Saturday, May 19, 2007

St. Thomas, USVI - Marinaville

At 11:30am on May 15th, we tied Vagus to a dock at Crown Bay Marina - our first docking in over 5 months. We had just spent 4 days anchored in a nice little bay called Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island. There we found some good snorkeling and, again, some new-to-us fish. The fish were friendly as I think they were probably fed by all the tour groups that came to snorkel the area. We were continuously surrounded by schools of fish as we swam along - something we have not seen since years ago at the Bat Caves in BVI. Some fish would come within a foot of us, stare at us as if begging for food, and then swim away.

When the time finally came to move to the marina, we had to find our dock lines and figure out where to put the fenders. Docking is a lot more work than anchoring! We were both on edge coming into a new marina and manouvering Vagus around all those hard dock bits. Crown Bay was very helpful and sent someone to help with the lines. Fortunately everything went without any events.

Now we finally have lots of fresh water. Our first priority was to get rid of some of the salt accumulated on Vagus - her first real bath since Trinidad. And it was our first real shower with lots of water as well. Karen quickly disappeared to the laundramat, loaded with bags of clothes for cleaning. There are excellent facilities at the marina - laundry, chandler, restuarant and WiFi - so we are set. We checked in with Dockwise and found that we had a bunch more paperwork to fill out - some to get notarized even. We have had a lot of paperwork to complete for this trip so we are thankful for the computer and WiFi.

We do miss being at anchor though. This is a very busy place with boats of every shape and description constantly going in and out by our boat - everything from dinghies, to ferries, to everything in between, including a submarine that takes tourists out to see the fish. The noise from the boats going by are not even drowned out by the planes taking off from the airport, which is nearby. Shortly after our arrival, a huge (82 feet) trawler parked beside us and blocked our breeze. It was 94F in the cabin yesterday afternoon, even with all the fans on. We try to do our work in the morning and hide out in the afternoon. Yesterday a Princess Cruise ship also came in to the cruise ship dock beside the marina. The ship was huge and became the only view we could look at from the cockpit. It was so close to us we could listen to the announcements over the PA during the day. Life is different here.

We just got word that we are shipping out on the s/v Explorer on the 22nd. The ship should arrive in Newport around the 31st. Now we have to sramble to change our flights. We will fly back to Burlington and then drive to Newport to meet the ship.

So it is time to get back to cleaning. Have a good week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

BVI to St. John, USVI

We had been 9 days in Leverick Bay. Now there is not a lot to do in Leverick Bay, but it is convenient. We could anchor, get water, get groceries, do laundry, visit a restaurant, and most of the time get WiFi. Also, and happily, there are not a lot of charterers. It is bouncy though and the walking is all of the up-hill variety - something we try to avoid in the heat. However, after 9 days, Vagus' bottom was getting a little furry so we felt we really had to move and stage ourselves to the US Virgin
Islands. Promptly at 9:45am, we raised anchor and motored out of Gorda Sound. The wind was right and we unrolled the genoa for a downwind reach to Marina Cay - all of 6 miles away. We did not want to overdo it on the first day of our move. At Marina Cay we were lucky and were able to attend the Michael Bean Happy Arrrh Show. Michael does a delightful show based on a pirate theme - What is the middle letter in the pirate alphabet? - aaarrrrh! It is very popularrh in these parts and a great evening

The next day we motored all of 8 miles to the Bight at Norman Island. We were able to pick up our favourite mooring again, right beside a reef. Here, we were able to snorkel off the boat and enjoy some of the best snorkeling we have found in the islands. The variety of fish is incredible. We saw something new on every trip. As we had travelled for two days to get here, we had to rest up for a few days and, of course, we could not travel on Karen's birthday. She received a number of nice e-mail birthday
wishes. It was nice to get news from home.

But after 3 days at Normans, we had the urge to move on. Also the moorings were expensive. At the very early hour of 8:30am, the earliest underway since arriving in BVI, we left for Sopers Hole, again about 6 miles away. There we bought a few groceries, got rid of our trash and checked out. Off we went before noon to Cruz Bay in St. John's to check into the US. Check-in went smoothly and we walked around Cruz Bay a bit. We actually found a grocery store with shelves full of not-dust-covered supplies
and fresh produce. Loaded down with our greens, fruits and vegetables, we headed back to Vagus to move her to an anchorage away from the ferry wakes.

