Thursday, February 12, 2015


Just a note about the photographic short comings of this post: Hadrian decided to put the waterproof abilities of our camera to the test. Need I say more? We will add the photos that we have taken prior to the untimely dunking to this post as soon as possible.

A recent post from our friends Eben & Genevieve made the need to stock up on food and snacks in St. Thomas very clear. The post shows a bag of chips selling for $13 dollars! Whats the price for dinner? I can't imagine.
The price of foods in St. Thomas is a moving target to say the least. A 4-pack of butter ranges from $4 to $9 from one store to the next, for the same exact product. To complicate matters there is not one store that's cheaper than the other, you have to comparison shop each product. For the most part, you will find that prices are 30% to 50% more than in the States. If you think that these prices are shocking, they can even they can double as we move through the Virgin Islands. Luckily we provisioned well in Puerto Rico.
We rented a car at the airport because a taxi is too expensive. Marie didn't add me as a second driver so I will have to endure the horror of being a passenger in her car. If this was not enough, in St. Thomas you must drive on the left side of the street. Marie asked me to keep reminding her to stay on the left. I just know this is going to be  a spiritual experience.
St. Thomas gets visited by about 4 to 6 cruise ships a day. These ships bring around 3000 to 5000 tourist each. Sometimes there are 18,000 tourist walking around, looking for something to do. It can get really crowded. A very popular destination is Megan's Beach. When we reached the entrance to Megan's Beach there were about 10 safari taxis in line. I couldn't believe this was the line to get in so I told Marie to go around them. A security guard stepped in front of our car (he obviously didn't realize the peril he was in), and turned us around with the best "mad face" that he could muster. Forget Megan's Beach it's too crowded. They were even charging 2 bucks a person to stand on that crowded strip of sand!
We decided to make the best of the car and explore all the nooks and crannies of the island. From an overlook near an area called Red Hook on the east side, we could see St.John, Tortola and many smaller islands. It is really easy to island hop the Virgin Islands.
Back on the boat, we were horrified to find we had a stowaway. A rat had found its way on-board and was eating our food. Every morning I would find newly damaged food packages. We went to Home Depot and armed ourselves with a variety of traps. I went to bed that night expecting to wake up and find our little guest in a trap. It was not to be, the little guy was smarter than we were. He ignored the traps, and ate less encumbered fare. This went on for several nights. I was really worried about the damage that the rat might cause. If he turns his attention to the wiring, he could cost us thousands. I was contemplating an all-out assault, I would stay up all night with a BB gun. Yeah, I was desperate, but one wonderful morning we awoke, and Vanilla, our dog, had caught the rat! I could have kissed the little dog...but it had just caught a rat with her mouth, yuck. We were shocked by the size of the rat. Some of our traps were simply too small to catch a rat this big, to think he was living with us! In any case, the ordeal was all behind us now.
We left Compass Cove marina, and picked up a mooring ball at Christmas Cove, off St. James island. There we met up with Necesse with Eben, Geneviève, Arias, and Ellia. Everybody is happier with friends to share the experiences with. After a few days of frolicking we decided to sail to St. John. We visited Cruz Bay, a bustling little port, and spent the night in a very rolly anchorage. The ferries really rock this place. By morning we all wanted a little more stability. We sailed over to Francis Bay and picked up another mooring ball.
Our approach to Caneel Bay.

Francis Bay in St. John.

An old plantation windmill. You can see a 5 masted cruise ship in the background.
A view of Tortola from St. John.
An abandoned fishing shack.
I bought 10 gallons of gasoline 4 months ago in Puerto Rico, for the dinghy. The ethanol in today's gas is very unstable. Eben helped me tow the dink to the beach to see if we could get it going. I have taken apart and cleaned the carburetor 10 times in the last 2 days. How do you get rid of 10 gallons of bad gas! I have tried some fuel additives with some success. I can somehow barely keep my motor running, but it's so much effort.
The next day we sailed over to Leinster Bay, and picked up a mooring. It is incredible how easy it is to sail around the Virgin Islands, no more rough passage crossings for us! We all jumped in the water with our snorkeling gear, and discovered a gorgeous reef around us. The kids can't even fake being bored these days.
Eben mentions going to Jost Van Dyke 3 times a day. The next morning we released our mooring ball, and headed to?? you guessed it, Jost Van Dyke! An hour or so of sailing, and we arrived at Great Harbor to pick up another mooring ball.
Mooring balls are so much easier than anchoring because we don't have an electric winch as do many boats these days. No, we have the "Back-Breaker 3000". It has a 3 foot handle that one must crank back and forth vigorously as the winch inches in the chain...slowly. They call this "mechanical advantage". It comes from a time when people were hardier, like Neanderthals, if you will.
Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke.

