Sometimes the tiniest of towns turn out to be the loudest.
May/6/2010, Jost Van Dyke, BVI's
I woke this morning to a rip roaring church service (every town we visit has at least one church). As I rolled over in bed I glanced at my watch. Yup it was 5:30 am and I'm sure there must be a flogging in town or they are warning us that a hurricane is coming or maybe an excursionist is taking place. The loud, frenzied preacher's voice echos loudly over the harbour. Crap! It's not Sunday already. Nope, it's Thursday.. Phew! I'm sure I took a picture of that church yesterday. It was a Methodist Church and looked as though it could only hold about 20 people (tops) and that would be crowded. I climbed out on deck and yup, I heard the words "Lord Jesus" and there was even a response from the crowd... They're singing "Kum bi yah".. I know that song.
I don't know how they do it? I mean, get up before 5:30 am after spending the night partying at Foxy's. The music from there last night went on 'till 3 am; reminded me of my days as an aerobics instructor... I think it was 135 bmp and some of the tapes (dating myself..I mean CD's) I used to work-out too ... back in the 70's... Oh and I've gotta mention the LLLLaaambbbb that is crying from the town...LOL
Again, I'm loving this place! I'm thinking of getting into the dinghy and going to church just to check out how many people are really attending. It's been a while.
Note: "Kumbayah" (Gullah, "Come By My GOD(Yah)") �" "Kum ba yah" �" is an African-American Hebrew (YAH) spiritual song from the 1930s. It enjoyed newfound popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s and became a standard campfire song in Scouting and other nature-oriented organizations.
May/5/2010, Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke Island, BVI’s
You will see by my photos that if you blinked, you'd miss this town. It is very "country granola" around here and the famous Foxy's Bar is still trying to be a happening place.
We like it. It's obviously a tourist trap but it encompasses a beach front (one sandy street) with a very calm, kind of hippie feel to it. Checking in here was "no worries" and we walked the "street" in 5 minutes tops! The only thing we have to decide is if we want to buy a "Foxy" T-shirt. While looking about, we ran into George and he was so entertaining, I really wished I had recorded his whole conversation with us. He spoke in rhymes and riddles. I hope to download a video of him (only the last part of his act). Steve and I found that "George" has been at Foxy's for 40 years... we think he is Foxy... anyone recognize him?
It starts off by him ask'n if I know what kind of dog he has. I tell him it's a black lab.
He say's; "Most white folks make that mistake".
I say; "Well what kind of dog is he?" He says, "He's an Island Dog". You can tell by four characteristics.
I ask; "What are they?"
And he replies; "He's Black, he sits around on his ass all day, he begs for hand outs, and he don't know who his daddy is"...And the conversation goes on from there...
Life is good!
May/4/2010, St. John, USVI's
When I think of St John, I think of lush forested mountains rising up to the sky from white powdery beaches surrounded by crystal clear water and beautiful coral reefs.
This morning's sun beams across Francis Bay and we say good-bye to "Vanilla" as they are off to Tortola, in the BVI's and have a vet appointment for Vicky (in order to have her allowed into the country) this morning. The British are not as dog friendly as other islands we've been too. We will keep in touch and hope to re-connect at John Van Dyke Island (where Steve and I will clear into the BVI's later on today).
This morning we are going to Trunk Bay to visit the underwater snorkel trail (part of the Virgin Islands National Park). The 225' underwater trail is about 10' - 30' deep with plaques in place to help the snorkeler identify what they are looking at...should be fun.
Oh, the best part is that they are supposed to have showers ashore... This means we can have a good scrub before clearing into the BVI's.. the customs officers might appreciate the effort.
Answer to one good question: If we wanted too, we could travel straight to Grenada and it would take us the same time (a couple of overnights) as it took for us to travel from Rum Cay (the Bahamas) to Luperon (The Dominican Republic). It is about the same distance. So, no worries. We we are hav'n so much fun.. why rush. Oh ya, I forgot about the "hurricane season"; we have lots of time to get below 12deg N...
Some May Dates to Remember
Again sorry if I didn't mention your big day in May...
Special anniversary: Jack and Betty Colquhoun May 9th
Steve's B.Day: May 24 (and you thought it was the Queens Birthday)
May 15th: In memory of our good 'ol Aunt Lorraine
May 14th: Dee's Birthday
May 7th: Moss anniversary
We just want to mention that we lost a very large voice on this earth recently. Being an avid sailor, Jack Cooke was so interested in our adventure and sadly we shall miss his comments on this blog.
