March 10, 2014 , St. John, USVI
This morning we were sitting in Hawksnest Bay, (St. John, USVI), sipping our coffee and watching the sun rise.
The conversation went something like this:
"Dave, honey, you hungry?" to which he quickly replied, "I'm starving!"
"What you feeling for? I asked, to which he queried "What do we have?"
"Umm, let's see. You could have cereal. Banana Pancakes. Eggs and Sausages. Or Everything Bagels with cream cheese" I listed off with my fingers...
To which he thought for a moment, and decidedly replied.
"Eggs and sausages please. AND I'll have Bagels and Cream Cheese."
"I think that was an OR question, not an AND series of dishes, honey" I laughed, but totally agreed with his choices.
The rumblings of our tummies confirmed that, with the combined activities of the last few days, we were decidedly starving. So just what have we been up to the last few days that has us starving??
We last left you in Sint Maarten with WaterMaker issues almost resolved. We visited Dougie in his ElecTec workshop, and he was busy with the removing/installing of the membrane. This was the old one,
a better close up,
of the dirty, dark, ICKY, 9 year old one !
This is what a new one should look like. What a difference n'est ce pas??
We also upgraded from an MPC 3000 to an MPC 5000, this is the new board,
that would give us a few added features, namely the display detailing numerical information instead of bar-graph blocks that have you trying to decipher how many units each block represented.
Once reconnected and tested in Lagoon Waters, where we found it to be performing decently well,
and we then headed out into Simpson Bay waters where we gave her one more test (in clearer cleaner, and very ROLLY waters) to see if readings would change.
With each time we've run her since then, we're happy to note the numbers are improving, especially in GPH product result. Doing some simple math, we've determined that we need to calibrate the readings as she's producing more than what it's showing us.
So, given we were making water, given the winds forecasted for that day, and the complete lack of wind predicted for the next week or so, we literally speedy-gonzalesed our last few errands.
We had a bit of a time trying to settle our bill with ElecTec that had almost doubled its prices ("it's the markup" said the Admin Lady), from what Dougie had quoted us, and we were stuck with two delivery charges, even though it was their mistake in not ordering the proper stuff in the first place. Although we were pleased in general with ElecTec and especially with Dougie, we can report that the communication process should be clarified and recorded "just in case", and in trying to resolve the process, the customer service is a jumbled mess of a "not me attitude" and decidedly lacking that "comfy cozy feeling". However, by the time all was said and done, we did walk away with a bit of a lower price and a lesson learned for future dealings. Le Sigh.
While I got ourselves ready for an overnight passage, Dave checked us out of Sint Maarten, and at precisely 17:30 we weighed anchor and pointed our bow out to face roughly 90 nautical miles to the Virgins.
Several cruise ships left us in their wake.
With the big blue ocean ahead of me, I found myself a bit nervous as the last few months of passages had me experiencing an adventure each and every time, which, truth be told, seems to have increased my anxiety levels, my stress levels, and had me, strangely enough, losing confidence in my abilities, instead of augmenting them. And I was really looking forward to having a "good sail" so I could feel better about the whole thing.
The overnight passage was thankfully quiet and quite uneventful. The stars were out along with a sliver of a moon that shone brightly on the dark waters. There was only minor incident where an approaching squall had our speed ramp up considerably just in time for the jib sheet to somehow unfurl, and the noise alerted us into instant reactive response. A few seconds later, we were back on track, the squall had passed, and we were once again sailing along.
We reached Great Harbour (Peter Island) and had our anchor down by 09:30 a.m. with Distant Shores II anchored right astern of us, just like OLD times,
and in fact, it was almost old times. We first met The Shard's a little under a year ago and have since spent many great times adventuring together.
We were zombies though, having been awake all night and fell asleep instantly without even bothering with breakfast. Woke up to see nothing had changed,
and fell back asleep again, without lunch. Woke up and went swimming where we marvelled at the beautiful blue waters, and then it was time to enjoy a lovely evening getting caught up with Paul and Sheryl, deliver a part for them, and realizing over dinner that we were also celebrating our almost one year anniversary !!
