US Virgin Islands: Mar 17 - Apr 4, 2012

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

Waterlemon Bay, St. John, USVI

On Mar 17 we moved from Dakity, Culebra, back to the USVI.  Ready for a new destination, we went past Francis Bay and around the corner to Waterlemon Bay, St. John.  Alas, all the moorings were taken, so we overnighted back at Francis and tried again the next morning.  Lee and Cyndy (Tranquility) were just leaving when we arrived, and we got their mooring.  A popular little bay, with lots of snorkelers.  We joined them, and had a very nice swim during which we saw a number of interesting creatures, including a pod of dolphins and a shoal of squid.

Salt Pond

Then, back for a few days to the protected waters of Francis, where we hooked up again with John and Ann (Livin' the Dream).  Mar 23 we both moved around to the south side and moored at (us) or near (them) Salt Pond.  It is conch season in the USVI, with a limit of two per person per day.  Salt Pond has conch out near the mooring field, and Ann and John had prior experience with harvesting and cleaning the beasts, so this was a perfect opportunity to learn a desirable skill (how to clean conch) and enjoy the fruits of our labors.   They moved over to Lamshur the next morning, but we delayed our departure long enough to harvest four more conch, and then moved over to join them after a trip to shore and an only half-successful attempt to clean our latest catch.  John came to the rescue and taught me the fall-back methods to employ when the creature retreats so far inside that it cannot be grabbed and plucked from the shell.  (Basically: enlarge the slit used for cutting the creature loose.  "Enlarge" so much that the entire end of the shell is chopped off.)

By the way, conventional wisdom is to not discard the emptied shells back into the conch beds -- this supposedly "spooks" the remaining conk and they leave.  So we left our empties on the rocks at the beach, and they were eagerly snapped up by the tourists frequenting Salt Pond Beach.

Cleaning conch at Salt Pond beach

Step one: use hammer and chisel to make a slit between the second and third "generation" of knobs on the shell

Step two: use a knife with a flexible blade to sever the attachement of the conch to its shell

Step three: grab its "toe nail" and pull it out of the shell

Step four: hand the mess over to someone who knows what to cut off and discard, and how to skin the rest

Some people "peel" the skin; Ann taught Barb to trim it off

Chuck gives it a try

Back in Lamshur, we work on the recalcitrant conch

John and Ann had to get to St. Thomas to prepare for the arrival of Ann's folks from Georgia, but before they left they and Barb went for a short hike.  Barb took these snaps:

We stayed an extra day at Lamshur and took advantage of the ranger dock to haul our second anchor to shore for some TLC.  We have only used that anchor once in all of the time we have owned the boat, and that was in Washington, DC in 2005 or 2006.  It had gotten a bit rusty in spots, so I cleaned it off as best I could (with hammer and wire brush) and then treated it with Ospho and then sprayed it with cold-galvanizing paint.  That paint is a poor substitute for hot galvanization, but it will do just fine for an anchor that just sits on the pulpit and experiences no abrasion.

Cleaning the anchor


While waiting for the paint to dry we took the dinghy around the corner and dove on Tektite reef again.  Lovely dive.   Saw many kinds of hamlets, including our first a Shy Hamlet.  And (roll of drums, please) we harvested a really nice lobster:  5 pounds in all and 1.5 pound tail.  Split the tail in half and cooked it on our Magnum grill in the cockpit that evening.  Slathered on olive oil and chopped garlic while grilling for about 10 minutes.  Served with melted butter and accompanied by fresh-made cole slaw.  Almost (but not quite) too much meat!

Water Island

On Mar 26 we moved back to Water Island, St. Thomas.  Early next morning we were awakened by a tug pushing a heavy barge into position to land on the commercial dock at Crown Bay.  The tug brushed by so close as to splatter our boat.  Later, the port pilot who brings in the massive cruise ships stopped by to ask us to move.   The world's largest cruise ship, Oasis, was due in about an hour.   We moved.

Monday is Movie Night on Water Island.  We took the dinghy over to the ferry dock and walked up over the hill to get to Honeymoon beach, where we were joined by John and Ann (who were anchored in Honeymoon Bay on the eve of the arrival of Ann's folks.)   The movie was Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill", a movie that I subsequently read was picked as the worst movie of 2011.  Barb and I strongly agree, but we did laugh (blush) a few times.   Besides, the cheeseburger and popcorn and beer were good.


We came back to St. Thomas so that I could do some doctoring.   Pain medication for my arthritis has evidently stirred up a serious case of acid reflux, so it was time for a look-see.  On a Friday I swallowed some barium and two barium-soaked marshmallows while being x-rayed.  On the following Monday I had an endoscopy.  The marshmallow episode was adjudged "normal".  The results of endoscopy are still pending (and waiting for the results has required that we cancel our plans to photograph for "All At Sea" the Classic Regatta in Antigua.)  When we were sent to the hospital for advance registration, in which all they wanted was to copy the information from my Blue Cross and Medicare cards, but which inexplicably took hours, we noticed the following poster on the reception window:

iPad pic taken before the endoscopy

 In order to facilitate getting to the hospital and the clinic, we had moved over to Charlotte Amalie.  There we discovered Chris and Yani (Magus).  We joined up with them and took a safari (the name used for the open trucks used as taxis on the island) to the St. Thomas movie theatre where we saw "Hunger Games".   Next day we met up at the top of the Sky Ride for lunch.  They walked and we rode.  (Sigh.)  Barb rode the ferris wheel after lunch.

New market area outside the Yacht Haven. Not many customers.

Lunch atop after the Sky Ride

Pan from the restaurant area at the top

TT2 in Charlotte Amalie -- as seen from the Sky Ride restaurant

Sky Ride ticket grants "free" ride on the ferris wheel -- Barb was the only rider when these were taken