Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve, Trellis Bay

December 31, 2006
New Year’s Eve, Trellis Bay, BVI

Glad we did this --- it was fun.  We ate dinner on the boat because De Loose Mongoose wasn’t answering VHF hails from anyone all day, and we really did not want to have dinner at The Last Resort or the Marina Cay restaurant.   Food on our boat is better than either of those places.   We didn’t know what to expect at Trellis Bay as we have never done this New Year’s Eve celebration there.   As it turned out, there was lots of food available there on the beach; and we wished that we hadn’t already eaten.  One guy was cooking barbeque chicken and ribs and it smelled wonderful.  Looked and smelled almost like the barbeque back in Texas.  (Judy would probably pay $30 for a barbeque sandwich from Strack’s these days, as well as their unique potato salad.)  We miss the foods from back home.

Around 8:30 p.m. we took the dinghy across the channel to Trellis Bay.  We were the only idiots who did this, but we felt perfectly safe because we have done this before.  Just had to deal with 3-ft waves across the 2 mile channel; we knew we would get wet doing this, and we did.  Tomorrow is laundry so it didn’t matter if we got salt water on our clothes, won’t have time for the salt to cause to mildew.  When we got back home we both stood at the bottom of the companionway, stripped off our wet clothes and threw them in a pile up in the cockpit.  Figuring that it might rain during the night and rinse out some of the salt water residue.

Bill had inquired at the Marina Cay fuel dock if the ferry would be operating to Trellis Bay for the evening but he never got a straight answer.  So we opted to take our dinghy instead of chancing getting stuck over there with no ferry to return to our boat.  Our daughter-in-law, Kristina, will remember this trip; it was her first experience with boating back in 1997.  She arrived at the airport late one night and Bill picked her up in a dinghy and brought her across the channel to the charter boat that we had anchored behind Marina Cay.   She was a real trouper and never said if she was scared by this channel trip or not.  It can be a little exciting to be out there in a little dinghy.

Anyone considering coming to this area for New Year’s Eve needs to remember that they must arrive a couple of days early.  Both anchorages were full to the brim by noon on December 30.  By afternoon on December 31 it was very difficult to find a spot to anchor.  There were at least 20 boats anchored outside of Trellis Bay, even inside the yellow buoy markers for the airport zone.  They were actually anchored out in the channel.  We would never have left our boat anchored out there.  Of course, many of these were charter boats and charter customers don’t have a vested interest in the safety of the boat like we owners do.

As you can see from the photos we have uploaded, the New Year’s Eve celebration on the beach at Trellis Bay has grown into a real island event.  There were several bands on the beach, ranging from pretty bad to very good.  Crowd ranged in age from infants to us old farts, most seemed to be fairly young—--early twenties.  Probably because so many young people come down to the BVI with their parents for Christmas vacation. 

One artist had constructed The Burning Man and mounted him atop the metal globe sculpture that is in the water off the beach in front of the Aragon Artist Studio in Trellis Bay.  There was a pyramid metal sculpture on the left side of the globe and a square sculpture on the right.  The plan was to set all three aflame at midnight, which did happen; but it looked for a few hours that the plan wasn’t going to come off perfectly.  The winds kicked up and blew The Burning Man into the water at the beach edge.  Eventually the artist responsible for the construction of this piece arrived.  He felt certain that he could salvage The Burning Man and get him remounted on the globe before midnight.  He asked several people who were standing around to help him pull The Burning Man out of the water; Bill helped drag it up onto the sand.   This Burning Man was at least 20 feet tall and constructed mostly out of palm fronds, and it was heavy once it had soaked up all that seawater.  But the artist did get everything fixed up and the three sculptures were set ablaze at midnight as planned, to the delight of the crowd.

It was a good time and we would do it again.  But next time we would arrive in Trellis Bay at least by morning of December 28 or 29 and grab a mooring ball.  Would have been really nice to be moored over there and certainly more convenient with a shorter dinghy ride to shore.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Visitors!! Theo, Teresa, Lauren and Kristin are here.

