The moonlight calm of nights in Baia Almodova, Culebra Island off Puerto Rico was restoring spirits and ambition as hoped.
We didn’t always have the bay to ourselves and our favourite temporary “neighbours” were two local guys in a small motor boat who stayed for the weekend. Brothers, friends or lovers we were never sure but they sang together and pottered with a barbecue on the back rail of the boat. One lolled on a foam noodle in the water while the other snorkeled comically with a spear fishing gun in 18″ of water.
Our wildlife spotting at this point was OK too – a glance from a sea turtle, a large barracuda (resting under the boat like a black torpedo), a ray leaping out of the water and some beautiful, prehistoric looking frigate birds.
Just round the headland, the curiously named Ensenada Honda (Deep Bay) was our jumping off point for the next step, including an airport where we could get our exit visas and a town for provisioning for the trip, which is what you call “doing a massive shop” when you are on a boat.
We motored into the very long inlet, anchored, realised we were too close to the shore, pulled it up, anchored again and made a shopping list.
Shopping via dinghy has many hazards including parking, leaving enough room to get back in amongst the shopping bags and diesel cans, dropping the stuff in the water as an accidental offering to Neptune, and getting sopping wet as the dinghy fills with rain and waves. See below.
The island’s main town, spread closely around the bay was a curious mix of colourful and derelict houses, some government buildings and a tiny airport hidden in a valley.
The population seemed to consist of friendly Puerto Ricans, some cruising sailors and a rag tag bunch of US citizens who looked like they had moved to the island to escape drug problems, reality and/or poverty in a US “colony” of sorts. Combined with the small propeller planes that would buzz into the sky over our boat seemingly from nowhere, it felt like a modern day Casablanca.
What I can also tell you is that FEMA Menu #5 is Beef Stew! Hurricane relief of bottled water and boxes of food was distributed to residents queuing outside the courthouse.
When the rain stopped we took our first long walk since moving onto the boat and enjoyed some flowers and views.