Friday, June 13, 2014

Journey to Isla Del Encanto

We left Luperon, the Dominican Republic on 20th April and arrived Mayaguez, Puerto Rico on 27th April 2014 like Joao already explained about our sailing experiences in previous posts. The route we took is one of the most dangerous sailing routes in the world because we sail against trade winds and the wind in this area is well known as UNPREDICTABLE!

We had been living in the Dominican Republic for the past 4 months, I was thrilled to leave to a new land. Would be, actually, the first time for long distance sailing with s/v Dee. For me, apart from one-day sailing around Macau, I never had experience offshore. I was excited but somehow I got sea sick for 3 days in a row!  Maria Dee is the best baby to travel with. Because of the strong wind, we have to sail during the night until we arrived in Puerto Rico, and every night Maria Dee slept like a rock, same as Noel!

During the entire route we followed the advice of Mr. Bruce Van Sant from his book “Gentleman’s Guide To Passage South”. However, unlike our friends who took the same route and departure with us, we got bad weather and clouds when we approached Mona Island which is the hard passage before arriving Puerto Rico. It’s the deepest place in the Atlantic Ocean. I can say that I was scared from the first sailing experience with s/v Dee.

The Island of Enchantment, Puerto Rico, is US territory.
Language: Spanish and English are the official languages. In commercial business and government services, most of the people can speak English. Here is a lot easier for me.
Currency: US Dollar. Most of the places accept credit and debit card. For example, I paid 3 USD using the debit card in the Post Office, no fee added like in Asia! It’s not difficult to find ATMs or the local banks but I didn’t see money exchange houses.

Capital: San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico. It’s divided into two parts; San Juan and Old San Juan which is designated World Heritage Site by the United Nations.  If you visit San Juan, you must visit the Old San Juan, it’s worth it.

Transportation: Car renting is the best option if you want to explore the country. The public transportation between the cities is not convenient. In some big cities like Ponce, taxi is easy to find but not in Salinas for example. The common car renting companies are Avis or Enterprise. Is better you have your own car insurance, otherwise you will pay much more when you rent the car.

Local food: Beans, rice, banana are the mains. One should try “Mofongos”, mash banana with spicy sauce, good with seafood. People from all over the country come to Salinas to sample “Mojo”, the famous sauce that you can find in Salinas. Even the government has a campaign to promote the “Mojo” sauce to attract the tourism to visit Salinas. The big American food brands like MC Donald, Wendys, Burger King, Krispy Kream, Popeye, Subway are everywhere unlike Starbucks.

Population: The locals look Latin American, you can have the idea from the famous Puerto Rican singer like Jenifer Lopez

Port: Sailing boats coming from the North or West coast of Puerto Rico can conveniently clear in the ports at Mayaguez or Ponce. At Mayaguez port, the dingy dock condition is poor in windy days. In Ponce, you can anchor outside the Ponce Marina and Yacht Club, if you go to the marina with the dinghy they may change you for dingy dock 10USD per person a day. Puerto Del Rey Marina on the Eastern Coast of the country is the largest marina in the Caribbean.

Nautical activity: Local people love water sports. Every weekend the marina will have busy traffic for fishing boats, motor boats, sailing boats to go out for a day. Don’t be upset if your boat always swings on weekend with loud music on the background. It’s very common to see local with kayaks or dinghies.

Communication: Many restaurants have wi-fi service with password. Local mobile SIM card is available in many places. We paid for our package 35USD to use internet for more than 50GB but only to make local calls. In commercial areas they have public telephones.

Water and Electricity: Water and electricity are ready available unlike in the Dominican Republic that had limited electricity usage time. Local told us that public water from the tab is safe to drink. The entire marina we visited, apart from fuel services, water is available everywhere.      

Buildings in Old San Juan

Park in San Juan

World Heritage Site in Old San Juan 

Vieques Island

Vieques sunrise

Catching fish on the way to USVI

Mama and baby in San Juan

The day after the memorial day in Salinas

Salinas Municipal

Salinas Bay

Coffin Island 

Fajardo view

Attraction in Ponce

Ponce Municipal

Taino souvenir shop

Manatee next to our boat

Street in Old San Juan

Joao in the park, San Juan 

Sunday activity at Ponce Yacht Club


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