02 April 2012 | Saga Haven Marina, St. Thomas
Wastin' away... - Well not exactly, but I was trying to come up with a catchy opening about what we are doing to pass the time while waiting for repairs. And it's not Margaritaville either. More like Rum Punch Bay. Not trying to take anything away from Mr. Buffet, of course. And we have not been just sitting and waiting although there has been some of that too.
We have explored the island of St. Thomas thoroughly traveling several times back and forth across the hilly terrain from east to west and north to south. We are getting around now with little help from our map or the iPhone map app! Sunday was a good example.
We had the now famous yellow Jeep for the weekend again as Georgeann and Jimmy were off to St. Croix for another Chili Cookoff. So we took off to run errands and do some more sightseeing. First stop at the auto parts store looking for some replacement hose that would be cheaper than the marine parts store for the now famous transmission. No luck. Then a quick hop across the parking lot to K-Mart for Gail's allergy meds. Luck. K-mart also has the best pricing on rum as well but none needed this trip.
Then we trekked up and over the hills to downtown Charlotte Amalie to do the 99 steps and walk the old city. There was only one cruise ship in and it was Sunday so the area was much quieter and less crowded than the last time we went to town. We found the steps (there are actually 103 but I lost count) and the Governor's house, the Blackbeard's Castle (and Hotel), the oldest church and the fort. The walk was good even if a little steep (which is a recurring theme around the island). The last stop downtown was the cruise ship dock mall at Crown Bay. We walked some more looking at the shops and stuff and somehow got away without spending any money!
Now our next adventure was highly recommended and out of the way so it took some time to cross the island again and go back to Magen's Bay. The St. Thomas Dairy has an ice cream shop that specializes in milk shakes loaded with specialty flavoring (i.e. different liqueurs). We have been really good about limiting our ice cream intake mainly because we our freezer does not keep it well. But man! This was worth the drive and the wait. It was delicious, filling and we counted as our lunch!
Then we went all the way back around the east end to the marina but decided we should fill up the Jeep. So back to TuTu Plaza (where the K-mart is) and filled up and vacuumed as a thanks for letting us use it again. Then back to the boat. We needed to fill up because we had gone exploring on Saturday, too. We had taken the car ferry from St. Thomas across Pillsbury Sound to St. John for the day.
Our friends from our second night out on the trip in Chub Cay, Mike and Kay Heath, were anchored off Cruz Bay on St. John and we spent the day with them. It was the first time we had seen them since we left Chub for Nassau back in November. We had a great visit and drove all over the island (up and down) to Salt Pond Bay for snorkeling and lunch then back to the north side and through the national park (yes, a US National Park since it is part of the US territory of the Virgin Islands).
The roads on both islands are hard to describe but maybe now is a good time to try. The islands are very steep and hilly and the engineers who designed the roads didn't care. If there is a hill, the road goes up and then down the other side. Many times there are no switch backs or turns. And if there is a switch back it is not a nice "hair pin" curve like in the Rockies. It is more like a half opened jack knife curve! Just up steeply and then down just as steeply. You feel like the car is going to flip over backwards going up some of the roads. And at the top sometimes you cannot see the down side until you are over the top and pointed down. Let's just say you need to be alert all the time and it's not very conducive for the bicycles!
Our other adventures included taking the dinghy out and doing some dives at sites close by. The diving has been good and the water is getting warmer. And having the ability to fill our own tanks really helps.
We also help Georgeann last weekend as judges for their local island chili cook-off. The cook-off sponsor is the Texas Society of the Virgin Islands. Yep. So we fit right in! We had never judged but always enjoy a good bowl of red (no beans allowed!). There were 11 cooks to judge and 6 judges. Only one had ever judged before so it really was personal preference with no way of any favoritism. In the end, the winner was the same as last year. So, she must have something that makes her chili stand out. I had judged it my best.
We are also still doing some cleaning on WD. We got the stuffing box (which keeps the water outside around the propeller shaft from getting in!) to stop dripping, we think. We are trying to repair the depth gauge sounder but it may need to be replaced now! We have done some varnish and waxing but really don't have our hearts in it until the transmission is back. So, we're just wasting away again in Rum Punch Bay. Lookin' for the lost tray of ice! Or something like that. Hopefully the next blog will have better news about the repairs and we can get moving again.