Pages

Friday, November 26, 2010

"CANBERRY" ..... IN ITS NATURAL STATE .................



We don't do this 'DOWN-UNDER' or anywhere else, but every last Thursday in November, the U.S. celebrates "THANKSGIVING" in which a whole bunch of turkeys get roasted ............. A couple are spared by the President and set free with no guarantee they won't get roasted the following year ........... Everybody gets together on this public holiday for a family feast ................ PUERTO RICO is no exception ...... We had been invited by sailing friends Carlos & Glory SELLES to join their family and friends in SAN JUAN ................. Normally cranberry sauce is served, but in P.R. it comes in a can, hence "CANBERRY" ......... That's Carlos's yacht (above) "GLORY DAYS" a very nice 42ft BAVARIA .



Wonderful to share the atmosphere, the fine food and the exquisite treats in a house filled with beautiful things like this painting of 'La Perla' Barrio and El Morro Castle .............. The 'white snow' on the roof tops is 'wishful thinking' by the local artist, methinks ...........



One of those delicacies was "PASTELES" made with chicken or pork and ground up yucca, breadfruit, olives and seasoning, then wrapped in banana leaves and boiled ................And this is what they look like after you remove the wrapping ........ There were so many more ........... And then they served this ice-cold "COQUITO", made of coconut milk, condensed milk, rum and vanilla ............. Ten Coquitos and you are FINITOS ........... A great time with Carlos, friends and family.



Thursday is followed by FRIDAY and now given a new name "BLACK FRIDAY" ........... When retailers open as early as 3am or 4am ............ A little crazy, because everyone is suffering from over----everything ............Retailers induce people to get up early and go shopping by advertising incredible bargains and door-buster low prices .......... The 'Black-Friday' part comes from the concept of finally putting the sales figures in the 'BLACK' .......... Now any fool can tell you that if this is what it takes, why not keep the prices low all the time, and always open the doors at 3am ........Look at these lines and this was WEDNESDAY, the day before "THANKSGIVING" ............. By Black FRIDAY it is chaos in the mall ............In San Juan the big mall is called "PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS" .........Speaks for itself, doesn't it ............



CARLOS and GLORY .............. Wonderful hosts for a not-to-be-forgotten Thanksgiving ............ And on our way home to ARITA at the Ferry dock in FAJARDO, we suddenly realized for the first time that the Ferry's anchor seems awfully small for a vessel so large ...... Perhaps we were just so much bigger, having eaten so well ........ Next time we'll check the anchor again .......... But first a little starvation .............And a little less libation ........

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THOSE COMING AFTER US ................................



Sounds like it could be some kind of a 'posse', maybe even that bounty-hunter 'DOG' fellow, following us ............ Or even credit card collectors .......... Actually, what we mean is THOSE SAILBOAT CRUISERS who will be following in our path ......... The real secret to a great Caribbean cruising season is to be far enough south, and somewhere safe for HURRICANE SEASON, and then ready to roll when the danger is past, thereby maximizing the time available for the rest of the Caribbean Islands .............. Leaving Florida or Georgia in early November makes the dash south a very hard beat, against a series of very strong cold fronts, while on the other hand, staying in Florida/Georgia/or the Carolinas during hurricane season is also risky .............. So here's OUR ANSWER to all of that ............ First do the beautiful, magnificent BAHAMAS in the spring (FEB-MAR-APR), then head for DOMINICAN REPUBLIC in MAY, and on to PUERTO RICO for the Summer ............... Great weather, good sailing, superb Spanish dishes and no cold fronts .................... Do we look like we have been suffering? .................. Anchored off Virgin Gorda beach in the BVIs.



The mangrove bays at PAGUERA and JOBOS along the south coast of PUERTO RICO .......



The South-western coast of PUERTO RICO has innumerable bays with deep-water mangrove channels that offer perfect hurricane protection and many other beautiful bays in which to safely anchor, when there is nothing on the horizon .............. Very reasonable prices and for the most part it is "AMERICA WITH NO RULES" ...............Maybe some? .......Super friendly people, wonderful food and very Spanish speaking .....................And if an 'Aussie' can do it, so can anybody ........... Arrive first at BOQUERON after crossing the Mona Passage, get a good night's sleep, but don't land or clear in ........... Then on to PONCE for clearing with Customs and Immigration............. Definitely DO NOT ARRIVE WITH FOOD BOUGHT IN THE D.R. ............PONCE has almost everything and a good place to go see the rest of the island ............ Next comes SALINAS ............... With a good-sized bay for anchoring and deep water mangroves nearby at JOBOS that can safely hide a thousand yachts from a Category 5 "tormenta" ............ And While JOBOS offers the best protection for extreme storms, the eastern end of P.R. is the nicest place to be ....................... VIEQUES ISLAND (above) is beautiful, and CULEBRA and the rest of the Spanish Virgin Islands are to die for ...............



