A whirlwind week with the Backseaters, plus 1!
30 March 2013
Saturday, March 30th
What a GREAT time! We are back on the docks in Crown Bay...recovering from an a most excellent week., but I am getting a little ahead of myself, now aren't I?
The Backseater's, Plus 1 arrived in the afternoon last Sunday, and after two trips to the airport, one to collect them, and one to collect a rogue phone that attempted to escape on the jetway, we were free to relax and enjoy the balmy evening. We jammed ourselves into the rental car (which was supposed to be a mini-van!) and drove to the south end of the island for a fabulous seafood dinner at Mim's Bistro, right off the beach. A great start to the week.
Monday Morning, we were off the docks at 7am, and bumping our way east to Sopers Hole, and BVI check-in. As it is the holiday week the place is packed, and so we take a private mooring, and while Jim stands by on the boat, KTM and I head to shore for check-in. Holy Cow...the office is PACKED! But the officials are ready for the crowd, and within the hour, we are cleared and on the way to the Bight!...Turns out KTM is a better dingy driver that I am...and was nominated as dingy captain for the trip. Kind of embarrassing as I (should) do this almost every day!
We decide to take a can at Privateer Bay, and swim over to the Caves. Just as we are arriving the pesky problem with the throttle reasserts itself, and Jim manages to bring us to the mooring perfectly with only one engine, as the port throttle completely disengages. That's the beautiful thing about a catamaran, a second engine to keep us in good shape!
Its only 1pm, so we eat...then time to visit the fishes. We snorkel over to the caves, and enjoy them with minimal crowds. Then KTM & I head over and around Treasure Point. Our usual assortment of fishy characters are out, in addition to a turtle we see on our way back to the boat. This bodes well for the rest of the trip!
OJ and their guests are inside The Bight, and they stop by to say hello, and we all introduce everyone, then later Frank brings over some leftover Wookie Juice for us to savor...Ooooohh! Charles and Leslie are also here with guests, and Charles stops by to say hello as well. Gotta Love this cruising lifestyle!
Tuesday, we are up and out early, and over to the Indians. We have breakfast while we wait for the sun to get a little higher, then it's off to explore. This is an amazing place and we are able to see our pair of Black Durgon, in addition to a pair of Trigger fish, and an eel hiding under a rock that you had to free dive to see. Then an octopus in about 6 feet of water! He was trying to hide from us four big fishes over top of him, and when we wouldn't leave, he scurried along the coral, changing color as he moved to jet black and back again, before hiding under a coral outcropping. VERY COOL! There were lots of thimble Jellyfish here and on our way back to the boat, Megan catches one in her hands for a pretty great photo op!
Then it's up the mainsail, and off the mooring for a sail up the channel to the North Sound. This was a magnificent sail! Once we cleared the Indians, we set the course, trimmed the main, and hauled out the Jib....and had one long, magnificent tack all the way up, with KTM at the helm all the way. The winds were perfect, as were the sea and sky. As we generally have to tack our way up into stiff east winds, this was a huge treat for us. The BVI Yacht Shots photographer was out and about today, and he took some photos, including his signature stop, 20 feet in front of the bow, for a closeup of the foredeck crew...I thought for sure this time, we would hit him, but just in time, he moves off waving and wishing us well. Very fun.
But of course, all good things come to an end, and as we prepare to furl the Jib up near the entrance to the north sound we discover the Jib furler completely jammed. After a few minutes of tugging, then hard pulling, problem solving, planning to completely drop the jib, than a judicious application of PB Blaster to lubricate the furling drum, Cris and I were finally able to furl it up. Whew! Ok, now we have two more mechanical issues to address...um, soon! Our Windex display is still out for repair, so we are feeling the wind the old fashioned way, on our ears. Now the throttle, and the furling system...ahh, the glamorous life of cruising! However, we did just have the most amazing sail!
The girls decided to snorkel here while the guys took a swim. We saw lots of Starfish, a small lobster, and several barracuda, of the smaller variety before maneuvering our way back to the boat, using the moored boats for protection as there is now lot's of boat traffic coming in. Then it's clean up and head to the Michael Beans Show on the beach. Megan has been practicing her conch blowing...KTM too, but, well...guess it takes skills...and Megan was our boat representative for the contest. She made a good showing...but was edged out by another. However, later that evening, there was lots of Conch communications going on boat to boat to boat!
Off to The Baths!
