Friday, July 31, 2015

Once In A Blue Moon

Tonight we will be treated to the second full moon of the month. When this happens it is referred to as a "Blue Moon". How appropriate it is that Brenda and I will be beginning our cruising adventure today. We will be driving toward our new sailboat and home in Charlotte Harbor. Truly a Once In A Blue Moon event.


Friday, July 24, 2015

BVI Trip - Day 13

Starting in Maho Bay we boarded our dinghy and motored over to Cinnamon Bay. We beached the dinghy on a lonely little beach and then decided to wander along the shore following a goat trail over the rocks.

Karen, Brenda and Mike enjoyed the hike while Peter brought the dinghy around to the next beach. We beached the dinghy again for a little shore time.

Brenda following the goat trail

In Cinnamon Bay there is a nice little archeology museum right on the beach which was interesting to tour. We then hiked up the road to a sugar plantation ruins that meandered through a quiet peaceful woods. It was nice to be on land and exploring a little bit.

We had a very wet dinghy ride against the wind and waves back to our sailboat. We snorkeled Watermelon Cay right off the boat and although it was interesting the coral comes too close to the surface to allow swimming above it.

Fresh water rinse off

We pulled in the mooring lines and headed over to Leinster Bay for the night. Once there, Karen made a wonderful shrimp with pesto sauce dinner - enough to feed 6-7 people. It only took four hungry sailors to woof it all down. A nice sunset and Day 13 came to a close. Tomorrow we explore this beautiful bay.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

BVI Trip - Day 12

We snorkeled right off the boat in Hawksnest Bay. The water was 40' deep, yet we spied a stingray laying on the sand below us. The water is amazing.

The mooring balls here are $15 per night and Peter has a "snicker, snicker, snicker", Senior Card which means we only pay $7.50 per night. We ate all three meals aboard today to help average out the food budget after a couple major splurges this week. See, we can economize.

We we snorkeled to the beach using Brenda's brand new lightweight waterproof backpack to bring blankets, water bottles, etc. along with us. It was lightweight until we got to shore and found out how heavy a waterproof bag gets when it is completely full of water. I think Dick's Sporting Goods will be getting that backpack returned in a week or so.

We hiked around the area ending up at another lovely beach where Mike hung the backpack up on a tree branch so it would continue leaking the water out of the bottom seam. We found some great snorkeling areas which we explored until we started to get chilled.

We made our way back to the boat and headed out toward Maho Bay, St. John to pick up our mooring ball for the night. Each new day seems to bring a beautiful new bay where we swim, explore and absorb the beauty that surrounds us. This trip is so much more than we hoped for.



Isn't It Ironic!

Today is Brenda's last day of teaching. She will be an unemployed bum like me in just a few hours. We had a good laugh this morning as I was driving her to work. (Brenda's car is in the shop for some repairs before we sell it.) We realized that we had scheduled a large bank payment to pay off all our student loans for today. How many people pay off their student loans on their retirement day?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BVI - Day 11

Customs Office

Today we checked out of the BVI in preparation for 2-3 days sailing around St. John, USVI. We entered the tidy little building where the staff was busy watching a very important soap opera episode at full volume. One of the workers took time out from her cell phone conversation (with her boyfriend) to search around for more forms for us. Once we got their attention and had the forms filled out we went into the adjoining room to have the forms inspected and pay our $1.50 to check out. We returned the pink copy to the original desk and we were free to go to the U.S. The soap opera episode blaring as we walked out the door.

The Pink Crew in Matching Outfits

Peter and Mike walked to a local bakery for some bread and coffee while the ladies took our boat book and paperwork back to the boat. We met back at Foxy's Bar where Mike spotted this license plate hanging on the building. Our oldest son is a graduate of The Ohio State University, a major OSU fan and his last name is Greene. I think he'll appreciate this plate.


Peter wanted to see a specific spot on the northeast corner of Sandy Spit, so Brenda motored us around Jost Van Dyke and past Sandy Cay to the spot. It turned into quite a ride as we needed to go out into the Atlantic Ocean a bit in the biggest waves we have ever been in. The boat powered up the waves and then the bow would come crashing down with spray shooting everywhere. We can see why people have great respect for this ocean. Once Brenda convinced Peter that he could see what he wanted to from there, she immediately turned us around and headed back toward St. John.