Regretfully we had to say our goodbye's first thing next morning, and make our way across to St John, our intended playground for the next couple of weeks.
Our timeline has us needing to be in Antigua early April for visiting family. Given we'd been delayed in Sint Maarten by the WaterMaker issues, which resulted in our missing the Dark'N'Stormy Fungatta (double-darn!), had us now on a bit of a deadline !!
Arriving and anchoring in Cruz Bay just after lunch-time (not an easy place to do so, given the lack of room and very shallow waters), we cleared into the good ole U.S. of A., had a delicious lunch of the best ribs EVER (we shared a plate!),
Dave bought the T-shirt, and promptly headed back to Banyan, pointed her around the corner, and picked up a mooring ball right beside friends Doug and Wendy (Nahanni River). Just to change and challenge life up a bit, Dave and I decided to change jobs. I took the helm and drove Banyan to the mooring ball, and it was Dave's challenge to pick up the mooring and bridle us on. Always a good idea to change things up and not get set in your routines.
St. John is mostly a national park land and so there is mooring balls are the norm around here, in the hopes of protecting the seabeds.
The first order of business the next morning was to bake up some pizza rolls,
while Dave busied himself with inflating would you believe for the first time since Grenada, our Walker Bay Airis Sports Kayaks.
We had given ourselves a year of travelling before purchasing any toys for Banyan, and Dave had spent a good deal of time researching these. We've only had a chance to trial them twice so far, and given our lifestyle and intended use, we LOVE them. The WalkerBay Airis Sport Kayaks are light (19 lbs), compact and easy to store in our aft cabin when we're not using them. They were quick and easy to inflate, and the end result is a very rigid and sturdy kayak.
We packed the bag of goodies in the kayak bungees, the snorkel gear on Dave's kayak,
and along with Doug and Wendy, headed out for an afternoon of fun in the sun.
We kayaked around the bays, stopping in Trunk Bay, one of the most beautiful and scenic areas around here,
where we beached ourselves and our kayaks, enjoyed our pizza rolls and a beer or two, snorkelled the UnderWater park, and then kayaked back.
I'm really not sure what the guys were looking at, but one thing we can tell you, is that the water was as gin clear as the Bahamas. We could see the ripples of sand straight to the bottom. Beyond beautiful.
The Capt'N sporting his new St. John T-Shirt!!
Along the way somehow it was decided that it would be a good idea, to know how to get back on the kayak, if one were to say, fall off the kayak...
And so I tried,
again and again. There is nothing graceful or delicate about trying to get yourself back on, but the third time was the charm. Having figured out the process, I did it a few more times, and then promptly lay down with a tired sense of happiness and accomplishment.
"Hey, Capt'N how about a drink??"
And that, dear friends, sums up recent activities of the last few days where we missed a few too many meals and shared a few too many lunches, combined with increased swimming and snorkelling and kayaking.
Activities that have us moored in Hawksnest Bay, sipping our coffee early this morning, watching the sun rise,
and realizing how hungry we were. Off to make breakfast !! A double for the Capt'N and me !!
(as always LIKE US on our Sailing Banyan Facebook Page for more photos,
March 5, 2014 , Sint Maarten
"Perhaps you need to put a disclaimer on here" said Dave as he looked at some of the photos I had taken that afternoon.
"Hmm, and why??" I wondered.
"Well, they're pretty disgusting" he replied.
"True that, but it IS what it is" I countered, yet totally agreed with him, at how disgusting it all was.
But before we get to our semi-disgusting job of the afternoon, we have other real life drama-like happenings of life onboard Banyan to share with you.
With our WaterMaker currently out of commission, water hoarding has quickly become the status quo of life for us. Since we had emptied much of our tanks to flush the WaterMaker out of its nesting place and onto Dougie's repair table, it was a use a drop here and use a drop there type of c'est la vie from now on.
And so yesterday morning had us confirming, with only one green light left on our aft tank, the need to get ourselves to Simpson Bay Marina to buy ourselves some water.
