Puerto Rico, unlike the Dominican Republic, offers many weather protected anchorages especially on the south and east side, which makes the island a fun place to cruise and explore by sea.
We spend two weeks in Ponce, the second largest city in Puerto Rico, at anchor there. The anchorage in Ponce located between the marina and La Guancha, a boardwalk with many little restaurants, is not very popular with cruisers. It’s not our favorite anchorage either, deep with murky waters, it gets very noisy with 6 different types of music booming from La Guancha’s restaurants until late at night; powerboats, paddle-boards, kayaks and jet-skis zooming through the anchorage every day. On Saturdays, kids from the sailing school practice sailing between the anchored boats hitting them from time to time, by accident (or for fun). Fata Morgana got a big black scratch on the port hull by one of the sailing school boats.
We use our time there to provision the boat, even though there are no shops near by and we walk for over an hour to get to Sam’s Club and WalMart, a few kilometers away to buy what we need. We don’t mind walking, we actually enjoy it, except when we have to carry cases of beer or 50-pound bags of flour on our backs in the scorching heat of the day. But we did it.
We also meet great new friends in Ponce which is the best part of our stay there, Greg and Michelle s/v Semper Fi who invite us for a movie (Captain Ron) and popcorn on their boat and give us tons of tips about the places we are planing to visit next down the Caribbean islands; and we share our daily walks to the shopping mall as well as rental car for a week with the SailingDee family making a few trips to San Juan, the mountains, and the stores together.
And when swallows start building a nest inside Fata Morgana’s boom we know we’ve been here too long and it is time to move on.
With our friends who come for a two-week visit we first sail to Caja de Muerto, The Coffin Island, just 7 miles southeast of Ponce. It’s a very little island with a nice beach and an old lighthouse perched on the hill, beautiful.
The legend has it that, many years ago, after her tragic death, a sailor buried the woman he loved on this island and would visit her grave every now and then. Pirates decided that he is hiding a treasure on the island and went looking for it but all they found was a coffin with a dead woman inside.
On weekends the small island and beach can be crowded with weekenders from Puerto Rico, but on a Monday it is completely deserted and wonderful.
From here we sail east every day for a few days, a few hours in the morning, until we reach Vieques, an island southeast of Puerto Rico.