We officially made it to the Virgin Islands! Nice!
Vieques, just off the southeastern tip of Puerto Rico is a Spanish Virgin Island. Less developed for touristies than the US or British virgin ilsands it is replete with pristine beaches, wild horses (sing U2 here) and that spicy latin vibe.
The overnight sail form Salinas took quite long as the wind was dead on the nose, forcing us to make long tacks back and forth. Taiga, a big 44ft catamaran with us in Salinas, left many hours after us yet arrived several hours earlier than us. Team Taiga America's cup challenge! The silver lining was upon our arrival that they invited us over for a full spread breakfast!
In first light as we were approaching the anchorage we noticed that were dragging something. About thirty feet behind us looked to be some blue & orange markers, probably fishing nets or float cords. It was very concerning because if the line gets caught in the propeller it will foul and we'll have big problems. It didn't seem to be an issue yet, who knows how long we'd been dragging it through the night without getting caught. We could have stopped (turn of the engine, lower sails, etc.) in open water and gone swimming with a tether but this also carries significant risk. Ultimately we entered and anchored without incident. I immediately went for a swim to both dive on the anchor and free whatever we were dragging. To our amazement it was a weather balloon!! The National Weather Service (NWS) sends up these weather balloons to record atmospheric data, then they fall back to earth. This one had fallen into the ocean and snagged itself about a foot up our rudder (behind and below our prop, phew). Included on the data collection box is an addressed postage paid envelope to return the balloon to the NWS.
Unfortunately critical boat projects were creeping up and I had to spend a significant amount of time in paradise with my head in the bilge or wrestling a generator. Jack on Taiga was a huge help fixing our generator. It was definitely a two-man job (more likely three or four!). Worst designed generator ever!Hell we literally had to hacksaw it apart. We really appreciated the help. To celebrate and to thank Taiga we treated them to dinner on the malecon. One of the best dinners of the entire trip we agree; food, drink and company. Sherri and Jack on Taiga are certainly remarkable people. Living in the Alaska back country, running dog sled teams, building & running a lodge, flying light / float planes. Oh the stories!
Two bays over form our anchorage was a bio-luminescent bay. Our last night we dinghied over to explore. I was concerned about dinghying across the ocean in darkness and we did surf down some waves but ultimately all went well. In the bay there were a few tour groups going around in kayaks. The bio-luminescence was not obvious so we would row close to a tour group in the pitch black and overhear what the guides were saying. Bio-luminescence is quite variable and I could tell the guides were bullshitting the tourists “Oh yeah, it's only about 50% luminescent tonight, but look at Orion's belt” A light was flashed around and one of the kayakers noticed us.
“Are they with our group?” she asked to the guide
“No they're just trying to listen in on the tour”
“You mean anyone can come here?
“Yeah, sure. If they make it here & back alive”
This cracked us up! You mean you can actually immerse yourself in nature's awesomeness without paying? What a concept!
|The spaceship Taiga
|Who's going to ride...
|Never go behind a horse!
|Tag team wrestling
|From on high - weather ballon or NSA surveillance ???
|Return postage paid... ugh now I have to find a mailbox... why did I ever join Columbia House?!