Moving on to Vieques’ West Coast

Since our ears were ringing every day from the loud music, we started looking for a moderate day, one with winds of 20 knots or less, to saunter downwind along the southern Vieques shore. As we lay peacefully to our anchor, we watched boat after boat attempt to motor or motor-sail east into the prevailing 25 knot winds, huge waves, and westward flowing equatorial current. Seas just offshore in deep water were running as high as 15 feet, and one day we watched in horror with mouths agape as a Swan 43, a sister-ship to our Angel, plunged eastward. One moment his bow would be pointed towards the sky; the next moment it was buried under tons of seawater. After about an hour, and a scant one mile gained to the east, he gave up and came back to the anchorage to wait for milder weather. He was one of many who tried the same move. To me, it seems unbelievable that so many cruisers would bash their way eastward along the southern coast of Vieques when every guide book and a modicum of common sense tells you that east is the wrong way to go along the southern shore. Circumnavigate Vieques in a clockwise direction, with wind and waves at your back. 

Offshore just a mile there are 12 foot waves
Offshore just a mile there are 12 foot waves

From Esperanza to the western tip of Vieques, the coastline meanders slightly northwest. The islands making up the harbor at Esperanza jut out into the Caribbean Sea and create a slight lee from the winds and waves along this coast. So in spite of 20 knots of wind, we sailed in flat water with beautiful skies overhead for our short trip to Green Beach on Vieques west shore. This beach supposedly got its name from sailors in years past stationed at the Roosevelt Roads Naval base, the largest US Navy base in land size anywhere in the world. Sailors would go to this beach on shore leave. Here the lush green mountainside comes right down to almost touch the beach, perhaps thus its name. I’d read in Van Zandt’s “Gentlemen’s Guide to Passages South” that the winds and waves would go absolutely flat here at night, and so they did most nights. Every night was a peaceful, quiet rest. 

Looking towards Shore at Green Beach
Looking towards Shore at Green Beach

The north end of Green Beach is now marked by this power transfer station; I’d been looking for an abandoned dock which according to the guides marked the north end of the best anchoring area. Looking closely, I could just make out some crumbling concrete that may have been those docks. This anchorage was picture perfect, a family gathering place on the week-end. No loud parties; just absolute quiet with stunning, night-time skies. No light pollution here folks.

Power Transfer Station at Green Beach
Power Transfer Station at Green Beach

 We’d planned to spend however many days we had left before our first guests were due to arrive, working on boat projects, relaxing, and improving our tans. Holding was excellent in deep sand. A moderate breeze cooled the boat during the day; life was definitely good. We knew we’d be very busy for the next few weeks with guests aboard. Having guests aboard means life would be different. Not bad, but different, as our home would not be just ours for those days. A boat is a small place, and it takes the right mix of people to be able to get along well in the confined space of a 42 foot yacht. 
The North Western tip of Vieques
The North Western tip of Vieques

The north western tip of Vieques tapers off into the sea in the photo to the left, and I mean that literally. From the tip, a shoal extends to the northwest for about five miles, jutting out into Vieques Sound just waiting to grab the careless sailor. There are many bits and pieces of wrecks and debris along this shoal, and it is an area best avoided even though spots carry somewhat deeper water. We detoured around the shoal all the way to the marked Roosevelt Roads channel before we turned NE heading back to the anchorage at Isletta, just off the shore of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. We planned to anchor for a day, then move into Sun Bay Marina to await the arrival of our first guests.

Head Back to Fajardo