At Bay In A Bay Today
03 April 2020 | Lovango Cay
Thursday 2 April 2020
This bay is quite large with many boats and its own morning radio net, which by
the way discontinued its normal social events section. Entrepreneurial vendors
have blossomed to deliver provisions and pick up rubbish in the anchorage and an
informal race is being initiated out past the three mile limit so boats may dump
their holding tanks. Mooring charges are temporarily waived. Last night, two
boats of cruisers had sundowners together, each in their own dinghy hanging off
the back of one boat, two meters apart, socially isolating. People are adapting
Latest numbers on Covid-19 in St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas: thirty with no
fatalities. There is finally very limited testing, but case count probably
falls significantly short. Maybe the CDC and FDA learned something from this
event. Probably not and of course politicians continue to appreciate that a
crisis, manufactured as is normally the case or real as now, provides them with
a splendid opportunity for greater control. Haven't read it yet (written before
this crisis and just published), but pretty certain "Cooperation and Coercion"
by Antony Davies and James Harrigan, with whom I'm very familiar, is an
excellent treatise for anybody who cares about the subjects and contains
thoughtful ideas on what we should learn from this experience about balancing
government actions with individual freedom.
Sold two of three house bank batteries. Have the other one, a charger/inverter
and control/monitoring unit to go. So come on down and grab a bargain before
the rush. Entering marina Monday to start w**k although painting bocce court
remains first priority that afternoon. Serious attack begins Tuesday - a day
that will live in infamy... OK, nobody gets bombed, but still...
Hawks and Caneel Bays full, but at adjacent Lovango Cay we're amazingly the only
boat surrounded by eight empty moorings. As Elmer Fudd stipulated should be
when hunting wabbits, it's vewy, vewy qwiet. North side of St. John and Lovango
are well turtled. Probably go swim with them later. Beautiful weather,
probably better than where you are. When you come to pick up battery and
charging gear stay awhile and enjoy. We'll leave a light on for you.
Jack & Jan
01 April 2020 | St. John
Wednesday 1 April 2020
So who's being foolish today? Probably not you. Unfortunately this April Fool's Day's foolishness has been lost (with some notable exceptions). Have sent scathing memo demanding end to this virus thingy so we can soon again all be properly rash, reckless and deluded.. (oh wait, that last one didn't disappear). No thanks necessary. Only doing my part for the greater good.
Today we head to Leinster Bay and Watermelon Cay on northeast side of St. John. After this night, have four more before entering marina to begin that most evil of activities, work. Battery should arrive Virgin Islands on 11th, Saturday, and new high tech Victron charger/inverter must be installed so ancient and imprecise unit will not cause its little synapses to go pfffft. Pfffft is bad.
No moorings left in Leinster. Guide indicates anchoring in that bay is discouraged not prohibited, but apparently since Irma all anchoring in the park except for two specific locations risks a 2500 USD fine.. and they check. Came around to Francis and Maho Bays to find last available mooring ball. Expect to stay two nights at $26 per (payment at a floating kiosk), then maybe Caneel Bay to visit friends if anything open, then out of park to Christmas Cove so rambling anchor chain may destroy sea grass and sand worms with impunity. Appreciate actions to protect the environment, but anchoring was allowed everywhere for decades/centuries and ecology is still healthy. Probably lots more boats now.
Last downloaded movie tonight. Crikey! May have to talk or read or something. Oh, never mind, we have internet so we're saved. And weather is beautiful. And there are turtles in the bay to snorkel with. Life is good.
Jack & Jan
Itching For Action
31 March 2020 | St. John
Monday 30 March 2020
Snorkeled around yesterday to get most flora and fauna off bottom down to arm's length of surface. May use tank today for deeper bits, keel and rudder. Anything's possible. Have been using long air hose from tank on deck amidships directly to mouthpiece regulator. Worked OK most of the time, but Jan currently sewing harness to hold line so it doesn't yank out teeth when getting caught. Jan lost all front teeth from face-plant off her bike onto, somewhat fortunately, hospital parking lot in 1998 and has implants and a bridge. Except for "wisdom" molars removed as a teen (so that's his problem you might surmise) remain quite fond of full original complement even though she now has a much nicer smile.
