Friday, January 26, 2007

Passage BVI to St. Martin

January 26, 2007  Friday
Marigot Baie, St. Martin
18.04.167N; 63.05.588W

Wednesday we left Jost Van Dyke and motored directly into the wind to Gorda Sound to wait for proper weather for the Anegada Passage to St. Martin.  There was predicted to be 11-foot swell on Wednesday but we certainly didn’t experience anything near that level.  We thought it was fairly flat seas going to Gorda Sound.

Since we had already put the dinghy and outboard up in anticipation of making the passage to St. Martin on Friday, we were kind of stuck on the boat.  So on Thursday we did laundry and read books most of the day – just lazing about.  There was a gorgeous large sailboat anchored next to us on the west side of Prickly Pear in Gorda Sound.  It had the prettiest bronze/silver colored hull; also had a crew of 4 taking good care of that yacht.  We have seen several new large sailing yachts that are various shades of this bronze/silver color, so it must be the latest rage in the luxury sailing yacht business.  Really is pretty.

We had planned to leave at 3:00 this morning, but we were both awake earlier; so anchor was up at 1:45 a.m. and we motored out of the channel at Gorda Sound.  BTW, if anyone plans to be sailing at night in that area anytime soon, the first green buoy as you are entering the channel is not working – no light at nighttime.  Thank goodness we have a good monitor and chartplotting software because you could not see a thing in the dark.  The moon had set at 11:30 p.m. so there was only starlight when we left at 1:45.

Winds were predicted to be less than 10 knots from 150 degrees.  Didn’t happen.  True wind direction ranged from 0 to 10 degrees but were definitely less than 10 knots.  True wind speed ranged from 1.5 knots to 7 knots for the entire trip.  We made great time motoring at 2200 rpms; arrived in Marigot Baie at 1:00 p.m.  Entire trip took 11 hours 45 minutes, and that included one hour of us goofing around and trying to sail in only 7 knots of wind.  That only lasted one hour because we couldn’t get any faster than 4 knots boat speed in those light winds, so we went back to motoring.  Average speed for the passage was 7.15 knots.

Judy was thrilled with this passage.  It could not have been any better.  She has been dreading the Anegada Passage ever since we decided to do this part of the Caribbean again.  The same passage last May was the passage from Hell – far and away the worst passage we have had to date.  Had lightning all around us all night long and winds ranging 25-35 knots and bad rainstorms.  This time was heaven compared to the last time we made this trip.

Apparently lots of people were also taking advantage of this great weather window.  At one point Bill could see 5 boats on radar within 12 miles.  Usually you can make the entire passage and not see another boat.

Judy trailed a fishing line from 6:30 a.m. until 12:45 p.m.  Didn’t get a bite.

At 9:00 a.m. a pod of small porpoises came jumping out of the water several hundred meters off the starboard side.  They made a beeline to the bow of the boat and played around a bit.  Then they went jumping off the port side and moved away.  There were at least 6 of them and may have been as many as a dozen.  It was really cool to see them up so closely.  They were quite playful.

Clearing in with the French Duanes was incredibly simple.  Just fill out one form and show our passports and boat certificate of documentation.  No charge, and they didn’t even ask us how long we plan to stay.  Guess we can stay here as long as we like – just can’t work here.

Then we walked around Marigot awhile; bought several bottles of merlot and other red wines; found a bakery and bought wonderful baguette and one slice of French style pizza to share.  Shared a bottle of wine and one slice of pizza – that was dinner on the boat.  We could hear some drum music after we finished the wine, so we went back to Marigot tonight to investigate.  Turned out to be a bunch of boys practicing in a park near the ferry dock.  After walking a few more blocks and wandering through an upper-scale shopping mall, we decided that it was time to turn in early tonight.

So, so, so glad to be finished with the Anegada Passage to St. Martin.  We are going to enjoy this island for several weeks.  