Cruz Bay, St. John USVI
May/3/2010, Salomon Bay, St. John
We went into Cruz Bay and dropped the anchor for the maximum 3 hours allowed. We tried to get a departure paper from the USVI's for the BVI's... but we don't have too! So much for reading all the "outdated" 2008 cruising books and guides... things change so rapidly here, it's best to pick up a local travel information booklet or go to the nearest travel information booth, or just ask another cruiser who looks like he's been in the place for a while.
Bottom line: We dropped 2 anchors, so that we wouldn't be in the main ferry channel; walked to the customs office and after filling out two forms and lining up, we found that we just wasted an hour of our visit (they all had a good laugh too); then walked up the road to check out the shopping area (I found a pair of Teva's (sandal/ hiking shoes).. my other ones (over 20 years old split apart). We bought some groceries and headed out. I thought it would be a wonderful town to explore further and we may go back tonight.
We are now on a mooring ball about a half mile away. This is St. John and 2/3rds of this island is under the auspices of the National Park Service. There will be no fishing here!
May/3/2010, Salomon Bay, St. Johns
We were anchored in a bay bordered by a steep hill with large rocks at the waters edge.I put on my snorkeling gear and armed with my spear I swam the 50 yards to the the shore line. There were the normal starfish and rays along the way, rays must stir up food as they drift along the bottom because you often see them with schools of fish swarming above them, they look like they are fighting but maybe the fish are just getting to close. The ocean is amazing, every were you look there is life, if you don't see anything you can just drift there for a minute and something will show up or more often you will see something you missed.
I arrived at the shore that dropped off at a steep angle and there were 10 ft under water cliffs covered with coral running off the shore with rock rubble between them . There were thousands of colorful reef fish and I spotted two snappers with their spot on their side but they were to small to shoot. The normal 3.5 ft barracuda was watching me for a while but drifted away out of sight ,they are always there some where.
Under a rock I saw a lobster but it's tentacles were to small so I poked him in the nose with the spear to assure myself I could have gotten him if I had wanted to and he scurried back into his hole. Further along I see some larger tentacles and a big head so I shot into the hole hitting the lobster in the back of the head . I pulled him out of the hole and as is often the as is the case the head is bigger than the tail but I have already shot him now so I take him off the spear and carry him in my left hand and continue on. Two lobster means there must be more, maybe a big one. As I come over a cliff there is a Grouper. It starts to move away and I release the spear , it's a direct hit right through the throat.
Oh no! Having a lobster in your hand is one thing but a bleeding fish thrashing on the end of the spear is another. As soon as you spear a fish the practice is to hold the fish out of the water at the end of the spear and get him into the dingy as fast as possible. I'm out without a dingy. I hold the fish out of the water, my brilliant neck shot has gone through mostly gills and the fish slips down the spear to my hand . I look up and the boat is about !/8th of a mile away. I start swimming fish in one hand lobster in the other. I keep close to shore with eye to the deep water, any sight of the barracuda or his bigger brother and I drop the spear and the fish and swim for the shallows. What if the dyeing fish who is still thrashing around on my spear attracts a shark. I swim faster. It never occurs to me that I could abandon the fish. I make the mad dash across open water for the boat still noticing the rays and their entourage of fish . Every once in a while I spin in the water to make sure nothing is following me . You really notice the tunnel vision through a mask in a situation like this. I make the dingy tied to the back of the boat and throw the fish and lobster over the transom. "dinner".
May/1/2010, St. Thomas to Christmas Cove
Vermilion Snapper "fish burgers for lunch"
The trip from Charlotte Amalie St Thomas to Christmas Cove was typical of going east . You don't need a GPS just go straight into the wind and you will arriver at your destination. Nevertheless we decided to sail. The distances in the Virgin Islands are so short that we would have lots of time. We enjoyed a great sail zig zagging up the coast of St Thomas We have our baby stay in place for our stay sail so we had to reel the genoa sail in with the self furling in order to tack. This is not normally a problem when ocean sailing because a tack is usually a once a week occurrence. Along the way Marg noticed that the fishing rod had more bend in it than normal so I reeled it in to remove sea weed caught on the hook, to my surprise there was a small Vermilion Snapper on the line "lunch".When Identifying the fish I found our that the small Vermilions normally school with Red snapper, it could have been "dinner".
