Home  Puerto Rico 3/15/2008

Overall, our time in Puerto Rico wasnt that great.  Between the weather, mechanical problems, and Davids illness of Ciguatera we would rather have skipped it.  Even besides these factors we still could have skipped the island.  That being said, Old San Juan, Boqueron in the west, and the Spanish Virgin Islands in the east (owned by PR) were very nice indeed.

Crossing the Mona Passage is feared by most sailors.  Its one of the worst passages of the "thorny path" and can have high winds and waves right on the nose.  This picture shows how idyllic our passage was.  We had to motor, but it was glassy smooth and uneventful except for the occasional whale sighting.

In Ponce, we had Windfreak pulled and bottom painted.  The fresh paint made her go at least two knots faster at 1500 rpm.  She is a very good sailing boat, and we love to throw up those sails and let her blast along.

We have joined the millions of older folks who ride around on tour buses.  Its a quick easy way to see the local sights.  This tour was a hoot.  We went to a sports museum that had international chess sets.  Then we went to a large cemetery  and checked out the dead center of town.  Everyone was dying to get there!

Old San Juan had an absolutely beautiful fort called Castillo San Felipe del Morro which is over 200 years old.  The Caribbean has a LOT of forts and we have enjoyed touring every one of them.


Vicky having fun walking around Old San Juan.  Its a very picturesque city.


We rented a car with Allergic to Cities and drove up to El Yunque (pronounced el Junky) national forest and checked out the rain forest.  Great hiking and beautiful sights to see.

On the path in El Yunque.  In the background is Fajardo, a port on the NE tip of Puerto Rico.

A massive freshwater pool below a waterfall in El Yunque.


We had never heard about the Spanish Virgin Islands till we sailed there.  These islands are owned by Puerto Rico, but have a very different and nice flavor all their own.  We mainly stayed on two islands, one called Culebra, and the other called Culebrita.

Hiking, swimming, and a calm anchorage is all anyone could ask for...

The one building on Culebrita was this old mansion and light house that was positioned at the top of the tallest peak.  We climbed up the light house and could see the whole world from there.  What a cool project it would be to restore that old place to its former glory.


Culebra had beautiful deserted beaches.


 We also had to check out Culebras bars.  At this one, I was allowed to get my own beers.  "Hey, wheres my discount?"  :)

A note from David on Ciguatera:

Please be careful when eating tropical fish while on vacation in the islands.  A group of eight people bought a red snapper in Luperon, Dominican Republic and had a seeming innocent, but grand meal on s/v Nebula.  From that fish, half the people got Ciguatera.  Of the half that did NOT get it most ate very little or none at all.  Fish that dwell on the reef such as Grouper and some of the Snapper family build up the Ciguatera neurotoxin, and if they are large enough, pass it on to humans that eat them.  This illness can be fatal, and we know of at least one person that was paralyzed from eating a large grouper in the Turks and Caicos.

My symptoms went like this:  Bad diarrhea the first day, then flu like symptoms for a couple days after that.  I administered myself a round of antibiotics right off thinking I had Montezuma's Revenge.  Didnt fix anything.  Long lasting symptoms were extreme lethargy in the legs and other muscles, tingly lips and tongue, and random itches all over my body.  Id wake up in the night with my legs feeling like they weighed 200lbs each.  My friends had similar issues.  I also had a mental fog that included depression, which almost was the demise of Vicky and my relationship!  These longer term symptoms took over a month to go away.

Today, I feel good like my old self.  But now I warn people not to eat Grouper and Snapper caught on the reef.  Stick with Tuna or Mahi Mahi or other deep water fish.  If you have to eat the reef fish, make sure it is relatively small.  Dont be like me, Mr. Invincible, and think it wont happen to you.



PS.  This issue didnt help our experience in Puerto Rico.  We loved Dominican Republic for our own reasons, and its very possible that the general public would like Puerto Rico better than the DR...  Check them both out for yourself.