Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bequia to Carriacou -- with stops along the way

May 24 & 25, 2006     Wednesday & Thursday         Bequia

We are enjoying Bequia so much that we decided to stay a day or two longer.  Went back to customs and extended our allotted time in the Grenedines until June 1.  At this point, we plan to go to Carriacou on June 1st.

Had lobster pizza at Mac’s on our first night here.  Lobster season ended April 31, so the locals are trying to use up all the lobsters in their live tanks.  They are allowed to sell those, but they cannot harvest any more from the sea until October.  Anyway, our pizza was thickly covered in lobster.  It was delicious; we could not finish it all and hated to throw away that last piece.

Judy was able to IM chat with both our sons on Wednesday afternoon.  Good to catch up on what is going on at home.  They and their families are leaving tomorrow for a trip to Disney World.  The grandkids are ages 4 and 5, so this should be a great trip for them.

Today we met someone on S/V Equinox from Maine.   They have been cruising since last August.  Turns out that they are reserved to be at the same marinas we booked for both Grenada in June and in Trinidad starting July 1.  They suggested that we “buddy sail” from Grenada to Trinidad; they would like the radio company during that passage.  We might do that.  The waters near Venezuela have had a lot of robberies (those nasty pirates are still at work; we just thought that was an activity of centuries past).   We don’t really see the advantage of being in radio contact with another vessel during the passage, but guess it can’t hurt anything.  After all, what will one of us do if the other is stopped and boarded?  The Venezuelan authorities won’t respond in any way.  Not going to worry about that; out of our control.  Just deal with it if it happens and not worry about something that will probably never occur.

Took a few photos of the Whaleboner bar and restaurant today but cannot upload them since we just lost our internet connection.   Will have to wait until later; possibly after we arrive at the marina in Grenada.  The Whaleboner has several items made from whale bones from whales slaughtered here in Bequia many years ago.

May 26, 2006     Friday           Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau                 traveled 22NM

We left Bequia headed to Mustique; sailed close enough to wave goodbye to Basil’s and changed course to Mayreau.  Doyle’s Sailing Guide said that it would cost us $75 to stay overnight in Mustique; and since we have already been there twice previously, we could not see the reasoning in paying $75 for just one night.  Actually, that $75 fee allows you to stay on a mooring for 3 nights; but we had wanted to stay only one night.

Besides, another visit could not possibly top our last visit to Mustique.  We got to wander around Mick Jagger’s house under construction the last time we were there in 1986.  The security guard even showed us around the grounds.   Had a huge trampoline under the palm trees that the guard said that Mick used for exercise to keep up his energy level.  The house was built like a Japanese jigsaw puzzle.  Weirdest house we have ever seen.  But really cool.
So, on to Mayreau.  We stopped in Salt Whistle Bay.  Bill was convinced that we had been here previously, but he finally came to realize that neither of us had ever seen that bay.  It is gorgeous.   We liked it so much that we stayed a couple of days.

The first afternoon, two guys came up in a skiff and sold us a freshly caught red snapper.  They first asked $70EC and Bill talked them down to $45EC, which we thought was still over-priced.  We grilled it whole for dinner and it was delicious. 

It is truly a small world sometimes.  One of the guys who sold us the fish had worked for the Moorings in the BVI in May 2004.  He had come out to our old boat for a service call when a key fell out inside the helm pedestal.  That key restrained the chain controlling the helm to the rudder; so when it became dislodged, we lost all steering capability.   We were in the Camanoe Passage when it happened.  We managed to sail onto a mooring ball at Marina Cay, and Moorings sent this guy out to fix the problem.  Surprisingly, he remembered us; although we had forgotten him until he reminded us about that incident.

There was another Amel anchored in front of us in Salt Whistle Bay.  It was a smaller boat, named La G__tana from Hamburg.  It was cutter rigged and had a different toe rail.  It was not identified as a Sharki, which we have seen before.  Maybe this was a Euro, which we have never seen.  A Euro was smaller than any other Amel model boat.  This looked to be maybe 38-39 ft long.  We could not read the complete name because there was a wind vane centered on the stern, as well as a wind generator.  Judy has been curious as to whether a wind vane could be utilized with the Amel U-drive.  Now we are curious if this was a Euro model and if the Euro model also has the proprietary U-drive.

May 27, 2006     Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau             

We awoke to somewhat dreary weather today.  So we decided to just stay anchored another night.  Did a few cleaning chores; watched a DVD; decided to try out our bread machine.  We had purchased a 220V/50Hz bread machine so that we can bake bread aboard without heating up the entire saloon.

We had also purchased an adapter for this bread machine so that the standard 220V plug would work in the funny little 2-prong 220V outlets that are on the boat.  For some reason, the bread machine would not work with the electrical adapter.  BUT, we had onboard an old 220V vacuum cleaner that the previous owner had ruined vacuuming up salt water.  So Bill cut off both plugs and installed the  vacuum cleaner plug on the bread machine.  Now it worked perfectly.

So we spent the rainy afternoon experimenting with the bread machine and the pressure cooker.  Make a great chicken stew and the bread for wonderful.  Takes only 2 hours and can be baked using just the boat batteries if we don’t want to run the generator.  We are most pleased about this.  And the bread is far better than what we can buy locally in these islands.

We also met a Scottish couple named Hamish and Lavinia; they are on a 73-ft ketch from Cowes.  Hamish was out for a swim and stopped by our boat to inquire about the Amel because he is thinking of buying one.  He later brought his wife, Lavinia, back to see our boat.  Then they brought us back to see their boat.  There were 10 people aboard the 73-ft boat, with a crew of 3.  Had 2 huge grinders on deck.  A very serious boat.  Hamish would like an Amel because he is tired of the expense of crew, and they very definitely cannot operate that 73-ft boat without a crew.   Ownership of the boat is actually a partnership of 5 people.  They have owned the boat for 8 years and it has been all over the world.  Their boat was very impressive, with sloped teak deck from which high seas would simply run off; no coach roof whatsoever.  Proper china and glassware for meals.  Very proper British feel aboard their boat.  Hamish is thinking of buying an Amel just for himself and Lavinia, not with the same partners.    Lavinia thought our boat was far more comfortable than their larger one.  Neither Bill nor I can remember the name of the boat.

May 28, 2006     Sunday        Tobago Cays                          traveled 3NM

Absolutely gorgeous!   Found our way through the reefs and anchored behind a horseshoe reef, facing the Atlantic Ocean.   Along with about 40 other boats.  About half left before sunset.  Wish we could take photos that would really show what this place is like; but the photos simply do not do it justice.