December 26-28, 2006
Christmas Cove

These three days have been spent doing what cruisers are supposed to do: routine boat chores, reading, snorkeling, and just enjoying the peaceful beauty of the clear waters. 

The roller-furler for the genoa had started making a bumping noise when being rolled in and obviously was getting jammed at the top of the forestay.  This was caused because the sail was not properly re-installed when the genoa solar shield panel was replaced late last year.  The marina where the boat was berthed at the time had handled this work with the sail loft (since we weren’t available to handle it ourselves); we don’t know which party was responsible for re-installing the genoa.  But, whoever it was, they didn’t get the sail into the track properly at the lower end of the forestay.  Bill had noticed this months ago, but it had never caused any problems so we had left it alone; figuring that we would install it correctly when we find someone to clean and inspect the sail for any normal wear and tear.  Unfortunately, the sail wouldn’t wait that long and began to jam.  We had tried to remedy this problem when in The Bight last week but were unable to budge the sail down at all.  We continued to use the sail but decided on our most recent downwind sail back to Christmas Cove that we would not attempt to unfurl this sail again, afraid that it might not roll up if used again.  We contacted Richardson’s Rigging to do this job but they were closed until January 4.

So early on a very calm morning before the wind had started to build with the heat of the day, we decided to try again ourselves to get the genoa unjammed.  We released the halyard that is used to raise the genoa and put a couple of meters slack in the line and cleated off that halyard (wouldn’t want the sail to fall all the way down when the jam comes loose).  Then we unfurled the genoa and cleated the starboard sheet at the bow to keep wind from blowing it out fully.  Then we took the remaining port side genoa sheet and ran it through a shackle that would normally be used to fly a spinnaker; then ran the sheet to a winch on the mast.  Bill cranked the winch until eventually the jammed genoa sail released from the top of the forestay. 

At this time the wind decided to suddenly start to build, of course; you know something always has to happen to make a simple job more difficult.   But since we had cleated off the halyard with only a couple meters slack, this saved the genoa from falling completely down.  As it was, the sail barely missed hitting the water off the starboard side of the bow before we were able to raise it in the track correctly, this time stopping at the proper height and not jamming all the way into the top of the forestay.  All’s well that ends well.  The sail is now installed correctly; works smoothly again.  And we gained a little maintenance experience.  So glad to get the sail working correctly again since we have guests arriving next week.  Would hate to not be able to use a foresail all week when Theo and his family are visiting us.

Another day Judy was snorkeling and tried the underwater camera for the first time.  She saw a large spotted eagle ray; the tail on that thing was longer than Bill is tall; it was well over six feet long.  And it can move really fast!  A little later she saw the spotted eagle ray being followed by a Southern stingray, and they were both being followed by a Yellow stingray.  It was fun to watch them chasing each other around; biggest first, followed by the medium sized ray, followed by the smallest ray.   Judy tried taking pictures of them, but they were too far down and much too fast.   She also saw some Bluehead wrasse, Creole wrasse, Dusky squirrelfish, Rock beauties, Blue hamlets and Harlequin bass.  And Butter hamlets or juvenile Tangs; can’t tell those apart from one another.  Didn’t see any parrotfish, which is a little surprising because they seem to be the most common fish in the Virgins.  Did see a large group of some type of unidentified fish; they are not shown on our Fishwatcher’s Field Guide.  They had a long spike on their little noses, like tiny swordfish; but they were only about 8-10 inches in body length with about 3-4-inch spike or needle sticking straight out front, light gray in body color, with a very thin yellow line down their sides.  Interesting little fish; never seen them before. 