April/30/2010, Druit Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Today we anchored outside town while "Vanilla" parked right beside a large cruise ship. After lunch we took the dinghy to the dinghy dock and wondered through town. Turns out that we have arrived in time for Carnival and today we have "the children's parade". Tomorrow is "the adult parade". Everything is closed and will be for the month unless they "feel" like opening. We found a few shops open around the one cruise ship that had docked here and we also found a large grocery store with comparable prices to things imported. As always, liquor is so cheap, unlike the food. Ah we are back in the USA where everyone can afford to get pissed (drunk) but can't afford to eat!
Life is good!
We headed back to our dinghy with 2 bottles of Vodka, 2 bottles of Gin and 4 bottles of Rum... That should last us until tomorrow...lol (laugh out loud)
We are trying to reduce our freezer and still have 1 meal of spaghetti, 2 meals of our Ham & Wild Rice Chowder and 1 Butter Chicken, plus the fish we caught..
Groceries seem to be half 'n half for coffee and fresh veggies or salad. Yes Janice, we still have plenty of canned goods from Vero Beach..LOL (Laugh Out Loud)
Guess what, I couldn't sleep much last night and found that I could occasionally connect to the internet. I downloaded our emails and hope to be able to respond soon.
Still love my mail and seeing comments posted on the blog.
Notes: Mum, I understand completely why you rushed down the end of the driveway each day to check the mail box. You were so alone in Canada with your only sister and family back home.
Christine, do you remember when we got a talking too for picking up mum's mail? We thought we were doing her a favour. As mum said, it was the only thing she looked forward too all day... And I now understand! One of Steve's peeve's is that I always want to have a connection to the internet, to my world and my family. Oh and I always want to download the "Blog" which seems to occupy so much of my time. . But that's all I have is time (one can only hope). Actually, Steve's become just as addicted to the blog and even though he's not as much a communicator, when he finds something of interest he's the first to pick up a pen and start to write; which of course means that I have to type and enter it into the computer. Apparently, some of his bad grammar is for comic effect; so I never know what to leave in.
Fun for Everyone
April/28/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
We have enjoyed a full day on this little island.
Walking along this spectacular beach and swimming in the water is almost enough to complete the day, but we've also hiked up to the lighthouse and on the way down, found another path to follow. It lead to the other side of the island and our private beach where we skinny dipped and cooled off.
When the water is so crystal clear and it is hard to ignore that "Lion's Paw" needed a good scrub (again). We both jumped into the water with mask & snorkel, fins, gloves and scrapers. Memories of "Barnacle Bill" from Lake Erie come to mind... I wonder if that name referred to the owner "Bill" or to the state of his boat? It is truly amazing to dive underneath the hull to scrape off barnacles and green algae growth from the hull, keel, intakes, bow thruster and prop. The best part about "working" in the islands, is that it's fun. Your in the water after all and it's warm and clear. You stop every now and then to watch the fish & rays swim by. You challenge yourself to stay underwater longer and longer, trying to improve your lung capacity, so that the next time you go snorkeling you can dive deeper or stay down longer; and the next challenge is to avoid scraping yourself along the side as you ascend from underneath the huge hull, which in your mind could be the 'belly of a whale' and you 'a pilot fish'.
At the end of the day, you're exhausted but satisfied that you've earned another day in this Caribbean paradise.
We have found Paradise
April/27/2010, Isla Culebrita, The Spanish Virgin Islands
It took us only 1-1/2 hours from Dewey, on a lazy sail.. we were actually more interested in fishing.... to arrive here this morning.
We caught nothing today but as we rounded the corner and approached our new anchorage, we gazed upon one of the nicest beaches we've ever seen. We happily noticed that there wasn't a spec of garbage anywhere! I wish Janice was here to collect her sand sample. It is so white and clean.
We also have crystal clear waters, very similar to the Bahamas, surrounding us; so the first event is to jump in. We followed a small sea turtle as he wandered through the bay and I got my first picture of a smaller version of the turtle I saw when we entered the anchorage in Allan's Cay (that one must have been at least 5 ft wide).
Around 4pm, we joined the crew from "Vanilla" and walked Vicky, the dog along the crystal white sand beach that lay before us.
We cut the guys hair, and took another swim. Then we walked the beach to discover that the path on one side led to the "baths" similar to the ones in the BVI's. We discovered that the "baths" are very, very salty and one could easily float with effort. We just had to be cautious of the numerous sea urchins that lined the walls. We shared the experience with another couple whom were on their way back to the USA to be closer to their family. They had spent the least 7 years exploring the Mediterranean and had their boat shipped back to the Virgin's.
