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Old 29-11-2014, 15:57   #1
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Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Hello

We are currently in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) and are planning to head West to Puerto Rico next (i.e. next few days).

We downloaded the free guidebook, bought a recent chart and have Navionics charts on a Nexus7. Looks pretty straight forward. We were planning to stop first in Culebra. Chart plotter says 19mi from the anchorage by the airport (BTW nice place to anchor we read about on this forum somewhere else).

What we do not have, and would really like to know, is:
1. We would like to stop at the islands there on the Eastern End first and check in there first. Any issues? Someone here in town said in the past they were shaking people down for many thousands of dollars in taxes, fees, whatnot to clear in. A bit disconcerting. When I asked the US customs person in Cruz Harbor they said just call them and they would tell us if we needed to show in person. There are 4 of us. My wife and I and our two little girls. Haven't had any issues so far with BVI or US customs. Boat is a 41' Lagoon (410S2) we bought in BVI in September (FWIW).

2. Any must see places to stop, see? Get ice and water? We prefer quiet and anchorages but also every week or so need to get more ice and top off the water. BVI was pretty easy to find a dock. Redhook can Cruz Harbor easy. Here in Charlette Amalie I haven't seen anywhere to pull up and get ice let alone water.

3. Anyplace near Charlette Amalie to get Yanmar 3JH4E oil filters? We need to change the oil before leaving we are getting overdue on that and would like to get it done before we head out. Walking around here at the waterfront turned up no where remotely Marine Store like.

That's about it. I saw someone posting about going there and asking advice on the South of Puerto Rico. I've read that and just hope to gather some advice for coming in from the East like we will be doing.

I had an idea, it would be nice to have a flag we could fly that says we are cruiser's forum members with our handles. Who knows someone on here is anchored next to us and we don't know it. We are ATM in the Charlotte Amalie harbor at anchor not far from the USCG dock. Small world there's probably a few people in the area ATM.
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Old 29-11-2014, 17:10   #2
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

The Yanmar dealer is Offshore Marine. In sub base area. You can go to the fuel dock at Crown Bay Marina for water and Ice as well as diesel fuel. You can dinghy to offshore. Google them and they will all come up.


You need a us customs decal for your boat or you will have to anchor in the main harbor of Culebra and go to the airport to clear customs. If you have the customs decal you should be able to clear in on the phone.


Jay
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Old 29-11-2014, 17:38   #3
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Thanks Jay
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Old 29-11-2014, 18:49   #4
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

My favourite anchorage is on Culebrita, just before Culebra, beautiful beach, peaceful , hike to the old light house, very protected. Culebra is nice too, good feeling there, very laid back. You can take 2 dollar ferry to fajardo to do the big shopping
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Old 29-11-2014, 20:31   #5
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Culebrita is a beautiful little island well worth a visit. Very scenic lighthouse and beach. However, I'd call it a day stop, because the anchorage can be quite rolly.

Much better anchorages in Ensenada Honda on Culebra. And, especially, anchoring behind the reef is great. Good bars, friendly people further up in Ensenada Honda.

The NOAA charts are very good. Follow these and you'll have no problems.

Have fun!

Bill
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Old 30-11-2014, 09:05   #6
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Brings back memories from 1980
Only problem iSAW was cruisers using the wrong terms upon entry
We were 4 aboard, my wife and our two children sailing the Windwards from North to South (All the islands)
The 3 couples in a sailboat were in the customs office and the «captain» was answering all the questions. I heard him tell the «officer» when asked how many passengers he replied 8 and was charged a fee of 800$.
When I was asked I said no passengers, but 4 crew. I paid a total of $10. That was in St Lucia.
Chose your words when travelling.
All the island fees totaled about $100 for 12 landings.
Good luck
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Old 30-11-2014, 09:54   #7
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

We are currently swing on the anchor in Honeymoon Bay, after a short stay in Crown Bay Marina just after we came off the freighter from Genoa....and, coincidentally, thinking of heading towards PR for a week or two. We found a good chandlery at Crown Bay Marina, another one at Red Hook Bay, near the IGY marina, and another really good one at Benner Bay.....ride the Safari for $2/head to the Shopping Center at TuTu, then continue on to Red Hook Bay. Once you've seen all you want there, get back on to Benner Bay, then on again to get back to your boat...it's $2/head for each time you get on/off, but a lot cheaper than renting a car. There is also a chandlery there at Yacht Haven Grande.....but it's not much. Not sure which one-if any-will have your filter, but they've got a bunch of stuff!
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Old 30-11-2014, 10:03   #8
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

OneFastDaddy....PS...where did you find the cruising guide to Puerto Rico to download? Can you send the URL....I'd like to get that too. Thanks
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Old 30-11-2014, 10:07   #9
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

A quick answer. I'll post more later after looking at a couple of charts. Since the USVI are a duty free port you have to check in with customs when you enter PR. In principle, Culebra is part of PR. You can check in, in Culebra. There is a customs house in Fajardo and if you have a cruising permit, you can check in on the phone.

Culebrita is beautiful. Several good anchorages all around Culebra and Culebrita. There are a lot of mooring balls (free) set out by the natural resources folks. But, dive on the anchor for the ball. Some are kind of loose.

