Saturday, June 27, 2015

BVIs to Statia to St. Kitts



     We didn’t stay long enough in the British Virgin Islands to even create a blog post.  The wind turned favorable for a trip over to the other islands so we took it.  We skipped St. Martin and aimed toward St. Kitts in hopes to gain a better point of sail.  Unfortunately it was tough for our boat to sail so we motor-sailed through the night.  We took a lot of water over the bow and the wave action caused some sea sickness (even with my medication).  The sailing was uncomfortable for all so we decided to cut our trip by about 4 hours and picked up a mooring in St. Eustatia.  The harbor had quite a roll to it so we spent another hour putting out a stern anchor to bring the bow into waves.  This worked but we decided not to stay and headed to St. Kitts the next morning.  

     In St. Kitts we stayed in the marina in Basseterre to check in and recover from our crazy trip over.  The price was more than reasonable.  Father’s Day was quiet in town and not much open.  The next day a cruise ship came into port and it was like a different city with everything open and people everywhere.  We did a lot of walking through town and spent time buying produce from local vendors.  We noticed a lot of Bob Marley merchandise.  Pretty much the only image on any person living or dead on any article of clothing was Bob Marley.  

     We had to make another trip to the dentist and found a great one a short walk from the marina.  The filling cost us $100 E.C. here (approximately $37.00 U.S.).  Wow!

A cruise ship came into port each day while we were staying at the marina so the town of Basseterre stayed busy from sun up to sun down.  We decided to travel by bus to the other side of the island.  The buses are really minivans that are painted cool colors with artistic spray painted names above the bumpers.  There were some very unusual bus names like Hulk, The Equalizer, Sas, Scooby Doo, etc. It was like a roller coaster ride.  Lots of fast ups and downs with a few stops.  When we arrived in Dieppe Bay there wasn’t much going on.  A few houses had people and kids in front of them and the beach was brownish black sand with a lot of seaweed.  

     We found a small trailer, Linda’s Snack Shack where we had cheeseburgers all around.  We walked down the road to catch a bus to the other side of the island.  We stood on the side of the road and waved our hands and they picked us up.  What an adventure!


     Next stop Nevis.




Monday, June 15, 2015

U.S. Virgin Islands

First place we went was St. Thomas where we anchored in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie.  There weren’t any cruise ships in port so the place was slow and not a lot going on.  We took a  safari bus up the big hill to the library ($1 each!) but the library was closed so we walked around the mall and Kmart.  



Back at the boat we decided we had seen enough of Charlotte Amalie and headed toward Christmas Cove on the East end of the island.  In the cove we found a boat called Pizza Pi π.  Of course we had to try the pizza and found it rivals the pizza in NY and NJ.  Yummy!




Christmas cove has free moorings so we stayed for a few days to snorkel.  The coral is mostly dead but we did see some interesting fish.  The kids got to snorkel with a turtle for a while and were amazed at how long the turtle held it’s breath.  There we a lot of spiny sea urchins that made it difficult to get to shore except for a small patch of sand big enough to land the dinghy.  

Next stop was the next island over, St. John, where we anchored in Cruz Bay just in time to pick up the mail.  The computer just needed a new wire to connect the hard drive to the computer, Yay!  It is working again.  The dinghy motor is up and working again plus a little high pitched whine when we are cruising at low speed.  Just a little reminder for me each time we cruise around in it to watch out for coral heads.  We didn’t stay long in Cruz Bay because the spot to anchor is not big and for short term use only.  We came back the next day by dinghy to spend a full day at their library. The library system in the USVI is surprisingly big with a lot of books for the kids to read.  

We spent the next few days visiting the anchorages of St. John and the National Park.  We hiked to the petroglyphs, old school house, and the Annaberg Sugar Mill.  We attempted to snorkel the underwater trail at Trunk Bay but were inundated by small jelly fish.  Ugh!!  The coral looked like it was starting to grow back and become colorful but very slowly.  We found less jelly fish around the island near Leister Bay and saw more colorful fish including  a school of Yellow Jacks.  Salt pond was our last stop where we attempted to snorkel around Booby Rock but the water was too rough so we stayed near shore.  Samantha decided she would start taking the kayak around by herself with a parent near by just in case.  She and Nicholas have a great time near the beach with the kayak pretending it is their own ship.  They tie a rock to a line and use it as an anchor.  They move from one anchorage to the next (all of 5 feet) and have a blast jumping off their boat into the water to explore their new anchorage.  
Petroglyphs with mirror image in the water.

Annaberg Sugar Mill






The wind direction changed the next day to E so we took advantage and had a great sail all the way to St. Croix.  We applied for a permit to visit Buck Island Reef which took two days to get.  Part of the process was filling out an application then we had to bring it back with the boat registration to the park office so they could copy it.  
The Park Office was located in the Fort.

Chickens are Everywhere!


Buck Island was a nice spot to anchor.  We didn’t snorkel the underwater trail there because the wind was blowing and it was rough water on the other side of the island.  Instead we enjoyed the beach and snorkeling off the shore.  The sand was soft and made cool drip sand castles.  

We spent a day driving around in a rental car to see all of St. Croix.  We loved it there!  The whole island has a good feel to it. 
Art along the beach.

The most eastern part of the U.S.

Mangos from a nice local guy.
Mango! Mango! Mango!