After returning to the beach, we noticed that our dinghy was heading out to sea. Steve and I had a nice jog along the beach. We usually put out a dinghy anchor but on this beach, but we were not allowed to anchor because it is a sea turtles nesting ground. We didn't pull the dinghy up high enough on the beach to prevent it from slipping away. We (Sylvain, Lise and I) sat in the water and watched Steve swim out to retrieve the dinghy. It was a good work out for his shoulders. Soon joined by Steve, we spent another hour or so lying about with just our heads out of the water. As is was about 5 pm, we decided to head back to the boat for dinner.
And that's one day in paradise.
The Friendly Little Town of Dewey
April/25/2010, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands
One of the many views from Lion's Paw
Today is Sunday and we are just chill'n.
The island of Culebra and her surrounding islets encompass over 7,000 acres of which over 2,800 are designated as a part of the U.S. National Refuge System. Hence there is little development and the land and water are a sanctuary for indigenous plants and animals. In 1936 the U.S. Navy began using some 2,000 acres for Culebra for bombing exercises until 1975.
How Fresh is that Tuna ?
Tonight we had tuna sashimi (hors d'oeuvre) and tuna fillets that were pink inside (quickly seared) for dinner. Sylvain became "The Man" when he caught his tuna. Um! My mouth is watering as I write this.
Great knife.. Thanks Heather
April/24/2010, Aft Deck
Steve is now the teacher after learning from other sailors and our book "The Cruisers handbook of Fishing".
April/24/2010, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands
We are now anchored in front of the friendly little town of Dewey, Ensenada Honda, Culebra, The Spanish Virgin Islands. It is beautiful and quiet and we are sharing the bay with at least a hundred boats. Everyone must be breathless too!
Bahia Salina Del Sur
April/23/2010, Isla de Vieques
Leaving Isla de Vieques for Isla de Culebra
There was a lovely beach at Bahia Salina del Sur, but I sadly spent the day in bed with a migraine...however Steve and the crew on "Vanilla" really had a wonderful day of snorkeling. The coral was dead but there was more fish then either Steve or Sylvain had ever seen. Vicky (the dog) loved the beach. We were warned not to walk further inland from the beach or to pick up any man-made objects (unexploded ordinates). You see for the last couple of decades Vieques has been quite the hot topic in Puerto Rico, thanks to the US military. The U.S. Navy used the area for aerial and naval bombardment until 2003 when the bombing on Vieques ceased.
For us cruisers, it means that a whole lot of beautiful anchorages have just opened up in the Spanish Virgin Islands... lets hope there are no unexploded ordinance where we drop our anchor...
Steve's Jumped In!
April/21/2010, Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico
Photo: Second sighting of Manatee.
Steve fell overboard today!
He say's he slipped in.
I had just come up from the galley, when Steve informed me that he was going into the dingy because the fishing lines were all tangled up. Frustrated by the entangled fishing lines, he decided it was best to undo the lure so that he could unwind one entangled line from the other end. As I reached for the auto pilot, I thought for an instant that he should be wearing his life jacket but Steve was heading back to the aft deck. I asked if we should slow down the boat. He suggested that he would decide if it was necessary. I throttled down slightly. We had two lines out, both sails up, and the motor at 15 rpm's.
As I backed off the throttle, Steve was already over the back, standing on the monitor and pulling the dinghy line towards him.
Suddenly I heard that dreaded splash! As I turned around, I shouted "Oh, Steve" and put the boat into neutral. At first I couldn't see him, but then I saw him hanging on for dear life, one arm slung over the side of the dinghy, the other hand grabbing the line that runs along side the craft. He looked to me a little stressed. "Hang on, hang on!" I panicked (noticing his struggle) and put the throttle into reverse (for a minute), hoping to slow the boat even more and hoping not to have him under the prop (back into neutral). The boat came to enough of a crawl, when Steve who could then muster enough of a shout; "Put the boat into the wind!"
Why didn't I think of that? I put the boat into irons and Steve pulled himself over the side of the dinghy.
The funny thing about this story; As he pulled himself to safety, I watched this white, skinny, bare ass land itself onto the floor. Steve was nude. The force of the water had been so great it stripped the clothing right off him. He claims that his bathing trunks were dragged below his knees. He tried to keep them but that prevented him from slinging himself aboard the dinghy. We both burst into laughter!
Now that's trolling!
After recovering from today's activity, I reminisced.
