Trip Highlights
January 2010

   It has been a long time since our last sailing trip to the Virgin Islands in 2000. Although I tried often between then and now, it has been difficult to gather a crew. I tried to entice my children to go but in spite of my offer to pay their way, their lives have filled with family and job commitments that did not exist in 2000. Age has taken its toll on most of our friends and they are no longer limber enough to scamper around a boat and climb in and out of a dingy. Alice although an excellent crew mate has "been there and done that" and would prefer to travel elsewhere. I even wondered if I would be fit and able to sail a boat at age 68.

    A glimmer of hope appeared when our good friends Bob and Caroll Ann expressed interest in a bare boat charter. They are our age and in good health. They own a house on St John and know the Virgin islands well. Alice considered my enthusiasm and her friendship with Caroll Ann and agreed to go. 

    The planning began in earnest last June. Caroll Ann expressed some concern about the heeling of a mono-hull boat and suggested she might prefer a catamaran. Although I preferred a mono-hull and had never sailed a large catamaran, I agreed to look for a suitable candidate. We finally decided on a 36 foot boat called Rummy Cat. The boat featured separate cabins in each hull, each including a queen sized bed and its own bathroom. A large salon between the hulls had a kitchen and a generous lounge area. The cock pit was large enough to include a small table for dining outside. The rigging was standard with a single mast and furled jib. Two engines (one in each hull) were used not for extra power but for better handling when motoring. We placed a deposit on the boat for a week scheduled in early January and the countdown began for our sailing adventure.

Tuesday 1/5 2010

    We flew from Tampa to St Thomas after driving to Florida. The drive was necessary because we planned to stay in Florida after sailing and needed our car. After arriving in St Thomas, a cab and ferry brought us to St John. Bob Faucett met us at the ferry dock and we drove to his house. The house sits high on a hill overlooking Fish Bay. On a clear day St Croix is visible in the  distance. After dinner we relaxed and spent the rest of the evening catching up on our families and discussing the sailing trip.

Wednesday 1/6

    After a good nights sleep and breakfast, we spent the morning enjoying the view, the sunshine, and our friends. In the afternoon, we all hiked to some ruins about a mile from the house. The story goes that these ruins were a public place where many communal rites of passage were celebrated. Death, birth, and marriage were celebrated here in the shadow of the Baobab tree. This tree is indigenous to Africa and stands out in the landscape here. 

    When we got home it was time for a swim in the pool. Before long it was dinner time and then time to pack for the week ahead on the boat. We spent some time deciding what food  items would be hard to get and how we might bring them with us. We would  be traveling by ferry from the US-VI to the BVI and were not sure if food would make it through the customs inspection. Tomorrow would be a busy and complicated day. After packing it was about 10 PM and we decided to retire early in anticipation of an early start in the morning.

Thursday 1/7

    We were up by 6 AM and enjoyed a quick but delicious breakfast of bagels and lox before leaving to catch the 7:30 ferry to Tortola. We breezed through customs in spite of our cache of food and took a cab to TMM Charters to board the boat that would be our home for the coming week.

    Our first impression of Rummy Cat was that she was roomy, adequate and in very nice shape. Clare was assigned to show us the ropes and she did a fine and thorough job of it. While her British accent was charming she made sure she covered all the bases. Meanwhile Alice and Caroll Ann took a cab to the grocery store and bought food for our first leg of the trip. After loading everything on board, the final part of the check out was a spin around the bay to get the feel of the boat. When we returned to the pier, Clare jumped off and gave us a good shove to start us on our way.

    We motored out of the marina into Road Harbor and then headed for our first destination on Norman Island . We took our time and treated this sail as a shake down cruise. It took only an hour before Bob and I knew we could handle the sails. Our leisurely sail continued until about 3 PM when we took down the sails and motored into the Bight on Norman Island. We tied up to an available buoy and began to unwind and relax for the rest of the evening. Eventually Alice and Caroll Ann prepared a wonderful dinner of pasta, shrimp, and pesto. After dinner we wiled away the rest of the evening playing cards and then retired for the night.

Friday 1/8

    Everyone reported a good night sleep and it seems that we are easily adjusting to life on the water. We all had plenty of time to prepare our own comfort food for breakfast and then we left our anchorage at around 8 AM. It was a short sail to the small uninhabited islands called the Indians. We snorkeled for a while and then had to wait out a rain shower. After the shower we set sail for Cooper Island. On the way we encountered rough weather in a rain squall and made a run for Great Harbor on Peter Island. After dropping anchor we swam and had lunch. It was 4 PM by the time we caught a buoy for the night at Cooper Island. We went ashore in the dingy and had cocktails at the Cooper Island Yacht Club. I ordered Rum and Coke and commented that it was made with plenty of rum. Bob reminded me of the legend that claims rum is cheaper than Coke  in the VI. We returned to the boat and cooked salmon on the fan tail grill. After dinner we taught Bob and Caroll Ann a card game called Nertz. The stars were out and we spent some time identifying constellations before going to bed.

