But before we left, we decided to enjoy Culebra's underwater a bit more. On Tuesday afternoon, we (together with Blake from Slow Mocean) went snorkeling. We went further down the reef from where we had previously snorkeled and found some great patch reefs. There was a magnificent elk horn coral stand as well as lots of stag horn and a few brain corals. Lots and lots of tropicals, a peacock flounder that was well camouflaged until "disturbed," and some larger edibles - but we were in a park - so no fishing! When we returned, a lot of boats had anchored in the harbor and it was getting cozy. In fact, an Australian boat anchored mighty close to us making it a bit too tight for our liking - especially in the windy weather we had been experiencing.
On Wednesday, Yoshi acted up a bit. But Michael cleaned the carburetor and all was good. We're keeping the new carb as an emergency back-up. Yoshi performed well the day before on the long dinghy ride to the snorkeling reef. (We were glad though that Blake and his dinghy were along - just in case!)
After the outboard repair and a quick run to shore, we loaded the dinghy on board and left Culebra for Culebrita. It was a cloudy, squally day - but we thought we'd be protected in the Culebrita harbor. We got there and tied to a mooring ball (again first try!!) and had lunch. There was a pretty good swell coming into the harbor causing a roll, so we decided to go back to the southwestern shore of Culebrita where there are some lovely beaches and moor there. Unfortunately - the swell and roll was also coming around the island and hitting this moorage. But we stayed. Our goal was to get up at first light and head east. We did some snorkeling off the big boat and there were some nice reefs nearby. Saw a cool little puffer fish hidden amongst the stag horns. There were lots of bright colored tropical fish. Instead of a cute little orange fish adopting us - Michael was adopted by a barracuda. On returning to the boat, Michael tried to put a bridle on the boat to put us into the swells (so we would pitch rather than roll). It worked a bit - it was really pulling on the mooring ball - so we untied it before we called it a night.
At 0530 we awoke today (Thursday) to head to a new country. We would get to the US Virgins, just 20 miles away. We hadn't decided if we'd stop at St. Thomas or keep going east to St. John's. It was a very mild day - and the early start got us out before the trades really picked up. The seas were relatively flat and the winds 15-18. We motor sailed. Then sailed. Then motor sailed. We were making great time so we kept going and ended up on the eastern edge of the US Virgins in a place called Coral Bay - and snuck back into what are known as the "hurricane holes." We are in our own tiny bay surrounded by hills. It is soooooooo quiet here - you can actually hear birds chirping, fish splashing and the goats neighing. Yup, we spotted three goats in the hills. (Nina: pictures to follow).
We're planning on a midday start tomorrow to make it to St. Maartens. It's just over 90 nautical miles, so we'll leave midday and hopefully arrive in the morning. We might actually get to sail this leg entirely. And we'll now be heading south! But it is the dreaded Anegada Passage (lovingly called the "oh-my-god-a" passage). Hope it's calm.