Day 5 - Culebrita.
Aboard CYOA's Big Papa Lulu cruising the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Culebrita is one of my favorite islands.
It is completely uninhabited, and rarely visited.
There's a defunct lighthouse to explore, and a natural jacuzzi to wile-away an afternoon in.
Our day started with an 8am breakfast randomly interrupted with screams of "TURTLE!" with everybody craning their necks to see, pointing here and there, and cameras at the ready. They are sneaky, those turtles! Hard to get good pictures of them from above water.
First up was a hike to the light-house before it got hot, so we were soon boarding the dingy and made the short run to the beach. We'd taken the inner-most ball, so it was easily swimming distance, but we wanted to have real shoes for the hike, which is probably about a mile and maybe 300 feet of elevation gain.
I should point out that this particular ball had a questionable underwater pennant and someone who didn't know how to tie knots backed it up from the anchor to the ball with a dock line. The previous night I'd dived the ball and was a little horrified to see what passed for a knot below the ball. I managed to get it untied and replaced it with a high-strength bowline. In general there has been poor or no maintenance on the moorings in the SVI. Many have disappeared in the last few years. Caveat emptor... check them out carefully if you hook up!
So we hiked from the beach at Bayo Turtugas through a somewhat dismally crispy, brown, and dying vegetation and undergrowth. It was green and lush two years before, but the two-month drought had really taken it's toll. Here's a picture of my wife about half-way up the climb, with Culebra in the background.
The views from the top are spectacular. We walked all around the light house and one brave soul from our crew, a rock climber, clambered up the decaying spiral staircase inside to the top. This is definitely not recommended!
Most of us were happy to walk around outside and in the ceiling-less rooms and admire the architecture and views.
It was soon time to leave and we returned to Big Papa Lulu for lunch, a couple of cold greenies, and then it was off to the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi is located on the northern extreme of Bayo Tortugas. You have to take a careful dingy ride through the reef with the last 100 yards accomplished by someone jumping into waist-deep water and walking the boat in. There's a tiny beach where you can pull the dingy up between the rocks. Next up is a 200 yard hack through a wobbly boulder field. Finally you make it, and it's worth the trip. We frolicked and relaxed for a couple of hours with the water spritzing and sizzling around us as if it was carbonated. Very refreshing.
Upon returning to the boat we were hot after the boulder-field walk back to the dingy. We jumped in the water and were immediately visited by a huge 100 pound green sea turtle that wanted to join in the game of catch we were playing with a bright orange ball. I was afraid he'd eat it, so I didn't let him have it, but he brushed by me several times, trying to take it out of my hand. What an awesome ending to an awesome day!