. When I told the staff that Joy uses a wheel chair to get around on land, they went out of their way to help. Miguel, the general manager, walked me around the marina and took me to a perfect dock, one with a wide stable pier, straightforward on and off access, and right next to several other long term cruisers. Joy loved Marina Salinas as this was the first dock she could easily access since leaving Marathon in the Florida Keys months earlier.
As it turned out, three of our boat neighbors were round-the-world cruisers. Pete and his wife sailed around the world twice on Sojourner, a beautiful Tayana 52 aft-cockpit cutter. They had the misfortune to be in Phuket, Thailand, in 2004, when the world’s worst recorded tsunami struck. Fortunately, they were spared and able to continue their voyage. They have finished cruising and have put their boat on the market.
Another couple, Tom and Bonnie Steinhoff cruised all over the world on their Amel, but due to personal issues, they are also selling and moving on. Lastly, Dick and Jane, a sweet, older couple, (our guess is almost 80) have given up the cruising life and are moving into an apartment in Salinas. Jane’s first words to us were “You’ve read our book, Right?” Their Tayana 37 likewise is for sale. Compared to these three cruising couples, we felt like rank amateurs, but we were not afraid to ask them questions and to learn from their experiences in different parts of the world. From Pete, we learned to temper anything negative we might hear about any given area; from Dick and Jane we learned more patience, kindness, and humility, and from Tom and Bonnie we gained encouragement, spirit, and courage to continue our voyage. Each, in their own way, whether they knew it, taught us just a little more about the cruising life.
We discovered that many cruisers return time after time, voyage after voyage, to Salinas. It’s easy to see why. Anything and everything you need is within an hour’s drive by car. San Juan is an hour to the north via the toll road; Ponce is a scant 30 minutes to the west on the same highway; Fajardo is not a whole lot farther to the east, and if you can’t find what you need in one of these three cities, then you probably don’t need it that badly! To give you some idea, Marina Puerto del Rey in Fajardo, has 1100 in-water slips and more on land. And that is only one, albeit by far the largest, of many marinas in the area. And you thought we were in the boonies! Right here in Salinas is a sail maker, canvas maker, stainless fabrication, and more. Inexpensive restaurants with great food abound, and all the restaurants have free Wi-Fi, a real plus. And on top of all that, the unquestionably best hurricane hole in the Caribbean is less than an hour away, the extensive mangrove creeks at Jobos. As a cruiser you quickly understand why Salinas is so popular. We will surely return to Salinas.