Friday, December 16, 2011

Passage to Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The ocean was kind of rough with high swells, so we decided to keep motoring. I was not up to dealing with the sails anyway. We came all the way to Isla Palominas, which was very close to the marina, without much difficulty. Then it started to rain, the sea got dark, and I had a hard time locating the green marker, where we were to point up to the next green, and turn around the island before getting to the entrance on the southern side. Anyway, we did it after some apprehension and safely entered the bay, where many deserted sail boats were moored or anchored. The marina looked like a prehistoric sea village, surrounded by pillars in the water, marking the two sides of the boats tied on the slips. There were pillars on the docks as well.

Al chose a spot close to the docks, and gave the order to drop the anchor, so I did. I was dead tired and a bit queasy, since the wind was blowing the engine exhaust from behind onto us all the way. In the meantime, Al phoned the marina administration, and learned about the dock to tie for water. So we pulled anchor and maneuvered in a narrow area to turn to tie. Of course the wind was on the wrong side, pushing us away from the dock. I was scared watching Al, and made him a bit nervous too. At last we got tied up, looping the line around a pillar on the dock; and filled our tanks. I’m telling you, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, so could not help crying a bit to shake the feeling.

The first night on anchor was not bad I thought, but early in the morning I heard the wind blowing really hard. I sat at the cockpit and looked up, but the sight startled me. We were almost next to another moored sailboat! Of course I hollered and urged Al to come up. He said he had checked about two hours before, and everything was fine. When I insisted, he came up, and immediately started the engine. The anchor had dragged about 50 feet in the two hours. So we tried to get to our previous place and tried several times, but the wind was too hard, and the bottom seemed to be just mud. I had spotted a mooring ball earlier, and suggested taking it. I got hold of it with some difficulty, and both of us worked in tying one of the lines, but pulling the mooring line close enough to tie the other one seemed next to impossible, so Al got into the dinghy, and went to the hoop to push the line through. I tied the line, and felt a bit secure, but we saw that the mooring line was flimsy next to our lines. Al was quite uneasy that it was going to give way, since we measured the wind as 29 knots.

Later in the day the wind subsided a bit, so we got the dinghy down and went into the marina. At the shore we stroke a friendship with an ex-marine, who called himself Ranger, who was a very nice Puerto Rican, about our age and enjoying a similar lifestyle. He was retired and started living on a 50 foot motor boat, tied at the marina. He offered (insisted) to drive us to a shopping centre and marine store, and back. It is uncanny how friendly people are here.

During the night, the wind was relentless, and we could not sleep. Early in the morning, Al decided to dock at the marina. He tried to get close enough to the dock several times, to get the line around the pillar, but no can do. Wind was very strong and constantly pushing us away. At a crucial moment, a young man came along to help, and was able to tie the back line with a lot of difficulty, while getting soaked from the rain. But he persevered and tied us securely from both ends, and Al got two more lines from all the cleats available. At last we were fine! Last year I had read somewhere that any fool could move the boat with the help of the wind, real skill was to keep it in one place. It shows that we need a lot to learn. I think we will be tied up for a while, until our friends Deniz and Zeynep arrive in San Juan in about two weeks. We will explore the land for a while.

The other day we met a very nice man, Ricardo, who offered to drive us to a marine shop. After shopping we invited him for lunch, so he took us to a fish restaurant at the beach. While we were going through the door, the French couple from Culebra, Ananda and Yvonne walked in. I asked if they were following us, and we all sat at a table together. I think Ricardo was a bit surprised, knowing that we arrived at Fajardo very recently, so I explained. We had such a blast that day. We learned that Ananda was composing and performing folk music. Al had so much to talk about, being a guitar player himself in his youth. Life is so interesting, if one has time to explore it!

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