Monday, 30 December 2013

No 34 Christmas at St Johns I, USVI

Hi from Clare,                                           Sunday 29th December 2013-12-30
Well the good news for this week is that we have passed the winter solstice and we experienced three consecutive days without rain; a very promising sign.

Check the machine on the right - we think she was making icecream
The Laundry
After Deb flew out from Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas last Saturday we headed to the local laundry. The place was pretty busy when we arrived at 11am but we were told by the only other cruising lady present that this was nothing compared to the crowd at 7am. It was quite a cultural experience, the large Afro-American ladies were friendly but they sorted me out very smartly with "I'm next, then all these ladies then you, so you'll be waiting a looong time, sit down". OK, we got the picture and settled in. There were about thirty washing machines and forty dryers and I think the local ladies must have been spring cleaning as just about very lady there was washing curtains, floor mats, bed spreads, blankets, pillows, cushion covers along with loads of clothing. It must have been pretty normal as laundry sold large white plastic laundry bags and each lady upon finishing, backed her car up to the door and stuffed it full; we could hardly see the driver for the bags. With all the activity time passed quickly and we are not sure if we waited our turn but the male Afro-American attendant who seemed to be keeping everything moving, gave us the nod so that was good enough for us.


Christmas day
Lameshur Bay
We sailed back to Francis bay on St John Island for Christmas Day. We joined English friends Judith and Ken on 'Badgers Sett' along with Rowena and Richard from 'Galene' to celebrate. We had planed drinks on the beach on Xmas Eve but torrential rain and 35 knots of wind soon ended that idea. Fortunately Christmas Day was the first of our three consecutive days without rain; it was a sparkling day. The six of us combined our resources and celebrated on 'Badgers Sett' with champagne starters and an avocado entrée, followed by roast turkey and beef with baked vegetables, plum pudding with brandy butter, apple crumble cake with cream and custard all washed down with lots of wine and we finished six hours later watching a gorgeous sunset with a cheese platter and a bottle of port. It was a lively day and one we will remember for some time

Views from our hike

On Boxing Day Eye Candy sailed to the south side of St John Island to Great Lameshur Bay. We caught up with Mary and Jeff on 'Echo' for a sun downer and a three hour chat; it was good to see them again. We have been snorkelling and swimming each day. Great Lameshur is a beautiful calm bay in the National Park; we are surrounded by lush green hills. Yesterday we went for a 2 mile hike along a National Park trail and through a pass to the next valley to see the Petroglyphs. These rock carvings were done around 900-1500AD by the pre-Columbian Taino and their ancestors. The walk was heavy going at times but it was well worth it as we enjoyed the forest and the coastal views were spectacular.



The Petroglyphs (on the left)
Today Andrew is beavering away down the back of the boat repairing a broken wire on the rudder reference unit. The boat is so tightly packed nowadays that although he has pulled things apart at the back of the boat, the spare rudder reference unit had to be dug out from under the front bunk and he has installed a new course computer behind the cushions in the saloon area. So we are looking like the scene of an explosion at the moment. There's a good chance we will find things we didn't know we had!

New Year's Eve, but who knows where. Isn't life wonderful?
I will post photos when next we have internet access.
Love Candy xx

At 5:12 PM28/12/2013 (utc) our position was 18°19.00'N 064°43.30'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, 23 December 2013

No 33 St John and St Thomas USVI

Hi from Clare,                  Sunday 22nd December 2013

When last I wrote we had just arrived in St John USVI. We've had a very social week catching up with some of our Salty Dawg friends.
A quiet anchorage in St Johns 

We firstly had drinks with American friends Seale and Hank on their large Catana catamaran. They hosted the evening for eleven Salty Dawgs from five boats. It was terrific to meet some of the people we have been in radio contact with throughout the Rally. We anchored in Francis Bay on St John's Island and enjoyed snorkelling, swimming and sunbaking. We enjoyed a lovely shaded bush walk around the waterfront to Water Lemon Bay. We climbed the hill and viewed the remains of an old sugar plantation. In the past sugar was the main industry on the island and the plantations were operated with slave labour. We then moved the short distance to Water Lemon Bay for more snorkelling.
Views of Sir Francis Drake Passage

