Friday 1 February – Thursday 28 February
Warning it is another long update, will try to do more often so not as long :). 3 countries numerous islands and lots of friends.
February starts out with another beautiful sunny day, Steve & I get our hair cut at the same place – how scary is that !! A little place right by the dinghy dock at Simpson Bay Marina, I just needed a couple of inches cut off the ends straight across so is was pretty easy and for $15 each can't complain, she actually did a very nice job. After waiting a MONTH for an overnight Fed X delivery I finally get my ATM card, NOT a problem with Fed X but with the stupid bank not recognizing a valid St Maarten address - crazy. Later we go to HH at the Yacht Club and then to dinner at the Thai place with Jan & Larry from Sea Bear & Bennie & Rick from Lima. Saturday we drop off laundry then Steve goes to the boaters flea market. Ultra's friend arrives for a visit so we go with them to the Yacht club again so Scott can watch some boats come in. Then walk down to a casino for a few minutes before going to an Indian restaurant for dinner. Sunday starts off cloudy but clears & warms up by 1. Trip to the grocery store then later dinner on Ultra after they get back from showing Scott Maho beach. Monday Scott rented a car to tour around the island and we went with him, JoAnne & Bill, loading our beach bags into the trunk. At one stop we parked the car and walked a little ways to see some views and during that short time someone jimmied the car door & opened the trunk and stole all our beach bags. We did not know this until 2 stops later when we went to get something else out of the trunk. Shock & disbelief hit us all. We went back to “the scene of the crime” hoping maybe the bags were thrown away when he realized there was not a lot of valuables in them, but no such luck. We had been told that rental cars on the islands are targets and you are not supposed to leave anything in them. But since it was beach stuff and we were not really walking far we let our guard down and paid the price. We will be much more vigilant in the future. I know it happens everywhere but it is hard to understand why some people think it is OK for them to take other peoples belongings. We did not let it ruin the day, even if it was quite upsetting and we kept thinking about what else was in our beach bags. We still managed to see some beautiful sights & beaches around the island. Tuesday was going to be another touring by car day but as we were leaving the boats we ran out of gas, Steve had meant to switch tanks but forgot. We kept a spare liter in the dinghy in a bottle that we put in BUT the motor would not re start. Luckily Bill was near by with his dinghy so towed us back to our boat. Steve thought it was dirt in the carburetor and he could clean it out and switch fuel tanks and be ready to go in an hour. Bill & JoAnne & Scott were going to run some errands and check back with us. Well the fuel had gotten water in it and Steve cleaned it all out but still could not get the motor to start. Keep in mind that we have to lift the motor off the dinghy & onto the big boat to be able to work on it then put it back on the dinghy to see if it will work. We were on the 2nd try when Bill & JoAnne called to see if we were ready to go. We told them we were not having any luck & to go ahead without us, and check back later in the day. Steve worked on it for the rest of the day still no luck getting it started. Tuesday night we had planned to drive up to Grand Case for the street party but after a frustrating day of working on the motor Steve was in no mood to go so we told Bill & JoAnne & Scott who had come back to get us to go on without us. Wednesday Dave & Margaret from Highland Fling come by so Dave can help Steve with the dinghy motor and they get it to work. We had taken over Wild Things internet modem for the last 2 weeks but now the company renting them needed this one back so we reluctantly gave it back. Then went by Barnacles for the cruisers HH. Other friends Izzy & Jeff from Izzy R have now arrived in St Martin, and they come by also along with Sunny & John from Notre Vie. Later we all catch a bus to go to Maho Village to see some night life. We first go by Cheri's Cafe to watch a fun song & dance act with the audience involved. It was really funny as you can see by some of the pictures from that night. Next we stop by a couple of bars just to check them out as they are quite unique, like Sky Beach a bar on the roof with a sand floor. Next we try to get a bus back but learn they stopped running, not sure why they don't run at night but we finally find a taxi and negotiate a good rate to get the 9 of us back to where we left our dinghies. Thursday we go into Lagoonies for lunch and to use internet and go by NAPA to get a 1 gallon gas tank to replace the plastic bottle for keeping spare gas in the dinghy. It should not get water in it if and when we need to use it again. Later we take the depth finder to see if there is a path along the north side of explorer island to get to the