Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Culebra, Vieques & St Croix Mar 12- 28

CulebraA sleepy little island , reminiscent of what we all think of as a small Caribbean Island. Friendly, safe and it seems that they roll the streets up by 8pm. Not the kind of island to go to, to party the night away, that just doesn’t happen in Culebra. We made our own party by buddy boating with Meg, Tom, Maggie and Anne on Jewell of Paradise.   
Anne, Maggie, Tom & Meg

As we cruised around the tip of the island , someone was out for a stroll.... across the water no less.

Walking on Water.. are we having a religious vision?

Flamenco beach

Beach Bums
We rented a jeep to tour the island. Figured a half day rental should do the trick and it was on and off rainy with huge black clouds. So a great day for a tour. Zoni beach was a favorite, the surf was crashing in onto a pure white sand beach that seemed to stretch for miles. Some figured no one would be out walking so they were having their own little party. Hence the name “ Beach Bums”.

Extra Curicular Beach Activities

The coconuts were just dropping at our feet, so we lugged a few home to try our hand at drink creation. The snorkeling off the point near Luis Pena was fabulous.
Coconut Hunters


Just the opposite of Culebra, Vieques is loud , noisy and busy. Our first night out we visited the Bio Luminescent Bay and kayaked through the photocells. It was absolutely magical to watch the glowing fish as they darted around our kayaks. Although they do not allow swimming, there is the odd person that “falls overboard” and sure enough one girl decided she would go for a swim. After hearing that there was a shark attack last year we decided that we would stay in our kayaks.

It’s kind of a one horse town, with the entertainment of the evening being some young Viequean guy on his horse, trotting down the main street or tying up for a drink or dinner.

Horse at the restaurant

However it is a 2 gas station island, and both gas stations are side by side on the other side of the island at Isabella. Don’t let that tank get below a quarter!
345 yr old tree

The beaches were great on Vieques, and one of them is pure black, magnetic and deserted. Sun Bay was a favorite with a huge stretch of sand and the strangest beach chairs I’ve ever seen.

Gord on the Black beach

Funky Beach Chair on Sun Bay

The year of the Dinghy raised it’s ugly head again as we were dinghying out around a small island into Sun Bay for the beach. Out into the open Ocean it just quit. Try paddling a dinghy… not the easiest. At least the boat happened to be downwind so we had the assistance of the wind and the waves to get us back to Ocean Wings.

St Croix

We debated whether to go on to St Croix, as Tom & Meg headed back to St Thomas to drop the girls off, and St Croix is reputed to be a kind of unsafe place to hang out. And with the Refinery closing there will be lots of unemployment and the crime will definitely get worse. However, we are careful and should see it now before any change takes place, so out we head.

It was a great trip over until we hit the mouth of Christiansted harbour and our engine decided it had had enough travel and promptly shut down. After several tries to restart her and the reef looming ever closer on our starboard side, we decided it was time to call for help. Bill at Sea Tow answered instantly and was there in a flash to give us our very first tow.

Towed by SeaTow

Casey at st Croix marina was fabulous, he discovered that our filters were blocked from all the floating sea weed we had encountered on the way over. New filters, an engine flush and we were good to go. So, we think we’ll get him to look at that damn outboard as well.

Meg and Tom arrived back to join us , just as we finished the repairs.

Christiansted is a beautiful old Danish town, with the most colourful Buildings we’ve seen so far, including a huge yellow fort that guards the harbour. The harbour itself is rolly and even though the reef is huge that surrounds the bay, it does face north and has not much protection from the sea. We are luck and it is relatively calm.
Fort Christian

Bill at SeaTow is a busy guy, as the next day we watched from our deck as he towed a runaway boat off the reef and towed it back to shore.
Off the reef

Beer Drinkin Pig

We rented a car here as well, so we could see the island. Fredricksted was very pretty with a wonderful waterfront walkway and calmer anchorage due to it’s south side location. However the town is more than half boarded up and closed. St Croix is bigger than St Thomas and boasts 3 golf courses, a casino, mini golf and a multitude of diving spots as well as home to the beer drinking pigs. ( I do mean real pigs)

Our trip to Buck Island to snorkel was a bit of a disaster. We went in Tom & Megs boat with Nancy and Bob ( friends of T& M along). It rained all the way there and their cockpit is open , so everyone was cold and wet by the time we arrived, so the first thing we did was brew a hot cup of coffee. The snorkeling looked awesome but today was too rough and Bob , who was seasick wouldn’t get in the water. Nancy drank half the bay and threw up all the way back.

Nancy decked out to snorkel at Buck Island
There's a great Hardware store here and we finally found a wonderful double hammock for the bow of the boat. Now we get to relax with a cool one and watch the sun set.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Off to The Spanish Virgins - Mar 12

Monday morning, its up the anchor and head to Culebrita to the jacuzzis, gorgeous sand beach and hopefully some lobster, then Culebra to snorkel, on to Vieques to jump at night into the bioluminescent Bay and finally to St Croix where we can check out the Cruzan Rum factory and maby get a sample or two.
Jewell of Paradise

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Careful What you wish for!

With all our recent dinghy engine problems I was wishing for a new dinghy engine.

We upped the anchor in Charlotte Amalie and low and behold what is dragging from our anchor but an outboard engine. Not exactly the new one I wished for, but an engine none the less.