Monday, January 22, 2007

Little Lameshur Bay - Jost Van Dyke; met new Texas friends

January 22, 2007  Monday
Great Harbor, BVI

Last Friday we moved over to Red Hook long enough for a trip to Tutu Park Mall so that Judy could buy a new pair of sneakers since she walked the soles off her only pair when hiking on St. John last week.  Another quick trick to the Marina Market for fresh produce and then we decided to check out bays on the south side of St. John.

Little Lameshur Bay on the south side of St. John is a perfect jewel, a truly lovely quiet place to visit.  Anchoring is prohibited, of course, because this is part of the National Park on St. John; but there are 5 mooring balls in this tiny bay.  We chose the mooring in the middle of the bay, as far from shore as possible so that we wouldn’t be bothered too badly by the insects.  The water was totally calm even though the winds were nice, not even a wave or sea surge at the tiny beach; it was like being in a lake.  There is a hiking trail to the top of the highest mountain on St. John where there are some petroglyphs that Judy would have liked to see – but the thought of hiking up that mountain and getting bitten by mosquitoes and noseeums was enough to make her decide to forgo that uphill hike.  These petroglyphs are believed to have been carved into the stones by the Taino Indians about 1,000 years ago.  Bill took the dinghy over to Great Lameshur Bay to pay the park mooring fee and was surprised to find an actual dinghy dock in place, along with trash bins.

This has been a nice surprise to us.  St. John now allows boaters to bring trash or garbage ashore and be placed in animal-proof bins located near the beaches in most of the bays.  This is a major change.  In the past you were forbidden from bringing any form of trash or garbage ashore on St. John.  No one wants to store stinky bags of garbage on their boat so this was always a deterrent to visiting St. John for more than a day or two.  Don’t know what caused this change of policy but we are very glad to see these new trash bins placed so conveniently around the island.

Another change is that Customs no longer even asks if you are bringing any food on your boat.  The first time we cleared in at St. John back in November, we just assumed that they had forgotten to give us that Customs form because it was the day before Thanksgiving and no one was happy to be working in the Customs office.  But we have cleared into the USVI twice more since then and each time received no inquiries about any food aboard.  Guess they have stopped bothering with that particular form regarding the importation of food into the USVI.  It was rather silly; not like the USVI has any agriculture whatsoever that might be damaged by bringing in fresh fruit or vegetables.  Everything is imported to the USVI; they don’t grow anything here.

We stayed at Little Lameshur Bay for 3 nights and then sailed over to Jost Van Dyke this morning and cleared both in and out of the BVI.  We are staging ourselves for the passage to St. Martin later this week.  Originally we had planned to sail for St. Martin on Wednesday (day after tomorrow), but the weather forecast has changed and now we might delay until Friday.   As of this morning, the forecast for Wednesday is for winds of only 10 knots from 090 degrees and northerly sea swell of 9 feet with 3-4 feet wind chop waves.  The forecast for Friday is for winds of still only 10 knots, but from 160 degrees (a much better direction for us to be going eastward to St. Martin); and NNW sea swell of only 3 feet with 2-3 feet wind chop waves.  This sounds like as good as it could possibly get for the Anegada Passage over to St. Martin.  So Friday appears to be the day we will finally get moving again.

A 473 Beneteau flying a Texas flag and with hailing port of Houston, TX, arrived in Little Lameshur Bay yesterday afternoon.  So Bill went over and invited them over for sundowners.  It was nice to meet and visit Craig and Jan Scott on S/V Seabbatical.   Craig and Jan have a home in Kingwood and have a new Amel 54 on order.  They will be cruising southward this spring and then will store the Beneteau in Antigua for the 2007 hurricane season and go home to clean out their house and list it for sale.  They will then return and sail Seabattical back up to Annapolis to be placed for sale in summer of 2008.  Then they will fly over to La Rochelle, France, and pick up their new Amel 54 and cruise the Mediterranean for awhile in the new Amel.   Lucky them!  Hope they enjoy their new Amel 54 as much as we are enjoying our 53-ft. Super Marumu 2000 model.  Amel does produce a great yacht for cruising.  We hope to run across Craig and Jan again farther down island in a few months.

