Puerto Rico (February 6 – February 20, 2017)

Puerto Rico (February 6 – February 20, 2017)


Just as for every home, AfterMath needs regular maintenance, and we had planned all along to take some time in Puerto Rico for these chores. We also had made plans to see some of the sights we missed in our eastward voyage last spring, so we settled into the marina, Puerto del Rey near Fajardo, Puerto Rico, right away and got started. John changed the oil and arranged to have a one-day haul out while on the east coast of Puerto Rico. The services at the marina there were extensive, so it was perfect timing. The boat was in and out of the water the same day and we were thrilled that it all went so smoothly.

img_6539Old San Juan. One of the best parts of Puerto Rico is the people’s love of color.  Everywhere you look, there is color!
img_6552Castillo San Juan Cristobal, the fort that surrounds Old San Juan.img_6553img_6555img_6557img_6561img_6566Children flying their kites.  It is quite the sight to see!img_6571img_6574img_6590img_6592
img_6601img_6605The free tourist trolley through Old San Juan.  And this gentleman was so happy to be in my picture!img_6607img_6611img_6613img_6618

While in Puerto del Rey we also rented a car for a couple of days. One day was dedicated to shopping in stores that were much more familiar to us than those in the little islands had been. We went to West Marine, Advanced Auto Parts, Sams, and Walmart among others. When shopping has been difficult for the past year, it’s hard to describe how nice it is to be able to walk in stores that are large and have endless stock. The other day of having our own transportation was left for touring Old San Juan. While there, we enjoyed the sights, had lunch, and then had quite a scare.

img_6615Read below why this guard was so special to us!img_6630The full moon illuminated the mast on the sailboat opposite us that night.

We had parked our rental car in a parking garage, leaving quite a bit of my camera equipment in the trunk. After touring and having lunch, we went back to get in the car. We paid for parking and then took the elevator to the 5th floor, walked to our parking place, and, who would have thought, but the car was not there and the spot was empty! The car we had parked next to was still there. We went up a floor and down a floor, but we really knew we were in the right place by the stairs we had walked down to get to the street when we first parked. Hurriedly, we went back to the cashier where we had paid and told her that our car was missing. She called a security guard over and he walked with us telling us there was no way the car could have left the garage without the parking ticket, which we had with us. The guard told us to wait by the elevator, that he would find it. Just a few minutes later he came back and told us the car was on the third floor. We were both so sure we had parked on the fifth that there was just no question in our minds, but sure enough, there was the car on the third floor in the same position from the stairs we took to get down and next to a car almost identical to the one that had been on the fifth floor. As the guard walked away, we saw the sign that made us think we were on Floor 5. It was a speed limit sign that said “5”! Back in the car we could laugh at our mistake, but it sure was a nervous time. We were both more worried about my camera and lenses that were in the trunk than anything else!

img_5969-2Sunset at the Patillas anchorageimg_5977-2Moving along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.  I love the windmills!img_6014The lighthouse near Cabo Rojoimg_6021-2The houses aren’t big, but, oh, what a view!img_6688Along the streets in the fishing village at Puerto Real.  Again, color rules!img_6689img_6693img_6695This varnished house is just amazing!  img_6696img_6698img_6700img_6706img_6711The yellow building serves as a hardware store, lunch counter, and fish market.img_6713img_6714img_6718img_6721

We stayed in Puerto del Rey for a few more days before moving along the southern coast of Puerto Rico.  The first night out we stopped in Patillas at a lovely anchorage where the sunset was spectacular.   Then, the following day, we stopped in Ponce to get fuel, continuing to Guilligan’s island for the night before finally reaching the east coast near Cabo Rojo on Wednesday. Specifically we are in Puerto Real, a small fishing village that is full of color and fish markets. The Marina Pescaderia here is small and friendly and the owner, Jose, is unbelievably helpful. John called ahead and told him of two more maintenance jobs we wanted done that the contractors in Puerto del Rey did not have time for. Jose had people lined up for us for the day after we arrived and within two days all of the work was done. Again we rented a car, this time just for doing some sight seeing.

