Friday, February 22, 2008
On Tuesday we sailed along the south coast of St. John and rounded the west end to head to Jost Van Dyke. We choose this route to avoid the high seas that were still pounding the east shore. As we cruised along the west shore I said, "Hey Jim. We're on a beam reach! When was the last time we got to do that?" What a great feeling to not have the wind on the nose! We arrived at Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands where we cleared customs, grabbed a quick beer at Foxy's Bar, bought some ice and then headed back out to move the boat to Little Harbor for the night. We treated ourselves to barbeque chicken, ribs and chicken curry at Abe’s by the Sea.
The next day we were up and out again sailing over to Norman Island and the anchorage called The Bight. Boy, this is charter boat central! I think there were about 50 boats on moorings here and all but a few were charter boats. It's big business. Last night we stayed at Marina Cay and it's the same thing. We're starting to feel out of place! You should see our neighbors. We have a beautiful Swan sailing yacht, about 70+ ft long anchored next to us. Her crew was busy washing down the decks this afternoon and her tender is almost as long as Merengue. Jim wants to move the boat. He’s afraid I’m becoming attached! There are quite a few yachts in the 55-80 ft range here. I don't think many cruisers hang out in the BVI. Too crowded and too expensive. But it is a sailing paradise. I love being able to go out and sail for a few hours, arrive in a new place, swim, snorkel, relax and drink a sundowner while the sun goes down and then get up and do it again tomorrow. The next island is just a few miles away. To our sailing friends back in the states who are dreaming of spring and launching the boat, I highly recommend a charter vacation in the Virgins. We did it several times and it was always great.
The other night, when the moon was full there was a lunar eclipse. I slept right through it but Jim did wake up in time to catch a few photos.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This trail took us to Ram Head, a rocky cliff 200 ft above the Caribbean.
We left St. John on Feb 7, 2008 for the 35 mile crossing to St. Croix. We had been watching the weather for weeks and it seems like there are always big seas to deal with in this passage. We sailed in 17-25 kts with 6 to 7 ft seas. There was the occassional 10 footer just to keep you on your toes! We flew along doing over 6 kts with reefed sails. But the constant rolling takes its toll. The 2 brackets that Jim had installed on the front edge of the solar panels to help stabilize them snapped in two. Another trip to the hardware store and more repairs!
When we arrived in Christainsted Harbor we motored around looking for a spot to tuck ourselves in. Usually that is not a problem, one of the advantages of a small boat that will fit into spots where many bigger boats can't go. But the harbor was packed with boats and after circling through several times, we had to resign ourselves to anchoring on the outer edge, right next to where the sea planes took off and landed. They took off only about 100 yards from us and idled past us after landing, often coming as close as 50 ft. The pilots wave as they go by! Thankfully they only operate during daylight hours!
Take-off and landing.
The day after we arrived in St. Croix, Christainsted was holding a "Jump Up." A Jump Up is an island expression that means to dance. The festivities included food, music, late-night shopping and an appearance by the Mocko Jumbies Stilt Walkers. We ate shrimp roti, sampled fresh squeezed sugar cane juice and drank rum out of a coconut.
Steel Pan music. It was great until Jim said, "What's this song?" I had to tell him it was For All We Know by The Carpenter's. After that he wanted another rum!
Jumbies were evil spirits. Mocko Jumbies are pretend spirits used to chase away the evil ones. The Mocko Jumbies have their faces covered so the real spirits can't recognize them.
Is this thing loaded?
We rented a car to tour the island. If you haven't noticed yet, there are 3 things we don't pass up while traveling. The first is forts, the second is brew pubs (yes, we did try the one on St. Croix) and rum distilleries. We'd like to think at least 2 out of the three have historical significance. On this day we stopped to tour the Cruzan Rum Factory.
Happy Hour at Angry Nate's Restaurant on the waterfront.
As of today, we are just hanging out waiting for the weather to change. We'll head back to the U.S. or British Virgin Islands and then on to St. Martin where our friends Mike and Marcia are meeting us on March 1st.
Gotta go now. It's Valentine's Day and Jim is cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. We've got a nice bottle of red wine to go with it. Life is good!
Saturday, February 2, 2008
After leaving Charlotte Amalie, we headed to an anchorage at Christmas Cove. As we were approaching the bay, our friends Hans & Kristin on Whisper hailed us on the radio. They were less then a mile off our starboard side, heading to St. Thomas. We hadn't seen each other for awhile. We'd been hanging out in Culebra and they'd just returned from St. Croix. They changed course and joined us in Christmas Cove. The four of us went snorkling (saw a Reef Shark) and then had drinks and dinner on Merengue. It's such fun when a new landfall reunites you with friends.
The overgrown ruins of a manor house.
Petroglyphs, carved into rock above a reflecting pool.
Ruins of a rum factory.
By the late 1700's almost the entire island was deforested and planted with sugar cane. This factory became steam-driven when slavery was abolished.