January adventures, Dingy goes to rehab and more…

We picked up Kristen’s brother Mike and her cousin Natalie by sailing to Lindbergh Bay, which indeed is named for Charles Lindbergh. Originally called Mosquito Bay it was renamed in Lindbergh’s honor in 1928 after he made an appearance there, flying non other than the Spirit of St Louis. With that bit of trivia out of the way, I’ll get on with the story. Lindbergh Bay is beautiful and well protected for the most part, full of sea turtles, rays and other fish, a great stop. It’s also located directly next to the main airport. We arrived a couple hours early, had lunch and sorted out the best spot to beach Dingy in order to pick up our guests. We saw their flight come in and soon were in contact via cell phone. It worked out great, they made a right turn out of the terminal, walked about 300 yards, and I scooped them up with Dingy.

View at dinner

We headed out pretty much right away as it was late afternoon and we wanted to get back to our home-base in Christmas Cove. Had an uneventful trip back although we stopped in Benner Bay to grab supplies and arrived in Christmas Cove as it was getting dark. I really try to be anchored or moored by 5 at the latest, as it gets dark at 6. We lucked out and made it just in time to enjoy a great sunset and dinner. The next day we headed over to St John and Francis Bay, one of our favorite spots. The guests were dying to get to the BVI’s, why I’m not sure, apparently someone had told them that Tortola was great. Problem is that Tortola is a decent sized island with many places to go. It’s a bit akin to saying Oregon is a great place to go. Anywho we agreed to do New Years Eve in Tortola somewhere, we weren’t really sure where.

Pelican Francis Bay

We were snorkeling and hanging out in Francis Bay on the 31st  when I realized it was getting late in the day. If we were going to get through the whole customs deal and find a spot we would need to leave right away. Needless to say by the time we got out of Francis Bay, the window had closed and we had to go with plan B.

Artist in Coral Harbor

Plan B was to go to Coral Harbor on the other side of St John. A fun little town with many artists and boaters making this their permanent residence. Less touristy than a lot of the USVI, Coral Harbor is also the home of Skinny Legs, a world famous burger joint that we had discovered in a previous visit. I figured it would be a good bet for New Years as they always have live music and the crowd can be unique and special to say the least.

New Years was a blast, Skinny Legs did not disappoint with all the artists, hippies, eccentrics and saltwater cowboys partying well into the new year.

The next day we headed to Great and Little Lameshure Bays that aren’t far away from Coral Harbor. These bays are beautiful and teeming with wildlife, both above and below the water. Feral goats and donkeys, mongoose and wild island chickens dot the shores. Huge rays, tarpon and a plethora of others fill the bays.

Ruins in Little Lameshure, the mothership is the boat seen through the window

There are also some ruins to boot, as well as some decent hiking. The weather was a bit rough, we had planned on heading out to the BVI’s the next day but I thought better of it as I had a couple landlubbers on board.

When the weather finally cleared we headed for Jost Van Dyke, yes named for the pirate, in the BVI’s. A small island with a population of a couple hundred, I had read that customs was a breeze and the town was laid back. We grabbed a mooring in Great Harbor and I used Dingy to head in and do Customs clearance. In the BVI’s the captain can clear everyone in so it’s a bit easier than the US. It was easy, I didn’t know where Mike or Natalie was born, one of the questions on the paperwork, so I made it up. Not to worry, the gal glanced at the forms and I paid the few bucks to clear in and was on my way. The town of Jost Van Dyke is great, a perfect vision of laid-back tropical paradise. Made up of about a dozen restaurants and shops it’s quaint and fun. At least it was until I saw the prices… Egads, you couldn’t eat for less than about $20 a person and that’s not fancy fare!

Hammock in the sun

Most of the boaters that stop in here are chartering their boat. They come down with some friends, split the $4k a week boat rental and party it up. They each bring a thousand dollars spending money and make sure they eat and drink it all before they head back to their dreary lives. Great for them, but not so much when you are on a super econo budget of less than a grand a month. I will say this, they make for great entertainment as they are mostly amateur sailors who’s boat handling skills are a bit suspect. When you combine that with hot sun, a little booze, and a well crowded anchorage it can be quite the show as they try to get anchored. Dingy’s being sucked under boats, lines snarled in props and half a million dollar sailboats bashing into each other on too close of quarters are a few of the joyous things I’ve been present to enjoy.