Buying the fancy-dancy camera was probably a mistake.  It is impossible to focus that camera on anything underwater.  The fish move too quickly and the swell of the ocean moves the person and camera too much.  Plus looking at the camera display screen underwater through a snorkel mask is next to impossible, especially with all the movement.  Maybe it would work better if one were diving rather than snorkeling.  We deleted all but 3 of the 89 pictures she tried to take underwater.  And these 3 that we kept are not very good; just some black urchins (which are in Christmas Cove by the hundreds of thousands) and some brain coral.

December 29, 2006  Friday
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
18.26.491N; 64.45.053W

Raised anchor this morning and motored over to St. John.  Five of the eight packages we are expecting had arrived at the mailing service.  They have very limited storage space and don’t like to hold packages, so we decided to go get the five now rather than wait for the remaining three. 

We have been so lucky getting mooring balls when we go to St. John.  There are only 3 mooring balls near the end of the point around the corner from Cruz Bay. Each time we have arrived at the mooring ball field east of Caneel Bay, someone was leaving just as we arrived.  So each time we have been able to snag one of the first three mooring balls closest to the point.  Makes the dinghy ride into Cruz Bay shorter.  Then we sailed over to Jost Van Dyke.  (and now we are sort of legal again, as we were still checked into the BVI).

When we were about 2/3 of the way to Jost, a large rainstorm advanced from the east.  Now, we know that most sailors aren’t this cautious; but when we see a dark rainstorm approaching, we douse the sails.  Sometimes we will just triple reef the genoa and mainsail, but usually we douse all sails.  So, following our normal practice we took in all the sails.  Noticed that the boat sailing under full sail off to our port side did not follow suit;  he remained under full sail.  A few minutes later we bet he was wishing that he had followed our lead and doused the sails because the winds were suddenly solid 30 knots and he was laid over much too far for comfort.  The storm only lasted about five minutes and blew over. 

We rev’d the engine higher and got our butts over into Great Harbor before the next rainstorm arrived.   It began to rain again as we were setting our anchor.   But we can set the anchor from the cockpit, lucky dogs that we are.  Bill waited until the rain had stopped and then snubbed the anchor, and we went ashore to Foxy’s for lunch.  Great grouper sandwiches, again.  No entertainment this afternoon however. 

Great Harbor is already beginning to fill up with boats – all here to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  We had planned to stop here only for lunch and then to sail on eastward to Marina Cay, because we plan to spend New Year’s Eve at Trellis Bay.  Probably anchor at Marina Cay and take the dinghy over to Trellis Bay, depending on the weather.  Anyway, now that we are anchored in Great Harbor, it looks like we will just spend the night here and go on eastward tomorrow.   Another boat has anchored and fallen back to lie directly over where our anchor is set.  So, we will just deal with that situation tomorrow morning. 

Looks like it will be raining all afternoon, so why go out in the boat.  Better to just sit here at anchor, play on the computer, and sort through all the goodies that we received in the boxes we picked up at St. John.  It feels like Christmas morning.  We have new stuff!  And lots of mail to sort through.

BTW, three large dolphin (porpoises) just surfaced right beside our anchored boat.  Don’t think we have ever seen dolphin in Great Harbor before.

December 31, 2006  Sunday
Marina Cay, BVI
18.27.764N; 64.31.624W

There were 58 boats in Great Harbor when we left yesterday morning – all awaiting the New Year’s Eve bash at Foxy’s.  We motored directly into the wind to Marina Cay.  Many boats were sailing it, but it just didn’t seem worth tacking 50 times to get here; that’s why these boats have engines in them.  Trellis Bay was already full of boats by noon yesterday.  People arrive a day or two early for the New Year’s celebrations in both Great Harbor and Trellis Bay.  We decided to anchor at Marina Cay and take the dinghy over to Trellis tonight.  All the mooring balls at Marina Cay were filled by noon Saturday.  But we had planned to anchor anyway so it didn’t affect us. 

