date has finally arrived for the sailing trip to the Virgin Islands.
In addition to my cloths, I packed a dozen meat balls in sauce in a
cardboard box and placed the box in the freezer over night. I left
for JFK airport at 5:30 AM and boarded the plane at 7:30 AM. Bob and
Jim arrived shortly after and their assigned seats were right next to
me! This seems like a good omen. We arrived at St. Thomas at 1 PM and
Lynn arrived at 2:30 PM. We traveled to Red Hook by cab and met Dave
from Island Yachts. He showed us aboard Hawk Spirit while Sherry and
Linda took care of the paper work. We also met Skip who I believe is
one of the owners of Island Yachts. We bought groceries and after
loading them on board, we went to dinner at Duffy's Heart Beat
restaurant. Jim, Lynn and Bob lit up cigars which was the start of a
routine that would repeat almost every evening, and we all relaxed
under the stars before going to bed on the boat.
2/25 (Ash Wednesday)
were up by 7 AM and by 10 had taken care of everything in preparation
for departure. We had many questions about the rigging which was
complicated by the addition of a sta-sail in addition to the main and
Jenny jib. Dave answered all our questions in a 1 hour checkout
session on the boat. We left Red Hook at noon and headed for the
north shore of St. John.
was not much wind so we took advantage of the opportunity to shake
down the rigging. We set all the sails and then took them down and
motored to Leinster Bay. We managed to catch a vacant buoy and
decided to stay here over night. We had sandwiches for lunch and then
took the dingy to Water Lemon Cay. We snorkeled all the way around
the cay and became reacquainted with the beautiful under water
spectacle that makes the Virgin Islands so special. Swimming through
a giant school of neon fish, observing the panorama of fan, brain,
and antler coral, and gazing at the variety of colorful fish, is a
returning to the boat, Lynn and I took a short swim to investigate
the coral near the boat. We should have stayed longer because right
after we got back, 2 manta rays were seen by other swimmers near the
took the dingy to the nearby ruins of a 18th century sugar mill. It
was a short hike to the Annaberg ruins from the rocky beach. We
finally returned to the boat and had a wonderful meal of vegy cheese
burgers and franks cooked on our fantail grill. Drinks included beer,
wine, and Manhattans made by Jim. Dinner was served on the fantail,
cigars were lit, and a philosophical discussion ensued under a
beautiful star lit night.
left Leinster bay at 9 AM for West End, Tortola where we cleared
customs and arranged to spend 5 days in the BVI. This took about an
hour and after replenishing our supplies of food and ice, we set sail
for the eastern Virgin Islands in the BVI. The wind reverted to the
normal easterly direction. At about 2 PM, a solar eclipse began and
lasted for over an hour. An earry darkness prevailed when the eclipse
reached its peak of 90% coverage. We headed for Peter Island but got
there just after the last buoy was taken. Rather than anchor out we
took a space at the dock and connected to the pier services. Peter
Island is a first class resort and marina. We hiked to Dead Mans Cove
and found the snorkeling good there. Rumor has it that the snorkeling
at the other coves is even better. We may try them tomorrow.
we were in West End, Jim picked up a piece of blue cheese. We enjoyed
it with crackers and cocktails while I prepared the pasta and
meatballs that I brought from NJ. After taking showers, the rest of
the evening was spent casually with drinks and cigars at the
2/27 (Lynn’s Birthday)
left Peter Island at 11 AM and headed out to sea. Lynn wanted to see
what it was like in the open ocean. We found the sea a bit rougher
but it was a beautiful day and excellent sailing. As we reentered
Francis Drake Passage, we noticed a spectacular surf pounding the
northern shore of the islands. When we got to the yacht harbor at
Virgin Gorda, the powerful surf caused heavy turbulence in the
channel entrance to the harbor. We made it into the harbor and tied
up at a dock for the night. We jumped in a cab with our snorkeling
gear and headed for the Baths and some of the best snorkeling in the
islands. When we got there, we found the normally crowded beach
deserted. There were no boats anchored at the buoys either. The
reason was immediately apparent. The high surf made snorkeling
treacherous if not impossible. We were disappointed but decided to
hike along the shore to Devil's Beach. The winding path through caves
and around giant boulders was an adventure in itself. The thunderous
surf came crashing into the caves and gave a spectacular display of
natures power as it pounded the giant boulders and sent fountains of
spray in the air. We got wet but it was exciting to see the surf so
close up. After the hike, we had a drink at the Mad Dog Saloon and
then returned to the marina.
took the recommendation of a woman we talked to on the pier and ate
at the Old Yard Inn. It was an excellent meal after which we retired
for the night.
surf had subsided somewhat over night. We left the yacht harbor after
replenishing our food, and motored back to the Baths to try
snorkeling again. We hooked a buoy and were able to swim in to shore
from the boat. The water was stirred up though and the snorkeling was
still not very good. We had lunch and set sail for Gorda Sound. It
was a great sail and we made port and took a buoy just as the storm
clouds rolled in. We took the dingy to shore at Leverick Bay and had
Pain Killers at Pusser's. After returning to the boat, I made
linguini and red clam sauce from a recipe that Alice gave me. It
turned out well and we all enjoyed our fill with plenty of red wine.
