Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vieques: Serene bays and beautiful beaches

Vieques naval bombing area with OP barely visible at top of mountain 
I didn’t get to visit Vieques when I did a bareboat charter in 2001, so I wanted to visit when we were in the area this time. Since there was no chance of running into a Navy ship on the firing line, last Thursday we sailed right by the old shore bombardment range and could clearly see the Observation Post (OP) used to call in the fire missions and grade the exercises. The cruising guide showed an anchorage in the bay, but with quite a bit of confused wind chop and swell running, we continued downwind to Ensenada Honda, described as one of the “Hurricane Holes” in the area.

Troubadour at anchor in Ensenada Honda
The protecting reef was long and visible, and the depths across the bar were not quite as shallow as charted when we worked our way back to the NE and into the calm bay. The bay is fairly large, and over 30’ deep in the middle, so we worked our way to the SE and anchored behind a rise which gave us a good break from the wind and kept us out of any wind chop. The bay remained virtually ours for the two days we lounged, snorkeled, swam, and explored in the dinghy; we saw one other cruising boat and one fishing boat in the bay.

Entering the narrow, shallow cut to Ferro Bay
Ferro Bay opens south to the Caribbean Sea, the anchorage can get rolly
On Sunday we motored the five miles to Ferro Bay, one of the two bioluminescent bays on the south coast. Arriving near high tide gave us two feet of water under the keel as we navigated into the bay and anchored in 10’ of water near several boats stored there, and discovered there were several more boats stored back in the mangrove creek. Our evening swim did indeed generate a plume of glow upon plunging in, and a halo of luminescence around any kick or paddle. It’s not quite as bright as the time lapse photos, but was cool to finally see for ourselves.

Four good mooring balls are available in Sun Bay
 (we snorkeled them and checked)
Sun Bay beach is more than a mile long, the water crystal clear
Ferro Bay opening is fairly straight and open to the S, and as a result we rolled mildly as we faced into the mostly E breeze. I noticed one boat had a stern anchor out, but we slept through the rolling and arose the next morning to move on to Sun Bay. There are four public moorings in good shape on the E end of the bay, and we took one to get us out of most of the swell working its way around the corner, or reflecting off the jagged rocks on the far side of the bay. The charts show a shallow area between Cayo de Tierra, on the west end of Sun Bay, and the Esperanza dock. Walking the beach, we could see rock and sand bridging this gap all the way across.

The public dock and the Malecón in Esperanza
We dined at Duffy's and enjoyed the microbrew beers

Which beer did Chris choose?
Wednesday we set off in light winds and calm seas to head back to Culebra via the west end of Vieques. The wind filled in to give us a great reach down the south coast, but started backing too quickly as storm clouds worked their way across the area. When briefly headed by winds from the west, we  motorsailed briefly before the winds restored from the SE and we were rocketing towards Dakity in rainy conditions. Alas, the winds started dying after another hour and we had to fire up the “Iron Genny” for the last ten miles.

Storms and rain squalls made for a wet journey back to Culebra
It was right about this point when we caught our second fish of the journey (at least the second one we landed!), a 3’ king mackerel. Linda saw it hit the lure (a green lure, meant for Mahi), and I donned the gloves then reeled in the hand line. Linda didn’t get a hit with the gaff, but I was able to swing him onboard with the line. Once again, the vodka didn’t seem to do as much as putting the guy in a black plastic bag. Next time I think the vodka goes in the captain’s mouth!

A gift from Neptune! 
We’re back on the same mooring at Dakity with the fish filleted, and guts likely gobbled up by the tarpon that started swimming around as soon as we started cleaning. Storms last night took care of washing off all the salt from the salt water washing of the fish blood and gore! A bit rainy today, and Bernie the TV weatherman says things will stay wet for a few days. We will try to find a dry interval to get into the market for some fresh fruit and veggies tomorrow, and then will get back to the boat projects.

Written by Captain Chris



  1. Sounds wonderful - must be great to be in "cruising mode" again!!! xoxo

  2. @Windtraveler
    Thanks, Brittany! It sure is nice to hear the wind in the sails again.

  3. Looks beautiful! Abita beer ... The brewery is minutes away from our home and my husband loves it!

    We can't claim to be fishermen, so we're glad to know there's another option to pouring vodka down a fish's throat. We've always thought that sounded a little difficult, and what a waste of vodka! The black bag sounds like a great idea.

  4. @Mid-Life Cruising!
    We love microbrew beers, so we are in heaven when we find them!

    As far as fishing, we are not -fisher people- either, really. But we do like fresh fish. Chris uses a hand reel and 100 lb test with a lure our friend Sam on S/V Flyingfish made for us. This lure has given us a high success rate of two for two! We caught a mahi in the Turks and Caicos, and now this Kingfish. Two very helpful books to get are: The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing and The Anglers Cookbook. Fishing has been one of the great thrills of the cruising life that we didn't anticipate.

    Thanks for your comments!


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