Sailing South

S/V Mariah with Trish & John Billings

15 January 2017 | Tropical Mexico
27 November 2016 | Mazatlan
25 May 2014 | Mission Bay, San Diego
04 May 2014 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 April 2014 | St. Maarten
17 February 2014 | Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, DR
31 December 2013 | Thompsons Bay, Bahamas
20 December 2013 | Long Island, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
11 November 2013 | Marsh Harbor, Abaco
31 October 2013 | Grand Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
21 October 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
15 August 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
17 July 2013 | Charleston, SC
14 June 2013 | Hilton Head, SC
14 May 2013 | Key West
18 April 2013 | Key West
25 March 2013 | Venice, FL
06 March 2013 | Orange Beach, AL

All the way East

05 April 2014 | St. Maarten
How time flies when you’re having fun…sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve written our blog, but as you will see, we have been very busy.
At last contact, we had just entered Puerto Rico, at Boqueron on the south west side. There, we met up with “Grace” the boat for whom we were to deliver part of their bimini that they had left behind in the Caicos. This turned out to be a good meeting as we have been “buddy-boating” with them ever since. We hopped along the southern coast of PR enjoying Gilligan’s Island (very much like the TV show scenes), Ponce, Coffin Island (fabulous hike to the lighthouse at the top) and Salinas. In Ponce, we rented a car and drove north through the mountains to San Juan where we biked around the town and around the walls of the city. These walls encircle the whole of “Old San Juan”, took 250 years to build, and are quite magnificent. The town itself reminds me of quaint towns in Europe with sidewalk cafes, cobbled streets (all one way, they are so narrow) and a view of the harbor that is nothing short of spectacular.

While in San Juan, we found a Best Buy and bought ourselves an underwater camera that turned out to be very timely as we moved into “snorkel” waters. From PR, we went to an island called Las Vieques. The only thing we did there, besides rock and roll, was to go to Mosquito Pond to see the Phosphorescence. While it was interesting that it happens all year long, we didn’t find it any better than what occurs in Mission Beach when there’s a red tide running.

From there, we went to Culebra and Culebrita, the last stop before the Virgin Islands. These two little islands turned out to be amazingly beautiful with great snorkeling (great underwater pictures with the new camera) and a “Jacuzzi” rock pool with waves breaking over one end. Absolutely fabulous – see picture.

One of the best things about Culebra was that we could actually see the Virgin Islands, our reason for all that “Easting”, 20 miles in the distance. So, off we went, East again, to the point of our trip…the Caribbean! Whoo hoo!!

We spent a few days in St. Thomas where we found the lovely Honeymoon Bay. Clear water, a lovely swimming beach and, of course, a beach bar with a yummy drink called a “Bushwacker.” Some kind of icy concoction involving chocolate, peanut butter and several varieties of alcohol. Yes, there is a serious chance that we will be full alcoholics by the time we get home.

But, Shaylor & Johnny would be arriving soon, so we had to hurry on off to the BVI to scout the place for them. A tough job, but someone had to do it…
The BVI is an amazing place. Many islands all within sight of each other with amazing scenery and fun places to play. We took Shaylor & Johnny to these great places:
1. The Indians – 3 rocks jutting out of the water that supposedly look like teepees where the snorkeling and diving were the best we saw anywhere in the BVI. Also, the biggest parking lot as far as charter boats are concerned.
2. Treasure Cay where we snorkeled into 3 caves
3. The Baths – a stupendous collection of rocks leaning against each other with ocean water rolling in between them. Great climbing and jumping off into the water.
4. The Bitter End – a huge bay on the north side of Virgin Gorda where the Bitter End Yacht Club has everything under the sun to make your visit perfect. We snorkeled on a reef here and John found, in about 5 feet of water, a 200 year old canon, about 6-8 feet long, capable of throwing an eight pound shot. I am sure there’s a whole ship underneath the canon, but I was alone with that bit of imagination. The channel through here is called the Sir Francis Drake Channel, so perhaps…perhaps…
5. Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke Island – on our way here, we ended up right in the middle of a race of “Super Yachts”, each one over 150 feet with at least 20 “rail monkey” hanging off the side. As we approached Dog Island, we realized that it was their rounding mark and we became an obstacle in their path to make the rounding. John & Johnny decided to pinch up as close to the island as they could (all within our rights) and so forced all these “goliaths” to pass to leeward. There was much yelling (and laughing & waving) from the boats and a few passed within several feet of our hull. I spent these moments alternately going below to hide and yelling at the guys and calling them crazy, insane fools. Of course, the guys were laughing and high-fiving each other for their good tactical mark rounding. Jeez!
6. Car tour – on the last day, we rented a car and drove around Tortola where Johnny had his fair share of driving on the “wrong” side of the road on horrid, rocky roads often requiring the 4 wheel drive capability of the car. The hills are very steep with amazingly beautiful vistas on all sides. While on the north side, we found La Bomba or the Mushroom House where surfers often come if the northerly swells are running. Johnny rented a surfboard and John and I went bodysurfing. Who knew there was surfing in the BVI?
We saw the “kids” off onto the ferry back to St. Thomas where they commenced their travels on planes, trains & automobiles (and ferries).

We are now in St. Maarten visiting with our friends from our South African Hobie Cat days (circa 1975-77), the Frye’s. They set off from Cape Town with their 3 daughters in the mid-80’s on “Fiddler” , a sailboat that they built themselves. They ended up here in St. Maarten and have made a wonderful life for themselves. They have been entertaining us and showing us all of their favorite haunts. Great fun to be shown around by “locals.”

Our time here in the Eastern Caribbean is coming to an end and we plan to begin our homeward journey on Saturday. We are aiming to truck Mariah back to San Diego from Rockport, TX around June 1st, so we need to get moving. It seems too soon to be leaving the Caribbean, but we must do so given our commitment to be back by June 1st. So, off we will go via St. Croix, the southern Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Belize. Not much to complain about there, eh?
Vessel Name: Mariah
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan 41
Hailing Port: San Diego
Crew: John & Trish Billings
About: John & Trish hail from Mission Beach in San Diego, are avid body surfers and dinghy sailors. They are in their first year of full time cruising.
Extra: We are cruising the East Coast of the US until November when we will head South again.
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