S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Big Hop

SOMEBODY is a little late with the guest blog. In the meantime, here are two blogs regarding what we've been up to for the past week. Read the bottom one first.

Tuesday, April 3
Bahia de Sardinas, Isla de Culebra, Puerto Rico
N 18 degrees, 18.038 minutes
W 065 degrees, 18.308 minutes

The prop worked, we hightailed it out of St. Thomas, and we had a fast and lively BEAM REACH to Culebra on Thursday afternoon. Delilah ate up the waves, making up to 8 knots (!!!) as the wind built toward the end of our sail. We caught no fish, but Indra caught two tuna, which they shared with us that night. Ah, sashimi! Nothing in the world tastes so fresh as tuna caught the same day, then cooled and served raw, with a little soy sauce and wasabi for a kick.

Amanzi and Carapan turned up one day later, and since then, between squalls, wind, and heavy socializing, who has time to snorkel? The little, laid back town of Dewey, off which we are anchored, takes about five minutes to walk through, but it has a good vibe. Ferries arrive from mainland Puerto Rico several times a day, and a cheap bus system whisks tent and cooler toting spring breakers to Playa de Flamenco in a constant stream. Dean and I took one of these buses on Sunday, and we found that we were, by far, the oldest beachgoers in sight.

Farther down the long, white sand beach, the crowds thinned out, and stakes marked off a few protected spots where turtles have come ashore to lay their eggs. The waves on the north coast have been building all weekend, and the crashing surf on the reefs is mesmerizing. I don't know how those poor turtles make it in and out each night.

By Monday we were ready for a little civilization, so all 10 of us took the early-morning ferry ($2.25 per person for a 30-mile jaunt) to Fajardo. We negotiated with a couple of gypsy cab drivers for a trip to Old San Juan, punctuated by side trips to West Marine, Walmart, and McDonald's (there were kids with us, after all). We got the shopping part of the day out of the way first, and then lit out on the long ride to the city.

Our driver kept us occupied on the twisty roads by blasting songs from the Spanish Top 40 out of a speaker next to my ear and driving like a maniac. "That's all right," Forbes, who was in the death seat, assured our driver after we had bottomed out on a particularly bad turn. "I don't think you needed that part anyway." Fortunately for us, we've spent enough time in the Caribbean that near-death driving experiences in extremely rickety cars do nothing to raise our blood pressure. Rory would have been impressed by the extensive bondo work on our cab's doors and frame.

Our driver redeemed himself completely in my eyes by pulling off the road on an impulse and encouraging us to try the fare on offer at one of the many, MANY roadside stands with a woman out front tending a wood fired. I have no idea what to call the thing that I ate. It was cornmeal on the outside and it looked quite like a corn dog, but it was full of smoky chicken. We wiped out the vendor's supply, so we watched while she made more, selecting beef, chicken, or crab to line the center of the cornmeal dough, then shaping it with an almond tree leaf before sliding it into the hot oil for a few minutes.

The long ferry and car rides were worth it. Old San Juan is a spectacular city, founded in the 1420s, with a well-preserved fort, welcoming plazas and courtyards, and elegant homes along cobbled streets. We all scattered like mice, eager to make the most of the short two hours we had before we needed to get back in our cabs.

And when we returned, each of us had already determined that we'd really need several days here in order to enjoy San Juan fully. While Dean and I had spent some time at the fort enjoying the ocean views, as well as strolling down the beautiful streets, the Carapan family had purchased a kite from the vendors at El Morro to make the most of the trade winds, David on Amanzi had a Panama hat fitted, and Indra enjoyed tapas on one of the pedestrian streets. We will all be back again someday. Next time, Dean will buy himself a hat.

We would be happy to stay in Puerto Rico another few weeks and maybe get around to all that snorkeling we thought we'd do, but the weather has other plans. It looks like we will have an excellent opportunity to make our biggest hop yet, from Puerto Rico to Turks and Caicos, bypassing the Dominican Republic in order to make some miles. I am sad to miss the DR, which also has so much more to see than we could pack into our short visit last spring, but I will be glad to get a few miles behind us as the time left in our trip grows short.


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