Brenda at the wheel back in calm waters

We arrived at Lind Point to pick up a mooring ball as recommended in the cruising guide. The cruising guide did not tell us to pick up a mooring ball the way we did it. Wow, did we screw it up this time. We missed the first ball badly and then had a miserable time grabbing the second one. We then managed to drop the boat pole in the water which we rescued using the dinghy. Unfortunately this time there were other boats close by to watch the show.

After patching up our prides we took our boat book and dinghied around the point to enter Cruz Bay. We needed to check in to the U.S. in this bay. We rounded the point and we began looking for a sign telling us where to go. No such luck. We headed toward the biggest ship docked near shore assuming it would be close to a customs office. Right behind the big ship is a sad old dock that dinghys can use to go to shore. We got directions to the office just a block or two away and hiked over to check in.

Motoring around Lind Pt.
Customs Office?
Let's try there.

The U.S. Customs Office was nicely air conditioned, but we weren't going to see the end of that soap opera since they weren't watching TV. They efficiently checked us both in and out at the same time. Nice, we won't have to return to Cruz Bay when we want to return to the BVI. We toured the local markets and shops and even finally found an ATM. The cruising guides tell you ATM's are readily available at almost every stop in the BVI, but in 10 days this is the first one we had seen. Mike and Brenda topped up their cash supply before doing a little browsing in the shops.

A real live ATM!

Since it was really hot we only walked around for about an hour before deciding to get take out from a restaurant. A local recommended "The Coal Pot" which turned out to be an excellent choice. We sat at a table in their air conditioned building drinking big glasses of ice water. When the lunch was bagged up we headed back to the dinghy and the boat. We laughed about the sad dinghy dock as Peter picked up the painter to untie it and the entire cleat and plank came up with it.

Back at the boat we enjoyed the tasty local fare including Oxtail, Mutton, Chicken Roti and Bacculau. They came with plantains, cole slaw and sweet potatoes. We let the mooring ball go and headed toward Hawksnest Bay for the night. Another interesting day with a beautiful bay to explore tomorrow.



Monday, July 20, 2015

BVI Trip - Day 10

Sandy Cay


Just our 10th day of our 20 day trip and we have already had so many interesting experiences. Since we skipped Sandy Cay yesterday due to a short lived squall, we want to backtrack and visit this tiny piece of land. As you approach Sandy Cay from the west you see this "Gilligan's Island" like spot. It is tiny, palm trees swaying, ringed by blue water with a soft sandy beach. It looks like every paradise calender photo you have ever seen. It is irresistible.

Beach at Sandy Cay

We did a poor job of grabbing the mooring ball this time, but there wasn't anyone around to laugh at us except ourselves. We'll do better next time. We had the island to ourselves which made this experience even more special. We beached the dinghy and hiked the trail that goes around the island. The trail starts on the low, sandy, lee side of the island and takes you to the hilly, rocky, windward side. You end up full circle on the beautiful sandy beach. The trees, foliage, landscape and animal life make the walk very entertaining. Just remember to wear some sandals or shoes as it gets pretty rocky on the back side. (Brenda)

No Shoes Brenda

As we hiked along the trail we noticed another squall line approaching from the east that had the potential to pack some good winds and rain. We waited ashore for the front to pass and zipped back to the sailboat during the gap that followed. We raced the main part of the squall to the west heading for Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. We considered pulling back into Little Harbor again, but Great Harbor is just past the next point. As we pulled into the mooring field the wind caught up to us and the rain came from the skies so hard it hurt. Even though we had difficulty seeing anything, we expertly caught and secured the mooring ball very quickly. Mike was driving and he couldn't even make out the people on the bow grabbing the ball. It was some kind of rain. The water actually felt good now that we were securely tied to a mooring ball. We each stepped out into the heavy downpour and enjoyed a freshwater shower.

