05/09/2011, Spanish Town, Virgina Gorda!
I made a general query on the VHF when we entered the channel at Gorda Sound, looking for the government dock where the customs office is supposed to be. The reply was... "There's no Port Authority here, you have to go to Spanish Town". It's only 6-7nm south, but we were just shocked! This new guidebook, not Chris Doyle's Guide we might add, the other one by N&M S... is seriously lacking info for cruisers, sheisa!
The BVI's are very sticky about anchoring, in addition to wanting to charge 25US$ per night or more for a mooring! So we searched and got beat out 2x. The charter boats were racing us to beat us there! We finally saw some boats anchored and we tried also but the bottom was too hard and no grabbing or setting! Lovely...One of the moorings became free so we took it! Now we know why! It looked suspect according to my captain and we would leave as soon as we cleared in!
We get to the ferry dock where the "dingy dock supposedly is"....no way...unless your legs are 10' long and your arms are just as long to reach a 2' giant bollard that far away. A gorgeous black man came to offer a hand, literally, but I said "where will you be when we get back"? He laughed and suggested we go to the windward side of the dock...same exact scenario so we dragged the dingy up on the beach, way up on shore past the tide line, because the tide was on its way in.
That's not the end of it...the customs officer said they could not take Euros and now we owe .20 US, that's it...oh really now! Then another great big gorgeous black man dressed extremely well, heard our exclamations and came to our rescue...gave us a dollar, of which we returned .80 in change!!!
Now, the curt and grouchy customs guy said "you are going to need more US dollars for Immigration" I said "You've got to be kidding, you can't make the conversion?"...so I take off on foot for an ATM.
Great, another stumbling block...the ATM rejected the debit card at the First Caribbean Bank. I went to a Scotia Bank ATM next and got the same error code...I had a 20$ Euro bill, so I went into the bank and exchanged it for US$. That was an ordeal too...copy of my id, signatures, forms, WHATEVER, and they charged 5.5 US dollars on top of that! When I got back to Dudley he was upset, understandably, so we both went into the Immigration officer with my 21 US$ and got the GOOD news that we had enough US dollars for the fee of $l6. Whew!
We both walked back to the bank, thru the parking lot, the adjoining field, the marina and marina complex, then the mall with the First Caribbean Bank, where the teller, who was a gem, charged us another 5.5 to exchange Dudley's stash of 80 E$, with the same procedure. We then tried and succeeded to appeal to her soft heart and she was able to bypass the ATM, make a withdrawal on our debit card for our daily limit and all was good. We had lunch, went back and re-secured the line to the mooring ball and crashed.
05/09/2011, Hello Virgin Gorda...
Right on schedule and we sailed. We were afraid with the weather sites all agreeing that we would be motoring and we did start out motor sailing! By dark, the wind picked up to 10kts and we were making 5-6kts with a calm but confused sea!
It was very delightful with lots of traffic, but that makes for a lively watch! Time flies and before you know it the Anegada Passage is behind us!
Good Morning you beautiful hunka rock! Seriously though, watching the island come into view and rise up from the sea before us is magical and a very thankful moment that Altair once again brought us to land safely!
05/08/2011, St. Martin, the French Side!!!!
Jeezzz, time just flies to fast! We came to do a lot of things, did get to see and talk to some good friends we've met mostly in Grenada...didn't get our prop...did get a prop part # though...chose to treat our batteries tenderly until we get back to Miami and no, we didn't get to Saba!
We just can't fit some things in at the rate we are moving and the weather has just been screwy on top of that! When I talked to Marilyn, she understood that we couldn't make Saba...we'll just have to make it a point to come back...we have to leave some things for later, right and she's a diver so that would be way cool for "stella to get her groove back"?
We thought we were leaving at 10, remembering that it was a 24 hour passage the last time we crossed the Anegada Passage! We planned for it...we staged for it...then we looked at the chart plotter and it's only 75 miles...or 16 hours...hmmmm....now we will be leaving at 3 or 4pm to arrive in the morning! Just proves that we are seasoned now, it's not stressful like it was more than 2 years ago!
The sky is gorgeous, and there are at least 20 boats coming east toward St. Martin, we think. I tried to call them on the radio to see what the real conditions are in the passage....not one of them answered our call! Oh well, we're committed...or should be!
Bye St. Martin! Goodbye dear friends...fair winds to all our friends crossing the pond!
05/05/2011, Marigot Bay, St. Martin
We got a call from Diane (of Jabulani, our friend of CGSC, and Grenada) on the VHF. She met a new man and is staging from here to cross the pond to to the North Sea with Gerd. Unique Dream is the boat he built and being a German, means that all the systems onboard that boat are probably exemplary!
They stopped by just as Vicky and Mike did to ask about customs! The four of them agreed to come aboard and we managed to pull off a sundowner without ice! Red wine, my infamous salsa, some pineapple and we chatted til the phenomenal sunset. How cool this cruising community!!!
We only chatted, after we heard them on the radio, with Susie on S/V Spirited Lady! Michelle and Dave on Daniel Story are here, going south too...Vicky and Bob on Fox-Sea, Rosemary on Balder (heading to the North Sea with 16 other Swedish boats) and Antonia and Joe on Woeee, also heading south! We bumped into Marilyn and Kent on Cardea, who were totally willing to pick us up in their rental car take us to Phillipsburg where the ferry to Saba is and pick us up at the end of the day. We have such a wonderful connection with those two! Yes, they are heading back to Grenada with the 'parade' of boats....Wheeennnn, wish we had time to hang with them all!
05/04/2011, Marigot Bay, St. Martin
Wow, it's really been 2.5 years since we stepped foot on this island! This is the first place we saw then too! The last time we didn't check out of the BVIs because we forgot and the French are so laid back that we couldn't help but rush into port after getting the dink in the water and dashed to the customs office early, we thought.
My guy is so tired...the customs guy, Ernest, played with us a bit, turns out it's 5 minutes before the office closes! He wanted to know if I made Dudley wait when we got married. I didn't tell him that I'm still waiting.
05/03/2011, Port Zante Marina @ St. Kitts
This piling is the sister to the one off our port stern, and are the reasons we put the dink on the davits. We do not like docks and now we have to back out into the wind...
Fortunately, Jeff on SV Contessa, agreed to help us!
The other thing that doesn't set well are those ominous looking clouds! Of course we will be leaving at 1a and won't be able to see anything except for the town lights!
Goodbye St. Kitts, hello St. Martin in about 12 hours!