The Lunacy Report

CRUISING VIEQUES: Visit to the Bay of Death

Warning sign Vieques

IT IS DIFFICULT when visiting Vieques by boat these days to get reliable information on where exactly you're allowed to go. During my exploration of the Spanish Virgin Islands this winter I've had three different set of charts aboard--all published after the U.S. Navy stopped using the island as a gunnery range--and they are maddeningly inaccurate and inconsistent about what areas are still restricted. Going ashore at Bahia Salina del Sur on Monday morning, however, Phil "Snake Wake" Cavanaugh and I were confronted with some very explicit signs (see photo up top) that suggested our presence might be prohibited.

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CRUISING CULEBRA: Tsunamis & War Junk

Tsunami sign

One thing that has changed since the last time I cruised these waters in the late 1990s is that now everywhere you go in the Spanish Virgins and the east coast of Puerto Rico you see these tsunami warning signs. I wasn't aware that tsunamis are a serious threat in the Caribbean, so I'm wondering what the point of these is. Maybe it's the fruit of some kind of sweetheart deal between the sign manufacturer and the local government.

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CRUISING VIEQUES: Cease Fire in Paradise

Sailing off Vieques

WHEN I FIRST SAILED through the Spanish Virgin Islands back in the late 1990s, the prospect of visiting Vieques was rather daunting. The U.S. Navy, operating out of its old base at Roosevelt Roads, was still using the island as a firing range and both the cruising guide and charts I had on hand were full of dire and confusing warnings about the place. Rather than risk an accidental shelling, I steered clear and focussed instead on the neighboring island of Culebra. But I always wondered about that long bumpy silhouette on the southern horizon, and one of my major goals when I based Lunacy on the east coast of Puerto Rico this winter was to at last find out what's over there.

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CRUISING CULEBRA: A Puerto Rican New Year

Culebra mural

O FUN-LOVING BOAT-WORSHIPPING CHILDREN of the Internet! Forget what you heard about doing up New Year's on St. Bart's. Tis a hyped-up overrated overcrowded experience if ever there was one, IMHO. I'm here to tell you: Culebra is the place to be (or have been). None of this dandified Beautiful People On Their Superyachts pretense and nonsense. On Culebra they know how to turn the page on the calendar with Egalitarian Style.

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Passage to Puerto Rico

Lunacy at sea

WE'RE HERE! In the photo, if you look carefully, you'll see the lumpy bumps of dry land--the island of Culebra to be precise--that we encountered at sunrise yesterday morning as we swooped in from the north on a moderate east-southeasterly breeze. By 1030 hours we were tied up at the fuel dock at the Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, awaiting a U.S. customs inspection.

This, strange to say, focussed largely on our garbage. We answered several questions about the food we bought in Bermuda (all of it processed stuff or fresh produce that, of course, had originally been imported from the States) and our two small bags of garbage, composed mostly of plastic packaging we hadn't thrown overboard en route, were then quarantined. We subsequently had to pay the marina $15 to remove these biohazards from the boat.

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Triple Gulf Stream Crossing

Lunacy in Gulf Stream

HAVING SUFFERED NO DAMAGE while lying in port during Superstorm Sandy, Lunacy at last departed New Hampshire at 1000 hours last Thursday. Aboard with me were two pick-up crew enlisted through Offshore Passage Opportunities: Minnie Burke, 23, a young adventuress from Virginia, and Chris Salas, 41, a doctor from Rhode Island. Neither had much, if any, offshore sailing experience, and I was careful not to sugarcoat our prospects. I told them what I tell anyone who proposes to sail from New England to Bermuda in the fall: this is normally a difficult passage; you will be sailing in winds over 30 knots; you will be uncomfortable.

I was as good as my word. Indeed, I was thrice as good.

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Waiting for Sandy

Trop. Storm Sandy model forecasts

I've been scuttling about the past few weeks prepping Lunacy for her trip south to Puerto Rico. On Sunday we moved her from Portland down here to Portsmouth, bashing into some inconvenient head seas along the way, and starting tomorrow we'll take another jump down to Newport. After that comes a big leap to Bermuda. The fly in the ointment there is a storm named Sandy, which, as of early yesterday morning, was forecast to be past Bermuda and recurving east by Sunday or Monday. The image you see up top, pilfered from Weather Underground, shows modeled tracks for Sandy as of yesterday morning in pink and the official forecast track in white.

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ULTRASONIC ANTIFOULING: Second Full-Season Results

Lunacy hauled

Lunacy was hauled at Maine Yacht Center last week, just for a quick scrub and zinc replacement, as I plan on taking her south to Puerto Rico for the winter. This is the second full season she's had her Ultrasonic Antifouling system clicking away trying to keep her private parts clean. As you can see in the photo up top, the results from a distance look pretty good.

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FATHER-DAUGHTER CRUISE: Adventures on Cliff Island

Lucy on Lunacy

ON SATURDAY, the day after I got back from the Newport show, daughter Lucy and I decided to head out on to Casco Bay for an overnight aboard Lunacy all by our wild lonesomes. As you can see from the photo up top, after seven years of incessant indoctrination (courtesy of yours truly), she's become rather expert at hanging out on sailboats.

Believe me, sailing with Lucy wasn't always so relaxing.

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