The squall passed and the sun came back out like nothing had ever happened. We did a quick visit to the shore including one drink at Foxy's Bar and a little overpriced grocery shopping at Rudy's Market. Returning to the boat, Mike and Brenda put away the groceries while Karen and Peter took a dinghy ride around to White Bay. They visited Coco Loco's Bar to sample the rumored "Best Bushwacker in the BVI". Peter claims it was really good, but he would keep searching.

They returned bearing tasty fish tacos for Mike just as another gentler round of rain began falling. We grilled some chicken and had an interesting red potato and pea mixture to accompany it. The day was completed with Brenda filling out the paperwork required to check out of the BVI tomorrow. We will be sailing to the USVI (St. John) for 2-3 days of fun. Our reward for the busy day was our first good sunset of the trip.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

BVI Trip - Day 9

The Caves at Privateer Bay


We hoped to dive and snorkel the Indians near Norman Island this morning, but the early morning risers had already taken the few mooring balls available. We turned back around and went to Privateer Bay at Norman Island to do the caves instead. They have mooring balls placed right in front of the caves which feel way too close to the rocks. When the boat swings toward them you feel like you are near disaster. Once you are in the water you find there is 30' of water and the mooring lines look really solid which allows you to relax a bit. The water is clear, the fish life is abundant and the caves are a blast to swim in and out of. We highly recommend this stop if you ever get the chance.

It was time to put up some sail and head back past Soper's Hole to Jost Van Dyke. It is located north of the west end of Tortola. Sandy Cay was our target, but as we approached this little "Gilligan's Island" a squall line popped up to the east heading our way. We motored over to the first bay in Tortola to tuck into Little Harbor which wasn't even on our list of bays to visit. Everyone who sails to Jost Van Dyke goes to Great Harbor (Foxy's Bar) or White Bay (Soggy Dollar Bar) leaving Little Harbor a quiet tiny jewel for us to experience.

Harris' Place, a little shop and Sydney's Peace & Love Bar

The squall line moved to the north of us and lucky for us, we just received a small bit of rain. Right after we grabbed a mooring ball a beat up dinghy motored from shore and we met a tiny bundle of joy, happiness, sweetness and eagerness all wrapped up in the local entrepreneur, Cynthia. Her smiling face and her irresistible sales pitch for dinner won us over immediately. She offered us our mooring ball for free if we ate at Harris' Place which we learned was her father's restaurant which she now ran nearly singlehandedly.


We cleaned up and headed over to the other bar, Sydney's Peace & Love. Mike had read numerous accounts of cruisers visiting this spot which is famous for it's open bar. As our dinghy motored up to their dock there was one person in sight. He was sound asleep in a plastic lawn chair only stirring when he heard our outboard. He grabs our line to tie us off, asks us if we are there for dinner to which we respond, "Not today, we're just here for a couple drinks." He sits back in his plastic chair and goes directly back to sleep. Gotta love the Caribbean.

Sydney's Peace & Love has a spiral notebook on the bar in which you write down the name of your boat and then jot down any drinks you make for yourself. Mike played bartender and made up some Painkillers using the pre-made mix in the freezer and Pusser's Rum. Sitting in the shade sipping Painkillers we met the ladies from the only other boat in the bay. They were on a classic Mason sailboat that looked like it was ready to go anywhere in the world. The ladies explained that they flew down to St. Thomas to join the two men for a summer of sailing adventure. One lady was tan, fit and confident. The other lady was a riot. She proudly told us that her job on the boat was "Boat Fluff!" She sleeps in late, doesn't cook, clean or sail. She reads, sleeps, eats and talks. Perfect boat fluff.

Sydney's Peace and Love

Brenda wandered out into the clear shallow water and loved seeing the beautiful starfish right at her feet.


