02 March 2016 | Scoop & Brew St Thomas
26 January 2016 | Penns Landing Marina, Tortolla, BVI
26 January 2015 | Penn's Landing - East End Tortolla
07 April 2014 | ended up in St John
16 March 2014 | Penns Landing, Tortolla
07 May 2016
When you hear "Diary of a Galley Wench" one might assume this would, from time to time, include wonderful recipes any wench can cook aboard in her galley. Kind of a go to 'allrecipes' for boat life where storage is minimal and ingredients sometimes even more minimal. Well, it's not as I do not possess any culinary training nor innate ability (confidence) to know lemon juice and potatoes work well together. I did learn to add coconut milk to rice (thanks Ches), used leftovers from the Neebe/Chessons to make Neebe quinoa vs Neebe rice and leftover bacon and a block of Swiss turns an ordinary chicken breast into YUM. Olive oil and lime marinate a Mahi nicely w/either fresh or cooked mango and hard boiled eggs are always great to have on hand (smart Daaarrin). My tip for anyone out at sea or island hoping - relax and know that everything tastes better on a boat! Is it the scenery? The company? The fact that being on the water makes one hungry? Or the mere fact that this is all you've got so it is delicious.
The decision was made to head to the dock a few days early after 3 days of rain. The weather outlook projected more of the same. Of course the next day the skies were blue and every day after that. With our fix it list looming we stayed put and Jim began his projects while I had the great honor of emptying the back lazarettes and cleaning them out. While cleaning the garage I noticed the bilge pump not working - another project for Jimbo.
As much as I like land being at the dock bothers me because if I am on a boat I want to be out on the water. These last few days have been a lot more fun as people were around. s/v Timing was having some fuel issues so we enjoyed time with Ash, Sue, Howard and Hope. Before pulling out Friday they helped us finish up beer and appetizer type foods which is always better than throwing things away. Friday evening Dave & Marney joined us for dinner, catch up and farewell.
Sailing friends are great but we got an extra treat this week. I received an email from my brother (dock time = internet connection) saying he had some friends renting a house on Tortolla. Come to find out their place was along one of my walking routes. Yup,only a mile away from us. Bill, John, Andy and Greg stopped by the dock for a visit. Below deck was a wreck due to fix-its in progress so they got a view of sailing reality. Hahaha We stopped by their place one morning on our walk and got to know them better. 4 new friends! Guess they liked us too as they dined @ Red Rock their last evening, brought their dessert ( & one for us) down to the boat and we all enjoyed.
Below deck is clean, things packed, cupboards are bare and Jim has one more glass of OJ for departure day. I leave you with a few numbers of the season: 5 weeks of guests, 6 day sails, 1 one nighter, 1 WHALE, 5 rain days, ?? night showers, 13 islands 2 races, 1 trail ride, 50+paddle outings, 4 octopi, 6 squid, and oodles of turtles. We had family, friends, first timers, land visitors and all were great company. I have said it before - I love introducing the Virgin Islands to virgins to the islands, and virgins to sailing even more.
We enjoy our winter in the islands but we are both ready to get back to the mainland. Until the temps drop again -
23 April 2016
Our last guests of the season were the McCarthy’s. I would categorize them not as guests but as sailing family. The positive for this distinction is the fact that there was minimal wind all week for which they understand that we do not control the weather. The only other time it was very still was about 2 nights in January while our kids with onboard.
Horseback riding, night kayak tour, paddle boarding, island tours, snorkeling and a dive were not affected in the least. The lack of wind merely meant more motoring, warm nights (VERY warm) and no chance for Frank to play with his new toy – light wind kite board.
Islands of choice for their visit this year were Vieques and Culebra – 2 of the Spanish Virgin Islands, the 3rd being Puerto Rico. Vieques was more welcoming than Capt Jim initially believed. We should have called ahead as both the horseback riding and Bioluminecesne Tour w/ Jaks were booked full. They had 2 spots open for the 2nd day afternoon so Marty and I enjoyed a fantastic ride to beaches and up in the hills for beautiful views. We hitched a ride back into town so we could make it to the 6:30pm pick up time for the Bio Kayak Tour. What a way to cap off a day – it was awesome. Funny Story – the night before (due to booked tours) we attempted to self tour via our dinghy. “Awe, it is just around the corner.” After loading extra paddles, as you cannot motor in the bay, flashlights and some water we start the journey. We get out of our bay where the waves increased (this whole leg of the adventure is into the wind). Wet, no life jackets and a few miles to go someone had the good sense to question this endeavor. Dinghy returned to MyDeere and after everyone showered we sat down to a meal. We enjoyed it 10fold the next night with an organized group and a car ride back to our bay. You may think going to the Bioluminecense Bay is a touristy thing to do but trust me – it is worth it. Try to go with less moon and think Avatar……on crack.
