Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aquarius

That's Carl and Judy's catamaran,  they don't arrive till January, but as we wandered the boat yard we noticed that they have really let poor Aquarius down as they are not here in her hour of need. Looks to us like she has had quite an affair since they left and is now giving birth. They've left her too long on land and she has defected and a  little land cruiser is the result. Carl and Judy tsk! tsk! Get down here and regain some control.

3000 sq ft of Nylon

That's our spinaker!  Those sailing picures with the large colourful sail billowing out in front of the boat... that's a spinaker and we didn't even realize that we had one until we were told to come get our spinnaker out of storage. Its been in the hold for 2 years, so we figured we should at least take a look. Today we spread it out on the grass at the Yacht harbour and discovered its in great shape and even has a dousing sock ( designed to make pulling it in easy ) not sure if we'll ever get to use it, as it is only good in under 10 Knots of wind and its usually at least 15 knots here and it really takes a few few strong guys ( or I mean persons) to control it, but it's ours and worth about $6000.00 ( so we'll keep it for now)

Christmas in the Islands



Christmas festivities are non stop and the music plays from early morning to late at night. We still haven't quite gotten used to Steel Drum Christmas Carols, but they grow on you and as we work on our boat high and dry in the boat yard half a mile away, the constant music permeats the air from all directions and we find ourselves rocking to the steel drum beat of Jingle Bells.  Last night there was a Christmas parade down the main drag of Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. The pick up trucks were decorated from front to rear with Christmas lights and huge speakers filled the back and belted out... Guess what, steel drum Christmas Carols! The kids were dressed in red and white and the music is just awesome. The warm rain was pelting down and not a soul seemed to care, including us.


The Bath & Turtle rendevous dockside bar hosted a huge Christmas party for the kids this afternoon and of course Santa visited with gifts from another fully packed pick-up truck, for every kid. The rum flowed with 2-4-1 drinks and again the music was awesome and never seems to stop. Pine trees are decorated with twinkling lights right next to the palm trees, and other than the tropical temperatures, it's just like Christmas at home, but without our "kids" Sadie, Owen, Ben and Nick, who we will really miss this year. Then memories of OUR own kids and Christmas's past, flood to mind like the surf pounding beside us on shore and we feel nostalgic and sentimental again. Next year we will stay in the far frozen north until Santa comes and goes before we spread our Snow Bird wings. (You know, you gotta feel sorry for Santa as he only gets to come once a year, and that is down a chimney!) Gotta go -- as Sue is confiscating my mouse!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today we saved over $1500.00

We were told by our surveyor and by the boat yard here and a rigger last year that we had a severe crack in our forestay plate, which is a large stainless plate that houses the anchor rollers and which our forestay ( jib) roller furling attaches to. If it breaks and the forestay comes down it would probably take our mast with it. Ouch! and very expensive. Last year we were extra cautious and stopped using the jib, but figured we had to bite the bullet this year and get it fixed, so we loosened off the standing rigging and disconnected the roller furling to get the plate off. Gord decided to do a thorough cleaning to see how bad it was, and Guess what ?We have a shiney clean forestay plate with No sign of any crack. It was surface rust and it disappeared with a little acid and a wire brush.

The word BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Thousand.
This time we got lucky

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wow! there she is waiting for us!





It's gorgeous and warm at Virgin Gorda Yacht harbour and Ocean Wings has weathered the summer hurricane season amazingly. The decks are clean, all the hatch covers in place and the dinghy still wrapped and protected

 .
Bimini on 1st, so we have a little shade and a cool spot to eat our lunch as we look out over the harbour and the boat yard. Now she's ready for her new coat of bottom paint. Thank you to Peter and Thai for recommending "On & Off"  we tried it on our boot stripe and I've never seen it so clean and shiny.

Now comes the cleaning , organizing and Gords list that makes sure we're safe, secure and trouble free, or as trouble free as a boat could possible be.

In the meantime we're staying at Fiscers Cove, our little BVI haven and respite from boat drudge.


Launch Day hurry up.

Ferry to Virgin Gorda

After a sleep-in and finally, a relaxing couple of hours in the sun by the pool, we head to the Ferry with all that overweight luggage in tow. No weight restrictions this trip.


