That night was a quiet night in the anchorage. The winds were calm and the water smooth, making for a good night’s sleep. The next morning was more boring boat stuff, but then Dave decided it was time for a haircut. I cut his hair in the marina bathroom in Palmetto, Florida, but never on the boat before. So we turned on the generator, plugged in a long extension and fed it through the front window, brought out a chair, and plugged in the clippers. All set, we draped Dave (pictured above).
I don’t think he let his hair get that long in years. It was curling every which way, but our trusty clippers just cut right through. I was tempted to give him a Mohawk or a tail, but he insisted it all go. He’s no fun.
The finished product: Dave’s head looks like a fuzzy cueball, just the way he likes it. It certainly must be much cooler. We are definitely in more tropical weather now with heat and humidity!
After Dave’s haircut, he jumped in the sea to rinse off and I went inside the cabin. Dave soon came inside and dried off. I looked out the window and didn’t see Mile High Dream. “Where’d the guys go? Did they move?” I asked. I thought it odd that they would move so I went out into the cockpit for a look. Wait! Wasn’t that catamaran behind us? And weren’t we next to the marina? Oh crap! WE ARE DRAGGING! By the time Dave joined me in the cockpit, we were moving pretty good and heading out to sea! Dave started up the engines and I ran to the deck to prepare to raise the anchor. We went through the process again… bring in some chain, bring in the bridle, bring in the rest of the chain, bring up the anchor. We moved back into position; we dragged at least a quarter of a mile! Then dropped the anchor, let out some chain, found the bottom, let out some more chain, and waited for the boat to drift back and see if the anchor would catch. It did, so we attached the bridle, let out more chain, then backed on the anchor to make sure it was set… again.
Here’s what we think happened. We set the anchor in light winds. The winds shift and we changed direction. Then overnight the winds died down and the chain was all over the place. After Dave’s haircut, the wind suddenly picked up to 20-25 knots from a slightly different direction. We think all the movement on the chain worked it free and we were just sitting on the weight of the anchor chain until the winds picked up. That’s all we can figure anyway. Usually, once we are set and been on it all night long, it doesn’t move. Well, this time it did and I am thankful we were not onshore when it happened!
We went ashore later for drinks with Mile High Dream, afraid to trust it but needing to. We nervously enjoyed our last evening in Boqueron and made plans to leave around 8:00 the next morning for Ponce.
The wind and water were mild as we left the anchorage in Boqueron. The ride was nice along the western shore. Then we turned east after clearing the southern tip and everything changed. The wind was on the nose at 15-23 knots and the waves were big, close, and choppy. If you’re not a sailor, that probably doesn’t mean much. If you are, then you know we were not having fun. We were getting spanked. After only an hour and a half, Dave told me to start looking for shelter. We had passed an anchorage twenty minutes or so before and didn’t want to turn back. The next one I found that looked protected was La Parguera. It was tricky to get into with coral heads and shoals and we would need to be on full alert. Fortunately, our progress getting there was so slow that it was already noon when we entered the shallows, so we had full visibility into the water. After our anchoring troubles in Boqueron, it was nice to set the anchor first try and relax after the nightmare morning. After witnessing all our troubles before, Mile High Dream was now having more than their fair share of anchoring problems. They tried four times in front of us and then three more times behind us before they finally got the anchor to hold. Weird. It is almost like someone was playing tricks on us. Anyway, we all stayed on our respective boats and rested so we would be ready to get an earlier start to try for Ponce again in the morning.
The next morning started out with us leaving the anchorage blind from the rising sun in our eyes and reflecting off the water. Fortunately, we could follow our tracks on the chart plotter from when we entered the shallows now to exit them. As soon as we left the protection of the land, we knew it was not going to be a calm day. In fact, there was more wind 15-20 knots gusting up to 36 in the squalls, more rain, and bigger swells, about 8-10 feet. But for some reason the waves were not as choppy, so we could ride through them without taking such a beating. Also, our speed suffered severely working against the current. I took over my 2 hour watch as we approach a small wind farm. When my shift ended, we had just gotten past the wind farm. I averaged 2.8 knots per hour! Painful. We could have walked faster.
Fortunately, the current eased up some and Dave gained a knot, then a knot and a half to bring us into Ponce. We passed some really dry areas that reminded me of the brown hills in Southern California. It was looking like Puerto Rico was just another desert island. The current made the day longer than expected, but we made it. We called for a slip and docked in Ponce for the night.
A lot of colorful buildings surrounded the marina. Several of them belonged to the cultural center, or so I think with my limited Spanish skills. The food stands were not open when we walked through, but we found a frappe stand selling frozen concoctions made with fresh fruit. Delicious! Nothing happens until evening in Puerto Rico, so we called a cab to take us to a restaurant and planned to come back to the cultural center later that night. We didn’t make it. We were exhausted and, as usual, were ready for bed after the sun went down.
We got another early start the next morning and beat into the wind and waves another day. Puerto Rico doesn’t seem that big until you try sailing the width of it the wrong way. Puerto Patillas was our next stop and the scenery was becoming greener as we headed east. A lot of people go to Salinas, but it was only 10 or 15 miles away and we needed to make more progress than that. We are determined to get to Puerto Del Rey in Fajardo on the northeast side in two days. Now at the weekend, Puerto Patillas was loud with music blaring from bars and cars. We heard cars revving very loudly, sirens going almost constantly, and something that sounded like gun shots. Dave wasn’t feeling well, so we opted to stay on the boat and I wasn’t sorry. This place sounded like trouble. Mile High Dream went ashore, however, and we found out later that the sirens were coming from the Jeeps parading around. The revving and music was them, too, and it seemed to be some sort of club showing off their stuff. The shots fired were fireworks and backfires. We were relieved to hear this news! But still not in a hurry to go back.
After a good night’s sleep with ear plugs in, we were ready for the final push to Puerto Del Rey. Not long after we left Puerto Patillas, we turned north and raised the mainsail. Much Better! The current was no longer dragging us down and the wind gave us an extra knot in speed. Eventually, Dave was even able to put up the jib, turn off the engines, and sail. For the first time in weeks, we sailed! Dave worked the sails until we hit 8.6 knots, a new record for Livin’ Life! Now we just had to avoid a plethora of obstacles from pot markers (buoys), fishing boats, motor and sailboats, and divers to cargo ships and ferries. We had to be on our toes. Puerto Del Rey is the largest marina in the US with 1,000 wet slips plus a boat yard and dry stacks. So it was not surprising to have tons of traffic making their way in and out of the channel.
Anyway, we made it! We tied up on a T-dock near the boat yard and pretty much dropped dead.