Culebra offered a great day of diving for the guys while we ladies went to Tamarindo Beach for a great turtle snorkel. An octopus and a few squids as well. Next day we headed to the museum and then to Flamenco Beach. This is a have to as it is rated as one of the top 10 beaches. I personally preferred Zoni Beach. We heard Zacos Tacos is a treat and we tried 3xs but it was closed. El Eden was a tasty replacement. Headed back to St Thomas Sunday and still not much wind but we were able to sail back. A bit slow but we had nothing but time. Frank treats Marty to some land time before they head back home – hope all went well with their accommodations and they had air conditioning! The day they headed home the winds picked up and a few kite boarders took to the bays. Sorry Frank
Bonfire on the beach in Red Hook was fun and great to meet some new folks. Everyone except us was “local” and they were inviting. We were to bring hotdogs or whatever we would like to cook over the open flame. We had hotdogs while others had shish kabobs, brawts and even a chicken breast or 2. I think we need to step up our game!
We met up with Azure Wind in Francis Bay for dinner and boat talk. After a beautiful morning paddle and beach chat we set out for Hanse Bay, East End St John. I was saddened as we passed by the boat moored behind us as it was who Jim thought it was – my little friend from New Zealand. A 9yr old sailing with his parents for a yr and a half already. We met earlier in the month in Benures Bay and I took him for a paddle. I regret I did not believe Jim or check it out earlier as I would have loved to teach his parents to paddle and offer some swim instruction to young Kylie – they said he could swim but not very well. I hate I missed an opportunity. ARGH
I thought maybe we would catch them again as we hoped to hit Hawknest Bay Sunday but like the wind, things change.
Glorious rain fell upon us Friday night and enough to wash the thick salt off the deck which allowed me to start the stainless cleaning. Jim was below working on something when it was decided we needed to get to our home, Penns Landing Marina, to hook up to shore power due to battery issues. ¼ of the stainless complete only to be dirtied w/anchor dirt (had to pull up manually) and salt from the motoring upwind. I mean really – I could not even enjoy an hour of shine.
Checked back into the BVIs, courtesy flag hoisted and nestled into our slip for what appears the remainder of winter in the islands. As much as I like land, if I am on a boat I want to be out in the open water. Reminder to self: “ Happiness is being content wherever you are.” So I shall.
You travel, You learn
04 April 2016
This is especially true when you travel to the islands. Other than the well known "Island Time", which means sometime between now and when I get to it, there is the great potential to change your arrival spot 3 times. First it was ferry to Sopers Hole, Tortolla. No, just take a taxi to the Coast Guard dock along the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. WAIT! Change that - a taxi will pick you up at the airport and bring you to Red Hook, St Thomas where you will be greeted by Jim and travel to the boat on the first of many dinghy rides. The good thing is that having to travel to Red Hook gave our guests a "tour" of St Thomas. The open truck and fast speed is a perfect way to start a week in the islands.
After a quick boat tour, who is sleeping where, snack draw and lavatory instructions we settled down to some lunch and then off to St James/Christmas Cove for the night. The Rinehart's had an early and long day of flying but that did not keep them from enjoying a snorkel and a pizza dinner from Pizza Pi. Jim is famous for eating truck food but have you ever dinghied to a boat to get your dinner? I believe it is the best pizza in the US and BVIs. Although the moon was still pretty full and bright this crew hit the bunks early.
Day 2 was a motor sail up the north shore of St John with a stop @ Waterlemon Bay for the night. A hike to the Annaberg Sugar Mill and then into the water for a surprising snorkel - a couple of spotted Eagle Rays, an octopus hiding (Jim found him), various fish (Parrot, squirrel damsels,....), and ended with a turtle. Paddle boarding was next. Bailey assured me she knew how and would be fine because she had a lesson. I will have to inform her instructor to spend more time on teaching how to turn as she proceeded to be swept away with the wind. She appeared calm and enjoying the ride yet Sonya and I hopped in the dinghy to "rescue" her. We threw in our snorkel gear as there is a good spot @ the other end of the anchorage and you might as well 'kill 2 birds with one stone'.