BUT, there should have been. There were only about 25 people on the small Ferry to Virgin Gorda, but the luggage and boxes were unreal! We watched as they loaded more and more and more, loading the whole deck filling the bow, and even putting large boxed TV’s on the bow against the rail, and a Christmas wrapped, cement mixer!

I’d like to say we took off, but no such luck...you just can’t put that much weight right on the nose and expect the boat to go anywhere.

We revved and we bounced and we pitched up and down with spray 5 feet high and half way back on deck, and we yawed sideways, but we just didn’t get anywhere.

So, move all the passengers to a big pile at the far back of the boat. Still no joy!

So, move the boxes to the back as well, squishing the passengers in. Still no joy!

Then the crew got the wrenches out, ran back and forth and started adjusting the trim tabs, all the while assuring us that’s its really OK, the boat is fine, they will get us there, But, frantically pointing out that the life jackets are in the bin behind us. Gord tells the first mate that is exactly what the Crew of the Titanic said to the passengers. We are an hour late, it is getting dark and raining now. Two other Ferries pass us on each side and their wakes, as they race by, wobbles us severely and we furtively glanced back at the orange life jackets and planned our escape.

Good news, we pounded our way up the Drake passage in stormy, 6 foot waves for another two hours but it was fine, we did get there, eventually, and we didn’t need the life jackets. It was a bumpy, squishy, rough ride and we arrived in teeming rain to a muddy Customs/Immigration boatyard where it took 3 pick-up trucks to unload the small Ferry.

Welcome to the Islands Mon!

Ft. Lauderdale Dec 4-7, 2011

Now that we are free of Mr Caddie, we have a few hours before The Nissan owner arrives so we are heading to Indiantown to drop in on Peter and Thai and get our first look at their trawler. Its a busy marina and we can't believe its sooooo far inland on the canal. But safe from bad surf for sure.It's a beauty little trawler and we are still working on getting them to ship it to the BVI's where you can jump off the back of the boat into turquoise water with no worries about aligators.



Now for the shopping and off to Sailorman Ltd., that wonderful consignment store that all cheap sailors love, where we find one of the elusive rollers for our sail track that we needed. Better than none at all, and we’ll keep looking for the 2nd one. Then we grab ourselves some “Keen” walking sandals and on to the computer stores to get a Netbook, as the new Tablet we just bought does have the USB port to plug in our Magic Jack Internet Phone, but no support to run it. Damn.


Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle as we repack every bag to it’s maximum, 3 duffels, a large box with our omni-directional 24” TV antenna and 2 wheeled carry-ons stuffed with our boat electronics.

Not one ounce to spare in any bag. So, No More Shopping.

We’re very proud of ourselves and patting each other on the back regarding our wonderful packing job as we head to the airport on the next leg of our adventure.

I’m dropped, along with all the luggage, at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport Departures and Gord heads to return the rental car.

Spirit Air personnel take one look at the box and go “no, no, no, we don’t take boxes in December”. What! I checked the website and have pre-paid the box. What now? We’re a long way from home and no one to leave a big box with.Yikes! They suggest buying a big suitcase to put it in, or jumping in a cab and finding a Fed Ex office, where Fed Ex will probably send it back to load on our flight. I plead a little and explain to the nice young Spirit clerk that their web site says no boxes on International flights only. Ft. Lauderdale, US to St. Thomas, US is domestic. He finally agrees, and because it was prepaid he lets me check it through. Problem solved before Gord is even back from the rental agency. (American Airlines would have cost us over $400.00 more for the same flight!)

St. Thomas here we come!

The flight was great except for the big, loud, gabby guy, sitting next to Gord, that was a chef on the Bounty, 3-masted Schooner, and we landed after 2-1/2 hours to 82 degrees and sunshine. A taxi driver wants $38 to drive us from the Airport, literally around the corner, to our Hotel! Gord tells him that he thought all the Pirates died over 200 years ago here! So Gord carries and drags all 5 bags and the 45 lb box, to find out that we are on the second floor – with no elevator – of course!

