03/25/2012, Francis Bay, St John USVI
Beautiful Island! Suddenly much more people on the beaches ... a lot more boats....and a lot more bays! Water pristine and most of the island belongs to National Parks (where there is only an honesty box to drop off your payments for the mooring!).. . National Parks has very strict rules and regulations - all to protect their beautiful nature.... which is great!...like no anchoring... no open sewerage tanks and no bright lights to disturb fish and turtle life ... as long as you are aware of it ...as the penalties are pretty heavy if you don't oblige! So it took us a while to study them all to be on the safe side... That has at least reserved the beauty of nature at least to a point where we can still enjoy it!
As we are not allowed to enter a marina without clearing customs, we had to anchor just outside the customs office ... as we were ready to leave ... I felt the anchor winch struggling to lift the anchor ... just to see that we have accidently picked up an old but huge anchor that some unlucky guy must have lost right there. After a struggle to get it off we pulled in our anchor ... and there it was again!!! The same old anchor stuck to the chain again!!! Captain J almost lost his arm in the process to get it off and flicked away from the chain!
As we were leaving the channel I heard Johann uttering a few big words.... we almost left Scolli behind!!! Dangling with her toes in the water ... thankfully one of the two hoisting lines was attached to the dingy ... otherwise we would have had an interesting salvaging waiting for us!
In the process of finding the perfect bay ...and a misunderstanding between the Captain, me and Philemon (the Autopilot) ... we had a very close shave with a big rock (or a small island!!) but managed to dodge it just in time!
Francis bay will be it for the night - just beautiful and peaceful... great little beach - and apparently lovely trails to walk - alias the Captain - I stayed on board to attempt the special request (without a recipe!) for Stroganoff Chicken!
A quick snorkel/ swim when Johann came back revealed that we have a third guest underneath the hull... attached to the keel is a huge (over a meter long) sucker-fish! Biggest we have ever seen!! Either missed his ride with a whale or the last super yacht? HaHa!
We were fortunate to visit one of the old sugar mills that has amazing ruins still left ... walls built with coral! just wonderful to see some history left on the island!
The view from these places is normally pretty spectacular and worth the effort!
The water also has these small little organisms floating everywhere ...making the water look like a suspension!... what we thought was coral- spawn... but with very little coral here ..it just did not make sense? (almost like minute little jellyfish?... still need to Google it and see what the explanation for it is... Sarita! I wish I have read that book by now... it is a struggle to get a hold on it! ... Gift of Unknown Things?).... Only when night falls did we realise that it is "bio-luminescent flagellates " ?! The light display in the water is just magic! It looks like fire flies under water! Lights at all different depths flickering on and off everywhere!!! That to us was a first ... and I had difficulty dragging myself away to bed!
The next day we stayed in beautiful Caneel Bay - with a huge resort owned and run by The Rockefellers!
One of the biggest donators to Nature Reserves in the US! His house is also on the island (well ... I guess one of many!) Great snorkelling and very quiet waters!
|US Virgin Islands||
03/20/2012, Soper's Hole, Tortola, BVI
Village Cay Marina .... Road Town, Tortola...
We were very fortunate to get our rigging checked, the Code Zero's problem twirling up at the top, making it difficult to get it down. All air conditioners are now working fine and we have now NO MORE repairs to be done!
It makes me think of the saying : "Yachting is fixing boats in exotic locations!"
......Whoever said that .. he's not wrong!
After indulging in good shops (food only!) and great little bakeries ... we left Village Cay for Cane Garden Bay ... just to get some recreational rest!
No shopping !!! ....and clean waters to swim in are now our main aim! We just love Cane Garden Bay! We arrived there the day before St Patric's day ... and thought to celebrate it a little earlier... with Friday Night live music everywhere on the island ... it was just magic! Really great musicians and I cannot help to wonder where in the music world they would have been with a little bit more exposure ... and opportunities I guess?
Anyway - the next day was out and out a headache no-drinks day for us ... so we left for Soper's Hole (where customs are) and decided to waist the day on getting cleared in at the US Virgin Islands. Al shaved and nicely dressed up for the occasion, we were told that we need to apply for exemption of a Visa (being on an Aussie passport) online (ESTA application) before we can go! That might take up to 72 hours to be accepted!
So back we went and filled out the application with great frustration with poor internet reception that drops out seconds before you click the last accept button! Amazingly enough, it only took 15 min to get the ESTA approved but by that time we have missed the last ferry!...
(For the boaties ... this is how it works: If you want to take your yacht to a US island... This is how it works... you have to get the passengers (crew) cleared into the country/ island first ... going with a commercial vessel (plane or boat) and then go back, get your yacht and come back into US territory again!... a schlep... but it makes sense I guess!
By the way ... entering US territory was an eye opener! The Customs staff is FRIENDLY ... HELPFUL...Provide you with info of how to get in next time and what to expect when going back... and high technology like electronic fingerprints and iris scanning (I think that's what it was?) speed up the process and got us out in to time! Just fabulous! Up till now I have not come across ANY customs or immigration personnel with a smile in their voices!...what a breath of fresh air that was!
We left Marina Cay with both Mainsail and Genoa up ... a lovely sail with moderate steady winds and flat waters makes for a big smile of satisfaction on the captain's face! That is how we got to Cooper Island - in full sail! We picked up a mooring for the night. We arrived mid morning and went for our first descent snorkel at Cistern Point ... a huge rock between Cooper island and Salt island. It was great to see the new coral forming in vibrant colours, swimming with big turtles and even spotted a reef shark - a big one! The Captain got a bit nervous when I signalled that I am going to have a close-up look at it! It only took a few big jerks on my flipper and a muffled shout through the snorkel to turn around and follow him back to the boat! We were in the water for over an hour ... with the channel on the one side of the point and a steady current flowing around it - it took more than drifting to get around! We were putting in plenty of kick to get around and only realise that when I had to step off the dinghy to the dock about 2 hours later! My jelly legs felt like they have run a marathon! ... and could not be trusted at all!
We met Ex-South-Africans (from Robertson) that are running a Day Sail business on a Voyager yacht. They live in Soper's Hole (one of our favourite places!... the Disney World houses...) and have promised to get them over for a BBQ (braai!) when we get there again...especially because she mentioned they have "biltong" and "droeë wors" ( South African delicatessens!) at home!! Lol!