Another beautiful day self-isolating on fourteen meter sailboat in Klein Bay. Jan & I like each other very much and have no problem separated from the rest of humanity, seeing only each other and living harmoniously together in a small space. Highly unlikely that either of us will snap and begin slaughtering everyone we can find with an AK-47 or bumpstock that apparently every other American owns and is frantic to use. Living with a Canadian hasn't necessarily made me nice, but has tempered most urges to murder even the most obnoxious of buttheads. Given that developed countries are not replacing current population (requires 2.1 progeny per couple, but US only produces 1.7) and the entire world will eventually follow, we might soon need all the brains we can muster, even those who don't agree with me and are thus appallingly in error.
Looks like hookah harness will be ready soon, so some effort on my part is regrettably in the offing. Being a responsible boat owner and adult is hard work and terribly annoying.
Amazingly one tank lasted the two hours it took to reduce bottom garden to pristine smoothness... more or less. Harness worked a treat. Who knew? Hiding in the undergrowth are wee white crawly things (sea fleas?) that cause whacking rashes of itchy bumps. Note to self, anti-foul ASAP. Does anyone remember the Twilight Zone episode where an earwig caused excruciating pain while crawling through a man's head from one ear to the other? Relief was short lived as doctor who retrieved it on the other side realized it had been pregnant. Thanks Rod Serling for that image.
Today, off to Coral Bay. Skinny Legs is a pub in the upper reaches, shut down for now, that in 2009 sported a wonderful assortment of eccentric rabble - a great cruiser bar. It has (had) apparently not changed much.
Boat speed magically increased today on trip to very crowded anchorage. Hitched a ride from only dinghy dock to grocery, about a kilometer (thanks Roberta), then schlepped about 10 kilos more than originally intended back - exercise for the day. Returned with time for a wee rest before happy hour (liver deemed recovered from previous immoderate consumption) and subsequently dinner and a movie. No mobile data so we engage fallback tactics: pre-downloads and books.
Jack & Jan
29 March 2020 | St. John
Sunday 29 March 2020
Last piece has arrived at freight forwarder in Hialeah Gardens so lithium
battery and 22" giant screen TV should be en route shortly. Life will get more
interesting, but not necessarily better as work, bane of the lazy, will ensue.
A dirty little secret is that there is much to do even before battery arrives
including replacement of hatch/portlight seals and installation of
charger/inverter. "Procrastination isn't the problem, it's the solution, so
procrastinate now, don't put it off" - Ellen DeGeneres.
Discovered that either or both Apple or Netflix will not allow mirroring
downloaded movies, forcing us to watch on iPad, which, though smaller, has much
better sound than Krogan TV. Wild guess is that new Axess giant screen sound
will be just as lame, continuing to require T&G remote speaker from output jack.
We have the technology.
For those who are cheering the just passed stimulus package, there are about 210
million adults in the US. If every one of them receives the maximum $1200 from
the stimulus (many won't), that would equal $250 billion. The actual package is
$2.2 trillion. This means that individuals and families will pay more than $8
in tax and debt to get $1 back. The rest goes to businesses and politician's
Nice anchorage in Christmas Cove, well populated. Now heading for Salt Pond Bay
on St. John - park area with five moorings, no anchoring... get there early.
Reputed to have turtles. Maybe drag air tank out to scrape continuing
environmental disaster from bottom and prop. Anti-fouling applied just over a
year ago in South Africa is virtually useless. Should probably haul out soon
just for new paint.
All overnight moorings in all southern St. John park anchorages full.
Backtracked to packed, but anchorable Klein Bay. Many people with time on their
hands have apparently decided to self-isolate on their boats. Always a good
plan even if you have a job.
Jack & Jan
28 March 2020 | St. Thomas
Friday 27 March 2020
Google Fi with unlimited data works very well virtually everywhere (we've used it seamlessly in four countries so far) if you don't go over the 22 Gb maximum for high speed. Having used up all that on Netflix during two weeks of wading through a virus, it's now into unlimited slowness. Email still gets processed OK, but browsing is painful. Oddly low speed streaming works better directly to the phone than using its hotspot through Apple TV so a few movies have been watched on the wee screen. No worries as vision sucks even watching 19" big screen.
Also discovered that Netflix shows can be downloaded to watch offline. Did not know that. When finding high speed at Tim's or elsewhere we can load to iPad and then mirror through Apple TV. Can't wait until LEO satellites give everybody, anywhere on earth endless broadband - maybe two more years. Then we can look forward to the NSA monitoring our entire subversive lives even fifteen hundred miles from nearest land.
