Oct 16

Marina de Salinas, Puerto Rico

by in Puerto Rico

After arriving in Marina del Salinas late in the evening, it was time to explore the marina and find a place to eat. We found a restaurant where we met this lady traveling with two guys, Joel and Mike. Mike was from Hawthorne and Joel was from New York. We talked a bit and had a great time together. The lady even bought us dessert. Hopefully, we’ll met up with them again before we leave. It was getting late and I had not slept for a couple days. Time for bed.

For the next few days we took advantage of the marina and got some supplies and made some minor repairs on the boat before making our final passage to St Croix.

We would eat lunch at the local Panaderia where they had the best pastrami sandwiches ever! It was like heaven. Then there was Cruiser’s Galley, the local hang out for all cruisers. It was a great Restaurant and Internet Cafe owned by a cool South African lady named Desia.

It was at Cruiser’s Galley we met Becky, a mother of 5 who has been living on board her 41 foot sailboat Wondering Dolphin, with her Husband, their 5 kids, and two guests for the past 3 years. Her husband was gone while we were there making a boat delivery. . He’s a Captain and delivers boats for people to make a few extra bucks. She takes waitress and bartending jobs when at port, to make ends meat. In April, they will be heading South, not stopping at as many island because the Visa fees really add up when you have 9 people on board. Then they will cut directly across to Cartagena.

We also met Bob and his wife from Canada, whom anchored their yacht, Stonecutter II, directly behind us. They live in a little place in the panhandle of Alaska, in a small town of only 15 people. It’s 26 miles by boat to the next nearest community. They have been here in Salinas for 3 years if my memory serves me right. After the Hurricane season is over, they’re going to head South, just like most cruisers do, by way of the West Indies. They’ve already been to Venezuela and stayed at Margarita Island. They said it was great, but they got robbed by pirates there because there were at a place they shouldn’t have been in. They also talk about Cartagena being a wonderful place also. Never heard a bad word about it yet.

Ernie was a sailer from Toronto, and like many others, started in Florida and was making his way down the islands. After the Bahamas he headed for Luperon, Dominican Republic. And as many others before him, he escaped Luperon as well and swore never to return.

When Bob passed by on his dingy, he would give us a ride to the marina where we headed off towards the panaderia for our daily pastrami sandwich. As luck has it, one day it started pouring rain as we were eating. And of course, the rain didn’t let up when we it was time to leave. Julian purchased some trash bags which we made ponchos out of, and we headed back to the marina.

Once at the marina, there was no one to give us a ride in a dingy back to our boat. That makes sense, after all, it was pouring down rain!

So, with no one around, I took all my clothes off and sealed them in the plastic bag we used for a poncho. It was an easy swim to our boat from the marina. And I’m sure glad there were no jelly fish near by.

The rain we were experiencing was from a tropical depression about 200 miles South of us. All computer models showed it heading directly towards us and it could turn into a Category 1 Hurricane by the time it got here, 2-3 days from now. The seas were being forecast at 8 feet with winds 15-20 knots. Less than idyllic conditions to make the passage to St Croix. So we decided to wait the storm out and spend a couple more days here. We should be able to leave by Friday once the storm had passed.

We took the boat back to anchor and watched many others leave Marina de Salinas to tie up in the mangroves about 4 miles North of here in a place called Jobos. We planned to eventually moving there if the weather got too rough here.

As a side note, its not the winds and sea that gets you in trouble during a hurricane. It’s the other boats! If you are caught in a Hurricane in a marina, the odds of another boat loosing anchor and smashing into you as very great! So the best place to be during a hurricane, while on a boat, is alone and isolated. Thus, the mangroves were a perfect location to weather the storm.

The next day, I hitched a ride back to shore and got two more Pastrami sandwiches for tomorrow. Then hitched a ride back to the boat with Rebecca from Montana (Montana Momma), on her way back to her 41 foot sailboat with her daughter. She headed towards Jobos early today, but got stuck on the bottom since she draws 7 feet. She finally got free, and came back to her mooring here in Salinas. Tomorrow she’ll try again to move her boat to Jobos. Today wasn’t her best day.

Latest news is that the storm has now been named Omar, and now it’s headed East straight for St Croix.

Since we determined the storm was imminent, we pulled our anchor a little past 3pm and headed towards a place in the mangroves called Jobos. The seas were calm, but the rain and wind were strong. We find a nice safe place to anchor a couple miles away within the mangroves. We anchored, and tied up in the mangroves awaiting Hurricane Omar. Later we had dinner, and called it a night.

Waking up to overcast skies. It rained on and off all day long, and we had a little wind. But no storm yet. We started picking up weather reports about 4:30pm that Omar had been upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane and that we were directly in the middle of it.

We were VERY well sheltered at our location in the mangroves. But I’m sure, offshore, the seas were pretty rough as well as very windy. The leading edge of the hurricane seemed to have more strength than the leeward side which we were on. By this time tomorrow, it should be safe to leave the mangroves and head back towards Marina de Salinas.

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