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Anthem Adrift
Just Add Detergent
05/11/2009, St. Martin

May 11

Boy did that suck and glad to be here. Lumpy trip became brutal last 15 NM when unable to find anyone to turn off washing machine creating vertical 3 to 6 foot waves with boat length interval. Diverted to later opening Dutch bridge after slamming to a crawl then heaving to for feral fuel cans and dinghy which had shaken loose and gone wild. Stopped earlier to temporarily reattach broken alternator field wire. Anchored on French side of lagoon, per local knowledge, for clearance into island, $8 total.

Afterward: Two hour nap, Lagoon Marina (actually a bar on Dutch side), Fai Wong Chinese Restaurant, more Lagoon Marina, then abed early to prepare for local bus tour of island, including nude beach, with Inspiration Ladys tomorrow morning. Tentatively plan a week in what promises to be new favorite place on earth.

Jack

Wine and Naked Women
05/10/2009, En Route to St. Martin

May 10

Grabbed rental car, a plucky little Suzuki Gran Vitara, at 0800 for tricky drive to Spanish Town for clearance out of BVI and tour of island. Roads are steep and switch-backed up and down the side of 1359 foot Virgin Peak.

Immigration showed at 0830, customs at 0900 and cashier at 1000. Dallied over good $5 breakfast at nearby New Dixie Cafe, then paid departure fee of $5.16 and was free to go exploring.

Was dismayed to see a sign reading "DIP". As you can imagine, was highly incensed, but shortly thereafter, when car stopped bouncing, realized that, since no one knew I was coming, it probably referred to someone else.

Also noticed liberal use of speed bumps all over the island (almost exclusively on roads). Not the moon launch kind, but effective nonetheless. Apparently, Virgin Gordians have lead feet and now, presumably, bad suspensions. Vast majority of vehicles were small SUVs. Suppose the cliffside roads and velocity inhibitors encourage small, sturdy vehicles.

Once flew into V.G. airport in a Twin Otter en route from Tortola to St. Thomas. Pleased to report that, unlike Beef Island airport previously described, this one has been unravaged by progress.

At southeast end is Copper Mine Point, sight of (you guessed, didn't you?) a former copper mine and smelt (having no relation to fish or disagreeable olfactory input, such as for example, "That rotting fish, smelt?", but rather to making copper do things that it ordinarily wouldn't).

As Sol sets behind Virgin Peak on the horizon, Night Hawk ahead, somewhere, and Emily Grace and Bristol Rose astern, somewhere, Anthem plows noisily ahead under staysail and double reefed main in sloppy five foot seas about ten degrees off rhumb. Discomfort is modest and so is progress, but the lure of St. Martin draws me on... you know, the bread and cheese.

Jack

Conundrum Solved Too Late
05/09/2009, North Sound, Virgin Gorda

May 9

Stay - too short or too long? Tomorrow may be window for move to St. Martin, not to be repeated in foreseeable future. Once had a high school teacher who enjoyed saying, "When in doubt, don't". He probably never had any fun. Still and all, was leaning toward staying until next chance, so screwed around all morning at the airport and gave meaning to existence of breakfast cook at De Loose Mongoose. Return to boat at 1130 was occasion for all available data to coalesce into realization that 10 more days in BVI was some too many. Davited dinghy and took off for check-out and fuel dock at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda with thoughts of staging to Anegada. Plan collapsed due customs closing at 1230 on Saturday and Sunday. Dang! Could probably have checked out at airport. Dang! Did get fuel, then had good sail right to anchorage west of Prickly Pear Island in North Sound. Apprised that taxi back to customs is $48. Dang! Rented a car for little more allowing some exploration before weighing anchor (doggedly remains around 45 lbs) tomorrow afternoon for night sail in company with Night Hawk to Marigot Bay, St. Martin - wine, cheese, bread, naked women.

Bitter End Yacht Club, favorite place of Pat & Sue - sailor friends, was virtually deserted. Even penned sharks at the dinghy dock have bailed. Numerous boats in harbor. Hint of possible answer, $8.75 drinks, $15 hamburgers. Leverick Bay is perkier. Less extortionate?

Useless tidbit for the day: Informed by Danno yesterday that plural for mongoose here is not mongooses or mongeese, but mongoose dem. Those wacky islander dem.

Jack

Eschew, a Real Word
05/08/2009, TrellisBay

Beef Island Airport

May 8

Dawn cracked without me, but still managed to depart anchorage by 0700 for 0930 arrival at Trellis Bay. Talk about locusts. Anthem looked like the ball in a pachinka machine (without collision noises) motoring through to find, perhaps, the last open anchoring location in harbor. Night Hawk picked up one of last moorings several minutes later. After a gigantic omelet at De Loose Mongoose, discussed state of the world with Danno and Captain Bill who were quaffing beers on the outside bar at 1030, getting a leg up on tonight's festivities, no doubt.