The next morning we hiked to the ruins and then onto Coral Bay for a look-see and lunch @ Skinny Legs. Only problem is we had to walk back. Smiles came upon faces once we knew we reached the last of the climb and the remainder was downhill with the water waiting for our return. This time I swam along the paddle board and once Bailey got the hang of turning she was solo traveling from the boat to the beach and back a few times. Ellie's boundaries grew as she got used to the wind. "Is it always windy here?"
Onward to the BVIs - Ellie went in with Jim to experience immigration procedures. They were both happy they brought along a few Hersey Nuggets to treat the officer on Easter morning. We hoisted the courtesy flag while they went to the grocery for a few provisions. They came back with a bag full of Shirley cookies.!?
Great sail to Peter Island with Ben and Ellie taking turns at the helm. I prepped dinner while others snorkeled so we could do the Sunset Loop walk. Water, snacks and flashlights packed and 2.5 miles ahead of us we made it in time for a great sunset! Now 2.5miles back. Good thing was it was mostly downhill. Showers, Taco Salad for dinner and a game or two before lights out.
North Sound was our next stop. More helm time for all with a photo opportunity as yachtshotsbvi.com came by. Dropping anchor around the Bitter End/Biras Creek we took a dip in the water, paddle boarding and a diving lesson we took a quick rinse and went over to Saba Rock for Happy Hour and fish feeding. We were treated with many kite boarders out back and one guy performing tricks before the feeding. It was like parcore kite boarding. Very Impressive.
Don't remember what was for dinner each night but it was great having sous chef Bailey, master chopper Ellie and clean-up crew Sonya. Guessing the meals were yummy as they disappeared as well as Baileys Tropical Banana dessert. Hoping no one went hungry.
Motor to Leverick Bay for an island tour with Jeremy (of course we went to the Baths) and finished the land day at the Michael Bean Pirate Show. Our blowhard had a bit of stage freight but she made us proud. Boat activities lingered as we lit up the paddle board for a night paddle. Ellie was first to head out and then she took Bailey aboard for a spin. Next was Sonya - just happened that the tarpon finally acknowledged the shining lights and began to patrol the area. Yea, freaked her out a bit but Ellie and I had a great time watching the fish and the fear. Guess it did not help we were trying to feed the fish. Hahaha Onboard the ladies had a wonderful few rounds of Pass the Pigs. If you are unfamiliar with the game Google it as there is a YouTube video of the excitement. Once Ellie figured out how to say "Sooee" she ruled the herd.
Downwind sail to Norman Island everyone had a turn at the helm. Bailey would like to be on record that she prefers the high winds and beat vs the relaxing downwind sails! The night in Benures with a final meal, showers and another night paddle in a slightly darker anchorage - Sonya sat this one out but
Ben gave it a go. Of course Ellie paddled first and it was sweet Karma as the tarpon came over quickly. And bigger! Okay, Jim actually had to get onboard with her to get her away from the boat but hoping she enjoyed it between her requests to go back to the boat. Hahaha Ben remained calm and enjoyed the views. Time to pull it up when we saw a few bats fly by - UGH
Splitting the week between both the US & BVIs made time fly. Hoping we hit enough of the hot spots to entice their return to the islands.
I don't think I have ever had a more enjoyable journey bringing quests to the ferry. No, not because we were ready to get rid of them, quite the contrary. We pulled up anchor @ 6:30am, sailed with just the jib heading to Soper's Hole while the sun was rising behind us. Maybe we will be lucky again this week as we will be delivering Cooper Island guests (George and Fran) to catch the ferry to St Thomas. Keeping my fingers crossed.
22 March 2016
Time Flies –
2 weeks ago we pulled up between a mega yacht and a mega catamaran (15ft+ clearance between the 2 pontoons!!) to get some water, dinghy gas and rinse Charlotte Amalie off the deck. Onward to Hansen Bay, East End St John to hang out with 2 of Jim’s brothers and the wonderful Neebes.