 Note May 28, 2013:  We did meet up with Craig and Jan aboard their Amel 54 named S/V Lone Star in Marmaris, Turkey in 2011.  Much later we met them again in their new home in The Woodlands (Houston) for dinner a few times.  They crossed to the Caribbean in Dec 2011 and then sailed up to US East Coast in spring 2013.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay, St. John

January 18, 2007  Thursday
Christmas Cove, Great St. James island, USVI

We spent the past few days in Leinster Bay, St. John.  This is a very pleasant anchorage.  Can’t anchor here because most of St. John is a US National Park, but there are mooring balls available for $15 per night.  Only somewhat negative thing about Leinster Bay is that you must land your dinghy on the beach and then walk 20 minutes to deposit your payment envelope.  Good thing that you can pay for multiple overnight stays in advance, so you only have to do that walk once.  Judy got dozens of insect bites doing this short little walk.

The bay host said that when the winds are calm then the noseeums come out early in the morning.  But the winds were high for the few days that we were in Leinster Bay, so the noseeums stayed on shore; it was very pleasant on our boat out on the mooring.

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay (yes, that is Waterlemon, not watermelon) are located on the northeastern side of St. John straight across from Great Thatch island.  This is just a great little bay.  You would never think it would be so calm in here when you are out in the channel just off Waterlemon Cay.  There is a strong current out there in that channel, but it is perfectly calm inside the bay. 

There are at least 100 starfish located in Leinster Bay, maybe even more.  They congregate between the mooring balls that are closest to the beach, on the right side.  Most of the starfish are yellow but also some red and orange ones can be seen.  Judy tried to take photographs of these starfish but they were too deep and the photos just looked like blue-green water.  Some of the starfish were moving about while Judy was snorkeling over them.  It was really cool.

Porpoises are all over the place right now in the Virgins.  We have seen porpoises in Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke; Soper’s Hole, West End, Tortola; and here in Leinster Bay, St. John.  Not to mention also seeing them when out sailing several times.  Must just be the time of the year because it is not normal to see so many porpoises around this area.  Also saw a hawksbill turtle the other day on the northern side of St. John.

There are now 3 cruiser boats waiting for the next weather window for the passage to St. Martin, including us.  And another 2 cruisers also want to make the trip to St. Martin within the next 2 weeks.  Time for all of us to start moving over eastward to begin the southward travel through the Leewards and Windwards.  We plan to leave on the next good weather prediction, which might be as early as this weekend.  We are waiting to hear back from the weather forecasting guy, Chris Parker, regarding what night would be the best time for this passage.  

We stopped by the mailing service in St. John yesterday and collected the remaining two packages of stuff that we had ordered to be shipped here.  Then we returned to our favorite anchorage at Christmas Cove, where we can anchor and save that $15 per day for mooring balls which we would have to pay if we stayed at St. John.

As much as we have enjoyed the USVI and BVI, it is time to move on.

BTW, we also met another person who had their dinghy and outboard stolen in Soper's Hole on Tortola.  Cruisers beware!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hiking across St. John

Francis Bay, St. John, USVI
18.21.847N; 64.44.864W

On Friday evening we hosted a small cruiser pot luck dinner on our boat.  Ken and Cindy on S/V Secret O’ Life and Douglas and Nancy on S/V Spiritus joined us for a fun evening.  It was good to visit with other cruisers again.  Spiritus and Secret O’ Life came down a couple of years ago in the annual 1500 from Hampton, Virginia to the BVI.  Both couples cruise the Caribbean only during the winter months and return to their US land homes for the rest of the year, leaving their boats on the hard somewhere in the CaribbeanAntigua is the  favored spot to leave their boats in “hurricane proof” cradles.  S/V Secret O’ Life is a Beneteau 461, the same model boat that we used to own; but this one has in-mast furling mainsail and one electric winch to handle the mainsail and one electric head.  Our 46-ft Beneteau didn’t have those luxuries.

