Sunday, November 28, 2010

WiFi Access and Culebrita

Before I go any further I feel I should explain a little more about how we've been able to post to our blog while crusing the remoteness of the S.V.I.  For example, tonight we are sitting in an anchorage off uninhabited Culebrita Island with no other boats in sight and only a few lonely houses on the hillside of Culebra more than a mile away across the channel.  We are in no visible reach of any commercial facility yet have been able to 'borrow' some kind person's signal and post to the blog.

Before leaving Ottawa this time, I sourced out a wifi booster system and ended up purchasing from Bob at IslandTime PC (I know, blatant plug but he's set us up very well.)  I had the antenna and other paraphenalia shipped to CYOA and we've installed a temporary setup for whilst we are aboard.  The system consists of an antenna, radio, power over ethernet injector and cabling, and depending on the height we hitch the antenna to, we are able to pick up signals over a mile away.  Currently we only have the antenna attached to the bimini but are picking up many available signals.  Way to go Bob!!

Now, back to Culebrita.  We actually left Dewey on Culebra this morning under sunny skies and lighter winds than we've been having recently.  As a result we decided to circumnavigate the island in a clockwise direction which would take us over the northern end past Cayo Norte to Culebrita.  Up the west shore, we commented that the winds were shifty but similar to the Ottawa River (5-15 knots and flat water).  However, it was a completely different kettle of fish as we approached the north-west point and rounded into the northern swells rolling in from the Atlantic.  The winds clocked up to over 20 knots but most impressive were the swells with waves on them topping out at 10-12 feet.  The north shore of Culebrita is home to one of it's most popular beaches, Cayo Flamenco, but today the only fans were parasailers.  I'd imagine most of the Thanksgiving beachgoers from Puerto Rico had headed to more sheltered spots.

The sailing was fantastic and after about two hours we found ourselves in the passage inside Cayo Norte and our anchorage below the old lighthouse of Culebrita in sight.  Once again, a pristine white-sand beach with only one other boat (which was a daytripper so soon would depart) - how many more of these fantastic anchorages can we endure!!  The waters are incredibly clear and turquoise and the whole area is actually a protected turtle nesting zone, so true to plan, we saw sea turtles in the bay.

Since we have been quite lazy aboard, we are pleased that Culebrita offers a couple of different jaunts; one to the 'bubbly pools' or jacuzzis as they are locally known, and the other up to the 350' elevation of the lighthouse.  This afternoon we headed to the northern end of the island to explore the bubbly pools.  At the extreme northern tip, the molten lava that forms this island chain heaved up out of the ocean to form a massive craggy headland.  The pummice-like stone is tumbled down in massive boulders that the northern swells crash into on an ongoing basis.  Craftily arranged behind the first row of defensive boulders are pools of varying intensity of wash from the crashing waves.  Some surge and threaten to pummle you on the rocks (swedish massage style?) while others offer calm unruffled waters (more of a zen-like experience).

We stayed on until almost sunset and then made our hike back over the island in time to enjoy a hearty lasagna dinner with fresh Culebra bread and salad.

Off to explore the lighthouse in the morning.

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