St Thomas to Culebra / Puerto Rico


After being a couple of days in Charlotte Amalie we moved Troskala to a lovely anchorage on Water Island called Honeymoon Bay.  This bay was such a contrast from where we were based but it was lovely to get a break from the noise and smell of pollution.  The next day we had to take Trosksla back to the town, which was only 2 miles away so that we could stock up on food and clear customs as the next day we would be heading to the small island of Culebra, which is part of the Spanish Virgin Islands.


After sorting all the paperwork and shopping we moved back to Honeymoon Bay for the evening as we could then make a clear break to Culebra, which is 20 miles away.

We departed fairly early the next morning with lovely sunshine but a brisk 25 knots from behind.  We hoisted the pole and set Hydrovane up and enjoyed the scenery for the rest of the sail.  We approached the reef-strewn entrance to Culebra around 14:00; we had had a fast sail, averaging around 6.5 knots.  We had to take down the main sail before we approached the first bouy, the wind had picked up and the seas were now 2.5 meters.  We managed to bring it down and motored through the channel to our new anchorage in Dewey, Culebra.


I have not managed to take many photos of Culebra yet, but watch this space.  This is a great place.  If you want the Caribbean but with seclusion and no cruise ships this is the place.  We have had numerous beaches to ourselves whilst being here.  The people are friendly and Spanish, which is a bonus with Carlotta being here. I have to say that is we could we would stay here much longer just for the quiet and the community feel.  Last night our dinghy managed to get trapped under the dock as the tide had risen slightly.  In no time at all half the neighbourhood were there trying the free Daisy from underneath the dock.  We are surprised how friendly, polite and liad-back the people are.


If you have never been to Culebra and want to see what the Caribbean was like 30 years ago then get here, you will not be disappointed.  On the downside though, there was a massive thunderstorm the other night that managed to knock out all phone and internet on the island for two days, so this kind of seclusion does have it’s draw backs.  Photos will be posted before we leave this paradise.


We had spoken to a few people in regards to heading to Puerto Rico.  The Island is only 20 miles away and we would be quite happy to sail there, but due to un-favourable currents and wind it would take us 24 hours to complete the 20 miles to St Thomas so instead we decided to take the ferry and spent a day or two in Puerto Rico.


Guess what. You can take a ferry fro Culebra to Puerto Rico, which is 20 miles away, all for $4.50, so around £3.20.  The journey takes 1 hour 30 minutes and the scenery is great.  I used to spend £350 a month to travel from St Albans to London with no seat and horrible scenery; something is not right with the UK rail service and what they charge.


So, we took a lovely ferry ride over from Culebra to Fajardo (Puerto Rico), we slept most of the way as we had woken up at 05:00 and caught the ferry at 06:30.    We arrived in Fajardo at 08:30.  Fajrdo is a busy little place but not to spend a day there.  We wanted to get to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.  We were going to take a taxi but this cost $60 one way, which is crazy especially when you can rent a car for the day at $70 including insurance.  There is no direct bus service either, so you are quite stuck.


We went to the rent-a-car agent and managed to get a lovely Nissan Sentra, which has to be the worst car I have ever driven.  The air-conditioning did not work, the steering was interesting in a way that if you exceeded 65mph and tried to steer to the right it would take a few seconds to steer that way; the vibration at over 70mph made your teeth actually hurt not to mention the other starting issues we had.  We complained at the end and will hopefully get some money knocked off.


Besides all the car issues we had a lovely day driving to San Juan.  They drive well over here and the roads and pretty looked after, especially the Auto Express.  It took us around an hour to get into San Juan and we were smitten by it. San Juan not only had a splendid European feel, it was clean and the people were lovely.   You had history at every turning point and great views.  A free bus runs around the old town so you can hop on or off at any time with no charge.


We spent the morning wondering around and drinking coffee; it could have been any European City but so far away from Europe.  We took photos and decided to press on to an Outlet village as I needed to stock up on some new clothes and Puerto Rico is meant to be cheaper than most of the islands.  We completed our shopping and my first time in a Walmart and then headed back to Fajardo.


On the way we took a road up to the Rain Forest, which was spectacular.  You could compare Puerto Rico with St Lucia for its green slopes and amazing trees, but it is more developed in a good way and not spoilt as much as certain Caribbean islands have been with mass tourism.  We lost the road in the end and had some tricky manoeuvring to get it back down the hill in reverse, but all was well.  The photo below shows Carlotta with a look of panic in her face.  The was some huge dog running down the hill so we only had a few moments before we had to get back in a drive like the wind.


Puerto Rico was amazing and we need to spend more days there, as it is such a large island.  We hope to spend another day there is possible but we will return soon and spend much more time on this fantastic island.


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