More later.
Bill
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Old 30-11-2014, 10:27   #10
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

there is a boat on mooring in Charlotte Amelie ( CT 54 ) named Marathustra. the live aboard owner (Rob Fortune ). has sailed the waters all around the Virgin Islands for 40 years. He can answer all your questions. I would go and introduce yourself. just say Gene sent you
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Old 30-11-2014, 15:40   #11
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

More information. First, I think that you can get a US Customs Decal that allows you to leave and enter US ports with only a phone call. I haven't done this for a number of years so am not sure of the details today. You might check with customs in Charlotte Amalie before leaving. I think the decal costs something like $25. But maybe they have to mail it to you in which case the delay might be a problem.

Regarding Culebrita. The main bay faces North and often the surge can make it a little difficult to get out in a sailing vessel. We've always picked up mooring balls on the south west beach of Culebrita. I strongly recommend hiking to the light house on top. It's easy and you get a great view. The trails are all easy to find.

I've never cleared customs in Culebra but I think that the office is at the airport. You can probably anchor in Ensenada Honda and dinghy close enough to walk to the airport.

I my opinion, the best "anchorage" is in Bahia de Almodovar. A little east of Ensenada Honda. You have to enter at the east end and loop around because it is very shallow in the center. Keep an eye on your depth sounder! Pick up a mooring ball behind the little island (Pela??). This is extremely protected and you should sleep well. Another protected mooring field is in Ensenada Dakity, just to the west as you enter Ensenada Honda. Again, pay attention to the reef. You have to enter Ensenada Honda then veer to the west after you have passed the reef and come in behind it.

You may want to download the Free Cruising Guide Puerto Rico Cruising Guide

There are a number of marinas on the east coast of Puerto Rico but not so many good, safe anchorages. Head down to Salinas, that is a very protected anchorage. Sailing the south coast is relatively easy with lots of places to stop and see. I would strongly discourage sailing the north coast. It is rough and not too many places to stop. (I've never done it.)

Well, that's my $0.02.
Bill
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:35   #12
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Hello all,
We have arrived. Well several days ago.
Before leaving St. Thomas I signed up for SVRS on their website. New careful to add all adults (minors do not get SVRS numbers) in the bio page. Then I set up the interview for SVRS to be in Culebra. On arrival in ensenada Honda I called the border protection number and informed them I had an appointment in a few hours for SVRS. He then took the info he needed to clear us in in the phone and contacted the SVRS officer. We went to the airport (north of the anchorage). All of the docks north of the draw bridge are private. You need to tie up near the bridge at one of the restaurants docks and walk (about 3/4mi). I also filled out the paperwork for the LBO to get the LBO sticker. This sticker is important because it exempts you from paying the entrance fee. The officer faxed the form and we paid him the 27.50 (bring exact change).
We were quickly found by a very nice couple (Sandy and Karen) in the harbor who said they were going around the corner to a good spot and invited us to join them. They had replied to my posts here about BVI cruising and remembered our boat name.
We moored for two nights together and we learned we had quite a lot in common. It was so nice to meet such nice people thanks to our mutual membership to this site.
We have stayed on the west side of Culebra as it is much calmer than the east side.
Culebra is great but for a 41' catamaran I do not see anyplace we can refill our water tanks or get diesel dockside. This will force us soon to leave for somewhere we can get 200gal of water in our tanks.
This place is a must see however. Friendly people, good food. Tiny but well stocked mini market inside the channel that goes through the main lagoon and the western end. Tie up to the boat yard and it is just a short 50yds walk east (towards ensenada Honda). Also we were told you can freely cruise PR once cleared in. So no need to check out and in if you go to Vieques or Puerto Rico after clearing in at Culebra.
PS I am typing this on my Android tablet which loves to auto correct object random words so excuse my grammar here as likely it's auto correction to blame.
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:56   #13
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Marina Puerto Del Ray is 20 miles west on the Eastern shore of Puerto Rico. Nice marina with facilities. You can rent a car at budget in the marina and go to a Wal Mart and West Marine. To re-provision.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:08   #14
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainjay View Post
Marina Puerto Del Ray is 20 miles west on the Eastern shore of Puerto Rico. Nice marina with facilities. You can rent a car at budget in the marina and go to a Wal Mart and West Marine. To re-provision.
Sounds good. I read good things here about that marina. Maybe I will see about a slip for a couple days. I would like to get a few add ons at west marine and install them on a quiet boat (not rolling about on anchor or mooring).
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:36   #15
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Re: Sailing USVI, St Thomas to Puerto Rico (now)

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Originally Posted by onefastdaddy View Post
Sounds good. I read good things here about that marina. Maybe I will see about a slip for a couple days. I would like to get a few add ons at west marine and install them on a quiet boat (not rolling about on anchor or mooring).
Great place for that. 1000 slips behind a breakwater. Large working boat yard, small marine store, small grocery and a couple of restaurants in the marina. Less than five miles to Wal Mart, West Marine several grocery stores a Sears tool store etc.
You can also take a tour of the rain forest.

Jay
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