The big bay in VIEQUES, 'ENSENADA HONDA' (above) is a great staging point for diving, snorkeling and island exploration trips and the twice daily ferry to mainland cost only one dollar each way for the 18 mile passage in air-conditioned comfort ....... Much of VIEQUES is still a no-go zone, being a former bombing range .............. On CULEBRA there is a bay with the same name but no dead bombs or live ones ............ Beautiful snorkeling and magical sea-life and we haven't even mentioned the island of CULEBRITA or LUIS PENA, both National Parks ......... And all the exploration we have done has been during 'hurricane season', including two mini-cruises to the BVIs ............. This is all very doable, and incredibly rewarding while supposedly "GOING NOWHERE and STAYING PUT" ...........



Take a look .............. That's ARITA (above) anchored at LUIS PENA while we discover the underwater world ................... And CULEBRA (Photo below) with CULEBRITA to the right, and LUIS PENA to the left ................. As for distances, CULEBRA to LUIS PENA or CULEBRITA is a dinghy ride and back ...........And 'Flamenco beach' on the northern side of CULEBRA is rated as one of the top ten beaches in the World ........ ANY Questions before the sun sets on CULEBRA? ...........

Sunday, November 21, 2010

FIBREGLASS ................... FIBERGLASS .......................



Some guys (that would be 'some blokes' in 'down-under') probably think that we don't know how to spell certain words anymore.............. Could be right .............. Then again, we are trying to write in two distinct English languages ............ Australian ('Stryne' for short) and American, and just for fun we mix them up now and again, to totally confuse you ................

Now it would be hard to imagine just how many fiberglass (fibreglass) yachts have been built in the world in the last 50 years, ..... Take the photo alongside of the single-hander, Lawrence Birch, on his yacht MEANDER, who typifies the fiberglass sailboat cruiser ......... Solid, clean, dry and low-maintenance ...........And we are talking about the boat here .........

Fibreglass (that's also fiberglass) has completely taken over the world of boat building ........... Sad, but true .............The building of wooden yachts is drawing to a close, and those that remain become sought-after relics of a bygone age ............ The wood and the skilled workers are no longer there ............In days gone by the 'knees' used to be cut from gnarled roots and branches like those in the photo below, but how much easier is it to just lay up some extra fibreglass cloth and a dash of resin ......... We watched in awe, as the classic gaff-rigged wooden schooner "Harvey Gamage" came into the anchorage at CULEBRA ......... She's a prime example of that dying breed, now in service as a charter vessel for back-packer-style students and guests ............ I'm guessing there is no A/C on board .......



"Senor Jose" in Dewey on CULEBRA, on the other hand is still at it on his small verandah, building small wooden boats ............ A sight to behold, for way down at the back of his garden, he sits on a tree stump and hacks away on a log with his machete until he has shaped another yacht ............ Then, after drying out, he paints them for the tourists, that meander past his doorstep ............... That's Captain Christopher of the HARVEY GAMAGE below on the left, toothbrush in hand, supervising work being done on the rigging ...... A heavy weight is suspended off the main boom in order to swing all the yards out to one side of the ship ............ No doubt about it, wooden ships means more work ........... Not saying that the decks have to be scrubbed with the Captain's toothbrush, but ........ O.K. ..Enough about work .........Wouldn't Captain Jack Sparrow like to get his hands on this fine ship ............. Or the one below it, with the 'Queen of Everything' on board, for building timber in the Caribbean is scarce .......... Just look at that stunted 'Bonzai' type tree in the islands ..........



Just outside of FAJARDO on the eastern end of Puerto Rico is the 'Mother of all Marinas' ................ More fiberglass per square foot of water, than anywhere in the World ............. This is PUERTO DEL REY, the biggest marina in the Caribbean with more that 1500 slips ............ That's at least 3000 electrical outlets and water connections ................. Do a little calculation of a low average of $ 100,000 per vessel ............Our friend, Dwight "El Presidente" Rodriquez, keeps his yacht 'TODA VIA' here, and we spent a couple of days helping him with toilet installation, plumbing, bilge pumps, electrics ....... All the good stuff ...............



Now, we may have walked to Dwight's yacht, but that's not really how it should be done ............ From the car parking area you call a number on your cell phone, and magically a 6-8 seater golf-cart appears, towing a huge trailer and your stuff is loaded, ............. You are then driven to your yacht and delivered right alongside on your finger pier .............. Same for leaving ........... Do a double click on these photos to enlarge them ...........The place is a fiberglass 'Mecca' .......... Breath-taking, and no doubt clearly visible from outer space ............ And you probably thought there was no money in Puerto Rico ...



So, if you can't beat them, you might as well join them .............. Did a little fibreglass job on the upper deck of the trawler MAMBO, anchored alongside us back in CULEBRA.......... Yuri and Svetlana, the owners, very happy ...........We, too ........... But Oh boy, does that stuff itch ................



And with a little bit more fibreglass sanding dust on me, I will be as camouflaged into the background, as this little iguana is in the grass .............. They still fascinate us every time we see them .................... We have photographed them from all angles ............

In a few days time Dwight and Marjorie on TODA VIA will join us as we do another mini sailing cruise to the Virgin Islands ................... More anchorages and beautiful places .............. An old wooden yacht sailing alongside a modern fiberglass one ............. Let's see what happens? ..................Oh, and we did manage to do some sailing from CULEBRA back to mainland PUERTO RICO ............. It was wonderful .......



Then again there is always "Steel" like this tugboat ferry in the islands ............ Obviously the owner really makes it feel like home ...........

video
video