We had a long discussion after dinner that covered everything from
health issues to work place philosophy. After clearing the table, we
played several hands of poker using our community change. After all
was said and done, we threw the coins back in a heap and retired for
was eggs and sausage today. After breakfast we took the dingy to
Mosquito Island and snorkeled at the reef there. The beach was
beautiful and we met several people from other boats there. After
snorkeling, we returned to our boat and set sail for Marina Cay on
Tortola. It was a great sail with part of it down wind. After we were
secured at a mooring, a young lady pulled alongside in a dingy. Her
name was Anouk and she was selling costume jewelry from her dingy.
She was French Canadian and she told us about the snorkeling in the
bay. We bought some of her merchandise and she was on her way to the
other boats in the harbor. Dinner was cheeseburgers and franks on the
grill. After that we played cards.
snorkeled until 10:30 and then replenished our fresh water supply.
Our next destination was Norman Island and we arrived at the Treasure
Island caves at 1:30 PM. The water was clear and we enjoyed some of
the best snorkeling of the trip here. While climbing in one of the
caves, I stepped on a sea urchin and got 3 spines in the heal of my
foot. They penetrated right through the heavy rubber heels of my
flippers but at least it kept them from going in very deep. After
snorkeling, we motored into the Bight and I was surprised to see
rental buoys here. After the boat was secured, Bob and Lynn dug the
spines out of my heel with a needle and tweezers.
noticed another establishment on the beach that was not here the last
time I was here. We took the dingy over and discovered a
restaurant/bar called Billy Bones. It was built and opened in January
by the people who own Norman Island. We had rum drinks at the bar,
and learned that the floating restaurant, the William Thorntan, wad
destroyed in the last hurricane but was since replaced. We made
dinner reservations by radio earlier in the afternoon. Although it
was quite different from what I remember, we had a good meal there
and the atmosphere was very lively and friendly with lots of boaters
out for a good time.
sailed out of the Bight for Cruz Bay to reenter the US and clear
customs. Our 5 day stay in the BVI was complete but we could have
used one more day to sail to Jost Van Dyke but we agreed to skip that
port rather than try to deal with customs to extend our stay in the
BVI. Entering and anchoring in Cruz Bay is always an adventure
because of the heavy barge and ferry traffic in and out of the
harbor. We managed well though, and spent most of the day on shore.
After taking care of customs, we all made phone calls and then had a
good lunch at Pussers. We left Cruz Bay at 3 PM and sailed back to
Red Hook so Lynn could get an early start to the airport in the
morning to catch his 10 AM flight. We had time to replenish our
supplies and have a light dinner at Duffy’s.
said our good byes to Lynn and left him on the pier where he got a
cab to the airport. We set sail back to St. John and anchored in
Trunk Bay. This is a beautiful beach and very popular. There is a
snorkel trail here with plaques that identify the coral and different
types of fish. We snorkeled until noon time and then returned to the
boat for lunch. After lunch, we motored to Maho Bay where we expected
to meet Bob and Carol Ann Faucett. We snorkeled for a while and
noticed that a group of pelicans were herding a school of fish and
getting them to swim back and forth in the bay. They really had the
fish spooked and gave them no rest. A ray was spotted from the beach
and a crowd traced his progress along the shore.
and Carol Ann showed up and we took them out to the boat to show them
around. We had a nice visit and agreed to try to meet at Coral Bay
tomorrow. Bob said they were negotiating to buy a house above Fish
Bay on St. John and were confident that they would close soon. Bob
drove us to the camp store at Maho Bay camp site. We bought a few
items and then walked back down to the beach.
left Maho Bay for Coral Bay which was a long up wind sail. We motored
most of the way and stopped at Haulover Bay to snorkel before getting
to Coral Bay.
anchored in Coral Bay around 3 PM. Coral Bay has an odd mix of people
and establishments. There are a lot of “drop outs” here and very
free spirits. They give the place an interesting aura that has a 60’s
Woodstock kind of feel to it. We found the restaurant/bar/gift shop
that used to be Don Carlos and had a drink. After looking at the menu
and talking to some of the people there, we were tempted to try
dinner there. Since we had chicken that had to be cooked, we returned
to the boat. The chicken smelled a little ripe and that made up our
minds for us. We tossed it over the side and headed for the beach for
dinner. The dinner turned out to be excellent and would hold its own
at any 5 star restaurant. The chef turned out to be trained at the
Culinary Institute in NY.
left Coral Bay and sailed around Ram’s Head to Salt Pond Bay. Bob
and Jim went for a walk while I snorkeled the east end of the bay. It
was our last day and very relaxing. As we were doing our thing,
another sail boat sailed around and around the bay. A nice looking
young lady in a thong bikini was busily sailing the boat while
another man filmed her. Soon she took off the top of her bathing suit
and the filming continued. At that point, we got out the field
glasses and enjoyed the show too.
the weather report for tomorrow did not sound good, we decided to
return to Red Hook tonight to avoid any delays tomorrow when we had
to catch our plane. We pulled into Red Hook at 4 PM and had a repeat
meal of Linguini and Clam sauce. After dinner, we began to pack our
things for the trip home tomorrow.
breakfast, we called Island Yachts on the radio and prepared to bring
Hawk Spirit into the pier. We off-loaded our gear and washed down the
boat with fresh water. By 9 AM we were on our way to Charlotte
Amalie to do some last minute shopping before going to the airport.
At the airport, we cleared customs and took off on time for JFK. The
flight was uneventful.
was good to get home to Alice and the trip is already taking on the
quality of a pleasant dream with memories that will linger. Alas life
goes on with its harsh realities. In the 12 days that I was gone, one
good friend lost his job, and another died of heart failure. I am
thankful for one more pleasant adventure in paradise.