French bridge to find a shorter route than going all the way to the Cupecoy channel. Friday we along with Bill & JoAnne take the bus to Cost U Less (big box store) to stock up since we will be leaving St Martin. They deliver so we really load up and run into 3 other couples we know doing the same. They were going to take a taxi back but we told them about the delivery so all 5 boats got our goods delivered to the dinghy dock a few hours later. You have to box everything up and seal the boxes and write your boat name on the box with on lot #'s and the store will keep your frozen goods in the freezer until it's ready to be delivered, a great service for us boaters. Jan & George are back on island so we have HH on Blue Star along with Ultra & Highland Fling and Beth & Mike the NEW owners of Wild Thing. Jan & George are SO happy to only have 1 boat, and so lucky to have sold their old boat 2 months after buying their new one. They are still going by the name Wild Thing on the VFH radio until they can have an official renaming ceremony for Blue Star to become Wild Cat. Yes it is confusing even for me. We talk about us all heading to the BVI's. Saturday we are getting the boat ready to make a passage = putting stuff away. Making the 2:30 bridge to go out to the marina in Marigot Bay to fuel up and take a slip for the night to equalize the batteries. Glad we checked out the shortcut because as we were pulling up the anchor our new snubber would not come off the anchor. Steve had to get a pair of pliers and a hammer to get it to release. We make the bridge which is actually a few minutes late to open, then have to wait in the marina for the fuel dock to open up. Steve actually has time to take the dinghy to another fuel dock to get gas, as the marina only sells diesel. Get into the slip, hooked up to power, cleaned up with a little time to rest before heading into Simpson Bay for a group dinner at Jimbos with Notre Vie, Izzy R, Ultra, Wild Thing. Sunday morning at the marina catching up on internet, we see that friends from Kemah Deana & Troy on Storyville have just arrived. We belonged to the same sailing club back in Texas and our paths finally cross but just for a day. We see where they are anchored and even though they just had an overnight crossing we have to go by and say HI. We visit for a little while before saying good bye, make another quick stop at Pipe muh Bligh , Storyvilles buddy boat, to say hi & bye to Stacy & Rene' whom we had also met back in the Bahamas. Go to lunch on the French side and stop by the grocery to pick up a few things and use up our Euros. Back to the boat finish getting things ready and go out to anchor at 5:30. Relax a little and have dinner before our 8 PM departure to sail to Virgin Gorda in the BVI's. Ultra is a little ahead of us having left a little earlier from Simpson Bay and Wild Thing & Highland Fling are waiting to leave at 4 AM. We have the full main out and one reef in the genoa, the winds are more NE then E which is in our favor (for a change). Winds are 17-20 knots and waves are hard to judge, very dark, but feel like 5-6 feet on the aft quarter we are moving at 8.5 to 9.5 seeing 10 knots once. It is a beautiful night no moon but the stars are magnificent. By midnight when Steve came on watch we put a 2nd reef in the genoa and one in the main which slowed us down to 7.5 – 8.5 knots, which was still too fast to arrive at daybreak. By 2:30 we rolled the main in and put a 3rd reef in the genoa to slow us down to 5.5 knots. Without the main up we are rolling more in the seas making it impossible for me to sleep but not Steve so he goes down to catch a little more sleep. By 6:30 with the sun coming up and Virgin Gorda in sight we let out the whole genoa sail and put up the main up. As we enter the channel Ultra calls on the radio to let us know they are having engine problems and will be anchoring under sail. We stay out on the end of Prickly Pear Island and are anchored by 7:30. Washed down the boat getting the salt off the windows and stainless, went for a swim then showers and relaxed for a little before going in to customs. We pick JoAnne up to go to customs while Bill works on their engine problem. Of course they are still closed for another 30 minutes for lunch so we walk around and find a nice little grocery store. On our way back it starts to pour, running the last few yards to the cover at the customs office. At least the boat is getting a really good wash down. By now Wild Thing & Highland Fling are coming into the anchorage. Steve drops me off at our boat and goes over to see if he can help Bill with his engine problem. A little later I notice our snubber (rope line taking the tension of the anchor chain off the windlass) has come off so I go up to reattach it. Where we are anchored is a little rolly the swells coming in and rock the boat. Our remote for the anchor windlass is located in a big storage area in the bow of the boat, the hatch to this area is about 3' x3'. As I get the remote I am standing next to the hatch and a swell hits the boat and rocks