Jan. 28-Feb. 21, 2020: Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

We had an amazing and very unusual weather window that would allow us to leave Provo, Turks and Caicos, and go directly to the western shore of Puerto Rico.  Normally a stop in the Dominican Republic is required while waiting for the appropriate weather to cross the Mona Passage, a sometimes treacherous body of water between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.  We lucked out, though, and were able to go straight to Cabo Rojo in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico. 

When things are this calm, it’s almost scary.

The most exciting moment was when we were machine-gunned by a school (flock?) of flying fish in the pitch dark; they ricocheted off the enclosure sides and top, leaving scales and four of their more unlucky compatriots behind.  The trip from Provo to Cabo Rojo was 74 hours for 382.6 nm.

Clearing back in the United States from the Turks and Caicos was incredibly easy.  We used the Customs and Border Protection ROAM app, and the entire process took about 5 minutes.  We never had to go anywhere or meet anyone; it was all taken care of over the app. Crazy.

We docked at Marina Pescaderia, a wonderful marina in Cabo Rojo.  The marina itself is quite European looking with modern steel and glass buildings and stylish outdoor seating in a number of nooks. 

The marina has a number of comfortable seating areas looking out into Puerto Real.

It is spotlessly clean with concrete fixed piers, metered water and electricity, showers (with hot water!) and heads, laundry facilities, onsite rental cars, diesel and gas, and excellent security.  The marina president, Jose, couldn’t be more helpful and is fluent in both Spanish and English.  Whatever you need, he can arrange it.  The marina grounds include a tackle shop, a dive shop, a convenience store/cruiser happy hour hangout, and an electronics dealer.

The row of shops in the marina. If you squint, you can just make out Marina, one of the marina dogs, who is curled up at the far left of the picture.

We fell in love with Cabo Rojo, which is a small fishing town in a very hilly, lush, rural area.  Everyone we met, and I do mean everyone, was polite and kind.  We found the best donuts in the world (trust us, we’ve eaten a LOT of donuts) at the local bakery, which was about a 10 minute walk down quiet residential streets.  The bakery also served amazing sandwiches, pastries, and fresh bread, and we spent many a mealtime there.  Their $1 small loaves of bread became a staple on Kestrel.

In the Bahamas we had potcake dogs, and on Puerto Rico they are called satos; the dogs have free rein of the town and soon came to know me as the Beggin’ Strip Lady.  Many people in town ride horses, and we got to know some of the horses in their yards. 

We walked past this gregarious horse on our frequent strolls to the bakery.

It was wonderful being folded into a community with its daily routines rather than being in a tourist spot.

Right outside the marina is a mix of residences and small businesses. The road is just barely two cars wide, and the addition of parked cars makes for an exciting ride.

We had plenty of fun fishing from the fuel dock; the Captain even caught a tarpon but ended up losing both the fish and his lure.  The marina is home to commercial fishing boats (mostly pangas) and chartered pleasure fishing boats, and the tarpon all knew to wait at the fish cleaning station for scraps.  They were absolutely enormous.

On Superbowl Sunday we walked up the street to 19 Barrios, a delicious restaurant, and had terrific pizza.  We spent the evening watching the game, drinking the local beer and pina coladas, and raucously cheering along with everyone else.  It was one heck of a party.

Many of the houses in Cabo Rojo are two story, with the second level open to breezes and the first level used for storage.

We ended up staying at Marina Pescaderia longer than planned to wait out bad weather and also because at a certain point, the monthly rate became cheaper than the daily or weekly rate.  We were very comfortable and having fun, and we figured we’d splurge and stay.  Because we were there for so long, we were able to take entire days to explore Puerto Rico.

One day we rented a car and went to Mayaguez, which is about 15 minutes away.  Every US big box store, department store, and restaurant that you can think of is there.  Malls, movie theaters, ice cream shops, pharmacies, hardware stores, department stores, grocery stores, you name it, it was there.  We provisioned heavily while there because the prices were stunningly low; many, if not most, of the things we bought were cheaper than south Florida prices.

Another day we rented a car and toured the island, going from Cabo Rojo to Ponce, then to Saint German, and finally up to Rincon.  It was a treat being able to experience all of the variety of towns and geography, and since Puerto Ricans drive on the “correct” side of the road, I was able to drive.  We did not notice any earthquake damage, although the quakes continued the entire time we were in Puerto Rico.

I don’t know why Cabo Rojo isn’t choked with cruisers, but I’m glad it isn’t.  It’s a gem, with a large protected bay for anchoring if you don’t want to stay at a marina.  We truly loved our time there and would gladly go back again.