We jibed all through the night, waiting till the change of the watches so it didn't disrupt our sleep scheds. The shore lights and loom of St. Croix dimmed as we skirted around its west end and then we could see the hazy lights of Vieques, Culebra and an all-but-glowing, very well-lit St. Thomas. We made our final jibe about 0330. By 0630, we were heading through the well-marked Canal del Este (Eastern Channel) into Ensenada Honda. Remember … red, right, returning. (For you landlubbers … keep the red markers to the right.)
According to Wiki, Isla Culebra (Koo-lay-brah - "Snake Island") is an island-municipality of Puerto Rico. Located approximately 17 miles (27 km) east of the Puerto Rican mainland, Culebra is Puerto Rico's least populous municipality. The island is hilly, lush and green with what appear to be, high-end houses built on the hillsides. We made our way through the reefs, hugging the marked channel, and anchored off the main town of Dewey, aka Culebra, with about 25+ boats as neighbors. The anchorage is large and we found a fine spot without much effort and dropped the hook. Yahoo!
As we've previously noted, we had registered with the US Customs SVRS (Small Vessels Reporting System) before returning to Trinidad. We had filed a “float plan” according to procedure before leaving Trinidad in hopes that this would streamline the check-in process for U.S. Immigration/Customs. All we can say is “Wow!”. First of all, our iPhone worked within 5-6 miles of Culebra (thank you, ATT & sister, Lin). Once anchored, we called Culebra Customs and Border Protection and provided the necessary information. The officer welcomed us back to the USA and said he'd call back within the hour. Good as his word, we received his call, got our clearance number and sha-bang … we were all cleared in. That was it. Nine of Cups is back in American waters after 9 years abroad and her crew is all legal and checked in.
This called for a cuppa and a sit down in the cockpit to celebrate. The breeze was exquisite and the scenery was candy for the eyes. We'd thought we'd go ashore, but after a bit more discussion, we decided to stay aboard for the day, get our chore list together (yes, there's a list … no surprise there!) and perhaps get a head start on what needs to be done. And then, perhaps, a nap somewhere in the mix.
Total mileage for the trip - 520 nm.