After a two day stay in San Juan where we loved exploring ‘old San Juan’ and had a chance to shop and improve Marie’s wardrobe (she didn’t pack dressy things like skirts and dresses thinking it would be ALL shorts and swim suits) and the galley, we headed out for the short day trip to Fajardo on Puerto Rico’s east coast. We are staying at Puerta Del Ray Marina which has 1000 boat slips and is the largest Marina in the Carribean. If you have seen the back of our boat, you may have noticed that Molly Bloom says she is from Puerta Del Ray Marina, Fajardo, PR AND she is! She started out here (after being built in Rhode Island) and was at her beginning owned by the owner of this marina.
How cool is that? People here have recognized her name and are surprised that we kept the name. My hope is that I will get to meet the original owner and maybe even ask him how he came to name her Molly Bloom.
Anyway, though the trip from San Juan to Fajardo is not too long of a trip – it was NOT uneventful…..
We were sailing around the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico and noticed the sky getting very dark over the mountains. We could see boats crossing our path going toward shore very quickly. You have to understand that just ‘going to shore’ isn’t always an option – and especially here in Puerto Rico. The coast is surrounded by reefs – very shallow water, and to go to the coast you need to go in at a ‘pass’ through the reef. Fajardo was the NEXT opening for us to get inside and out of the open ocean.
All of a sudden, the distant clouds black clouds were on top of us – the wind was whipping up – we could see water spouts trying to start in the water, the clouds were moving very quickly over top of us and just past that was clear so we were hopeful it would not get much worse before it got better. Not so – just as quickly as it happened, the winds picked up very quickly (Ron clocked them at 50knts). It’s a good thing we didn’t have the sails up….the seas were up over 10 feet and the VHF radio was inundated with boats calling the coast guard, sea tow and just asking for help. Among those asking for help was a 44’ boat who got thrown on top of a reef and was stuck hard, and another boat with a single person on board who was taking on water. Marie made sure the lifejackets were close at hand in the cockpit and waited out the waves while Ron managed to avoid a small speed boat who in the middle of returning to land, changed his mind and went the other way – just missing our bow by 50 feet. The visibility was NIL so he probably didn’t see us any more than we saw him – though we would not have been able to change course quickly enough – we aren’t fast. We were a lot faster during the storm though as we rode the waves at over 10knts – that is really fast – we usually cruise between 6-7knots. Ron was surprised that the brand new cockpit enclosure didn’t rip off – but we managed ONLY to lose a sun cover on one of the front windows….the wind and the waves were certainly something you would prefer to avoid.
A few minutes after the storm passed, we noticed 3 Kilo sized packages wrapped in white plastic floating on the sea – drugs? It was too rough to even consider going to investigate so that will have to remain a mystery.
The good news – we arrived and docked at the marina in Fajardo shortly after the storm ended – safe and sound.
Our next trip will be in about 5 or 6 days (after we receive our mail from Florida) and will take us first to the island of Culebra (just off Fajardo coast), and then on to St. Thomas in the USVI before heading south into the BVI and onward.
Marie’s cell phone (813 784 0438) WORKS in both Puerto Rico and USVI, so please feel free to call while we are here to speak with either Marie or Ron – we would love to hear from you.
Again, we will update the pictures in the next few days!