Christmas in Culebra

We got into Culebra in the morning on December 21st, after what you could charitably call a slow overnight passage. We were motoring into wind and light waves, and while we’d picked a day with somewhat less wind than there could otherwise have been, we did not move quickly.

At one point, as we chatted with a passing ferry to make sure he saw us, the captain noted that our speed was not registered correctly on AIS. On reflection, we realized that this was likely because our boat’s side to side motion at that point was likely faster than our forward progress. But we made it in all the same, and anchored in six feet of water in a little bay on the west side of the island, all by ourselves.

Or, at least, we were all by ourselves for a couple of hours, and then we were joined by a bigger catamaran which took the “day use only” mooring ball we’d decided to leave for day users, and stayed on it the whole time we were there. Ah well. We’d heard that there would be caroling that night from a cruisers’ page, and so we showed up in our warm-weather Christmas hats, and had a great time parading around the town with some locals.

The next day, we paraded around the town a bit, got tacos at Zaco’s, and arranged to go diving with a guide we’d used on our last trip to the island. We also noticed that there were boats bringing people to snorkel right around the point near our boat, which gave us high hopes for the local snorkeling.

And indeed, as we dove on the boat to scrape off the most recent set of barnacles, we saw a couple of rays skulking around and cleaning the sea floor. But most of our sea exploration would happen under water on the next day, where we conveniently forgot to bring our camera. We also, apparently, forgot to bring enough batteries, because my dive watch decided to inform me that its battery was low only after I put it in dive mode. Because I got a fancy wireless sensor, this meant I couldn’t use any of my gear, and had to borrow the shop’s spare rental set. This battery also turns out to be “not user serviceable”, so this tale of woe may become an ongoing mini-segment. Ah well. We had some nice dives anyway – though maybe it’s just me, but it feels like even in three years, the coral looks less healthy than I remember.

After we got back and got cleaned up, we took Captain to check out Zaco’s.

We had been informed that he was welcome, as long as he chased the chickens away. He… did not do a great job of this, but he at least tried a little.

On Christmas Eve, we took a walk to try to find a yoga class we’d heard about. We were not sure exactly where it was or whether it was happening, but armed with vague directions and our yoga mats, we set off to make a go of it. We had a nice walk through the hills, and did eventually manage to find the place, deserted. We would later find out that we had heard the wrong time, and that anyway class was canceled on account of the holiday. But we enjoyed the walk, and we found a neat mural and a little workout area in a kids park. And Jazz took a picture I’m calling “Culebra Pastoral”, including the ugliest pig I think I’ve ever seen.

Christmas Eve was spent in the traditional manner: dinner at home and watching Christmas movies, bedecked in our best Christmas finery.

For Christmas day, we headed to a pot-luck on the beach, organized by the same group that had led us caroling. We made turkey and mushroom risotto, which was well received, but were roundly outclassed by whoever had roasted the whole turkey. It was an excellent meal, and we had good company.

Bellies full, we walked down the beach to see the abandoned and brightly painted tanks, and built ourselves a snowman. Well, sort of – we had to make due with some different materials.

In the evening, the beach section made its way back to town for the Christmas parade. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we settled ourselves into some good seats and ordered a life-changing pizza recipe: Hawaiian with jalapenos. Where have you been all my life.

The parade turned out to be a much bigger and brighter affair than we’d expected, with many floats and performers, traditional and modern.

We made it home to our now-rolly anchorage, the winds having shifted to the south: better for sailing, and a nice rocking motion for sleeping, but not great for hanging out on the boat. So in the morning, we had a hasty breakfast and got Out Fast, for a nice light day-sail to St. Thomas.