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Cayo Luis Peña, Puerto Rico…March Fun 2020

Posted by on March 21, 2020

Hello all. It seems that the whole world has changed since we last posted. As of now we are still in Culebra, Puerto Rico, quarantined on Moon. Not a bad place to be we suppose. It has been rainy and windy this week. It is however still as beautiful here as usual. We are pretty sure that we have all of the necessities we need. For us it is just like provisioning for a long passage so it was not hard to plan and supply. We’ve been lucky the stores have been pretty well stocked. No toilet paper shortages here 🙂 Our island as all of Puerto Rico is under restrictions and nightly curfew. Like lots of other beach towns we can’t go to the beach either! Seems that most people are adhering to the new rules. We are anchored on the edge of town, at dakity reef. There are a few other boats out here with us. A couple of regulars and a couple of new boats. Everyone has to hunker down and wait it out because it seems most ports are closed to new arrivals. Some of the nearby islands have even made cruisers leave their ports! Listening to the news it seems that more cities around the states are moving to implement these same restrictions too, so soon we will all be as some say “In the same boat”.

Taken from the deck of Moon looking down…the calm before the storm and the water is flat and clear!
Mr. Ray and his fish clan seen from the topside of Moon.
Sea slug
Storm approaching us, Dakity Reef, Culebra
Or friend John caught a fish!
We went to get on the dinghy at the dock and saw this guy cooling off.

As most of you know I recently had a birthday. We were looking to find something new that we had not done before so, we sailed Moon to a nearby island for some fun. Little did we know at the time that this would be our last adventure for a while.

Approaching Soldado (Soldier’s Point), Culebra on our way to Cayo Luis Peña.
Soldado Beach, Culebra
Approaching beautiful Cayo Luis Peña.

We decided to sail over to Cayo Luis Peña for the day. Luis Peña is a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Culebra under the protection of the U.S. fish & Wildlife. It is only accessible by boat. The few people that come here usually come to snorkel and enjoy the small beaches. We had heard from a friend that there was a old road that we could hike to the top with amazing views and some old ruins from when the military had control of the island. We thought that this would be something cool to check out. We left dakity reef and because it was such a short distance we decided to motor sail over to the island. We picked up one of the two mooring balls in the harbor when we arrived, kayaked to shore and set off to find the trail. I have to admit that at first I was not really enthusiastic about the idea of a hike in the middle of the day. It was hot and I really thought that we were going to snorkel and enjoy the waters and then hike later in the afternoon or early the next morning. The anchorage was a bit rolly that day though so we decided to go ahead and hike up and then spend the night somewhere else.

Old boat ramp on the windward beach on the west side of Cayo Luis Peña. Culebra is in the background.

We’ve been to Luis Peña before but only to enjoy the beaches and snorkel. The small beach on the north side of the island has an amazing underwater elk-horn coral forest. This time however we wanted to find the trail that we had heard about and make our way to the top. We started by walking across the skinny peninsula from where we were moored to the opposite beach where we could see Culebra just across the channel. From there we started to look for the trail we heard was just over a small hill that would lead us to the old road. We hunted around and found what looked like a trail and gave it a try. It was less of a trail and more a goat-cleared path. There are wild goats on the island. Luck would have it and we found the old military road that would take us to the top.

After a scrambling up a embankment we find the clearing to the old road that will lead us to the top.
Tree roots taking over the old road.

It was a pretty easy hike, mostly shaded and the grade was an easy one. For the most part we could see and follow the old military road. On some parts trees and mother nature had completely taken over. We carefully pushed through thorned bushes and cactus. Lots of pretty flowers and mushrooms along the path to admire along the way and we even came across a snake catching some of the suns rays.

LOTS of thorns and cacti along the trail!
Huge mushroom on the trail!
Pretty views along the trail as we hike to the top.
On top of Cayo Luis Peña, far off in the distance you can see St. Croix!

Once we reached the top we were rewarded with the largest gun turret/helicopter pad that we have ever seen. It is crazy if you think of the military action that has happened on this island. Cayo Luis Peña was one of the areas that the Marine Corps used during the various training exercises from the 1920s through the late 1940s for munitions firing. Marine units stationed on Culebra fired artillery onto the northern areas. They also used the entire area for aerial bombing and gunnery practice. One historical document indicated that the Marines had also dropped napalm onto Luis Pena. Additionally the island is located in the immediate vicinity of the Northwest Peninsula that served as the main military bombardment and impact area. We had to be careful as we explored because unexploded ordnance items have still been found on the island to this day! As we explored the grounds and ruins left behind it was amazing to think that all of it’s history was not all that long ago.

We finally reach the top and this is what we see first. Abandoned gun turret/ helicopter landing.
Exploring the military ruins on top of Cayo Luis Peña.
More pipes going underground on the left and a steel container of some sort below.

After taking in all off the views and wonders we made our way back down the path and paddled back to Moon. We dropped the mooring ball and headed to melones beach just off of Culebra to spend the night in a more comfortable anchorage. As we were motoring away from Luis Peña our engine started overheating and shut down…oh no! Quickly Brian hoisted our jib and main sail and we sailed into the winds towards melones where were planned on anchoring. Thankfully after a few tacks we made it in just as the sun was setting. The next day Brian discovered that the boats impeller, part of the water pump for the engine had lost several veins and it had to be replaced. Luckily we had a spare and Brian was able to make the repairs at anchor. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…My Hero!

Someone left their mark on Cayo Luis Peña. Any military folks out there know what this might stand for? This was about when the military presence left the island.
Defense Mapping Survey Marker.

Brian says that he thinks that Cayo Luis Peña is haunted because every time that we visit there or near there something happens. Once we were anchored on the north side on a beautiful, sunny peaceful day and a big storm came out of nowhere and reigned havoc on us causing us to have to leave abruptly and break one of our almost indestructible 8 ft oars and other times we have sailed around the island the winds would either come on full blast out of nowhere or die down to a complete calm. And now with our water pump going bad as we were leaving the harbor….just saying something is not right there and you can’t convince Brian otherwise!

Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Patty and Brian are waiting in line at Tienda #6, it is the all around favorite for food at flamenco beach!
Sweet kitty at Flamenco Beach, Culebra. Melted our heart and wished that we could have taken her home. Had to settle to sharing our fish instead.

We were also fortunate enough to visit beautiful flamenco beach with our friends Patty and Les for a day of fun in the sun before all of this mess going on. Not only was it a birthday celebration for me it was one for Patty as well. Pisces Girls Rule!

Brian meanwhile has also been working a some sewing projects.

More sewing projects for Brian. I did not get any before pics but here is the final product after he replaced the Eisenglass for a boats side panel.
Side panel being fitted after being sewn.
More chores for Brian. Up the mast to install a new secret weapon on Moon.

Well, like we said in the beginning of this post seems as if everything has changed now. It’s hard to believe that we have to hunker down where we are. There is so much to explore here and it is hard to sit still. I know that we are blessed though. At least we are in a beautiful spot. As of now we can jump off of the boat and swim in the sea that surrounds us, see the sun rise and enjoy the sea life swimming around our floating home. Guess we can’t complain too much. Take care all for now, stay safe and by all means…wash your hands after reading this post, who knows where it has been!!

Moon anchored by Hector the Protector in Culebra.

Jennifer and Brian


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