This is the first place so far that our electronic charts have not been absolutely accurate within feet.  Maxsea showed that we went over the ends of 2 tiny islands and right over several visible reefs around those islands.  But Judy had already decided to believe her eyes when going through the reef areas, and not to rely on the electronic charts.

May 29, 2006     Monday        Petite St. Vincent                    traveled 13NM

Snaked our way out of Tobago Cays southwestward through the reefs.  Anchored at Palm Island (previously known as Prune Island).  We had very much enjoyed this island in 1986.  The island had been leased from Union Island by John Caldwell.  He had planted palm trees all over it, and the name was changed to Palm Island.  He also wrote a book called “Desperate Voyage” which we hope to someday purchase.  He brought his wife to the island and they lived there a long time.  He has since died, and the island has been taken over by a large resort company.  The island no longer looked inviting to us.  It was quaint before; it is just another expensive tourist resort now.  So we pulled anchor and moved on.

Again snaked our way through more reef and anchored at Petite St. Vincent.  There is yet another expensive resort on this island.  We did not bother to get off the boat.  Instead, we spent the afternoon reading.

May 30, 2006   Tuesday         Hillsborough, Carriacou          traveled 12NM

Motored here because winds are no light and distance was so short.  Anchored;lunch ashore; cleared customs, immigration and port authority; and found someone’s WiFi when we returned to the boat, so will try to upload this before we lose this connection.

We could be in Grenada at the marina tomorrow, but we will probably goof off a few more days first.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Arrived in Bequia

23rd May 2006
Arrived in Bequia

May 23, 2006 Tuesday Port Elizabeth, Bequia

Traveled 61NM today; total so far is about 500NM.

Great beam reach and then broad reach sail until we reached south end of St. Vincent; then we were close hauled, right on the bottom of the red, tight as we could get it until we reached Bequia. Winds ranged from 22 kts to 30 kts all day; seas 7-ft to 10-ft. Great day of sailing, at last.

When we arrived in Bequia, we were approached by a boat boy right at the harbor entrance wanting to "help" us with a mooring. We told him we were going to anchor. Then we tried hailing Daffodil's on the VHF to get a mooring ball in their area. We plan to have them deliver fuel to our boat tomorrow, so we wanted to be nearby. Daffodil's said they were sending someone out to assist us with the mooring. The mooring balls here do not have any type of pennant attached. Someone comes out in a small boat and takes your line and ties it off on the bottom side of the mooring ball. Anyway, some guy shows up in a dinghy and tells us that there was a mistake and that Daffodil's is full and doesn't have a mooring available for us. He told us to hail African on VHF channel 68 and get on a mooring on the other side of the harbor.

Bill spent several minutes trying to hail African. Several people answered and someone said that Wild Larry would be out to help us with the mooring at African's mooring ball field.

While all that was going on, another guy came up way too close to the side of the boat and tried to talk to Judy while Bill was on the radio. She told him to leave us alone right now. He then sped up and went in front of our boat, turned crosswise to block our progress, and came to a stop. Judy started yelling at him and turning the boat trying to avoid hitting him. Then he came back near the cockpit and tried talking again. Judy yelled at the top of her voice for him to "get the f**k away from our boat or we were going to be hit him." He looked really pissed off, but he finally left. Those of you reading this, if you know Judy, then you know just how loud she can yell when really pissed off. This happened while Bill was on the radio, so everyone in the anchorage heard Judy yelling on the radio. Maybe now the boat boys will stay away from our boat.

Wild Larry showed up in a bright pink "go-fast" boat and helped Bill tie off on a mooring ball. Bill just didn't feel right about the whole process; so when he saw African helping another boat moor near us, Bill called him over to our boat. Sure enough, we had been highjacked; the ball we were moored on did not belong to African. So we moved over to one of African's moorings. We are much happier because this ball looks much better maintained.

We then went ashore to the Whaleboner Bar for a cold drink, and a short walk around the beach bars. This is again an island that we have not visited in 20 years. It has changed quite a bit, but still the same lovely place that we remember. Want to visit Mac's and see if he still serves the famous lobster pizza. We plan to stay here 2 nights. Then will be on our way, probably to Mustique next.

Bequia has a strong whaling history. The men would go out in these tiny boats that they built locally. They would gather round and spear a whale and then tow it back to the island for slaughter. They used every bit of the whale; it was not over-kill like the Japanese still do. Bequia still holds a license that would allow them to kill up to 4 whales per year, but the skills are being lost as the older generation ages. They have not gone out to hunt a whale in a couple of years. Their long whaling history might now be finished.

The Whaleboner Bar has bar stools made from whale vertabrae, and some other whale bones around the place. Maybe we will get some photos tomorrow.

BTW, does anyone know why flying fish fly? If you do, please post on our message board. We have seen thousands of flying fish; and they definitely do fly a long distance. We can't imagine why they do this.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Farther down island

May 16, 2006   Tuesday        Little Bay, Montserrat
16.48.215N                             total traveled 34.3 NM

Finally were able to sail today.  Until today, the wind has been almost on our nose and we have had to motor sail, which we do not enjoy.  The movement of the boat is different when sailing than when motoring.  Plus sailing is quieter and you don’t have the diesel smell from the engine exhaust.  Sailing is much, much nicer.

Before we tell you about Montserrat, there was something that we forgot to mention earlier in our trip.  When we were in Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda, we had the opportunity to meet Sal and Janet Manuccia.  They own a Moorings boat and had anchored behind us.  Judy has had email correspondence with Sal over the past few years on one of the internet email sailing lists, so it was a pleasure to finally meet him and Janet.  They brought a bottle of lovely wine to toast our new boat.  Thanks again, Sal & Janet.

We wanted to visit Montserrat because we had been here about 20 years ago.  Those of you reading this travelogue who have visited our old home might have seen a photo of Bill standing beneath a waterfall.  The photo was in the hall bathroom.  That waterfall was at the end of a rainforest that we hiked through back in 1986.  The Mt. Soufriere volcano on the southern end of the island erupted in 1995, then again in 1997, 2003 and 2004.  The volcano is still active and constantly spews ash that drifts westward for miles in the prevailing trade winds.   For this reason, sailors must either pass Montserrat at least 10 miles to the west or they must pass on the eastern side.  We will pass on the eastern (Atlantic) side.  Bill spoke with another cruiser in St. Kitts who had passed Montserrat at the 10 mile limit on the western side, and he said that their boat was still coated with the fine ash everywhere.  It even finds its way inside sealed hatches and ports which are waterproof.

