Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rigging It!

The rigging parts arrived!  It was time to move Merengue to the Crown Bay Marina so her new rigging could be installed.  This was what the anchor chain looked like after 5 weeks in Charlotte Amalie Harbor.

We weren't too concerned about cleaning it up real well because we were also purchasing 150 feet of new anchor chain which we planned on loading onto the boat while we were at the dock.

The guys from Island Rigging showed up just minutes after we docked to begin their inspection and install the new back stays.

You can see in this photo how one strand had become rusted and consequently weakened.  Why just one strand?  It looked like one strand was made up of an inferior grade stainless steel.  It showed up throughout each of the stays.

These guys were great! We found them quick, efficient and knowledgeable.  They found rusting on the upper stays and recommended that we replace those as well.  They installed the 2 back stays in about an hour and then headed back to the shop to make the new upper stays.  We had those installed that afternoon!

We were glad we made the decision to leave this to the professionals.  We were so pleased with their work that we decided to have them come back the next day to replace our fore stay.  Now Merengue has new rigging on all sides.  We will have to replace the lower stays at some point in the future but for now they look good. 

After weeks of high winds, the wind died, temperatures rose and the humidity climbed.  It was a hot time to be in a marina doing projects all day long.  We hit an all time high temperature when we hit 100 degrees inside the cabin.  Looks like we melted the outside sensor!  We drank gallons of water and looked forward to our shower at the end of the day.  Bailey was a furry puddle on the floor of the cabin!

Boat projects completed and time to head to Brewer Bay for clean water and swimming.
Wildlife abounds here!  There are lots of sea turtles, pelicans, laughing gulls and brown boobies.

Across the bay is the airstrip.  It's far enough away to provide entertainment without being annoying.  If you look closely, you'll see a jet taxiing to the end for takeoff.

Thia morning we had a visit from a brown booby.  He landed on the bimini and settled in for a stay.  He was completely unconcerned with how close we got to him and refused to leave even we tried to shake him off.

Jim asked the bird nicely to leave and it shook it's head No!  Then it started to close it's eyes as though it wanted to nap.  It took quite a bit of prodding to get it to move on.
(We call this photo "The Boob and the Booby")

We plan on enjoying Brewer Bay for a few more days before heading back to Charlotte Amalie to see the Carnival parade and fireworks on Saturday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hanging in St. Thomas

We are still hanging out in St. Thomas waiting for the parts to arrive to fix the rigging.  We hope to hear something on that today.  But it certainly isn't a hardship having to stay here and there's lots to do to fill the time.
Easter Sunday we headed out to Honeymoon Bay on Water Island.  This little guy was surfing his way over.

Honeymoon Bay has a beautiful sand beach with a couple of bars.
We chose Joe's Beach Bar for rum punch, cold beer and conversation.
Jeannette and Bill on S/V Sea Lion arrived 2 days before.  We met in Luperon, Dominican Republic in 2007 and haven't seen them for over 2 years so it's been great to catch up again.
We've made several trips out around the island.  The bus system in St. Thomas, like most islands, is inexpensive and convenient.  I love that they are open-air and cooled by the breeze. 
One of our stops the other day was at an artist colony called Tillet Garden, a collection of shops and artist studios where you can buy clothing, jewelry, pottery, paintings and more.  It's usually pretty easy for us to look and not buy.  There's no room for all that stuff on Merengue! 
Yesterday we headed over to Hassel Island for some hiking.  Hassel and Water Islands are the 2 islands that sit just off shore from Charlotte Amalie in the bay.  95% of Hassel Island is part of the V.I. National Park system.  We didn't find the developed trails we were hoping for but we did manage to find the trail that leads to a few of the ruins found here.  This is the remains of a customs house.

The ruins of a fort guard the entrance to Charlotte Amalie harbor.

We love walking through these old ruins.  It was well worth the very wet dinghy ride to get there.  The wind has really been blowing and any ride to shore tends to be a wet one!
At the end of the day we have the view of a million city lights. 
On this particular day we were treated to a beautiful sunset where streaks of light radiated up from the setting sun.  We've never seen that before and don't know what caused it.  We don't think on it too hard, we just enjoy it!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Transfer Day, St. Thomas

Yesterday was Transfer Day, a national holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  On March 31, 1917 the United States purchased the Danish West Indies (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John).  World War I began 7 days later.  In 1927, Virgin Islanders were granted U.S. citizenship but it wasn't until 1970 that islanders could vote for their own governor and, in 1972 a delegate to the U.S. Congress.
This is the historic legislature building where 15 members elected from all three islands handle the day to day running of the government. 
Though they are U.S. citizens, islanders have no vote in national elections.  Nor does the Washington representative have a vote on the floor of the house.
We decided to join in the celebration and learn a little more about the history of the Virgin Islands.  The ceremony began with the military presentaion of the colors, the U.S. and Virgin Islands flags.

Elementary school children sang the national anthem.....

... and then performed a song called "A Time for Uprising" that told the story of the slaves' struggle for freedom.

There were, of course the usual speeches from government officials.  It was interesting to see the celebration of their Danish history.  The Virgin Islands belonged to Denmark for over 200 years, much longer then they have been American.
The ceremonial lowering of the Danish flag while a National Guardsman stands by with the U.S. flag.
Folding the Danish flag before it was presented to the Consul General of Denmark.

The raising of the Stars and Stripes.
It was an interesting afternoon.  At one point a politician said "While we embrace those freedoms we cherish..... are we more American or Caribbean?"  There was also some concern for what the Virgin Islands might become if they are not careful; a place for the wealthy where the the average resident may no longer be able to afford to live.  St. John was cited as an example of that.  There is no doubt that these are U.S. territories.  You feel it as soon as you arrive.  These islands have a very different feel then the remainder of the Caribbean.  I can see why they sometimes struggle with whether they feel more American or Caribbean.  They seem to have one foot in each world.