Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aguadilla, Spanish for Waterdilla

The second part of my winter-Caribbean vacation was in Northwest Puerto Rico. We flew into San Juan and drove the 2 hours to get to the surfy town of Aguadilla. The drive along the north coast of Puerto Rico was just as adrenaline filled as driving on Tortola. Traffic laws aren't taken too seriously in our Spanish speaking territory.

Again, this trip was going to hopefully be a chance to surf more while it was still winter and the wind was light, but it blew 20-25 almost the whole time we were there. Unfortunately there is no place to rent windsurfing gear in all of Puerto Rico. Even if I was forward thinking enough to get some gear in San Juan, the shop that rents gear there says on their web page that they "no longer offer advanced rentals". I'd be lying if I said it wasn't excruciating at times, sitting at Shacks beach watching the wind whip across waist to head high waves.

Shacks beach itself seemed like an outstanding spot for windsurfing. The guy in the picture below has a house there, but is originally from Long Island. He said it's a tricky place due to shallow reefs, but in general it works pretty well. It reminded me an awful lot of Uppers at Kanaha, except the waves were breaking 30 yards not 300 yards from shore. Note to self, pack gear next time you go to PR. I may have been there during a particularly windy few days, but I sure wouldn't mind spending a few months there to see.

He did get some good down the line rides, but by the time I got the camera out, he was going backside. Probably underpowered and trying to get upwind to an apparently small gap in the reef to launch and land.

Even though it was windy, the surf was pretty fun. It seems like the forecasting is pretty inaccurate. My last day was forecast at 1-2 feet and had waves that were 3 feet overhead. (Of course some Hawaiian dude would tell you those were 6 inch waves, but we'll get into machismo and wave height description for a whole different conversation). In any case many of the locals were surprised by how big the waves were.

Another awesome place to visit in NW Puerto Rico is the Camuy Caverns, which is one of the largest known cave systems in the world. The tour group was massive, but it is definitely a pretty amazing place.

The main spot I surfed is called Wilderness. It was freaking awesome, waist to overhead peelers the whole time I was there. There was some wind so you had to paddle a lot to stay on the peak, but that kept the crowd from sticking around for hours. Above is one of the many very good local surfers hitting the lip on a small inside wave.

And now, another laugh track moment:
Gif Created on Make A Gif


James Douglass said...

That's some not-too-shabby looking surfing there, dude. Good job not bonking your board into the wahine, unless that was the next frame of your animated gif sequence.

James Douglass said...

Or maybe it was a long haired dude and not a wahine. Either way, good job not bonking into him / her / it.

Catapulting Aaron said...

hah-- thanks James, it was a girl's butt so you don't have to feel guilty or weird.

Still having a hard time staying high on the wave on a surfboard. Looks like you live close to some decent surf now too?

PeconicPuffin said...

The Long Islander is Bill Barber, a regularly recurring character in the Peconic Puffin. He and his buddy Hulse (usually kiting down there) wimp out on Long Island's fine winter conditions, opting to torture us with reports of spectacular conditions in 'Rico. Meanwhile here is Bill in his native habitat.

Catapulting Aaron said...

I figured he knew the Puff. I think he's got it good down there, you should visit sometime (and bring gear).

PeconicPuffin said...

Yep. I was talking with them yesterday...they paid under $100 per person to bring two boards and a quiver of sails on Jet Blue. FYI.

George Markopoulos said...

nice Aaron

Jeff, aka Peconic Jeff said...

Excellent! Nice shot of Bill, you captured him at his warmest and happiest. Here are some more of him back home.