The initial eruption covered the main city on the island, Plymouth.  The population of the island was approximately 12,000, most of whom resided in Plymouth.  The residents fled to the northern end of the island, and are in the process of building commercial and residential structures where none previously existed.  The total island population dwindled to only 3,000 but has now increased back up to 5,000.  We are not sure that the island will be able to sustain itself in its current condition. 

Montserrat used to have a thriving tourist industry, a Sea Island Cotton production facility, and a recording facility.  The song by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder entitled “Ebony and Ivory” was mixed at the recording studio in Montserrat.  McCartney did his recording in London and Stevie did his recording in LA, and both recordings were mixed at the studio in Montserrat

We did our part for the local economy.  We took a taxi tour of the island – at a cost of $100 US, which was a steep price in our opinions.  But the taxi driver was parked down at the immigration office waiting for any boat that might arrive and doing his best to get our business, so we felt that he should get rewarded for his efforts to work.  Far better than the younger guys who were just sitting on the sides of the road.  At least this taxi driver was trying to earn a living.  Hard to do when there aren’t any businesses on the island and virtually no tourists.  We were one of only four boats visiting the island.

The taxi tour took us well into the exclusion zone, fairly close to the volcano.  Bill took a lot of photos but who knows how well they will download.  It was amazing to see Plymouth under about 20 feet of volcanic ash.  Only the roofs of most buildings were visible. 

Paul McCartney still has a home on the island.  Seems like with all his money and connections that he could get some interest back in the UK to establish some form of industry on the northern end of the island.  If something isn’t done, the island will have an extremely difficult economic recovery.  Very sad to see the condition in which the people are living; especially when we remember when it was so vibrant.

We mailed a post card from the Volcano Observatory to Zachary.  We tried to write a message that a 5-yr-old would be able to read.  Also asked him to share the card with BeBe because we didn’t have her address with us.  Curious to see how long it takes for that postcard to reach Houston from Montserrat.

May 17, 2006     Deshaies, Guadeloupe    traveled 39.42NM

Motor sailed all day; down eastern side of Montserrat and over to the northwestern tip of Guadeloupe.  Waves 7-8 ft. and winds of 30 kts all day.  Still could not sail because wind is still on our nose.  Actually, we could tack back and forth and still sail; but we are on a time schedule so we are motor sailing instead.

Deshaies is a lovely French fishing village.  Almost no one speaks a word of English.  We were able to clear customs; which was extremely lucky for us because the customs office is only open one hour per weekday and they don’t tell anyone which hour that will be each day.  We also found an ATM and obtained some Euros.  Found a “supermarket” and bought some fresh locally grown produce, yogurt and a few bottles of great Bordeaux

Judy wanted some club soda, but we couldn’t find any.  Bill did find something that looked like it was club soda; but it turned out to be a strong mint flavored club soda type beverage ----- NASTY STUFF!!!  Cannot believe there is a market for this crap.  So Bill made another dinghy trip back to the town and found some Perrier.  That is the closest thing we can find to club soda.  Judy is finding it difficult to adjust to the taste of the desalinated water.  Bill is drinking it with no problem; but Judy just can’t seem to force it down except a sip at a time even with the secondary drinking water filter that we installed, so she is becoming dehydrated.  We need to find some old-fashioned Kool Aid.  That should mask the taste enough to make it palatable.  Bill will have to buy some when he returns to Houston for work next month.  They don’t sell Kool Aid in the islands.

May 18, 2006    Thursday     Terre Den Haut, Iles des Saintes     34.62NM traveled

(Notice the decreasing trend in lat/long?  We need to get down to 10.40.000N before hurricane season for insurance purposes.)
We are anchored in our second-most-favorite place in the CaribbeanSt. Barths is our favorite; Iles des Saintes is our second favorite.  It is totally French and a beautiful, clean little place.  We haven’t been ashore yet, but the little town appears to have grown a good bit during the past 20 years.  They even have a ferry dock now, with daily tourist high-speed shuttles from Guadeloupe.

We arrived about 2:00 p.m. after motoring yet again with the wind directly on our nose.  We splashed the dinghy from its riding place under our mizzen boom; Bill cleaned the top decks and Judy is doing laundry.  We plan to stay here for 2 nights, so tomorrow we will visit the island.  Lots of artists shops and restaurants; lots of good French food.  Not sure how much of that Bill will enjoy, but Judy will be in her element.  We could rent motor scooters to get around the island, but you know that isn’t going to happen. 

Since Sunday afternoon when we sailed past Statia, we have heard the same woman on the VHF radio every half hour, all day long.  She is speaking in French, so we do not understand a word of what she is saying. 

This is what it sounds like:
“A bel a tush; a bel a tush; a bel a tush. (something, something Guadeloupe) Cosine; cosine; cosine. (something, something, croissant, something)”  ----  sometimes it sounds like “coside” instead of cosine.

It sounds for all the world like she is saying “beautiful butt, beautiful butt, beautiful butt.  Come to Guadeloupe.  Angles, angles, angles.  Come to the café and eat a croissant.”

Of course, she is probably saying something about an advice to mariners but we don’t understand and cannot find our French-English translation book.  It is on the boat somewhere, but neither of us remembers where.

BTW, when Judy asked a clerk in a store yesterday in Guadeloupe where to find an ATM, the clerk looked Judy straight in the eye and said in plain English: “Madame, you must speak French.”  If you don’t speak French around here, you are just on your own.  We have managed with everything so far, except for that woman on the VHF radio. 

If anyone reading this has any idea what she is saying, please leave us a message on our message board.  Hopefully we will find internet access in Martinique next week and will upload the logs.  Back to the laundry for now.

May 19, 2006   Friday             Les Saintes

Stayed another night at Les Saintes.  Just a beautiful place; patterned after Brittany, France.  We went to Sole Mio for lunch; Judy had a fabulous smoked fish salad.  It was paper thin slices of smoked wahoo, tuna and kingfish; and was served with a tiny dish of some sort of herbed cream.  Cream on fish sounds rather odd, but it was delicious, especially the wahoo. 

We went to Eduoard’s La Saladeria for dinner, which had a beautiful view of the bay.  We had some sort of grilled fish.  The proprietor spoke English but she did not know the English word for the name of the type of fish.  She said it was the little red fish with the big eyes.  And that is exactly what we were served – little red fish with big eyes which had been seasoned with herbs and grilled whole.  For desert we shared a chocolate macaroon topped with vanilla ice cream and with a magnificent chocolate sauce over all. 

