Friday, December 22, 2006

Love shopping on St. Thomas

December 16, 2006   Saturday
American Yacht Harbor Marina, Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI

Happy Birthday, Trey!  Hard for us to believe that our eldest son is now 35 years old.  Heck, there are many days when we feel like we are still only 35 years old or even younger.   Of course, we reminded Trey that now he is only 15 years away from being 50 years old.

Today was another provisioning day.  We rode a safari bus to Tutu Park Mall to shop at K-Mart, along with what seemed like half the residents of St. Thomas doing their Christmas shopping.  Man it was crowded.  But we wanted a few items that could only be found there, so it was worth the long wait in the check-out lane.  Then we caught another safari bus down to Cost You Less for some warehouse shopping. 

Bill left Judy to do this shopping and he walked over to Home Depot to look for plastic storage bins in the proper sizes to fit beneath our cabin sole in the dry bilge storage areas.   There is an enormous amount of storage space down there, broken into 5 separate areas.  We feel that these spaces could be better utilized with different sized plastic storage bins.  You never want to put anything down there unless it is first placed into a plastic storage bin.  The rolling motion of a sailboat will cause beer or soda cans or bottles to leak in a very short time.  We learned this the hard way when we put a large bottle of Tide detergent down there back in Trinidad.  By the time we reached Puerto La Cruz a hole had been worn through the bottom of the bottle of Tide – and you know how heavy and thick those plastic bottles are.   It was a mess cleaning up all that spilled liquid detergent from 2-feet beneath the floor level.

The beer and soda cans are so thin that they will wear through in tiny holes within a couple of months.  And canned foods will rust even though there is no water down there; the salt air alone will cause rust.  Our cabinet lockers which are lined with natural wool prevent food cans from rusting because the salt air is absorbed so well inside the cabinets; but the under-sole areas are obviously not lined with this absorbent wool, it is just painted fiberglass down there.

Home Depot did not have the correct size bins that are needed for these storage spaces, but Bill did find some plastic tool boxes that will work just fine.  And they have handles on top so removal from beneath the floor will be easier on our backs and knees.

Late lunch at Molly Malone’s again, but no old friends appeared to surprise us there today.  Staying in a marina makes spending money so much easier; we need to get back on the hook before we waste our entire December budget before the month end.

Late this afternoon we took the ferry over to Cruz Bay, St. John.  The mailing service had one of the packages of light bulbs that we had ordered, plus a package from Bill’s brother John.  There were a couple of surprise items in the package from John – DVDs of movies that we have not yet seen.  There are still 2 or 3 more packages enroute; don’t know how long we will hang around the USVI waiting for them.

December 20, 2006  Wednesday
The Bight, Norman Island, BVI

We left the marina in Red Hook on Sunday afternoon and moved back to Christmas Cove.  Met up again with Tony and Janice on S/V Neshuma.  Then they left to return their boat to Nanny Cay marina; they are flying home to Dallas for Christmas.  They hope to meet up with us somewhere in the BVI when they return and they should be moving south down-island about the same time as us.  We will not buddy-boat with them because their boat is only 36-ft and ours is 53-ft; so we won’t travel at comparable speeds.  We average 7-plus knots and they average only 4 knots.   But we will run into one another as we move down the island chain in the spring.

This morning we pulled anchor and left Christmas Cove; just wanted to move about a bit.  While pulling the anchor chain we disturbed a huge ray.  It jumped at least six feet straight up out of the water, banked to its right, and went straight back down into the water.  Had a wingspan of five to six feet; most impressive.  Guess he had been laying over our anchor chain on the bottom.  Wish we could get photos of this type thing but that just isn’t possible; takes too long to turn on the camera and focus.  This is probably the fifth ray that we have seen fly out of the water here since we arrived in Christmas Cove last month.

Winds were from the east; right on our nose, of course; so we motored the entire way along the south side of St. John to The Bight at Norman Island in the BVI.  This is not a long distance.  We put a fishing line in the water because we saw so many fish trap markers that we thought it must be a good fishing area.  Didn’t get a nibble.