Saw another dolphin (porpoise) in the cut beneath Monkey Cay at Guana Island.  But he didn’t play with the boat, just surfaced a couple of times and then disappeared.  There were a LOT of boats on the water yesterday.  Moorings boats seemed to dominate; many more of Moorings than any other charter company out the past few days.  One old-fashioned little dark boat flying a pirate flag really looked like a pack of pirates.  The little boat was from Key West.  Real salty dogs on that deck!

By noon today there were about 2 dozen boats anchored here at Marina Cay.  Most appear to be larger private charter boats or owner boats.  WiFi connection is not working with enough signal for us to access internet; surprised because we had a good WiFi signal when we were anchored in the same spot a couple of weeks ago.

Hey!! Bill just found another case of Polar beer from Venezuela!  He was pulling out the bread machine for the first time in many months and found a case of beer stashed beneath it.  Need to make bread; so can make some bread crumbs; so can make meatballs; so can cook the Italian sausage and make some great spaghetti sauce.  Trying to pre-cook a dinner or two before Theo and family arrive Wednesday evening.  That way we can spend time chatting instead of Judy being stuck in the galley so much while they are here. 

Kind of getting to the basics when you first must bake bread in order to make bread crumbs because there aren’t any stores around.  Reminds us of other cruisers we know who make their own hamburger buns and hotdog buns.  We haven’t reached that point yet.

So now Theo and Teresa and their two college-aged daughters will get to sample Venezuelan beer.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day in Christmas Cove

December 25, 2006  Monday
Christmas Day in Christmas Cove

To everyone who received a Christmas ecard from us:  sorry for any confusion; obviously we are not in the San Blas Islands as the card stated.  We had scheduled those cards to be sent on Christmas Eve while we were still in Bonaire, before we made our spur-of-the-moment decision to skip the San Blas Islands for now and to again do the Leewards and Windwards.

After our last update we visited Cane Garden Bay; sailed around awhile on the north side of Tortola; came back between Sandy Cay and Green Cay; and anchored in a spot that we don’t tell anyone about.  If we tell anyone then other people will start anchoring there and we will lose one of our favorite anchoring spots. 

The sail from Little Jost Van Dyke to Cruz Bay, St. John on Saturday was really nice – downwind and following seas; just like it is supposed to be.  We stopped at Cruz Bay to check with the mailing service; the light bulb from Australia still has not arrived.  We picked up a few provisions at the Dolphin Market, the most over-priced store around.  Seems like almost every item in that store is $6.95 – whether you are buying lettuce, picante sauce, oatmeal, salt or bread.  The prices only go up from there, but almost nothing is priced less than $6.95.  But they do have the “luxury” items that are usually not available elsewhere, so one must pay the price for those luxuries.

“All at Sea” (a freebie magazine down here) had a short article in the December issue about how Christmas Cove got its name and some local traditions.  The following is the basic information from that article but is not verbatim.

Fifty-two years ago, a small raft-up of charter boats set the scene for this bay at Great St. James Island to forever be known as “Christmas Cove.”  There were only three charter boats back in the mid-50’s.  One of them belonged to Rudy Thompson, who was a long time Virgin Islands resident and participant in that first holiday raft-up.  His boat was the 40-ft Windsong.  Back then, there were only two guesthouses in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, Smith’s Fancy and Higgin’s Gate; and that is where most of the charter guests stayed.  The charter boats were not bare boat charters, each was crewed.  The charter boats would pick up the guests on the waterfront and sail from Charlotte Amalie up to Great St. James.  That was always the first stop.  If the guests were seasick, a swim and short rest would make them feel better so they could then sail over to Trunk Bay on St. John for the first overnight.  (This should sound familiar to the two people who accompanied us on our first four charters here in the Virgins in the 1980’s.)

In December 1954, Rudy Thompson and a fellow charter captain decided to tie Christmas trees to their masts.  The festivity drew the third charter boat that joined the raft-up at Great St. James for a Christmas Day party.  The cove was not yet named at that point in time.  Thompson said, “We had three different boats, three different dinners and drinks on board each one.  We just hopped from one boat to another.  It was a great party.”

