Wednesday looked a bit miserable weather wise, so we opted to stay another day in Culebra, catch up with Steve on ‘Southern Cross’ and have lunch in the Dinghy Dock. Delicious burgers and prawn salad.
During the night the boat swung around 180 degrees and got very close to a small abandoned yacht on a mooring so at 0600 we were on deck in the rain, moving further away. We set off for Puerto Rico’s east coast at 0730 after the rain had stopped. We don’t do sailing in the rain if we can help it!
The crossing was great. We could sail the entire 20 miles with the wind on the beam and not too much swell. We had emailed Puerto Del Rey Marina a couple of days before but didn’t get an answer. On Wednesday we phoned them and had to give the same details to three people. That call cost us ten pounds as we don’t have a US phone. They told us to radio in on 71 when we were a mile off but there seemed to be some confusion but they allocated us a slip on dock 12, number 65 and said it was bows in, port side to the dock so we rigged up the lines and fenders on the port side and just put a few fenders on starboard in case we hit anything that side.
So, we motor in through the breakwater and look for a dock numbered 12. We could see 8 and 14 so had to guess the whereabouts of 12. We weren’t told that the odd numbers were on the west side of the dock so had no idea which way to go down the narrow aisles until we saw a couple of dock masters waving at us. Thank goodness for that!
As we approached them it transpired they wanted us to go into a slip on our starboard side and we had literally 10 seconds to move all 4 lines to the other side of the boat. Impossible. So we waved at our lines and the other side of the slip and shouted that it had to be port side to and just went ahead into it. They ran very fast, I’ll give them that, took our lines and we were soon tied up with only a few inches between us and a big metal post in the middle of the double berth.
The docks are high but we had read about that previously and had the fenders right up on our toerail. Water is free here but electricity is metered. It is larger than any marina in North or South America with 1000 slips. The docks are long and it is a fair hike to the office and other facilities so they provide a free golf cart service. There is a shower block half way along the main dock though. We took a good half hour to check into the marina office as they needed a lot of information, got the WiFi code and sat at the bar to Skype my niece. The WiFI isn’t very fast anywhere on the complex but you get used to asking the laptop to do something and going off for a shower or washing up whilst it does it 🙁
They are doing quite a lot of building here with new showers, for which you get given a key each. There is a laundry, little supermarket, restaurant, bar and several marine services. They also have huge hauling out facilities and storage yard. Everyone is very helpful and friendly and the marina is well kept and allegedly ‘hurricane proof’ but I think that is an optimistic claim in all honesty.
Our friends, Robyn and Barry on ‘Smart Move’, another 473, were being launched yesterday and are now our near neighbours on Dock 12. They have a car and kindly suggested we went shopping today, before touring the island’s top sites for the next two days. Puerto Rico certainly has all the provisions we could want and the prices are excellent, including cheap fuel, about half the price of the UK petrol.
We visited West Marine, the big chandlery and a couple of food stores. Once the car was full we had to return to the marina and hope it would all fit in the trolley extension on the golf cart. It did but was so loaded, a baguette fell off en route 🙂 Rob ran back for it, desperate for some nice bread.
We should be here a week as a slightly cheaper berthing rate kicks in at seven nights. They charge 1.45 US$ per foot per night up to a week. We have some small cleaning tasks to do with the available water, engine fuel filters to change now the boat isn’t moving about so much and we defrosted the freezer so we can get some frozen food on Monday. We had hoped to use the shore power to re-chill the freezer quickly but the connectors won’t fit, so we are running the generator instead.
Ronnie, another diver we met in Bonaire who lives here, advised us against sailing west to Ponce or Salinas as he said the trip east again can be ‘nasty’ and we aren’t keen on nasty sails. He suggested seeing the island by car instead, so we may well do that and stay in the eastern area of Puerto Rico before trying to make our way back to Antigua.