Saturday, March 30, 2013

South Coast of Dominican Republic

South Coast of DR
Friday 15 March – Friday 29 March

We had a calm crossing of the Mona passage from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic, we had to motor most of the way but the seas were calm so made for a comfortable (but noisy) ride. 22 hours after leaving PR we were entering the Marina Zar Par in Boca Chica DR. The marina sends out a tender to guide you in and we go to the fuel dock to clear in with customs & immigration and get fuel, 3 hours later we get to our slip. Don't think it usually takes that long but everyone was very nice & helpful, the marina staff even drove Steve to a bank to get some local money. We had noticed in PR black ash on the boat and first thought it was someone having a big BBQ on the beach. Now in the DR we notice it again and are trying to figure out how we still have ash on the boat after 22 hours at sea. We learn that they are burning the sugar cane fields and the black ash just goes every where during the month of March. NOT mentioned in any of the tourist guides :). Free water at the marina so wash the boat down and get it ready for guests arriving Sunday & Monday. 

Sunday morning a little more getting the boat ready. Then Steve makes a wonderful pork tenderloin with apples, apricot, cranberry & sweet potato that just has to be heated up when he gets back from picking Sean up at the airport. They get back around 8 pm and after Sean gets settled in we have a great dinner. Monday Sean goes to meet Carrie at the airport, and the taxi drops Steve off at the grocery to be picked up on the way back. They all arrive back on the boat around 12:30 as we meet Carrie for the first time showing her around the boat and let her get settled in and changed into island clothes. We walk down to the beach known as Boca Chica and find a beach restaurant to have a late lunch. Once seated at the table on the beach we immediately start getting approached by vendors. They are selling EVERYTHING. From food & drink, even though we are sitting at a restaurant, to sunglasses, watches, jewelry, even 4' x 3' pictures, massages, pedicures & of course cigars. It was hard to have a conversation in between the hundreds of times we had to say NO GRACIAS. Not the most pleasant experience but entertaining and a true Dominican experience.

The beach is lovely and for a late afternoon on a Monday very busy and getting busier. We (me) did get suckered into getting the “best pina colada in the world” drink down the beach, it was NOT but we used the beach lounge chairs to drink them & refused his request for a tip for the already overpriced drinks. Rule # 1 find out the price first !!

Back to the marina by 5 to request our despacho for the following morning so we can go to another anchorage. Unlike the other eastern Caribbean countries, in the DR you need a form allowing you to move from one spot to another. We get ours to go to Bayahibe where we will get another to go to Isla Saona our goal. Bayahibe is a interesting little village and anchorage. It is home to about 30 catamaran day trip boats plus several 10 to 20 seat motor boats that take tourist from near & far resorts out to Isla Saona, a national park.

Bayahibe has its share of vendors selling souvenirs, but they have huts you can choose to walk by or go in and look, and they are not too pushy. Steve, Sean & Carrie had gone in the night before to let them know we had arrived. The next morning we all go in to see the town and find an ATM so Carrie & I can get some DR Pesos, and to get our despacho to go to Isla Saona. Isla Saona is an island with beautiful beaches all around it, it gets busy for a few hours during the day with all the day trip boats, but they are almost all gone by 3 and at night we shared the anchorage with 3 other boats. The day trip boats have assigned areas so no one beach is swarmed with all the people. This being Carries first time staying on a sail boat we are happy to show her this wonderful part of anchoring out off beautiful locations. After a few of the catamarans left we took the dinghy to the beach to check in and walk the beach and swim.