Onboard one of the boats was a journalist from “Sports Illustrated.”  He subsequently wrote an article, coining the term “Christmas Cove” for the tiny bay where the holiday partying took place.  Over the next four to five years, raft-ups continued, growing up to ten yachts, both charter and private sailboats.  The festive affairs were a bright spot of holiday cheer in literally a deserted setting.  At that time there was only one house on the hill over Red Hook.  According to Thompson, you could look out for hours without seeing another boat.

Then, the holiday raft-ups stopped.  The Virgin Islands really started to change in the early 1960’s.  Things started to boom – shops opened up like crazy and business was booming and people just didn’t take the time over the holidays for the sail over to Great St. James and the raft-up.

A few years later, a Coast Guard cartographer asked Thompson for the name of the bay on Great St. James.  “I told him it was Christmas Cove.  Wouldn’t you know, the next official map that came out had Christmas Cove marked on it.”

Fast-forward to the 1980’s, and St. Thomas Yacht Club members revamped the practice of rafting up in Christmas Cove to spend the day.

Judy counted the boats in Christmas Cove on Christmas Day 2006.  At 3:00 p.m., there were 52 boats anchored or rafted in this tiny cove.  They ranged in size from 12-ft to 110-ft.  Most left before dark, but a few remained overnight; and one large power boat partied well into the night.  Only a few were decorated with holiday tinsel or lights, but the bikini clad beauties were decoration enough.  One group set up a party station on the tiny beach, where dinghies visited throughout the day for keg beer and food. 

Since we didn’t know any of these people, we were observers rather than participants.  Still, it was a very peaceful Christmas Day in beautiful surroundings.  What more could you ask for.

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.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Visiting Never Never Land

December 8, 2006   Friday

Dinner last night on M/V Never Never Land with Ron and Janis was very nice.  Janis served a fantastic spaghetti; a recipe that she learned from Ron’s mother, who learned it from the Italian women that she worked with in the New York area.  That sauce must take all day to cook and included meatballs and sausages.  Fantastic!  Their Hatteras is more like a true home than a yacht.  They have 3 full bedrooms with bathrooms that have regular size bathtubs and regular size beds; nothing like most boats.  They also have a normal full-size electric stove and full-size refrigerator; unheard of on most boats.  The engine room is like what you might expect to see on a small ship, and Ron keeps it immaculate.  Their furniture is regular full-size furniture that is bolted down, including a leather sofa with recliners built into each end.  It is truly a luxury way to enjoy boating.  Except that the helm room is located very high and towards the front of the boat, which allows good views of everything but also accentuates all movement.  Judy would probably stay seasick in that helm room.

There was a gorgeous full rainbow this morning before we left Christmas Cove.  Judy took way too many photos of it.  It is just so unusual to actually see a complete rainbow and especially one so close and so vibrantly colored.

We motored over to Cruz Bay and collected our small box of boat parts from Amel.  Picked up a few fresh veggies and fruits and treats at the supermarket there.  Bought tee shirts for the grandkids and mailed them off.  Then we spent the rest of the day sailing back and forth between St. John and Jost Van Dyke, BVI.  We made it into Soper’s Hole on Tortola to clear BVI Customs and Immigration before they closed for the day.  Treated ourselves to dinner at the Jolly Roger and brought back leftovers for another meal tomorrow.  Judy was hoping that they would have their special of crispy bacon and mango pizza with crushed red pepper flakes, but it was not available today.  Darn!  And she was really looking forward to that strange pizza again.  It was very good when she had it last year.

We talked to a guy who does fiberglass and gel coat repair and arranged for him to repair the five tiny chips that are spread around our boat.  We are supposed to meet him here in Soper’s Hole on Sunday morning for him to begin that work.