it just so that I loose my balance and fall backward through the hatch and down 5 feet. Banging my head, arms, legs, back, ribs, it's a bad fall. I land wedged in so lay there a few minutes, I can tell I am banged up BUT can also tell nothing is broken or cut, so I manage to get up and climb back out, finish putting the snubber back on and go to get ice packs to place on my already swelling bruises. I can't ice my whole body but put the ice on the 2 spots I think are the worst and dig out some 2+ year old pain pills & muscle relaxers that we got before we left Texas to help ease the pain. Steve gets back to the boat a couple of hours later and I tell him what happened, he makes me chicken soup for dinner to help me feel better. Tuesday Ultra & Highland Fling are off to Road Harbour on Tortola to see about repairs, Ultra for their engine & Highland Fling for sail repair as their main sail was torn on the way over . I am moving slowly, and still sore but able to function as we follow Ultra out of the channel with Wild Thing shortly behind us. We stop at Great Dog along with Wild Thing to do some snorkeling and have lunch before heading over to Little Harbour on Peter Island to meet back up with Highland Fling. Ultra is getting their problem fixed and spending the night in Road Harbour. We get settled in Little Harbour with anchors out and stern lines tied to shore. It is a small deep bay so this allows more boats in without bumping into each other. We go over to Wild Thing for HH then back to our boat for dinner. Wednesday I am feeling a little more sore but manage to go in to snorkel and swim around, getting in the water seems to help. On the way over the day before Steve noticed the winch squeaking so he decides to stay on board & service it. Later he makes a shrimp stew to bring over to Wild Thing to go with their veggies & Highland Flings salad for dinner. Thursday 2/14 Valentines day, Wild Thing has guests flying in so they & Highland Fling leave early to head over to Trellis Bay on Tortola, near the airport and where Ultra is. We have a lazy morning and give Steve a chance to snorkel, have lunch and get underway by noon. Ultra has made reservations at 8 for all 10 of us to go to The Last Resort on Bellamy Cay (a little man made island in the middle of the bay) for dinner along with a little show. We have HH on Wild Thing to meet their guests Kathy & Martin before going in. Friday Wild Thing & Highland Fling leave for Monkey Point & White Bay on Guana Island while Ultra & us stay behind, Steve to service the 2nd winch and Ultra to find a dinghy patch from the dinghy graveyard to fix a hole in their dinghy. We get underway by 2 to go back to North Sound in Virgin Gorda, since we left so fast when we first arrived we wanted to explore it a little more plus get wifi. We are anchored by 4 after a wonderful sail off Prickly Pear Island again only this time much further in by Saba Rock & Bitter End. We enjoy a quiet night getting caught up on internet. Saturday, Bill who has been fighting a bad cold for a few days is still not feeling well. JoAnne, Steve & I go over to Bitter End to do a hike and take Guys Trail to Deep Bay trail winding up at Biras Creek resorts beach. Then took the easy mangrove trail back to Bitter End for a nice hike. Back to boats and Bill is felling a little better so we go get our snorkel gear and head way out to the reef to snorkel. Back in time to change into dry clothes & make it to Saba Rocks HH for $3 Painkiller drinks, we order 2 each and the waitress was surprised to see only 4 of us when she showed up at our table with 8 strong drinks. End the great day with dinner on Ultra. Sunday we are underway by 9:30 to head over to the Baths. We get the last mooring all the way on the north end, and Ultra anchors up in the next bay. Lunch on boats then Ultra dinghies down to our boat and Steve thinks its just easier to swim in BUT the beach we are in front of has no access to the Baths so we have to swim a lot further then planned. We are on the beach at the Baths by 1, this is a remarkable place, a few million years ago vocanoes threw these huge granite rocks up forming this unique formation that you walk over, under and through from one bay to another. This was our 3rd time here and we would go back again & again. When we are done we make Steve swim back to the boat to get the dinghy so we just have to swim out to the dinghy mooring closer to the beach. Back on Ocean Star we all put our snorkel gear on and snorkel the area by the boat. We are back underway by 4:30 to anchor off Cooper Island. The bay we were going to anchor in was too rolly so we went around to the mooring field but all the moorings were taken. Ultra found a spot on the west end & us on the east end of the bay to anchor overnight. Monday underway by 11:30 to head over to the Indians = a group of rocks great for snorkeling & diving. We were all going to dive but one of the tanks was low on air so Steve, JoAnne & Bill dove while I snorkeled. Back underway by 3:30 to head to White Bay on south side of Peter Island to