Next stop is the British Virgin Islands. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Culebra and Culebrita

On our way to Culebra we stopped near Isla Palaminos and picked up a free mooring for the night. It was the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend so the locals were living it up and playing loud music.  It is hard not to dance when you hear the fun beat!
We left the next morning for a secluded anchorage just off the west coast of Culebra.  We snorkeled and found small fish, fairly good visability and decent soft corals.  Overall a good experience.
Next night we anchored near the small city in Culebra and enjoyed Zacos Tacos.  

On Culebrita we found a nice secluded anchorage with free day use moorings which we stayed on overnight without issue.  Paul and I were out in the dinghy checking out the coral to see where to snorkel whe I ran over some coral and bent the shaft on the dinghy motor.  Ugh!!!
Just when we thought our spending spree was over!

We hiked up to the ruins of the light house, hiked to the jacuzzi, and spent a lot of time at the white sandy beach.  By far this is our favorite place we have been to south of the Bahamas.

Not sure what we plan to do next but the wind looks like it is going to pick up so we will be spending a lot of time in the US and British Virgin Islands.




Fajardo, Puerto Rico


We were able to sail most of the way from Vieques to Fajardo but the wind kept changing directions so we fired up the engine towards the end of our trip.  We anchored near Isletta Marina and dinghied into Villa Marina.  The staff there were extremely friendly and let us keep the dinghy at their dock during the day.  We rented a car for two days and explored the island. Fun!
Our first stop was El Yunque National Rain Forest.  We hiked to the falls and enjoyed the sounds of the tree frogs and birds.  

The next day was full of shopping for food, clothes for our growing kids, boat parts and a new computer.  After all the excitement of shopping we visited Morro Castle and Castillo San Cristóbal.

The last day of running around was to the dentist for Nicholas.  

Overall our trip to land was full of expenses but hopefully that will be it for a while.  Next stop will be Culebra and Culebrita then onto the rest of the Virgin Islands. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cruising Vieques

The wind stayed light and we took advantage of it to motor-sail to the island of Vieques.  The island is considered part of Puerto Rico but also otherwise known as the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Vieques was used by the military to test explosives prior to 2006 therefore it has not been visited by many cruisers.

We started our visit anchoring off of Green Beach.  It rained the first two days so we didn't do much except catch leaks on the boat.  One bit of excitement was the exploding of our pump for the back head.  (Manual oporator induced). That required an afternoon of stinky mess and cleaning in a closed up boat.  Tough on the crew and the captain/maintenance guy.

The sun came out enough for us to attempt snorkeling on the reef near where we anchored.  The water was cloudy with visability of 10-15 feet.  The reef was mostly boulders and slabs of rock covered with a lot of soft corals.  There were some small fish but nothing worth getting the spear out for.  We visited the beach with brown sand and promptly were getting bitten by bugs so we didn't stay long.  

Next stop was the town of Esparanza.  It has one small grocery store where you can buy a few items, it was reasonably stocked.  Along our walk to the store we saw a lot of little cottages and restaurants, free range chickens and horses.  It makes me giggle when I say that, hee hee.  We came upon a big play park that the kids loved!  It had three different parks all in a different theme of colors surrounded by a small track and exercise equipment.  It was us and one other crushing couple taking advantage of the equipment.  

We left the island to cruise back to Puerto Rico to get Nicholas to the dentista for a lost filling that needs to be repaired.  That will be a whole new post with the comedy and errors of me attempting speak Spanish enough to get a filling replaced.  


Friday, May 15, 2015

Salinas

After being trapped by Gilligan's Island the wind finally died down enough for us to venture out again to travel east.  We left around 3 AM to take advantage of the nightly calm winds and had a pleasant trip all the way to Salinas.
When we arrived near 10 AM the harbor was packed with other sailboats.  We felt like we finally were catching up with the crowd.  When we woke this morning, though, most of the sailboats were gone, also taking advantage of the dying wind.  
We walked through the small town and found one of my new favorite places to go, the panaderia/bakery.  Yummy doughnuts again!

Gillian's Island

Here's the problem with going east along the coast of Puerto Rico.  We need to go east if we want to make it to see the rest of the Caribbean.  The trade winds always blow from the east making it very difficult to travel straight into the wind.  At night there is supposed to be a backing of the wind due the cooling of the land.  We have yet to experience this.
Ugh!
After leaving the safe harbor of La Paraguera we were thinking we would just try and go around to Gilligan's island.  The first 6-7 miles were 2-4 foot seas with the wind blowing 15-20 knots but with the reefed main we sailed along and thought, this isn't bad.
Then we came out from behind the reef and bashed into waves for the next 2 miles.  That doesn't sound like a lot but was rough on all of us all over again.  You would think we learned our lesson the first time.  To top it all off, the scariest part was when the seas were crashing around us, just off a rocky lee shore, with a lone fisherman in a small boat anchored near us, the motor died.  Paul quickly diagnosed it as air in the system and Nicholas and he fixed the problem within minutes.  

We safely anchored near Gilligan's Island and the Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa.  There is a ferry that brings guests from the resort over to Gilligan's Island so we decided to check it out.  It's a small place with lots of picnic benches and places to grill.  It is mostly mangroves and has nice white sand and clear water to swim in.  We all had fun swimming.

We also visited the resort for Mother's Day.  The food was good and the atmosphere was pleasant.  I couldn't have asked for a better treat.