Mission for tomorrow, check out Beef Island airport, short stroll from dock. Last perusal around 15 years ago revealed a shack. New terminal looks like small O'Hare. Recent charter rates probably responsible for upgrade. Check moorings.com to see, as our last charter week in BVI was $1200.

Despite poor wifi and congenital laziness, have finished, kinda/sorta, assembling web site. If desirous of seeing beta version, try www.sailblogs.com/member/anthem. Will eventually check for more user-friendly address. Will, also, eventually offer option to eschew (great word) emails for non-intrusive, self-directed updates on voyage.

Full moon party was well attended with gazillion boats in harbor. Great time with gazillion participants, times three or four on average. May succumb to cruiser's bane, however, early sleepage (not a real word) with commensurate early riseage (ditto ref. real wordage (also, not a real word). (New web site goes nuts at symbol indicating arrow, so will dispense with (eschew) that usage, henceforth)). OK, who counted the parentheses? Liar, liar pants on fire.

Jack

PS Have found that latest efforts have not created chuckle for which this effort is intended. Seems like quality has waned. Solicit input as to reception by abused, albeit willing, recipients.

Picture Postcard
05/07/2009, Cane Garden Bay

Arundel Distillery

May 7

Just erased entire message. No recovery. Golly gee whiz or words to that effect. Perhaps this will teach a lesson about saving work... nahhh!

Anegada not happening today. Weather OK, just not inspired. Siren song of the "Drowned Island" apparently didn't get this far as Night Hawks still here, too. Dinked ashore to beautiful little place, Myett's Garden Inn and Grille, for breakfast. Palm framed, postcard view over pristine sand beach to a mast-filled lagoon with Jost van Dyke in the background. Thought to go somewhere in Sir Francis Drake Channel to stage for the shindig tomorrow or just stay here.

Waitress placed coffee on wrong side, then apologized when it was moved, like she should read minds. Could have explained that what I'm thinking is a secret to me, too.

Flagged down Ray & Jenna as they walked along the shore and we sat long enough to have lunch. Watched a troupe of medium-bodied, short-legged dogs cavorting up and down the shore like Shriner's at a convention without the tiny motorcycles. Said mean things about power and bare-boaters. Complimented our own superior natures. 'Just stay here' alternative slowly lost it's optional status.

Later, walked to small rum distillery that probably looked the same a hundred years ago. Have picures and some product. The dark rum is a half step above MD 20/20; pineapple wine not as good.

Cane Garden Bay new favorite place on earth. Hate to depart (O dark hundred to assure anchor spot in Trellis Bay for party), but must go on to bigger, better? and possibly more imprudent adventures.

Jack

Locusts
05/06/2009, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

May 6

Backwinded boats were floating all around anchors and moorings this morning, so bailed out early. Vacillating breeze soon made up it's mind, making beat toward next anchorage an escapade. Apparent wind 18 gusting 28. Double-reefed main, staysail and a bit of yankee kept the lee rail above water, but cost a knot from hull speed.

Arrived Cane Garden Bay early enough that overnighters were just leaving and new group had yet to arrive. Beautiful location. White beaches fronting palm trees and cool bars. It's not called paradise for nothing. Spent day working on web site and reading. Late afternoon explored the several beach bars, diet coke in hand, and bought cereal and lemons. Bar band will entertain (or aggravate) on the boat tonight. Night Hawk thinking to go Anegada tomorrow before Trellis Bay Friday. May do likewise if forecast amenable. Four hour trip out and three back if wind stays south of east.

If charter business slow, hate to be here when not - bareboaters like locusts. Many crewed boats, too.

After diving on anchor yesterday (for the landlocked, this is to confirm a good set), used drywall knife without gloves to scrape more shells from hull. Bad idea. Barnacle cuts tend to fester (not to be confused with character on Gunsmoke) and can't stay dry on a boat. Let that be a lesson... Nahhhhh!

Jack

The Weight of Command
05/05/2009, White Bay, Jost van Dyke

May 5

Despite dreadful forecast, woke to brilliant clear sky. Expectation for later, however, precluded either remaining Coral Bay for second seriously rocky, rolly night or passage to St Croix, so departed mid-morning for check-in to BVI at West End, Soper's Hole. Blanche Duboi-like reliance on strangers provided tow to Customs and Immigration dock, then to Pusser's Bar, other side of bay, for shepherds pie and iced tea lunch when outboard sputtered to an abrupt and ignominious halt. Fuel line connection discovered as culprit. Motor happy. Jack happy.

Sailed on to catamaran choked White Bay, Jost van Dyke for overnight. Found anchor spot at most protected east end. Remarkably well attended for out-of-the way location. Obligation to check out all three bars was rewarded by best rum punch on the planet at One Love Bar and best Painkiller at Soggy Dollar Bar. Met interesting folks, from south Georgia, on 76' crewed cat at third bar (they bought me two rum punches which would have been rude to refuse), who promised to meet me, later, at Foxy's, a relatively short dinghy ride away in Great Harbour.