Outboard hooked on our Anchor Chain

Now how to get rid of it?  Cruise the bay with our anchor dragging while Gord lowers the dinghy, races to the front, attaches a rope to the motor while he frees our anchor. Then back to the deep it goes, along with all the other garbage and debris that is in the ottom of the bay. 

Mark that GPS waypoint Sue, as we'll probably be back.


Gord says he's being framed and here's the photo to prove it. Before long it will have a mirror inside and the frame will be coated in local sea shells and it wil hang out in our salon.


adding the shells

Social Time feb 29-Mar 10

Tom & Gord on" Jewel of Paradise"
After a dinner aboard Tom & Megs boat Jewel of Paradise ( also sitting in Charlotte Amalie) we both head to Francis Bay for prime rib night at Maho campground. That's the biggest prime rib dinner w/ salad bar around for the cheapest price.

And it seems like everyone is is here for the same thing, the beef and to tuck in from the heavy winds and high seas that are starting.


While we are grabbing the ball, a dolphin is chasing a fish ( for his dinner) around our ball and under our boat, finally leapping out of the water and over the ball in an attempt to secure dinner. he's so beautifull and came back to visit everyone every day for the next week.

At dinner we also ran into Mike and Betts with their friends Ken & Dorothy on Blue Star and Al and Helene on Island Girl. The same Island girl that Carl bumped into in Caneel Bay. Next night was happy hour with everyone aboard Ocean Wings.

Dinner at Maho
Mike & Betts
Al & Helene
Sue & Gord

Dinner at Maho

Ken & Dorothy

Then no other than Francois on Excalibur, from our Saint Martin advetures last year is knocking on our hull in the morning , inviting us to meet them in Anegada later in the week.  " Maybe"

Then Happy hour on Blue Star with Ken & Dorothy introduces Louise and Rick on "Grand Cru"

Daytime is beach, beach, snorkel and finally I finished and installed my Dinghy chaps. Wow! and they fit like I knew what I was doing.
The beach is a great meeting ground as well and we chatted everyday with Debbie and Bob from "Chimayo, Janice and Steve from "Salacious" and Dave on "Persephone". This group is all gettng ready to head to the boatyard for a few days to get ready for their trek down island out of the way of hurricanes. Perhaps we'll see them next season if they head back this way.

The winds are still howling out in the Drake passage, kicking up to over 30 knots. But, we are calm , quiet and snug here in Francis Bay and everyone here seems to be sitting tight waiting it out and enjoying the social time.

Anegada will have to wait, but we would have liked to spend some time time with Francois and his family.
Instead, as the winds are to finally calm down by Sunday night, we are going to wait and hook back up with Tom & Megs and their daughter Maggie and friend Ann, back in Charlotte Amalie and head to Culebrita, Culebra, Vieques ( for the bioluminesent bay ) then over to St Croix

As we check out  few trawlers ( there were 5 anchored here in the bay) so we can pass on the info to Peter and Thai, we were just leaving Des and Sue on "Desue"  when the dinghy engine sputtered to a stop. Not Again!  Told you it was the year of the Dinghy.  Along comes David and Nancy from "Vamoose" in their dinghy to make sure we get back to Ocean Wings safely. It's a great excuse for another  happy hour tonight and so Ken & Dorothy join David, Nancy, Gord and I aboard Ocean Wings.

A few boaters are getting restless or must get passengers back to airports. We watch Cameron & Linda on "Gypsy Moon" head out towards the reef, then shortly after come back towed by the Park Services wardens.
Did they forget to pay for their ball?  So, we dingy over to see how we can sign up for that ball pick up service. What a way to save diesel fuel.

Alas, they were having boat problems ( everyone must take a turn) They had lost their drive shaft, which hit their rudder, so they had no engine and no steerage. Their guests Tom and Brenda are due to fly from Charlotte Amalie tomorrow and everyone is looking glum.
We mention that it is prime rib night again at Maho campground and their faces light up.

They decide that they will join us and Dave and Nancy for a little of that beef.  The surf is pounding on the shore at Maho, so we figure the best course of action is to go to big Maho (where is quieter) and take the trail up thru the woods.

Dinner and lots of wine later, we realize that we can ferry Tom and Brenda Back to Charlotte Amalie to catch their plane. We're heading out tomorrow for there anyway. That will solve one dilemma for Cam and Linda while they sit and await a mechanic.

Now there is almost no wind ( 2.1 kts) so we motor and cruise into Charlotte Amalie with loads of time to spare.

back in Charlotte Amalie

Getting Tom & Brenda to the airport

Note: those nifty new dinghy chaps!!!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mom and the Gang Arrive

                                                                     Mom's Here

Her arrival

  We booked a slip and were lucky enough to ge a spot on the long fuel dock, which was the closest spot to her ship, so farless walking. A gang of 11 trooped onboard and seating was a little tight. Gord mixed a batch of painkillers and the tours began. Then for the afternoon, Mom, Kay, Steve and us grabbed a cab over to Lindberg Bay for the beach and dinner at their beachside restaurant. A salty swim, then a rinse in the pool and we watched the sun go down as we enjoyed dinner on the beach. Then back to the cruise ship for 7:30 

Checking out the master cabin

Gord and Kay at the Beach

Mom Having a Caribbean swim in Lindberg Bay

Beachside Dinner

Our Trolley

End of day

Back at the cruise dock

There she goes!  Happy Cruising Everyone
                              We had a great time and hope Mom liked her tour of Ocean Wings.
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.