Caribbean S3 - Part 2 BVI's to Puerto Rico
January 15, 2019
Robert got the “all clear” from his doctor in Marigot Bay, allowing us to depart the island, however he had strict instructions that he was not to do any swimming in salt water, and had to keep his nose covered whenever he was in the sun. Poor guy! The no swimming part was the real hardship! We set sail just after dinner in the early evening of January 15th. I remembered our sail from hell the previous season along this same route, but this time we were travelling in the opposite direction. Never the less, I was nervous we would be in for the same gut wrenching voyage.
I’m happy to report that we arrived safely in Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, in time for breakfast after our very comfortable and enjoyable 78 nautical mile passage. This was the first overnight passage we had done with our new crew, and everyone did very well. We took the dinghy into shore, at the Leverick Bay Resort, where we planned to have dinner. There was live entertainment by a salty, barefoot pirate, who got us all in the mood for a p-arrr-ty! A great start to Happy Arrrr! (I guess you had to be there)
The next day, we sailed to Peter Island, where the new Willy T party boat was anchored. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and watched as some of the other partiers participated in the traditional topless jump from the top deck. The old Willy T was destroyed in hurricane Irma and was moved to this location this year, from its previous location at Norman Island. After a restful nights sleep in the calm anchorage, we sailed on to Jost Van Dyke and enjoyed another p-arrr-ty at the Soggy Dollar. We spent a couple of nights at anchor here and also visited the infamous Foxy’s Restaurant. We were lucky enough to meet Mr. Foxy himself and he serenated us with a political limerick. I wish I could remember the words!
We checked out of the BVI’s at Jost Van Dyke, and made a short 52 nautical mile sail before setting anchor in Charlotte Amalie, where we checked into the USVI’s in St. Thomas. We spent 4 days at anchor before heading further west stopping at the island of Culebra, which is part of Puerto Rico. We didn’t bother to check out before leaving St. Thomas, which we would later learn was a mistake. The customs agent in St. Thomas had told us that since we were headed to Puerto Rico and they were both part of the USA, checking out would not be necessary. WRONG! But we didn’t learn about this error until we were ready to check out in Puerto Rico. Gory details to come later in this post.
We spent 5 nights at anchor at Culebra and enjoyed it thoroughly. We went for a long dinghy tour, and checked out the nearby restaurant/bar, where we could park our dinghy right next to our table. We rented a golf cart so that we could tour more of the island and spent a couple of afternoons at the georgous white sandy Flamenco Beach. Site seeing by golf cart was a fantastic way to see this island. Some of the roads are better than others, and you never know when you might drive up to a horse walking along the sidewalk. One of the properties got very creative with their makeshift “guard house”, where the stuffed guard even holds a shotgun! Yep, you know you’re back in the US when…. We liked it here very much and look forward to coming back some day.
On the last day of January, we set sail for the 20 nautical mile passage to Marina Del Ray, on the East side of Puerto Rico. We checked into the marina and made arrangements to rent a car for a couple of days so that we could see as much of Puerto Rico as possible during our short stay. We spent our first full day in the marina doing a general clean-up of the boat, and packing travel bags for a couple of days away. With the boat securely berthed in the marina, we felt confident that we could leave her while we went on our mini adventure. Both Susan and Jenny were as anxious as we were to do some land exploration. We were not sure if there would still be some power issues that had burdened this island after Hurricane Irma.
We started out heading north towards Fajardo. Susan had mentioned that she had wanted to see the El Yunque National Forest, so we spent a fair amount of our first day site seeing amongst the greener parts of Puerto Rico. It was a perfect day for it, sunny and warm. The Park has many hiking trails as well as paved roads, and we managed to get out of the car and wander a bit. The Yokahú Tower is located within the park and is one of two towers there. It stands at an elevation of 1,575 feet. We decided to climb to the top and take in the awesome view of the rain forest. Farther into the national park, we found a beautiful swimming hole. The water was a little chilly, but we still decided to go in for a dip to refresh.
After leaving the park, we continued north west toward San Juan where we would spend our first night. We toured around the area a bit, found an outdoor restaurant for dinner where the four of us enjoyed a lovely meal. After dinner, Susan and Jenny decided to catch an Uber back to the hotel, and Robert and I walked back. The next morning we found a wonderful place to have breakfast before getting back on the road trip. Continuing West, we rounded the far end of the island and stopped at Mayagüez, Rincón, and Playa Ballena where we got a long distance view of the island where the TV Show “Gilligans Island” was filmed. Normally there is a ferry tour over to the island, but unfortunately it wasn’t running on the day we were there. We continued along the southern side of Puerto Rico to Guayama where we headed north on a very interesting road, to say the least. It was snake-like with many switch-backs, and some very narrow parts where we wondered if it would be wise to turn back! Last stop back at the boat in Marina Del Ray.
We certainly didn’t anticipate any complications with our check-out process, but boy were we wrong! As I mentioned before, we checked into the “US” at St. Thomas, USVI, and were told that we only needed to check out when we were leaving Puerto Rico to head to the Bahamas. When we contacted the CBP Agent and told them we wanted to check out, he came back to us and asked when we had checked in. When we told him we hadn’t checked into Puerto Rico, and that our check in was done in St. Thomas, he informed us that we were in violation and could be severely fined for not having checked in. We explained that we were following what we had been told in St. Thomas, but that didn’t seem to matter to them. So at the end of this long drawn out process, we didn’t end up getting a fine, but Robert was given a warning paper that he was told he would have to present each time he entered into a US state from another country. He, as captain of the vessel, was ultimately responsible for the check in process, so that is why he ended up with the warning. You know what they say about those Canadians eh? Bad bad bad!
Once all the formalities were complete, and Robert was given his warning, we were free to leave. Next stop George Town, Bahamas.
Where is BnG now?
We cannot direct the wind, we can only adjust our sails