Monday, October 24, 2011

Culebrita: So many shades of blue

Culebrita Reef as viewed from the lighthouse

In between the usual cleaning and boat chores, we’ve been visiting the sites and sights of Culebra and Culebrita. We headed over to Tortuga Bay for a snorkel and lunch, but the swells were working their way in around the corner so we re-located to the SE corner of Culebrita. The snorkeling there was very nice, but here the wind chop was still making the boat roll a bit too much for comfortable sleeping. We decided on Almodovar bay, which looked very calm as we passed it on our trip to Culebrita, and only a mile away.

Tortuga Bay, Culebrita, with lighthouse in background 
Almodovar Bay in the distance, where we are currently moored.

Entering late with the sun in our faces, we discovered the chart chip defines the mangrove shoals a bit differently than reality, so we cleaned a bit of growth off the keel before backing off and finding the center of the bay entrance. Not enough to knock off any barnacles, so I’ve still got some more cleaning to do, but not as much growth as I would expect after not moving much over the last five months. It was indeed well protected, and nearly empty as we shared the seven free moorings with two other boats. It has become our favorite anchorage to escape the loud music (weekends) and boat wakes in Dakity.

The reef 20 feet below our mooring at Culebrita

We have been back to Culebrita for more snorkeling and a hike to the lighthouse, which gave us a good overview of the reef running along the south side of Culebra. When the latest weather trough was approaching and the wind died, we took the dink over for some snorkeling and to see if it was worth breaking out the dive gear (we decided to pass). Although we see a lot of healthy staghorn and elkhorn coral, and lots of gorgonians like corky sea fingers, we did not see many adult fish, only a few parrotfish, and lots of juveniles and smaller reef fish like goatfish, basslets, and damselfish. Not sure if the reefs have been overfished, or if the adults are just somewhere else. We did run into a few schools of tangs, and there are quite a few tarpon that hang out under the boat when we’re on the mooring. The turtles seem to be doing well; we’ve seen a few every place we’ve moored.

The Dinghy Dock Restaurant serves microbrews

The Dinghy Dock carries Old Harbor Brewery microbrews, so we tend to tie up there (free), and then it’s hard to get back aboard without having one or more of their Pale Ales. There is a nice library (free) only a few blocks away, and we’ve donated some of our books as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to read a few new books we won’t have to haul with us. The produce vendors set up on the main road on Fridays, assuming the ferry hasn’t broken down, allowing us to stock back up on pineapple, mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, and onions.

Although small, the Culebra library has an awesome selection of books,
 as well as WiFi, and computers

Since it appears the hurricane season is winding down without a late season storm (knock on wood!), we will likely check outa few more areas on the western side, and Vieques, over the next week or two before turning in our library books and heading over to St Thomas.

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, in the distance on the horizon

Written by Captain Chris  

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