Yesterday we motored from Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island to Francis Bay on St. John.  Winds were pretty high and OTN (on the nose), so we just motored instead of dealing with tacking back and forth in order to sail.  Winds were 30 knots and gusting 36 kts when we got on the mooring ball here in Francis Bay.  We have not been to Francis Bay since November 1993.  If Pam or Jerry or Barbara are reading this, they will remember that this is the place where we dumped the Omaha Steaks overboard when the grill tipped over.  

We do not have fond memories of Francis Bay, but it has changed since then and is much nicer now.  There are many more mooring balls and the National Park Service is doing a great job with upkeep.  There are now volunteers called bay hosts that help in the collection of the mooring ball fees, so you don’t have to go walking all over the beaches looking for a box to deposit your payment envelope.  There is also a small boat on a mooring ball where you can deposit your payment envelope.  This is far more convenient than in the old days.  Moorings are now $15 per night.

Today we hiked over the hills to Coral Bay with Ken and Cindy, Douglas and Nancy, and Deb and Jeff from S/V Daydream.  That is quite a hike!  It isn’t very far in distance but the inclines really got to Judy.  She just does not do will with altitude changes; was huffing and puffing on the climb up the hills.  Going down was easy and the few flat surfaces were easy, but those upward inclines were murder.  Judy managed to get blisters on one heel and on the bottom of 3 toes during this short 2 mile walk up these hills.  Of course, it didn’t bother Bill one bit.  But Ken and Nancy also were having trouble with the upward inclines so Judy had company in bringing up the rear of our little group of 8 as we did this hike.

We followed the Francis Bay Trail, passed the ruins of the Annaberg School and and Annaberg Sugar Mill , past Watermelon Bay and Leinster Point on the Lenster Bay Trail, then the Johnny Horn Trail to the top of the hill where we found an old dirt “road” that we followed down to Coral Bay.  We saw many stone ruins and saw the back side of the stone arch that Theo had seen last week when we sailed from Norman Island to Soper’s Hole.  Unfortunately, the vegetation growth was so high on the back side of that arch that we couldn’t get around to the water side to take a photo.  But there were stone ruins of many rooms behind that arch.  If you are into stone ruins of sugar plantations, this is a good hike.  If you are like us and don’t give a flip about old ruins of stones, it is still a good hike.

We had hamburgers at the infamous Skinny Legs.  Burgers were cooked a little too well done for everyone’s taste but still tasted good.  While eating lunch Judy happened to look down at her shoes and realized that the soles were coming complete off!  This is the same thing that happened to the sneakers that she wore in the Amazon Jungle back in September.  After lunch Ken and Cindy, Deb and Jeff, and Douglas walked the trail all the way back to Francis Bay.  Nancy, Judy and Bill chose to take a taxi to Columbo’s ice cream and smoothie shack at the top of the hill and meet up with the rest of the group – let them do that uphill climb all by themselves.  Then we all walked together down the hills back to Francis Bay.  All the others were complaining that the walk downhill was the worst part of the hike, but Judy wasn’t bothered by the downhill walking – it was only the uphill climbing that bothered her. Judy dumped her sole-less sneakers into the nearest trash can by the beach and continued barefoot back down the beach to where we had anchored the dinghy. 

Some of us were tired puppies after that hike!  Judy definitely wants to buy a couple of walking sticks if we are going to be doing any more of this uphill hiking.  We understand that a lot of people hike the trails in the hills of Dominica, so maybe we can find some walking sticks for sale somewhere on St. Thomas before we leave the USVI.

Only bad thing about Francis Bay is that there is no WiFi internet.  Well, to be entirely truthful there is one WiFi internet connection available but it costs more than we are willing to pay.  So we still have not been able to upload photos and update the website.