Mike lost his bathing suit while surfing in the water, with Thera alongside, hanging onto a line, tethered off the back of our then sailboat a 1988 C&C 30. He was around the age of 7 and both were wearing their life jackets. The wind was light and we were lazily sailing down wind. Our friend Jim was with us. We were enjoying an unusually warm water day. Suddenly we had a burst of a breeze and the boat took off. The kids were great swimmers and surfers (luckily) and they managed to keep their head above the water. By the time we let the lines go, to spill the wind and reduce speed; Mike started to cry. He had lost his bathing trucks and was in no way going to climb aboard (we were all laughing hysterically at his misfortune). Jim tried hard to calm Mike by explaining that things like this happened to all of us at one time or another and it was nothing to be embarrassed about (mind the pun). Finally, Mike climbed aboard.
April/21/2010, On our way from Puerto Rico to Isla de Vieques
Photo: A Cero Mackerel. How do we know? We have a book that helps us identify the fish we catch and it tells us the food quality... excellent to yucky (throw it back)...lol
Last Stop in Puerto Rico
April/21/2010, Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico
What was left of the Barracuda... hum? Trolling with a Barracuda as bate! Who ate him?
April/21/2010, Playa Salinas
Hi Gerry, We found Frank and Mariann and English Steve is still around.
Mariann and Frank now live on a huge acreage farm and she sells tomatoes and does canvas work right in front of the marina. Give her a call or email her. BTW: She may know the first owner of Lion's Paw... Debbie McGowan. It's a small world.
Off today. Spanish Virgin Islands next.
Thanks you everyone for your emails and news from home.
Thursday: We arrived in the afternoon and anchored outside of the channel to the Marina, hoping to get more air and less noise from the bars in town. We are getting fairly savvy at this. On the way from Caja de Muertos we caught another fish; well two actually; the first was a barracuda (which we tossed back) and the second was a Mutton Snapper which was big enough to share. Dinner was aboard "Vanilla". Tonight - BBQ (wrapped in tin foil) - Mutton snapper with orange and onion slices, butter, tarragon and salt 'n pepper; served with rice and a pineapple & mango salsa.
We hope to rent a car. We will be on the search for Frank and MaryAnn and English Steve. Lynne and Gerry - The Incredible Hull mentioned we should say "Hi" but don't know where to find them... I'm sure we'll be able to find them somewhere. We'll be here for a while. It's going to be our re-provisioning stop before heading to the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Friday: We rented a car at 1pm and headed to Ponce for the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was spent at Wal-mart! We headed home for a late dinner... but it was Steaks, baked potatoes and broccoli with cheese sauce. Yummy!
Saturday: Today we traveled by car to El Yunque Park. To Steve's delight, Sylvain drove. It took us around 2 hours. Lise and I sat in the back set with my new friend Vicky (the dog), who recognized me. As you will see by the photos, I dyed my hair today a warm brown colour. Keep an eye out for further photos. I am sure it is going to turn very brassy as the sun starts to bleach it..lol
El Yunque is the best known forest in Puerto Rico (and a finalist for the New Seven Wonders of Nature competition). It is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System and has been a U.S. Federal Forest Reserve for over a century. It was a king of Spain who originally set aside this paradise for preseveration centuries ago, and today its 28,000 acres house an incredible biodiversity. In the article we read, it was supposed to be easily accessed on 24 miles of clearly marked and well-maintained recreational trails. Unfortunately, we drove to a dead end. The road was closed. A family (with food, drink, chairs and tent) sat at the barred off road, by a waterfall and enjoyed an afternoon together. We literally walked by their table of fanfare and hopped over the steel fence and continued by foot up the road. The paved road that had obviously been closed for years cut a pathway along the steep mountain. We walked under huge stands of bamboo and viewed countless ferns and fauna along side. At one point we thought it pointless to continue, but luckily we persevered and continued. After all, we weren't challenged by the hike (paved road) and the forest was beautiful. It turned out that we didn't need to hike into its steep, huge, dense growth).
El Yunque is home to thousands of native plants including 150 fern species, 240 tree species (88 of these are endemic or rare and 23 are found exclusively in the forest). El Yunque National Forest has no large wildlife species but hundreds of smaller animals abound in the gentle forest, many of which exist nowhere else on the planet. And for us, they hid. We heard many birds in the trees, but we could only mock their songs back to them. It was a wonderful day, without bugs, a gentle breeze and a continuous welcomed sprinkle of rain.
Ps: Hi Ted, you should be in Luperon by now and we are sorry we missed you but we had to move on... insurance dictates that we arrive Grenada before the hurricane season. We would have liked to have stayed longer. Say "Hi" to Kim for me. I liked her (even though it was a short visit at the marina) and I believe we would have had a great time getting to know everyone better.