Visit To El Supermercado

Rainbow over the Pueblo of Dewey.

We finished uploading tax documents to our accountant yesterday (yes, one of the two certainties in life, no matter if you’re in paradise). But on a cheerier note, sometimes simple things like our first trip to land on Culebra, can be a pleasant diversion from all the craziness of present online social media. We awoke to another beautiful day, as the morning’s showers left us a colorful trail to follow on this beautiful Spanish Island, just off the East coast of Puerto Rico.

Big red arrow shows our location at anchor just inside Ensenada Honda, the largest bay of Culebra.

Paraphrasing on and off from Pavlidis’s Cruising Guide To Puerto Rico: Culebra, meaning snake in Spanish, is home to about 2000 residents. During early Spanish rule (or decimation) of Puerto Rico, the native Taino people fled to the smaller islands including Culebra. Sir Henry Morgan and other pirates then also used the island as a hideout. Allegedly some booty is still buried here, (and with being quarantined here, we’re planning to search it.)

We gingerly lowered our “newish” outboard motor from the pushpit rail down onto Korykory, pumped last night’s rain overboard, and set out toward Dewey, the nearest town for some food and fuel. Having not been to land for several days we had a full load: accumulated trash, shopping bags and empty jerrycans for fuel.

Dewey was originally Pueblo Viejo, and located further inland. Some old timers still call it Pueblo. In 1903, four years after the island was conveyed to the US, our military decided the town should be closer to the water and so relocated Viejo and renamed after Admiral Dewey. I’m thinking they made this move in preparation to use the island as a bombing range, which they did eventually in 1938.

To our NW, lies our destination at Dewey: Milka’s supermercado.
Slowly motoring into the canal. Draw Bridge intstalled early in the last century just for two fishing boats that are no longer in existence.

After stopping first at the gas station closer to Milka’s, we were told they ran out of diesel. Bummer. Another boater getting gasoline kindly recommended a small station around the bend at the nearby ferry dock. But there’s no dinghy dock there! Not to worry, we are resourceful cruisers! We easily pulled up to some rocks, threw out our small anchor and carried the jugs up a small slope to the little station about fifty feet away. With rickety pumps looking like something from before WWII, the counters clicked and chattered, supposedly correctly calculating the volume and cost. I filled the jugs with precious oily liquid for cash in return.

First stop: fill the fuel jerrycans, without a dock. No problem!
Guarding the grocery store’s dinghy dock, while keeping the grass trimmed.
Backside of grocery store adjacent to dinghy dock, including caged chickens and other local livestock. Now that’s fresh chicken!

We climbed up the short dock, alongside storm drain, strewn with dilapidated old boats (and living creatures), and walked around to the front of the store where we weren’t surprised to see a small line forming outside. Again we met several more interesting folks, some residents, some cruisers like us, all here feeling the same uncertainty, waiting to purchase a few extra items. It was all very civilized, and with fewer persons clogging the narrow aisles, actually made it easier to roam around inside.

Pleasant conversation while waiting in line at front of el supermercado

Having filled one small cart with about a week’s worth of groceries, we checked out and were led out the back doorstep by the store’s owner. With ample gracias’s, we carried the bags back down the dock to Korykory, where to no surprise again, found the dock also becoming more crowded. There we met yet another cruising couple who were out searching for water, or more importantly, a jerrycan to allow carrying water to their yacht. Mike and Connie, aboard Sweet Liberty , chatted with us for a bit, as we remained socially distant from the seats in our respective dinghies. We swapped boat cards, and agreed to get together soon (since we’re both pseudo quarantined anyway).

Unlocking and climbing back down into the fully loaded Korykory .

Our trusted Korykory, now heavily burdened with full jerrycans and grocery bags brought us back safely across Ensenada Honda to our little secluded cove located near the resort Costa Bonita Villas (sadly, quite empty now).

Unloading the groceries: Most importantly we stocked up on delicious and low cost Puerto Rican coffee.

Epilogue: While writing this post we overheard a conversation (VHF radio) between the US Coast Guard, and a private cruising boat. The USCG official explained that cruisers (not pleasure boaters) are allowed to transit Puerto Rican waters and stop for fuel, food and medical needs. However otherwise we are “on lockdown”. It seems that no matter where we are in this wonderful world nobody is yet immune to the COVID-19, but we can certainly be cool and work together to avoid chaos. Just follow simple precautions made by trusted professionals, such as washing hands frequently. Take good care, and be safe!


1950’s Seagull outboard engine used by another yachtie patron we met at Milka’s dinghy dock. Very cool. Started easily by wrapping a line around the flywheel.

If you want things to be like at home, then stay at home.

Jimmy Cornell

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