Following excellent dinner, prepared by princess Jan, sat around until after real midnight (hours past cruiser midnight) solving numerous world issues with Dustin (google Dustin Reynolds sailor) gaining boundless acuity from gin, bourbon and some very nice, yet inexpensive zinfandel. Getting through this morning was not the grueling chore one might expect after such improvident swilling, but this may be due conditioning from recent episodes of equally lavish consumption. Perhaps a few days of liver benevolence will now be in order.
Yesterday motored over to Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island that is less rolly, but more isolated from bars and restaurants that aren't open anyway. Recommended snorkeling was rather disappointing, but perhaps we're just spoiled by truly amazing places we've seen, for example, the Tuamotus and Raja Ampat. Wind and sea are down offering chance to dinghy around to Red Hook. A cafe kiosk has been operating in American Yacht Harbor that sells espresso coffees and breakfast sandwiches that, however, must be taken away. Something to do besides watching Netflix or treating ourselves to boat work.
Jack & Jan
25 March 2020 | St. Thomas
Wednesday 25 March 2020
With little else to do people are apparently slamming the internet - virus news, Netflix, Facebook, porn - and speeds have become rather sedate. That's OK as we can wait the necessary two minutes to discover that Prince Charles has tested positive and the US government, in an orgy of love, bipartisanship and CYA has decided that two trillion dollars must immediately be pissed away with more in the trough to show politicians care. "This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people. It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor" - newly independent congressman Justin Amash. Of course there was little to choose from, but a majority of you voted for these bozos, one side or the other. "We get the government we deserve"... good and hard.
In another digression, one might understand that the CDC and FDA (not even contemplating sundry problems caused by government sclerosis in many other areas) have created unconscionable roadblocks to testing, which could have been used to identify pockets of concern and allowed the majority of citizens to maintain economic activity so people can feed their children, etc. Panic overruling reason is seldom a good response. If the economy tanks it's not individuals or businesses, which have often acted honorably, that are to blame.
*** Hissy Alert
This blog is primarily for personal amusement and designed to sometimes be ironic, sarcastic or snarky if you happen to look past surface silliness, which is unnecessary unless you're in the mood. This installment has deviated from that commission. I occasionally get annoyed when lessons from The Enlightenment (supremacy of reason and individualism) source of the most magnificent human flourishing in the history of mankind are sabotaged by moronic ideas and self-serving asswipes. The foregoing is admittedly a broader and more general response than is warranted by the current situation or than most will care about. It's a sailing blog, not a polemic and I apologize.
Again, sorry for expanding the monologue beyond the immediate point, but cathartic tantrums can be fun and at least one of us feels better.
Jack & Jan
24 March 2020 | St. Thomas
Tuesday 24 March 2020
Don't know about you, but we've discovered secrets to enjoying Covid 19 - over-eating, drinking to excess, Netflix marathons and buying toys. These are less secrets than all that's available, but still... Sloth is a much appreciated deadly sin, but boredom can be a regrettable downside. Depends on personal tolerance for malingering - in that regard some of us are just lucky. In addition to toyage at PriceSmart, which is operating and we joined for twenty five USDs, many restaurants on St. Thomas are open for delivery or take away. Chinese restaurant staff last night wore nitrile gloves, but no masks. Our current favorite virus can apparently live on a synthetic surface for two days. Washing hands - a better option? Food was excellent. As an aside, greenbacks, for as long as you have any, are counter-intuitively not very good at harboring germs so fondle them to your heart's content.
As usual after a cold or flu, have a residual cough that hangs on for weeks. This does not make me popular. Not contagious, but, hoping to avoid psychic angst, try not to hack up loogies in stranger's faces. Considering the cost of a small bottle of the stuff, dextromethorphan and guaifenesin are remarkably ineffective. We buy it anyway, but have found something that really works - placebo. If you can locate some it's great.
Wheels in motion to ship lithium battery and giant screen (22 inch) 12 vdc TV/DVD from US. Regrettably arrival will provoke guilt to perform some work. Life on a boat is not all roses and lollipops you know. Electrical system upgrade will be a big job, but should be ameliorated by ability to watch US broadcast TV. Current, non-giant screen model (19 inch) tuner purchased in New Zealand, has been, no doubt mercifully, inoperative in North American region. Our days of blissful ignorance of the twenty four hour, media produced, hyperbolic cacophony and discordant bull droppings may be behind us. We have been far too lighthearted and need to wallow in anguish and misery. Perhaps not.