December 9, 2006  Saturday

It was too beautiful a day to sit on a mooring ball in Soper’s Hole (plus we really have an aversion to paying $25 - $30 per night for a mooring ball), so we left this morning as soon as we bought our freshly baked French bread for the day.  Love that little store for hot, fresh breads each morning. 

We sailed on the north side of Tortola for awhile and then stopped at Marina Cay for lunch – on the boat of course.  Marina Cay is a tiny island that was donated by Laurence Rockefeller to the BVI with the stipulation that it must remain a park.  It is a lovely place with crystal white sands and clear blue-green waters and reef around 3 sides.  But it also has millions and millions of sand fleas, which Judy is highly allergic to; so we don’t get off the boat at Sandy Cay.

The sail from Sandy Cay to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke was really nice.  We sailed wing-on-wing --- which is the genoa to one side of the boat and the mainsail to the other side of the boat.  Since Security is a ketch, we also have a mizzen sail – which we put on the same side as the genoa.  We were doing 5 knots in 6 knots of apparent wind.  This is a particularly calm point of downwind sailing that is really enjoyable as long as the weather isn’t too hot, as you cannot feel any breeze whatsoever.  The boat is moving with the speed of the wind.

At Great Harbor we unknowingly anchored right next to a couple that we had met in Soper’s Hole yesterday evening.  They are Jim and Barbara on S/V Koshari.  Bill invited them over for sundowners and we enjoyed visiting a bit.

December 10, 2006  Sunday

Jim came over first thing this morning and said they were going to sail up to Gorda Sound, even though the winds were predicted to be 20-25 knots from the east.  Bill thought this also sounded like a good idea and said we might see them there later in the afternoon.  Yeah, right.

Winds were directly on our nose when we exited Great Harbor.  Rather than tack for hours getting nowhere, we decided to motor to Cane Garden Bay and then sail from there.  We sailed for about 4 hours toward Anegada and trailed 2 fishing lines.  Didn’t catch a thing, even using the real flying fish that we had saved in our freezer after they landed on our deck during our passage from Bonaire.  Bill then calculated how long it was going to take us to eventually reach Gorda Sound, and we decided that it just was not worth it.  Beating into high winds is tiring. 

Koshari had tacked toward Monkey Point at least an hour before we gave up and tacked toward Lee Bay on Great Camanoe island.  Koshari radioed us as we were approaching Camanoe, and we told them that we planned to anchor for the night in Lee Bay; so they decided to join us.  They came over for dinner, and while we were eating dinner the swell started moving in.  This was not predicted and not a good thing. 

After they returned to their boat later in the evening, Bill decided that he felt somewhat responsible for them being anchored there with us.  If the winds were to die during the night and the swell continue to build, then our anchors might lose their holding.  So Bill spent the night sitting in the cockpit watching out for both our boats.  Judy came up and slept in the cockpit because the swell was making too much noise slapping our stern for her to sleep in the aft cabin.  But the night passed uneventfully, thank goodness.

December 11, 2006  Monday

At first light we pulled anchor and moved to a mooring ball in Trellis Bay.  Friends that we had met in Venezuela have a private mooring in Trellis Bay.  They had said we could use it.  But we found that another boat was on their mooring and that the owner of that boat had left the country, so we were out of luck for this chance of a free mooring.  So we moved over to Marina Cay and found a perfect spot to anchor – just north of the mooring ball field at Marina Cay between Great Camanoe island and Scrub Island.  We like it here so much that we have put up our shade awning and plan to stay several days.

S/V Koshari also is now on a mooring ball here at Marina Cay.  They came for the internet.  They invited us over for sundowners.  Jim has retired and they plan to cruise the Caribbean for a few years as soon as their house in Phoenix sells, which might take awhile.  But Jim retired from America West, so they can fly almost free of charge and they can easily continue to commute to their boat as they move down the Caribbean.