Our next trek is over to Tickles Dockside Restaurant about 2 miles away, where we hook up with our old friend/mechanic Joe, and his new girl Jennifer, for dinner. It’s so great to be back.

Heading South Dec 2-4, 2011

Well, we are on our way to the sunny south and hope our “Ocean Wings” is where we left her, and in one piece on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

I'm a little sad to be leaving home before Christmas, I'll miss or Sadie and Owen. We've had such fun this summer, at the cottage, taking her to sports classes and helping install their family swimming pool. My Christmas wish will be that they can come visit us for a few weeks this winter. Santa... bring me my wish.
Sadie and Owen

Our little pirate






We are transporting two “Driveaway” cars down this time, Gord in a Cadillac and me in a Nissan. So many things happening last minute, that packing consisted of throwing all the things that we have piled on the bed in the spare room (it’s our place to put stuff to go to the boat over the summer season) into a few duffels and giving them a weigh to make sure they aren’t over 40 lbs and heading out. Toronto Driveaway gives us 4 days to get the cars down to Florida, but this year as we were delivering 2, we wanted to at least get one on the Thursday night before, so we could get it packed and pick up the other on the way through Toronto and be on our way.


Slight hitch. The owner will let us have the Caddy the evening before, but in return wants to be picked up when he arrives in Florida, at 5 pm on the day before the car is due to be there. What the heck, we’ll just put the pedal to the metal!

8:30 am Fri morning -- we’re out of the house, BUT, our new printed boat cards are ready for pick up in Markham. DETOUR, then -- Oh my Gosh, where is my cell phone? Must have let it in North York at my Thurday meeting. DETOUR. At least it’s close by where we pick up the Nissan. Grab the Nissan and we are on our way.

We hit the border by 1 pm and the border guard asks Gord, where is the car’s owner? He then informs us that the car can’t arrive before the owner. No way!! Got that straightened out and we are on our way -- AGAIN.

So, now we do the Indie 500 down Interstate 79, 77 & 95 to pick up Mr. Caddy by 1:30 (that’s right! not 5 pm as he originally told us) a full day and a half early! Lunch at the drive through and marathon driving. OH, My poor aching back! Ouch!!

But, we pull in to our hotel in Ft Lauderdale, ½ hour before his plane lands and I get to stroll along the beach while Gord takes off to find Mr Caddy at the Lauderdale Airport. Gord walks into Arrivals just as Mr. Caddy is pulling his luggage off the belt. We made it! Should be a big tip, right? Nope, not even a “Thanks”!

The Adventure has definitely begun.

We're back and Starting the 2011 to 2012 Season

Monday, April 11, 2011

Salt Pond Bay

Salt Pond Beach


Movin on again. I must say this is one of the bays high up on our list of places to be.
5 Park moorings, with no anchoring, so there can never be more than 5 boats. White sand, reef on both sides and middle, diving off Booby Rock and Concordia Eco Village up on the hill with a wonderful restaurant.  Truly Paradise. It was quite a trek up thru the brush along a narrow, hard to find trail to the eco village,

I guess it's this way ?



But with reservations for dinner, they sent a car down to the bay to pick us up and delivered us back. And the food along with the incredible view was amazing.

Eco Village above Salt Pond beach

 In this bay it was a toss up between snorkelling or swimming at the beach, so for 5 days we did both.

 Snorkelling on this reef we saw some fish we had not seen before as well as 3 different kinds of rays and many turtles.


Scrawled Filefish

Blue Head Wrasse

Yellow Tail Damselfish


Spotted Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray
Momma Turtle
Regular ray
sea slug
Swimming with the Turtles
Hawksbill Turtle


We even took the $1.00 bus up over the top of the island into Cruz Bay to see the sites and some shopping. Now that's quite the experience, more like a roller coaster ride, in some spots the bus stopped as there was not enough room for 2 vehicles to pass, blowing its horn as it went around the hairpin turns. I don't think there was a single  stretch of road that was straight for any longer than 500 ft.
Cruz Bay style parking
While sitting watching the sunset in Salt Pond, we hear a guy on the radio asking if anyone has their radio on. Thinking he wanted a radio check Gird answered. Instead he wanted to know if anyone knew the heading for St Martaan. He was currently in Tortola BVI and thought he'd go to St Martaan overnight, but didn't know the way and was looking for directons.  Can you believe there are boaters like that. Take off ino the dark on the open ocean and ask another boater for a heading instead of having charts or gps.
It's very surprising you don't hear about more disasters at sea.