img_6633The lighthouse at Rinconimg_6034-2From the park at the lighthouseimg_6044-2img_6050-2Which way are they supposed to be going?img_6058-2img_6125-2Catch a waveimg_6126-2And….img_6127-2You’re sitting on top of the world.img_6153-2The Steps at Step Beachimg_6637img_6646Looking out at the dreaded Mona Passageimg_6650At the square in Rinconimg_6651The cemetery was full of color and beautiful flowers.img_6158-2As always, I like people the best.  

Saturday we made our way up the west coast to Rincon, where we had lunch and then went to a lighthouse park.   At the park, we were able to watch the surfers who love the waves that are a product of the passage that we dread, the Mona Passage. Nevertheless, the surfers were having a great time and we enjoyed watching them catch a wave and ride it to shore. After the park we went to a beach in Rincon called Steps Beach, presumably because there is one set of a few steps just sitting there for no apparent reason. The beach was gorgeous, of course, with sand that looked like gold powder.

img_6655The Arecibo Observatoryimg_6659img_6663img_6666The hole in the bottom is so that people can access the dish.  That opening is 3 by 18 feet.img_6675A shoe used for workers to walk on the panels of the dish.img_6682This is a rock from Mars, broken from an asteroid.img_6684John, learning to spin like an ice skater at the observatory.

On Sunday we finally made it to the Arecibo Observatory, an amazing and interesting place in Puerto Rico. It took over two hours to drive northeast into the karst hills where the observatory is located, but it was a drive that was well worth it. Arecibo Observatory, a huge radio telescope, was built in the early 1960’s and, to this day is the largest functioning telescope of its kind in the world. It is used for research in radio astronomy, atmospheric science and radar astronomy. The dish is 1000 feet across. Although the observatory has contributed much to our knowledge of space and astronomy, and has even been used to try to contact extraterrestrial beings, it is has also been used in TV and movies, probably the most famously in the climax of a James Bond movie, Golden Eye. We found it fascinating and were very happy we made the trip through those winding roads to the middle of nowhere.

So now we sit and wait. We are looking for a good weather window to cross the dreaded Mona Passage and to arrive in the Dominican Republic. Originally we expected to leave tomorrow, on Tuesday, but now it doesn’t seem to be a good crossing. Wednesday doesn’t look very good either, and we are determined to go when it is safe and comfortable. In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy Puerto Rico. For those of you who are looking for a warm, tropical vacation that is easy to get to, we highly recommend this island. There are beautiful beaches, lots to do, gorgeous sights, and the people are friendly and mostly speak English. Really, we believe this island is underrated as a vacation spot.

As always, please take time to treasure your friends and family, relax, and follow your dreams. Life is short, try to live it without regrets.

Here we are today:

The Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico (January 26, 2017 -February 5, 2017)

The Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico (January 26, 2017 -February 5, 2017)

What can be better than cruising in the British Virgin Islands? Not much! While all of the islands of the Caribbean are beautiful, there just isn’t another spot that quite equals the beauty of the BVI. The islands are near each other, making cruising a breeze, the weather is warm and the water temperature matches the air, the reefs that surround the islands are healthy and loaded with coral and fish, the water is crystal clear and gorgeous, and there is a spark of whimsy that surrounds everyone who is nearby. But there is one thing that has made this part of the adventure even better: that is having dear friends arrive in Tortola with almost no notice at all to share the days of fun.