St. John's is mostly National Park. Anchoring is not allowed so we had to take a mooring - this is supposed to keep boats from damaging the coral. We have been at three bays so far and have been disappointed as the coral is mostly dead - maybe from warm water or past hurricanes. It is too bad as it would have been specactular at one time. We have managed to spot some interesting and new-to-us fish, though. At Lameshur Bay a big remora was trying, unsuccessfully, to attach itself to the bottom of
Vagus. At our latest spot, despite the water being a bit cloudy, we have managed to see a 4 foot barracuda who has taken up station under our boat, a 6 foot nurse shark resting on the bottom by our boat and a 2 foot remora trying to attach itself to a green turtle snacking on the grassy bottom - interesting stuff. And before you ask - I'm sure it was not the same remora we saw in Lameshur Bay!

The weather is still partly overcast with occasional showers - not normal "dry" season events. Not great weather but at least it is warm. We have another week before we have to head to a marina and begin prepping Vagus for the trip home - a whole week and 10 miles to cover.

Have a good week!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

BVI - Perspective

Well are we wrong. Last week we wrote how the weather was not cooperating, feeling sorry for ourselves with all the rain and feeling sorry for all the charterers who happened to pick the past week. Tonight we sat in our cockpit with couples from two other boats, both long-term cruisers, when a dinghy approached eyeing our Canadian flag.
"Where you from?" they called. They were from New Brunswick and on a charter for 10 days.
"Too bad the weather has been bad", says I.
"What do you mean?" they say "it has been great!"
We all turned to each other in surprise. "Did they say it was good?" we asked, mouths open. On reflection, how soon we forget. After a normal Canadian winter, to escape to a land where warm breezes caress your face, where you shed multiple layers of cloths for only a bathing suit, where the water is not hard enough to stand on, and where you swim in an aquarium, what is there not to like. Who cares about a few showers? What is a little wind? You are here and the air is warm and the water is warm and the beaches are golden and the rum is cheap. So there you go.

They also exclaimed before leaving, "Wow, you look like real cruisiers. I bet you have been out a long time." Now how did they know that? Was it the boat, our appearance, our clothing. our hair cuts or some other hidden-to-us sign? And we thought that by having people over and laughing and carrying on, we would fit right into the charter crowd.

In case you are wondering where we are, we are still at Leverick Bay. We were going to leave today but we had to get water. We have closed down our watermaker and now carry jugs ashore to purchase water. But first we wanted to give a boat near us -Hello World - the weather forecast. While at Hello World, it started to rain, as in squall, so they invited us aboard. We had a wonderful visit with David and Kate who also are friends with our friends on Reverie. So by the time we made it to the dock for water, picked up the water and poured it into Vagus' water tanks, it was time for lunch. Well you cannot leave after lunch. We decided to have Hello World and Always Saturday over for Happy Hour. Off we went in the dinghy to invite both boats and then into the store for supplies. We got back at 2:00 and I turned on the computer to check e-mails. Up pops a Skype call from Laurie in North Vancouver. We had a great chat for about 30 minutes from BVI to North Vancouver, complete with video of Laurie (we do not have a web cam), for zero cost. Technology is amazing.

Then I called Port Credit Marina, where we are getting our boat fixed at Bristol Marine, to arrange delivery, again via Skype. Imagine my surprise when my carefully and painfully planned house of cards was knocked down when the woman in the office at Port Credit Marina said "You can't bring your boat here." She was more than a little abrupt and I was shaking when I got off the phone. Now where was Vagus to be delivered? Where was she going to be fixed? I thought I had it all arranged!!! I called Bristol Marine and asked them how they were supposed to fix my boat when I couldn't get it into the yard. They were super and also more than a little upset. They assured me they would work it out and, also importantly, I would not have to talk to that woman again. What kind of boat yard turns away business like that?

I finished all my calls on a positive note as I next I managed to get on a Google chat line with our eldest son, Alex, and determine that all was well in his life.

By now it was 4:00 and, as we now have lots of water, Karen had promised the other cruisers, who were due at 5:00, that we would shower before they came. Time was getting near and Karen was making noises that they would be here soon. Off went the computer and into the shower I went. So it was a busy day. We now plan to leave tomorrow but then again ... Have a good week.