Sunday, March 25, 2012

What an Adventure - The British Virgin Islands

We are having so much fun, I just don't know where to begin a new blog post.  We didn't make it to St. Martin for the birthday celebration, the weather just would not cooperate.  For the sailors reading this - imagine motoring into 25-30 knot winds, right on the nose with waves over 10 feet.  We decided that we would just spend the time in the British Virgin Islands.  Our friends Geoie and Sarah from Kemah came down to spend the week with Rene and Stacy so we spent the week of our birthdays sailing around the BVIs.  I can't complain, it's so beautiful and we literally spent the week going from one beautiful island/beach, to another.  Nights were spent at beach bars, searching for the best happy hour.  We enjoyed time at Da Loose Mongoose, Foxy's, Foxy's Taboo and Willy T's.  What a week!

One of the highlights was the Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay on Beef Island. They have a full moon party there every month.  Local artist Aragorn creates beautiful fire sculptures, there are dancing mocko jumbies (dances on stilts), fire jugglers and all kinds of entertainment.  What a fun night.  We are hoping that we will be back for another full moon party before we move on.

We enjoyed our time in North Sound (Gorda Sound) on Virgin Gorda also.  The Leverick Bay where the Michael Bean Happy Arrrrr is great fun.  On our second visit to his show I won the conch blowing contest!  The prize was a bottle of rum!

We had a visit from more friends from back home, Keith and Brenda Veseleny (s/v Beauty and the Geek) happened to be chartering a boat in the BVIs for the week.  We finally met up with them on Peter Island and we all headed over to The Bight on Norman Island for a fun night a The Willy T, a floating restaurant/bar that is a converted 100 foot schooner.  By the way, Norman Island is believed by some to be the island written about by Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island.

We sailed by the island Dead Chest Cay (Dead Man's Chest) on the south side of the Sir Francis Drake Channel.  Dead man's chest was the name of a coffin in the days of yore.  This island was given it's name as long ago as the late 1700s when folklore has it that the infamous pirate Blackbeard marooned fifteen men on the cay with nothing a bottle of rum.  Some apparently tried to swim the 1/2 mile to Peter Island but didn't make it.  The cay became immortalized in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island -

     Fifteen Men on the Dean Man's Chest,
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
     Drink and the devil had done for the rest.
     Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

So much fun in one week that we needed to take a few days to recover!  After our recovery period we finally got the weather we were looking for so that we could head over to St. Martin.  It was about an 18 hour passage.  We left Virgin Gorda late afternoon and sailed all night so that we could make it to St. Martin the next morning.  We wanted to make it into the Simpson Bay Lagoon, but there is a bridge that only opens to incoming boats 3 times a day (unless you choose to pay the $1000.00 fee for an unscheduled opening!)  We were ready for the 9:30 opening and made our way into the lagoon where we are currently anchored on the French side of St. Martin.

St. Martin, or Sint Maaren (depending whether you are on the French side or the Dutch side of the island) is beautiful and we have having a great time here, but I will save that for another blog post!

We are planning to return to the Virgin Islands in April/May for more exploring.  We are looking forward to spending more time in this beautiful place.

Here is a link to some pictures: Islands

I am still trying to find a good solution to posting pictures using the iPad. The link to photobucket is the best I can come up with at the moment. The problem is that I can't figure out how to add captions. I will still work on finding a solution when my busy schedule allows!

Now - it's time for happy hour!

Leaving Luperon

Well, we finally did it.  We left Luperon on Saturday, February 11th and headed out for the passage to Puerto Rico.  We would have to cross the dreaded Mona Passage, but we had a good weather window and, even though Storyville had not sailed in many months, we felt like we were ready.  We left at 7:30 in the morning and sailed for three days and two nights (actually we motor sailed since there was very little wind and it was all on the nose).  The Mona Passage was very calm and we didn't have any trouble at all.  Troy saw a whale, but it only breached once and I didn't get to see it.  I sure was hoping to see one.  Oh well, maybe someday.   We did see lots of flying fish.  They are really amazing to watch as they fly across the waves.  We were very happy with our crossing and we made it to Boqueron, Puerto Rico late Monday afternoon.

We stayed in Boqeron for a couple of days, got checked back in to the US and celebrated Valentines Day there.  We were surprised at how dead the town was during the week, but we had heard and read that it is a happening place on the weekends.  We could see a little more activity each day, but we decided to leave on Thursday since we were anxious to catch up with our sailing buddies Rene and Stacy on Pipe Muh Bligh and Pat and Darnell on Island Dreams.  They were waiting for us in the US Virgin Islands.

Leaving Boqueron at 8:30 in the morning on Thursday, we sailed all day and overnight and decided to stop in Vieques, Spanish Virgin Islands for a rest.  We had a really rough night with a north swell that caused Storyville to pitch and roll.  Not a comfortable night.  We sailed into a beautiful little protected cove (Puerto Ferro) on the island of Vieques at 10:30 in the morning on Friday.  We spend the day there kayaking through the cove where we saw sea turtles and even had a visit from a dolphin.  Such a beautiful, secluded cove with only a couple of other boats for company.  We had forgotten what it is like to feel so peaceful and still.  This is the life.

The next morning, we got up at 2:00 AM so that we could head out for the Virgin Islands.  Not a bad crossing.  The most exciting part was that we saw the Southern Cross for the first time.  It kinda felt like a milestone and made me start thinking about all the other "firsts" that we have experienced on this trip.

 We made it to St. John by about 11:00 where we found Pipe Muh Bligh, Island Dreams and a surprise, our friends Chris and Robin on Toucan Dream.  We hadn't seen Chris and Robin in several years, where we had run into them by chance at the Miami Boat Show.  Just goes to show that the cruising world is a small one.  We all had happy hour on Pipe Muh Bligh to celebrate our arrival.  Actually, happy hour turned into several happy hours!  How great to be here where the water and islands are so beautiful.

We have spent the last week cruising between the beautiful islands of the US and British Virgins.  For the first several days we didn't spend more than one night in an anchorage.  The anchorages are so close together and each one is more beautiful than the last.  We've been to Caneel Bay, Hawksnest Bay and Trunk Bay in St. John, US Virgin Islands and to Great Harbour,Jost Van Dyke, Sopers Hole and Road Town, Tortola and to White Bay, Peter Island, British Virgin Islands.  We have been snorkeling, swimming, doing boat projects and having fun letting PMB and ID show us around.

We are making plans and watching the weather so that we can make the overnight jump to St. Martin / Sint Maarten.  We hare planning to celebrate Rene's 50th birthday and my, umm, I forget which birthday I will be celebrating.  Our birthdays are one day apart and since Rene is Dutch and this is a big one to celebrate (for him) we are really looking forward to a great time on a Dutch/French Island.

Yesterday we snorkeled at The Indians, part of a BVI National Park.   The Indians are rock pinnacles that rise from a sandy bottom at 50 feet to a height of about 50' above sea level and we saw lots of pretty coral and lots of fish.  It was the best snorkeling we have seen since we left the Bahamas and we are ready for more!

It is so great to be back to cruising in the clear waters and exploring the coves and islands.  We are looking forward to spending the rest of the winter and spring doing more of the same.  I am really hoping to get more blogs posted so that we can share some of our adventures.  I am using my iPad exclusively now and am still having trouble getting my pictures to post the way I want them to on blogger.  I will keep working on it though.  This time I will see if I can get a like to my photos on Photo Bucket and post a link to the Photo Bucket page.  Wish me luck!

For a couple of pictures from the crossing see: to Puerto Rico

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you realize now why you came this way. ~David Crosby