There’s a basic injustice about the way sailors view the Virgin Islands. St Thomas and St John—the main U.S. Virgins— are well-known tourist and sailing destinations, while right next door, the British Virgin Islands draw sailors by the thousands to take advantage of the numerous charter companies based there. But what of the third set of Virgins—the islands of Culebra and Vieques off the east coast of Puerto Rico, known as the Spanish Virgins? To us, they appeared ripe with opportunity—the road less travelled. If the British and U.S. Virgins offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, perhaps the Spanish Virgins would be a less crowded alternative to the others. We thought we’d check them out this winter, so we arranged to charter a Hunter 45 from Sail Caribe (sailcaribe.com), based in Fajardo on Puerto Rico’s east coast. With me were Pip and Harry Nielsen and Tim and Jean Sheehy and their daughter, Megan, all raring to go after a few months of winter.
Sail Caribe's slips at Puerto del Rey in Fajardo are a hive of activity as four boats prepare to get under way. Our Hunter 45, Great White, is dwarfed by the three Lagoon catamarans.