A small power boat marina is being built on Scrub Island.  We had first learned of this new development when at the Miami Boat Show in 2004.  The developer obtained permission from the BVI government to blast out the reef in order to build this marina and some condos.  Don’t know who he paid off, but that is a terrible idea!  The last thing this area needs is a bunch of power boats zooming all over the place.  Imagine, killing all that reef just for power boats to park there.

We are just sitting here, doing nothing but watching the charter boat people and reading our books. 

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Another birthday

December 7, 2006   Thursday
Judy’s birthday

This time she really is 58.  Some of you might remember that for the first eight months of this year that Judy thought she was 58, only to realize in late August that she really was 57.  Not that a year makes any difference when you get this age.

Bill took the dinghy over to Benner Bay and bought his favorite cake for Judy’s birthday.  Sounds just like him, doesn’t it?  He also bought her a few birthday gifts – from Budget Marine, of course.  She received the oil discharge and garbage dumping and no drugs plaques that are required by the US Coast Guard to be posted on all vessels in US waters.   And she was pleased to receive these little signs so now if we happen to get boarded for a Coastie inspection then we will be legal.  Haven’t we both gotten romantic in our old age. 

Our entertainment of the day was a day boat that held a wedding, complete with white wedding gown and veil.  They anchored right in front of us, performed the ceremony, ate some cake, drank some drinks, a few guys swam fully dressed, and then they left.  Nice of them to provide us with this entertainment.

Ron and Janis have invited us over for dinner tonight.  So Judy will be treated to dinner on her birthday.  And get to see the inside of a liveaboard Hatteras.

Our latest parts shipment from Amel has arrived at the mailing service in St. John.  So we will be heading over to Cruz Bay to collect that parcel tomorrow.  Then we want to sail a bit; we have stayed in one place as long as we can tolerate.  It is time for a change of scenery, even if it is only a few miles away.  We likely won’t have internet service for a few days, so this website probably won’t be updated again until sometime next week.

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday time of the year.

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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Still at Christmas Cove.

November 30, 2006  Thursday
Still at Christmas Cove.

It has been a few days since we updated our log and we have already forgotten whatever we have done during those few days.  Guess that means we haven’t done much.

We did inflate the kayak and tried kayaking on a calm afternoon here in the anchorage.  That was a joke!  Bill has learned that if he continues to criticize the way Judy does something, then he gets to do it all by himself.  No matter how she paddled the kayak, Bill thought she was doing something wrong.  So she just held the paddle out of the water and let him handle maneuvering the kayak.  He got to do all the work and she got to enjoy just gliding along with no effort.  We haven’t tried the kayak again because the winds have picked up quite a bit.  Winds this strong would surely capsize that kayak, or at least blow it beyond our ability to control or paddle.

Snorkeling is better than we expected.  There are still thousands of black sea urchins in Christmas Cove; that hasn’t changed in 20 years.  There are also lots various kinds of rays.  Judy has seen 2 rays jump out of the water.  That is so strange to see.  Most of the coral is bleached and dead, but there are a few small spots of coral that still has color.  It does not compare with Bonaire.  Of course, we never seem to remember to bring the underwater digital camera with us when we snorkel; and once in the water neither of us is willing to take off the fins and climb back aboard to fetch the camera.  So – still no underwater photos.

Oh!  There are deer on St. James island.  Judy had seen them three times so Bill just assumed she was seeing goats or something.  Then he also saw them – for 3 afternoons in a row; so now he is willing to admit that they really are deer.  There are 3 of them that come down near the beach every afternoon about 4:30 – 5:00 as long as there aren’t a bunch of people around.  We tried to get photos of them, but they are too far away from where we are anchored.  If we took the dinghy closer then they probably would be frightened and wouldn’t come out.  They go to this particular big bush and eat leaves each day.  We cannot imagine how in the world deer got onto this island.  And what are they doing for fresh water?  There is no known source of fresh water on this island.  Really strange.  But they look pretty healthy, so there must be sufficient fresh water and food for them here.

