We left Ponce last Saturday and took Wild Horses on a very short boat ride to Isla Caja de Muertos (Coffin Island). Oh wow. The island did not disappoint. It is just 8 nautical miles south of Ponce but as Wild Horses glided closer to its shores, we felt we were entering a magical world. The tiny island (just 1.5 miles long and 1.2 miles wide) has green mountains, sandy beaches and the most beautiful blue water we have seen since the Bahamas. It also had been home to our buddy boats (Caretta and Indigo Lady) for the last two days. It was nice to reunite with our friends and they immediately played tour guide for the island. We fit in some exploring of the ruins, checked out the trails, and had some much-needed beach time for our pup Ocean. We ended the glorious day with a few drinks aboard Indigo Lady, planning the next leg of our journey.
As much as we loved Isla Caja de Muertos, we were eager to make the three-hour trip east to Salinas, Puerto Rico. The marina in Salinas welcomes cruisers. For $50 USD a month, you can use their pristine dinghy docks, nice showers and, most important for us, the marina’s address to receive packages. We had been waiting for an opportunity to order a Starlink Kit so this really fit the bill. Starlink is fairly new but has been a game-changer for cruisers wanting more “home-like” unlimited internet data. It uses satellites so moving from island to island becomes seamless. Compare this to buying SIM cards for each island and trying to connect to, sometimes, shifty cell towers – yikes!
The town of Salinas itself is small but its harbour is perfect as a home base for touring Puerto Rico and for getting provisions near the large city of San Juan. And that is exactly what was in the cards for Wild Horses, Caretta and Indigo Lady. On Monday we rented two cars (Wild Horses had a van while Caretta and Indigo Lady took a car) and set off for an incredible two-day adventure + provisioning trip to San Juan.
Immediately we knew this was going to a special couple of days. The trip from Salinas to San Juan took us through the enormous and beautiful Cordillera Mountain Range. It is about 85 miles from Salinas to Old San Juan and we enjoyed every mile of it. Well, except the last bit of finding parking in the congested, narrow, and oh-too-frequent-one-way streets of Old San Juan 😉.
After a leisurely lunch, it was off to tour the forts. We walked first to the Castillo de San Cristobal, the largest fort ever built by Spain in the New World. Caretta and Indigo Lady toured the inside of the fort (no dogs allowed!) while Wild Horses enjoyed the immense grounds surrounding the fort, checking out the view, iguanas and, of course, meeting a few dog-loving people. Next up, was walking through historic Old San Juan on our way to San Felipe del Morro, one of the first forts constructed in Puerto Rico in the 1530s.
By 4pm on Monday, we were tired from our walking tour and ready to check into our hotel. Indigo Lady had booked us into an apartment-style pet-friendly hotel in Old San Juan. What a find! Our apartments were lovely. A Spanish style with two bedrooms, a little kitchenette and, oh my gosh, air conditioning. A wonderful respite from the staggering 90 degree Fahrenheit heat.
Although our Monday had been jam-packed full of goodness, our plans for Tuesday were even better. We were going to the rainforest! El Yunque National Forest is an hour east of Old San Juan and it was going to be our playground for the day. El Yunque has over 28,000 acres of land with numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, rivers, fresh water pools and incredible vistas.
We were able to fit in several hikes, including one to the top of Mount Britton, a short 1.6 mile hike that goes straight up 650 feet to the Mount Britton tower. Incredible!
But, with only a few days with our rental cars, we knew we also had to get some serious provisioning done. After a late lunch just outside El Yunque, we bid farewell to the mesmerizing forest and headed back towards San Juan. Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday, Wild Horses, Caretta and Indigo Lady were in full-on provisioning mode. Between the three boats we shopped hard at Walmart, Costco, West Marine, Petsmart, Advance Auto Parts and the local Econo grocery store. Both the car and van were topped full of gear and food. We were ready for the next leg of our journey!
Our last full day in Salinas was used for boat chores. We topped up our diesel tanks, made water with our Rainman Watermaker, did a few loads of laundry, hooked up our Starlink system, got the boat bottom cleared of barnacles, oh and stowed away that mountain of provisions we purchased in San Juan. How to top off such a busy day and an amazing week? We all went out for an evening of live music and sushi of course!
On Friday, the plan was to depart Salinas, Puerto Rico and head for Vieques in the Spanish Virgin Islands, a 45 nautical mile journey east past the south shore of Puerto Rico. At 0645, Wild Horses fired up her engine and…uh-oh…our engine exhaust fan wasn’t on. One quick call to our buddies and we had both Barry (Caretta) and Dave (Indigo Lady) on Wild Horses, problem-solving with Mike. After 45 minutes of testing and analyzing, it was determined that our exhaust fan had officially died. With no spare fan on board, I started to get worried that we were dead in the water for at least a day, maybe a week, while we tried to source a new part. I shouldn’t have worried! Dave and Barry figured out a way to cool the engine room by using our cabin fans and a few open hatches.
And it worked! We are now enjoying the Spanish Virgin Islands. Our first anchorage was just off the western shore of Vieques, arriving late afternoon on Friday. Today we are anchored at Cayo Icarnos, at the top western edge of the Spanish Virgin Islands. Beautiful!
Interested in seeing where we are anchored right now? Click the button below!
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.