Our First Time Exploring the Island of Culebra

We wanted to spend a bit of time in the Spanish Virgin Islands having read about beautiful beaches, deserted reef islands, and wonderful people. Joy especially had places she wanted to see. But we looked at the long term weather forecast for the next couple of weeks and realized we could either spend a couple of really great days here, then move on, or, we would likely be socked in for a while. Not that Culebra is a bad place to be socked in, but with the days counting down to the end of our cruising season, we decided to squeeze all we could into two or three days, look at the weather again, then decide. As usual, I was dispatched in the dinghy to scout out the lay of the land, get rid of trash, find out where Joy could easily get off, then report back. As I scouted, Joy tidied up the boat, checked our email, and generally put the house in order.

 Downtown Dewey and the Lift Bridge
Downtown Dewey and the Lift Bridge

I discovered that Joy could easily get out of the dinghy at the “Dinghy Dock” restaurant, right downtown to the left of the Lift Bridge. This bridge was recently renovated at substantial cost, but it’s not much more than a tourist attraction these days. We dinghied in the next day for lunch, drinks, and a couple hours of relaxation at this very cool hangout, popular with cruisers and locals alike. Before lunch though, we cruised around the harbor in the dinghy taking in all the sights. We wandered through the canal and under the bridge to the ferry dock on the western shore, watching all the tourists coming and going at the very large commercial facility located there. Along the canal we found the marine facilities serving this area, the fuel dock, the marine store, the fishing docks, and many other restaurants and shops. One thing we noticed at the outdoor restaurants was all the tourists spraying bug juice all over themselves and swatting like fiends. We were glad we were having lunch on the edge of the bay where tropical breezes flow across the tables and no bugs attack. 

To the right of the lift bridge above you notice a square white-roofed cabana at the end of the town dock. This dock is a popular gathering spot for local boaters on the weekends, and of course, we happened to be in the harbor over the week-end, so boat traffic was non-stop. Large power boats from the eastern shore of Puerto Rico shoot over here for the week ends, and many boaters have “summer homes” right on the water. Culebra is no longer the quiet secluded island that you might expect to find after reading the cruising guides. 

Looking off to the North
Looking off to the North

As a cruising note, the water in the harbor is much deeper than indicated on all the charts. We anchored in almost 40 feet of water because there were moorings everywhere, all taken, and too many boats for us to get any closer to shore into shallower water. Fortunately, we carry lots of chain, heavy anchors, and more than 200 feet of one-inch nylon rode shackled to our primary anchor chain for these deep-water anchoring situations. We’d been forewarned. Prior to cruising the Caribbean we’ve never let out the nylon rode as our chain has always been sufficient – not here   
 Gazing out the Entrance
Gazing out the Entrance

We relax at anchor off to the left and gaze out the harbor entrance to get a feel for conditions outside. It’s only a couple of miles, but wave action is dramatically different just outside the harbor. The long range forecasts were calling for easterly winds in excess of twenty knots that would hang around for a couple weeks, so we started planning our moves starting with the open water jump over to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sail on to the U.S. Virgin Islands