Monday, July 1, 2013

Secret Places

Today I'm giving over to Chuck, my intrepid world traveling sailor friend. I can't divulge the place he is talking about but it's good to know he considers Culebra right up there with an island as exotically beautiful and friendly as any in the world.

*******, ********** Hidden Paradise

   I told you that upon my arrival this place immediately skyrocketed to one of the best places I’ve been to, ever, right? So now let me flesh it out some and fill in some of the details. For starters let me admit that I will be plagiarizing some from a book written by ****** ******* back in 1996 entitled, ********, **********. If you can find this rare manuscript you should purchase it and peruse it. It’s a really nice book with really good photos. Get a copy for me, too. I was lent a copy to read while I was here by my new friend, Felipe, and I must return it before I leave.

all photo credit: Chuck Handy
   A combination of natural beauty and friendly, interesting people are two of the major criteria for making my “best places ever” list. Other places currently on the list include Alert Bay in British Columbia, Likiep Atoll in The Marshall Islands, Hilo in Hawaii and Culebra in Puerto Rico. Some places used to be on the list but have changed so much over the past few decades that they no longer rate although they still provide fond memories.

  ****** is now high on the list.  ****** is the northernmost of the ************ Islands and much different from the rest of **********. At *** degrees East Longitude and **** degrees South Latitude it lies some 400 miles north of ****, the capital of *************** and is only visited once a month by a supply ship (when running) and once a week by a small plane (again, when operating). The 2000 or so inhabitants are of *********** descent as the island lays at the *********** extreme of that ethnic group's parameters. It lies well off the trade routes and it is never visited by international aircraft. Foreign aid is nonexistent and tourist interest is negligible.

  The island is about 9 miles long and 4 miles wide. It is of volcanic origin with several low volcanic calderas. Black volcanic rock lies along the shore breaking up the hundreds of white sand beaches. There are no natural harbors. I am lying in a protected spot just big enough for one or two small boats. Should the wind come from the northwest the anchorage becomes untenable. Several boats have gotten into trouble here when that wind change occurred.

   I arrived here after a [long] mile singlehanded passage to windward. It took me 12 days. There was some rough weather along the way but the old Deev held up well. She always seems to handle it better than me! I hate going to windward! But as my pal Captain Ronnie Hamlin once told me. "You can't run down sea all your life, Chuck.  You gotta head back upwind sometimes". Truer words were never spoken...

 Upon arrival in ************ I was eventually met by the various authorities for clearance. Immigration, Customs and Health reps came to the boat and were very friendly and cleared me into ***********. It did take most of the day and a truck ride 10K into Government Center but it was all good. It cost me about 100 bucks US to clear in. All legal, no funny stuff. That's just what it costs to clear in to ***********.

   There are no hotels, no resorts, no restaurants, no casinos and no night clubs on ***********. There is lush rain forest, beautiful flowers and lots of agriculture. The road that goes around the island is maintained like a park road. It is cleared and not overgrown anywhere. Papaya, avocado, orange, mango, breadfruit and banana trees drop their surplus on the ground. Root crops of cassava and taro are visible everywhere and there are plenty of goats, pigs, chickens and cows. It is truly a garden island. The dozen or so villages are all very clean and well maintained. The inhabited houses are all looking good. Nothing  fancy or expensive, but nice.

  There is a fellow here who has become the unofficial yacht greeter. His name is Felipe and he welcomes new arrivals with an invitation to his house for meals, showers and laundry. He asks for nothing in return. I am writing this from his place as we speak. I will not be able to send this off for a week or two until I reach one of the main islands of ************** and have internet access.

Thanks, Chuck! Fair winds, mi amigo!

Have a mind your mission Monday. Do something (un)mandatory. 


  1. What a tease... How I would like to know where in the world that is...