There's been a huge increase in water traffic these past two days, with incoming participants for the Heineken Regatta milling about the place, and we've noticed that the, or rather ahem our anchorage, was starting to get a little crowded.
You know what happens when you leave your "just perfect spot" right? There's the development of an instant fear reflex that OMG someone is going to gasp, grab our spot!! Imagine? The nerve...
So we discussed and then strategically timed our hopefully secretive manoeuvres to coincide with the bridge openings. In other words, allow the incoming crowd to get settled, and then we would quietly slink away, in the hopes that no one would really want to up-anchor and steal our spot.
Some carefully choreographed moves later (bow tarp rolled aside, fenders out and hung on the lines with care, bow/stern lines looped on the cleats and ready to deploy) and the engine was soon purring it's eagerness to get going.
Not even ten minutes later we rounded the corner and had the thankfully empty fuel dock in range. Dave radioed in for permission to come alongside, which was quickly granted, and Fuel Dock lady was there waiting to grab our lines and pull us in.
Dave busied himself getting the jerry jug of gasoline filled up,
while I ran over to Business Point to get our freshly washed, dried and folded laundry from Hyacinthe.
By the time I got back, Dave had our cockpit rinsed out,
our tanks almost filled, and all that gave me just enough time to fill up our water jugs,
and wash/rinse the heads, and voila, job's done and we were ready to boogey back.
Dave tackled the fenders as I drove Banyan back to the anchorage,
"Look honey, there's our spot, empty and waiting for us!" I gleefully exclaimed,
and then quickly continued "Wow, look at that... !"
Sometimes, as we watch these impressive aeronautical beasts of technology take off/land, we can't help but think, if only for a mere morbid moment in time, what a catastrophe could result...
we dropped the hook a few feet away from where she had last lay, just as we heard the engines of the KLM jet successfully soar overhead.
The other day, we posted on our Sailing Banyan Facebook Page an impressive PUCKER FACTOR photo album of a blue boat barely squeezing into her spot at Palapa Marina.
As we drove by today, I snapped some more shots of just how much room she had on either side of her,
Not much eh?
"So, what job can we tackle this afternoon" inquired eager-beaver Dave, presumably already knowing the answer to his own question, as he was busy gathering the tools needed for this afternoon's operations.
Loaded with our bucket-ful of goodies, we were soon zoom-zooming under the new Causeway Bridge,
past the man-made something or other that is being built by the round-a-bout,
and towards Grand Ilet (Explorer Island), bang-smack in the middle of the French Side of things.
This is a well-suggested spot for cruisers to come if they want to do some dirty dinghy work, as evidenced by the tarp and work table and scattered derelict items laying around.
What follows is not pretty. It is not a clean story. It is not a nice photo of unspoilt beaches or glorious sunsets or beautiful palm trees or ice-cold RumPunch type of drinks.
It is quite an ugly and slimy type of photo. It is perhaps even a smelly type of photo. It is a scrunch your nose as you know you have to deal with this long slippery slimy seaweedy type of grass, nested creatures and encrusted barnacles type of photo.
This is Reality Blogging at its truest type of photo.
And truth-be-told, we're almost embarrassed and just a little ashamed to post this type-of-photo.
This is what happened to our dinghy bottom as it sat in Sint Maarten Lagoon for well over a month, without any routine cleaning procedures.
And not once in our two years of travels have we seen this before... several shells had made Quahog's bottom their home. That took a bit of extra elbow grease to scrape off.
The next hour or so was spent sweating and scraping, the sun blaring its hot heat on us, not a breath of wind to be felt as we were sheltered by the trees,
Scrape. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. Scrape. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.
Pretty soon she was looking almost normal again,
and we got her re-assembled, dinghied past the Witch's Tit (again, I wonder, who names these places and like WTF?)
and headed back home to Banyan, where we can happily report that having a clean bottom definitely increases your zoom-zooming speed, and where, after all that work, we immediately had a shower, and then thirstily and eagerly (and quite thankfully) downed a glass or two of ice cold water.