Amazing snorkels @ Haulover and in Hansen Bay and finishing the day with fantastic meals prepared by Chef Alan under the direction of Weejy and sous chef Margaret.
On a calm seas, no wind day MyDeere motored them over to Booby Rock – a dive site buta grand snorkel on a calm day. After some lunch we headed back. While enroute we encountered a WHALE. Yup, he/she was probably about 75ft off our port. AMAZING!! The following day we did an around the island sail with a snorkel and lunch @ Christmas Cove. Jim, Bill & Lynn got to see an octopus in action. Did I mention the winds were in the 20s and seas 3-5ft. Not bad on the way down the island but proved to be rather wet on the way back – Ugh. Everyone held on through the tumultuous cut just off St James as well as around Caneel Bay. Once past Thatch things settled down and sailed on back to the Hideaway. Sorry for the disturbed nap Earl and thanks for drying up the floor.
We left the crowd and went back to the BVIs for the Dark and Stormy Regatta. We decided to pull into our slip at Penns & just motor over to the start line the morning of the race. It was a much needed stop. We washed the deck and thoroughly cleaned below as we took on so much sea water on our around the island sail. I think I fixed that problem as I removed all hatch covers and tightened the handles in hopes high seas stay only on deck.
My efforts paid off as the Saturday race to Anegada was a close reach with 25knot winds, 4-6ft seas and upon arrival we were DRY below!!! Even better than that, MyDeere took 3rd place. Way to go Capt Jim! Sunday we took part in the sand castle competition, kite flying, horseshoes and cornhole as well as get to know some great folks. Monday was a ppursuit race back to Tortolla – Nanny Cay was the finish line. We had a great start, I was at the helm for the 1st hour while Jim focused on sail trimming. We passed boats and gained on our nemesis to the point it made him a bit concerned. Not to worried as once we passed Scrub Island it was straight downwind and MyDeere does not perform well downwind. No whisker pole or spinnaker we chose to wing it. Definitely fell behind but finished a solid 8th our of 31. Already thinking strategy for next year – take speed over direct /shorter distance in hopes you go fast enough to minimize the distance at the end? Fly only the jib? Get a pole? Tips are welcome
Back to St John as Earl and Margaret & the Neebes were still there and Pat Geiger joined them on their second week. More snorkeling, fine food, great conversation and smooth sailing with Pat at the helm.
Over the 2 weeks Alan and Earl picked up on Jim’s interest in finding treasures either along the shore or on the bottom of the sea. Heck, on top of the sea as well. Twice I had to get in the dinghy to pick up stuff as he sailed by it - a seat cushion from a charter boat and a fender. At least it is stuff we can use. After our last meal we were gifted with a treasure they found with Jim in mind (attached photo). I love it. Now to try and find a place to keep it.
We have a few days alone and then pick up friends in St Thomas. Like they say on the Price is Right – Bailey, come on down!
Side note: got Jim started doing Sudoku for brain health. First few puzzles there was much cussing which I have not heard the last week or so. This morning an expletive came out. Guess he is onto the medium level. hahaha
Sitting under a palm tree with some internet
02 March 2016 | Scoop & Brew St Thomas
It has been a few weeks but yes, we are still out here tooling around the Virgin Islands. To go back a few days/weeks we DID do the Mount Gay Rum Sweetheart Regatta. It was Valentine’s Weekend which was both a lot of fun on the water as well as land. Friday night registration when we got to meet fellow competitors and receive the coveted red hat. Fortunately we received two – one for Capt Jim and the other for a son back home. Majority of the participants were folks with a home on land a boat for racing and day sailing. There was one other cruiser vessel who has participated for years (a couple of decades actually)and were sweet folks from Canada who took us under their wing introducing us to everyone and making us feel right at home.
Saturday was the option of single handed or open class. Jim chose to test his skills at the single handed. I got to ride along as a safety “officer” only being able to speak if there was danger. No problem there as I would not know what to say to be of any sailing/racing help. Haha He did a fabulous job and it was helpful to watch how and when he trimmed the sails, when he chose to tack,……It was a pursuit race and we owed the other 2 boats time hence we started last (10min behind the 1st start, 6min behind the 2nd start). MyDeere came in 3rd but Jim gained on both vessels. I think they should take the decrease in time at the finish in scoring as well as the amount of weight we were carrying. Like I stated earlier – the other boats were not live aboards hence not carrying 150 gal of water, 100gal of fuel, groceries,…….alright, I may be sounding a bit to competitive.
