Rounding Cabo Rojo

The south coast of Puerto Rico can be a tough slog to weather, but if you play the forecasts right, it can be a piece of cake. We chose the latter, and when the forecast looked good, we would plan another little jump to the east. We headed due south from Boqueron, then slightly southeast until we rounded the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico at the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse. In rough weather, this corner presents a forbidding coastline as there is no shelter here. Sheer rock walls climb out of the ocean, and even on a calm day the swell and waves from the southeast roll and crash against these walls. This lighthouse is well placed to warn mariners to stay away at night until they can reach shelter not far around the corner and up the coast.

Cabo Rojo Lighthouse
Cabo Rojo Lighthouse

Our next stop was a tiny town called La Parguera, just a few miles to the east and tucked up into the mangroves. You must wind your way carefully through the reefs and smaller islets, and there are only a couple of buoys to guide you around the toughest spots. The buoys are not located where the charts show them, and if you follow our track you might wonder what we were doing, but I assure you, the buoys mark the reefs, and you follow the marked channel here, or you will surely run up on the reef. Fortunately, you can also see the shallow water very clearly in just about any condition. Unfortunately, we are always very busy when winding our way through tight reef-lined channels, and photo opportunities are rare. We will get some though, I promise.
Reefs to Port
Reefs to Port

La Parguera depends almost entirely on tourism, and all the businesses aim to please the masses. Our cruising guides gave this town a top notch rating, a not-to-be missed sort of place, but the town seems to care little about a few cruising boats. We wanted to go ashore, wander, eat lunch, all the usual fun stuff, so I dinghied through the mangroves to check out access for Joy. Not only was there no access for her, there was none for me either. After a large tour boat left its dock, I putted in to the back side of their dock and received permission to tie up for a few minutes next to all the small commercial boats. I had to climb up the rails to get onto the dock. No way could Joy make it. The town dock described in the guides no longer exists. There is no public access anywhere. I asked – I was told we might be allowed access down at the commercial fishing docks, but one look at those docks told me there was no way Joy was going to try to go ashore there. Every house, every dock – said “Privado No Entrada” (Private) So, a little exploring on my own, and another pass for the two of us. 
Waterway in La Parguera
Waterway in La Parguera

From Boqueron onward we kept seeing this blimp up in the sky following us. A running joke with one our great friends back home, Christy Messer, is that she will keep watch over us to make sure we are safe. She gave Joy her “lucky dollar” to carry with us as we sailed, and we were sure this just had to be Christy up there keeping an eye out to make sure we were behaving!
Christy, are you up there?
Christy, are you up there?

As it turned out, the blimp landed in La Parguera as it serves the University of Puerto Rico’s marine facility located here on one of the small islands. Their docks serve as a guidepost as you enter or leave the anchorage.

The weather turned crappy on our second day here, with thunderstorms and high winds playing aloft, so we stayed safely anchored up in the mangroves waiting for the system to pass. Maybe that’s why the blimp hunkered down too. But all these things pass, and the next morning early I felt we could take another jump, beat the mid-day thunderstorms, and find safe haven 20 miles or so further along the coast. So off we went. 

Ponce and Further East