Well all things miust come to an end.... Next stop Coral Harbour for supplies.

Outta Here

 With the wind still howling but the skies clear, the thought of another night at such a rolly anchorage was more than we could bear, so we take off and no sooner do we get out there than the rain starts up again and heavy black clouds roll in. We think Ok we'll tuck into Great Cruz Bay, it's sheltered and close by. In we cruise only to discover it's another one of those overcrowded bays so full full of moorings that a once lovely turquoise bay and white sand beach is now a cesspool packed with boats that everyone lives on full time, but rarely move. We ask ourselves why do the authorities let this happen, kills the bay, drives away tourists and most of these boats are never moved or hauled out, so how safe are the moorings or the boats. After every hurricane, everyone finds out as these boats litter the beach as wrecks that no one ever moves.  


Great Cruz in 2009, Now with 3-4 times the permant private liveaboards packed into the bay
No room at the Inn, so we move on and head for Lamesure Bay, which is part of the National Park, where they do not permit anchoring, but provides mooring balls at $15.00 per night and NO Liveaboards.

Lamesure is a beautiful , clean anchorage and we enjoy a couple of days of snorkelling and swimming and happy hour with a couple of fellow boaters John and Lela aboard  " Yachtsman's Dream"  and Chris and Yoni aboard "Magus"
Going Visiting

Red Hook, USVI


Red Hook Fuel Dock-the specks are moored boats and in 2009 there were only about 1/3 of the # there today



Saddly leaving Magens Bay behind, we figured fuel and water might be a good idea before we cruise along the south side of St John's.  Red Hook is the only game in town on that end of St Thomas, so that's where we'll go. Although it is a crowded, difficult access harbour.  We came into the fuel dock with such strong winds blowing us forward that we actually had the engine in reverse and we're still going forward at 3 kts, but Gord greased it on like a pro, No Problem!  When we go to leave there are boats on private moorings filling the bay, so tightly packed in that you can't get between them or around them, not even leaving a proper channel open. We must back up. Oh No, way to difficult, but also the only game in town. The wind is still blowing and we almost make it. Almost, as we turn in backwards and go to pull out, the wind catches us sideways and blows us too close to a large wooden piling, the boat is clear, but it catches the bow of the dinghy hanging from the davits. """Sproing"" it hits, catches and bounces clear, when we look back, the starboard Davit is bent down 6 ''. We're talking 4 " heavy stainless tubing, thru our deck and mounted in a boot to the bottom of the Deck locker with 5200 ( boaters glue- holds anything and never never gives)   And it didn't, the whole installation was so strong that the only thing that could give was the 4'' stainless tubing, and it did.  The challenge now will be how to bend it back?? any ideas???



We anchor on the edge of the harbour in the rock and rollin waves , assess the damage. It could have been worse, might have cracked the deck or popped the dinghy. So we settle in for the night with a couple of strong drinks.
In the morning is rock n roll n rain ( I mean heavy downpours) but its off to the dinghy dock, get groceries and find internet. Groceries were no problem and the internet is available so we tuck ourselves into a table at Molly Malones bar and order lunch. However, the internet is there but not wanting to talk to me. Our friendly waiter can't understand why I'm having trouble logging on, he's downloading bit torrents in the back room and having no trouble at all. Hello!  limited band width and he's sucking it all.
What can I say... It's the Islands

Monday, April 4, 2011

On our Own Again

Well, were off exploring the north side of St Thomas, as yet uncharted territory for Ocean Wings. As we head out of Lindburgh after another rolly, rolly night. We’re determined to find an anchorage that is calm enough to give us a good, steady nights sleep.



The winds are about 12 kts from the ESE, so the first bay to check out is Botany Bay/Sandy Bay. Heading west we have to go out past the point before we can cut thru to round the point of the island and back into Botany.



