Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mayaguez to Salinas April 2006

Mayaguez to Salinas April 2006
Originally uploaded by S/V Raft.
Picture: Ross hard at work in his "garage"

We ambled down from Mayaguez yesterday following the inside route. Left around 8:00 am to avoid the winds but this isn't really an issue since we are in the lee of the island now. Most of the other boats we had left Luperon with had traveled directly to Boqueron. (As a side note to other cruisers who might be reading this log: We were told by the US customs/immigration people that there is no problem with anchoring in Boqueron and going by land to Mayaguez to check in. We just saved the car rental/taxi fare) There were about 30 boats in the harbour when we arrived. Bouqueron is a typical beach town, like Wasaga, Grand Bend, etc. really busy on the weekend with cars and motorcyles driving the strip and locals enjoying the beach. The streets are full of vendors selling oysters, clams, empanados, tshirts..all pretty rundown but very quaint. No Mcdonald's or KFC here. All local stuff and only local people..just like a beach hot spot in Ontario in July. There is some major development around the bay but it set back from the bay so as not to spoil the town atmosphere and the beach. We thought it was condo and found out when we were walking the beach that it is actually short term rental apartments for weekend/holiday use, looked after by the state park. We are waking up to the crowing of roosters each morning. It was really hopping over the weekend but during the week, it is dead quiet, as everyone has gone back to work.

Things are still very affordable. We have been out for lunch twice at a local rice and beans spot. All the rice and beans you want plus good sized serving of roast pork (very good) fish, meatloaf, chicken or turkey (we didn't have that after all we have eaten in the DR) with a can of pop for $4 each. Then we found a small fruit/vegetable/butcher shop and bought 2 large grapefruits, 6 oranges, 6 pork chops and 2 small steaks for $9. 2 french loaves at the bakery $1.25. Too bad the ice creams cost $3 for 2, but we are worth it!

Bouqeron is a really nice place, but after a week here we are definitely ready to leave and we have been trying. We did leave 4 am on Tuesday to go around the SW corner of Puerto Rico, and only made it to the next bay. We had been noticing the engine had been running hot, and the hot water tank discharging (usually means the engine is running hot) since we left Luperon, but Ross just thought that the Heat exchangers (we have 2) were getting salted up, and planned to clean them when we got to Salinas. However, on Tues morning, Ross discovered that his little "rad" bottle had leaked on the hot water tank and it was salt water, which it shouldn't have been. Obviously salt water was getting into the fresh water system somehow. After determining that the hot water tank was not contaminated, that's a good thing, he pulled off the other 2 heat exchangers,and we found out that the little used one we had bought in Annapolis was leaking. Fortunately, we still had all the parts necessary to reconvert RAFT to being a raw water cooled system, which Ross did. The picture show how the difficult it can be working on a boat, especially when at anchor. To get to the engine everything has to be taken out of the large cockpit locker, and what isn't shown is that all of his tools have to be unpacked from under the quarter berth and spread around the nav station. But that is another definition of cruising: fixing your boat in exotic places.

By the time the repair was complete, the tools put away and the cockpit put back to normal we had missed our early morning light wind opportunity to turn to the corner, so we decided to stay the night where we were, off of El Combate State Park. The wind picked up during the day (25 knots), and that night, and we heard the reports from the other boats which had "gone around the corner" and it didn't sound very nice out there, so we decided to return to Bouqueron on Wed. morning and see if we could source out another heat exchanger.

On Wednesday morning, we tried to raise anchor, to find out that the anchor was caught on a coral ledge. It was 0530 when we had dropped the anchor and still dark, so we didn't realize that the lighter sand we thought we were anchoring in was actually a coral ledge. Fortunately we were anchored in only 10 feet, so Bev dove down and attached a back line to the anchor and with the dinghy Ross tried to back it out. However this was not a successful exercise so Ross went down, and sat on the bottom and physically pulled it out from under the ledge. We were free but the shank of the anchor now has a big "wow" in it. (Thank you Kathryn and Ron for the weight belts) We returned to Bouqueron.

Bouqueron doesn't have many stores, but since we were going to be there another day, we figured we might as well see if we can get a new/used heat exchanger. We started at the marina and were sent to the gas station across the road, then directed to the mechanic. The mechanic was enjoying empanadas (look like Jamacian pattie cakes, stuffed with seafood or meat) at the small outside bar across from the marina and gas station. We showed him our leaking heat exchanger and after some discussion in both Spanish and English and with the help of 2 other patrons in the bar, it was decided that he had one that might work for us, but it was larger, which suited Ross fine. He returned in about 20 minutes (to the bar) and $40 cash later we had another "used" heat exchanger but we needed larger hoses, which we did not have on RAFT. We inquired about public transportation, which there is none, so Tony, one of the interested/helpful patrons, offered to take Ross to the hardware store. This always seems to happen, when we need assistance, ride, etc..the good people that we meet come across.

We had dinner on another boat, and an enjoyable evening. The next morning's job... install the new heat exchanger and convert RAFT back to being fresh water cooled. This keeps the salt water out of the diesel engine, and stops "salt water damage".

The weather forecast is finally encouraging, winds are expected to be light, possibly even west?? and seas flat for the weekend, so we expect to try to make our way around the corner tomorrow, enjoy a couple of the anchorages before getting to Salinas. At least that was the plan. However on Friday, we were up at 0400 and ready to go when at squall came through the anchorage with winds 15-20 from SW. The Bourqueron anchorage is completely open to the west, and rarely experiences any west winds, so that had everyone up! We waited for the squall to go through and had our anchor up by 0530. As it was Easter weekend, and with the light winds predicted we had hoped to bypass the first couple of stopping points, even though we heard La Parguera was wonderful, we expected Gilligans to be super busy, didn't need to go to Ponce by boat, and head right for Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island). Bev hoped to spend the weekend hiking and snorkeling around the island. However when we did reach the island, about 1400, the winds were 20k from the south west, and the few boats that were in the anchorage were bucking major waves on a lee shore, and it didn't look very appealing. We still had enough daylight so we continued on to Salinas.

As we arrived in Salinas we were greeted by 2 boats that we knew from Luperon and found another old friend on the dock. Salinas is another great, fully enclosed harbour and very cruiser friendly.