The main affair at Jost Van Dyke is an iconic bar called Foxy's. It is like a cruiser mecca. Their signature drink is the Painkiller. The sun had just set when the first crew member surcame to the concoction, and had to be carried out (name withheld for the preservation of dignity). The next morning at 7 am a man came by the boat, hollering "hello", over and over until Marie got up, and poked her head out. "I'm collecting mooring fees" said the man, "30 dollars, please". Crushed was our illusion about moorings, and the wake up call didn't help.
We all decided to move over to a less crowded area. At the very east end of the Island there was a natural formation called "the Bubbles" that we all wanted to see. We anchored in an area called Sandy Spit, and dinghied to shore. The kids had a blast playing in the natural Jacuzzi. While not a world wonder, the Bubbles were well worth the visit.
The next morning we all headed to Soper's Hole on the island of Tortola. We had no choice but to pick up a mooring ball because the bay was very crowded. Soper's is a delightfully picturesque harbor town with shops, bars, and a nice grocery store, all on the waterfront. The buildings are brightly painted and well maintained, like in a storybook. These little discoveries, like Soper's Hole, make cruising around the islands so rewarding that I want to run and tell all my friends about the wonderful  spice-of-life that I have found.
The next port-of-call is the Bight on Norman Island. Now, mind you that we only sail 1 or 2 hours a day. The book "Treasure Island" is based on Norman Island. The stories of pirate activity, and buried treasure on Norman Island abound. There are caves that spark the imagination, and carry you back to the time of buccaneers.
On shore, there is only one establishment, a restaurant / bar, Pirate's Bight, on a beautiful white beach. The building itself is only a year or so old, and professionally built. The exposed heavy timber construction with vast open areas, and long sweeping overhangs compliment the tropical setting. We spent more time here than anywhere else. The kids made a few friends, and so did we. On a crazier note, an old cargo ship called the "William Thornton" is anchored in the bay, and operating as a bar and restaurant. They call it the "Willie T" now, quite clever I think. This is not an environment for kids or people prone to illness or allergies for that matter. This is one scruffy, rusty ship. As the evening progresses the patrons of Willie T's are famous for jumping off the boat, into the water...naked! Needless to say, this is all rumor as I would not visit such a place, and even if I did I do believe that the loud music would abruptly stop should I strip myself of clothing for a inebriated dip in the dark water.
Before leaving the British Virgin Islands one must check-out. You must go to the nearest customs office, and tell them that you are leaving. The nearest office are the key words here. We need to go to Road Town Harbor in Tortola to check out. Road Town is the main port, and it's visited by freighters and large cruise ships. We tried to stay away from the busy center of activity by staying at a marina near the entrance of the harbor, only to run aground trying to reach the marina. I was surrounded by moored boats yet still I hit bottom??? I was able to turn the boat on its' keel, and barrel back to deep water after a little effort. We were a little disturbed by the grounding and decided to try another marina instead. It seamed that nobody would answer our calls until we finally got an answer from the Moorings Marina. We only requested to stop in for water, but once we were in the slip, Eva started whining about staying for the night, they had a pool you see. I told her that if she could get us a good rate that we could stay. You would be surprised what a cute little girl could accomplish. She came running back from the office, having gotten us a great deal for the slip, so we stay. I called Necesse, and told them about our new arrangements. The price was so fair that Eben asked us to see about a slip for them. The dock master told us that they could have the slip beside us. We were in a double wide catamaran slip. Soon Necesse was in the slip beside us. Eben got the bright idea to try to buy one of the older dinghies from the charter company. They are usually something of a bargain albeit a little beat up. Eben's negotiations to buy the dinghy kept us there for 3 days. No problem mon, we were all quite happy at the marina.
The main intersection at Coral Bay.

After checking out of the BVI's we headed to Coral Bay, in St. John. Coral Bay reminded us a little of Coconut Grove, the old Coconut Grove. The bay itself was really crowded, and was okay for the night, but not a place to sit for long. Eben gets really nervous about driving his boat around crowded harbors. While he was circling around, looking for a spot to anchor, I called him on the radio to tell him about some dolphins I had just seen frolicking in the bay. "I'm not worried about that right now!" he snapped back at me. I didn't realize it, but he was so tense that you could mash a sesame seed between his butt cheeks.
We had a nice meal at a local grill, and were on our way the next morning. Our friend, Israel, would be coming to meet us in another day so we needed to start making our way back to St. Thomas to pick him up. We split the 4 hour trip in half, and spent the night at Lameshur Bay before taking a slip at Sapphire Beach Marina in St. Thomas to pick up our guest.


  1. I hope you all enjoy this post, it have been a while since we have had internet, and even this one has taken forever to upload! Such are the drawbacks of paradise. David, I don't know how to post to anywhere else. Sorry.

    1. No worries. Found it and loved it. Praying for you all always on your journey.

  2. What an adventure! Sounds amazing!!! Im glad the kids are finally enjoying themselves :) miss ya guys!