January 15, 2007  Monday
Soper’s Hole, West End, Tortola, BVI

This morning we made a trip over to Soper’s Hole; needed to exchange a defective DVD that Bill purchased here last week.  It is a movie from 1958 that is set at Marina Cay.  Sydney Portier is in this old movie; never heard of any of the other actors.  We are curious to see how much the area has changed since then; not like we expect this to be a good movie, we are only interested in the scenery. 

We have a very limited internet connection but will try to upload some photos and get the website updated while we are on this mooring ball.  Don’t plan to stay here very long.  Not sure where we are going this afternoon.  Weather predictions are not favorable for the passage to St. Martin this week, unless it improves greatly by the weekend.  Maybe we will spend a few days around various bays on St. John.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Island visit with family

January 3, 2007  Wednesday
American Yacht Harbor Marina, Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI

Cleared out of the BVI yesterday and cleared back into the USVI.  Clearing out of the BVI in West End was a bit of a hassle.  Our passports were stamped that we were cleared to remain in the BVI until Jan 7.  The lady in Immigration was willing to clear our boat out of the BVI, but she was not going to clear us out of the BVI because we said we would be returning on Jan 4.  Since we were only going to be gone for 2 days, she said it wouldn’t count that we had left the country.  Said we would have to stay cleared into the BVI even though we were leaving, checking into the USVI, and then returning to the BVI.  She said the rest of the family could stay in the BVI until Jan 9, but that Bill and Judy would have to go to Road Town and request permission to stay past Jan 7.  

We never argue with Customs and Immigration officials, being pleasant is the far better method of dealing with any officials.  But this time Judy was not going to accept this explanation, so she argued back and forth with the Immigration official:  basically, just how long did we have to be out of their country before it would count that we had left their country --- if 2 days was not sufficient time, did they require that we be gone for 3 days, one week, two weeks, one month, or what.  Just what was the time requirement by their laws.  After a good ten minutes of this nonsense, the Immigration official gave in and cleared us out of the BVI.  So now we won’t have any problems when we return on Jan 4.

We arrived in Red Hook promptly at 1:00 p.m. on Jan 3 as instructed by the marina and found that our assigned slip was still occupied.  The guy finally managed to leave the slip at 1:45.  Seems like we ought to receive a discount for that lost time but it doesn’t work that way.  We immediately backed into the slip, tied up and went to Molly Mallone’s to split a burger.  Noticed a dive shop right next to the restaurant so Judy was able to buy new fins.  The new ones are much more comfortable.  Then we hit the supermarket for fresh produce.  We got back to the boat and started to unload the groceries and Judy checked email, where she found a message from Theo’s Blackberry saying that they had arrived at the airport in St. Thomas and were already enroute in a taxi.   Barely had time to stow the groceries before they arrived.

Showed everyone where they could stow their clothes and where they would sleep and gave them the standard boat instructions for showering and operating the head (none of them have boating experience).  Then we split up: the guys hit the grocery store again for a beer and wine run and the gals went to Wok & Roll for Chinese take-out.  Pleasant night at the dock with lots of cold air conditioning and had a good time visiting.  Teresa introduced us to coconut flavored rum mixed with pineapple juice, a/k/a Bahama Mamas.  She declared this to be her preferred drink of this trip.

January 4, 2007  Thursday
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI     9.8 NM

Cloudy, hazy day with scattered rain showers; so we motored all the way to Jost.  Kristin and Teresa began to feel a bit seasick so we gave each of them one of the French seasickness pills that work so well for Judy (and put her sound asleep for an hour or so).  We went to Foxy’s for lunch and both Teresa and Kristin were really dragging by that point.  Kristin cratered in the hammock on the beach.   Unfortunately, Foxy’s was the deadest we have ever seen it.  No entertainment and we were the only people there for lunch.  Shame since this will be the only opportunity for the group to come here this trip, so they won’t get the true Foxy’s experience.

