We had made a deal with Hans that he would teach us how to sail our new boat and he honoured it above and beyond!
Our last job was to visit the lovely Heather at her blue and green sail makers loft in Fajardo, to collect our main sail with its new 3rd reef point, for extra safety in case of rough weather. With her guys working at the sewing machines we walked barefoot over the sail, laid out for us to check and it was then loaded into a wheelbarrow, down the stairs past the lady smoking a fat cigar…and into the car boot.So it was marvelous to finally be living aboard on the water, and getting some home comforts in place.
The next week was all about new skills and practising routes to local islands such as the dinky Isla Palomina and larger Culebra, which we could retrace ourselves later. So much to learn…
How to catch a bouy? (yes really), raising sails? reefing? tacking? getting the dinghy up and down? navigating? manoeuvering around marinas? starting the outboard (still working on the bicep strength for that one), managing the solar and wind power generators and remembering to turn the bloody gas solenoid off!!
Other than a couple of knots and overcoming fear of sea sickness, I didn’t seem to remember a lot from my practical course unfortunately, but it had built my confidence for what was to follow.
After a night of rum and limericks (dear reader, mine was the best) we dropped Hans at San Juan airport in late November and planned our first trip alone with many nervous butterflies.
The beauty of electronic navigation devices is they also record where you have been, so as we headed back to Isla Palomina we were confident we could fall back on the water track from last time. We “parked” on a bouy in solitude in the bay and determined to collapse and recoup for a few days before we did anything else. Phew!
Even nicer was our return to the lovely Baia Almodova, on Culebra Island.
Sheltered from the ocean by pointy green hills and a shallow rocky bar, we enjoyed peaceful days swimming off the back of the boat and watching the sun from the trampoline nets slung between the front of our twin hulls.
We also took our kayaks out for the first time (yes, I fell in) over shallow turquoise sand bars, round mangrove islands and to the tiny beach across the mouth of the bay for my first bit of beach combing.