Thursday 4 Apr, SVI day 11, Vieques: Scooter trip in the morning and another evening out. But our opinion of Vieques takes a U-turn after the outboard engine gets stolen.
We have to return the scooter by 10.30am, so early alarm was set to allow ourselves one last ride this morning. We enjoyed it so much yesterday that we wanted to make the most of the rental time we have left.
Armed with the drone we head back to the south-west coast to get the aerial view of the beautiful long beach there and the avenue of palm trees. This is one of our favorite spots on Vieques, we could ride the scooter all day in this wilderness. Again, not a soul about in the area.
Perfect timing for our drone flight, just before dark clouds start approaching and the wind picks up.
With an hour to spare, we head north to explore a couple of paved roads which we didn’t ride on yesterday. And we find ourselves in a hilly area, with some good looking properties scattered around. This must be the affluent neighborhood of the island.
Down on the north side we head to Isabel II town to fuel up (all petrol stations are in this town). And while there we pay a short visit to the supermarket for fresh vegetables. Which we found some of, but the check-out queues were ridiculously long and no point wasting 30 min to pay $6 for 2 tomatoes! So we walk out empty handed. Salad can wait till Puerto Rico!
As we scooter out of Isabel we see a horse picking garbage bags out of a dumpster and laying them on the road. It did it so gracefully you could almost imagine the horse also putting them back in the dumpster once it had what it wanted! A local lady told us last evening that horses here eat the garbage, but to actually see them picking up one bag at a time was surprising to say the least. And indeed, these 10,000 horses (if this is the real number) are a pest. And to think we were laughing seeing chickens feeding themselves in the dumpsters…(such a common fact that a local craft brewery in St.Thomas named one of their beers DumpsterCock!)
While driving back towards Esperanza town where we are anchored few rain clouds come our way, but luckily we don’t get too wet this time. Good timing again, as when we arrive in town we realize there must have been serious rain here.
As we return the scooter we talk to the guy about security. Again he mentions that they have had 5 scooters stolen so far this year. On that note we take a look at the dinghy, which is still on the dock, with engine.
Across the road, at Cafe Del Mar, we search for freshly baked bread. They do not sell any, it’s baked for the meals in restaurant only. Hm, too bad. We do smell fresh coffee though, and enticed by the espresso machine we decide to treat ourselves with coffee and breakfast. The coffee was below our expectations but the food was yummy.
Same as in all the bars and restaurants we previously had drinks or food at, we inquire on the availability of WiFi. And guess what, there is none here either. Lately we find the lack of WiFi most upsetting :(. Not only we can’t upload our blog posts on time, but we can’t even check emails or browse for information that we need for the next legs of our trip. This has become our biggest frustration. Well, maybe together with not having natural yogurt and fresh bread.
And in the meantime it keeps on raining. We walk back to the dinghy on the equilibrium-challenging jetty and we find a fair amount of rain water in the dinghy. With more dark clouds coming our way. This weather made us decide to stay put and have an admin day onboard instead of the previously planned afternoon on the beach.
Back to Cloudy Bay, I take advantage of the rain and wash the windows and generally use the fresh water to wipe down the coachroof. Seems a while since we had decent rain.
After that I adjust our anchoring because with this wind of 20-25 knots, not only are we kiting all over the place but the swell is hitting us side on making us roll. When we originally anchored and I swam to check it, I noted a nearby abandoned mooring bolt on the seabed. As the anchor was in thick seagrass I was a bit nervous to leave the boat while we took a day on the scooter.
Last time we were anchored in such thick seagrass, in Greece, we saw Cloudy Bay dragging anchor as we sipped a cocktail on the beach! She had pulled up a football field sized piece of turf and was heading out to sea all by herself! So with this in my mind, I took a mooring line and tied it to the mooring bolt, and the other end loosely around the bow cleat, for added security in case we drag.
And now, as we are rolling in the swell, I took that same line but this time tight on the stern cleat, pulling the stern sideways. This swiveled us 45deg to the wind but perfectly in line with the swell, which is now coming directly astern, gently pitching the boat, but no rolling. Wonderful. Soon I’ll be able to write a book on anti-rolling techniques 🙂
A few more boats arrive and anchor in this bay, but some don’t last too long rolling in the swell and disappear as fast as they came.
Early afternoon is spent going through pictures and videos and sorting them out. Which makes us realize once more how far behind we are on editing and archiving. Rainy days like this are perfect to catch up on such tasks.
We also have a tentative plan of leaving for Puerto Rico on Saturday, so we call the Puerto Del Ray Marina again to reconfirm our reservation. Not little was our surprise when the lady who answered the phone said the marina is fully booked and can’t accommodate us. 15 minutes on the phone with her and she could not find our reservation neither by boat name nor by berth number. We then got hold of the guy whom we originally booked through and in a minute not only he found our original reservation but he also changed the arrival date. Some people are more efficient than others…
We briefly have a look on the chart at the smaller SVI islands close to Puerto Rico. Some look interesting enough, so we are contemplating whether we should pay them a visit. Maybe a read through our pilot would help us decide if it’s worthwhile or not.
Early evening we decide to go ashore to Cafe Del Mar again, where they play nice music and make good cocktails. Very entertaining evening, as we chat with our new acquaintance, Patrick, who crossed Panama Canal and sailed the Pacific over 2.5 years. Great source of useful information. And we stay there till about 10pm.
But back at the dinghy dock we get a nasty surprise. The outboard is gone!!! Bastards. This island may be pretty but it clearly has a nasty criminal problem. The dinghy itself is still locked to the dock but somehow they have managed to remove the outboard without taking the dinghy. (normal theft mode in these islands is to steal the dinghy, remove the outboard somewhere safe, then set the dinghy adrift).
Looks like they sawed through the clamp bolts behind the anti-theft lock. Nothing else is missing, just the engine and fuel line, which they ripped out of the tank fitting without even trying to undo the quick-connect. I guess they were in a hurry.
Needless to say we are furious. We go back to Cafe Del Mar where the owner calls the police for us. While we are told this is pretty pointless on this island, we will need a police report for insurance. As we wait for the police to arrive we suddenly think they may realize this dinghy belongs to Cloudy Bay (it had the name on the cowl cover) so I row out quickly to check. It’s about this time I realize it’s a very good thing we don’t carry weapons on board. When you are robbed like this all I can think of is what I want to do these people if I could get my hands on them. Therefore, I’m really not sure I could control my temper and the strong urge to use a firearm if we were ever boarded.
Gladly Cloudy Bay is still snug and safe. With the swim platform up (and we always raise it up) it’s pretty difficult to get aboard.
As I get back to the dock, along with information about the outboard (serial number etc) Oana and the 3 police officers are waiting. They take all the details and surprisingly say “we will have your outboard back in maybe a day or two.” They sounded so confident the way they said this, that it almost sounded suspicious. Well, our thoughts are maybe provoked by comments from local expats, according to which the police never seem to catch any criminals on this island. So, if you are a thief, come to Vieques … you can work in peace!
Back on Cloudy Bay our mood is naturally gloomy. We have to tell ourselves “it’s only an outboard” and “no one broke into our home”. But still, you know how we must have been. I guess we were lucky they didn’t steal the dinghy, otherwise we would have either slept in a hotel tonight or swam to Cloudy Bay.
We had planned a couple of beach relaxing days before Puerto Rico, but now we just want to get far away from this island. We will leave tomorrow once we have alerted our insurance.