Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Too Much Of A Good Thing!

March 17 - 30, 2015
F - St Thomas,  E - St John,  D - Tortola,  C - Norman Island,  A - Virgin Gorda
Can you ever get too much of a good thing?  Maybe some times, but not when it comes to visits from family or the Virgin Islands.  And, if the family is visiting while in the Virgin Islands it's like hitting the jackpot at the dollar slots in Vegas!!!  Yippee......  Steve and his family left after a week in St John.  The winds were extremely high so we stayed in two well protected bays (Francis and Round).  Three days after their departure Jennifer arrived with her two children for a week.  The winds had died down and we were able to travel.  After leaving Red Hook on St Thomas, we went to our reliable Round Bay, St John.  Jennifer had never been to the BVI so the next three nights found us on Tortola, Norman Island, and Virgin Gorda.  One last night back in Round Bay so we could dingy to Coral Bay and take a taxi to Cruz Bay.  It was another week packed full.  As Jennifer said on Facebook "We aren't a group that tends to sit still. We like to take it all in!"
Jennifer and I were walking this short beach in
Round Bay, when we passed a couple that she
thought she recognized. It was Ron and Kathy.
She flew him when he was an executive at EDS.
They own the house at the end of the beach that
Brian and I had admired for several weeks. Super
nice people. They invited us up to the house for
a quick tour. It was f
un to see their island home.
First attempt at snorkeling was a huge success!
Who needs to snorkel when the water is this clear?
I don't know how JAC's mask kept water
out.  It was huge on her!
Christopher thought the snorkel and mask were a
great way to search for shells.

A visit to picturesque Soper's Hole in Tortola for shopping and dinner.
This beautiful ship passed us on our way to Norman
Island with all 18 sails up.
The 350 foot Stad Amsterdam.  Spectacular!
Snorkeling at the caves on Norman Island.
Once I told the kids that a pirate hid his treasure
in one of the caves, we had to explore all of them.
Relaxing at Pirate's Bight, Norman Island while the
kids roll in the sand and search for treasures.  
Off to explore Virgin Gorda. That's Gotta Smile in the

First stop of the day -- lunch at the
Fat Virgin Cafe.  Delicious lite meals
and fun stop.
A quick visit to Leverick Bay.  JAC
decided to try a local favorite, Ting.

Another Pusser's visit at Leverick.

Still time to hike all of the Bitter End. 

Back in Round Bay, St John. Christopher
analyzes the leap of about 6 feet to the
water from mid-deck.

Jennifer and Christopher take the
leap and then it gets crazy!

JAC out does them all by going off
backwards!  Love her form...

Lots of goats and sheep running wild as we
walk through Coral Bay.

I know it looks like we're riding in the back of a 
pickup truck, but in St John this is a taxi.  Heading 
into Cruze Bay on our last night.  Early tomorrow 
it's back to Red Hook, St Thomas and the airport.

When we returned to the boat after visiting Cruze Bay, we found that the generator wouldn't start.....again!  Brian just put a new fuel pump in a couple of weeks ago.  We made it to Red Hook the next morning.  After a full day of trouble shooting, he found the problem:  relays, salt water pump, temperature and pressure sensors.  Once again we are lucky that we were where we could get parts.  Another week in Red Hook.  It could have been much worse.      
Forget Waldo.........Where's Kenny?
Kenny Chesney's 60 foot Sundancer, Flagship, is
 across the dock from us.

Gotta Smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St John And Provisioning In Puerto Rico

February 25 - March 16, 2015

14 - St Barts, 15 - St Martin, 16 - Anguilla, 17 - BVI, 18 - USVI, 19 - Puerto Rico
The United States bought the US Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million to keep an unfriendly country from occupying land too close to our shores.  It became a military outpost that was also in a good position to defend the Panama Canal.  

St John
A - Francis Bay/Maho Bay, B - Round Bay, C - Red Line -- Our Killer Hike
About 2/3’s of St John is a National Park (9485 acres) with an additional 13,000 acres of adjoining submerged land and water.  The island is roughly the size of Manhattan — 19 square miles.  Thanks to the park — much of the land is untouched.  There is no airport and no cruise ship dock.  While St Thomas is a hustle bustle place, St John is a laid back community of free spirits, artists and writers.    

St John continues to be one of our favorite islands.  We have had some beautiful days here including our daughter’s wedding in 2001.  On our way south we stayed for about a month and we will be here that long again.  January of 2016 will find us back visiting our friends Didi and Peter.  They have rented a home and invited us to join them for a week!  I don’t think we will ever get too much of this place.  

Our first anchorage was Round Bay, adjacent to Coral Bay.  It is pristine, less populated, has a beautiful beach and is only a short dingy ride to Coral Bay.  We stayed here on our last trip.  It also offers great protection from wind and waves.       
I’m still under my fitbit’s control.  Twice in this
anchorage I did a 20 min swim to the beach so I
 could get in my 10K steps.  The second day Brian saw
  two turtles swimming with me on my way to the beach.
He thought I looked tired as I was swimming back to the
 boat and came to rescue me in the dingy.  I was about 2/3's
of the way back and glad to see him. Of course, I couldn’t
get into the boat so he threw me a line and towed me like a
 harpooned whale! 
What little dignity I had has been lost down here.


