Not ones to usually enjoy being in a marina, we have decided to stay another few days so we can hire a car to ensure we have seen most of the island’s attractions, especially those in the southern part, around Ponce, the second largest city. Our friend, Ronnie, suggested we visited Castillo Serrallés, as he has been a director there for 24 years.
The marina is certainly huge but we often walk to the office or shop for the exercise rather than calling up a golf cart on Ch 71. There is still building work going on but the car rental office, bar, restaurant, small chandlery and mini market are open. Everything is well designed with a covered area to park the car under whilst the shopping is unloaded straight into the carts attached to the golf buggies. The showers and restrooms are very modern and clean and the laundry would take some beating.
We made a mistake getting our washing done in Culebra in retrospect, as it cost almost 20 GBP for a load and a half and didn’t come back smelling of conditioner. The laundry here has 4 big front loader washers, 1 top loader and 5 dryers, costing 2 dollars for the wash and 3 to dry the whole load, so about 3.33 GBP a load. They are modern ‘eco’ machines and you can barely see any water, which was a bit odd at first. I thought it wasn’t working! You need to buy a plastic card from the machine first, costing 5 dollars but then load it up with money to do the laundry.
There is a book swop, a big table for folding the clothes and a couple of benches and a desk where you can use a laptop, electricity sockets included. We finally discovered that the best Wi-Fi on the marina site is actually in the laundry and even Skyped from there!! It is also open 24 hours a day.
The bar is OK, not much atmosphere despite the location overlooking the marina and you need bug spray. We didn’t try the restaurant or the snack bar but I saw pizza boxes for takeaways. The supermarket sells a range of essentials, fresh bread and sandwiches. There is also an area where you can try to get Wi-Fi with tables and chairs but the connection was as poor as on our boat during the day.
One of the best things about the marina is that water is not metered, so we made the most of it, washing everything we could and waterproofing the bimini. It had started to let the rain through and we had to sit inside when it rained. We didn’t take the bimini off the frame but let it down in sections instead and this worked well because we could put it straight back up again, eliminating creases and getting it dry more quickly. We just sprayed the waterproofing on, hoped it wouldn’t rain for at least 6 hours (it didn’t) and in the morning saw the beads of water on the top of the bimini, so it was successful. The waterproofing liquid costs a fortune, so we wouldn’t want to do that too often!
We also cleaned the deck and all the inside of the boat, cleared out the guest cabin in readiness for our next friend arriving in April, mended the port stern cleat split, changed the engine fuel filters and took off the boom to check and lubricate the fixing between it and the mast. These tasks are just easier in the marina when the boat is still. Rob also sawed a piece of wood to protect the teak on the bow from the anchor chain when it is being let out or brought back in, again just easier with a concrete dock underneath the wood. Having refuse bins is an excuse to go through items onboard and dump anything we can to free up space but most of what we have, we do use, even if its once a year. So with almost all the boat work done, we are taking a couple of days off to go sightseeing and finish off the heavy shopping. We rarely have a car, so it is a real luxury.