Thursday we had made arraignments, in Bayahibe, for a dive shop to come out to our boat at Isla Saona to take us diving. When we get up we see that Ultra has arrived and is anchored near by. Steve & I go by to say HI and even though they just got in 2 hours before they join us to go diving in an hour. It was of course subject to the dive shops okay, which they did and since Bill & JoAnne have equipment & tanks it was just a matter of loading 2 more people into the dive boat. A little later start then planned but the dive sights were close by and the guides were not in a hurry. Back to the boat to clean off equipment and a late lunch followed by relaxing afternoon. Sean & Carrie go swimming again, Steve makes a Bulgur salad to bring over to Ultra who invited us all over to dinner that night. Dinner followed by some rum tasting. Friday Ultra leaves early to continue on to Casa de Campo marina to clear into the country while we do some more exploring of the island.

Bill had lent us a dive plane that he made. You tow it behind the dinghy and using a mask, hold on & hold your breath & dive down and snorkel, angling the board to either dive or come up for air or go left or right. Sean said it was the closest he's ever come to feeling like a porpoise. The dinghy's not going fast, only 2-3 knots, but it's way faster than you can swim, and effortless gliding along the bottom.

Even if the weather is not good, partly cloudy with a few showers, we still have fun and visit another beautiful beach that we have to ourselves to have a picnic lunch. We got our despacho Friday night so are ready to leave early on Saturday. We were going to go all the way back to Zar Par marina so left at 7, but Bill & JoAnne called on the radio telling us how wonderful Casa de Campo marina is and Saturday night is a free BBQ at the yacht club. So we make the decision to go there. It will be a longer taxi ride for Sean & Carrie to the airport the next day but they will get to see some place different. The marina sends a boat out to help us get into our slip and we are docked by 9:30. Check out the marina and surrounding area then decide to head to the beach.

Casa de Campo is a huge complex of 7,000 acres on which sits in addition to the 370 slip marina, a luxury hotel, 4 golf courses, equestrian center with 3 polo fields, a skeet shooting range, tennis courts, numerous shops and restaurants, private million dollar homes, the beautiful Minitas beach, Altos de Chavon a stone paved medieval village over looking the Chavon river, complete with an amphitheater to mention a few amenities. It employees 15,000 people mostly from the near by town of La Romana. The marina rates are very reasonable, for our 50 ft boat $50 a night, restaurants are also reasonable but the shops are VERY expensive as is the laundry service that I learned the hard way. But now after almost 57 years I can say I have IRONED sheets & pillowcases :).

Getting ahead of myself here, so we are on our way to the beach Saturday by 10:30. One thing this area lacks is a cheap way to get from point A to point B. All rental properties come with a golf cart, and you can rent them here at the marina, but NO shuttle buses !!! Only taxi's, not a cheap way to go short distances. As we were learning this a very nice gentleman came out of the grocery store and asked where we were going. Carrie (who is fluent in Spanish as well as French and was our WONDERFUL interpreter while she was here) told him to the beach, and he gave us a ride. It was a lovely day at the beach with NO vendors trying to sell us anything. Lunch at the beach then a nice 30 minute walk back to the marina getting to see some gorgeous homes and landscaping.

Saturday evening the yacht club hosted a free BBQ for the beginning of the sports fishing season. The yacht club, is a beautiful building outside and in, decorated with mahogany wood, art work and fantastic lighting. It is open to all and has a great bar with a friendly staff. We thought it would be a cash bar but soon learn Absolute vodka, Brugal rum, another liquor can't remember & Presidente beer and a passion fruit rum punch were all free, paid for by sponsors of the party. We were all very happy with the choices. Wait staff served appetizers, as we listened to live music waiting on the BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, coleslaw and salad, followed by more live music. Eleven pm we decide to go up to Altos de Chavon to check out the village, even at night it is beautiful and you feel like you are in an old stone village not one that was built in 1976. JoAnne talked one of the security guards into letting us ride in the bed of the little pick-up trucks (I got shotgun) up to the village for $15 ($5 each couple). We had a fun time seeing the sights at night and had made arraignments for him to come back and pick us up at 1. He was a no show for the ride back to the marina but we found another security guard who between JoAnne & Carrie made the same deal to get us back to the marina.

