Monday, December 14, 2009

Wifi... Finally!!!

The main website photos and position/log pages have been updated. It's been a nice week away from the internet, but it's also nice to have access again.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quick Update

We’ve been away from any wifi for the last several days on St. John, USVI, so sorry the web site and blog have been idle for a while.  This update is via our satellite phone.

We sailed west to the US Virgin Islands on December 8th to wait for a weather window to go East to St. Martin.  We reached our 30 day limit in the BVI so we had to leave or pay a $200 fee to stay longer.  Since we haven’t seen the USVI yet, we decided to explore St. John for a few days.  Most of St John is a National Park donated by Laurence Rockefeller in 1956.  In 2001, by presidential proclamation, George W Bush added almost 13,000 acres of adjoining submerged land to the reserve in an effort to preserve the coral ecology surrounding St John.  It was badly needed as the snorkeling and diving I’ve done so far has shown that the coral has been heavily damaged.  Hopefully the new rules will be followed and the coral will slowly recover.  The coral in the Exuma Cays of the Bahamas was in much better shape, but it’s a lot harder to get to the Exumas, so it’s experienced a lot less damage from tourists and cruisers.   

For those of you wondering why it’s harder to get to the Exumas than the Virgin Islands when the Virgin Islands are a 10 day offshore passage and the Exumas are a few overnight hops, it’s  a matter of logistics and infrastructure.  The Virgin Islands have two international  airports, deep water harbors for cruise ships and an enormous charter fleet.  The Exumas are a collection of 350 islands and cays that have only a handful of airstrips suitable for a small prop plane, no resorts, no charter industry, and only a handful of cottages to rent if you come by air rather than boat.  The only deep water access for a cruise ship was abandoned in the 1980’s as it wasn’t navigable whenever a cold front blew through.  So, visitors are limited almost exclusively to those who come by private boat. 

We’ve really enjoyed our stay in St John.  The beaches are very nice and free of any garbage (as in the BVI) and all beaches have public access (not like the BVI).  The snorkeling is very good as far as seeing cool fish.  We’ve seen several sea turtles and sting rays of all sizes, barracuda, blue tang, purple squids, a blowfish, and all sorts of reef fish. 

We went on a longish hike yesterday with Susan Williamson to get up to Rams Head Point, which a 200 ft bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  A great view.  Quinn wanted to try climbing down the cliff, but we declined.

Tomorrow we’ll head back to the BVI and pay our $200 so we can stay longer.  The Christmas winds are in full swing and it’ll be a rough beat to windward to get to St Martin without the help of a low to stall out the trade winds.    We had planned on spending Christmas in St Martin, but aren’t willing to take a beating to get there, so we’ll hang out in the BVI for a while more and maybe shoot south to St Croix (USVI) for a few days.  As soon as our low shows up, we’ll head for St Martin and points south.

Randy and Susan Williamson came to the USVI at the same time as we did so we’ve been exploring the island together.  Jen dusted off her cribbage skills and beat Randy by 2 games (skunked him twice) after a lot of trash talking from both sides.  Was a lot of fun to watch, even though I have no idea how to play the game. 

Expect a big update to the photos on the web site in the next few days as we’ll have better access to wifi when we get back to the BVI.  The USVI National Park doesn’t have  much in the way of wifi hotspots.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Full Moon Party and Cooper Island

After our stay at Leverick Bay, we headed for Trellis Bay to catch the Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay Village. We arrived by about 12:30 to find the mooring field completely full with a couple of other boats threading their way through it looking for an open mooring ball. As there is no place to anchor due to all the mooring balls, we gave up that idea and moved about a mile across to Marina Cay where there were plenty of space, but quite rolly. As we pulled out of Trellis Bay, we saw Windward Passage (friends from Rock Hall, MD) pulling out of the mooring field with the same idea.

We enjoyed sundowners with Randy and Susan and their guests, Christine and Mary. Then, at dusk Jen, Quinn and I piled into our dingy and motored across the bay to Trellis Bay Village. The party was lots of fun. It was a Tom Sawyer wonderland for Quinn, lots of low trees on the beach with nets, ladders, ropes, etc to climb on. Lots of kids too.

After a very enjoyable West Indies BBQ (BBQ and Jerked chicken, grilled fish, ox tail stew, peas and rice, etc). Jen and I traded watching Quinn play while the other explored the "village". It struck me as a throwback to a 60's conclave, centered around an open-air art studio - Aragorn's Studio. The art studio specializes in ceramic and metal working. The big fireballs were some of Aragorn's work. Check out the photos of the party on our web site. they were very cool.

After a very wet and salty dingy ride back across the bay (Jen swore I was doing it on purpose when the waves broke over the bow into her lap, but it was really bouncy!) and a rolly night on the mooring ball we were happy to slip the lines and head to Cooper Island. We've spent the past two nights here and will leave tomorrow. We spent several hours on the beach yesterday and today we snorkeled off the dingy by a reef. Quinn's getting quite good at swimming with his face in the water so that he can see the "fishies" and coral. He really wants a snorkel and fins. We're on the lookout for some his size.