When we figured out on Monday, the 23rd, that we would be able to arrive in Virgin Gorda in the BVI on Wednesday, we called Chris and Sam to see if there was any chance they could hop a flight to join us for a few days of boating. We knew they hadn’t been to these islands before and, as they had met us in Canada and in Grenada, we thought it would be great fun to have them experience our favorite cruising grounds with us as well. By the end of the next day, reservations were made and we were all excitedly awaiting their arrival on Friday, January 27th.img_5945Entering the BVI we passed Richard Branson’s home where the Obamas were relaxing after the Inauguration.img_5954fullsizerender-32Back in the BVI

Our trip to Virgin Gorda, once again, was flawless. We had gentle winds and calm seas and our twelve-hour ride just flew by. We picked up a mooring and decided to stay there for two nights while we waited for Friday to come. Thursday was spent doing what little preparation we could for our guests, but the truth is, with such a spur of the moment visit, there was not much we could do! We had plenty in the freezer, the shelves were stocked with goods, and we knew that with Chris and Sam we could just be completely informal and relaxed. As long as we had some wine, some rum, and some gin and tonics, we were good to go!img_6427Traveling to Soper’s Hole.  I love the BVI!img_6428Chris and Sam’s ferry arrived!img_6437img_6439

Friday morning we moved to Soper’s Hole, which is on the west end of Tortola, and picked up a mooring. Chris and Sam flew into St. Thomas and took a ferry to Tortola, arriving around 3:15 PM. John took the dinghy in and met them after they passed through Customs and Immigration and from that time on the fun never ended. Chris loves to load up her huge red canvas bag with treats for us and we couldn’t have been happier to see goodies that we haven’t seen in a very long time. Thomas’ English Muffins, Cheez Itz, and steaks had been sorely missed over the past year, and they appeared in the bag along with gifts, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, popcorn, quinoa, coffee, pretzels, dog treats for Kirby, and so much more. It was like Christmas!

img_6442Chris made it to Foxy’simg_6445This crazy sign is new even since we were here last summer.img_6447Strolling the main street on Jost Van Dykeimg_6454For $5 a person Rena took us to the Soggy Dollar.img_6457This bar is called the Soggy Dollar because there is no where to take a dinghy to shore so, if you come by boat, you swim in and therefore have soggy dollars.img_6458img_6462img_6463img_6465Going back to Great Harbour by taxi we spotted AfterMath and asked to stop and take a picture.img_6467img_6472Sam got the little hammock.img_6473John got the big one!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the barbeque.img_3552

We started off Saturday morning for Jost Van Dyke, one of my favorite islands in the BVI. We needed to arrive early enough to get a mooring in Great Harbour, the nicest anchorage there, and the one that would allow us access to Foxy’s. Foxy’s has been a favorite place for us on all of our trips to the BVI. The first time we went there was over 30 years ago. It has changed over the years, and this time we didn’t get to see the star of the bar, Foxy himself, but we did get to attend the delicious barbeque on Saturday night. During the day, though, we took a fun cab ride to the Soggy Dollar Bar, a well-known spot on the island. After going back to Great Harbour the guys climbed in hammocks while Chris and I swam at the beach. We had fun meeting other boaters and chatting about their adventures as well. All in all, our day on Jost Van Dyke was perfect.

img_6485Sam on the path up to the top of the hill at Marina Cay.img_6487img_3591That’s a potato chip tower.  A tower of chips covered with blue cheese dressing, lettuce and tomatoes.  Amazing!fullsizerenderAn ingenious way to hand us a dessert menu.  Of course we all had to look through it!img_3593img_6494And another day ends on Marina Cay.

The next day took us to Marina Cay, another lovely spot. There we walked around the island, took a look in the Pussers Gift shop and stopped for the famous Pussers Rum Painkillers and a potato chip tower in the restaurant. It was a relaxing and wonderful day aboard AfterMath and onshore.