Very shy crab

Makeshift mount to get the pic of shy crab

We hung out until the next day then headed out. The plan was to stop for a dip at the beautiful Green Cay, make it to Marina Cay for lunch at Pusser’s and then to the Bight in the Norman Islands for dinner at the infamous Willie T. This in turn would put us close enough to St Thomas to get our guests on their afternoon flight.

Plans are great, but you only have so many hours in the day, so after a great swim in Green Cay and a very lengthly lunch in Marina Cay we had no choice but to put in to Fat Hogs Bay on Tortola to spend the night. As this put us too far out to make it to the airport in time it was decide that Mike and Natalie would take the high speed ferry out of Road Town the next morning. The plan worked without a hitch and they rode the ferry back to St Thomas and their flight as we waited out a little squall that had popped up.

Later that day we made our way back over to St John, smooth sailing until after we came through the Narrows. Huge ground swell made for an exciting ride around the north side of St John, it wasn’t really that rough on the boat as the waves were so big and smooth we glided up and down them, but it was a bit disconcerting. We tried to get into Cruz Bay to get fuel and water but there was a ferry on the dock and a few other boats waiting so we dropped anchor in the 3 hour waiting area and went shore to get a snack.

We ran into the guys from St Croix that had helped us rescue Dingy, they were moored right around the corner in Caneel Bay and said that they had been there for a while and were enjoying it. As it was getting late we stayed there as well but it was a little rolly for our boat. The next day we got up early and grabbed fuel and water in Cruz Bay, then headed to our little hideout in Christmas Cove. We had some maintenance on the boat to do and Dingy had been looking a bit lopsided and was needing air several times a day.

When we got to Christmas Cove it was very crowded, in fact not one mooring was available, I could see a couple local day sail boats on moorings so we circled about until one opened up.

Cat at sunset Christmas Cove

The first item that needed attention was Dingy, somehow he had managed to ingest water into his starboard pontoon while it contained air pressure. How this is even physically possible is beyond my scope of understanding. We ran Dingy up onto the beach and drained the starboard side chamber of air and then I used a makeshift pump I had concocted out of various items to suck out the water. I could not believe how much water there was, probably close to 20 gallons. After this I pumped about a quart of Slime into that side and re-inflated.  After doing that, we had to roll Dingy around on the beach to distribute the Slime and I noticed some blistering on the starboard rear bottom corner. I looked a bit closer and saw that the rubber was delaminating off the cloth, not a good sign.

I hypothesized that when Dingy got low on air and was being towed, the pumping action must be drawing water into the chamber little by little. At this point I doubted that the Slime would do the trick but had no other options.

On our way back to the mothership we spotted a very similar looking boat to ours, intrigued we motored up and noticed the boat was from Portland! How weird is that, only 49 of these boats built and one from Portland Oregon ends up with us halfway around the world. We introduced ourselves and invited them over for snacks that evening. It was great chatting with them, they were retired and had set off from Portland about a year ago. They had quite an adventure, sailing down the west coast and through the Panama Canal and now to the USVI. They invited us over to their boat the following day and wow! They had completely restored the boat to better than new, I can’t even tell you how clean, nice, and tastefully modified their boat was. They were to be spending years on it and figured it might as well be a nice place to stay. They did most all of the work themselves including a re-power when the original engine gave up the ghost in Mexico. The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail amazed me, some of the nicest handiwork I have seen in a long time.

Dingy checks into rehab….

Now as I’m sure you remember Dingy has been a bit of a challenge at times. Notwithstanding his almost successful escape attempt, he’s exhibited various self destructive and antisocial vices. I’ll make a quick list here;

Attempting to eat his own painter(line), loosing copious amounts of air daily, drinking premix late at night when he’s not even running, somehow leaking water into the passenger compartment, quitting at the most inopportune of moments, riding sideways as he’s being towed, inappropriate physical contact with other dingy’s and boats whilst being at dock, pathological lying(I’m dating that super yacht etc) and finally the grand finale of attempting to sink himself by sucking water into his air chambers.

