Virgin Islands: April 16-22, 2012

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

Ferries and Safaris

On April 17 we took Tusen Takk II over to Caneel Bay so that we could take the dinghy around to Cruz Bay.  There, I caught a ferry over to Red Hook while Barb stayed in Cruz Bay to do some shopping. 

Boarding the ferry in Cruz Bay

From Red Hook I caught a safari (the cheap [$1 or $2, depending on the distance] open trucks with seats mounted in the bed) to the Paragon Clinic in Charlotte Amailie, where I dropped off some samples.  Later learned the results were negative, as were the two blood tests that had also recently been taken.  So now we know even more things that I do NOT have, leaving us with the default nonsensical diagnosis of osteo-arthritis.

When I returned to Cruz via safari and ferry, we grabbed a quick lunch at the Beach Bar and then returned through the always-choppy waters of Caneel to TT2 and let the boat steer itself back to Francis Bay :-).

While in Francis, Barb did some hiking.  On one of her longer excursions, she took these pictures:

Dinner w/ old friends in a new bay 

On Wednesday, April 18, we broke suction at Francis and re-entered the British Virgin Islands.  Quick stop at Soper's Hole to check in, where for the first time I was presented with a form not unlike those used by USA customs for passengers arriving by airline.  What was I importing, and what was the total value?  Long list of separate items, including such things as clothing and tools and gifts and food and alcohol and furniture, etc. etc.  I left the total value blank, as well as all of the spots opposite the categories on the reverse side.  When the customs officer received the form, he asked with a frown whether I didn't have anything to declare.  I said no, that I lived aboard the boat full-time, and everything on board was "ship's stores".  He said to put "zero" for the total value and when I did he accepted the form.   (Whew!)

We were returning to the BVIs in order to join a get-together with Jim and Amanda (aboard the luxurious catamaran Catsy).  Also invited were John and Ann (Livin' the Dream) and their guests, former cruisers Nick and Deana (former owners of Caribbean Soul).  In 2007 we all made the trip from the Bahamas to the Caribbean together, although Jim and Amanda were aboard their own boat Adventure Bound.  We all got stuck in the Turks and Caicos for a week by the weather, and then most of us spent some overlapping time in the Dominican Republic.  The bonds we forged with these and other folks on that initial extended voyage to the Caribbean have persisted to this day, in a manner not often matched since.

Catsy was anchored at Little Harbour, Peter Island.  They were "Med-moored", as is the custom in that bay.  Med mooring is so named because it is the common method of anchoring or mooring in the Mediterranean Sea.  The bow is secured with an anchor or a mooring, and the stern is secured with a line to shore (or dock), so that the boat is positioned perpendicularly to the shoreline (or dock).  This was only our second time at using that method -- the first was in St. Lucia near the Pitons.  It would have been tricky to accomplish had it been just Barb and I -- but here it was relatively easy because we had John and Nick (in John's dinghy) taking the stern line to shore and securing it on a bush.  (They also dinghied over to un-tie us the next morning.)

Barb provided a yummy crab-and-cream cheese-and-cocktail sauce appetizer, Amanda put out a pot of gumbo that we poured over rice (oh Lordy was it good) and Ann provided a salad and then capped the dinner with an upside-down cake that deserved a medal.  Everything was so good that virtually nothing was left of any of these courses.   And yet, the conversation was better than the food.  Hearing stories about Jim and Amanda's chartering; reminiscing about our mutual cruising experiences; talking about plans for the future.  What an evening.

Barb, Ann, Deana and Amanda aboard Catsy

John and Ann snuggle at the party -- note Barb's appetizer, and Chuck's greedy hand

Jim got stuck with loading the dishwasher

Water Maker Blues

We had checked in to the BVIs for four days, but when a phone conversation confirmed that it would be possible to have the feed pump for the water maker rebuilt at St. Thomas, we yet again headed west.  While dropping off the pump at Reefco in Crown Bay, we noticed that the nearby sushi restaurant was open.  So we returned to shore that night and gorged ourselves.

Prime Rib (one last time)

 Next day, the pump was finished, so after picking it up we returned back to Francis Bay, because "next day" was not just any day; it was Friday, which meant Prime Rib night at Maho Bay Camp Restaurant.  Livin' the Dream was in the anchorage, back from a night at Jost Van Dyke, so we all got together one last time for prime rib.  "One last time", not only for the prime rib, but with the people, since Nick and Deana would soon fly back to Texas, and John and Ann would soon cruise back to Florida.

Deana and Nick on Prime Rib Night

On our way back to Francis, as we approached Caneel Bay, we heard a frantic  appeal on the VHF for "anybody with dive gear".   There was reportedly a submerged body in 30' of water off the Caneel beach, wearing a mask and snorkel.  Faster commercial dive boats also picked up the plea, as did the National Park Service, so that by the time we passed the area, the National Park Service was just transporting the diver toward Cruz Bay.

At least three commercial dive boats were soon on the scene, as well as the National Park Service

Transporting the snorkeler to Cruz Bay -- note the second ranger working on the diver

Staging for the jump to St. Martin

With the pump repaired and the doctoring fizzling out, there was no reason to stay any longer in the Virgin Islands.  So on April 21 we motored up to the extreme northeast corner of Virgin Gorda, BVI, and settled in to Prickly Pear Bay. 

On the way up, we passed an interesting example of how NOT to tow a dinghy.  Note that the dinghy, whose nose has been pulled up onto the swim platform, is UPSIDE DOWN!   One can see the propeller sticking up into the air at the stern, and one can see the red gas tank being drug along behind the disaster.  Just another example of why Tusen Takk II will never be put on the market for bareboat chartering.   Also note the lady sitting in the stern looking at the mess.

We also noticed this interesting sail while we were underway

We had intended on getting to bed early and departing for St. Martin at o'dark-thirty in the morning.  But one last consultation with the weather resources suggested to us that the 23rd would be better than the 22nd, so we just sat in Prickly Pear for one glorious lazy day.  Lovely Bay -- we vow to spend a week there when next we return to the BVIs.

Speaking of the feed pump for the water maker:  with the rebuilt pump re-installed, the water maker behaves somewhat better, but is still not producing up to par.  My next project will be to remove the internal pump -- the so-called ETD -- and dismantle the beast, hoping to discover a mere worn o-ring as opposed to a worn metal part that would require replacement.

For news of that project, and for news of our hedonism in St. Martin, faithful readers will have to wait for the next exciting installment of "Chuck and Barb go cruising".


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