Friday, February 7, 2014

Cruising the South Coast of Puerto Rico

It was time to head to the Spanish Virgin Islands.   We planned to make short hops from anchorage to anchorage for a leisurely tour of the south coast of Puerto Rico. 


We left Puerto Real on the west coast February 4 and looped around to the south coast, traveling only 10 miles the first day. Traveling along the coastline was neat. We got to see a lot of beautiful scenery along the way... quite a bit different from our sea passages with nothing to look at but water and waves!  

We anchored for one night in the basin west of Cabo Rojo and had a beautiful view of the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse.  The lighthouse illuminated the night sky.

As we traveled along the coast the following day, we had a quick visit from US Customs Border Patrol.  They pulled up alongside us and communicated with us via VHF radio and asked general questions and wanted to know our next destination. They zoomed off, heading toward another boater traveling along the coast.

Along the way, we passed Ponce, a large city on the southern coast.  Ponce,  taking advantage of the winds along the coast, has an extensive system of wind mills to harness the wind's energy.

Next stop was Guilligan's Island.  Gilligan’s Island (also known as Cayo Aurora) is part of the Biosphere Reserve of Guanica and managed by the Department of Natural Resources. 

Very remote, a very small percentage of travelers get to explore this beautiful relaxing haven. We anchored one night in the crystal clear basin near the nature preserve.  

There is a dock where several small boats bring tourists from the mainland nearby. We went ashore thinking we were going to get in a good hike, but the island was very small. There were picnic tables, barbecue pits and shady areas for picnicking but it was practically deserted. 

There was a pretty creek surrounded by mangroves that would be an excellent place to kayak.


We dinghyed over to the mainland area at Guanica and had a beer at the Guilligan's Island bar near the ferry dock. 

The Guilligan's Island ferry takes tourists over to Cayo Aurora.

LA had a beer… it was funny, they had the beer in bottles, but they wouldn't serve the beer in the bottle. Poured it in a plastic cup instead. Go figure…

We wanted some exercise so walked over to an all-inclusive resort, Copa Marina. 

Beautiful landscaping with pretty bougainvillea everywhere. 

There were neat looking "beach beds" on the picturesque beach overlooking gorgeous azure water, but there was no one there to enjoy it.  The resort was practically deserted.

Day 3 we traveled to Cajo de Muertos, also known as Coffin Island.  The island got its name because it resembles a dead person laying on a plateau when seen from the main island.  Protected as a nature reserve because of its native turtle population, the island can be reached by ferry.  

The weather was very windy the afternoon we arrived, so we did not go ashore. There is a Department of Natural Resources building there with staff and security personnel but the beach was deserted.  

A still-functioning lighthouse, Caja de Muertos Light, established in 1887 and automated in 1945, sits atop the highest hill on the island. This 170 feet high hill is located at the southwest extreme of the island.

Day 4 we anchored in the little anchorage of Puerto Patillas  The name Patillas is originally an indigenous name for a native type of watermelon. The large abundance of this fruit in the area, along with the land donation from the original owner, lead to the town's name. 

Despite being located in the region known as the Coast Valley of the South, a part of the town is mountainous. We didn't go ashore.  

We enjoyed the beautiful sunset that evening.

LA and LuLu hanging out at the helm while at anchor.  

LuLu is a good little sailing kitty! She wears her little pink harness while we are underway and is tethered so that she cannot leave the cockpit.  She becomes very docile when we travel and wants to stay close to one of us.  But when we anchor, watch out! That's her time to play and have the run of the boat!

We woke up the next morning and headed to the Spanish Virgin Islands.  We enjoyed seeing the sights of the southern coastline of Puerto Rico.  This has been a great trip and we hope we come back this way again!

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