Monday morning looked cloudy at first, but quickly cleared as we traveled to the famous Baths, again on Virgin Gorda. The Baths is a national park in the BVI and they are breathtaking. To get to the main attraction from a boat, you pick up a mooring and then dinghy in to the roped off swimming area. From there it is a good swim until you meet the beach. At the beach, boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter are scattered together in such a way that pools are formed inside what seem to be huge rooms of granite. To pass through the boulders, there are places you need to duck, turn sideways, use a rope to climb, and traverse ladders both up and down. It really is not difficult at all, and it is just spectacular. After passing through the rooms and pools you end up at Devil’s Bay, a gorgeous beach. To get back to your starting point, however, you must either once again go through the boulders or take the path up the hill to the overlooking restaurant and then take the stairs back down to the beach. There were quite a few cruise boat passengers when we were there and they slowed down progress in the caves, so we chose the hill route. Once again, we had to swim back to the dinghy before getting back on AfterMath, so we all felt as though we had gotten some exercise for the morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASnorkeling near our boat at Norman IslandOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat colorful fish is John Daigle!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you see the cute puffer fish above?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next stop, still on Monday, was Norman Island. This island is uninhabited, peaceful and beautiful, and really only available to boaters. There was a beautiful reef only a short distance from AfterMath so we all donned snorkeling gear and hopped off the swim platform. I was so happy to see such colorful coral of so many different types there. Much of the Caribbean coral has been dying off, but here we saw countless varieties in a rainbow of colors. Of course the fish were the best part of the show. The underwater world never ceases to amaze me.img_5964The Indians near Norman Islandimg_5966OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn entrance to a cave at Norman IslandOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s SamOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA school of blue tangs.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd that’s Chris!

We decided to stay another night at Norman Island as we wanted to go out to see the rock formations known as The Indians and also we wanted to snorkel at the caves along the wall of the island. The Indians can be snorkeled, but there was a swell that none of us wanted to take on, so we just checked them out from the dinghy before motoring on in to the caves. Here the water was calm and clear and the fish were happy for our company. They just swarmed around us and it truly was like swimming in an aquarium. Again, the corals and the fish were spectacular.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWilly T’s boat bar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey did eventually jump, but we had tied up Tangent by then.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPainkillers all around at Willy T’sOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater in the afternoon we took Tangent, the dinghy, to Willy T’s, a boat that has been made into a bar in the harbor. Willy T’s is a peppy place with a typical bar crowd enjoying Painkillers and every other type of drink imaginable. It has an upstairs area as well and from there those that are brave jump into the water below. It is a fun place for all! And, no, we didn’t jump.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen evening came we went to the calmer and more elegant restaurant on the beach of Norman Island. There we had a delicious dinner of seafood and we sat and reminisced about what a wonderful visit we had with our dear friends from way back.

Wednesday morning came too soon and we had to return to Soper’s Hole so Chris and Sam could catch their ferry back to St. Thomas. We went to shore with them to bid them goodbye and to check out of the BVI ourselves, as we were headed to St. John, a US Virgin Island, that afternoon. To say that their visit added to our pleasure would be an understatement. We will always remember the dinners, the laughs, the adventures and the fun of our time together in the BVI.

John and I moved the boat to St. John’s that day, then to St. Thomas on Friday. Saturday brought us to Culebra and Sunday found us in Puerto Rico at the Puerto del Rey Marina. Our adventure continues here, as we will do a little touring and some boat maintenance before moving along the southern coast of this island. We still have 1200 miles to go before we are back on the United States mainland and we are keeping our April 1st goal in mind. But for now, we are living our dream everyday and we thank Chris and Sam for helping make our trip even better.

This is where we are today:


Leaving Antigua, Passing through St. Kitts and Nevis, and on to St. Maarten (January 20, 2017 – January 25, 2017)

Leaving Antigua, Passing through St. Kitts and Nevis, and on to St. Maarten (January 20, 2017 – January 25, 2017)

Finally! Finally the time came to leave Antigua. Our friends’ boats were ready, the weather looked favorable, and the cabinets, refrigerators, and freezers were all well stocked for the next few weeks. It was time to go.

