Monday, February 02, 2015

USVI 2015 - Day 2 - Christmas Cove, St. Thomas, to Maho Bay, St. John

Day 2 - first full day on the boat. Please click on the picture to properly enjoy the little hand-drawn sailboats, which I decided to do while there was a pot of shrimp shells simmering on the stove, which I completely forgot about as I got into decorating the chart, that is until my apartment filled with the horrible stench of smoldering shrimp shells. I hope you really like the chart. BTW "shrimp shells simmering" is an awesome tongue twister. Go on, try it, five times fast. OK, now back to my trip report. 
Here was the morning view out of our cabin porthole at Christmas Cove. I'd meant to do this every morning but I didn't remember every day, I'd get up and just lose track and then it would be time to go. Got some, though.

Lenore and Dave and I jumped in the water to kick off Day 2 with a very quick snorkel. I didn't even take my camera for this first one because this was my first snorkel since 2010 in Hawaii, and this time I just wanted to look (I see things differently when I'm not trying to get pictures of them; I love taking pictures, but sometimes it's good to leave the camera on the boat). We swam to the small island in the cove, the appropriately named Fish Cay. It was lovely, of course, although the swim was all too short. That was just the first of many opportunities, though.

Once we were back on the boat, we raised anchor (realizing as the boat approached the anchor that the anchor hadn't set at all -- we could see it through the clear water, and it was basically lying on its side, the weight of the chain and the lightness of the breezes were what had held us in place overnight -- wince -- point taken) and set off for Maho Bay on the neighboring island of St. John, where we were going to pick up a special guest star sailor, Jenn's nephew Jacob, who was going to be joining us for a couple of days.

We alternated between sailing and motorsailing for the short trip over, having one moment of concern when the breeze, which had been light, died almost entirely in a rather tight spot between Lovango Cay and the Durloe Cays (right in the area marked Windward Passage in the chart detail above, click on the picture for detail) and the motor started only reluctantly, after a couple of tries. We'd had the same problem that

The motor did start in time to avoid putting a running-aground sort of damper on our trip (which would have sucked at any point in the trip, but especially this early!), but Capt. Kat didn't forget that.

We made it to Maho Bay without any further issues. Look how beautiful! 
We picked up a mooring ball, since they were available and we didn't want to do the anchor dance again. Capt. Kat called Island Yachts and left a message about the engine, and at some point, the decision was made to stay here for the night. The original plan had been to pick up Jacob and kick off his stay with a quick little sail around the corner to Leinster Bay, but Kat consulted with Jenn, who knows the area, and decided that with the engine being a problem that might need attention from the owners, this would be a better place to stay, as there's a much more serviceable road to this location in case the charter company needed to send someone - we were nice and secure on a mooring ball here, Jenn said that there's a road to Leinster Bay but it's pretty much 4-wheel-drive only and this would be a much easier place to get to. Plus, look how beautiful.

That next big decision was whether you were going to be in the dinghy shore party meeting Jacob and his dad, Jenn's brother Prince, who was dropping Jacob off, or go snorkeling. It was a tough call, three turtles had swum by while we were mooring, but I decided to join the welcoming committee in the dinghy with Jenn and Capt. Kat, while Dave and Lenore and TQ opted for snorkeling. Bye guys! 

One nice dinghy picture. And it was a nice dinghy, with a shiny new motor that started on the first pull almost every time, if you didn't pull like a weenie, which I sometimes did. 

 It's a little bit tricky to coordinate picking somebody up with a sailboat, because you don't really know what time you're going to get there until you get there. Jenn had called her brother when we were in the vicinity, but of course it took a little while for them to get there - no problem though, we were all perfectly happy to just hang out. Wouldn't you be? 

Jacob and his dad turned up while I was swimming; I didn't get to meet Jenn's brother but we would all have a chance to meet him later in the trip - the main objective here was to pick up Sailor #7 and here he is! 

We did eventually hear back from Island Yachts about the engine, and it was weird but basically good news - the engine had indeed been having problems before, and one of the folks there had done a workaround involving a manual override starting button that was wired directly to the engine; if the engine didn't start when you tried to start it the normal way, all you had to do was have someone run down to the cabin that TQ and I were in, open the engine access there, pull out the override switch, have somebody turn the key up in the cockpit and when you heard the beeping, press the button. We did end up using this a couple of times so it was a good call to have made (would've been nice to know about before we left but I think Skip may not have been the usual check-out person or something, and this had been a very recent repair).

Since we weren't rushing off anywhere, Jacob got a dinghy-driving lesson from Capt. Kat - she's in charge on these trips but she likes everybody to be as involved as they can be, and she's a great teacher (btwm if you'd ever like to take a lesson from her, she teaches with Steve and Doris Colgate's Offshore Sailing School - it's alphabetical and she's second from the end; I don't know if you can request an instructor when you go for a class but it can't hurt to ask, right?). I actually felt a little bit bad about catching Jacob in a little bit of a wiggle when he was mostly doing pretty well, but Kat actually said that was good work on his part - something went a little bit wrong and he stayed calm and got it back under control without her having to step in at all. 

After the dinghy lesson, we settled down in the cockpit for a delicious dinner of pasta with tomatoes and brie, prepared by Lenore, who ended spoiling the rest of us by stepping up as our dinner chef (with her husband David helping out) every night we ate on the boat; wine for the grownups, almond milk for Jacob, then what Lenore called "E-Z Tiramisu" for dessert - ladyfingers with mascarpone and chocolate, very tasty. Jacob told us stories about his sailing school, which he loves (they've got some great sailing instructors down there and Jacob's is teaching his students to be absolutely fearless in close-quarter sailing with some crazy games like "bailer bombing", where the kids, working in teams of 2 per boat all try to swamp each others' Optis with their bailers - Jacob's favorite game, I think!), and we talked sunburns and superheroes and looked at the stars and luminescent critters in the water. I slept well in this quiet anchorage, awakening only for a bit of a squall that blew through at 2 am - Kat and TQ were already up on deck when I woke up and heard the wind and went to see. Everything was fine, Kat secured the laundry that we'd hung out on the lifelines with a few more clothespins and that was that, back to sleep! 


clairesgarden said...

it just looks stunning. what a lovely lovely trip

bonnie said...

It was! It was!