After a week of ordering parts, waiting for parts and installing parts we were ready to leave Red Hook, St Thomas. The marina is in need of some updating, but the staff is extremely nice and helpful. We checked in thinking we would only be with them for a couple of days. We discovered the repair was going to be more involved than anticipated and we would need a full week. Even though it was one their busiest weeks, they moved boats around so we could remain in our current slip for the entire week. There is an excellent new grocery, Moes, across the street from the marina. The marine store is also well stocked. Not as well as when we arrived, because Brian made so many trips purchasing multiple items on each visit.
We were definitely looking forward to getting out of the marina and on with our exploration. Since hurricane season ended in October we have been on board for 134 days. Of the 134 days we have had guests with us for 82 days. We love sharing our travels with family and friends, but now it is time to relax and travel on our own schedule.
Our first stop was The Bitter End, Virgin Gorda, BVI. Friends Paulette and John have a 58 foot Krogen and are just beginning their travels south. We spent time with them in and around St John, but wanted another couple of days while neither of us had company. So glad we were able to connect. Two days of hiking with them gave us a chance to see some of the highlights of Virgin Gorda.
Dingy ride from mooring to Bitter End.
If you ever need a taxi or tour guide in Virgin Gorda,
ask for Stamboo. Everyone on the island knows him!
He is very knowledgeable about the history, native
plants, island cooking, restaurants, trails for hiking.
And, he is a very nice person.
The Baths is a collection of massive granite boulders, (some are as large as 40 feet in diameter) that came out of the earth in lava flows. Pristine white sand beaches and secret rock pools make it a great hike. The boulders were once embedded in volcanic lava. Weathering has worn away the softer lava rock and has carved large holes in the granite boulders. The Devil's Bay Trail winds over under and between the boulders.
After climbing ladders and boulders, holding on to rope railings and squeezing through crevices, we made it to Devil's Bay.
|Remains of a copper mine built in the 1800's.|
The water just below the mine has the greenish glow
of oxidized copper.
|A second day of exploration begins at the remains|
of a sugar mill.
|Overlooking Maho Bay, an upscale residential area.|
|Our hike to the top of Gorda Peak begins.|
The highest point on the island, 1348 feet.
|The sap of pitch apple was used to seal the hulls |
of boats. A predecessor to 3M's 5200!
|At the summit, we climbed a tower for a 360|
degree view and rested.
|The view was a little hazy but worth the hike!|
|Hermit crabs were seen frequently scurrying|
across the path. The large ones will fight
ferociously for the ideal shell.
|The hike took 2 1/4 hours. When we got to the|
bottom, Stamboo had begun hiking up to look for
us. He thought we might have been injured since
he estimated we'd be done in 1 1/2 hours. Nice guy!
|Lunch at Hog Heaven. The perfect name for a|
barbecue restaurant that is so high on the mountain
it must be close to heaven!
When we left the Bitter End our intention was to stay at Marina Cay. We arrived to find very rough water, high winds and no protection. Bail's Bay was just around the island so we gave it a try. Two attempts at anchoring proved the water was too deep and the bottom was too rocky. Location number three was the adjacent Lee Bay. Finally, all of the required conditions were met and we were settled for the night.
|Our quiet anchorage in Lee Bay.|
|Another less than perfect day at Marina Cay gave us|
an opportunity to visit an old favorite, Cooper Island.
|No, the helicopter isn't landing on Gotta Smile!|
He belongs to our big neighbor. Of course, the
helicopter is painted to match the yacht.
Would you expect anything less?
|Finally good conditions at Marina Cay gave us a|
chance to snorkel the coast of Great Camanoe. Some
of the best coral we have seen in a long time.
We took one day to do some tasks that had been put off. Brian isolated our six house batteries and tested each of them. Two were still in great shape. Two were functioning. And, the last two were all but dead. The dead ones had been pulling the others down so we had to charge more often and for longer times. We are going to try running on four and see what happens. The hope is that we can make it back to the States before we purchase new ones. They are about half the price back home.
|If this doesn't look steep, check out|
the traffic sign warning truckers.
Probably the most thrilling roads on our trip were encountered the day we rented a car on Tortola. I'm telling you... these are steep roads with extreme hairpin turns in rapid succession. The good thing was--there were very few cars on the roads. We made one wrong turn and within 10 minutes we were surprised to be on the other side of the island! Yes, it is a small island. We had a very good day with stops at two of the top ranked beaches, a tour of Road Town, a great grocery and lots of breathtaking scenery.
|Look at this warning sign for trucks. A |
lot of the trucks can only carry partial
loads due to the steep grade.
|Another view of Cane Garden Bay.|
|This is when we discovered we had|
made a wrong turn...overlooking
Road Town, the capital of the BVI.
|Brewers Bay is ranked one of the most beautiful|
bays in the Virgin Islands. We walked it in the
afternoon and thought it didn't begin to compare
to Cane Garden.
Our last two days in the BVI took us to Jost Van Dyke. We hadn't been there on this trip and it is one of the few islands with a customs office. Our two week visitor's pass was about to expire. We would need to check out as we head to the USVI.
|The infamous bubble pool on Jost.|
Unfortunately, the day we hiked to it
there were no bubbles. The surf is
supposed to come roaring in and
make this little pool a natural spa.
At least it was a good hike.
Jost is named after a Dutch pirate, but the real hero of this island is Foxy Callwood. He started Foxy's in 1967 with a bar the size of a lemonade stand. It has evolved into the quintessential beach bar that is known around the world.
|Foxy's classic beach bar.|
Grabbing a mooring ball had become a simple procedure for us --- until we got to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke. The pennant on the mooring ball snagged on our stabilizer fin. No matter how we maneuvered we could not get it free. Brits to our rescue! Martin and Reese came over in their dingy and tugged from different angles while we kept pulling against them. Finally, we were free. We asked if we could buy them drinks after lunch and they suggested the Soggy Dollar. We were near Foxy's and thought the Soggy Dollar was at the other end of the beach. When we walked to the other end of the beach, we were told it is in the next bay....about a 30 minute walk. Well, I'm still wearing my fitbit so I say sure we can do that and off we go! They didn't say that we had to walk over a mountain to get to the next bay. OMG, what a walk it was and in the heat of the day! After lunch and a few drinks, the Brits arrived by dingy. They were so darn smart. When it was time to say good-bye, there was no discussion -- we had a lovely taxi ride back to Foxys.
|Nearing the summit of our hike we get a fabulous view of Great Harbour.|
Foxy's where we left the dingy is at the far, far, far end of the beach.
|The darkest mountain in the foreground is the|
one we walked over.
|Beginning the trek downhill. Do you see how far|
it is to sea level?
|The Soggy Dollar...|
Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!
|The Brits: Julie, Reese and Martin.|