5 Mar 2013

[Cruise News] Esperanza, Vieques

We sailed over to Vieques on Sunday arriving in Sun Bay to rendevouz with the couple we met 10 days ago in Culebra.  It's a beautiful bay and a bit of a first for me - staying somewhere with only 2 other boats.  Last time we were in the Caribbean I always looked to have at least 5 other boats around, ideally 10, so I'm coming on in leaps and bounds!

Vieques is the largest of the Spanish Virgin islands and is very laid back.  Mainstream tourism hasn't arrived here and it lends the island a certain charm that isn't present in the BVI and USVI.  There are only two towns on the island, Esperanza and Isabel Segunda, the capital.  We've visited both in the course of the last two days, preferring the former which is surrounded by a beautiful bay.

We're setting off along the south coast of Puerto Rico tomorrow as part of the first leg of the journey to the Bahamas.  It looks like we'll be facing very light winds so may well be motor-sailing a fair bit of the way.  Better than high winds, but expensive!

Puerto Rico

We've had a great time in Puerto Rico and have seen a lot of the sights on the eastern side of the island, despite having to spend far more time at the marina sorting out the anemometer and forestay than we'd hoped!  So yesterday being finally free of boat issues we visited the El Yunque rainforest which is the only rainforest national park in the US.  It's in three distinct levels, dictated by both the height and also the type of vegetation.  We were only in the first level at around 1500 feet.

Puerto Rico has one of the rarest birds on the planet - the Puerto Rican parrot - and there are only 22 of these left in the wild.  They inhabit the third level of the forest and to help keep predators away from this level, the national park creates artificial nests in the lower levels to "accommodate" other birds.  

Another rare world phenomenon is bio-luminescence in the water.  Last night we were lucky enough to visit one of the three bio-luminescent bays in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Whilst two of these are on Puerto Rico, the one considered to be the best is on the neighbouring island of Vieques where the density of the single-cell, microscopic dinaflagellants (? spelling!) is the highest in the world.   These little critters fluoresce when they are agitated and so trailing a hand or foot through the water creates the most incredible spectacle.  I don't often use this word, but last night fully deserved it .... awesome!