November 11, 2021 – January 10, 2022
LIFE IN THE TROPICS
As it turns out, life in the tropics is not conducive to diligent blog posting! I can’t believe we’ve already been down in the Caribbean for two months. The time has flown. First the sailing report. This is truly sailors’ Disney Land. Everything in the Virgin Islands is only a short sail away, and the wind is always always blowing. We have a week with 15-20, and then a week with 20-25, and it is always from the East. There is some variety, because it is some days from the NE and some days from the SE. No worries. Since we got here, we’ve put very few hours on the engine. Thinking of moorings, almost all of them seem brand new, nice not to worry about the quality of the tackle while you sleep.
The British Virgins
We had a great time in Nanny Cay Marina with the Caribbean 1500 people. The ARC crew fed and entertained us very well for 4 days. We kept our crew Doug with us for the first week, it was fun to have his company. In the BVIs, you kinda have to bring your own friends because all but a handful of the boats you see are week long charters filled with people who come as groups, and while friendly enough, they are soon headed back to their lives at home and are not looking to meet other cruisers. It was great visiting familiar places like Peter Island, but this time from the water rather than flying in. We had weird adventures like finding a waitress in Cane Garden Bay that knew how to cut hair, so she took a break from serving and took me down a long hallway in the back of the building to cut my hair. We enjoyed a Thanksgiving Feast at Foxy’s beach bar and restaurant and hiked twice to the Bubbly Pool on Little Jost island, once on our own when the surf was up, and once with friends when it was a Jacuzzi.
We snorkeled almost every day, got a couple of SCUBA dives in, and visited an inordinate number of beach bars. We agreed B-Line was our favorite, at Little Jost because it was so old school, off the beaten path. The well known “Soggy Dollar Bar,” while still on a gorgeous beach, just isn’t as cool with long lines to order drinks and higher prices. We spent a bit of time in the North Sound even though the Bitter End Yacht Club hasn’t opened back up yet. We loved the rebuilt Saba Rock, hanging with friends, and easy provisioning at Leverick. We visited the Baths at Virgin Gorda with no cruise ships in port to ruin it with mobs of people. That’s the only good thing about Covid. We loved the BVI, but when our 30 day visa ran out, we were ready to move on.
We checked out of the BVI after a great last night at Pussers, which had just opened back up after hurricane Irma. Check in was only a couple hour sail over to Cruz Bay on the island of St. John. We proceeded to explore St. John and stopped in Coral Bay to visit a friend who was keeping mail for us. Early Christmas from Amazon! Receiving mail and packages is a constant challenge while cruising. We had fun watching Benji wrangle the goats at the Salty Mongoose, and I couldn’t eat the chicken sandwich at Salty Legs, because the chickens running around the restaurant were all too cute.
After a week around St. John, we headed over to St. Thomas to pick up Claire for her 2 week Christmas visit. It was cool to dinghy to the beach and walk a couple minutes along side the runway to the terminal to fetch her. We also met up with friends from Annapolis and friends from the Bahamas last season. We had a wonderful Christmas raft up with Gizmo, Moondancer, Meander and Renegade. 15 people altogether, which was festive and the potluck meant no one had to cook to much and we had a huge buffet.
We first planned to go into Cruz Bay for their New Year’s celebration, but in the end with concerns over COVID, we instead celebrated with a steak dinner with lots of good wine aboard Meander. With their daughter and ours, the 6 of us stayed up until 3AM, when we all originally thought we wouldn’t make midnight.
Another highlight I don’t want to forget is snorkeling in Brewer’s Bay. Our friend Fred told us right where to go. It’s a very bland snorkel spot with a lot of dead coral. But if you look closely, there are mounds of rocks and old shells surrounding a hole, and these are octopus gardens. I always assumed that was something the Beatles made up, but no, it’s a real thing! We saw several octopi curled up sleeping (they are largely nocturnal) and one guy that didn’t know he was supposed to be nocturnal, out and about. As we dove down to him, he would change colors. Completely cool!
Today, we are back on the eastern end of St. John, in Lenister Bay. We had a great snorkel around little Water Lemon Cay, and I swam with a shark for the first time ever. I didn’t freak out much at all and even worked up my courage to follow him (at a respectful distance). I have very short dark hair now, and a black shorty wetsuit. I like a look a bit too much like a seal to hang with sharks on a regular basis.
We plan to stay in the St. Thomas/St. John area until the end of January, before making the 40 mile sail to St. Croix, which is more off the beaten path and should have fewer charter boats than this area. (USVI still has a lot of charters, but not nearly like the BVIs. We’ve met a few liveaboards here.)
Well, sorry for the slap dash up date. I’ll see if I can be more diligent going forward?