Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lingering in the VIs

Our first pass through the VIs was pretty quick so we were all looking forward to another visit. And after our whirlwind trip to St. Martin we needed a vacation! Our trip across the Anegada Passage was a lot breezier than forecast but going downwind we were quite comfortable surfing our way along. We didn't see another boat the whole day which was weird. There were many moments on the boat when being alone was absolutely amazing or just part of the deal. But after saying goodbye to friends and our travels to the Leewards, it felt quite lonely.

Shortly after our arrival in the VIs a couple things happened that sort of changed the tone of our trip: We listed Tangent for sale and then accidentally killed our camera. Things immediately became more businesslike and connected to the reality of land life. Suddenly we "needed" wifi everywhere we went.  We always knew the trip would be finite. Two to two and a half years was the plan depending on where we ended up going. Taking steps toward that end wasn't a sudden decision, but managing all the things associated with it dominated every single conversation and decision. So our visit to the VIs was really great and fun in a lot of ways. We really, really love it there. It's easy to love! But the undercurrent of winding things up made us always so darn confused and serious. Ew. And then our camera died so from a photographic standpoint the cruise ended here!

We arrived in the BVIs in the late afternoon and dropped the hook at Prickly Pear Island. We had the place to ourselves so tore up the anchorage on our new toys: tow rope and knee board! Andy gave a quick lesson and Cubby got up and going right away. 

Then Drew had a turn. What a blast! What a great purchase!

Trying to get outside the wake. Over a couple days they were doing 360s and jumping the wakes. So fun. We wiped them out so we could leave them on the boat while we went ashore and used the wifi at the Bitter End Yacht Club to take care of business. 

Giddyap! Cubby was lost in imaginary horsey world galloping through the woods and over jumps.

This was the moment we decided we need a bigger engine. Andy very aggressively (and stylistically) went outside the wake and I couldn't steer the dinghy. Many expletives later the kids managed to signal to him to knock it off so I wouldn't crash into a nearby catamaran.

Icky weather rolling in as we relocated to hide out in St. John in the USVIs. 

The kids paddled ashore to check out some ruins.

I love when they pack their own bags full of supplies and head off. We're so used to doing everything together and so often in unfamiliar places that it's not always easy to be independent. 

Another shot of the ruins.

St. John is so great. Even if it's not swimming weather you can hike and explore right from the beach.

A view of the mooring field. In the National Park you have to take a mooring ball.

More ruins.

A humid hike up the trail.

Once we start paying close attention we notice all kinds of creatures.

Bees at work.

Lots of these creepy crawlies were everywhere!

A pretty view partway up the trail. If we had realized this was the only view I think we would have stopped here. 

Because the trail ended here. On a road. Yay. 

All the bears gathered together for a screening of "The Wreck of the Faith." Following relentless badgering from the kids Andy downloaded some movie editing software. He and the kids put together the movie and posted it on youtube for the cast to enjoy. I think we watched it 400 times in the first two days. We had to enforce a headphones rule after the first 20 viewings. Drew and Cubby then put together blooper reels and a behind the scenes photo memories montage. It was really a great experience for all. 

What happens when I ask Drew to get some food out from under his bed. He screams for help and I take his picture. 

Another view. Maybe it's for the best that the camera died!

This was on the trail to the petroglyphs. Cubby and I turned back after this because Cubby wasn't feeling well. She got to swim at the beach instead.

But Andy and Drew got to the end and really enjoyed it.


I took Andy lobstering in the dinghy and came back to find that Drew had made lunch, the kids had tidied up, and Cubby was doing dishes. I nearly fainted.

On a snorkel from the beach Drew spotted what he thought was a stone crab. Andy snared it, we took one claw and threw the guy back. Then we discovered it was a coral crab. 

But we steamed and ate that one claw. Delish but doesn't go very far!

Rainy days are for bus rides to town! Safely tucked away in the mooring field we didn't realize just how rough the weather was until we had to dinghy on the "outside" to get to the bus stop. It was a wild ride and we got soaked by rain and waves. All that for groceries!

Chicken family hanging out in Cruz Bay. They all have names now. 

At the National Park Visitors Center. Drew pointing to where we're moored.

We couldn't believe that the luck of our timing coincided with my uke teacher's vacation to St. John! We had so much fun catching up with Uncle Zac and his wife Laurie. They treated us to a great lunch and a tour in their car. Since Laurie's mom lived on the island for many, many years and they've been visiting since their kids were little we got lots of local scoop. 

There are feral donkeys on St. John and we came across this tiny fuzzhead.

Once the weather improved we cleared back in to the BVIs and made our way to Anegada. This ruddy turnstone liked to look for crumbs on all the boats. I don't know why we chose this picture of all the ones we have but I'm not re-doing this! Anyway, once we realized how much he pooped we stopped providing extra crumbs. 

We returned to Anegada so Andy could kiteboard again. There are a few places we visited that are popular with kiteboarders and it gets crowded. But then there are other places that are virtually deserted. The Anegada Beach Club is one of them. I hope for their sake they get more business but it sure is nice having these places pretty much to ourselves. If you're looking to totally check out I highly recommend booking one of their tent cabin thingys on the beach. I only wish we had some pictures of it!