Saturday 1/9

After breakfast some of us swam towards shore from the boat and snorkeled. It was decent snorkeling but when I saw what looked like it might be a waste pipe from the restaurant, we decided to head back to the boat. We set sail for Trellis Bay on Tortola. It was a long NE sail with good wind and nice weather. I took advantage of the auto pilot that I thought I would never trust. It worked extremely well and made a believer out of me. We arrived at Trellis Bay at noon and took a buoy. A dingy ride brought us to the town of Trellis which included an assortment of gift and clothing shops, a ciber cafe, and a grocery market. The area near the beach included some interesting art work but the art gallery was closed. Bob and I stopped at the bar for a drink while the ladies walked along a deserted portion of the beach. The girls returned to the boat while Bob and I scouted the two restaurants in the area. We decided on the Last Resort and returned there  for a pleasant meal. After that we returned to the boat and did some star gazing before going to bed.

Sunday 1/10

    Breakfast was a creation of Bob's called Eggs in Purgatory. It consisted of eggs poached in a red marinara sauce. We all decided this recipe was a keeper. We waited out a rain shower before motoring to Monkey Point on the north side of Tortola. This location was recommended to us as a pleasant day anchorage by Clare before we began our trip. We snorkeled there until lunch time. Bob has been looking for a lobster to capture with his snare. He found one here but it got away when Bob had to surface for air. He said if he was swimming with scuba gear the lobster would be in our pot. But with snorkel gear the lobster had the advantage. No lobster dinner tonight. After lunch we motored back to Marina Cay which is located across the bay from Trellis. We stayed the rest of the day and overnight here.

Monday 1/11

    There was very little wind so we motored to the Dog Islands to snorkel. Alice and I took the dingy to a beach near the west end of George Dog island. There was good snorkeling on the north side of the beach and Alice took pictures of the boat and plant life there. After lunch we moved to Great Dog and snorkeled there. From there we sailed to Leverik bay. Took on water and ice (free with mooring ), and settled in for the evening . Dinner was pizza made on the fantail grill. These personal sized pizzas were made with tortias as the base and it was a two man operation. I manned the grill while Bob prepared the pizzas. They came out perfect with a crispy base and nicely melted cheese on top. Another recipe to keep.

Tuesday 1/12

    In the morning we cruised around the North Sound to look over the facilities at the Bitter End resort and Sab Island. There were many large motor yachts anchored there and it appeared that this was the port of choice for them. Perhaps a 60 foot motor yacht has no need of free water and ice. We sailed out of North Sound and snorkeled a while at the north tip of Virgin Gorda and then sailed down wind to Yacht Harbor. This is a large and very busy marina located at Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda. However we were able to tie up at a pier while we shopped for groceries and had lunch in town. When we left, we continued the down wind sail all the way to Cooper island. We passed by the Baths because there was not enough time to fit in a stop there. We settled in for the night at Cooper and played cards after dinner until bed time.

Wednesday 1/13

    We set sail in the morning for Benures Bay on Norman Island. This was a very peaceful place to anchor so we stayed through the afternoon snorkeling and relaxing. Then we sailed to the north harbor of Peter Island. We moored here for the night and made reservations at the Oceans 7 restaurant for our fair well dinner. We would have to pack tonight in order to leave early in the morning to return the boat and make our ferry connections. After dinner we talked with the owner and he showed us the dance floor complete with moving colored lights. We told him to leave the lights on and we began to dance to the music. It was fun even for me and we were all sorry to leave. As we boarded the dingy to return to the boat, it began to sink in that our time in the islands was drawing to an end. Back at the boat, we got everything ready for the busy day tomorrow.

Thursday 1/14

    We were up early and after a quick breakfast we motored across St Francis Straight to Road Harbor on Tortola. We had to stop at a fueling dock to fill our fuel tank before returning the boat. While we were there it began to rain and a beautiful rainbow formed an arc over the harbor. It looked like the end of the rainbow was across the harbor at the marina where we were heading. As we watched a second rainbow formed offset from the first one. It was a spectacular site and we saw it as a fitting end to a wonderful week of sailing. We used the radio to contact the marina for directions to a pier. We set our bumpers on the port side as directed but had to back the boat into the pier in the rain. This was another first for me but it went well except for getting very wet in the process. Clare came out to check in the boat and Bob called for a taxi for the ride to the ferry to St John. After our good byes, Alice and I had about two hours to kill before our ferry left for St Thomas. We took a cab into Road Town and left our luggage at the ferry terminal. We walked around town realizing the last time we were here was exactly 36 years ago on our tenth anniversary. We found a restaurant that served a great buffet for $15. We took our time and ate enough to take us through the rest of the day. The ferry ride to St Thomas was pleasant  and on time. There were no problems with customs and we were soon on our way to the airport. Our plane was on time and we arrived back at Tampa at midnight. By 1 AM we were at Lynn and Rosemary's house in Sarasota where a bed was waiting for us. It was a long day of travel for us beginning with our sail boat ride, 2 cabs, a ferry, 2 planes, and ending in our own car. Reflecting on all the places we went and all that we did in the last 10 days, we have to thank God for a safe return from an exciting adventure.

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  Sail logs: 1974 1994 1995 1998 2001 2010
  Harvey Gamage
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First Virgin Island Trip (1974)
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