On one of our trips across the channel to Independent Boat Yard we visited Budget Marina and purchased one of those suction-cup handles.  It sticks to the side of the hull so we can clean along the waterline and stay close to the boat.  We could also just hold onto a line cleated to the deck, but then you swing away from the boat and it makes cleaning difficult.  This little suction handle device works well.  We scraped off all the bits of marine growth that always seem to grow just at the waterline.  The bottom of the boat still looks clean, so the bottom paint is working well.  (Micron 66 for those who are considering new bottom paint in warm weather seas)

Someone asked what fishing tackle we use.  We use a Cuban Reel.  No reason to have a lot of fishing tackle taking up space.  It is just a reel of heavy line attached to a bungee cord.  We use a tandem lure where a yellow lure with a big hook chases a brown decoy lure that skips on top of the water.  We trail this about 70 meters behind the boat when we are sailing.  The bungee cord is placed either around a winch or around the throttle knob at the helm.  When a fish strikes, the bungee cord bounces the spool of line all around.  Then we don fishing gloves and pull in the line; gaff the fish; and haul it aboard.  Most of the cruisers we have met use similar arrangements.  Works just fine and doesn’t take up a lost of space.

Today we wanted to go over to Jost Van Dyke to Foxy’s for lunch.  But we just never got around to it.  Maybe tomorrow.  (It is getting easier and easier to have this attitude about almost everything)  Instead, we just sat around and watched the day boats bring snorkelers to this anchorage.  Also watched one charter boat get towed away back to St. Thomas, presumably back to the base for repairs.  Our entertainment for the day.  We call this HBO-W.  Home Boys on the Water.  Better entertainment than watching a television. 

One of the large catamaran day boats is rigged in the strangest manner.  It has 2 masts of even height, like a schooner.  Anyone ever heard of a cat-schooner?  We haven’t.  And it has an inner foresail.  And a weird boom for a furled mainsail; it just swings freely from side to side, like a self-tacking staysail.  And this huge catamaran is powered by a single little outboard engine that is placed beneath the bridge deck.

Of course, Bill’s favorite pastime is to identify the “best of show” on each day boat.  In case you can’t figure that out, it means the prettiest girl in the tiniest bikini on each boat.  Some boats definitely do not have a “best of show” aboard!  Gosh, we Americans are fat.  From the looks of most of these people, they must be from northern climates; as many of them are extremely pale.  But occasionally there is a true best of show who stands out from all the others.

Winds have been gusting to 30-35 for two days.  Supposedly the seas are 7-12 feet, but we haven’t been out of this anchorage to confirm that.  Maybe tomorrow we will actually go over to Foxy’s for lunch.  It would be strong winds on the nose, so we would motor there; but should have a fast sail back down here.  The winds have set up a lot of rolling here in the anchorage, so we are looking for a bit of diversion and a rollicking sail sounds nice.  We are hanging around this anchorage for several reasons.  One reason is that we just like it here; another reason is that we are waiting for several shipments of various things to be delivered to our mailing service on St. JohnCruz Bay is only 2 miles from here, so this is a great anchorage to hang around while waiting on mail/shipments.

Another Texas couple came over for drinks one evening, and we went to their boat for drinks another evening.  It is nice to visit a bit.   We have asked them to join us for the sail to Foxy’s tomorrow.  They haven’t been there.  Someone told them that Foxy’s was a “bad” place to go to, so they have avoided it since they arrived here last March.  We have no idea what anyone could possibly have against Foxy’s.  Foxy’s is known all over the world.  Cannot imagine what this person was warning them about.

Judy has cooked chili; maybe she will even cook cornbread to go with it for dinner.  Chili is not our usual fare in the tropics; but the wind has seemed cooler than usual, so it just seemed like the right thing to cook today.

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.