We walked around the town a bit and spent the afternoon reading the sailing guides for the next 3 islands and planned our routes.  Just before sunset a very dirty boat arrived and anchored behind us a bit.  We assume that this boat had sailed down the west side of Montserrat because she was literally covered in ash.  It doesn’t just rinse off, so that boat owner has quite a chore of scrubbing down the entire boat now.

May 20, 2006   Saturday        St. Pierre, Martinique              traveled 47.45NM

We left Les Saintes about 7:30 a.m. and arrived in St. Pierre, Martinique, about 4:00 p.m.  We had planned to stop in Dominica; but nothing about that island appealed to us, so we kept going.  The sailing guides say that the “boat boys” are really insistent in Dominica, and we did not have any EC (Eastern Caribbean currency) to tip them.  All the currency bills we have on the boat are either $100 US or $50 Euro.  Way too much to deal with a boat boy.  Plus, the anchoring is very tricky in Dominica – you must anchor stern-to and then have a boat boy take a line and tie your stern to a palm tree or a pylon.  The swell is supposed to be very bad there, so you must set your boat to be bow to the swell.  We decided it wasn’t worth the effort so we would just skip that island.

You should have heard about St. Pierre in your elementary history classes.  This is the location of Mt. Pellee, the volcano that erupted May 8, 1902, and killed about 30,000 people.  Every resident of the town was killed except one cobbler who was in his basement and one convict who was in a prison cell.  Funny, Judy always thought Mt. Pellee was in Hawaii and Bill thought it was in Italy.  It is really in Martinique.

There was a jazz festival on shore for the evening.  We ate dinner in our cockpit and enjoyed the music.  We arrived too late to attempt to clear customs today.

May 21, 2006  Sunday           Grand Anse D’Arlet, Martinique          traveled 20.1NM

NOT OUR BEST DAY!  Nothing seemed to go right today.

First, we launched the dinghy and went into town to clear customs.  We made 2 circumnavigations forced march of town of St. Pierre looking for customs.  Never found it.  They had a sign on their official office door telling visitors to look for them at the Cyber Café Escapade or at the Syndicat du Initiative near the Musee.  We walked around that town in the humid heat for 2 hours and never found customs, so decided to move on.

We decided that we would just go to the southern end of Martinique and spend the night; get an early start tomorrow for St. Lucia.  Since we were only going about 10 miles and would be in the lee of the island, we decided that it would be okay to just tow the dinghy like people do in the BVI area.  We also decided that we would try to sail instead of motoring the 10 miles.  Mistake on both parts.

By the time we gave up on being able to sail and decided to motor, we were about 10 miles out from our starting point.  The dinghy was bouncing all over the place, so Bill decided that we had to heave-to and put the dinghy on the davits.  This, in 7-ft waves.  We got the dinghy up on the davits, but then Bill didn’t like the way it was swinging so badly.  So we had to devise a way of tying it off without damaging the pontoons of the dinghy with ropes.  Finally got it done to his satisfaction, and we motored on in to spend the night at D’Arlet.

Had to make 3 attempts anchoring.  It was quite crowded and we couldn’t get where we wanted to be.   Finally did get anchored correctly, but Bill spent the whole night worrying about the anchor holding.

May 22, 2006    Monday         Soufriere, St. Lucia                 traveled 42.35NM

Left D’Arlet, Martinique, about 5:45 a.m. and arrived in Soufriere at 12:30.  Were able to sail the entire way; first time this trip that we have been able to sail an entire passage.  We were close-hauled about 2/3 of the trip and then on a beam reach for last 1/3.

When we awoke, Bill blasted our air horn 3 series of 5 blasts to awaken the people on a Moorings 4200 catamaran.  The cat was named “Bambi.”  They had lost their anchor holding and were quickly moving out to sea.  Good thing we woke up so early.   That boat had arrived fairly late last night and they were partying hard.  They had anchored next to us and Bill was further worried about our anchor; he was sure that they had anchored directly over our anchor line.   At any rate, their anchor didn’t hold and they were floating free.  We were able to pull our anchor and we left without incident.

The trip down was a great sail.  One freighter passed in front of us way too close for Judy’s comfort level; and we passed a boat towing a barge way behind it.  That was also too close for Judy’s comfort level.  Bill thinks Judy’s depth perception isn’t very good.  Judy does not like anything big and/or fast to be any where near our boat or our course.

At Soufriere, we moored behind another Amel Super Maramu, named Trade Winds from Road Harbour.  When we went in to clear customs, we were hit up by a local telling us that for a small fee he would watch our dinghy.  Bill asked him why we needed him to watch our dinghy.  He said because a few days ago some kids had put water into the gas tank of a tourist dinghy; but for a small fee he would watch and make sure no one puts water into our gas tank.  We asked the customs official what the normal amount would be to pay the local guy to not put water in our gas tank, and he just laughed.  Said that was a new one; he hadn’t heard that story before.  When we later returned to our dinghy, the customs officer was down at the dock with a policeman talking to the locals gathered around the dock area.  Apparently, the officials don’t want the locals harassing the tourists.

We haven’t found Wi-Fi in several days.  Hope to get this uploaded soon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

BVI to Nevis

May 12, 2006    Friday night  Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Left Leverick Bay in Virgin Gorda Sound approximately 8:00 p.m. as planned.  So much for weather forecasts.  Predicted to have been winds 8-12 kts and seas 2-3 ft.   Actual weather experienced was sustained 30kts for hours and many, many squalls.  Finally did experience the predicted weather for the final 2 hours as we approached St. Martin in the sunrise.  Arrived St. Martin 7:45 a.m. on Saturday. 

Bill handled the trip extremely well; even stayed awake for most of the night.  Judy fed the fish a few times but never took any seasickness meds.  Gonna lose weight one way or another.  Amazing how unappetizing food can be when experiencing all this motion.

May 13, 2006   Saturday morning    Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

We anchored in the Dutch side of St. Martin rather than the French side.  Put up the “Q” flag and took a nap and decided to move on.  No reason to stay here when we still have so far to go.  Weather extremely hot and continued rainstorms.

Saturday night, Anse du Grand Columbier,  St. Barths (St. Barthelemy)

Arrived 4:00 p.m. in gorgeous weather.  Total distance traveled since arriving on boat evening of May 1st is 161.42NM.  We picked up the last mooring ball in the tight space of the little harbor, right next to a boat that was festooned with balloons and dressed with flags of all sorts all over the boat.  There were also at least 6 dinghies tied to the stern.

