Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sailing the Spanish Virgin Islands, Part 5

Our lumpy mooring at the mouth of Bahia Mosquito on ViequesOur previous evening's weird experience with the phosphorescent phytoplankton in Bahia Mosquito more than compensated for our "lumpy" mooring, but we were happy to leave it behind early the next morning. Our next destination, the small port of Esperanza, was a mere six miles to the west along Vieques' southern shore.

The embarcadero in Esperanza on Vieques, with Quetzal anchored in the distanceWe anchored behind small, protective islands and dinghied in to the sandy beach. Things were very quiet in Esperanza but we couldn't tell if this was because it was still early in the day, it was off-season, or maybe it was always like this. The profusion of bars and restaurants lining the embarcadero led us to think that we were just a little too early, either in the day or in the season.

Closed bars and restaurants line the embarcadero in Esperanza on ViequesWe followed our noses down the road to what smelled like breakfast and found Belly Button's, the only open restaurant in the area. As we experienced at Mamacita's on Culebra, the restaurant was staffed by American expatriates. We each ordered the breakfast special--two eggs any style, home fries, toast and fruit--and were pleasantly surprised at how good it all was. Homemade bread, ripe fruit, fresh-squeezed juice and excellent coffee with real cream put us all in a festive mood. John commented, "This sure beats my galley breakfasts." Yes, I thought, this is even better than turkey bacon.

Breakfast at Belly Button's in Esperanza on Vieques: Nan, John, Genie and DallasWe settled up with our kind waitress, who gave us directions to the local supermercado, and we took off again down the road and then inland a few blocks. The refrigeration aboard Quetzal was not working, so we needed to buy bags of ice as well as beer, wine and other supplies. We lugged it all back to the dinghy and took a low, wet ride back to the boat.

Our anchorage near Playita on the southern coast of Puerto RicoWe pulled up the anchor and headed west in a smooth broad reach, leaving behind the Spanish Virgin Islands for Puerto Rico. I manned the helm while John and Dallas pored over the charts, trying to figure out where we should anchor that night. They also consulted A Cruising Guide to Puerto Rico, including the Spanish Virgin Islands by Stephen J. Pavlidis, which didn't have much of anything positive to say about any of the ports we would encounter before we reached Ponce, our trip's final destination. In the end, we sailed close enough to shore to see where there might be a cluster of "sticks," as Dallas called masts, and settled for Playita just before sunset.

Sun setting behind Quetzal at our anchorage near Playita on the southern coast of Puerto RicoNan and I would have opted for a dinghy ride to shore to check out the town and maybe find some fresh seafood, but that was not in the plans. It was "Mayan spaghetti" night, an opportunity to finally taste the dish that John is famous for. I am not at liberty to reveal the secret ingredients except to say that it was a little salty but not too bad. I ate two big helpings, but Nan fed half of hers to the fish.

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