Esperanza Weeds

Route from Culebra to Esperanza, with overnight stop.

Esperanza is a lively town on the south side of Vieques. Mostly an adventurous tourists’ destination, it’s often reached by tourists by ferry as a side-trip from mainland Puerto Rico. Fayaway took a 3-hour slow-motor down from Ensenada Honda, Culebra, then enjoying a tranquil overnight stop along the way anchored at another Ensenada Honda (Deep Cove). The following morning we continued an hour further west, around the inland spit of Cayo Real and eventually reaching our present destination.

Fayaway’s initial anchorage at yellow pointer. Actually shallower (less than 6 ft) to the right (East).

Heeding guide-warnings of a difficult grassy bottom, we were drawn-in by visible and shallow sandy patches and veered toward them… “just go another ten feet.” But unexpectedly the depth alarm sounded at six feet and I quickly stopped, reversing to find deeper water. There’d be enough depth here, but I considered our eventual swing with the wind direction could put us aground.

Infrequently do I shout from the cockpit to Kelly at the bow, especially as she’s about to set the hook. But we had inadvertently edged Fayaway further into shallower water, duped by the sand and charted depth references. “Don’t drop!” I barked while leaning out from behind the wheel.

Moving slowly away in circles, it took another two tries to find what we thought was a good set.

In grass one must finesse the anchor a bit, allowing it to dig slowly and settle gently. If you back down and yank too hard initially, it just rips up the grass, defeating a good set. Regardless, I always watch our position until feeling certain of a firm grip on the bottom.

Noting that the wind was steady from the southeast at a light 10 knots, I marked the new spot and we stayed aboard that afternoon, frequently checking our position. All seems good!

Two days later we picked up our new friends Kurt and Janice of Endeavor for lunch ashore. They’d arrived just after us after a direct passage from Martinique, needed sleep and hadn’t yet set up their dinghy. Together we beached Korykory onto the sand and found some lunch. They invited us aboard later for enjoying sundowners.

Wind had been predicted to pick up that evening and clock around from SE to S to W to N, with a few squalls associated with a strong cold front. By the time we returned to Fayaway, we had swung, and were facing north. Then the squall hit.

Oh no!

Our anchor proximity alarm began beeping when our Spade anchor evidently began to drag through the weeds. In the rare occurrence our normally tenacious anchor does drag, it usually resets quickly. Not this time!

Crap usually happens in the middle of the night, in the worst conditions.

Sailors Proverb

With each strong gust and pelt of sheeting rain, we continued slowly zigzagging downwind – closing in on Endeavor. Time for action. Kelly flipped the windlass breaker while I started the diesel, taking some pressure off the anchor chain. Kelly went into the darkness toward the bow, where I could only see flashes of her headlamp. With the anchor eventually up and a thoroughly soaked Kelly trying to knock off the large clump of grassy dirt, I motored us further away from boats to a safer position.

Dotted lines show Fayaway’s path around the anchorage.

Without use of our normal hand signals, I could only yell out to Kelly to “drop now!” With moonless pitch-black darkness and torrential rain, we managed to get a “good set” immediately. You can feel a “good set” when the bow suddenly jerks back on the chain against the pull of a 25 kt gust. I readjusted the alarm after adding chain scope to a generous 5 to 1, and added the springy nylon snubber. Rain and gusts eventually passed. I stared at our position for a while longer, before joining Kelly for some sleep. Just another fun evening aboard 🙂

We further explored the fun town Esperanza again the following day with Kurt and Jan, sampling bars, shops and restaurants, and meeting the interesting residents. Many tame and untethered horses walk across the roads, but everyone is used to their presence. Being St Patrick’s Day, a festive atmosphere existed – in a Spanish sort! A crazy dude road his motorcycle wheelies up and down the main road. Trucks with trailers patiently await launching and retrieving their boats at the public ramp, adjacent to a lengthy sandy beach. Just another day in paradise!

Have a great day, and Hug the ones you love!

2 thoughts on “Esperanza Weeds

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