We rented a car and 8:30am it arrived in the parking lot, and we are off to The Baths. After a quick stop at the rental office (the Nicest in the Caribbean!) in Spanish town to fill out the paperwork, we were off, and arrived by 9am at the Top of the Baths, then off to hike it! It is always a wonder to explore this place, and even more so with adventurous types. We clambered up and around into places I had never seen before. The only unfortunate thing was there was a photo shoot going on in Cathedral cave, so we couldn't get any photos in there...oh well, something for next time! We spend several hours here, in Devils Bay, and the Boulders, beyond relaxing, soaking up the sun and solitude. We also ran into Frank and his guests here, and they seemed to be having the best time, just like us.
We hiked back thru the Baths on our way out, and it was heavily backed up with people going both ways. Most people understood the concept of you ten go then us ten go...but others thought they were the only ones there...and couldn't quite understand the whole taking turns part. Megan jumped right up and escorted her party thru...stopping traffic as necessary. Nice to be travelling with a professional!
We stopped at Top of the Baths for a drink and a fresh water swim, then drove all the way back to Leverick Bay to pick up Jim at the boat. Turns out while we were playing he was working and managed to fix the throttle problem. Hurray Captain Jim, now only two issues left....for now! After picking up Jim we headed up to Hog Heaven, overlooking the North Sound, for lunch...and discovered a view that was absolutely INCREDIBLE. The whole North sound laid out before you, with Anegeda visible in the distance...absolutely stunning. After soaking up the view it was back in the car and down the hill and some photo ops. Driving here is on the left, like many of the islands, and I am now very comfortable with it, my passengers...not so much. At one point, an oncoming vehicle zip around a corner in front of us with plenty of room Caribbean style, but very close to everyone else, and the gasps nearly sucked the doors in. We cleared each other with feet to spare..... When we finally dropped the car and returned, unscathed, to the boat there were multiple sighs of relief, and I think even some libations to sooth away the stress.
Thursday, with the winds very light, under 6 knots, we hoist the main and motor sail down the channel to Norman Island. It's hot today, and what little wind there is is dead behind us. When we arrive at Norman Island everyone is ready to get in the water...so down comes the Kayak, and on goes the snorkel gear, and we're off. While KTM & Cris snorkel off, Megan and I elect to Kayak all the way around the Bight. The Puerto Rican Armada is here, and so we are also dodging rafted sport fisher boats all around the bay. Then back to the boat, and on with the snorkel gear. We have amazing luck, and 50 feet from the boat Megan spots a nurse shark swimming right infront of us. WOW! We head out to see if the octopus is there, and swim with the Turtles on the way. We can't find the octopus, but instead discover a lion fish hiding in the coral, and another Shark sleeping under the same coral head. Double wow...what a day! on our way back we spot three squid swimming near the reef...many, many fish, and one short tailed stingray later, it was back to the boat for us. Meanwhile, KTM & Cris had a brilliant swim with the turtles, and several stingrays, all the way along to Treasure Point and back, then hopped in the kayak for a buzz around the bay. Whew....This is why we LOVE Norman Island, and could stay here forever!
Friday....heading back today to Crown Bay, but first...the Backseaters plus one head off for one last swim, and find the turtles and rays as accommodating as ever. Then, the main is up, and we are off the mooring, on our way back to St. Thomas. When we checked into the BVI's this time, we were able to check out at the same time, so we headed along the south side of St John for a change. Since we do not trust the jib, we motor sail along under Main alone, until the storm brewing over St. John sucks what little wind there is out of the air, and we douse the main in preparation for getting wet! While the wind doesn't quite return, the storm also doesn't make it quite this far and we manage to stay dry this time. Shortly we are back on the docks at crown bay, and headed to Customs. As we discovered in the past few weeks, we can file a float plan with our SVRS numbers even when arriving with guests. We still need to go to customs, but they simply look up the float plan under our boat name, and take the passports for our guests. 10 minutes later, clearance is complete, and we are good to go, with no paperwork needed from us. Finally, we have this customs thing down!
After wandering the shops of Charlotte Amalie, we clean up and head out to dinner at the Island View Guest house. It is a B & B right up the hill from Crown Bay, with an incredible view of the bay and south islands. However it is UP the hill, and around a steep turn....I'm very glad to have Yogi driving.
So here it is Saturday, and The Backseaters plus one are packing up and heading back to town. A sad day for us...but we KNOW they'll be back!