Friday, March 21, 2008

Peter Island and St. John

Captain’s and First Mate’s View

Just wanted to say thanks to Mom and Ed for making the trip down to St. Croix. We had loads of fun, so much fun that afterwards we were all exhausted!

Also a special thanks to Bruce for his terrific hospitality. If you ever need anything done on your boat look him up at St. Croix Marine and Boat Yard in Christiansted and tell him we sent you. He’s a super nice guy and a real gentleman.

To continue the adventure from where our guest writer (Sue’s mom) left off, we departed St. Croix on Thursday, March 13th and sailed to Coral Bay in St. John, US Virgin Islands. Heading north we had the pleasure of sailing beam reach with 15 knot East winds and 3 foot seas. We dropped the swing keel, raised the main, mizzen and genoa, and feathered the prop to eliminate drag. The Adamo was in her element, cruising at 8.5 mph.

St. John is an incredibly pristine island and has been able to preserve its natural beauty thanks to the Rockefeller family. The island was purchased by the Rockefellers in the 50’s and was subsequently donated to the US Government. Three quarters of the island is now a national park and the remainder of the island is largely undeveloped.

We dropped the hook in Coral Bay on the Eastern end of the island and proceeded with small chores that we had neglected to do while having company. Then we all just relaxed and did nothing! Coral Bay is full of mostly local liveaboards. We dinghied up to Skinny Legs, a popular bar and restaurant, for rum punch. It has become a favorite drink. The next morning we took the bus into Cruz Bay where the town is located. We ran into Casey whom we had met in Luperon while he was delivering a catamaran to St. John. He lives in Francis Bay on a boat with his wife. He told us where to go and what to see in St. John. The following day we anchored around the corner in a small bay at the edge of the national park where only one boat could fit. We were surrounded by mountains on three sides and by coral reefs on either side of the beach.

The boys went off to snorkel in the unprotected area and once again the lobster king caught a lobster with a 9 inch tail, the largest of the journey so far. We had large portions of sautéed lobster for our appetizer!

A couple of days in St. John and we were off to the BVI’s (British Virgin Islands). We checked-in in Tortola at Road Town. The harbor was quite dirty due to the runoff from the city. As you we walked through town our noses kept getting assaulted by the odor of sewer water. Needless to say, we didn’t hang around for long.

With a large storm in the Atlantic, the one that spawned all the tornadoes in Atlanta, the wave height in the Atlantic is due to build to 40 feet. In the BVI’s this translates into rolling anchorages. We moved the Adamo to Peter Island and anchored up in the tip of Great Harbor. The anchorage is terrific. We are experiencing calm waters and a nice offshore breeze with 72 to 78 degree temperatures. The humidity has been pegged at 65%, definitely in the comfort zone. We are surrounded by super yachts, charter catamarans and mono hulls and fellow cruisers. Gale Winds is anchored up behind us. She is a yacht from the Sunset Harbor Yacht Club belonging to Gale Lemerand a fellow yacht club member. What a small world.

We had an interesting experience this morning when a mono hull chartered by a group of Frenchmen ran over a catamaran’s anchor line. The two became entangled. The panicked mono hull captain (if you can call him that) proceeded to power up to try to break them free, in the process he was dragging the catamaran around the anchorage. I had a sixth sense that things would get worse, so Phil and I hoped into the dinghy to intervene if needed. The captain of the catamaran was not aboard, and the wife did not realize that their floating home was being pulled around by the incompetent captain. As soon as I got dinghy started, the mono hull decided to turn towards the Adamo. Crap! With the cat in tow, they headed right for our anchor chain. I went to intervene, explaining to the panicked captain: “you are about to have a third boat in trouble if you don’t change your course.” As he swung the boat back in the other direction he whipsawed the catamaran right at the Adamo. I gunned the engine and managed to get the dinghy between the approaching cat and the Adamo. The dinghy acted as a huge bumper and bounced the cat back. Phil began pounding on the hull of the cat to rouse the wife. She bounded out of the cabin with a startled expression. What to do now? I boarded the cat as she (Anne) started the engines. The cat would need to be re-anchored. Anne went to raise the anchor while I took the helm. In the mean-time the panicked captain managed to raise his anchor freeing himself, and without a word ducked out to sea. Nice guy!

