Just Another Day In Paradise

Our private little anchorage, includes sun, mangroves and pelicans for entertainment.

We recently celebrated a birthday, and it was actually a very good one. Despite my growing old, world turmoil, and our sequestered status, my special day was filled with great things for our amusement. A beautiful sunrise, an abundance of chirping playful birds, brisk cooling showers, stiff breezes, pillowy cloud formations, and yet another breathtaking sunset. My sweetheart made me a cherished card out of scrap paper and decorated with colored pencil lines. We had pancakes for breakfast, chicken and quinoa with stir-fried veggies for dinner, all washed down with a delicious Oregon Pinot. I finished a thoroughly enjoyable book, Cape Horn – The Logical Route, by Bernard Moitessier. Later we watched Borne Identity on the laptop, and ate crunchy lemon-cream cookies for dessert.

I spoke on the phone with family and friends, and received thoughtful texts and Facebook greetings from others. Pretty good to know people haven’t forgotten about us out here!

A favorite book helps dissolve the hours.

Let’s back up again… to the point of just before sunrise. Laying awake, staring upward, out of the open hatch above us, and I hear one of the ferry boats throttle-down as it approaches the channel entrance buoys. We know this mechanical sound well, just like every other sound in our relatively simple environment. Shortly thereafter, we’ll expect the rocking of the diesel-driven wake left behind by Mr Cade’s flat bottom. Mr Cade is a barge that carries our food and other essentials to this island of about two thousand residents. Add a couple dozen cruising boats to that number, each with varying numbers of family occupants. Thank you Mr. Cade!

“Mr. Cade”: Ferry bringing essentials to Culebra from mainland Puerto Rico.

Last evening (the one before my birthday) and during many prior sundown events, we watch familiar pelicans. Yes, other birds fly around us too, but the pelicans are most entertaining and capture more of our attention. Anyway, we had noticed recently the same pair settles down before sunset in the nearby mangroves, about fifty yards from Fayaway. They splash and bathe before hopping into the mangrove roots. So as we were watching them perch last evening, I asked, I wonder what time they get up in the morning to start their day? So, I had made a resolution to find out.

Horace, an endangered brown pelican, prepares for the evening.

Pursuant to answering the great pelican question, I arose before Mr Cade arrived, so I could see about the pelicans before the artificial boat waves would wake them. But they were gone already! Wow… early risers! That question (what time they get up?) will wait another day to be answered.

Earlier in the day we talked about venturing to land for replenishment of supplies, and I had prepared our ride by lowering Korykory into the water, and entertaining myself with a bit of outboard motor maintenance. I accomplished cleaning the spark plugs, but our minds were quickly changed again with the arrival of a few passing rain squalls. Nice how quickly they cool and rinse off any notion of us going ashore. We don’t need food now, but it would be nice to have some fresh vegetables. We still have one fat green pepper for the stir-fry tonight. Like the last quarter of our moon, I raise Korykory out of the water for the evening. He gives me a bit of fuss because he’s captured quite a bit of water. So, I open the plug and give another few cranks on the halyard. Good night, Korykory! We’ll go out and play tomorrow.

Korykory, hanging from the halyard, waiting patiently for another adventure out.

After brushing my teeth and pre-bedtime ablutions, I always enjoy a lengthy pause, walk around the deck, look above, at all cardinal directions, and just stare at the glorious astronomical panorama above. I marvel over the incredibly clear sky almost every evening since leaving the bright lights and haze of denser civilization behind. Right down to the horizon, stars contrast and glimmer against a darkening background. Do I really want to go back? Back to “civilization”, to bright artificial light pollution? I make a mental note about Orion’s position, as it approaches the western horizon at this time of year. Then I go to bed, looking forward to seeing the morning sun rise.

My real log is written in the sea and sky; the sails talking with the rain and the stars amid the sounds of the sea, the silences full of secret things between my boat and me, like the times I spent as a child listening to the forest talk.

Bernard Moitessier

Last night I awoke from some minor disturbance – possibly a fish jumping, heard outside our open hatch. Spying the clear starriness, I couldn’t help but to get up and go for a walk outside. (not very far you know). And I’m glad I did, for it was just before our orangy crescent moon arose from the southeast. Just above those low hills were Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, as though being pulled up on the same invisible string by Sagittarius, rising upward from the brightening horizon. Incredible! Whilst awaiting for the moonrise finale, I gandered toward my right. There so clearly was Scorpio, with its head Antares gleaming brilliantly, spreading the scorpion’s claws outward. I went briefly below to get my binoculars for hope of seeing something even more. (But they weren’t necessary or helpful.) As I’m still shaking off chills of amazement, I notice a bit more toward the south was glaring the closest of them all, Alpha Centauri, saying hello from Centaurus. (A mere 4.3 light years away). In my excitement, I couldn’t help but to wake Kelly, inviting her for our personal show outside. She was not disappointed!

Software captures what is easily seen at night.

Fayaway Status And Outlook:

We are treated to this alarm on our cell phones each evening.

Puerto Rico has established strict anti-social (social-distancing) ordinances. Some marinas are open for fuel and food, as long as prior arrangements are made. CBP (US Customs) allows US citizens to gain entry as normal. However, local jurisdictions may (and do) implement stricter rules. No boats are allowed into Culebra, where we are, except those providing essential services. Hence, why we see Mr. Cade every morning. We are not allowed to move Fayaway except to leave the island. If/when we choose to leave, we cannot return. One of us (not both) may only go via dinghy to land if to get food. We can’t go for a walk for fear of invoking any local wrath. Fortunately, we still have a full tank of cooking propane, and otherwise haven’t used any other fuel. But we can swim! And so to stretch our legs, we do many laps around Fayaway.

We look forward to our late afternoon swim.

Weather forecasters, pilot books and veteran cruisers say we should wait for better seasonal weather, before heading north up toward New England. Essentially, boats wait until May before heading north, as frequent thunderstorm activity will hopefully diminish, making for a more pleasant passage. We have been closely watching the weather activity, and so hoping we’ll get that window soon. Regardless, we are comfortable here, at least for another couple weeks – pandemic and all.

Please hug the ones you’re with!

Alpha Centauri is actually a system of three stars, wherein the brightest two closely orbit each other every 80 years. Being so close to us, at least one planet has been detected, but said to be uninhabitable at an estimated surface temperature of 1200C. Do you know the three stars in this photo?

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