Day 2, Sunday, was the option of Classic, Open or Sweetheart (couples only class). We chose the Sweetheart division and thank the Lord it did not mean I had to be at the helm the whole time. Have you ever been at the start of a race – YIKES. If anyone was observing they might have thought Jim was sailing single handed again. Haha I did pull lines and with every tack we got a faster system (preparing for March race). I took the helm after we rounded Pelican island (1/2 way point) and headed to the finish. Down wind is our weakest leg hence our competitor took a hardy lead and we took a solid 2nd!
Even though I said the Couples Race was just for 2 people we did get permission to have two passengers who agreed they would only be observers. Dillon & Carly: Dillon approached us @ the Saturday night awards (being held in a bar/rest where they were dining) as Jim was wearing his MyDeere shirt which states Edenton, NC. Anytime you see a familiar place it opens the door to conversation. Both UNC graduates made yet another connection. Returning to our boat that eveing we noticed they were moored right behind us which got Jimbo thinking – “Do you think they would like to ride along for the race tomorrow?” Invitation was extended the next morning and before he could finish his question Carly replied with a firm “YES!” 26yr old couple (marrying in May) who decided they were going sailing for 2 months while his business is in the slow season. He owns a wedding venue in Chapel Hill/Carrboro area (Barn @ Valhalla) and she gave her 2 week notice as a speech therapist. They secured a boat from a friend of a friend of a friend, sight unseen and have had quite an adventure. It is their story to tell so I will say no more except think “Capt Ron (the movie) and Dillon surely has a mate for life! Hoping to cross paths again before their time is up here in the islands.
Sunday night was another great gathering getting to know folks better and win prizes. Sure wish I liked rum.
Wind headed out Monday morning with fantastic winds and local knowledge which lead to a great sail to a favorite spot.
Heard rumors some Edentonians were enjoying a few days @ Cooper Island Beach Club so we moseyed on over there in hopes they would like to go out for a sail. It was great having Missy & Scotty onboard and enjoying a fine meal (Happy Birthday Missy!) @ their little piece of paradise. Their setup @ Cooper was very nice and relaxing. Good job Scotty
Onward to Jost for a Salty Dog Gathering @ Foxy’s. More meeting of fellow crusisers which leads to new friends and knowledge of fun places to go and tips for places that may be sketchy = here we come Vieques. Friday morning there was minimal wind and calm, calm seas so I decided to take a morning paddle over to White Bay (Soggy Dollar) and back around Great Harbor. Took a stroll on land and then a snorkel (to shallow for my liking so I stayed on the dinghy). Decided to stay there for another night. The winds died even more, the current swirled us around in the anchorage and the neighbor boats that danced so well Thursday night where not dancing very pretty Fri. We had double checked our anchoring earlier in the day as well as another boat or two but for some reason we kept getting very close to our neighbor. We decided to each keep our radios on channel 17 through the night in case either of us sees anything about to happen. Odd if everyone sleeps. I stayed awake. Noticed a charter cat fiddle with his anchor upon their return from dinner and then went to bed. Just before 1am I notice that cat get mighty close to the sailboat I was worried about hitting. I pick up the radio calling the sailboat and then bam! It was a matter of seconds but I do believe if I actually clicked the radio button I could have forewarned. ARGH Sailboat was quick to the deck and banging on cat trying to awaken the sleepers. After a little altercation, cat leaves, Jim goes back to sleep and sailboat goes back to sleep while I maintain watch. Next morning we head to a better anchoring hole.
Days pass, books read, marina for a night to get freezer looked at then onto North Sound for a few days trying different anchoring spots. We have heard of a hike around Biras Creek way so we sought it out and enjoyed it very much. We headed up Alvin’s Heights trail and came back via Lovers Leap which brought us along the north shore of Biras Creek. Jim was in heaven looking at all the washed up debris along the shore – a couple of masts, boxes, wench, windlass,… I kept walking because I knew if I was around he would try to convince me that whatever he wanted would be cool to salvage. Being on a boat – we do not that kind of space to have stuff. He likened this part of the walk to snorkeling above ground.