As we were just getting ready to re-anchor, Anne’s husband, Len, arrived on his dinghy. He had been aboard another boat helping with a mechanical problem. In his British accent he thanked me for the assistance, cracked a couple of jokes about the French and invited us over for drinks this evening. We are looking forward to that!

Peter Island is a special place for us. We spent our honeymoon here. As we planned our journey, we had hoped to make it here to celebrate out 20th anniversary. The island has changed some in the last 20 years, but the quaintness has remained the same. We began celebrating our anniversary (and the fact that we had actually sailed here) yesterday morning with a breakfast of Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict, waffles, delicious coffee (ya’ll know Mike denied me a coffeemaker aboard), etc…

One of our servers was Jean, or “Granny Jean” as she calls herself. She is everyone’s favorite because of her kindness and hospitality as well as the fact that she has been on Peter Island since 1984. She was here when we honeymooned here. She brought extra fruit to the boys, and as we were leaving she sneaked them a bag full of yummy cookies. She is one of these people who brings a smile to anyone that gets within ear shot of her. And she made a very special occasion for us even better! Thanks Jean.

Then we strolled down the beach and discovered that the open air restaurant and tiki bar were still on White Beach, so naturally we had a glass of wine. The beach is loaded with picturesque palm trees and white hammocks amid small tiki like huts over lounge chairs. It looks so inviting!

Being Easter Week, there are many visitors here and the island is full of activity. As we returned to the Adamo, Jean, the island hospitality lady, called out “Where are you going?” She had promised the boys a special desert because Mike and I were going to leave them on the boat while we went for a romantic dinner that evening.

Dinner was amazing. The formal dining room looks over the water with a view of the other islands in the distance. Homes are built into their hillsides and at night they glow like stars on a clear night. Our gourmet meal was impeccable. We dined on scallops, sea bass and lamb. French champaign and red wine put the finishing touches on wonderful evening. As I sat across the table from Sue, she looked as beautiful as the day I married her and this was no doubt the right place to celebrate our 20 years of marriage and the fact that we have been in love with each other for over half of our lives. Approaching 23 years in all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Croix, Virgin Islands

Mom of First Mate’s View

St. Croix looked quaint and beautiful as we landed on the island, and as we pulled up in front of our hotel it too appeared very “island like.” Then we were shown our room. That is when we realized the web site showed a slightly different view of the rooms.
However, we grew very fond of our little spot, after all, it had a great view and wonderful cross ventilation fueled by the ever present trade winds and as a bonus we also had music until the wee hours…..Bob Marley lives on!!
It is a small world, Sue and Mike found an old friend from the "Africana " days in Palm Harbor who has relocated to St. Croix. Bruce was kind enough to loan us his car and drive his pickup with Doug and Phil while showing us where to snorkel. Ed struggled a bit with the snorkeling but did better than I, at least he tried. Sue and I stayed on shore comforting ourselves with rum punches.

Phil and Doug swim like fishes. Phil maintained his standing of “Lobster Man” bringing in the only lobster of the day. It was a beauty, providing all of us with an appetizer that evening. After the snorkeling we headed through a small rainforest to the “beer drinking pigs (hogs really).” We bought beer for the pigs and a few for ourselves. The pigs catch the beer cans, crunch them to get the beer and then spit out the cans. Onward to another beach and a few rum punches while watching the sun set.

Each day had some small activity for fun. Diving for conch, another day of snorkeling, eating (which is a very time consuming activity when you are on “Island Time.”) and of course more rum punches. Doug and Phil had an opportunity to sail at a private yacht club. They fell in love with an “Open Bic.” After selling their fiberglass dingy, they were allowed to buy a “Bic.” Lucky boys! One day while the guys were snorkeling, Sue and I went to the Casino. She was a winner! $250.00 on a 25 cent machine. I, on the other hand contributed to the island economy.

Ed and I have learned a little about what makes up your day when you live on a boat. Everyday tasks seem to take hours and a lot of schlepping back and forth. Good thing Phil and Doug are proficient with the dingy.

The week has flown by and we will be sorry to say goodbye. But everyone is healthy and having so many interesting experiences and lots of fun. So we will content ourselves with watching for the position up-dates, the Blog and e-mail and those wonderful times when the cell phones work.