We had been in contact with John and Paulette on Seamantha, a 58 Krogen, for several weeks hoping to spend a little time together. We were finally successful In Francis Bay.  It was like old home week.  We have never known so many other boats in one bay at the same time.  Besides Seamantha — there was Bodacious, a 39 Krogen, with Jo and Jack, and James, who we met last year in Bequia.  James wants to buy a Krogen, but hasn’t convinced his wife that life on the water is a great decision. One day after we anchored Jill and David arrived on Sweet Chariot to make our stay even more fun.       
Beautiful Seamantha

Bodacious with her flopper stoppers extended.

We crossed wakes with Sylken Sea in several bays.

Jill and David heard about a Folk Festival at the Annaberg Plantation:  a good walk, interesting historical site and a chance to see the local school children perform. 
The hike begins after a short dingy ride.

We never know what kind of critters we are going to
see on these islands.  Lots of sheep, goats and


The windmill tower originally had large
revolving canvas sails.  This is where
the sugar cane was crushed.

Remnants of the boiling house where the juice of the
sugar cane was boiled down to make brown sugar.
The boiling kettles.

Preparing traditional Johnny Cake bread in a
wood fired oven.  Not too tasty by today's standards.

School children performing folk dances.

Younger children learning a dance and being
entertained by stilt walkers.

Back where we started.  A quick swim before we
head back to the boats.

That hike went so well that when David suggested we do a hike across the mountains from Coral Bay to Maho Bay we immediately agreed.  Even when we were told that it was an “expert trail” we continued.  And, as it began to rain making the gravel, mud and leaf strewn trail slippery we continued!  We all made it with only minor scrapes.  
Lunch at the infamous Skinny Legs before we begin
the hike.

Why is it so impossible to show
elevation in a photo? This is a steep
section. I have one hand on David's
shoulder and the other griping a walking

At last a familiar sight -- the plantation we visited
the day before.  Now only a mile back to the dingy!

  A Snorkeling trip with John, Paulette and David.

As much as we hated to leave this merry group of boating friends, we had to head over to Fajardo, Puerto Rico to get supplies.  Both of our children are arriving with their families and the larder is bare.  
We set an all time personal best at Costco….. $1268
 plus just under $200 at additional grocery stores.
 Every nook and cranny of this boat is filled and both
freezers are bulging!  Time for the kids to arrive.

Puerto Rico has four Costco’s.  Almost anything that is needed for boat parts and provisioning can be found on this island.  If you are a regular reader, you know that we love Costco!  We had to go to two of the four to find everything that we needed and because the car was on overload after the first stop.    

Back seat folded down, freezer chilled and groceries
from the front seat to the tailgate. 

Friday morning the engine was running, everything was stowed, the lines were ready to be pulled, and the generator wouldn’t start!  We had planned to meet up with Sweet Chariot in Culebra before heading to St Thomas on Saturday.  Steve and his family were arriving on Saturday at 3:30.  Brian did some quick troubleshooting and called the Krogen guru, Scotty — The Hottie!  Scottie gave him a list of things to check and Brian narrowed it down to the fuel pump.  Now we had to find a fuel pump, rent a car and get across town in rush hour traffic before the Northern Lights dealer closed at 5.  We were getting close, but not going to make it by 5.  A call to the parts department and the very nice manager said she would wait until 6 for us.  We were there by 5:10.  
At our dock to see us off at 5:45 AM!

Jill and David came to Fajardo and were waiting for us when we returned to the marina.  We had a farewell dinner at a waterfront restaurant and talked about getting together again in Australia or Florida or a new unexplored location!     

Saturday morning we were on our way to St Thomas at 5:45.  The waves were hitting us on the bow and both sides.  We really needed the stabilizers, but they were not responding.  Turned out a wire had broken when Brian was working on the generator.  After six hours of being tossed around (and me tossing my cookies), we made it to the protected bay of Culebra.  Brian was able to make a wire harness that bypassed the problem area.  We had stabilizers again!  

Steve, Erin and kiddies got to the Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas marina about 45 minutes before us.  We no more pulled into our slip then we realized that the fresh water pump had quit working.  That’s the third major component to quit in three days!  ENOUGH…..  Sunday morning a walk to the marina’s ship store found a pump and the additional fittings.  With everything needed for repairs on board we were able to leave for Francis Bay on St John. 

It wasn’t a very rough ride, but enough to make Addison, Niko and Erin seasick. 

A week of fun in the sun -------   

Swimming off the boat

First time for the kids to snorkel -- huge success!

Waiting for the bus from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay

Yummy fish tacos.

In our sea grape cave to get a little relief from the sun.

Niko's smillie face castle

Beach exploration

I got Niko to stand still for a minute.

Time to go to the airport and back to Minnesota.
Three days to clean, do laundry and rest before
Jennifer arrives with Christopher and JAC!

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!