01 February 2015 | 19 29.92'N:064 23.28'W, BVI
We are not willing to admit that we are lazy. We are just enjoying bliss so we haven┬'t had the discipline to break away and post on the blog as we should have. It┬'s been about a month so we have a lot of catching up to do. We last posted in Culebra (just east of Puerto Rico). We found a weather (always abbreviated in the Carib as ┬"wx┬") window and pushed water (colloquialism for motor sailing or just plain motoring to windward) toward the US Virgin Islands. Within four hours we had St. Thomas┬' largest port Charlotte Amalie on our port. From 4 miles out we could see several massive cruise ships in port. We could see countless ferries coming and going. There are captains-for-hire taking the thousands of cruise ship passengers out for day outings to swim and snorkel sites. We could see a large kite attached to a motorboat suspending people up to a few hundred feet. We watch in fear as we go past. The truth is we are scared to death of large ports, in general, because they mean crowds of people. Add a few cruise ships in port with passengers eager to get off the ships and do activities and it turns the entire port in cluster. So, if you get my drift, we just keep pushing water as we head further east to St. John┬'s. Ah, St. John┬'s. What a wonderful gift (?) from God (and the Rockefeller┬'s). 90% of the island is a lush island and a US National Park. Have we died and gone to Heaven? Check out our album for pictures of this awesome place (To be posted soon). Every picture is a postcard though we still cannot really capture the beauty here. It is just ┬"bliss┬" to us. As a US citizen if you ever want to have a hassle free getaway, just go to St. John┬'s. Of all of the Mecca┬'s we discovered sailing, this competes for the top position. They don┬'t allow anchoring in this Nat┬'l Park because the anchors and chains would drag across and destroy the coral. For us that means we pick up a mooring ball and have secure holding for a restful night. But, more than that, it means we snorkel right off the back of the boat. How convenient. We stayed in a couple of places but Salt Pond Bay and Leinster Bay are the standouts for incredible snorkeling. My vocabulary doesn┬'t have words to describe the underwater beauty here. Just a few miles away we see the British Virgin Islands calling us. It┬'s hard to leave Mecca but we cannot stay for a month everywhere and still make Grenada by hurricane season so off we go to the BVI. The BVI has more great anchorages (mooring sites) than any other area we have ever been. Unfortunately, since the weather is always mild here, the cruising islands are line-of-site navigation, and it┬'s so close to the US, the BVI is charter-boat ┬"infested.┬" We first chartered here as do most first-time charterers. And, we knew then that we didn┬'t know what the hell we were doing and we realize that neither do most of these charterers. Since this is our boat and home, we live in fear that these rookie charterers will T-bone us (a fate that a cruising acquaintance endured). They come in to anchorages at full speed, racing toward mooring balls as if competing for a parking spot at Christmas in a shopping mall parking lot. Many never bother to raise their sails for the day ; they just motor from anchorage to anchorage and bar to bar. As soon as they get tied up to a mooring ball (or sometime before) they are blaring their music at full volume, the kids are screaming (who takes kids on charter trips?), the generators never shut off for fear they would have to live without air conditioning, the crews are loud and drunk and obnoxious. So, thus: ┬"Bliss┬....almost.┬" But, in spite of the rudeness of some charterers, we are enjoying the BVI. Most anchorages have a beach bar. We like cooking out on our grill and having sundowners aboard but we also like the occasional break of a meal and entertainment on land (and the wifi). It also gives us a chance to meet other cruisers. Yesterday we dinghied over and met some other cruiser on Cutter Loose and we agreed to join them for lunch on land at the beach bar. By 4PM, our table had expanded to 10 cruisers on 5 different boats, all with one common interest┬...the cruising life style. One common question a mong cruisers is ┬"which way are you headed?┬" We find the cruisers from the UK or Europe are usually headed west (to PR, Bahamas or US) and the cruisers from the US and Canada are mostly headed SE toward Grenada or Trinidad (for hurricane season). Many from the Northeastern US just leave their boats in the Carib and only cruise for ┬Ż of the year. We could stay in the BVI for months, really. So, far we┬'ve enjoyed Jost Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay, Soper┬'s Hole, Norman Island, Cooper Island (the place Ed was so enamored with when he came here years ago that he asked to have his ashes scattered here at sunset), Lee Bay, and Leverick Bay (on Virgin Gorda). Our favorite spot has been Leverick Bay. In reality, we will probably only be here another week before heading to St. Martin. We still continue to struggle with communications. It was a struggle to get a local SIM card due to availability, so once we got it, we signed up for 3 GB of data and $50 voice. Cheryl used up most of the voice on a phone call to Chase (another story about our credit card info getting stolen in the DR). We topped up the voice with $65 a week later, then 2 days after that with 2.2 G left on our 3 G plan and a balance on our voice, Digicel, the local carrier, just turned off our access to data or voice. We try reaching customer service with our SAT phone and half way through the conversation the SAT phone drops out while looking for satellites. Dammit! Then you call back and once again the SAT phone drops out. You get the message. The SAT phone is great until you have to talk to someone from customer service (AKA Chase or DIGICEL-phone company). So, Bliss┬...almost. We love having data. We could do without a phone mostly, but no Google, weather, or email access is a bi t more like camping than we signed up for. In remote parts of the cruising, we are okay with no cell coverage as we have Single Side Band for weather and limited email but in the BVI in sight of so many cell towers we expect to drink from the fountain of data as well. We may just have to go to Roadtown, Tortola the biggest port (scary) in the BVI to get our cell access resolved. We had to go there once already to get a UPS package, notary, and chandlery (fancy name for a marine supply store). Once again, we apologize for our absence from blogging and we promise to do better (if we can get internet access). Back to almost blissing, whatever that it. We┬'ll keep you posted or blogged or whatever it┬'s called.