Sunday 31 Mar, SVI day 7: From Culebrita to Vieques, another natural reserve with beautiful reefs and beaches.
Needless to say we are not staying in Tortuga Bay for another day. Not when by 8.30am the power boats are already starting to arrive from Puerto Rico. It will probably be just as crowded and loud as yesterday, so we decide to get out of here! Sadly, because we would’ve liked a quiet day on the beach here.
Mid-morning Christian and Eva come onboard for a coffee and a short chat, after which we say our farewells. Our paths go different directions today. s/v Gale returns back to the BVIs and we move on to the next Spanish island, Vieques. A bit of a sad goodbye, but we cheer ourselves up planning to see each other again during summer in Romania, for a motorbike tour of Transylvania.
Soon we have decks ready for sailing mode and the sunshade goes away. Sun is very intense and without the over boom cover we feel instantly very hot.
Last task to attend to is the stern anchor. It did us very well. As soon as it’s retrieved, Cloudy Bay is side-on to the swell and rolls madly.
We motor out of Tortuga Bay having one last look at this beautiful surroundings. It is a special island, not to be missed. But not on a weekend! Our timing wasn’t the best. We could’ve stayed longer if it wasn’t invaded.
The SE breeze is very light, 5-6kts, but we attempt to sail anyway. Not a long distance to go, only 12nm, so even at a speed of 4-5kts we will be there in three hours. Plenty of time sunbathing for Oana and trimming the sails for me.
It is a very gentle upwind sail. Not bad to be doing 5kts in 5kts of true wind.
After 9nm the wind drops to nothing and we have to switch the engine on. Well, at least we can make water at full capacity, as we need to top up on both tanks. We doubt the sea is going to be clean enough around Puerto Rico.
And before we know it we are coming into Vieques, which is quite a pretty sight. Lots of nice beaches scattered along the north coast, and we aim for the east side of Icacos Bay, on the north-east coast. Our pilot mentions that sometimes these bays have buoys banning the entrance due to unexploded ordinance. But we are lucky today, no such sigh. Only lots of buoys with “danger” signs on them.
So in we go, through a narrow gap between coral reefs and we drop anchor in 4m of water on a grassy bottom. Not as pretty bay or beach as Tortuga on Culebrita, but very nice nevertheless. There are only 2 other small motor boats stern-to the beach but soon they depart and we are alone. The northerly swell is hitting this shore but Icocas is totally protected by the reef and the water is calm.
We fly the drone while the light is still strong then venture ashore to walk the beach. In the crystal clear water next to the beach we spot lots of big orange star fish. Haven’t seen many of these anywhere else but they seem to be abundant here.
As we walk along the beach there are several signs warning not to venture inland due to risk of explosive devices. This whole area was once a bombing range for the US Navy. And on a hill in the distance there is a red and white checkered building with a glass observation dome on the top – like an airport control tower. We guess this is where they would observe the accuracy of the bombing.
As we wander back along the beach we decide to remain here for the night.
Back on Cloudy Bay the sun descends into dark clouds that have formed over Puerto Rico and at last we have shade for our late lunch. We comment it’s been a lovely few days with these light winds and no rain. A relief from the trade winds and their rain squalls. All will change this coming week when trade winds will return at their usual 18-22kts, but we hope to be tucked into a marina in Puerto Rico by then, doing some land tourism.
As dusk approaches and the sky turns purple, there is a complete peace around us. We hear the distant waves crashing on the reef and occasional bird song from the land. Nothing else. The water around us is flat and there is just a couple of knots of wind, which Cloudy Bay is gently swaying to. Sunday evening bliss. Just what you need to relax before the start of another working week!