Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas Cove

November 22, 2006  Wednesday
Christmas Cove, St. James Island, USVI

We went over to Cruz Bay today and officially cleared into the USVI.  We had obtained the required decal by applying online while in Bonaire last Friday, and the decal arrived at Trey’s house (our permanent mailing address) this morning.  We needed that decal number in order to clear in.  Supposedly, we should have been able to obtain this decal number online as soon as it was issued; but for some reason the Customs and Border Protection website will not allow us to log in with our browser.  We are using IE 7 and it is supposed to be supported by the CBP website, but it just doesn’t work for us.  We have confirmed that we enabled java scripting, but it just doesn’t work.  So it was fortunate that it arrived at Trey’s house just in time for us to clear in.  Now we are legal.

We absolutely love being anchored here in Christmas Cove.  Should do wonders for our budget for this month and maybe part of next month.  Free anchorage, free WiFi internet, and this is an uninhabited island so we won’t be spending any money ashore.  But we can take our dinghy across the channel a good little distance and catch a jitney bus to go anywhere on St. Thomas island for only $2 each.  Maybe we will shop for a television next week.  Every day at least a half dozen day charter catamarans visit Christmas Cove to bring tourists to snorkel.  So that provides us with a little entertainment and ever-changing people watching. 

There are also a bunch of little dinghies with steering helm consoles that bring people from the cruise ships in St. Thomas over here.   They remind Judy of “the smokers” in the old movie Waterworld; they way they look zooming out of the bay area around the point of St. Thomas island and then across the channel.  It is so funny to watch them following their leaders across the channel and into the anchorage, all wearing their bright orange lifejackets, two people per dinghy.  The leaders corral them up and tie all the dinghies together and then everyone gets into the water to snorkel for an hour.  Then they all head back across the channel – like little ducks following their mama.  The only sad part of this entrepreneurship is the damage that we are sure is happening to the coral and reefs in this little anchorage.  We haven’t snorkeled here yet but expect to find it nothing like it was back in the 1980s.

There are about ten other cruisers anchored here, but we haven’t met any of them yet.  No one seems to be socializing with one another.  Their dinghies have remained tied to their sterns and there has been no VHF radio traffic.  We aren’t used to this.  Everywhere else we have been the cruisers all talk and visit with one another.  Strange.

While in Cruz Bay this morning we stopped by a supermarket and were astounded by the choices of food.  We were both walking around gaping at the huge selection of name brands that we could actually recognize.  The only thing that kept us from buying too much stuff is that we had to carry our PFDs (like lifejackets) in our canvas bag, so that limited how much other stuff we could carry; thus limiting our shopping capacity.  The Coast Guard checks here very often to see that you are carrying the appropriate number of PFDs in your dinghy.  Can’t leave them in the dinghy or they would be stolen, so we have to carry them around with us.  One way to keep us from shopping too much!

November 23, 2006  Thursday, Thanksgiving Day

We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving Day since moving aboard.  It was just the two of us today.  We had hoped to see our kids pop up online today so we could chat or to talk with the grandkids using GoogleTalk, but we never saw them online.

We were entertained by the day charter boats bringing more tourists over to our anchorage to snorkel.  And a catamaran flying a French flag with six gay guys anchored in front of us and they were also entertaining to people watch.  One of the guys donned a chef hat and apron.  Apparently he was the cook while the other five guys lazed about on the boat all afternoon.

Judy cooked a mini-version Thanksgiving dinner.  We had rotisserie chicken that she had frozen back in Trinidad and a much-doctored Stovetop Stuffing that she baked with the chicken on top.  Served with doctored-up chicken gravy.  We had bought two miniature sweet potatoes when in Cruz Bay yesterday, so she also baked a very small sweet potato pudding.  Earlier we enjoyed a bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon with hardwood smoked salmon and cream cheese on various types crackers.  Great appetizers (lunch).

Just before sunset we took the dinghy around the anchorage to sight-see a bit.  We stopped and talked with two other boats of cruisers; and Bill being Bill, invited both of the couples over to our boat for drinks tomorrow at sunset.  Gotta be social.  It is much nicer when there are a few people around to socialize with.  Someone to talk to other than ourselves.

November 26, 2006  Sunday
Still at Christmas Cove

Haven’t moved; still like it here.  Have met another Texas couple anchored here in Christmas Cove.  Had them over for drinks one evening and they came by again today and visited for hours.  They are younger than us.  They bought their boat in the BVI and moved aboard in March, and have been in the BVI/USVI ever since.  The wife is from Dallas and has had no ocean or sea experience on a boat, so she has a lot of learning to do and is still adjusting to living on a boat.  Nice couple.

Yesterday we took the dinghy across the channel and over to Independent Boat Yard, where we had our haul-out last May.  We visited Budget Marine (so nice to see a real marine store again!!), and then walked across the road to the supermarket for a few fresh veggies.  We nearly ran over two turtles on our way over there.  Judy could see their little faces as they noticed us and then went dive, dive, dive as fast as possible.   It is so nice to see turtles again.  Good to know that some are still surviving.

The dinghy ride back was a little exciting, as the waves were beginning to build a bit in the afternoon winds.  But we didn’t get splashed too much.  Next time we might even try taking the dinghy over to Red Hook.

Bill went up the mast again today and replaced the anchor light (4th replacement since May 1st).  This light bulb is from a different store; hope it lasts longer than one or two days like the last four bulb did.  He also installed new tiny blocks for our new flag halyards (since the radar reflector took down our old ones during our passage here from Bonaire).  He also replaced the blocks on the dinghy davits.  The old ones were bent and made it difficult to pull the lines.  Guess that is all the boat maintenance for this week. 

Oh, Judy tabulated all the passages to date.  Since May 1st we have sailed a total of 1,668 nautical miles – and we are right back where we started!  Who would have guessed that we would be back here in only 7 months to start all over again.

Nothing much to report as we are just sitting here at anchor and enjoying people watching and pretty water and star gazing.  Maybe tomorrow we will get out our sea kayak and try that out.

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