Later that evening we moved over to Harris' Place to enjoy the promised feast. Cynthia came to meet us decked out in her best outfit with all her jewelry shining. She sat us at the corner table right by the water and started telling us what her specialties were. Knowing that she loved to cook, Peter and Karen told her that we would like to have a " Chef's Special." She was to cook whatever she loved to cook and serve for four people. She grinned even wider than normal just loving the idea. She served us drinks and served fresh warm breads to hold us while she prepared our meals. Next came a pumpkin bisque soup that was just wonderful. A tasty salad with her special mango dressing was the next course. The main meal arrived starting with two huge lobster tails presented opened for easy eating. There was a seasoned grouper that was the best tasting food any of us had during the entire trip. Barbecued chicken, shrimp, Caribbean macaroni and cheese, rice and beans, and more. It was as an event and a meal all in one.

We sure are glad that passing squall brought us into this tiny bay. We would surely have missed it otherwise.

Harris' Place



Saturday, July 18, 2015

BVI Trip - Day 8


We had each used up all our clean clothes, so we decided today was laundry day. Now to some of you this doesn't seem like a fun activity for a vacation, but Brenda and Mike actually looked forward to this chore. They enjoy seeing the areas of port towns that the usual tourist never sees. It is an opportunity to meet and talk to the locals as well as getting a feel for their day to day lives. Peter dropped Karen, Brenda and Mike off on shore and was planning to spend the day with a good cappuccino and a book. Hmmmm, sounds like Peter has a better plan.

The three laundry specialists, loaded with two big garbage bags of stinky clothes, found a local truck/bus/taxi that would drop us off at the laundromat. We drove just a mile or so and passed a laundromat that was obviously out of business. A couple more miles down the road we stopped at a sad looking building that advertised a laundromat, but looked mighty rough. There were people inside, so out we jumped to get our clothes all fresh and clean. We walked into the door and were greeted with, "No Water, the pipes are broken." Uh-oh! No laundry and no taxi.


We waited outside for a passing car and managed to hail down another old taxi. The driver said there was another laundromat downtown by Sea Cow Bay. Off we roared to laundromat number three. We were relieved to find a lovely little building with working water and everything. Being inexperienced Caribbean Laundry Specialists we of course didn't consider whether the laundromat would sell detergent or not. Bad move. We are getting closer to doing laundry though. We have a laundromat, quarters, dirty clothes and working water.

Sea Cow Bay

Inside the laundromat there was a really nice local man doing his baby's laundry while listening to his headphones. The girls asked him where they could buy some laundry detergent and he indicated about 1 mile back there was a small convenience market. He hesitated for a second and told them he would just drive them there and back in his car. How nice was that. While driving, of course Karen and Brenda engaged the driver in conversation. By the time they got back to the laundromat, they had learned that this nice young man was a prison guard in Tortola. However, he was working on a project called "restorative justice". This is where you work with the young offenders to help them overcome what led to their offending in the first place and make some sort of restitution to the victims. He has been working with 20 kids for the past nine months. Seventeen of the 20 have stayed out of trouble compared to 16 of 20 who usually repeat. Really nice guy!

Side Story: On a sailboat the heads (toilets) are mechanical beasts that require valve switching and a LOT of hand pumping. This gets really old - really fast. While at the laundromat Mike walked up the stairs to the bathroom and came down grinning. He said, "The bathroom stinks, it is dirty, the seat is broken and falling flushes and it was wonderful!" How quickly we learn to appreciate flush toilets.

We completed our laundry and managed to find another taxi back to Soper's Hole. Peter picked us up in the dinghy and we enjoyed a well deserved lunch at Pussers and grabbed a few provisions at the Rite-Way.

Shop in Soper's Hole

We headed over to Norman Island for our night mooring. We passed by The Indians, a favorite dive and snorkel spot for anyone visiting the BVI. We plan on checking this out tomorrow. Once in the bay, known as The Bight, we of course had to visit the famous floating bar, Willy T. It is a wild party barge that is best known for encouraging people to jump off the aft end of the upper deck. Peter and Mike decided that jumping was required if you ever make it to the Willy T, so off they went.

The Willy T
The Jump Spot

We concluded our evening sitting in the lounge chairs on the beach in front of the way overpriced Pirate's Bight Beach Bar & Grill. We bought one drink each and the bill was outrageous. The beautiful evening and the amazing view still made it worthwhile. This was where Brenda quoted our good friend Penny's favorite saying, "Un-Flippin' believable!"

The Bight at night