Sunday morning we were all moving a little slow but this was Sean & Carrie's last day so we got up and they packed up then we got a ride from the taxi driver set up to take them to the airport to bring us up to the hotel for a couple of hours before they had to leave for the airport. The hotel pool is beautiful and it was a great way to make the most of the morning before their 12:30 departure to the airport. They are on their way to the airport and we go back to the boat to find a note from Bill & JoAnne that they were riding their bikes heading to the pool then would go to the polo fields to watch a game at 4:30. We rested for a few hours then got our taxi guy to bring us back up to the polo grounds across from the hotel to find NO game on Sunday. So we go back to the hotel and find Bill & JoAnne and decide to get a free hotel shuttle to Altos de Chavon to see it in the daylight.

They really did a great job at recreating an 18th century village and it is fun seeing it and the views of the river. Catch the 7:15 pm hotel shuttle back to the hotel with several other hotel guests, I lend Bill & JoAnne my flashlight so they can ride their bikes back to the marina and the hotel driver drives Steve & I back to the marina. We walked through the plaza where all the restaurants are to check out menus. JoAnne & Bill make it back safe and we go out for dinner. A great day ending a great visit with Sean & Carrie and for Steve & I to celebrate 3 years of cruising living on our floating traveling home.

Monday I go to find the laundromat and find out the one here at the marina is no longer here, only one up at the hotel so they call someone to come and pick up my laundry. I should have guessed since a hotel was involved that it might be a little expensive but when they bring it back two days later never in my wildest dreams, did I think they would IRON the sheets and pillowcases and Steve's shirts & shorts – crazy !!! What did I say at the top of this blog ASK THE PRICE FIRST, won't forget again.

Monday late afternoon Frank the harbor master came by and said we needed to adjust our boat lines since our solar panels were hanging over the walkway and he was afraid someone would get hurt. We had had this conversation with another boater and agreed, BUT if we moved the boat out any further we could not get off, even if we put the dinghy behind the boat in the water the dock was too high to climb up on to, and the marina staff helped tie us off this way. We did tape plastic bags with bright color paper on the corners to act as a warning flag. Frank said we still needed to do something so he got us a passerelle (gangplank) that 2 marina staff dropped off. Steve & I tried to get it to work on our own but we could not get it secured so I called back saying we needed some help and next thing we knew 2 dinghies & 2 golf carts came up to help. It took us about 30 minutes to rig it up right but we got it done. Still a little overhang onto the walkway but Frank came by to check and said that it would work. Still a little tricky getting on & off have to be careful not to hit our heads or trip over the lines holding the passerelle in place.

Tuesday there is a polo match so I rented a golf cart and gave Bill & JoAnne a ride up to the hotel pool then back to the boat where Steve is finishing up changing the oil on the engine & generator and start putting the boat back together. Riding a golf cart around the marina you feel like 10 – 15 MPH is a good speed, out on the nice paved roads it feels really slow. So slow my leg was hurting from pressing the petal down so hard trying to make it go faster (it did not). This was an electric cart but even other electric carts were passing me :(. I needed a sign that said sorry- I am going as fast as I can. You probably had to be there but it was pretty funny.

Steve & I go up to the hotel at 4:30 to pick up Bill & JoAnne to go across the road to the polo fields to watch a game, the first time for all 4 of us to see a polo match. It was fun but by 6 we were ready to head back to the marina for happy hour watching the sun set. Wednesday Ultra leaves the marina to go over to Isla Catalina, we were staying for one more day to do another boat project, polish the stainless on the arch since we are backed into the dock it is easy to reach. Wednesday night there is another party in the marina with free drinks and heavy hors derves for the Toy Box grand opening, they are located next to the Mistral Bar & restaurant who provided the food & drinks and had a great musician. The Toy Box is a concierge service company for the “ villa clients and yachts, super yachts and mega yachts” there wording but I guess it included us cruisers also.