img_6329Leaving Antigua early in the morning.img_6331

We all untied from our docks early the morning of January 20th and started on our way to a night’s stopover in St. Kitts. The sea conditions could not have been better for the trawlers in the group, Tropical Blend and AfterMath, and Symbiosis, the sailing vessel, was able to set sail as well. After a voyage that lasted about eight hours we arrived in Nevis, marveling at the calm seas we had along the way. We anchored our boats in the bay and the captains of the group hopped aboard Tangent to check in. Although we would only stay in St. Kitts/Nevis for one night and would leave early in the morning, we knew that the country was famous for bothering boaters who had not checked in properly with Customs and Immigration. Unfortunately, the check in took a very long time, as there was a family in Customs that seemed to be having a problem. About three hours later, John, Larry, and Scott returned to their respective boats and we started out for another hour to our anchorage in St. Kitts, arriving after dark. It turned into a very long day, but it was an easy one for everyone.

img_6334Lovely hills in St. Kittsimg_6344These calm conditions in open water are what we like to call “Trawler Weather”st-maartenThanks to Debbie Gaddy, this is a picture of us entering the lagoon in St. Maartenimg_6353Some beautiful boats just inside the bridge.img_6371Eclipse is the largest personal yacht ever built to date.  It is 533 feet long!img_6377img_6398img_6412img_6354We last saw Venus in Grenada.

The following morning, we again started early. Anchors were up by 6 AM and we were on our way to Sint Maarten. Once again we were rewarded for our long wait in Antigua; the seas were perfect for those of us in trawlers, but a little slow for our sailing friends. We arrived in Simpson Bay in St. Maarten at 3:10 PM, just a few minutes too late for the 3 o’clock bridge opening that allows boats into the lagoon and its marinas on the island. We dropped our anchors and waited for the 5:00 opening though and all was well. If ever you own a boat and think you have a good- sized one, you only need to enter Simpson Bay and the lagoon to be humbled. Outside the lagoon sat Eclipse, the largest personal yacht built up to this time. Inside we found Venus again, Steve Jobs’ boat that was completed after his passing away. Everywhere you look there are huge, beautiful boats owned by some very rich people in this world.

St. Maarten is the Dutch side of the island, the other half being St. Martin, which is French. Our marina was right in the midst of stores, restaurants, and banks, so we were happy to enjoy some conveniences and comforts of home. St. Maarten uses the US dollar, so even being able to make purchases without having to convert from one currency to another was a joy. It felt good to have familiar dollar bills and coins in our pockets for a change.

img_6358Larry, Debbie, and Scott on Little Blendimg_6367Kirby and Noi keeping watch with John and me on Tangent.img_6355Debbie, Noi, and I went to breakfast at Zee Best while the captains checked into St. Maarten.

While on the island we enjoyed riding the dinghy around the lagoon and trying some of the restaurants. One evening we went to a piano bar for some live evening entertainment. We planned on staying a few more days but suddenly a very nice weather window opened up and John and I decided it was time to start on our way to the British Virgin Islands. We are trying our best to re-enter Florida by April 1st. If you hadn’t heard, Jeff and Sarah are having a baby boy in April and we want to be in the states for the event. We have less than two months to make that deadline and we still have a very long way to go.

img_6420Leaving St. Maarten.  What looks like an island out there is Eclipse anchored in the Bay 

Unfortunately, our friends aboard Tropical Blend and Symbiosis were not ready to leave so we said a fond “see you soon” to them and passed through the bridge with the 4 PM opening on January 24th. Our thoughts of anchoring in Simpson Bay quickly dissipated when we saw how rolly it was there. A trip to the French side and Marigot Bay left us in calm, beautiful waters in a lovely anchorage. We got a good night’s rest, in preparation for the 12 hour trip the following day to the British Virgin Islands.

It was sad to leave St. Maarten so soon. It felt as though one chapter of our adventure had ended somehow, but we are excited that there is so much more to see and discover on this planet that is made up of 71% water! Remember to live your dreams; tomorrow is never guaranteed.