Prepared for the worse, hoping for the best....
The so dreaded Mona Passage was kind to us… There was a stiff breeze and some seas, but at least the winds came from a rather Northerly side and so we could kind of easily motor sail towards Puerto Rico.
We go straight to Ponce on the south side of the Island. At around 07 oclock we entered the canal towards the yacht club. Anchored out in front of the club and I went to the office of the club to learn about the check in formalities (you are supposed to call a 1-800 number to get the custom guys to your boat), however we don’t have a local sim card (yet) so that is not realy a practical thing to ask new arrivals, if you ask me). In the office they pointed to a phone I should use which I did and a stern voiced clerck told me to tie up the boat to a designated area and that the officials would show up soon and that I was not to leave the boat, nor dump garbage….
So, dingied back to Onda Boa, weighed the anchor and we were able to tie up on the specific border protection area on the fuel dock.
Soon in enough two officers showed up, with a kick ass attitude. They wanted us to be sure that we knew we were now in USofA territory. Which we weren’t as PR is well…PR.. anyway got the questions out of the way, and NO we are not going to dump our garbage, nor flush the toilet and so on and so forth.
The Yacht club was going to charge a descent amount of money to use their infra structure, so instead, we just dinghied over to the small fisher warf, and took a taxi to the customs building to finalize the red tape (Brazilian flagged vessels are charged with additional fees for entering and leaving the country, as for instance US flagged are equally charged when they would move into Brazilian waters..). Then we went to check out the Ponce historical town centre. Nice, but nothing outstanding. On our way back we stopped at a large shopping centre (coffee and wifi), not before checking out a supermarket… From the taxi driver we learned a thing or two abt the relation between the UsA and PR (for instance didn’t know that only US originated cargo vessels are allowed to berth at PR ports, and so the PR only can get US (controlled)products.
After two days around and about in Ponce, we headed for Isla Vieques (Spanish Virgin Islands). We left Ponce in the afternoon, amidst a building up of thunderstorms, but were able to stay clear of those. A non eventfull overnight sail to Isla Vieques. Most lovely anchorage. Went to check out how and where to do the official clearing in. To learn quickly that there wasn’t such a thing. No office, no sign no nothing. Very un American actually. Not to worry, found a beach front pub, cold beer and wifi. The next day we went to rent a scooter, and totally easy rider style we crossed around the island. It dawned on us that, we could have anchored out in Ponce, without any of the clearing in redtape. Nobody would have noticed. Ofcourse it is not the best thing to do, but after all the effort (both time and money) to get the visum, it feels like a bit of anticlimax. Anyway, not to worry. Isla Vieques is a nice little island and used to be used by the USA military (bombing target practice etc). Also it has a mega super radar antenna in order to catch Colombian drug smugglers amongst others.
It was time for us to leave for the BVI.s…
Mona Island Excellent anchorage in Isla Vieques
Beach front street, Isla Vieques Easy Rider
Speedy Gonzalez .. Thanks for the advice…