We had planned to leave Thursday morning meeting up with Ultra back at marina Zar Par, but heard of another free party with live Jazz Thursday night at the Azimut cafe so decided to stay one more day. Steve had been working almost non stop for a few days and was looking forward to an easy day before getting underway. Thursday morning we get a hold of Ultra to let them know of our change in plans. Steve had one little project to do – grease the main roller furling track, and with the light winds it was a good morning to do it. He got it done just in time for the rain which lasted all afternoon. Our final night event was not as good as the other two, just free Chivas scotch which I do not drink or champagne and only nuts and cheese for snacks. They did have some paintings from 3 local artist on display that were really good, they had to move them inside along with the people as we had a light evening shower for a few minutes. Back to the boat by 8:30 for dinner and to get the boat ready for an early morning departure.

8 AM Friday morning Steve goes to check out with the marina then with the Coast Guard to get our despacho to go back to Boca Chica. He comes back at 8:30 with several marine staff so we can hand off the passerelle then we need them to ease off the stern lines so we can bring the dinghy back and haul it up. We leave the dock to go circle around in front by the fuel dock so Steve can secure the dinghy, tying the lines so it does not swing / move while underway. By 9 we are heading out the channel, under gray skies with a cool temperature of 76°, calm seas and light winds to start so just put up the main sail. By 9:30 winds have picked able to carry the genoa and and turn off the motor. We have a great sail, winds build during the day so first put a reef in the genoa then a 2nd reef and one in the main. Average speed of 8, hitting 10.6 with one wind gust. We were outside the marina trying to get them on the radio by 2, took them a while to answer and they gave us a choice of going back to our old slip or since the winds were still blowing they had a side tie slip available which we took. All tied up by 3, washed down the boat and called Ultra who was out on a marina mooring close by. Ultra came by for drinks and to make plans our future travels west.

link to pictures;

