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.