Friday 5 Apr, Puerto Rico day 1: Search for replacement outboard and arriving at Yacht Club Marina, Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico.
We have breakfast still feeling gloomy about the theft of our outboard. We had a beach day planned here in the nearby Sun Bay, and also to anchor and snorkel in Green Bay on the western end of Vieques. But we don’t feel in that mood now, nor are we in the mood to row ashore. We just want get to a marina and re-equip ourselves again.
So we jump to action after breakfast. Few phone calls later we are booked in Yacht Club Marina in main land Puerto Rico, and also hired a car. Then start the hunt for a Suzuki DF20A outboard just like the stolen one. First dealer has none but the second has just 1 in stock. Brilliant, now we can get on our way. Can’t believe our luck to have found an engine so easy!
The marina is 19 miles exactly down wind. With 15-20kts wind we decide to take it leisurely and simply pole out the genoa. As usual, we get the pole rigged ready before we depart. Handling this huge pole while rolling in the waves is best to be avoided. As we will dock in the marina port-side-to we rig the pole to starboard. Then I dive to our “auxiliary anchor” (mooring line tied to an unused mooring bolt on the sea bed) and untie the bowline. Luckily it came undone quite easily and the water is just 4m deep so not too hard to get to. As soon as this line is off and Cloudy Bay swings back to the wind, she starts rolling in the swell. So it was a good move to anchor ourselves like that (see yesterday’s blog).
Within minutes of pulling the anchor we have the full genoa unfurled, poled out and we are doing a steady 6 kts as we gently sail down the south side of Vieques. We pass the green hills and lovely long beaches on the south west side, waving our goodbye and feeling lucky that we at least saw it all by scooter. Such a lovely island and such a shame we have a bad taste about it now.
As we will be in the marina for likely a week, we need our water tanks full so we make water for the whole 3 hour journey. We don’t want to use marina water, our RO water is the best.
In the middle of the crossing to Puerto Rico we get bad news via email. The engine Suzuki dealer thought they had in stock was actually sold earlier this morning, and the next shipment from Japan is not expected till June! Bummer. Thought it was too good to be true.
We will have to come up with plan-B. They have a Suzuki 15HP but we really don’t want less power. Maybe we have to swap to a Yamaha. Either way, we are back to square-one on the outboard engine replacement 🙁
As we approach Palmas Del Mar it’s clear we are entering a very developed residential area. Houses and apartment blocks cover the hillsides all around the marina.
The swell here is really big now and we wonder how it will be in the marina. There is little worse than being on a dock with surging motion, snatching on the lines. Closer to the very narrow entrance the swell is still running big. It makes for a rather nervous entry, but as soon as we are inside the water is calm.
Due to our draft we apparently cannot get into the main marina and will have to tie to the outside of the outer dock. We were a bit worried swell would get to here, but it’s really not too bad at all.
There are two very pleasant guys waiting to help us with the lines and soon we are nicely tied up alongside and being blown off. This means the wind is keeping the boat away from the concrete dock which is perfect. Nothing touching the boat except the lines. The lines are snatching a little so we put snubbers on them to stop the squeezing that would otherwise keep us awake. Soon we are connected to power – our first time back on-grid for over 3 months! The solar panels and generator can take a well earned rest!
After tidying the boat we check in. All very efficient and super friendly. There is also a small swimming pool we can use.
In the early evening we take a stroll into the nearby development complex. It’s all very neat and tidy and looks totally recovered from the 2017 hurricanes. What a contrast comparing to St. Martin!
We find a “plaza” that has a few fast food outlets and lots of people around, all very American. But not for us, not this evening. We opt for the small and quiet Cafe de la Plaza, an Italian restaurant where we sit for a couple of drinks and 2 appetizers. The bill is $50! Oooph, yes, back to US prices.
Back on board we fight to get internet. Apart from maybe 30 small motor boats, this 300 berths marina is all but deserted. We are the ONLY ones on our jetty, 1 of 4. So there really is no excuse for poor internet.
But it could just be that our PCs have been disconnected for so long and they are gobbling it all up with updates. Certainly they sound like they are working hard as their small fans are going full blast.
So we go to bed leaving the computers doing their stuff. Hopefully they will all be updated and rested by the morning.