Customs and Immigration on Jost Van Dyke were extremely pleasant; they cleared us both in and out since we will only be in the BVI for 5 days.  First time they have done that for us here in the BVI.

We had planned to go to Green Cay for snorkeling this afternoon, but decided not to push the seasickness issue any farther today.  Decided to just stay where we were.  It was a rainy night for our guests’ first night aboard, but Great Harbor is very calm so there was little boat motion.  Hopefully they will adjust to the movement tonight and have no further seasickness.  We played Mexican Train Dominoes and had a nice evening.

January 5, 2007  Friday         
Marina Cay, BVI         22.2 NM

Happy 20th Birthday to Kristin!  Not a teenager anymore.  We gave her a tie-dyed tank top that we had bought in St. John.  So now she has a St. John souvenir.

Prettier day today.  We had a late start from Great Harbor, headed over to Cane Garden Bay.  The wind would be directly on the nose so we planned to motor; but Bill wanted to let the group have a small experience of sailing, so we sailed between Jost Van Dyke and Tortola for a few tacks and then motored.  First Kristin sailed at the helm, then Lauren and then Teresa.  After Bill got the sails back in, then we turned Theo loose with the helm to drive us into Cane Garden Bay.  We got onto a mooring ball and went ashore.

We walked down to Caldwood’s Rum Factory.  It has been producing rum since sometime in the 17th or 18th century.  It is so old that the stone is rotting away.  We sampled a few rums and wines and made a few small gift purchases.  Mr. Caldwood no longer is involved with the rum factory.  The young guy behind the counter said that Mr. Caldwood is too old now to even drink the rum.  The new guy has been making the rum for about six years now.  Nice to see that the tradition is continuing.

We had tuna sandwiches on the boat as we motored along the north side of Tortola toward Guana Island.  Around Monkey Point the girls decided to lay on the mizzen deck to catch a few rays.  Down the Camano Passage and we anchored in our usual spot between Great Camano, Scrub Island and Marina Cay.

Lauren, Kristin and Judy snorkeled for a short while; but the current was very strong so they didn’t stay in the water very long.  It was pretty strenuous fighting the current and it was a bit colder than they would have like it to be.  But it was nice to see that there actually is some live coral still in that area.

We all went to happy hour at the small bar at the top of the hill on Marina Cay.  No entertainment; what’s up with that!  Seems everywhere we go this week there is none of the normal entertainment!  So we each had a rum drink – all of which were too strong to enjoy and went back to the boat.

Spaghetti and meatball dinner aboard.  Winds were unusually high and weather was cooler than normal.

January 6, 2007  Saturday
Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI        13.1 NM

Seas and winds were too high to even consider mooring off Spanish Town to go to The Baths this morning, so we decided to motor up to Gorda Sound and take a taxi down to The Baths.  Turned out to be a good decision.  Teresa decided that the reason for her queasiness on the first day must have been that she was wearing contact lenses, which she hasn’t worn in months.  So she didn’t wear contacts yesterday and felt fine all day.  So she will just wear sunglasses over her regular eyeglasses instead of the contacts.  Good thing she figured out what was causing her to feel motion sickness.

Motored up between The Dogs and around Mosquito Island, past Necker Island, and into Gorda Sound channel.  We picked up a mooring ball in Leverick Bay and found a taxi to take us down to The Baths.  Bill gave the taxi driver one of our boat cards and told him that we operated a private charter boat out of St. Thomas and that Theo and family were our charter guests.  This got us the private charter boat rate of $6 per person each way for the taxi, rather than the standard price of $10 per person each way.   Cool.

The taxi drive was a great idea.  It provided us with beautiful scenic vistas.  The driver stopped twice for us to take photos, once overlooking Gorda Sound and the eastern side of Virgin Gorda and once overlooking the southern end of Virgin Gorda and down the Sir Francis Drake Channel.  Definitely the best way to go see The Baths because it also provides a good tour of the island and breathtaking views from the mountaintop.

