Thursday, December 2, 2021

Puerto Rico to Virgin Islands

Sailboat blown ashore during hurricane. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Sailboat blown ashore during hurricane. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Frances Diebler 

We are underway again sailing from Puerto Rico and Culebra to St. Thomas, USVI. We left GRENDEL, “on the hard”, which is a phrase for having your vessel hauled and stored on land. This is probably the best way to protect your vessel when you will be away for a month or more.

We left Puerto for a few weeks to fly back home to visit family and friends. During our visit home, we had some anxious moments when two hurricanes, Luis followed by Marilyn, ravaged parts of the Eastern Caribbean. The weather channel showed the strike zone right over Fajardo, Puerto Rico where GRENDEL was resting comfortably in the long term storage yard.

We tried to get information on how our boat fared, but only got some wishful thinking answers. Even though we were only about 40 NM from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, VI, we were spared a direct hit, unlike the devastation to St. Martins and St. Thomas. In any event, we continued our voyage and sailed on to Charlotte Amalie.

Grendel in marina. Note extra jerry jugs on deck.

Grendel in marina. Note extra jerry jugs on deck.

No matter how much information we had prior to our arrival, we were not really prepared to see what happened to Charlotte Amalie and the damage and devastation done to the marinas.

As we neared the land, we could see the blue roof tarps on homes on the hillsides, evidence of the wrath of Hurricane Marilyn. We saw an isolated boat or two wrecked on the shores. Shudders ran through our bodies as we observed just how strong the wrath of Marilyn had been.

Ahead on our port side, was the once colorful harbor town of Charlotte Amalie. The Ramada Inn was badly trashed from the storm.

Windows were broken and white curtains flew in the breeze. Most waterfront buildings had no windows and the drapes were blowing out of the openings. Buildings were down everywhere in town. Just about every home, office and store showed some sign of damage. Even with all the damage and debris, Charlotte Amalie was back in business.

We moved from the anchorage to Crown Bay Marina at Anchorage which was

Me and Mocha Jumbie.

Me and Mocha Jumbie.

a busy boating center with many live-a-boards and several marine yards and facilities. Getting around was quite easy for cruisers because public buses and taxis were always available.

The Virgin Islands are truly a boaters’ playground with so many things to do: deep water fishing, beachcombing for shells, restaurants, entertainment, meeting new friends and enjoying the company of sailing friends we met along the way. When I say “sailing friends” that is all inclusive of both sail and power boaters.

A somewhat exciting thing happened to us in downtown Charlotte Amalie. There was a TV commercial being filmed to demonstrate the fun you can have vacationing on Charlotte no matter how you arrived. This event was celebrated with a parade of music makers, costumed “Mocha Jumbies” who are stilt walkers. I was grabbed off the curb to march a bit with the Mocha Jumbies! (see photo.)

More on this great sailing destination next week.

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron. 

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