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Last update April 01 2014
With the Gran Case Carnival we open this month. Along with Rene, Stacy, Lisa, Dave, LA and Susan of SY Genesis we catch the bus for the Carnival Tuesday in Grand Case . But all buses stopped at Marigot during the big Mardi Gras parade, they went no further. There is no transport until after the parade there, which gives us two parades in one day. The parade is colorful with local music. After this unexpected treat we finally went to Grand Case for part 2.
Then the Heineken Regatta. We crew on SY Ke Ola Kai (Moody 46) with Rene, Stacy, LA, Susan and the owner Lisa and captain Dave. It starts on Friday, March 7th with a special bridge opening to the Simpson Bay. Every morning a jury gives points for the best outfit. Ke Ola Kai means Life on the Sea in Hawaii, thats why we are wearing Hawaian costumes. Once outside we have make to boat fitt for the race. Dave, John, Rene and Lisa are in the cockpit , the rest is railing meat.
Our first race day is a difficult one, quarreling Dave and Lisa, a block that breaks down and becomes a flying object... Just before the finishline our genoa comes down, this is the end of our racing day as it happens 100 yards windward from a rocky coast we have no option but to start the engine. No finsh for SY Ke Ola Kai that day.
Day two starts without LA and Susan, they seen enough action on day 1 and John changed places with Stacy. Rene starts to coordinate things a bit more efficiently and that without offending anyone, quite a feat. Things between Dave and Lisa remain the same. On day 2 we won the race in points...
The last day of the race we finish sixth and our total score is also sixth because of the handicap system. In a field of 14 that's not bad I guess.
At nighttime during the evening celebrations we see a lot of familiar faces. Marcel with Pa Ben SY Feeks, Renzo and Edith Tri Equinox, we also meet many new people, mainly from the Netherlands. Something else for a change and we have to learn Dutch again.
Monday, March 10th, we celebrate Rene's Birthday. In daytime we prepare our boat to leave St Maarten. Around five o'clock we're expected on SY Genesis to celebrate Rene's Birthday with a Happy Hour. Then we went to Skipjack's for dinner and also say goodbye to everyone. JoHo will leave the Caribbean to sail towards the Eastcoast of America. We will not see our friends for a long time. Always a difficult moment.
Sherman Tank at Playa Flamingo, Culebra (Puerto Rico)
Early on Tuesday morning we passed the 8:15 Causeway bridge to go to the Dutch side. But even before we hoist anchor Lisa calls over the radio, totally upset. Dave has left her yesterday and hasn't come back. We go to the Dutch side and anchor near SY Ke Ola Kai. We will stay one more day to help her out with Rene and Stacy. At the end of the day there is a plan for her. In the evening we are invited by LA and Susan for a farewell dinner with Rene and Stacy, sweathearts. But tomorrow we really go.
The next days are fantastic, a little wind, really calm seas and JoHo sailed as a charm on her spinacker. First to the BVI's, USVI and than to the Spanish Virgin Islands to check-in. The Spanish Virgin Islands are part of Puerto Rico. We arrived on spi in Ensenada Honda on the island of Culebra. In this well-protected bay we throw out our anchor. Now we have to check-in at the airport with two other boats, but as we could not phone in before that is not as easy as it seems... At the end of the day we are officialy in Puerto Rico.
After a good night's sleep, we walked the next day to Playa Flamenco. Here you find two Sherman tanks on the beach (Sherman, not German as some post online). Culebra and Vieques were exercise areas for the U.S. Army. Around 2001 these island became public areas again. Unfortunately, there are still no go zones, because of militay remnants (i.e. mines and these tanks).
After a few days of Culebra, we sail on to Salinas on the mainland of Puerto Rico. On the south coast the waters are littered with lobsterpots on buoys. We hit one and try to remove it but that didn't work, although John could cut the line from the swimming platform. We decide to sail with it untill the anchorage at Salinas. The downside is that we can not use our engine getting in. In the bay near Saninas we anchored and John cut the remains of the lobster pot loose. When everything is removed we motor into Salinas.
Fortaleza San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan (Puerto Rico)
In Salinas we rented a car from Hertz for five days, more expensive than local rental but the local guy had no cars at that time.
Puerto Rico is a big island and our first day is meant for shopping, John drops me off at the greatest mall in the Caribbean. He was on his mission, finding batteries. After a couple of hours he came back, without batteries but with a story.
The route I gave him to the shop was totally wrong and he ended up in some barrios of San Juan. He tried to ask direction at a big mamma in his best spanish, mum shouts something back in the house and a stunning young girl appears. She spoke English and told John how to get back on the road again. So after several more directions and two hours he ended up at the batterie company shop (500 metres from where he dropped me...) but they didn't had the batteries he wanted.
Next plan was to find the batteries a Sam's Club (on advise of an elder Britisch motorcruiser). At Sam's Club they do not have four batteries, they phoned another branch and directed us to them. We had to make a detour to the east coast for batteries. Once we're there and the batteries in the car, we review our day and find that next to having started with a flat tire and our our right indicator not working it appears that we were not alone either.
The car was full of ants and cockroaches coming out a dusk -yarghh-, we still had to drive two hours back to our boat with all these extra guest in our car.
The next day we changed cars at Hertz and drove through the scenic route to the north-west to visit the Arecibo Obstervatory. This is the largest radio telescope in the world. The dish and telescope are really inpressive. The museum is very informative and once outside we have a look at the whole thing.
Day three is dedicated to Old San Juan, this is actually a small island that is connected to the mainland by three bridges. We Dutch tried to conquer the place from the Spaniards in 1625 and nearly succeeded. They only kicked us back with help from the locals. So after that the Spanish decided to reinforce this place and they did. Massively. We walked first on the outside along the city wall, then we went into the old city. Fort San Felipe del Morro is very impressive.
Next to the fort there's a real Spanish atmosphere with terraces across old San Juan. We enjoyed the walk and stay.
On Day four, we took the scenic route from the east side to halfway the island on narrow roads, up and down. These roads sometimes spontaneously ended because of landslides or floodings. Great place and we dwindled up and down through dark woods with an occasional viewpoint (if we could find them).
On day five we went to El Yuque National Forest. Today we walk a bit more than the other days. We start at the visitors centre for detailed info on the park. They showed a short film to introduce El Yuque. After that we went by car to various points in the park where hiking trails started. There are several waterfalls to see. It is very busy day and we can't remember seeing this amount of people on our other trips in the Carib.
We talked to a lot of people on our short hikes and had a lot of fun. After a day in the park we went back early. Today is the last day we can do our shopping, and we already did a Walmart tour on the island. Never knew they had that many walmarts, it made us (me) very happy.
The last days of the month we stayed in Salinas. Do some Internet, have some quality time and made new friends. JoHo is getting ready for the next part; slowly toward Bahamas.
I finished a special photobook, about our travels 10 years JoHo's travel from 2001 to 2011.
Curious ? Then click the link.
And if you're interested in sailing the BAHAMAS, BERMUDA, MALDIVES, BONAIRE or SURINAME have a look at our books at SAILADVENTURES where the books are available online.
You can always mail us for more info on these cruising grounds or cruising in general, we'll gladly help you out.
JoHo is on anchor in Salinas, Puerto Rico at 17°57'3 N - 66°17'5 W.
Sailing to the USA. Then back south to the Bahamas in winter again.
Our floating home and office is always ready for us to work for ourselves as writers and editors compiling cruising guides on our way.
We'll see how things will run, life's too complicated to plan anyways. Live life to the max, it can be over before you know it is our slogan.
John and Jolanda