I guess the fish like a little respite from the wind and waves as well, on the reef between the islands there is a whale frolicking in the surf. He surfaces and blows, flips his tail around and repeats the routine over and over. Unfortunately he was too far away for any good pics, so you’ll just have to take my word for how precious that was.



Into Botany and it’s a no go as it is not a deep enough bay to keep the rollers out, and that is the goal. No Rollers. So back to charts and lets check out Santa Maria Bay. Just another along and we slip into the far south end of Santa Maria into 20 ft of water in front of a white sand beach fringed with palm trees, and guess what? We’re the only boat and we have a deserted beach to ourselves.

Alone in Santa Maria Bay

It’s like a little piece of the south Pacific and so we drop the hook in 20 ft of clear blue water in front of the sand beach. The sleeping was calm, with only a few turns and sways. So we stayed 2 nights and swam, snorkeled and sat out on the deck and watched the stars in absolute complete solitude.

Santa Maria Beach

Giant brain Coral


Hundreds of Blue Tang

Little trigger Fish

Purple Coral
The snorkeling on the east side of the bay was really great with huge hollow coral shelves and deep crevaces, you could swim between and beneath the coral chasing the fish and a few very shy lobsters.




Lobster hunter with his homemade tickle stick


Now it’s up the anchor and go check out Megans Bay, which is rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world. It’s a long deeply indented bay with a gorgeous powder white sand beach circling the whole end of the bay. It definitely lives up to it’s reputation. Why are there so few boats here enjoying this paradise? ( just 2 other sailboats in the bay) However it may be because there are lots of people on the beach. It’s a park with showers, bars, snack stands, boutique and water toy rentals. The cruise ships cab their guests here by the hundreds. But it’s a big beach with room for everyone. The bar has a unique service where the waitresses in their bikinis serve drinks to you right out in the water and the nice news is the park closes by 6pm and the cruise guests leave by 4pm. After that the sunsets and long stretch of beach are all ours.


Magens Bay
Turtles of all Kinds in Magens Bay

 We discovered a private beach, nearer to our boat, with the same white powder sand, separated from the the main beach by about a 1/2 mile of rocks and boulders. We parked our new beach chairs and broke open the beer and novels. A couple of other people arrived  and set up their spot for the day. Next thing we realized they had shed all their clothes and were lying on the sand naked. The next few arrivals did the same.  
What way Do You Look??   


Better hide your eyes

We packed up and did a hasty retreat. Found out later from Lisa, a great local lady we met on the beach that it is indeed a nude beach and also known to be a gay nude beach.
I guess it's the big beach from now on.

Off our little " private Beach" we discovered the wreck of what used to be a large sailboat in about 15 ft of water. Fairly recently sunk ( maybe last years hurricane) you can still tell it was white with a blue stripe.  Our first wreck dive.
Cockpit of the boat

deck and companion way



As the sun was setting, we set out in the dinghy with fishing rods and trolled along the shoreline for a couple of evenings. We caught one small silver fish, which Gord ate for dinner. I prefer not to eat mystery fish. So unless I know exactly what it is, and we didn’t. I prefer to pass.



We'd parked the dinghy on the beach a few days later and I said to Gord that that one little fish had left the dinghy pretty stinky and in need of cleaning. As we emptied out all our stuff, there to our surprise was a very stiff, very dead flying fish about a foot long, tucked into the edge of the dinghy under the velcro tab that holds the oars.  He must have flown in the day before and couldn't get out. We laughed and laughed, they wouldn't take the lure, but prefered to jump aboard all on their own.  Mystery of the stink solved.
We miss everyone at home and would love to call home more often, but that's difficult from down here. You might say " good phone connections are hard to find"



I think we need more than a calling card !







Sailboat owners Gord and Sue aboard their 55' Whitby Ketch "Ocean Wings" share their adventures and travels as they start their retirement, living their dream of seeing the world from oceanside.
Ocean Wings is a recent purchase and our first foray into the Sailing Lifestyle. We're excited and a little scared. Join us in our adventure.