Soon became apparent that a French couple was getting married on the boat – very short white wedding dress, veil and all.   Bill noted that one girl was breast-feeding a tiny infant while drinking several glasses of champagne.  Guess the French start drinking wines really early in their lifetimes.   Heard many corks popping over there during the evening.  Good way to have a fun wedding.  Sounded like a good time was had by all.

May 14, 2006   Sunday night   Ballast Bay, St. Kitts (St. Christopher)
62.39.549W    Distance traveled today 49.5NM

We left St. Barths at 6:00 a.m.  Neither of us wanted to leave.  Bill said he could stay right there for weeks.  Beautiful beach, good snorkeling, hills to climb and explore, an abandoned old Rockerfeller home on top of one hill, and just a dinghy ride around the point to Gustavia Harbor, which is one of our favorite places on earth.  But since we have a schedule to keep, we got on our way.

As we sailed past Statia, Judy mentioned to Bill that there had been a total absence of any visible marine life this entire trip.  At that exact moment, 6 dolphins visited our boat; but they didn’t hang around to play like dolphin sometimes do.  Also saw literally hundreds of flying fish.  We took a photo of the dormant volcano on Statia that we climbed 20 years ago when we visited the island on a Windjammer cruise.  We were both in better physical condition back then.  No way in hell that either of us would consider climbing that mountain today.

We arrived at Ballast Bay, St. Kitts, and anchored for the night.  Bill would like to buy more fuel before we get into an area where it won’t be readily available.  But the fuel dock was closed Sunday so we decided to stay the night and try to get fuel in the morning.

We did accomplish one thing today that made us both happy.  We put the dinghy up onto the stern of the boat, where it can ride under the mizzen boom instead of having it swinging on the davits.  The dinghy is normally carried on davits off the stern of the boat.  In coastal sailing, we can also just tow the dinghy.  But on open water it is customary to put the dinghy upside down on the bow; because it could be swamped by a following wave if mounted on the davits.  Judy absolutely hates having the dinghy on the bow because it obstructs the view too much.  Bill thought that the dinghy would not fit on the stern under the mizzen boom, but just to please Judy and prove that it wouldn’t work; he tried it anyway.  And to his surprise, it works just fine.  So we have found a new home for the dinghy when underway on long distance passages.

May 15, 2006   Monday   Pinney’s Beach, Nevis

We left Ballast Bay at 7:00 a.m., hoping to be the first boat at the fuel dock at Fort Zante Marina in Basseterre when they opened at 8:00.  We weren’t.  There were 2 small fishing boats there ahead of us.  It was a tight space, but we managed to “parallel park” the boat on the fuel dock ahead of the other boats.  Then we were able to just walk the boat back using the dock lines when it was our turn for fuel.

Judy cleared customs while Bill handled fueling the boat.  Bill found an ATM machine so that we could get EC to pay for the fuel.  Judy also make a quick trip to the nearby grocery store for bread and yogurt.  Would have bought more snack-type items but only had $20EC and that doesn’t go very far.

We actually sailed for fun for the first time this trip.  Decided there wasn’t sufficient time to get to Montserrat today (took too long doing the fuel thing), so we decided to stop in Nevis for the night.  Found an intermittent WiFi connection where we anchored so will try to get this posted.  We are anchored directly in front of Pinney’s Beach, where Bill and I spent a very relaxing day sitting under the palm trees about 20 years ago. 

We hope to sail to Montserrat in the morning.  We have not been able to obtain a volcano activity report, so we are just going and hoping that we will be able to stop there.  Neither of us wants to do another overnight sail all the way to Guadeloupe if we can avoid it.  We do know that we will have to sail down the eastern side of the island because of all the volcanic ash that blows to the western side.  Bill spoke with another cruiser this morning at the fuel dock who said he did not abide by the advice of passing Montserrat on the eastern side and it took days to clean all the ash off his boat.   We still have enough boat yard dust from the haul-out; we certainly don’t want to add volcanic ash.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Finally in the water and on our way down-island

10th May 2006 - 12th May 2006
Finally in the water and on our way

May 10, 2006 Wednesday

We did manage to get launched from haul out around mid-afternoon on Wednesday, May 10. (I am starting to use dates and days of the week because we are already losing track of those little details)

It was incredibly hot and humid that afternoon. Not a bit of breeze. They brought out the travel lift and told us to get off the boat. Boat was lifted so that the painter could prime and paint the bottom of the keel, which had been resting on large blocks of wood on the ground. The chocks were removed and the boat sat nicely in the slings while the painter finished his work. Bruce had already re-installed the serviced prop and tightened the line cutter. But we had not yet added the 8 liters of oil to the U-drive (this was drained when the prop was removed).

So, after the painter finished the bottom of the keel, the travel lift promptly moved the boat to the launch area and we were wet again; but we couldn’t start the engine and move the boat until we added the 8 liters of oil. Only took a few minutes and then we moved to the end of the working dock, where we spent the night in air-conditioned bliss while it rained all night.

Before the rain started, Judy made one final provisioning trip to the supermarket across the street; once again refusing to buy items on her shopping list because some of the prices were simply exorbitant. We will change our eating habits before we will pay some of those prices. We also found our way back to the harbor bar and shared a dinner of fish and chips and Heinekens while listening to a local band. Very pleasant evening.

But we never got any pictures of all the iguanas at the bar. This bar/restaurant was set right on the edge of the mangroves and there were iguanas all over the place. One day there were at least 20 of them scurrying about during lunch time. They ranged in length from 2-ft to 4-ft, some with colorful throat “hangings” and all with spiked heads and backs. Zachary and Elisabeth would have loved watching them – probably from standing on top of the table or bar, as they were a little scary looking when they would venture too closely to our legs.

May 11, 2006, Thursday

We left Benner Bay on the 9:00 a.m. high tide. Only ran aground once during our departure and felt the keel scraping bottom a few times. We like the people at the boat yard, but really don’t like their shallow entrance. It is a fairly long channel and extremely shallow. Not sure that we will go back there for another haul out for this reason. Bill had gone to the boat yard office and was able to get the item printed, signed and faxed back to work; so that task was done and meant that we wouldn’t have to stop at Cruz Bay and hike up to Connections for their services.

