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One morning Bob was out in the dinghy visiting the neighbors.  On his way home, he found roses floating in the water.  He gathered them up and brought them back to the boat.  Washed and trimmed, the roses bloomed and enhanced the atmosphere for several days. 

We stayed only a couple of days to recoup and then departed for Ponce.  Before each passage, Bob sat at the chart table and plotted the route by moving the mouse around on the electronic charts.  What luxury!  Having prepared the course, we staged about 1 hours out of Boqueron behind a lighthouse and left there a little after midnight to go around Cabo Rojo.  Typically, the trade winds subside somewhat in the late evening and early morning hours allowing much more comfortable travel during that period.  We arrived at
Ponce about 8:00 a.m., anchoring in the bay behind the local yacht club.

In Ponce, once again, we ran into our friends on La Alantra.  John's boat was docked next to us in Ft. Lauderdale for about four months.  He is 77 years old.  Bill helped John work on his boat and then Bill agreed to travel with John and crew for while. They had a terrible crossing of the Mona Passage with 25 foot waves, some coming very quickly in twos and breaking over the top of their boat.  They took on so much water that their sump pumps couldn't keep up and their rugs got wet.  They believe that the water came in through the anchor locker because it hasn't happened again.  John had a rental car and took us to do laundry and go shopping.  What a treat!  The larger cities in Puerto Rico are like being back in the states.  Franchises and fast food restaurants were everywhere, Burger King, KFC ("that gray-haired old man" as my brother Johnny calls it), McDonald's, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears, and Penny's to name a few.  Money was available at ATMs and went through our hands like water.

John  Hass and Bill on La Alantra

We shared a rental car with Sam and Jerry.  Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico and it was impossible without wheels.  We toured Ponce, shopping along the way.  We went on a walking tour of the old town area.  We saw an old fire station with an antique fire engine.  We walked the narrow streets and meandered through the town parks on either side of the church.  We drove up a steep hill through poverty level housing at the bottom and a ritzy area at the top to a cross overlooking the city.  We were high enough to look out to the marina and the ocean in the distance.  The lower portion of an old wooden cross was still standing, having been damaged by a hurricane.  The old cross was used many years ago to hoist flags and warn the people when pirates were coming.  The old cross no longer served that purpose, but the new cross was a reminder of those days.

Sam and Jerry with  an old fire engine at the museum

Jerry posing at a fountain with water

Bob perched on a lion in a fountain without water

View of Ponce from the cross

The next day we drove a couple of hours north toward San Juan and then east to Fajardo, headed to a brand new West Marine.  When we arrived, we were surprised to see that the person responsible for opening the store was Jay, the regional manager for Ft. Lauderdale!  It was like old home week.  We also saw Margo, former assistant  manager of the St. Petersburg store where we shopped extensively when we first started out in July and August of 1998.  Small world.  Being in West Marine again was like being a kid in a candy store.  So many toys!   We replaced broken items and restocked parts we had used.  We returned to Ponce and unloaded the car.  We were devastated that one of our bags was missing.  The next day we called the store and learned that we had inadvertently left it there.  We decided to make the trip again the following day, retracing our route.  Saturday was the grand opening and the store was packed with lines all the way down the aisles from the check-out to the back of the store.  Bob volunteered for several hours and worked in the store while I rode with Sam and Jerry to Roosevelt Roads Naval Base where they shopped at the commissary.

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