This old windmill powered a sugar mill
The Following day we sailed from the north side to the south side of St John Island to Salt Pond Bay. Not a very glamorous name but the bay is beautiful. Just a short walk inland revealed the natural salt pond. By this time Flash had caught up with us and so we had drinks on Eye Candy and another enjoyable social evening was had. The following morning we (Andrew, Deb and I) went for a bush walk out to the end of the island. Seale and Hank on Flash had highly recommended the coastal scenery. Unfortunately for us it rained and it was so windy as we climbed higher we seriously ran the risk of being blown off balance. We didn't reach the highest point for this reason and although we got a glimpse south across the Caribbean sea it was too grey and wild for the perfect scenic photo shoot.
Ram Head
By the time we got back to the boat it was sunny again and so we settled for a swim and another snorkel. We joined Seale and Hank on Flash for drinks along with Terry and Bob from Kismet. Hank was mixing Pain killers that were guaranteed to do the job, that's if they didn't knock you out completely. I decided to mix my own weak rum and tonic proving at long last that 'you can live and learn'.
Entering Charlotte Amalia
We sailed the short distance to Christmas Cove on St Thomas for lunch where we met up with Mary and Jeff on Echo who we spent Hurricane Sandy with last year in Virginia. Since then Jeff has had a triple bypass and is now very gratefully enjoying a new lease of life. We also met up with Salty Dawgs Fiona and Tim on Endless Pleasure. So we had a very busy lunch break and Deb enjoyed her last swim for the holiday before we moved to the capital city and busy harbour of Charlotte Amalie.
Cruise ships in Charlotte Amalia
The following day we explored the town and enjoyed some retail therapy in the duty free shops. Deb bought a few more gifts to take home. She came with two small bags but is leaving with three. Andrew and I bought ourselves Christmas presents; new binoculars for Andrew and a pocket size underwater camera for me.

Deb left yesterday after a three month holiday. In the beginning she was saying "I can't believe I am in New York" towards the end she was saying "I can't believe I won't be here in a few days" - suffice to say she was feeling quite at home on the water.

Bringing home the shopping

Last night we moved half a mile away from the busy harbour and anchored in a quiet bay near by. We had drinks with English OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) friends Judith and Ken on Badgers Set. This morning we took the dinghy ashore to the beach bar and connected to WiFi for the first time in two weeks. We will post both this and last week's newsletters shortly.
Debs departure
We will head back to Francis Bay St John Island for Xmas day. We will know a few people there and it is a large well protected bay. After that we will probably go around to the south side of St John's and explore a few of the bays that we missed.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love Candy and no Deb xx

At 12:53 PM14/12/2013 (utc) our position was 18°21.85'N 064°44.78'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

N0 32 USVI

Hi from Clare,                         Thursday 12th December 2013

When last I wrote we were on the Island of Jost Van Dyke in a shallow bay well known for Foxy's Bar where they serve the best Painkillers (a rum drink with pineapple and orange juice, coconut milk and nutmeg). At Foxy's we had access to WiFi and so before the second Painkiller we managed to send last week's newsletter. We stayed overnight and left early the following morning and returned to Peter Island to seek cover from a cold front and strong winds predicted.
Foxys from the dinghy dock

Foxys from the inside

The ceiling at Foxys
Little Harbour on Peter Island was home for the next four nights. It is a perfect place to wait and swim in flat calm water while watching the white caps and currents rush by just outside the bay in Sir Francis Drake channel. We were anchored and tied stern-to along with about fifteen other boats. It was just like being in Turkey and I'm pleased to say that our skills for tying stern-to practised and perfected in Turkey, haven't been forgotten. The procedure is to drop the anchor about 40-50 metres from the shore, back in slowly feeding the chain out. When close to shore Andrew's launches the dinghy with the rope already feed into it, rows to a rock which has already been selected and ties the rope to the rock. I then pull in any slack and wrap the rope around a cleat on the boat. Sounds simple but speed is of the essences or you will lose control of the boat and the whole thing goes to pot. Needless to say our entertainment for the next few days was watching less experienced folk tackle the procedure with not enough chain down, not enough rope to reach shore, bundles of rope in a dinghy all knotted together, people diving off the back of boats to swim ashore with the rope between their teeth and neighbouring dinghies helping to push any wayward boat into position.
Internet at Foxys

The weather has been pretty much the same as last week, a continuous pattern of wind, rain, sun and heat. We have been swimming each day and enjoying the sunshine.