It was raining when we left, but we managed to get off the dock and handle the dock lines ourselves. Good thing since there was no one around in the rain to assist with line handling. By the time we reached open water, it was pouring heavily and impossible to see much past the bow of our boat. Thanks to the United States Army, Bill is excellent with the radar. So he stayed below and shouted up instructions to Judy at the helm. We didn’t let a little rain stop us from moving on after having spent 8 days up in the boat yard.

By the time we passed Johnson Reef on the north side of St. John, the rain had cleared and we made a sudden decision to head over to Jost Van Dyke and visit Foxy’s one last time before leaving BVI. (Yeah, yeah; we know we were being illegal by not clearing BVI Customs; but what the heck, we weren’t going to waste time doing that.)

Anchoring was easy in Great Harbor, for a change. Usually we have to attempt anchoring at least 3 times on that grassy bottom, but it set beautifully on the first try. We took the dinghy in to Foxy’s dock and ordered hamburgers and pale ale for lunch. A friend had asked us to buy him a new Foxy’s tee-shirt, and this would be our only chance to do that. (Hey Bob---we got you a shirt with a pocket. No choice in graphic design, as they only had one version with a pocket. Bill will mail it to you when he is in Houston for work next month. Postage from BVI is way too expensive.)

After listening to Foxy doing his usual “musical” comedy routine during our lunch break, we were off toward Virgin Gorda. We motored with the wind directly on our bow the entire way. Sea was totally flat with lots of tree branches and debris washed off Tortola from the morning heavy rains. But the afternoon was perfect for motoring eastward because it remained cloudy so we didn’t have the western sun beating on our backs all afternoon.

We anchored just north of Leverick Bay mooring ball field in Gorda Sound, and cooked our first dinner aboard since we arrived May 1st. The freezer on this boat works extremely well. In the future we will have to decide what we are cooking for dinner a little earlier in the day, because Bill was starving by the time Judy had defrosted the chicken in the microwave and finally got it cooked. On our old boat, the freezer did not work nearly so well. We could take out food for dinner and defrost it on deck in the breeze in ½ hour or so. The chicken quarters taken from our present freezer were still hard as rocks even an hour after removing them. Will take some getting used to, but very glad to know the freezer works so well.

May 12, 2006. Friday

Today was laundry day for Judy, while Bill took a taxi down to Spanish Town to get our reserve propane tank filled. We wanted to get this done before we head down island. Don’t want to leave without a reserve supply of cooking gas since it is used both for main stove and also for the grill that mounts on the life rail.

The washing machine works just fine, and diesel to run it is less expensive than using island laundry which typically costs $5 to $7.50 per wash load and the same per dry load. That is if you are doing it yourself. To have a laundry service wash and dry 3 towels in Sopers Hole last October cost us $15. So having the washing machine on the boat is a good thing. But we do not like the dryer at all. It leaves the clothes still moist. Bill thinks it is not vented properly. So he will add that to his never-ending list of future chores.

We now have laundry hanging on lines on the boat. Just like trailer trash with crap all over the place. I’m sure the people on the other boats near us think this looks trashy. But it will dry very quickly, so they can just deal with it.

We plan to leave for St. Martin tonight about 8:00-9:00. It is an overnight passage of about 90nm (that is nautical miles for all you non-sailors). A nautical mile is slightly longer than a statute mile like you have on land. This passage is normally done at night so that you can arrive during daylight hours. This enables you to see all the reefs around Anguilla as you approach St. Martin. Weather forecast is perfect with SSE winds of 8-12 kts and seas of only 2-3 feet. Hopefully we will be able to motor sail instead of having to motor the entire way with our nose directly into the wind. We hope to be able to nap a bit this afternoon since we will be awake all night; but Judy has finally started to read The Da Vinci Code, so nap might not happen since she doesn't want to put down that book.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Splashing tomorrow!!

9th May 2006
Splashing tomorrow!!

As of 5:30 this evening, the yard manager claims that we will be launched tomorrow. I think he feels so bad about the delays that he offered to let us spend tomorrow night at the work dock if we want to.

Bill is handling this nonsense much better than Judy. We had made 4 phone calls to previous owner, previous boat yard, previous marina manager, and to the Amel agent who assisted in the sale of this boat back in October 2003 in Ft. Lauderdale. All this to determine which type of bottom paint was last used. The Amel agent looked up his records for this boat and determined that the paint was Micron. So the yard here in St. Thomas planned to use Micron.

For those of you reading this who don't know about boats, they pressure wash off the worst of the marine growth and then sand down the existing paint. Then they apply another coat of the same type paint. It is important that you use the same paint so there isn't some compatibility issue.

So, last Thursday the painter started applying the Micron paint. After about 10 feet down the first side of the boat, the paint started to bubble up; so the yard manager immediately told him to stop. Then the painter started applying a primer coat; and that first 10 feet had to be re-sanded and then primed. That took until closing time on Friday; the yard does not work on weekends. BUT, the painter showed up on Saturday and started to apply the Micron again. Same bubbles started appearing again!! Even though it was over a primer. Made no sense. Judy was not happy. This paint is not inexpensive; costs about $250 per gallon. The labor rate is supposed to be $10 per foot for paint, plus additional $4 per foot for primer, plus all product used. So Judy was definitely not happy.

On Monday, Bill told the yard manager that he thought that these are just air bubbles -- possibly because the painter is rolling too fast or using too thick a roller pad. They called in another painter and the consensus of opinion agreed with Bill. So now Judy thinks that we just wasted about $500 priming when it wasn't necessary, plus the additional hotel day.

By noon Monday they had called in another painter to help the idiot painter that is assigned to our boat. With two of them working, they have managed to apply two coats of bottom paint and have waxed and buffed the hull. Looks great -- finally. This afternoon they moved the chocks, primed the original chock spots, and applied the first coat of bottom paint to those spots. The autoprop was reinstalled late today. Looks fantastic. Had no idea it would clean up that polished.

So all that should need to be done tomorrow is to apply the second coat of bottom paint to the original chock spots, and to add the 8 liters of oil for the U-drive that we had to drain in order to clean and service the autoprop. Then we should be able to launch. Need to remember to contact the liferaft service company to have the liferaft delivered back to the travel lift area when we launch. That liferaft is way too heavy to deal with in a dinghy, so we want to get it back aboard when we launch.

Then we need to find a rigger to climb the mast and replace the anchor light. We have a bosun's chair and Bill could do this chore, but Judy would prefer that Bill not climb that mast right now. We are both stiff and sore from all the work we have been doing. Let someone younger and more limber climb 60 feet above the deck of the boat to replace a light bulb.

