Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A day sail with fellow Texans

December 1, 2006   Friday
A day sail.

Today we decided that we just could not stay anchored another day.  So we went for a day sail – in 30 knots of wind and strong, confused waves.  We really know how to pick a day for an outing!  Wind and current was on our nose all the way over to Jost Van Dyke.  It was not a pleasant trip, but not unpleasant either; just okay.  We got there with no problems but we really don’t like the splashes all across the cockpit.  Great Harbor was not as calm as we expected it to be; we thought that since the harbor is on the south side of the island and the winds were ENE that the harbor would be fairly calm.  It wasn’t when we arrived but had calmed down before we left about 3:30 in the afternoon.

Tony and Janice, a Texas couple on S/V Neshuma, came with us and we enjoyed some great grouper sandwiches.  They had never been to Foxy’s, plus Tony really wanted to see what our boat sailed like.  S/V Neshuma (the name means soul in Yiddish) is a 36-foot Pearson pilothouse.  Tony was glad for the opportunity to try a larger boat.  He already has an offer to buy his boat, even though it isn’t even listed for sale.  Janice would certainly be happier with a larger boat, especially one with a large watermaker so she can shampoo her hair as often as she likes.

Foxy’s was nothing like they had envisioned.  Someone had told them that Foxy’s was a bad place and to avoid it.  We cannot imagine what this person was talking about.  Foxy’s is a tradition:  just a beach bar/restaurant with a souvenir shop and live music.  Foxy himself was not performing at lunch today, so Tony and Janice plan to go back to experience the full effect at a later date.   After lunch we walked around a bit and found a small store to sell us a loaf of bread and another small store to sell Janice a case of Heineken.

The sail back to Christmas Cove was absolutely marvelous!  What a difference going downwind can make!  We would have enjoyed sailing like that all day. 

The winds have abated a lot this evening, down to gusting 25 knots rather than sustained 30 knots; much more like normal for this time of year.  We have anchored back in almost the exact spot where we left this morning and loving it.  Judy saw a four-foot barracuda swim past the boat just before dusk tonight.  The barracuda had a full entourage of various smaller fish with it; guess all the smaller fish were tagging along so they can catch the discarded bits when the barracuda eats something.  We are also seeing a lot of various type rays in this cove.  Lots of entertainment.

BTW, Tony and Janice have also seen the deer living here on the island. 

December 4, 2006  Monday
Where do the turtles stay?

As dumb as that sounds, that is what we heard a snorkeler yelling to the captain of the day boat that had brought him to this cove:  “Where do the turtles stay?”  As if any turtle stays in one spot.  The captain yelled back at him:  “Sometimes they are over here, and sometimes they are over there.  You just never know.”  Yeah, right!  We haven’t seen a turtle in this cove during the two weeks we have been anchored here.  The hundreds of tourist snorkelers brought over here daily by the day boats and the smokers (fast console dinghies following their leader in the larger dinghy) have chased all the turtles out of Christmas Cove.  They have all moved to a less congested area across the channel.

Yesterday we took our dinghy over to Benner Bay again.  Scared the bejeezus out of a large turtle on our return trip to our boat.  This turtle was one of the white kind.  Don’t remember what they are called, but they are Judy’s favorite type of sea turtle.  He did an emergency dive and we never saw him again.

We took a safari bus ($2.00 per person to anywhere on their route – only $1.00 if you are a local islander) over to the complex where Home Depot is located.  There is also a movie theater located there but seriously doubt we will go see a movie.  There is also a large warehouse shopping type business there called Cost You Less.  It does not require a membership and is exactly like a Costco or Sam’s Club.  Gosh, did their rotisserie chickens smell wonderful! Note:  don’t go shopping when you are hungry!

Again we carried our PFDs in a canvas bag, thus limiting how much else we could carry on our return bus trip.  BTW, the term “bus” is used here loosely.  These are pick-up trucks that have rows of seats mounted on the back instead of a truck bed.  There are steps along the entry side and a canopy cover over all.  Some of them have plastic sheeting that rolls down and clips on the sides to use if it rains.  Great method of transportation and most economical. 

Cost You Less had food vacuum sealer bags!!!  First time we have seem these at any island.  Unfortunately, they only sell the Seal-A-Meal brand.  These will work as they are the same size for our Foodsaver machine; but the Seal-A-Meal rolls are less than half the size of the Foodsaver rolls, and definitely not half the price.  But we bought 4 rolls and will probably buy more if no one comes to visit and can bring us some of the Foodsaver brand rolls.

We managed to buy $86 worth of various stuff.  Then we went into the parking lot and took each item out of its packaging.  By doing this we were able to get everything into the two canvas bags that Judy had brought, including the two PFDs.  Then we hiked back to the main road and caught another safari bus.  This route took us to Tutu Park Mall (K-Mart, a supermarket, Office Max, auto parts store and McDonald’s), but we did not disembark because we couldn’t comfortably carry any more bags.  Then the route went to Red Hook, and then circled back to Benner Bay and we exited. 