While Andy got ready the kids and I played in the pool and this is the last moment captured before our underwater (all-purpose, go-to, favoritest, much loved) camera flooded. Wah!

Drew brought his camera with him and managed to get a few shots of Andy on the go.

But then he got distracted.

Using the zoom lens.

Having some lunch.

Playing giant Jenga. 

Relaxing in the hammock.

Anegada is known for its lobsters. The local population is small and there aren't a ton of visitors so there are lots of lobsters. Ready to book your room yet?

Back in St. John. This floaty drifted past our boat so we put it to good use. 

Spider crab. Gross to cook, great for making dip.

Knowing we would miss lobster season in the Bahamas, Drew and Andy spent hours searching the reefs for lobster.  The rules in the VIs stipulate the use of a snare so lobstering is much more challenging but better for the population as "eggers" (females with eggs) can be released.  Hard to do that if you've put a spear through her face first.

We took a trail to the north shore and made a little memory scene. Aw.

Ram's head hike looking for a safe place to plant Vern, an accidental sprout from St. John on our boat. We had to make sure he was doing well before saying farewell to the Virgin Islands and heading for Puerto Rico. So long VIs. We hope to see you again one day! 

Friday, March 4, 2016


When we started covering old ground, flooded our camera, and faced the reality that we were on the home stretch of our trip, my desire to post any updates kind of died. But I'd hate to leave things dangling so here goes....

I can't believe it's been more than three months since we were in St. Martin again. We returned partly because we had to but mostly because we really, really wanted to. Everyone was eager to re-connect with friends. Drew wrote a movie script and Evelyn managed to convince their friends to film it. We had a lot to do in a short period of time! But we had a lot of fun getting there and being there.

We sailed at first light from Barbuda to St. Barth's and grabbed a mooring ball in beautiful Anse de Colombier at dusk. We decided to forego clearing in and visiting St. Barth's. The anchorages were so crowded and the scene just didn't appeal to us. Plus we weren't clean enough. So the next morning we hopped to Ile Fourchue and enjoyed some nice snorkeling off the boat. This is an interesting File fish. We had never seen one with this coloring. 

Nassau Grouper.

Ile Fourchue is private but mooring balls have been put in place and are free to use. Since the anchoring has been limited the turtle grass has returned and so have the turtles! We saw about a million of them. But it never gets old. 

The sail from Ile Fourchue was another beautiful downwinder. It was a short distance so we took our time and enjoyed the boat watching. The kids took in the view from higher up.  
We sailed right through a beautiful race.

We hadn't even dropped anchor in the bay before the kids got on the radio to call their friends. They had to wait for us to clear in and get settled in the lagoon in the afternoon before making plans. But we got together right away the next morning for a trip to the beach. Unfortunately Andy had the camera and took a thousand pictures of Sparkle instead of everyone else. Justin and Drew playing in the waves with an excited puppy. 

The kids stayed on Osler for a movie while we had our first time alone in what felt like years. So we enjoyed a stroll on the French side and an afternoon treat at famous Sarafinas. Lovely!

Shooting of the movie begins! When we agreed to help the kids make a movie we thought it might take a few hours. Ha!

Two days and many frayed nerves later.... 

We took a break from filming due to weather. Which gave Cubby a chance to go to a beach birthday party and spend the afternoon playing games and swimming with lots of other boat girls. And Drew and Justin were treated to an awesome hike with Judith. Here's the path.

More path

A dragonfly. Drew takes lots of photos.

Justin and Judith heading up.

Big spider.

Great view!

A view of Saba.

Justin and Drew taking a break at the top.

I'm glad they weren't standing up.

Climbing higher.

And an even better view. 

Overlooking the lagoon and Simpson Bay on the Dutch side. Tangent is the small catamaran with the dark sail cover on the left of the anchorage. You can really get a sense of why some boats earn the term "mega yacht."

We sat in the shade while Andy and the kids were hard at work. 

Filming the last scene - the rescue! That's a wrap! Thank f*cking goodness.

A final shot of the cast of "The Wreck of the Faith"

Cast and crew. So relieved it's over! In spite of the frustrations, the kids worked really hard and were deservedly proud of their efforts. It was really great that they saw it through to the bitter end and have great memories of this time. The best souvenirs are the ones we don't buy. 

More grown up time! The kids stayed on Tangent and did who knows what and who cares while we watched (some of?) the Commodores perform on one of the megayachts for someone's birthday. About halfway through our trip they suddenly became older and more independent which gave us more time with adults. Too little too late you rugrats!
We packed so much into so few days that our departure was quite harried. But we still managed to squeeze in a movie wrap dinner with the crews of Sail Pending and Osler. Before that we moved the boat out of the lagoon and into the bay (past this scene at the yacht club)  to stage for a night departure. It was pretty emotional passing through the bridge for the last time. It suddenly became the moment we were really turning our bow towards the end of our cruise. Yuck!