Saturday, March 16, 2013

West Bound on Schedule

West Bound on Schedule

Friday 1 March – Friday 15 March 2013
Friday morning we leave the lovely anchorage at Honeymoon Beach to go into Crown Bay Marina. Without the generator to charge the batteries they have been getting low, plus it is almost time to equalize them again. We are docked by 9:30, after checking in Steve goes over to the machine shop to check on the progress of our part repair while I sort out 3 loads of laundry. The laundromat is a self serve or drop off, and I plan on doing my own laundry. I know it sounds funny but sometimes it is nice to be able to do your own laundry. Not that I want to spend all day at the laundromat but some things need a gentle cycle and not a hot dryer that I think I do a better job with. I am done & back on the boat for lunch just as Steve finished washing the deck & cockpit. After lunch Steve gets the bus to go to Home Depot to get new batteries for his drill and some other supplies while I clean the inside of the boat. Steve makes another stop at the machine shop and is glad to learn that they are open a full day on Saturday but still not sure if we will get our part. Friday night on board trying to finish up my last blog and get pictures posted and the internet goes down ! Saturday morning internet back working so finish with blog. After lunch Steve goes to the machine shop and YES our part is ready. I guess Steve's persistence of stopping by and pleading with them paid off. They were supposed to fix the old part so we would have that as a spare but they did not have time for that. The new part is substantially better built so will hopefully hold up. Short trip up the road to the grocery store, where Steve realizes he left his credit card at the machine shop. I had my card so groceries bought and back on board Steve runs back to machine shop to get his card. Goes to put new part on the generator and realizes he also left the new belt there that they needed for sizing. One final trip back to the shop then he puts the part on and it works!! Steve starts putting away his tools and we get the boat ready to leave on Sunday. Sunday we check out of the marina at 10:30 and leave the slip shortly after making a quick stop at the fuel dock and are out the channel leaving St Thomas by 11:30. Clouds moved in making it a gray day but we have a great sail all the way to the island of Culebra, (Spanish Virgin Island, Puerto Rico) and pick up one of the last free moorings by 2:30 under clear skies behind the reef at Dakity, the area just as you enter the bay of Ensenada Honda. Steve calls to check us in with our local boater option cards, only this time they ask for the boat decal # (did not ask in USVI's). Well he had one only it was a year out of date, so they would not check us in. They told Steve he had to go to the airport to get a new decal #, and for some reason Steve thought they were telling him he had to go to the airport in San Juan. Once it was clear, after another call, that they meant the airport here in Culebra it was better but still thought it might interfere with our travel plans. The customs guy made it clear we could NOT leave without getting them that # or there would be a $5000.00 fine. Steve was able to get on line with a very slow internet connection and manage homeland securities web site to pay his $27.50 for the new decal #. We did not get the decal # , just an order # and when he called back they accepted that and gave us our clearance #. And we thought other countries were a pain to check into! We saw another boat we knew in the anchorage so went by to say HI to Chris & Yani on Magus then stopped by the boat Orion to say HI to Sue the lady that does the Culebra Cruisers Facebook page before going back to the boat for dinner. Monday we take a dinghy ride then move up to another mooring as it was a little rolly where we were. Defrost the freezer, have lunch then drop the genoa sail as it had seams on the sun cover where the thread had disintegrated and needed to be re-stitched. Even though this anchorage is behind a big reef there is not many fish or much to look at just rock but it was a wonderful swim after a hot day. An early dinner and early night to get ready for a long days sail to Salinas Puerto Rico. We are underway by 6:45 in drizzling rain and very light winds in calm seas. Once out the channel the rain stops but skies remain gray, passing the island the winds pick up and we are able to sail with full main & genoa up doing 7 to 7.5 knots in choppy seas with 1-2 foot swells. Even though I had my weathers on when I released our lines from the mooring & still had them on, I was cold, so went below to stay warm under a blanket, but Steve is comfortable in his shorts & T-shirt. We had a few more showers along the way and several wind shifts causing us to roll up the main but manage to sail almost the whole way with just the genoa, once in the lee of Puerto Rico the northerly swells are blocked and makes for a smooth sail. By 3 the rain has been gone for awhile and the sun is popping out between clouds so I bring my blanket up on deck to keep Steve company for the last stretch. By 4:30 we are anchored in Salinas, we get several Spanish speaking TV channels but NO internet on the boat. Wednesday we call and make a reservation for a rental car then go into the restaurant by the marina to use their internet. I connect right away but Steve's computer will not allow him to connect. He uses mine for a while then goes out to see if there is another place open he can connect. Finds a place not open but a guy is there so lets him use the wifi which he is able to connect with. His computer has been acting very strange lately, think it is getting old and overloaded. Back to the boat for lunch, and Steve gets some warmer clothes out to pack as we saw on the news about Chicago getting snow!! Not only has he not been away from the boat for any length of time he has not been in cold weather in an even longer time. Thursday we are waiting for the rental car at 10 & Sidney gets there with the car about 10:20 quickly do the paperwork and drive off taking