Once timing of shipment arrival and marina berth are established, may head over to St. John to screw off in a different locale. Since Tim's charter business has crumbled to dust as nearly all customers have canceled, we'll drag him along to engage in some above mentioned activities to retched excess. L'Chaim.
Jack & Jan
Island in the Stream
22 March 2020 | St. Thomas
Saturday 14 March 2020
Influenza Like Illness, ILI, is not exactly a euphemism as similar symptoms
accompany infections with coronavirus, rhinovirus, human respiratory syncytial
virus, adenovirus, and human parainfluenza virus and definitive diagnosis
requires a test which is usually not given except in more severe cases. The
test is more for public health, such as with the latest pandemic, than for the
individual as there is little effective therapy for viruses beyond having a
strong immune system.
There is, however, an influenza vaccine that can be partially to completely
effective depending on how closely it matches each year's actual strain. One
member of crew doesn't get the shot and never gets flu - lucky her. Other crew
always gets the shot and hasn't gotten very sick since. Always, that is, until
this year. A week on and with a 102F fever we sat in an ambulatory care center
waiting for three hours. Finally told that doctor wouldn't see me - referred to
CDC. Thanks Dr. Hippocratic. Since it didn't kill me and it's been a week,
unlikely to be contagious and any continuing infection is probably bacterial.
Reason we went to clinic was for antibiotic and to advise them if this was
Wuhan, but they have no testing in USVI, so pointless. Came back to boat to
begin course of doxycycline. Still ill, but much better.
Going over to Red Hook for fuel today so we can bust out of this joint ASAP.
Should pick up last parcels from USPS Monday, but probably wait until Wednesday
to sail as wind goes south Tuesday.
Virgin's economy is sixty percent tourism and that has tanked. No more cruise
ships are allowed in and what flights remain are nearly empty. We can't leave
until receiving approval from coronavirus questionaire we sent to Trinidad
Friday, but we're low risk so that should be OK.
We like the US Virgin Islands. That's great news because we're here for the
duration. Borders in the Caribbean are closing to non-residents. Trinidad &
Tobago is shut down as of midnight tomorrow and we couldn't get there by then.
Hope those en route have enough provisions for awhile and don't mind bobbing
about outside territorial waters for the next eighteen months. Perhaps the
fishing will be good.
With little else to do drove over to passport office for renewal (due December).
Four and a half to six weeks turn around (maybe) without passport. Could fly or
sail over to Puerto Rico for one day renewal, but... that office has closed
entirely. Went to customs for Global Entry interview. People are in the
offices, but nothing is getting done. Not quite sure why corona causes
government to get even less efficient. Didn't even bother with VA to check on
possible veteran benefits from them. It appears that vegging is the go-to
Have begun considering options besides sitting around on dwindling keister
(appetite has diminished since flu) doing diddly. The US contingent could
probably visit US, although perhaps not the Canadian, but why bother?
Considering shipping battery to USVI and giving a local tradie some work. Would
go into marina for awhile and get several things done without incessant roll.
Masthead lights need adjustment and getting slung out and slammed back has been
sufficiently enjoyed on other occasions - including underway.
Meantime Tim is finishing construction of finest, perhaps only, bocce ball court
in the Caribbean. We may be here long enough to become experts.
This stream of intermittent, rapidly changing consciousness has gone on too long
with too little inspiration, so will end. Hope everyone is enjoying the
enforced isolation as well as possible.
Jack & Jan
08 March 2020 | St. Thomas
Thursday 5 March 2020
US Virgin Islands has a spotty reputation with cruisers for some reason, but we've found it quite congenial. The place is a center for boating with all the support one might want. As a tourist destination it has great bars and restaurants. It has all the Caribbean feel and tropical weather (including hurricanes), yet enjoys many of the advantages of the contiguous US. Post office treats it the same - for example, there is regular free and fast shipping from Amazon. You can find all the variety of food and products as in the lower 48 including fresh produce.
On the negative side cruise ships come in every day during the season making Charlotte Amalie one of the busiest destinations in the world. As many as five ships with sixteen thousand passengers on some days. A million and a half cruise ship cattle a year herd through (a little harsh?). Maintaining a low profile is appropriate when the terminals are full.
