Thursday, January 12, 2017

Old Year's Night

 It is called New Year's Eve all over the world but in the BVI and sometimes in the USVI this night is observed as Old Year's Night.  This year we enjoyed an impromptu mini-celebration aboard BeBe with 'new' cruisers John and Cat Fearnow, owners of catamaran Heaven, to raise a toast to the end of 2016 and welcome in 2017.  True to cruiser form, our celebration ended well before midnight.  But we did share a bottle of Moet & Chandon, followed by a steak dinner.  As always, enjoying the conversation made the evening.  Glad they joined us.

How the fender covers used to look
Recently while moored in Soper's Hole at West End of Tortola we rented a car for a day. Having a rental car allowed us to visit a few very old friends at The Moorings and Sunsail base in Road Town.  We very much enjoyed chatting with them and also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant there.  The base has changed a lot since Sunsail was moved to the same location as The Moorings, and their secondary charter company Footloose vacated the area to allow more expansion room for Sunsail.  And The Moorings has expanded by addition of 2 more long docks toward a newer seawall. The staff have their hands full maintaining operation of both these charter company brands.  Quite the fleets!  And the director of operations told us they still had 40 more boats laid up in the hurricane hole area because have no space for them at the docks.  It appears that the lower valuation of both the British Pound and the Euro has greatly affected the charter business this high season, as there are fewer boats out on charter at a time of year when both Sunsail and Moorings are often fully-booked.  This portends of bad financial news for all the businesses in the BVI and somewhat in the USVI.

How the fender covers look today.  Terribly chewed up
by the docks at the marina
While exiting Road Town to drive back to Soper's Hole we picked up a couple of hitch-hikers.  We could tell they were cruisers (we are all easily identifiable by our well-worn and very casual clothing), so had no qualms about giving a ride to these strangers.  Turns out they were Canadians who had planned to be in St. Martin by now but due to the high easterly winds they were 'stuck' in the BVI.  They had to go into Road Town to request visa extensions.  We were happy to help them out with a ride back to West End.  But they would have to wait while we stopped at the Island Department Store to shop for duffle bags.  Turns out they were not familiar with this store and were as delighted as we were to discover it. Wish we had known about this department store years ago as it sold things not found anywhere else in the BVI.  Including the duffle bags we had just about given up hope of finding.

We dropped the 2 cruisers off near the dinghy dock next to Customs and Immigration in West End and on the spur-of-the-moment decided to see where another road might lead us. This very narrow road led us up the mountain, where near the top the road deteriorated horribly.  The rental vehicle was a small SUV, thank goodness; so it was able to navigate the very rough terrain.  The road was washed out in many places; very steep inclines; and very narrow.  We did not encounter any other vehicles until near the sea level on the northern side of the mountain.  We were on a search for the hotel where we stayed in January 1984 after a week sail on the Windjammer ship named Flying Cloud.  And we found it!

It still amazes me that I booked us into small hotel so off the beaten track.  This was during the pre-internet days!  However did I find out about Sebastian's on the Beach!  It is a small and very casual beach hotel situated on Apple Bay and pretty isolated.  Bill was working himself to death that year and I wanted to give him a couple of weeks away from everything.  These were the days before fax machines and cell phones and I wanted him to have a break from all things job related.  So I booked us for a week aboard the Flying Cloud, followed by a week at this small isolated beach hotel.  Turned out to be a great choice.
Sebastian's on the Beach

Judy cleaning. 
I did not want to turn around and return via the awful road back over that mountain, so we continued onward toward Cane Garden Bay.  Which is another place for which we have many wonderful memories from many visits spanning over 30 years.  And it looked like really nothing has changed.  That famous tire swing on the beach was lost years ago...but has been replaced by another tire swing on another leaning palm tree on a different place on the beach.  Myett's is still Myett's.  And Callwood Rum is the same as it has always been. The beautiful cute little 5-year-old girl who gave us such a detailed tour of the distillery is now a grown woman with children of her own.  But the family distillery is same as ever.