highway 52 a beautiful road going from the south side of the island up and through the mountains to the north side of the island. First stop is a T-Mobile store as Steve's chip will not work in his phone. He had called T-Mobile on my phone that did work and they said just go by and get another sim card, no charge. The young lady helping us took her time and made several calls but could not get his phone to work. She did get his chip to work in my phone so it was determined the phone was the problem. It had worked in several countries since he got it just not in the US. She recommended we go to the next town up to a place called Dr. Mobile and maybe he could fix the problem. We get there and the problem turns out to be that Steve's phone is just a dual band NOT a quad band phone that he was told it was when he bought it after ours were stolen down in Bequia. $32 later Steve has another new phone, just a little Nokia that his T-Mobile chip works in. Now when he gets to Chicago he can connect with his brother flying in from Dallas to meet his sister picking them up. By this time it is 2, and Steve's flight is at 4. Thought we would have time to stop for lunch but not knowing the area we decide to just drop him off at the airport. He can get something to eat there and I can find something when I make a stop to shop. We had seen a few stores by the T-Mobile store and also passed a “mall” on the way to the airport. I missed the exit to the mall so thought I would just turn around, well this beautiful highway 52 has very few exits and they are far between and even when you do exit, getting back on to go the opposite way is NOT just making a U-turn. I finally got back to the “mall” (think really small version of any US mall) grabbed a big soft pretzel and spent time looking. Time flies when you are just browsing looking for things you might need, had some idea of things we needed but finding / looking for what will actually work takes a lot of time. I was out of there by 4:30, as I still had a ways to drive and did not want to be going back to the marina the 1st time in the dark. Finding the exit I knew would be easy, but the little back roads to the marina are a little tricky and sure enough I made a wrong turn and had to have some young men on bikes show me the way. Friday I go shopping again, and I'm amazed how long it takes to go through Wall-Mart. Good thing Steve is in Chicago as he would have no patience for all day shopping. Back to the marina & out to the boat by 6 again. Saturday morning into the marina for internet, bring computer back to the boat then take the car to go to the town of Ponce. Need to go to Customs to get Clearance papers to go to the DR. Steve had told me it was by the area where we anchored last time we were in PR, so I found that area with no problem, only customs was not there. Luckily I had the phone # so was able to call but his directions were not that clear either & I went to the wrong place again. I saw a police car so waved them down and they just said follow us and lead me there. Sure are some nice friendly people in PR. Got our clearance document then stopped by another mall on my way back to the marina. Sunday no way can I even think about going to another store !!! Plus Sidney said since I was not using the car that day he would not charge me for it. Went to the marina to use internet then a quiet afternoon on the boat reading with a couple of Manatee sightings. Meanwhile Steve is having a wonderful visit with his brother and 4 sisters as they celebrate with their mom for her 90th birthday. Monday I head out early as I am going to go by the “big” Mall of Americas on my way to the airport to pick up Steve. I get a text from him that he was boarding on time but did not see the 2nd text telling me there was a problem with the plane so they had to switch planes and would now arrive 2 hours later. I had enough shopping so was actually getting to the airport a little early, now I was a LOT early but did not want to do any more driving or shopping so just parked the car and went and had a drink to wait. His plane got in around 4 and we headed back to the boat, stopping at a couple of auto part stores to see if they had any bearings. Steve wants to keep extras on hand for if & when we have a problem with the generator again. Stop at the grocery store and get back to the boat by 7:30. Tuesday the rental car needs to be turned in by 10 so we make an early quick run to Wall-Mart to get a few things I forgot. Back to the boat to get ready to leave on Wednesday. Wednesday we head out around 8, but first have to go out off shore and drift so Steve can put the dinghy down and use the snake to unclog the head that clogged before he left. That lovely job taken care of, we get on course to head west and have a nice sail to Boqueron for the night to be in position to do the passage to Dominican Republic the following day. Thursday morning we get the boat ready for the passage, take the dinghy motor off, check oil, make dinner to be heated up later underway, and make sure everything is secure. We leave at noon and wind is from the SE not E & NE as predicted so we have a nice sail for the first 4 hours. Then the winds start to die down and we have to motor sail at first but then wind up just motoring for the next 18 hours. Would have been nice to have had more wind BUT the seas were calm so it made for a good passage, we were at the fuel dock by 10 am Friday. Customs and coast guard met us there along with the marina personal to inspect the boat for clearing in, then the marina employee took Steve to immigration to pay our importation fees and also took him to the bank. We got fuel and moved over to our slip 3 hours later, one of the longest check-ins we have ever had but they were all very nice and friendly and helpful. So glad the weather cooperated keeping us on schedule, arriving safe & on time. Saturday we will check out the area and see where we can visit and do some planning for our guests arriving.

link to pictures;

Saturday, March 2, 2013

February 2013

February 2013

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;