One good thing did happen because of all these delays. We had dropped the bow thruster and replaced the shaft seals over the weekend. The bow thruster seemed fine, so we did not pull the prop on it. However, today the bow thruster started dripping tiny amounts of water. This is a bad, bad thing because it means that sea water has penetrated the shaft and that the oil is now floating on top of that water. So we dropped the bow thruster again (Bill is getting pretty good at doing this chore), and this time we pulled the prop off and drained the oil. The oil was nasty black instead of a nice amber color, but even that was a good thing. If it had been milky, that would have been a bad thing. We had a spare prop and oil seal for the bow thruster, so that is now done. Good for us that it happened while the boat was still hauled. Made doing that maintenance much easier on land than it would be to do it in the water. Bill also replaced the impeller on the Yanmar engine. Didn't need it, but figured it was a good idea to do it now rather than take a chance on a 3-year old impeller failing while we are at sea. Those things can fail at any time; we were afraid that the original one might have hardened with age; no way to tell except to replace it.

Judy spent the afternoon doing more provisioning. Having the freezer in the hotel room has been wonderful. Able to use the vacuum sealer and freeze foods and will deliver everything to the boat tomorrow already frozen. Great convenience for initial provisioning. Never had this luxury before.

And we will be so glad to get out of this hotel room. The water keeps going out. Really pisses you off when you return to the room at the end of a hot working day and find that you have no water. Has happened four times during the past week. Nice to have HBO on tv and nice to have the freezer and sleep with cold A/C; but we are ready to get back on the boat.

Hopefully, tomorrow afternoon we are out of here! Just plan to time our exit with high tide. Do not want a repeat of our entry groundings.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Still hauled out

6th May 2006
Still hauled out

It is definitely island time in the islands. The 3-day haul-out that was estimated by the boat yard manager will stretch to about one week. Not that we are really surprised by that. He now says that earliest possible splash will be late Tuesday. Bottom is now primed and they will paint Monday. The prop has been pulled so we could change the wearing bearing (routine maintenance at 800 hours and we currently have 761 engine hours); and prop is supposed to be reinstalled as soon as the paint is dry enough. We will see how that goes.

We have been working our butts off doing various interior projects. We have become Budget Marine's most frequent customers. Everytime Bill starts a new project, it entails several trips for tools or fasteners or something. We are very fortunate that there is a limited chandlery located within 300 feet of where Security sits on chocks. But climbing up and down that 12-foot ladder (only method of egress to the boat) is a little tiresome. Neither Bill nor Judy have climbed stairs or ladders much in the past few years. If we haven't lost at least 5-lbs each this week, then we don't know why not.

Today's project was to replace the seals on the bow thruster. That was interesting. Took most of the day because we did not have the two little set screws that were supposed to be with the bow thruster removal tool provided by Amel. But we imporvised and the job is now complete. We are also the proud new owners of a metric tap and die set. A good thing to have on a boat.

Today we also put up the bow section and the beam section of our new Shade Tree Awnings. We could not put up the back section that goes behind the mizzen mast because the the back stays have been removed and the mizzen boom lowered in order for the boat to be put on the travel lift to haul out. Since the back section of the shade awnings require connections to the back stays, we can't use that section until we are back in the water and everything gets reconnected. We think we will enjoy these awnings. Temperature was noticeably cooler with the shade -- still hot as hell, but definitely cooler that having direct sun on the deck all day long.

Bill says that this retirement thing is a lot of hard work! We are very much looking forward to calm anchorages instead of all this boat yard work.

We visited the supermarket across the street and bought a selection of steaks, ground beef, pork chops and chicken pieces. Judy then separated all the meat pieces and put them into the freezer in our little hotel room kitchenette for a few hours; then used the vacuum sealer to seal everything into one-meal size portions. So we will be able to fill one of our freezers on the boat with proper portioned frozen meats. Very, very convenient. Hope to make a few small provisioning trips tomorrow if the store is open on Sunday.

Main two projects left to do during this haul out are to replace a cracked button on the anchor windlass (we had ordered this part from Amel), and to install an additional drinking water filter. We already have a filter between the watermaker and the storage tank, but we want to install another filter between the storage tank and the galley sink. We hope that this will remove the tank taste from the water so we can stop wasting money buying drinking water at these ridiculously high prices -- not to mention not having to haul gallon jugs of water from the stores to the dinghy to the boat.

The remaining 6 boxes of our books are now at the mailing service in St. John. Guess they will have to hold them until our boat gets back in the water next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Note to John: We will eventually get some photos of the interior. Not much to see right now since there are boat parts and tools strewn everywhere. We have been working and havn't thought about using the camera except to take photos to document everything about the removal of the propeller for the next time we need to do that job.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

First haul out

3rd May 2006
Hauled out

Made our way early this morning from Red Hook Bay to the Independent Boat Yard at Lavida Marine Center. Our boat draft is 6-ft 9-in. Depth of the entrance channel is supposed to be 7-ft. We couldn't discern the location of the channel entry and Judy put the boat into a very shallow area before Bill realized that we were headed the wrong way. Quickly turned around and retraced our way back to deeper water; then located the correct channel and wove our way through that. Really nerve-racking. Our depth guage is displayed in meters rather than feet. It was pegged at zero depth the entire way into the boat yard. WE DON'T LIKE THAT!

Once we got past the channel and into the marina area, we proceeded to run aground 4 times. Each time we were able to back up and use the bow thruster to turn the boat. Judy was ready to just blow-off this haul-out and get it done in Trinidad. Boats don't handle well when sitting on sand rather than floating in water. Eventually, the guys at the travel lift motioned for us to hug the left side. We managed for the 4th time to extricate ourselves from the grounding and then moved as far left as we could without hitting docked boats. Bill finally got the boat up to the travel lift area, turned her around and backed up under the travel lift.

We removed the back stays and lowered the mizzen boom and manuevered into place. Dug out the life raft from its deck locker and got it ashore before the boat was lifted. Man, that thing is heavy. Judy went below and literally threw a few things into a small duffle bag. We will be staying at a small hotel nearby while the boat is hauled. We had to get off the boat so it could be hauled right then, so there is no telling what got thrown into that duffle bag. Nice thing that it doesn't matter in the least what you wear around here. As long as it isn't too sweaty, it doesn't matter what it looks like. After all, this is a boat yard full of workers; not a fashion show.