Four crew plus cook on humongous cat was, Wayne (dentist in Valdosta) said, 27k dollars for 5 days. Dang! Anybody want to rent Anthem for 5 days? I could eke by on $20k. Sailing neophytes from catamaran showed too late at Foxy's, so just said hi then departed for floating home.

Could go to Cane Garden Bay Wednesday, then White Bay, Guana Cay (not to be confused with the one on Jost van Dyke), before Trellis Bay on Friday for Full Moon Party. Could do almost anything else. It is likely that suspense has increased some reader's risk of cardiovascular events, so all heart attacks between now and July may, of course, be attributed to me. If so, contact via email at: biteme@notfreakinglikely.com. I love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister.

Jack


Actively Listless
05/04/2009, White Bay, Jost van Dyke

May 4

Rained with thunder, but no wind, all night and all day filling dinghy to its scuppers (if it had any). Got into do-nothing mode and filled the day with it. Inferred from SSB weather router that, as weather would deteriorate over next few days, only a moron would venture into open water until at least the weekend. Fortunately, in this case, stupidity coincides with hard work postponing perusal of St. Croix for the nonce.

Around 1630, returned to Skinny Legs with Night Hawk's for a slider and beers. Again enjoyed a Star Wars bar of colorful characters including Pirate Bill who, upon seeing my Irish Kevin's T-shirt from that place on Duval St., wanted to talk about Key West, his home in the 70's. Looked to be a hundred and twenty with long flowing white beard. Parrot was probably back guarding the doubloons. Returned to boat under starry, cloudless sky.

Lack of wind and sun makes battery recharge by Westerbeast inevitable without relief. Good news, bad news - trades forecast for return tomorrow with heavier squalls.

Depending on Oh, I don't know... stuff, may head to Soper's Hole, West End Tortolla tomorrow to check into the BVI. After a day of lethargy it's hard to be decisive. Ultimate goal in life is currently Full Moon Party on the 8th. Due to exhaustion from demanding day will now retire to the boudoir.

Jack


Ocho de Mayo
05/03/2009, Coral Bay, St. John

May 3

Planned Lameshure Bay for tonight, but beating against a 12 knot breeze and adverse current in easy seas was so pleasant that Coral Bay, further east and better angled for St. Croix, seemed like a more suitable idea. It was. Now new favorite place on the planet. Harbor is full of classic looking boats and the odd derelict. Hard to find this place; not on the usual tourist trail. Think Key West of the USVI. Upon return from pounding down a Presidente or two and dolphin sandwich at Skinny Legs, "A Pretty OK Place", with what is euphemistically referred to as an eclectic clientele, discovered Night Hawk anchored nearby. After boarding for good conversation was forced to down another cerveza. It would have been rude to refuse.

While still underway around 1500 saw six sails apparently en route from Road Town to The Bight at Norman. Probably bare-boaters headed to typical first night anchorage. Willie T (floating boat bar) will be smokin' tonight. Seems odd to observe a place cruised frequently from the vantage of one never been. Expect to be in Trellis Bay, BVI for full moon party on the 8th to meet "Sea Devil" couple who finally got in touch. Should be a hoot.

Was already considering another night here to explore, so with arrival of Ray & Jenna, will definitely wait until Tuesday for close reach to Christainsted. DO NOT, however, want to miss the Friday party. Wonder if St. Croix observes Cinqo de Mayo? So much fun; so little time.

Jack


Buckets and Barnacles
05/02/2009, Solomon Bay, St. John

May 2

Red Hook status tumbles after rocky night in outer bay and dunking of Treo PDA during egress at dinghy dock. Disassembled, soaked in distilled water and dried pricey electronics in warm oven, probably to little avail (haven't tried crank-up yet), so purchased cheapest replacement unit.

Coral World Marine Park and Aquarium, just OK. Worth a look, but don't put it on your bucket list. Dollar ride for phone and fish on local's safari bus was most interesting part of day.

Accomplished afternoon motor across narrow channel to Solomon Bay on St. John for second rocky evening, but wanted to visit nearby Cruz Bay, another great little spot worth return visit. Indeed, may do so tomorrow for breakfast before searching out a calm (he said hopefully) anchorage, probably either Francis or Leinster Bay. Never found friends from Rum Cay, Richard and Terry on "Sea Wolf", moving crewed charter operation on their cat from Bahamas to Red Hook.

Maximum engine RPM is low due, most likely, to crustacea adhering to prop. Restorative dive tomorrow before eggs and bacon a possibility. The few malefactors befouling forward hull will also be 'whacked'. CIA doesn't know what real 'wet work' is.

Jack


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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