Yesterday we checked out of the British Virgin Islands and entered the US Virgin Islands. There are three USVIs. We are currently on St John's which is mostly National Park and has many bush walks and lovely beaches. We checked in with US Customs in the tourist town of Cruz Bay. So far this is the only town we have been to but we could notice the US influence on the island with better quality roads walkways tourist shops and malls. It is a very pretty little town and crowded with American tourists. Unfortunately I didn't have our camera with us and so missed out on photos.

I think tomorrow we will move down to the USVI island of St Thomas. Once again there is a strong wind forecast for the weekend and so we will be in search of a peaceful bay. St Thomas is the most populated of the USVIs and we are looking forward to seeing it.

Love Candy and Deb xxx

At 12:53 PM14/12/2013 (utc) our position was 18°21.85'N 064°44.78'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

No 31/13 Rain and Sun

Hi from Clare,                                          Wednesday, 4th December 2013

OPEN SHUT AND OPEN SHUT AND GIVE A LITTLE CLAP (Until this week these were just words from a child's nursery rhyme)
For the past week we have experienced cycles of sunshine, heat, wind and rain. I seem to spend most of my day watching the weather and opening and closing hatches. Years ago when first on the boat, Andrew christened me "Minister for Openings and Closings". Well I can tell you, the poor old Minister is working overtime this week. It has also rained every night except for one and so the Minister is working night shift as well. Today the weather is no different, we had dead calm this morning then a boisterous sail to our next destination followed by rain and now we are seeking shelter from forecast strong wind; nothing like a bit of variety to keep us on our toes.

The highlights for the week have been some terrific company and some good snorkelling. We had English friends Rob and Sarah from 'Serafina' on Eye Candy for drinks and then a few nights later we went to their boat for drinks and met a new English couple Ian and Fiona from 'Ruffian'. Both nights were very entertaining as Rob is a talented story teller and after spending a good proportion of his work life around charter boats he has a wealth of experience from which to draw.

Deb, Rob and Sarah & Dead Mans Bay, Peter Is

After saying in my last newsletter that the snorkelling was ho hum we managed to find a few good sites on Norman Island. There are some lovely caves to snorkel and the fish life is the best we have seen in the BVIs. I love seeing all the tropical fish and when the water is around 28 degrees it is a pleasure; in fact I hate having to get out of the water.

We went over to the island of Tortola for provisioning. There were two large cruise ships in the harbour and Tortola is also the base for Sunsail, Moorings and a few other yacht chartering companies. We heard that the fresh fruit and veg arrives Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon the best of it has gone. I guess with hundreds of charter yachts provisioning for the following week it is no real surprise. We arrived Sunday mid morning and got everything we needed except for tomatoes; they were totally sold out. Not to worry we restocked the Rum supply so hell, who needs tomatoes.

Windward side of Peter Is and Benures Bay, Norman Is    TAKING IT EASY We are now on the island of Jost Van Dyke. It is overcast and threatening rain, certainly a lot different from the brilliant sunshine we experienced here last April. It's probably a good thing to have a few dull days as Deb has been working on her suntan and she is fast approaching the colour of the natives. We will have to be careful going into town as we could loose her in the crowd.

We will be in the BVIs for a few more days before we go across to the American Virgin Islands. Andrew and I haven't been there before and so we are all looking forward to the adventure.

Love Candy and Deb xxx.

At 5:01 PM4/12/2013 (utc) our position was 18°26.49'N 064°45.62'W

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: