9 Photos

Monday
Spanish Virgin Islands Cruise on the Arabella

Arabella StarboardArabella Starboard (Marilynne Bradley)
A beautiful sunny morning greets us for a sail past the island of St. John. A large breakfast of omelets, bacon, rolls, fruit are served at 8am. Coffee and assorted rolls and bread were ready at 6am. We manage a 5 1/2 hour sail to Esperanza Vieques,Puerto Rico (Spanish Virgin Islands), 7 miles east of Puerto Rico. The island was once used for target practice and other military maneuvers by the Armed Services. In 2003 the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife took over to preserve the island.

We tie up to the ruins of a pier. The day is partly cloudy. Local children are jumping and diving into the bay of grassy bottomed water and playing under the dock. To the right is a sandy beach covered with seaweed. We walk into town, An Esplanade by the sea leads us into a typical tourist town of bars/restaurants and T-shirt shops. Trash is piled everywhere. The shoddy row of businesses should change with the coming of new tourism. Citizens are very friendly and greet us with a nod and a hello.The son of a candidate running for Presidente, Victor shook our hands. It is said wild horses roam about the island. We saw one horse led by a rider. Hoof prints were on the sand.

As I was washing of my feet with a hose on deck. My glasses fell overboard and Rick, the deck hand, gallantly dived deep to retrieve them. A nice hot shower was a welcome relief.

A fantastic dinner of BBQ Ribs, Chicken, slaw, corn was prepared by the crew and Chef John.

The highlight of the day came after sundown. We are scheduled to visit Bioluminescent Bay. The dingy brought the passengers to land to board a dilapidated school bus. This bus is as rundown as a vehicle can be. Seats are broken. windows gone. Empty beer bottles on the floor collide with each other under the seats. Springs are not working. A bumpy ride ensued on a single dirt road through the woods with limbs scratching the sides and leaving racing stripes of lines from the direct hits of the trees. At the end of the road is the pond full of illuminating protozoa. A trip into the bay on a balmy night is a magical experience. We board an electrically powered pontoon boat with side seats through the waters of Puerto Mosquito. The night clear with a crescent moon to guide us. A guide explains the fragile ecology of the plants and animals of the bay, gives interpretive star lectures with a powerful laser pointer, and then parks the boat in an area of high bioluminescent concentration, giving visitors the chance to swim with the millions of glowing creatures.These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night. A return trip by bus dumps us off near the pier. Clouds suddenly gathered and open up with a burst of rain drenching us before we have a chance to board the ship.

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