Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Beating to Culebra - by Geert

Sailing in the Virgin Islands is a delight: steady 15-20 knot easterlies, moderate seas, high islands that are easy to identify from a distance, no outlying coral reefs. We stayed a week in Vieques, snorkeling and spearfishing for lobster, sailing and trolling for bonito, and exploring the island's many remote beaches. Nico and David joined us. Last Friday we sailed along the mountainous east coast of Puerto Rico to tiny Isla Palominos, and the next day to Culebra. This was out first upwind sail, and it required some planning. The tradewinds create a more or less permanent 5-7 foot swell. Tacking into fresh winds and waves is very hard work, unless you can sail in the lee of the many small islands in the area. This we did, but it still took us eight hours to cover the 16 miles to Culebra.

The sailing has been so good that since leaving Bermuda we have burned only 2.5 gallons of diesel. We use the engine only to get in and out of harbours, and to keep the batteries charged.

Thanks to a combined effort by Olina, Eva and Nico we now have all the spare parts we need to repair our Navik self-steering vane. We'll try it out on our way to Fajardo on the main island of Puerto Rico. First we plan to enjoy Culebra. This island is even more beautiful and laid back than Vieques. One of the shops has a sign that summarizes the attitude here: Open some days - Closed others.