Jan 29

Spanish Virgin Islands

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Columbus discovered the Virgin Islands in 1493 on his second voyage to the New World. Seeing the numerous islands, he named them “ The Virgins” in honour of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins who, threatened by the marauding Huns in 4th century  Cologne, sacrificed their lives rather than submit to a fate worse than death.

Later,the Spanish Crown determined that the land of Culebra was public property except for the areas reserved for use of the central government. When the Spanish American war was resolved in 1898 the land was turned over to the United States government with the promise that property titles given by the Spanish government would be honoured. Titled land would not be confiscated by the Military Government established in Puerto Rico. These agreements were reached in the Paris treaty and by general order number 1 of the United States of Puerto Rico’s Military Government.
In 1901 the US Military arrived in Culebra to establish an area for the military to use as a firing range and to hold marine exercises. At that time they took over the town of San Ildefonso and re-established the persons living in San Ildefonso to other areas of the island. This was in violation of the Paris agreements. Two remaining stone houses built by the military in the area of the Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife are witness to that era. There is a museum in the house marked 1908.
The military stopped using Culebra as a bombing range in 1975. However, the destruction to the reefs and the psyches of the inhabitants will take decades to heal. Rusting tanks on Flamenco beach bear witness.

The are a number of small island and Cays west of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which embrace 400 sq./mi., they became known as the Spanish Virgin Islands. The two largest are Vieques and Culebra. Both, great diving and sailing hotspots. Ashore, the Spanish Virgins offer immersion in the Spanish Caribbean with the escape claim of bilingualism. This is part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a U.S. territory.

The people here, and everywhere we have travelled in P.R. have been extremely helpful and friendly. We have been given rides by people when out walking around looking for a location. When we got lost trying to find our way out of downtown San Juan late at night , a woman lead us for about half an hour till we were on the correct hi-way. Thank you for your great hospitality Puerto Rico.

Jan 26

Isla De Caja De Muertos (Coffin Island)

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When we sailed from Guanica to Salinas, we were trying to accomplish two things;

1)…Get here before Christmas, which we did on the eve

2)…Be in a comfortable place for our guest who were arriving on the 26th

Diane, Muriel’s sister and her husband Lloyd have spent many vacations with us , and many more trips aboard our boat came to experience the cruising life.

This time of year there are strong winds known as the Christmas Winds blowing most of the time so they didn’t see any sailing. We spent our time together visiting the many attractions that Puerto Rico has to offer. I hope they enjoyed their vacation, as we sure enjoyed having them here.

Because we missed it, and also had favourable weather, we sailed the 14 miles back west to the island of Caja De Muertos. The island resembles a coffin at sunset. Half way up one of the hills, there is a statue of Jesus where the fishermen come to pray. At the top of the highest point sits a lighthouse built by the Spanish, but it guided the U.S. troops at Guanica to take possession of Puerto Rico. This was another piece to the puzzle. One day when I have more time I’m going to read about the Spanish- American War.

Mistress at anchor , far right

Isla De Caja De Muertos is ran by the National Park Service with free mooring balls to visiting boats. There is a ferry service from the mainland, which is a favourite to the locals.

Trails lead to all sides of the island. The cactus and Chicharon lined paths lead to various beaches that are used by Leatherback turtles as nesting areas. The oily sap from Chicharon causes blisters which itch for days and may cause blindness if you get it in your eyes. It is related to Poison Ivy.

                                          John and Jac from svJacasso

We spent time hiking, caving, geocaching ( found all 5), and the most important, scrape the hull of Mistress.

As we sit at anchor, all kinds of organisms attach to our hull which turns into sort of a mini-reef. All this growth slows us down so it must be removed at least every month. When we were back in Luperon we hired our friends Papo and Pedro to do the job, but now it’s all up to us.

After a few hours stretched over 2 days, with cut up hands we both finally finished.That night, at sunset we were visited by a 6ft. shark, must of smelled the blood.  Barnacles can cut neoprene, another learning experience. Rum can soothe the pain.

Jan 17

San Juan Sites

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How could a trip to San Juan be complete, if a fort visit was not on the agenda.  After all this is a World Heritage site.


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City Architecture


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San Sebastian Festival 2014

A huge street party


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Jan 15

When visitors come to visit

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One of the greatest joys we have while travelling the Caribbean is to have family and friends aboard. We have had very special guests for the last two weeks aboard Mistress. This gave us a chance to spend time together while visiting some of the attractions on the island. Some times home sickness can be very real, especially when you are so far away from everyone you love. You can say to your self you have waited so long to do this, and you have made a lot of wonderful friends, but only a familiar face takes away the ache.


The wind here has been quite strong everyday,known as the Christmas Winds, so we chose to do land based activities. First we visited, El Yunque National forest, a brief stop in Fajardo, then onto San Juan, the capital. Since big cities seem to be all the same, we only focused on the Old section. What a fantastic city it is.


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San Juan



Old San Juan

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And of course, we had to visit the beach………


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Jan 05

Puerto Rico

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By the time Christopher Columbus landed in 1493, the Taino Indians were well established on the island they called Borinquen, or “Land of the Lords”. Realizing its strategic location, the Spanish quickly took over and established it as their key military port in the Caribbean, a status it held for more than 200 years.

After the Spanish-American war, it was ceded to the United States and remained a U.S. territory since 1898.

El Yunque National Forest


Lush and cool, the highlight of any trip to Puerto Rico is the rainforest of El Yunque, the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System. Situated on the eastern side of the Luquillo Mountains, less than a hours drive from San Juan, this 28,000 acre topical rainforest is named after the Indian spirit Yuquiye, or Forest of Clouds, it receives an incredible 240 inches of rain each year and is home to hundreds of species of plants, including 26 not found anywhere else in the world. The indigenous Coqui tree frog serenade in the evening hours and you may even spot a rare endangered Puerto Rican parrot amid the abundance of Sierra Palms or in the magical “ Dwarf Forest” at the top forest levels. Marked trails meander through the stunning greenery and waterfalls.

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We also had a difficult hike to a waterfall, after swimming across a pool known as Hippy Hole. A man lived here for many years, squatted on the land and built a home. It is said that he had hair down to his waist, so this is where the place got its name.

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