Once a year we remove the microwave and clean
behind it.  Today was the day.
We drove onward, back up over the tallest mountain on Tortola (on a much better road this direction!), and back down the mountain, ending up back on the same road just west of Road Town where we had picked up the hitchhiker's earlier in the afternoon.  From there we again headed west and stopped off in Nanny Cay to check out Cay Electronics to discuss that B&G wind instrument which continued to give us grief intermittently.  That turned out to be a wasted effort as Cay Electronics was booked and referred us back to the same riggers we had already contacted.  Astounds us that hiring someone can be so difficult!  (Turned out to be for the best.)

We had just enough time to fill-up the gas tank and return the car before the rental agency office closed for the day.  This had been a very enjoyable day roaming around the island.  Sorry, no photos because I forgot to bring my camera.  Bill was busy driving and I do not use his cell phone for photos.

It was time to replace a few of our batteries.  We had bought 6 batteries in Montenegro which were dual-purpose batteries rather than the marine variety which were not available in that country.  We bought what we could get knowing these would not last as long as the proper marine batteries.  These lasted 2 1/2 years so we were not disappointed in their performance.  Two of the 6 had developed internal shorts; so we planned to replace all 6.  The 6 marine batteries which we had purchased earlier in Turkey were still perfectly good.  Bill notified the buyers of BeBe about the battery situation and the new owner asked us to replace all 13 batteries so he could start fresh and he would pay 1/2 the cost.  The 13 batteries had been ordered a few weeks earlier and were ready for delivery, so we took the boat into American Yacht Harbor for a night.

Bill and I are too old now to deal with lifting 13 batteries up out of the battery compartment, up the companionway steps, over the cockpit seats, over the life rail and down to the dock.  Each battery weighs nearly 100-lbs.  That means 1300 pounds up and 1300 pounds down! We have done this ourselves but this time we paid 2 younger and muscular men to handle this heavy lifting.  In the heat of the Caribbean.  They were both dripping sweat with every movement.  But the delivery went smoothly and they carted off the old batteries.  A job well done!  We stayed at the dock overnight to allow the new batteries to fully charge to float.

While in the marina we enjoyed dinner ashore as a rare treat.  Next morning we shopped Moe's Supermarket and stocked up a bit.  This market is better than I remembered it.  Now stocks just about everything one might want.  High prices, of course, but at least they have whatever you need or want as long as willing to fork over that price.  The only negative about our 1-night stay at the AYH marina is that the docks are badly in need of repair and literally ate up our fender covers.  This now is an IGY marina and certain standards are expected and should be met.  Those docks are sadly in need of repair or replacement.

Judy fell in love with this 40-ft Nordhavn moored next
to us for a few days in Francis Bay.
(No; we are not seriously in the market for another boat.)
Back on a mooring in calm Francis Bay Bill went back up the mast several more times.  I think the wind instrument finally is working correctly once again.  Bill realized that each time it reported erratic readings was shortly after a heavy downpour; thus, he deduced that it was getting water intrusion somehow.  Sure enough, the sensor was missing a tiny 'spacer' between 2 gaskets.  Just enough to allow a few drops of water when winds blew heavy rain. The darn spacer could not have been more than 1/64th inch wide!  Bill fixed that little problem and (fingers crossed!!) the wind instrument has worked fine ever since -- even after heavy rains.

Last evening our friends Pam and Larry Shelton aboard Southern Girl arrived back in Francis Bay.  They and their guests visited us for a few hours for sundowners aboard BeBe and we enjoyed chatting.  Their friends also are ex-boaters; they sold their boat last year and  talk about it as if they still owned it.  Hard to make that adjustment to no longer owning a beloved boat.  I can relate; giving up BeBe is going to be a MAJOR adjustment for me.

Southern Girl left the bay this morning.  There are 2 other Texas boats in USVI right now and we hope to catch up with them soon -- Dos Libras and Adventurous Us 2.  We returned to American Yacht Harbor on today.  The new owners of BeBe arrive this evening and we decided being docked in a marina would make transfer of lots of luggage easier.  We will enjoy sailing with the new owners until January 27.  The first week, however, might be a bit too rough as a major cold front passes through and is predicted to cause high winds and large swell for almost a full week.

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