We picked up a mooring ball in The Bight.  Bill thought he wanted to remove the first few feet of our anchor chain because he thought it looked rusty, so obviously we needed to be on a mooring ball in order for him to have access to the anchor and the end of the chain.  After closer inspection, he decided that the chain did not need to be removed after all; there wasn’t all that much rust and it just brushed off.  We had thought about having the anchor chain re-galvanized when we were in Puerto La Cruz because they have the lowest prices for that type work; but decided that the chain really didn’t need it yet.  After inspecting it again today, we still believe that was the correct decision.  The chain is now four years old, but it really does not have much rust on it yet and the galvanizing still appears thick.  

Then we put the dinghy into the water and went ashore to Pirates Bar.   A friend of ours has been collecting “stuff” over the past twenty years that he has found while diving here.   These wreckage artifacts are supposedly displayed as a museum collection in the gift shop.  Unfortunately, the gift shop was closed and the bartender did not know when it would be open; so we missed seeing the collection on this visit.  We plan to return here while Theo, Teresa, Kristin and Lauren are visiting us next month.  Maybe we will have the opportunity to see this stuff then.

We chatted with the bartender and learned that the developer doing the work on Norman Island is the same man who owns Guana Island.  It costs 11k to 15k to rent a villa for a week on Guana Island.  He plans the same thing for Norman Island.  If this keeps up here in the BVI, there will be nowhere left for average folks to visit down here.

After a quick beer at Pirates we sailed over to Key Cay on the south side of Peter Island, where we anchored for the night.  We will never do that again!  We rolled the entire night long; so badly that we both slept in the cockpit because the motion was less pronounced there.  There was a very slight swell coming from the SE.  It didn’t look like much of anything, but the rolling motion in that tiny harbor anchored behind Key Cay was very uncomfortable.  However, even in all that rolling motion Judy was able to cook chicken enchiladas suizas for dinner.  That was a nice treat for Texans starved for a Mexican food fix.

December 21, 2006  Thursday

This morning we pulled anchor at first light and left that rolly Key Cay area.  Enough was enough! 

Winds were 070 true (110 apparent) at 6 to 10 knots all day; seas were flat.  Perfect conditions to fly the mizzen ballooner for a truly lovely sail up to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke.  We triple reefed the genoa, put up full mainsail and full mizzen sail; and then raised the mizzen ballooner.  This is a great sail; added 2 knots to our boat speed – we were doing 5 knots in that low wind.  It was just marvelous! 

However, when we reached the northwest point of West End at the cut between Tortola and Great Thatch island we came to a complete stop in the opposing current.  It is funny to have all sails up and full of wind and have the boat standing at a full stop.  We stayed in that position for a few minutes just to see if we would ever overcome the current, but the boat started making leeway towards Great Thatch; so we started the iron genny (engine) for just a minute in order to get us past that current point.  Then we proceeded on to Jost with our marvelous sail.

Fish sandwiches for lunch at Foxy’s.  This little beach bar/restaurant is not inexpensive.  A fish sandwich costs $12 and beer or a small plastic glass of diet Coke costs $5 each.  Lunch for two was $39.  Foxy was sitting around in the bar drinking but he did not perform; however, there was a young man playing guitar and singing and he was very, very good.  Played a lot of Van Morrison songs.  Later in the evening we returned to Foxy’s for a few drinks and the same guy was on stage again.  He is a much better musician and singer than Foxy, but we were sorry to miss out on the audience banter for which Foxy is so well known. 

We stopped to assist a young couple on a Sunsail charter boat anchored near us in Great Harbor.  Their batteries were dead, a common problem on charter boats.  The charter companies want to get the very last bit out of the batteries; can’t blame them for that.  But that means that it is not unusual for charter boats to encounter dead batteries while out on a charter.  The Sunsail boat eventually delivered new batteries to them late this afternoon.

December 22, 2006  Friday

Today’s plan is to go over to Cane Garden Bay.  Haven’t been there in years.  It has never been one of our favorite places because the wind is always blocked by the high mountain so it is a hot place.  But there is a slight chill to the breeze and the temp is only 81F this morning, so we are going over there to see if anything has changed during the past five years.   Then we plan to go back to Christmas Cove probably tomorrow and spend Christmas Day there.

BTW, someone is doing major development on Little St. James Island (just south of Great St. James Island where Christmas Cove is located).  They are putting some major bucks into that island.


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