North American Tour 2017-2019

From Portland, OR through Panama Canal to East Coast of USA and back via Caribbean, Panama Canal, Golfito to Victoria, BC and home

15 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
06 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
01 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
27 January 2019 | St. Martin
25 January 2019 | St. Kitts
23 January 2019 | St. Kitts
21 January 2019 | Antigua to St. Kitts
19 January 2019 | Antigua
17 January 2019 | Antigua
13 January 2019 | Guadalupe
11 January 2019 | Guadalupe
08 January 2019 | Virgin Gorda, BVI
05 January 2019 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
30 December 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
28 December 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
27 December 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
26 December 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24 December 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Snorkeliing at St. Johns

15 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
George Stonecliffe
Many of the snorkeling sites have a coating of sand over the coral and sponges, left over from the hurricanes. But there are signs of the undersea environment making its way back. Today we were in Caneel Bay off St. Johns. As we hovered over coral formation after formation we started to see and identify many varieties of reef fish: a school of French Grunts, parrotfish, a juvenile gray angel fish, a mahogany snapper, 3 reef squid, and a huge porcupine pufferfish, among many others. It was a real joy!

Two Snorkels at the Indians near Norman Island

09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
George Stonecliffe
One of our favorite snorkeling spots in the Caribbean has to be The Indians at Norman Island in the BVI. These pinnacles display coral, sponges, and sea fans with schools of reef fish of all descriptions. The sunshine was filtering in and out of the cloud cover for these two snorkeling sessions. It seemed when the sunshine came out, that we were swimming inside an aquarium. The queen angelfish is always a treat. A dog snapper was probably the largest fish in the area. There were schools of sergeant majors, blue tangs, yellow snappers, and a six-inch blue fish with a black nose/mouth. We saw 30 species just in this localized area. Visibility was 50-60', so we could see lots of detail. I would hover over a particular coral section just to watch the interaction of 5 or 6 species, adults, juveniles, and so on.

The Baths on Virgin Gorda

09 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
George Stonecliffe
Today, the most difficult question to answer for Sue was which swimsuit she was going to wear! The Baths on Virgin Gorda is an extensive boulder formation along a sandy beach with boulders the size of small houses. There is a maze of paths up and over and through the boulders. At times they can be slippery, so having an occasional stairway, ladder, and knotted rope banister is much appreciated. This formation attracts a myriad of boats and sun-seekers. And the snorkeling isn't half bad!

The Wreck of the Rhone

06 February 2019 | British Virgin Islands
George Stonecliffe
One of the classic diving sites in the Caribbean is near Salt Island in the British Virgin Islands. Sue and I joined up with Mike Smith, a guest of Craig and Barbara Johnston on sv Sequoia from Portland, Oregon. Underwater Safaris from Cooper Island led two dives, back-to-back, of the Wreck of the R.M.S. Rhone, an unsinkable steam ship which was hit by a hurricane within the BVI. The wreck has attracted large communities of reef fish, sponges and coral. The site was visited by a green turtle, a couple reef sharks, southern sting rays, spotted eels, and a myriad of fish that we enjoy seeing. Rare or new sightings included a sand tilefish, a hogfish, a highhat drummer, a tiger grouper, and angelfish including queen and gray. The wreck was spread out in huge pieces over several acres from 35 to 80' deep. Seeing the huge propeller, we were intrigued that it was solid bronze, but jammed into rock so hard that it couldn't be salvaged. Visibility was about 60 feet, and with sunny weather, we had variable color through the dive site.

Our New Sail!

01 February 2019 | US Virgin Islands
George Stonecliffe
UPS Tracking had our new, replacement genoa/jib sail arriving in St. Thomas, Crown Bay Marina on February 1st. It was a great big, baby sail weighing 83 pounds. We were such proud sailing-parents! We pulled in to Crown Bay Marina on the 2nd, received the package, and later in the day when the wind was right, we took down our temporary working jib, and installed our new genoa on its furler. The genoa is the driving sail for 'Julia Max', larger than the main sail. We had managed with the little temporary working jib to make it from Bermuda to the Virgin Islands, then through the BVI all the way to Guadaloupe, back to Antigua, then St. Kitts, and to St. Martin before returning through the BVI to the US Virgin Islands and St. Thomas. We were delighted to have the temporary jib to be able to continue on for six weeks. When we installed the new genoa, it fit perfectly on our roller-furler. We can't wait to get out and sail with a full suit of sails again. Looking forward we will spend February in the British Virgin Islands, then west through the US Virgin Islands, to the Spanish Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and on past Hispaniola to Jamaica. We will be then waiting for a weather window to leave Jamaica for the Panama Canal and nearby islands on the Caribbean side near the end of March. A special note about our new sail and the global economy: the sail was ordered from Kerry Poe at North Sails in Portland, Oregon, manufactured in Sri Lanka, shipped to North Sails in Connecticut, and finally UPS brought it to the Virgin Islands, all within about six weeks! Thank you Kerry Poe for the expediting!!

From St. Kitts to St. Martin

27 January 2019 | St. Martin
George Stonecliffe
Leaving at 06:10, we arrived at 17:15 with one of our fastest transits. The wind was SE20-25 during the morning. Waves were down on the leeward, west side of St. Kitts. But as soon as we went beyond its protection, we found ourselves in 6-8' seas with a 10' swell, and white-caps added for excitement. 'Julia Max' was going 7.5-8.0 knots over the ground. We had a single-reefed main, reefed mizzen, and our working jib working together nicely. During the afternoon the winds reduced to SE 18-20, affecting boat speed to 6.5 knots. We had a full main up in the afternoon, with a reefed mizzen and our tiny working jib on a broad reach. It was a sunny day, and our boat was up to the challenge. We did 78 miles in 11 hours: averaging 7 knots!!!
Vessel Name: Julia Max
Vessel Make/Model: 45' Passport/Peterson Custom Ketch
Hailing Port: Portland, Oregon, USA
Crew: George and Sue Stonecliffe
About: Float Plan: July 1, 2017 Leave Portland, OR; head south along US West Coast; leave San Diego 10/29/17 with Baja Ha-ha Rally; go through Panama Canal 3/2018; Florida 6/2018; NYC and Rhode Island 7/2018; Chesapeake Bay 9/2018; Caribbean 12/2018; Panama Canal 3/2019; home 6/2019
Julia Max's Photos - Main
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Created 4 July 2017
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Created 5 May 2011