Bill stayed with the boat while they began to wash her down, and Judy traisped off to find Caribbean Inflatible Service. Found a short-cut path through the mangroves along shore. Climbed a few flights of stairs to find the life raft service business that encompassed the entire third floor. This is the only authorized service facility for our Zodiac life raft in the entire Caribbean. Very convenient that they are located literally 1/2 block from the boat yard. They agreed that they would open the life raft and let us watch it inflate and inventory the contents if we could do it right away. A driver brought Judy back to the travel lift and picked up the life raft (it is much too heavy to carry). Then he drove her to the hotel to check in, and then back to the life raft service facility. They used a craine to raise the raft up to the 3rd floor.

During this time Bill located Budget Marine and purchased a couple of padlocks and a 23-ft cable so he could secure the dinghy to the dinghy dock. If it isn't locked up tight in St. Thomas, then it will be stolen. Not like the BVI where you never need to lock anything.

Judy walked back and showed Bill how to find the life raft place. We watched a guy inflate the raft and remove the contents. All the flares were out-of-date, and the med kit had expired. The raft will be pressure tested for 24-hrs and then repacked with replacement contents. This should be done once a year, but this is the first time that this life raft has been serviced; and it is at least 3 1/2 years old. So every piece of equipment that had an expiration date is now expired and must be replaced.

Our hotel room overlooks the harbor and we can see our dinghy from our deck. Can also see the boat yard office and the masts of our boat parked right next to the office. This haul-out might take a few days longer than we anticipated. The boat has been hauled, pressure washed, and moved over right next to the boat yard office. The bow is only about 3 feet from the office building wall. Scary how close they place the boats in the boat yard. The boat is chocked and we have moved a ladder up to her stern. We climbed up to look for something and it really feels funny to walk around up there. Boat has been sitting there now for 4 hours and no work has been started yet, so that is the reason that we are thinking that there is no way they will be finished by Friday at 5:00 p.m. when they shut down for the weekend.

Guess we better get on "island time" and slow down a bit. We are both beat and need a few days to recuperate. Tonight is Mexican night down at the little harbor bar that serves as a restaurant for our tiny hotel. Live country/rock band that will probably keep us up late. Maybe we will sit out on our patio and look down on them.

Surprising how many Texans live down here.

We both have already stopped wearing a watch. Time of the day doesn't mean much around here; it is either daylight or it is dark, what more do you need to know. Bill has already forgotten what day of the week it is. Judy hasn't reached that point yet.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

First day on the boat full-time

2nd May 2006
First day on the boat full-time

We arrived yesterday; and you wouldn't believe the name of the pilot for our flight from Miami to St. Thomas -- Captain Ron. And when we anchored tonight in Red Hook Bay, the boat anchored next to us is also named Captain Ron. We need a copy of that movie for this boat!

Flew over parts of the Bahamas that we have never seen from the air before. Absolutely gorgeous! Looked like desert sand dunes but under very shallow, clear, turquoise water. Really beautiful.

Checked out of the BVI this morning--that was our shortest visit there ever: only about 16 hours. Got to St. John is the hottest part of the day to pick up all the boxes that we had shipped down here. Two dinghy rides to carry all the boxes to the boat and we still don't have everything. Six boxes haven't arrived yet; but the spare parts from Amel in France did arrive and that was the most important thing. We need those parts for our haul-out tomorrow morning.

We ate ashore for lunch/dinner/whatever you want to call our only meal of the day about 5:00 and then came back to the boat and sprayed all the boxes with roach poison before unpacking them in the cockpit. Don't want to take the chance of getting bugs on the boat, and we are sure these boxes were exposed to roaches while in transit down here in the islands. Then we brought everything below decks and started to stow. What a chore!!! Hard to get organized, but we'll get there eventually.

Bill found out this evening that the shareholders meeting has been rescheduled for June 15. SO THAT GIVES US ANOTHER WEEK TO REACH GRENADA! That is great news.

Better get off this computer. I'm using someone's WiFi here in the harbor and it is now pouring rain. Might lose the connection at any time

Life is great in tropical paradise, even in the rain.


Monday, May 1, 2006

Final weekend at home & trip down to boat

1st May 2006
Final weekend at home & trip down to boat

On Friday, Bill's employer gave him a surprise "Sail Away" lunch, which was very nice. It was held at Sam's Boat with an island theme. Great food and many gifts which we will use on the boat. Thanks, Sandy for all your work in putting together that retirement celebration for Bill. It meant a lot to him to have the send-off.

We had a hectic weekend moving out of the house and getting away. Sold Judy's car to her sister-in-law, Cheryl. (Sorry we didn't get to see you two to say goodbye.) Had a marvelous "last supper" at Fr./brother John's condo--smoked salmon appetizer and heavenly beef fillets; a couple of our favorite foods. Slept there Saturday night on the mattress which we have given/loaned to John. Just like being at home. Spent all day Sunday cleaning the empty house and final packing items. Did the final walk-thru with the landlord. So had a very nice deposit of the proceeds from selling the car and the house rental deposit refund. Spent our final night in Houston at Aaron's house; Lynn cooked a great pasta and stir-fry vegetable dinner. Got to say bye to a very sleepy Be-Be extremely early Monday morning.

We were worn out by the time we got on the plane. We did have 2 overweight bags but worth every bit of the $50 to be done with it. Surprisingly, airport security didn't even give us a hassle about the huge bag of prescription drugs Judy carried on. She did not want to put all these scripts in checked baggage; this is all for our offshore med kit. BTW, thanks very much to Donna for all her work in helping us put the med kit together. Looks like we are well-set in the department for just about any medical needs. Also thanks to Donna and Bruce for the flatware set with the little sailboats and line design. Very nice and we appreciate it.

Arrived in St. Thomas right on schedule and were able to catch the final ferry of the day to BVI West End. Found that our boat really was not damaged from the recent fuel truck explosion -- just had to see for ourselves; couldn't take the marina manager's word for it. Also learned that there have been two serious fires there in Soper's Hole within the past 2 months. About a month prior to the fuel truck explosion, there was a fire in Pusser's 2nd-floor kitchen. The truck driver is still in critical care but the woman cook at Pusser's has recovered from her burns and is already back at work. Pusser's kitchen was destroyed, so they have set up a temporary kitchen outside on the docks under a canvas awning. Bet you wouldn't see that happen back in the States; health dept would never allow it. But works just fine down here.

Got all our bags unpacked and stowed away. Now, finding something will be another story; but we have plenty of time to re-organize.

Checking out of the BVI first thing in the morning, as soon as the marina manager tallies our final tab and Customs opens so we can leave the country legally.