Our most recent time was spent visiting friends who spent the weekend @ Scrub Island. So wonderful they let us know they were around as she and I had a spa day, lunch and sat by the pool. We ended the day having dinner with them @ Tierra Tierra and playing Dab that Tune. Sunday morning she and I went kayaking and as we got by Marina Cay we decided to grab snorkel gear from the boat to enjoy the underwater sights by the shore. Tied up to the dinghy line and jumped in. We both got ourselves back into the kayak and not as ungraceful as I thought. I returned her to her resort and Jim and I headed to the USVIs. Time for a trip to Kmart (list is ready) and a visit with family & friends as they have rented a house on St John.
Our season is half way over but still so much to enjoy. Next year though we ARE headed home for a week to spend time in Charleston with Stephen’s friends and family. Things I will miss this month – Stephen turns 21, Janet’s 24th birthday and …….that’s it actually- but it is big stuff to me.
Chowan Co to the Caribbean
09 February 2016
Another week of sailing winds, calm anchorages, island walks and introducing good folks to the BVIs. Smiles from ear to ear as they approached their "home" for a week they were quickly introduced to boating life as the cockpit filled with our marina family for Happy Hour and meeting of our guests. A dinner of chicken Roti topped w/mango chutney the island adventure has begun. I got a 3 mile jog in before morning departure - probably not a great idea to clock 9+ miles in 4 days after a month of not jogging as I got a bit tight. You travel you learn.
1st stop Peter Island for the Steel Drum Sunday, a walk and then off to North Sound. The sail was great and BVI Yacht Shots found us again so check out their site for Jan. 31. After picking a ball @ Biras Creek Jim took Ginger and Carroll to shore for the walk over the Bitter End. I stayed back to roll out my back. As I am chilling in the hammock I can hear the three of them walking and talking along the mangroves - be careful guys, voices carry over water. Happy Hour on Saba Rock where Carroll tested his fishing skills feeding the tarpin. Hoping the vieo will load to site???. Dinner aboard - can't remember what I cooked but they ate it all so must have been good or they were really hungry.
Monday was a motor over to Leverick Bay to pick up a taxi for an island tour, The Baths and copper Mine Pt. The baths were packed but we made our way to Devils Bay where they enjoyed climbing the boulders and a soak in the water. I love the Baths anytime & even more with folks who are experiencing it for the first time. Of course the evening was spent at the Micheal Bean Pirate Show. Yea, I know all the songs by heart. Carroll gave a try at the conch blowing contest - no winner from our boat this time around.
The days are running together but I think we ended up sailing to the Dogs for a snorkel and then Marina Cay for the night. Stopped by Monkey Pt for a snorkel as the water was the most settled this season followed by a sail between Tortolla and Jost with brief stop @ Sopers Hole for a bit of shopping & then to Norman island. Ginger and Carroll were gracious and willing to stay put for 2 nights there. Good snorkeling, paddleboarding, hammock sitting and plenty of R&R. I think they were kind of glad for a calm day.
Before we headed back to the marina we hit the Indians where the fish were plentiful and coral colors bright. Carroll took the helm often throughout the week - very natural behind the wheel. Ginger finally accepted the challenge and we stayed on course.It is always fun to share our lifestyle w/others especially when they participate. To be part of the experience whether it is on deck or down in the galley.
In closing I would like to say it was great fun getting to know them better and to have folks onboard who like to play games. Okay, so Carroll loves his wife enough to play. Haha One question for anyone reading this that may be a Spades player : How can one team get set 5x and still give us girls a run for our money? And to go low just as many times and never get stuck? Men are definitely more risky.
May your Caribbean Fever linger through the remainder of winter.
The Skinners flew out early Super bowl Sunday and after a quick boat cleaning, getting a marina mate on board we set out to race "Be as you Are" to Leverick Bay to watch the big game. Dwayne was at the helm, Jim the sail trimmer and I was holding on as the toe rails were IN the water - a lot. After a "stern gate" (boaters tail gate) 15 of us enjoyed the game on shore. Only the 2 of us were Panthers fans. Good run boys but you got kicked hard by those horses.
Then next month we will be sailing solo but catching up with folks along the way, sailing in a regatta or two until our Spring Breakers arrive.
Until next time - Enjoy the life you are living