Ponce and the South Coast of Puerto Rico

One of the things about cruising that never ceases to surprise me is the explosion of civilization we find wherever we go. I look at the charts, read the guides, and expect that we’ll find deserted coves or harbors and that we’ll be the only human beings around. I have yet to find that harbor; you’d think I’d learn sooner or later. But I guess I’m a romantic and I keep hoping to find that Robinson Crusoe island hidden somewhere along the way. So far, not in this part of the world.

Gigantic Fuel Depot
Gigantic Fuel Depot

I thought this fuel transfer facility on the leg to Ponce was going to be a small operation tucked back into the coast, but as you see in the photo, the facility is massive, and the fuel storage tanks extend for miles along the coastline. Huge tanker ships offload their liquid cargo at the long dock, and the liquid gold is then piped, trucked, and shipped all over the country. We cruised on by, well offshore. My photo is somewhat blurry due to the maximum zoom level I used
Commercial Port at Ponce
Commercial Port at Ponce

From Cayos de Cana Gorda (Gilligan’s Island) we motor-sailed passing the oil transfer facility on the way to the city of Ponce; that name is pronounced, Pone-say, two syllables. This harbor is a busy, crowded, deep-water anchorage filled with private yachts on moorings. We managed to tuck up in not too far from the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club off to our starboard side, anchoring in 35 feet. To our port side is the busy commercial harbor that goes non-stop, 24/7. 
Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club
Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club

Ahead of us, all the pleasure boats are moored close to downtown, the park, and all the activity. The cruising guides warn us that the city park is loud with competing bands every night, but especially on the week ends; it was Saturday night, so you guessed it, the bands played loudly into the wee hours of the morning. Sleep was all but impossible. But the music was good!
Ponce Waterfront Park
Ponce Waterfront Park

One night without sleep was about all we could handle. We still had perfect weather for heading east, so early the next morning we hauled the anchor on deck, cleaned off the heavy mud, raised sail, and reluctantly left without having had the chance to explore. But Ponce would only be a short drive from our next stop, and we planned to tour the country by car from there. So off we sailed.

On to Salinas