Thursday, March 15, 2012

ROBBED in Viequez, Spanish Virgin Islands

Our trip to this beautiful island was RUINED when a thief or thieves stole our dinghy off the beach in Ensenada Sun Bay.   The lock had been busted and the heavy chain we'd wrapped around a log was gone. 

Our hole dug out for the chain
 Our secondary line,  the painter, was cut, lying across the log.  We were stranded on the beach after dark with a sick feeling. 

Cut painter line
Found the busted lock in the sand at the water's edge

We had beached the dinghy and walked over to the Bioluminescent Bay to swim in it after dark.  That is another disappointment - the place is totally commercial.  We could not access the Bay via our boat or dink, so we thought we could walk there & swim.  Impossible.  One needs to pay $40 pp to take a kayak or electric boat.  We could find no place to access the water except at the commercial loading area....not to be.   After checking out the place, we caught a ride with one of the tour buses back to the beach.  We were barely an hour AND there is a security guard patrolling that beach. 
Beautiful Ensanada Sun Bay
At the last moment, I'd gone back into the locked boat to retrieve our portable VHF as we were departing - thank goodness!  At about 10:00 PM, one boater at anchor in the Bay finally responded to our numerous calls for help via the VHF,  and gave us a dingy ride to our boat.  We thought we’d be sleeping on the beach that night!   Finally Fun out in the anchorage, too far to swim.
Island Time Reigns. Each time we called the local police station, we were always informed, “Be right there”. Two hours later...... After the initial response and oral reporting, we made arrangements to meet the Police again on the beach at 8:00 AM the next morning to fill out all the paperwork. Yup....almost two hour wait again. We are so grateful to Lou, aboard the S/V Second Hand Rose, who’d come to our rescue that evening AND took us to and from shore again the next morning!
Little did we know this was one of our last rides aboard our dinghy!
Upon reporting the theft, we were informed that dinghy theft is a common occurrence in the area, both in the day and night. We were also told to not leave our boat unattended and to be careful. They told us they have a big drug problem on the Island, in spite of efforts underway via ICE and DEA. Great, how about posting some signs...yeah, I know...bad publicity.

I was stunned when we arrived in Puerto Rico to attempt to purchase a new dinghy. Numerous people, including the marina staff, have all said, “Yes, we know...there is a big problem on Vieques with lots of stealing going on. Most folks don’t go there anymore from here.” Too bad this information is not published where we can find it!!! We would not, obviously, have gone there.

One would think that honest folks living on the island know who is doing this and speak up, making a strong effort to rid their island of these thieves as they will be ultimately hurt by a reduction in visitors. I cite St. Vincent, further down the Caribbean as a great example. I've met so many boaters during the year we've been down here and each say the same thing...."Don't go to St. Vincent due to high number of thefts and worse." No one goes.

We, after our experience within the first few hours of our arrival, did not (a) purchase groceries (b) eat in the local Vieques restaurants (c) shop in the shops (d) take any tours to the bioluminescent bays (e) catch the local bus or take a taxi across the island to visit the town of Isabel Sequnda and repeat all of the above. Not a penny spent on the island.

We had intended to spend about a week cruising around Vieques and also cruise over to Culerbra, the neighboring island in the Spanish Virgins. No more...we’re pretty down on the place obviously. I am angry that the theft rate is high from all we've been told, yet no one ‘catches’ anyone. The island is so small I don’t understand why there isn’t a stake out or some such thing and pull these thieves in.


  1. I know that beach; the cruising guides suggest that it is probably the most likely place on the island to encounter crime.

  2. A tip for you all. No matter where you are, leaving your dinghy on a deserted beach at night is not a good idea. I have visited Vieques on numerous occasions by sea and we have left our dinghy at the dinghy dock in Esperanza (which is the next cove over from Sun Bay) many times and have never had any issues.
    The cruising guides and the folks at any marina on the main island of Puerto Rico could have told you where to anchor and the best places to leave the dinghy.

    Also, it is widely known that the government has been taking steps in recent years to control the access to the Biobay on Vieques in order to minimize the potential for interference with the organisms that thrive there. If you had done your research about Sun Bay and/or the Mosquito Bay you could have avoided the difficulties you encountered.

    You really did not do yourselves a service by avoiding these islands. They are magical and their people are well worth meeting and getting to know.

  3. Ha. Crime is BIG DEAL on the tiny island of Vieques. So sorry this happened to you. Fact of the matter is that the thieves were most likely watching you and your boat from the shore. You are ver lucky nothing was taken for your boat. We rented a house on vieques last year and were robbed TWICE during our stay. The house manager blamed me for not locking up properly. Upon further invetsigation, I discovered that the banditos tampered with locks so they wouldn't secure properly. A week later we read in the new paper about a young med student who was attacked, raped, and left for dead with TBI. The incident occured on a popular beach trail. And it was the THIRD rape in that same spot in a year. Vieques is definitely a lawless place. 40% of the residents (and state siders trying to turn a profit from their tourrist centered business) only care about tourist dollars. 40% don't want tourism on their island at all. The remaining 20% are some of the kindest, most genrerous warm folks you'll ever meet. Go figure. Warnings would be good first step.