We hiked down the path to The Baths and duck-walked our way through the small entry between the boulders.  This always brings back good memories for Bill and Judy.  The first few times we came to The Baths it was just boulders; none of the ropes for handholds and the wooden steps and little bridges that are there now.   We had to find our way through the boulders and pools by trial and error; now there is a well-marked path that is easy to follow.  Sort of takes some of the fun out of it, but also accommodates a lot more tourists.  Used to be free, too; and now it costs $3.00 per person.   Definitely worth that small admission price to see this unique spot. 

The types of stone at The Baths are different than any found anywhere else in the BVI.  Our theory is that Gorda Sound and surrounding islands on the north end of Virgin Gorda is the remnants of a volcano crater from distant millennia and that the enormous boulders down at the south end of Virgin Gorda were thrown down there during volcanic eruptions.  The boulders all look like they landed there, not as if they were pushed up from the earth.  Can you imagine how violent the world must have been during this active volcanic period!

We arrived back at Leverick Bay well before dusk, so we motored over and picked up a mooring ball at Saba Rock.  But the winds were 25-30 knots so we did not want to get in the dinghy just to go up to the bar for a drink.  So Theo and Teresa didn’t get to see the pretty views from the hill at Saba Rock looking eastward over the reef or the magnificent mahogany bar in the restaurant. 

It was so windy that the grill would not stay lit, so we had to cook chicken breasts in a skillet down in the galley.  Then we watched the first two episodes of Rome.  The boat was dancing all over the place and the movement didn’t seem to bother anyone one bit, so guess they are getting accustomed to boat motion.

January 7, 2007  Sunday
The Bight, Norman Island, BVI           22 NM

Great down wind sail today!  Everyone tolerated it well.  Kristin got a teensy bit queasy but she managed to tough it out.  Everyone else tolerated motion without even noticing it.

We trailed a fishing line most of the day.  We caught a large barracuda, which we threw back, of course.   At the bottom of Peter Island we also caught a bonita, which we also threw back.  It looked like a large fish had tried to bite it in half.  The teeth prints were in a wide pattern like a shark’s mouth, not in a tight pattern like a barracuda’s mouth.   Poor bonita:  a hook in its mouth and something tries to bite it in half.  Getting it from both ends!

We picked up a mooring ball.  Winds were still quite high so taking the dinghy over to the caves was not appealing.  It was too cold to want to get into the water.  Being from southeast Texas, we all are accustomed to hot weather and very warm sea water temps.  This water was too cold in the cool winds (probably 80F water temp and 82F air temp).  We are all wimps and not ashamed to admit it.

Bill took Theo, Teresa, Lauren and Kristin over to Willie T’s for happy hour.  Judy stayed on the boat to cook dinner.  Willie T’s is a floating bar/restaurant named the William Thornton.  It is notorious for girls getting drunk and jumping naked off the bar end of the boat; they get a tee-shirt for doing this.  But the BVI government put a stop to the naked jumping back in November; didn’t think it promoted a family vacation image of the BVI.  But you can still do body shots!  They didn’t stop that practice.  Someone offered to buy shots if Lauren and Kristin would do body shots.  They declined.

The Rouse group met one gregarious guy who was on a Moorings charter boat – very talktative.  He asked if the girls had a chance to sail the boat.  Bill said that both girls had sailed the boat.  Bill said, “Kristin, show him how to set the mainsail.”  She held up two fingers and pulled them back simultaneously as if activating two toggle switches, which cracked up everybody; and the guy goes “Oh now, not one of those!”  And Kristin was right, that is how you set the mainsail on the Amel – electric sails.

Again the winds were way too high to light the grill, so we cooked steaks down in the galley.  Tonight was going to be movie night of “Master and Commander; The Far Side of the World.”  But the guy at Willie T’s told the girls about the movie “Captain Ron” so we watched that instead.  Still a funny movie, even if we have seen it at least a dozen times.

