Thursday, February 19, 2015

Caribbean Chillin' - not like the chill back home

So, what ever became of June and Duane? They sailed off to the Virgin Islands and reported that they had made it there successfully. But then the blog posts just sort of stopped. Hope they are OK.

Oh, we are OK, alright! I have become incredibly lazy about writing up our adventures. Here are my reasons:
  • Sporadic access to the internet.
    • We have no cellular data available (without coughing up cash). We only have Wifi when our extender gets us access to an open AP. Or, in a marina, like we are now - for the first time in over 3 weeks.
  • Computer issues. 
    • For several days, our Dell laptop refused to recognize that it had a battery.We could only use it when plugged into 120 VAC - which we weren't. Then, one morning, the computer found the battery again. Hmm.
  • Snorkeling. 
    • It just takes a lot of time to go snorkeling. Sometimes the snorkeling is good, sometimes marginal. But you never know until you try.
  • Sailing. 
    • When moving from place to place, we have been sailing as much as possible. Sometimes, very slowly. So it takes a while to get anywhere and uses up hours.
  • Staring at the scenery. 
    • It is not my fault that the scenery around St John is so captivating. We often spend the first couple of hours in the day just looking around.
  • Flashlights. 
    • OK, stay with me here. One of our after-dark pastimes while at anchor or on mooring balls has become shining a large flashlight down into the water to attract little fish.Which then attract larger fish. Which keeps us entertained for quite a while. Until the Fishing Bats show up. Yeah. Look them up. When they arrive, we turn off the light and run inside.

No, we did not take this picture.
We could never take this picture.
You can't take a shot like this while diving for the cabin.
 Maybe you see the pattern here. We have slowly devolved into a Caribbean attitude. We move, or don't move, based on whims and weather. We hung around St John for weeks. We circumnavigated the island, stopped in bays on the north side and the south side. Saw cool stuff, had some visitors, ran into some old boat friends. We will get some pictures together and post them shortly along with the stories.
Some good snorkeling

An occasional rainy day
A normal day

Scott Beach at Caneel Bay

We have now moved on (all the way across the Sir Francis Drake Channel) to the British Virgin Islands. We checked into the BVIs on Tuesday at Soper's Hole, West End, Tortola. It was a painless process of sailing from the mooring near Caneel Bay over to Soper's Hole. We worked our way into the harbor and scouted around until we found an open mooring ball near the ferry dock. We raised our yellow 'Quartine' flag to indicate that we were new arrivals to the country and took the dinghy into the Customs and Immigration office. A few minutes later, we were back on SeaClearly raising the BVI courtesy flag indicating that we were, now, officially checked in.

Another short dinghy ride and we were eating lunch at Pusser's Landing, followed by provisioning at the Riteway Market and then back to SeaClearly. We dropped the mooring ball and sailed out of Soper's Hole to start our month-long exploration of the BVIs. We began by sailing back and forth across the channel with no particular destination in mind. We sailed past the entrance to Nanny Cay Marina to check it out. We had reserved a slip there later for a couple of nights. We finally settled on Great Harbour at Norman's Island to anchor for our first night in the British Virgin Islands.

Duane at Pusser's Landing
Soper's Hole, Tortola
The harbor at Soper's Hole

The BVIs have a different atmosphere than St John. The bareboat charter business drives the economy. And there are hundreds of charter boats. We were chartering one of those boats a few years ago so I won't berate the skills and judgement of the charterers like some folks do. But they are everywhere. And, they only have a week to fulfill their Carib dreams. The mooring balls fill up fast and, apparently, the competition for the remaining balls can get touchy.

We chose to anchor all the way out at the edge of the Great Harbour rather than go deep into the bay looking for a $30/night mooring ball. We dropped the hook in about 30 ft of water just inside the corner of the point. Out of the waves and current, nice breeze, beautiful views. Cute little goats grazing on the cliffs - which were not very far from SeaClearly's bow. The water stays deep right up to the island. For us, coming from the Albemarle Sound, having deep water is a joy. As one person told us, "The only underwater hazards here are marked by islands."

On Wednesday, we got up (unhurriedly), watched the scenery for a while (accompanied by coffee) and then started prepping SeaClearly for a marina stay. We had to dig out the docklines that we haven't seen in a few weeks. We also had to lift the dinghy up onto the davits. We have just been towing it around behind us as we circled St John but we chose to lift it for going into a marina slip. We raised the anchor and it came up in Caribbean style - with fine, white sand spilling off of the anchor as it comes up through clear water. A beautiful sight to behold.

We wanted to get to the marina relatively early in order to maximize the facilities but, at the same time, you hate to give up any time out on the water. Especially when the day offers up perfect sailing. We sailed a close reach north toward Tortola and then, eventually, turned downwind toward the marina. You just hate to quit sailing when it is so nice. We really enjoy the sailing hours.

The Tree of Shame
Those are all propellers that people have damaged
hitting the reefs and rocks.
Nanny Cay Marina is pretty cool. It is a marina and a resort - but not a stuffy resort. There are a variety of stores, restaurants, shops and restaurants. It is the home to a couple of charter companies. There is a chandlery, a dive shop and a boatyard. The have great showers. We were planning to top off our water tanks but their water was not as good as we can make with the watermaker. So, we decided to skip the water. Later, we noticed all of the locals buying bottled water at the store.

The beach at Nanny Cay Resort and Marina
We will stay here for a couple of days. We need to lay a coat of varnish on some sections of teak before it deteriorates any further. I still need to take down the failed radar unit and test the new one. No need to feel sorry for us though. We are working in shorts and T-shirts, barefoot, breezes in the palm trees. Which is another reason I have not been posting too many pictures. We can't take the guilt from our poor friends up north getting hammered by the winter. Sorry mon. I mean, sorry y'all.

SeaClearly in her slip at
Nanny Cay. One of many sailboats.
Still the prettiest.
Nothing but blue skies.


  1. Yeah, supposed to get down to 11 with wind chill at -10 by dawn. Blow some hot air this way.

    PS The power just came back on in the harbour after being out for an hour or two. LED candles don't put out much in the way of heat.

  2. Can't believe how cold it is there. We heard that the power was coming and going in Colington. Hope it stays on!

  3. You guys must be having a great time! NO UPDATES IN ALMOST A MONTH! When, if ever, do you expect to return to the US? I left the tug in Ft Lauderdale until the end of March. Then I'll start moving slowly north. It would be fun if we could meet somewhere.

  4. Thierry,
    Having a great time. I guess we are leaving today - although we have been approached about taking on the role of 'Bay Host' with the National Park Service here at Caneel. The job is to ride around in the dinghy 2 hours a day and write down the names of the boats on moorings, talk to people. No authority, no enforcement, free mooring ball and dinghy gas. Tempting:) Hope to see you along the trip. We have a stop to make in Nassau in mid-April so we might be a little slow. Take care!