One of Dingy's "girlfriends", such a liar!

It was clear that drastic measures and perhaps even surgery would be necessary to cure all his malady’s.

I purchased the necessary supplies and lured Dingy to the side of the mothership with promises of expensive 2 stroke oil and high-test gasoline. Then when the moment was right, snatched him out of the water with the sheet for the foresail and hoisted him onto the deck. I quickly determined he would need surgery in the form of a strategic incision to drain the water. After that he was flipped over, scrubbed clean and then left to dry for a day. The next day I removed the blistered rubber and cut various patches out of the proper material, then sanded and prepped all of the affected area. I then bonded all the patches into place and let him sit for another day and cure. I hoped that Dingy would appreciate all the hard work and care I had provided for him and would not return to his evil ways once he was back in the water.

The Spanish Virgins!

View from the cockpit sunset Ensenada Honda

Shipwreck St Thomas

Our new friends from Portland had stopped over in the Spanish Virgins off of Puerto Rico on their way to the USVI’s and gave it glowing reviews. They said that we had to check it out so we decided that would be our next destination.

We headed out of Christmas Cove and headed to Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas where we would spend the night. It’s a good jumping off point to get to the Spanish Virgins in the early afternoon as we did not want to negotiate the reef strewn waters around Culebra with anything but good light. That evening before we left St Thomas I roamed about in Dingy and shot several wrecked and sunken boats, I’ve been shooting these poor unfortunates as we come across them and am planning to do something interesting with the photo’s. The next morning we headed over to Crown Bay Marina to top off on fuel and water. This is a very fancy marina, full service with a fancy grocery store, chandlery and more. Big power yachts lurk about with names such as “Don’t tell the Missus”, Lady Di, Milk and Honey, bla, bla, bla. I hadn’t realized that the yacht Playpen was at the fuel dock as I made my initial approach, they were at the far end so I could have nosed in no worries. However my boat backs up kind of like an elephant and I didn’t want to back out after the fact. So I pulled a nice little Captain Ron and parallel parked the mothership at a fair bit of speed, even did the wheel spinning action. There was some concern on the dock that involved some people in fancy little outfits jumping about but in the end it was picture perfect.

Trumpet fish is Culebra

The wind was straight off the stern as we headed to Culebra and I should have made a couple broad reaches but instead elected to run straight downwind. The genoa kept slapping around as the wind shifted and it wasn’t a great sail. It got pretty rough about an hour and half out, enough that the first mate had to do a little purging. Once we got to the harbor entrance of Ensenada Honda it calmed down and we carefully picked our way through the channel markers and dropped anchor fairly close to the town dock in about 20ft of water. We had just beat a weather front in and even though we were in a very protected harbor it blew pretty darn hard that first night. I saw gusts well into the mid 30 knot range and was up most of the night making sure that the ground tackle was holding. About 4am I figured if it had held that long it would be ok and I got a little shut eye.


Defending his tree Culebra


Next all about Culebra! It’s a great place!

Theatre in Culebra

Theatre in Culebra

This charming little theatre (the one and only) in Culebra is run by the library. Wholly a private affair, there is no public funding, they show four movies a week. Wednesday eve is independant film night, Friday eve’s are contempory films shown in English with Spanish subtitles, Saturdays at 1 pm is family movie time and Saturday eve is Spanish film with english subtitle. The theatre is located in one of the two trailers that makes up the library and is quite splendid with proper theater seating and decor donated by a large commercial cinema when they remodeled. The screen is a large plasma television and viewing the films is a pleasant and intimate experience. Most features run $3 although occasionally a benevolent benefactor in town rents out the whole place and gives free admittance. We saw the independent film, Born into Brothels last night which I had never seen. If you have not yet viewed it I highly recommend this documentary, well worth the 84 minutes of your life to experience.