January 8, 2007  Monday
Christmas Cove, Great St. James Island, USVI        17 NM

This morning the winds had finally decreased back to normal.  Bill took the girls in the dinghy over to see the caves, but no one took the time to snorkel.  We have a lot to do today since they leave tomorrow.

It was a nice, flat sail over to Soper’s Hole at West End, Tortola.  Picked up a mooring ball and took the dinghy in so everyone could do a bit of shopping.  While they were shopping Judy made sandwiches for lunch and we ate underway to Cruz Bay.  Another nice, flat, calm sail.  Picked up a mooring ball off Caneel Bay and took the dinghy in to Cruz Bay to clear US Customs and Immigration, which was a quick and easy process. 

We visited Connections, our mailing service on St. John; but neither of the two remaining parcels have arrived yet.  If these have not arrived by next week then we need to have these packages traced as both should have been here by now.

We walked around a few minutes and the group did a bit of souvenir shopping.  Then back to the boat and motored over to Christmas Cove.  Winds were so calm that we had no trouble using the grill tonight – great grilled pork tenderloins that Judy had started marinating last night.  Served with Judy’s spicy yellow Caribbean rice with golden raisins, carrots, onions and red peppers; and plantains cooked Cuban style sautéed in butter with brown sugar and lime juice.  A touch of the Caribbean for their last night aboard.

Then we played a half-game of Mexican Train Dominoes (starting with sixes instead of starting with twelves).  Kristin won again; she only enjoys the game if she wins.  Judy had her highest (worst) score ever.

January 9, 2007  Tuesday
Christmas Cove again            4.6 NM

Their flight home wasn’t until 5:15 p.m., but they wanted to get allow plenty of time to get a taxi to the airport.  We had planned to take them to Charlotte Amalie and anchor.  Bill could take them ashore in the dinghy to get a taxi to the airport.  But we decided that will all their luggage that it might be easier if we just went to the fuel dock at Red Hook; so that is what we did.

We arrived at the fuel dock around 12:30 and unloaded all the luggage.  That was certainly easier that dealing with a dinghy!!  Just lift them over the life rail and place them on the dock.  Like that! 

Then we moved the boat and anchored out in Red Hook bay and went ashore; took a safari taxi to Cost U Less and picked up 1 cold bag and 3 canvas bags of stuff.  This time we only bought what we could carry on a safari taxi back to the marina.  Also stopped by Tutu Park Mall and bought a few things.  Judy’s eyes dry out badly from the winds when we sail at night; so much that she was forced to wear her sunglasses at night during our passage from Bonaire.  So we bought some swim goggles for her to try at night when we do the Anegada Passage to St. Martin later this month.

Then we motored right back to Christmas Cove, our favorite anchorage.

January 10, 2007  Wednesday
Christmas Cove

Today was “clean the boat” day.  Six loads of laundry and just general cleaning to put everything back ship-shape. 

Tonight we visited another couple on a Beneteau 461, which is the model boat that we owner prior to purchasing the Amel.  They have a very nice 2-cabin version of that boat, with electric head and electric winch for the in-mast furling mainsail.  Enjoyed the evening.

January 11, 2007 Thursday
Christmas Cove

Put up the shade awning today, so guess that means we are staying a few days.  Last night would have been a perfect time to do the passage to St. Martin; winds were non-existent and seas were totally flat.  But today the prediction is for the winds to start building again, so guess we will be sitting her at least a few days.

Bill donned all his diving gear and cleaned our prop this morning.  We could only get 2200 rpm before he cleaned it.  It is a feathering Auto Prop and very sensitive to any marine growth.  After cleaning we were able to get 2500 rpm easily.  That was as high as he wanted to push the engine while we are still anchored.  The boat started moving forward on the anchor chain too quickly to try to push the revs any higher.  Hopefully, he got it clean enough that we can again push it to 3600 - 3800 rpm to blow out any soot build up.  Diesel engines should be revved to high rpms at least once a month to prevent build up, although most sailors don’t bother to do this.