anchor for the night. Wild Thing & Highland Fling join us at this anchorage, and we have cocktails and a pot luck dinner on Wild Thing followed by a FUN night playing different games. Tuesday Wild Thing & Highland Fling get underway early to show Kathy & Martin more sights in the BVI's, Ultra leaves later to go back to Cooper to get dive tanks filled and dive the Rhone, we stay and Steve services the final winch- the electric one. A couple of hours later Ultra is back as they could not get air for their tanks and waters were TOO rough to snorkel, heard on the radio that sea access to the Baths was even closed! Ultra stays in White Bay for the night while we head out at 3:30 to go over to Normans Island and pick up a mooring. We are out far so internet connection is not so good so we take our computers into Pirates Bight restaurant and use the wifi. We have some time restrictions on our schedule as Steve will be flying home and then a week later his son is coming to visit both taking place in two different countries. So we have been trying to get things ordered and move along so we can be in the right place at the right time. Wednesday with a lot of the boats gone we get better internet connection on the boat, we go into Pirates for a late lunch then go snorkel the caves around the corner of the bay. We talk to Ultra & Wild Thing letting them know we are planning on leaving Thursday then decide to wait until Friday so we can all get together one more time. Thursday Ultra comes in to Normans Bight where we have moved up to a closer mooring ball and they find a place to anchor. They had spent the day before patching their dinghy so it is on the deck drying so Steve takes our dinghy over to let them use it to get their tanks filled. Make contact with Wild Thing & they are on the way here also and have a great dinner on Ultra. Friday morning we were running the generator before we left and it overheated. No time to look at it before getting underway by 9:30 for a nice sail over to Soper's Hole to check out of the BVI's, then sail over to St John's Maho Bay. With the LBO card Steve can just make a phone call to customs to check in the the US VI's. On the way into the anchorage as we are rolling up the genoa, the sheet lines get caught around the starboard dorade Just as I get to it to try to unhook the lines the whole thing gets pulled off, so I am trying to hold onto it with the sail trying to fling me overboard. Steve comes up to try to hold onto it better & I go back and turn into the wind and start to roll the sail up so he can untangle it without losing it overboard. We pick up a mooring by 2, get the dinghy down no dinghy dock in this bay so we beach it. Haul it up on shore, find a tree to tie it to and lock it to and go to the street to catch the bus into Cruz Bay. Steve had lost his national park card when his wallet was stolen in Grenada a year & ½ ago so wanted to get another one. These are really great cards issued to anyone 62 & older. In St John we get get mooring fees for ½ price = $7.50 a night. In other parks he and 3 others would get in free ! one perk of getting older. Walk around the town of Cruz Bay enjoying the town once again, have a late lunch / early dinner before catching the bus back to Maho Beach and the boat by 6. Saturday morning Steve looks at the generator to see what was wrong. NOT good news. It is the pulley for the cooling water, the one that we first had made in Grenada then re made in Antigua now it has failed again ! We get underway by 10 to go around to Coral Bay spend the day there then Sunday go over to Great Lameshur Bay to spend a beautiful day in a beautiful place. Wish we could have stayed a few more days as planned to do some hikes but we leave at 6:30 Monday morning to get to St Thomas to try to find someone to help us with the generator. We are anchored in Charlotte Amalie by 8:30. Steve heads out to go talk to a guy mentioned in the guide book. He says he might be able to help BUT Steve has to find the parts. He comes back to the boat and we go to town to try get some lunch and find some bearings & a pulley. One guy is close but no luck so we go in island to a couple of auto part stores to see if they can help, then to another marina on the east end of the island all with no luck. Catching the bus to Compass Pt. Marina from Tu-Tu where we were at for the auto parts store was a little tricky since we had to go the long way around then walk down a long road, luckily a nice lady stopped and gave us a ride. We did not get lucky with finding any parts but did have a taxi come into the marina to drop some people off and had one more person to be dropped off over towards where we had to go back to and they waited a few minutes for us so we did not have the LONG walk back to a bus stop. Back to the boat in time for a quick shower and then a 3 mile dinghy ride over to Honeymoon beach on Water Island. Steve had ran into Bill & Charlene on the boat RSVP earlier and they told him about movie night on the beach. After a long & disappointing day we needed something good, plus we