After witnessing all of the hurricane destruction throughout the Caribbean, and seeing and hearing all of the news reports about post-hurricane Puerto Rico, we reached out to friends and family of ours living in Puerto Rico to see how we could assist when we arrived. We were repeatedly advised that the best way to help was to visit and spend money in the islands. Our first stop in Puerto Rico we anchored in Ensenada Honda, in Culebra. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw how well she stood up to Hurricane Maria.
Upon arrival, we cleared back into the U.S., via phone, using the Small Vessel Reporting System. It is a convenient way to facilitate and expedite the clearing in process by pre-registering boat and crew information with Customs & Border Protection.
Next we lowered the dinghy to go ashore. We found the cruisers’ hot spot, the Dinghy Dock, was temporarily closed for renovations, however, we were assured that it was set to reopen within a month.
We drove our dinghy up the canal to see how our friends at Mamacitas Guest House & Restaurant had fared.
Mamacita’s looked as fabulous as ever. The dinghy dock had a steady stream of boats and patrons all day. They had live music, great food, electricity and Wi-Fi.
At times, the boats were rafted up three deep.
We had to be carefull backing up our dinghy when departing as there was an impressive school of Tarpon positioned just off the dinghy dock behind our dinghy.
PALMAS DEL MAR, HUMACAO
When we originally set our course for mainland Puerto Rico, we had considered going to Marina Puerto del Rey, in Fajardo, since it was positioned further away from where Hurricane Maria touched ground and we had heard reports that it had fared well. However, when we reached out to our dear friend Glenda, who manages The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar, where we had stayed previously [See Palmas del Mar (2015) and Puerto Rico (2015)] , she assured us that the marina was up and running and ready for visitors. We did not hesitate to return, and are happy to report that, despite being a 1/4 mile north from where Hurricane Maria came ashore in Puerto Rico, Palmas del Mar is indeed a welcoming haven for visiting yachts. The docks, seawall and utilities (electric, water & Wi-Fi) were all in good working order.
Fuel was available, and the marina also offered convenient in-slip fueling.
Provisioning was available at the nearby (walking distance) plaza where all of the shops and restaurants were open, including a small well stocked grocery store.
The multitude of sport fishermen boats in Plaza del Puerto seemed to have fared well.
We rented a car from “Target,” the on-premises car rental agency, and drove 25 minutes inland to Plaza Centro Mall, in Caguas. The mall, houses many familiar U.S. chains, including Pet Smart, IHOP, Sam’s Club, Costco & Walmart (all open and fully stocked), which facilitated our provisioning for the remainder of our journey north.
Like so many other Caribbean destinations, Palmas del Mar provided spectacular sunsets.
PUERTO REAL, CABO ROJO
From Palmas del Mar, we set a course west along the south coast of Puerto Rico. Our next port of call was Marina Pescadaria, in Puerto Real Bay, in Cabo Rojo, located on the soutwest coast of Puerto Rico.
Marina Pescadaria is a full service marina and was fully operational (water, electric, Wi-Fi and fuel). We were welcomed by our old friend, and marina manager, Jose, who has vast knowledge of the marine industry and Puerto Rico. There is a plethora of nearby restaurants and shops for provisioning. Marina Pescadaria is a good location to stage while awaiting an appropriate weather window to cross the Mona Passage.
During our stay in Puerto Rico, we heard many stories of damage and loss from the storm. We witnessed, first hand, the ongoing rebuilding efforts firmly underway. Everyone we encountered was resiliently looking forward. If approaching Puerto Rico by sea, Marina Pescadaria, Palmas del Mar and Culebra are ready to welcome you.
Our next port of call, Dominican Republic …