Saturday, January 24, 2015

Next Stop - Salinas

Here's the pictorial view of our 50-mile travel day to Salinas...

Oops, just a quick note: What I haven't mentioned lately is how often we have been checked out by the coastal authorities over the last couple of days: Firstly, as we approached Culebra we were circled by a police boat who then gave a polite wave and took off after another target - guess they knew we were coming when we checked in with Customs & Border Patrol. The next time was yesterday as we approached the north shore of Vieques, a police boat scoped us out but never came close enough for any contact. Finally today we were buzzed by a massive, military looking four-prop plane that came up low behind us and then circled around and did another pass off to the side. However, each day we hear alerts over the marine radio issued by the Coast Guard advising of vessels or people in distress. Every time, they ask local mariners to assist and report back to them. I'm not sure what this all means but I get the distinct feeling that if you are trying to smuggle drugs or people into the U.S. you'd get far more attention than if you're a simple sailor or fisherman who's had an unfortunate mishap.
After we were checked out by the authorities, we were much happier with our next encounter. For about five minutes we were surrounded by the largest pod of dolphins we've ever seen. They were difficult to count since they were so fast but we each figured there must have been 20 of them! The best part was when they chattered at us in high chirps and whistles and for a while even slapped their tails at us. Simply amazing.
Along the south shore there is a small town called Maunabo that appears to have two claims to fame in Puerto Rico, ranking it in the mid-300s out of 400 on the tourism list of things to do and see; obviously not a place with a big draw. There is an old Spanish lighthouse on the point and in order to get to Maunabo you have to go through a massive tunnel in the mountainside. I'm not sure if most of the town's inhabitants live in these buildings or if they were built in the hopes of a real estate boom, but I can't possibly imagine what mind came up with the idea of building this monstrosity on the hillside visible for miles around.
Back to sailing, and time to chat on the phone. You know who you are that I called, and now you know just how beautiful the day was that I described.
... While Henry enjoyed the shade under the new helm extension I just finished making. It now extends the shade fabric and when it rains or spray is blowing over the boat we can Velcro in a plastic windshield.
As we approached Salinas, the hills were much more deforested and we passed an industrial area near Jobos.
See the barrier reef in the foreground below? We passed through an opening in the reef to the relatively calm mangrove-lined bay beyond.
It took a little figuring to identify what these boats were up to and make sure we were well out of their way.
Turns out, the one with the tall tower is towing the flat barge around the corner coming towards us. It was a bit spooky, questioning if the barge was going to make the corner. The third boat was following along behind, ready to give a push if needed I guess.
See the chains - that is one serious tow.
This view reminded me is some of the scenery my brother and his wife have been travelling through on the South Island of New Zealand.
Our first view of Salinas Harbour, tucked away in the mangroves. Just look at all those masts, and not a single one of them is a charter boat.
Our home for the night. Rather reminded us of Coral Harbor on St. John in the USVI, except the music is louder.
And now I'm off on a murderous rampage to find the loudest cricket around that seems to have taken up residence in a galley cupboard, which of course is also located just above my head in bed.

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