Bill went across the street to a supermarket for sandwich bread while Judy carried the two bags down to the Bottoms Up bar and restaurant.  We ate barbequed pork sandwiches for lunch while the big iguanas ran all around us.  The Bottoms Up is located right down at the water’s edge by the mangroves, and the iguanas roam all through the bar/restaurant.  Haven’t heard of anyone getting bitten, but they make Judy a bit nervous when they get within five feet of her.  They are quite large (ranging 2-ft to 3 ½-ft in length) and can move exceptionally fast when they want to.  They are probably just looking for dropped bits of food, but it is a little unnerving when they come up next to your feet and bare legs.

Last evening the couple on a BAH (Big Ass Hatteras) named M/V Never Never Land  anchored next to us came by to talk a minute.  Their names are Ron and Janis and they are coming back this evening for sundowners.  Turns out that they know Ed Steele on S/V Doodlebug!  They buddy boated with Doodlebug while in Australia.  Being on a power boat, they circumnavigated in reverse!  That means they went from west to east, against prevailing trade winds, around the world.  Much easier done in a power boat than in a sailing vessel but still would not want to go against prevailing winds and current.  Of course, they came down the Red Sea with the winds at their back; whereas, most everyone else doing a circumnavigation goes up the Red Sea, beating into the winds regardless of the time of year.

Judy has had email correspondence with Ed Steele on S/V Doodlebug over the past 2 years.  Doodlebug is an Amel like our boat, but a couple of years older and doesn’t have  the extra options that were added to our boat.  It is the boat that was struck by lightning TWICE within six months while moored in the exact same spot in Ft. Lauderdale.  Then she was brought to Kemah and they left from there on a circumnavigation.  They are doing their circumnavigation very slowly.  They have left Doodlebug in a boat yard each winter season (summer typhoon season in the Southern Hemisphere) and returned to their home in Santa Fe from November until April.  So they are truly only sailing about six or seven months each year.  It will be fun to swap Doodlebug stories with our temporary neighbors when they visit this evening.

Judy cooked crab cakes for dinner last night.  Bill loves crab cakes but Judy isn’t a particular fan; she prefers shrimp.  Anyway, she found a recipe in her mother’s old cookbook from 1932 and decided to try it.  They were delicious!  Definitely will cook these again if we can find some more of the brand canned lump crab meat that she used last night.  Didn’t seem at all like canned crab meat, but more like fresh jumbo lump crabmeat.

She also baked a loaf of banana bread.  Note to all readers who plan to move aboard their boats:  Those silicone loaf baking pans just do not do well for heavy, moist breads in these boat ovens.  They work fine for a yeast bread, but moist soda or baking powder breads just do not bake right in the silicone loaf pans.  Judy’s recipe for banana bread is the best you will ever find.  This is the third time that she has attempted to bake this in the silicone loaf pans since we moved aboard.  Each time, the center simply will not bake unless she leaves it in the oven until the exterior edges are way over-baked and dried out dark brown or even burned.   The center remains raw.  Next time she will try baking only half-size loaves and see if that helps.  Maybe if the batter only fills one-half of the silicone loaf pan then it will bake through properly.  Just means we will have tiny slices of banana bread instead of normal size that we usually cut in half anyway.

Some people brought their huge dog and let it run wild on the beach and into the trees on the island here at Christmas Cove two days ago.  The deer have not returned to their normal places each afternoon since the visit by that roving dog.  We hope they return; we enjoyed watching them each late afternoon.

December 6, 2006

A few days ago when we were snorkeling we saw the strangest thing.  When the wind blows the boat back, it pulls the anchor line snubber straight; this causes the anchor chain to droop in a semi-circle down from the snubber line.  There were five squid aligned in the semi-circle of the anchor chain.  They were aligned perfectly in a line with the drooped section of the anchor chain and remained in that formation as the boat swung from side to side and the chain moved.  They stayed perfectly straight, up and down, with their eyes close to the anchor chain.  Reminded Judy of the scene in that Star Trek movie with the whales positioning themselves vertically in the water like that.   These five squid stayed in this perfect position for at least five minutes after we found them.  But by the time Bill decided to go back to the swim ladder to climb back aboard the boat to get the underwater camera, they began to disperse, leaving the anchor chain one at a time and slowly swimming away in a line. 

Neither of us has ever seen squid previously when snorkeling.  Each one was about 10-12 inches in length.  And, yes, we know that things underwater appear one-third larger than they really are. 

So now the bar has been set.  Every time Judy thinks maybe she wants to go swimming or snorkeling, she goes to the front of the boat and looks for those squid.  If they aren’t there (and they haven’t been back yet), then there must be something else extremely interesting in order to entice her into the water.  Otherwise, she just sits in the shade of the cockpit and reads a book; her favorite pastime. 

This afternoon she saw a ray that had a wingspan of at least four feet.  Of course, didn’t have the camera with her.  And, wow, could that thing move fast!

Judy just looked at our website.  GetJealous says that the weather here in Christmas Cove is 26C and thick clouds and fog.  Okay, the temperature might be near correct; it is 83.6F.  And it somewhat cloudy, but more blue sky showing than clouds in our opinions.  But there is absolutely no fog!!!  We have never seen fog in the Virgin Islands.  Don’t think that fog is even possible down here at this latitude.

A huge motor yacht anchored today at the perimeter of Christmas Cove.   The name is Dolce Far Niente, which is Italian for life of idleness.  We looked this yacht up on the internet.  The beam is more than 36 feet, which means she is wider than the length of many of the cruising boats here in this harbor.

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