We managed to sneak in to Culebra without getting caught by the Fajardo Marine Police (read this article for details on our run in with Barney Fife) and discovered, to our relief, that the local police and residents were fine with us being there as long as we followed the rules related to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Perfect!
Since we arrived under suspicious circumstances, we hid out for several nights at Bahia de Almodovar, a nice little out of the way anchorage that was just around the corner from the town of Culebra, but far enough away that we couldn’t be seen easily. Once we felt safe, we moved over closer to town. Initially, we anchored near the fairy landing located across the bay from town and several days later, moved to the main anchorage right in front of town.
Everything was closed, including all beaches, but we could go ashore to walk the dogs, go to the grocery store post office. Other than that, we were restricted to our boat. We felt trapped – and lonely!
As I’m writing this now, it’s much easier for me to think clinically. “We weighed our options carefully and decided to…” In reality, we had no idea what to do. The Caribbean was closed down, so our plan to cross in to the Pacific via the Panama Canal was gone. Heading north was difficult as well. T&C and the Bahamas were closed. Cuba was closed.
We really only had two options. Stay put in Culebra or return to the US. On the one hand, we were completely safe in Culebra and could stay indefinitely (or at least until hurricane season). We were close to a decent grocery store and we could have any parts we needed shipped to us, quickly and duty free via the Post Office.
On the other hand, we were a long way from friends & family and if one of us were to get sick (from Covid-19 or any other problem), Culebra didn’t have the medical care we would likely need. Returning to the US felt like a safer and less lonely option, but the infection rates were so much higher there. And then there is the problem of weather. The trip back to Florida was 1,000 miles and since stopping along the way wasn’t an option, we would need to wait for a 7 day window, which was difficult in April.
We had sort of decided to wait in Culebra until late May or early June, but two things changed our mind:
(1) Roam has two water makers aboard and BOTH of them died within a week of each other. With repair shops closed in Puerto Rico and USVI and no easy access to help or parts, that was an issue.
(2) We had an unexpected weather window open up for us and if we left immediately, we’d likely have a calm passage.
So we bolted! But first. we’d have to stop at the only open marina on Farjardo (east end of mainland PR) for water. That story and the return to the US is coming up in our next post…