Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Baths

Natures cathedral.

On the western coast of Virgin Gorda there is an unusual grouping of giant granite boulders along the waters edge. They extend for about a half mile, and are called the Baths. The boulders are just randomly scattered about, touching each other. There are large areas created between the boulders that are like chambers that you can walk into and interact with. In some of the chambers the floor is soft beach sand while others have clear pools of water that are constantly being refreshed. Some of the pools are turbulent some are calm. Sunlight makes its way deep into the formation through openings like skylights. There is a sense of privacy in these rooms as if it was yours, if only for the moment. If there is room on your bucket list, this will not disappoint.

Hadrian couldn't help but to feel larger than life.

One of many cozy private pools.

The water running through the Baths is really clear.

Devils bay is really just a gap in the boulders.

Here we have a brisk Jacuzzi.

At the southern end of the Baths is Devils Bay.

Hadrian and Eva in Devils bay.

Does this count as a school day?
I can never get over the water in the Virgin Islands.

Can you believe they hate their lives, not a very convincing argument if you ask me!

Marie and Eva with Gorda Sound in the background.

If you look closely there is a goat in the picture...Marie was impressed?

This is a view along the highway on Virgin Gorda.

A mermaid with a sea star!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bitter End

What I love most about traveling is the surprises, the unexpected discoveries. The pleasant ones, not rat on your boat kind. The Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock are great examples. These two resorts are at the easternmost end of the Virgin Island chain, just before the 100 mile jump to Saint Maarten. The water in Gorda Sound is "tidy bowl blue". I never thought I'd want to swim in that, but this is great! If I were a "landlubber" I would definitely consider this place for my next vacation, but with Mirador we just pull-up right in front of them. We just do without the fastidious service, like the guy chasing you around with fresh towels.
Saba Rock resort. 

How to out do the billionaire next to you? Gotta have a helicopter!

A gorgeous body of water.

The dockmasters office at Bitter End.

The Quaint streets with rich signage of Bitter End.

Marie bought a loaf of bread at the grocery store.

Can you lose yourself in a one road town? Marie can.

Here's a map of Bitter End.

The kids enjoyed the several gift shops.

There were boat rentals for those who just can't get enough.  

Bars were peppered around so you are never far from one.

That's Saba Rock just off shore.

The guest cabins are nestled into the hillside with intricate stairs leading to each.

A thatched chickee out over the water.

The lush landscape provides privacy.

For those with saltwater allergies, there is a pool.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chia pet

It's getting really hard to keep all the barnacles, and oysters from growing on Mirador's hull. I have to scrape them off once a week, or she looks like a chia pet. Its been over 2 years since I painted the bottom...not bad. We are going to repaint the bottom when Marie's parents come to visit us here in St. Thomas. They'll be renting a house overlooking Magens Bay, and we can stay with them while Mirador goes to the boatyard. I'm looking forward to seeing my in-laws, it's always fun.
Mirador on the Travelift.
Well they're all here now, Marie's parents, her sister, and her husband with their son, nine of us all together. Let the cooking begin!
We took the family out for a final sail before taking Mirador to the boatyard. I made sure not make the same mistake I made when Israel came to visit. If you remember, I sailed all over the the Virgin Islands trying to impress him when all he wanted was to be in the company of a good social chemist (bartender), and tattooed girls. We purposely chose to keep it close to shore and simple. Christmas Cove, on St. James Island is always a good bet. It's usually calm, there is great snorkeling, and they have a floating pizza restaurant and a bar, something for everyone. They even have free mooring balls available so you don't have to struggle with the anchor. In the afternoon we packed up and headed to the boatyard.
Casa Bella.
Casa Bella is really nice. The house commanded a great view of Magans Bay. The bedrooms were huge, as were the bathrooms. It even has a pool. The kitchen was open to the living areas, so the persons cooking weren't left out. 
This is the view from Casa Bellas porch.

The town of Charlotte Amalie.

Hadrian and Waylon can play video games non-stop.

Stacy and Joaquin looking down on the pool.

Caption not needed.
The following days we took an excursion to St. John by ferry which is quite affordable, something like $7, and once there the public bus is only a dollar. It's the way to go. Talk about being separated by a common language, a safari taxi pulled up next to us as we were walking along the side of the road , and offer to take us to the "west end" for $5 each. I thought that was a good deal, and a convenience to have a taxi all to ourselves for such a long road trip. On my approval the group agreed, and we all jumped on. The taxi then drove a few blocks down the road and told us to disembark, we were in front of the "Westin" resort. Oh well, we all just had to laugh.
At the other extreme, pulling into a restaurant with 9 people is not affordable at all, but scary as it is I follow the group and pray that the dollar bills in my pocket .have somehow managed to propagate.
Happy at the dinner table.

Fat yellowtail snappers, yum!
I split my time between the boatyard and the family, and the week went fast. We soon had to said good by to Casa Bella, and Sara, Stacey, and Waylon. Marie's parents moved over to the Marriott for their last night on the island. Of course being quite fickle, the kids stayed with them that night. Marie and I had to sleep on the boat one night while it was still in the boatyard. That means no AC, no breeze, open hatches, and a lot of bugs. We gave up our valiant effort at about 1 am, and moved over to the car. I ran the engine, and the AC all night. The security guard came by and tapped on the window. I think he was disappointed by the total lack of activity in the car. I can't believe that I'm the first one to do this? I felt...and looked like I had slept in a bottle.
The next day Mirador was put back in the water, and we went over to Compass Point marina to get everything in order, and working again. After a couple of days at the marina, we went over to Christmas Cove to shake down the boat. There are always problems and malfunctions to iron out.
Feeling ready, or at least as close as we could get to that elusive feeling, we sailed off to Maho Bay on St. John. It was a beautiful hour and half sail. Just like we like it! We took a mooring for a couple of days, and reflected on how everything had come together so well. It was great to have had the family over, and I hope that by experiencing this paradise they'll come a little closer to understanding our madness.