Founded in 1666 as Taphus, which means beer house it was renamed for Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel, queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark-Norway. After fifty two years of negotiations the US coaxed neutral Denmark to sell the Virgins in 1917 for twenty five million dollars by threatening to attack them. Not nice. Secretary of State Robert Lansing probably got on Santa's naughty list for that one. They and he wanted the islands to keep the Germans from getting them during that little misunderstanding that lasted, with a twenty one year intermission, until 1945.
After less than five years, plastic oarlocks on AB dink have rotted away. Bought better Caribe units in St. Maarten, but prefer professional unglue old (with heat gun) and install new. Repair shop, accessible by water, scheduled for Tuesday, is on other side of Charlotte Amalie and since wind increases tonight and Secret Harbour (a different one) has poor holding (plus rolly) we're off to Water Island.
Bought small Yamaha portable generator in Darwin that had not been unwrapped until this afternoon. Why today you may ask? Panda has begun overheating and cleaning raw water intake screen did bupkis. Changing raw water pump will take awhile (might just be impeller, but with weeping seal it needs replacement) so batteries get charged meantime. Oddly, after servicing with oil and petrol the thing ran and it's quietish. Couldn't be that easy, of course, so new power cord had to be fabricated out of loose parts and at 1000 watts it's sloooooooooow.
Along with big wind, biblical deluge is approaching so there'll be no excuse for avoiding work inside tomorrow on Fixme Panda. In case of crumbling impeller, manufacturer thought to install screen downstream to catch broken blades. Of course generator is so tightly engineered it's nearly impossible to access - nothing that patience, a few bloody knuckles and a smattering of profanity won't put right.
Rain has come in early so expect a wet ride into Tickles Dockside Pub (it's got to be good) to meet Tim for dinner. Perhaps we'll offer a libation to Chac, the Mayan god of rain to knock it off while we're out. Anyway, it wouldn't seem right if we didn't occasionally enjoy SDB, soggy dinghy butt.
Jack & Jan
01 March 2020 | Almost St. Thomas
Saturday 29 February 2020
Christiansted is the only port of entry into St. Croix. It's not possible to clear in there. Why would anyone expect to? One must find transportation across island, about 17 km, to the airport. After $40 in taxi fare before tip we are cleared into the USVI and no one was arrested or deported. Also apparently no one took offence that we had forgotten to replace St. Maarten courtesy flag with USVI. It has a white field behind a spread winged, golden eagle with a stars and stripes shield on its chest. Attractive thing, but doesn't look like a national flag.
The town is indeed pretty, but still have to give Gustavia the nod for most fetching. Boardwalk along waterfront accesses several bars/restaurants and we tried as many as time allowed. It's American so everyone serves breakfast. Away from water are alleyways and lanes with more shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. The eastern fort, Louise Augusta, is in excellent shape and in process of additional renovation. The calm anchorage directly in front of town and protected by Protestant Cay is chock-a-block with local boats so anchoring in Gallows Bay (guess the Danish must have been pretty harsh too) is a wee bit rolly. Once thought St. Croix had some cachet with the rich or famous... maybe not. All said, nice, but don't need to go back.
Motored this morning across to Buck Island to check out marine flora and fauna. Although visibility was good at touted underwater trail on east end, reef was mostly dead except for a few brain coral. Descriptive plaques were grown over with something that didn't wipe off. Saw a school of surgeon fish, three barracuda, a few parrotfish and one lonely spotted puffer, otherwise snorkeling was a disappointment. Water was a slightly chilly... well it is winter. Perhaps St. Thomas has more to offer.
With very light wind we're motor-sailing north to either St. James Island or Nazareth Bay, southeast end of St. Thomas. Over the next few weeks before heading south to Trinidad, besides exploring, we need to get mammogram and hip x-ray. Unfortunately rental cars and taxis are very expensive, buses are unreliable and biking is suicidal. Buddy, Captain Tim Ashe, who operates a popular charter catamaran out of Benner Bay (www.sailmeow.com), has graciously offered his car for our use while he's out on day charters or his girlfriend's as she's off island.
Jan has a Google Fi sim with service added onto my account, however... as previously mentioned, Google doesn't allow purchasing or shipping a Fi phone or sim outside of US or to a mail forwarding address - also disallows downloading app or activating said sim. Stealth and trickery got sim and app, but unable yet to activate. Still working it. Meantime she wants a local data sim to messenger regularly with her best buddy in San Pablo, CA, who was wonderfully supportive during our little enforced sojourn in Darwin.
Don't know about you, but this was pretty boring, nearly devoid of snarky comments. Will attempt better in future.
Jack & Jan