knew other people we knew were around and were hoping to see them. The locals who live on the island, accessible only by boat, set this up and welcome all the cruisers anchored near by. We see the new James Bond movie Sky Fall. We also see Carrie & Carl who we met our 1st year in Grenada and who have been up here working and selling their old boat Sanctuary and fixing their new 1978 Gulfstar ketch rigged boat. So they know a lot about the area and who & where to get things done and gave us a name & # for someone they thought could help. Tuesday we sleep till 9 then run the motor a little to charge the batteries before going over to Crown Bay marina. On the way in we pass a boat Celebration and I say that looks like Steve & Lynn's boat so we make a u turn and stop by. Steve is on board but Lynn is back in the states so we visit with him a little. I brought just a small load of laundry in to do while Steve pursues some more leads on getting our generator fixed. As we come into the marina we see Notre Vie at the fuel dock so stop by to say Hi. They tell us La Luna is in the marina then Stu walks by and tells us to go over to their boat to tie the dinghy up since the dinghy dock is full. Barb is on board busy getting ready for guestsarriving later that day but she still welcomes us on board. I stay and talk with Barb while Steve goes to find parts & or a repair man. We have not seen Barb & Stu since October in Grenada. A lot for us to chat about and catch up on. Steve finally comes back and we go grab a sandwich and do a load of laundry as he fills me in on the progress of fixing the generator. Laundry almost done and Steve goes back to get a piece from our boat to give to the machine shop to help make the piece they are making a better fit. Then he thinks of something else for them and goes back while I go back to La Luna & our dinghy to wait for him. Well it takes him a lot longer then he thought having to walk to NAPA twice since the bearings in the 1st box were not the size it said on the outside of the box 6 miles for the 2 trips. Barb & Stu again very kindly let me hang out on their boat visiting with them as they get ready for their guests. As Barb & I are talking I turn around and see Jeff I Izzy from Izzy R on the dock, they had just came in from the BVI's so get to say Hi to them again. Stu actually goes to the airport and gets back with Jim & Marsha before Steve makes it back. Steve gets back just in time to join us in a welcome champagne toast, Carrie & Carl also walk by and join the crowd as Barb serves us all some wonderful snacks. True hospitality cruiser style. When we got back Tuesday we found we had a water leak from the same hot water hose that leads to our cockpit shower that we have had problems in the past with also. The hose is just old & brittle so keeps splitting. We are too tired to deal with it that evening but Wednesday morning we get up and clean up the water in the engine compartment and Steve takes the fitting from the end of the hose and puts it at the junction sealing it off for good this time we hope. We get underway by 10:45 to head over to a little island close by to go snorkeling. La Luna was going to bring their guests over but had engine problems of their own so didn't make it. The place is empty between 11 &1 in-between all the party boats bringing snorkelers out. So we had the place almost to ourselves for a little while. Then it was actually kinda fun watching the party boats come back in with the groups of people to snorkel and listen to the story of the sunken boat as the guides & groups snorkeled around our boat. After they left we went snorkeling again then headed back around 4. We decided to anchor off Honeymoon Beach it was hard to find any sandy spots with enough swing room, after two attempts of the anchor landing on hard rocky bottom and not being able to dig in we were trying for a 3rd spot near 2 moorings thinking that no one else would be coming in to use them this late since by now it is 5:30. A guy on a boat near by says one of the moorings is free until Monday so we pick it up. Quick dinner & showers then off to Tickles, a bar / restaurant at Crown Bay marina for open mike night to hear Stu preform and get to visit with them & Steve from Celebration again. Thursday 2/28 can't believe it is the end of the month !!! This is one time we wish February was like the others & had 30 or 31 days as we sure could use some more time. We make a quick trip across the bay to get our propane gas tank filled then get a call from the machine shop saying our part will not be ready today as originally quoted, Steve reminds them that we are on a time schedule and pleads for them to get it done as soon as possible. We decide to stay here on the mooring one more day and take it easy before starting March off with another busy schedule.
Link to pictures; https://plus.google.com/photos/103931849054358791487/albums/5850212966811500897?authkey=CNuM2Pn1ttnudg
Link to pictures; https://plus.google.com/photos/103931849054358791487/albums/5850212966811500897?authkey=CNuM2Pn1ttnudg