It’s 1100, the sun is bright, few clouds are present, wind is 14 -18knots, waves are 3-5 ft and swells minimal and we are halfway between St Thomas and St Croix. We have claimed this the best sail yet. This is our 4th passage to St Croix this winter. Our destination is again Fredricksted.
We are loving the quiet and relaxed nature of this island and in particular the anchorage.
There is a quote in our Cruising guide to the Virgin Islands that says ” many cruisers who drop anchor for a short time have become residents”. And we have met a few! It’s crazy but this laid back island has become a respite and haven this winter. We have come to love the quiet, beautiful beaches, incredible blue water and the diving! The people are very friendly and so willing to make our stay even better.
We and several friends have been lucky to get our Covid vaccine here…
Take some long but super sweet hikes..like 8.6 miles up into the hills!
Enjoy some great diving…
Party like Rockstars.
And find some great new sights!!
We are truly enamored with this island. Since we made four trips here from St Thomas, we feel at home as we furl in the Genoa, take down the main, and set anchor in Fredricksted.
We made our final milk-run back to St Thomas just 2 weeks ago and sailed past the northeast coast of St Croix saying “We will be back” …it may have to wait until Fall, and until then we will miss this gem of an island and take with us so many memories.
The day starts bright and we had been planning a birthday weekend for ‘ you know who’ …to navigate the bays of St John..a special time, just Mike and I ( so I thought) … and 3 pounds of shrimp, 2 packages of tuna, an extra bottle of rum, and no argument when I wanted 2 bottles of Pinot, ( when he usually prefers Malbec), along with his suggestion for a couple of sweet potatoes, extra broccoli, and more Romaine. But its my birthday right?? If nothing else, we gonna eat like royalty!
We had been on quite a few provisioning runs around Charlotte Amalie and at the end of the day joined up with our friends Bryan and Polly for a refreahment . Just like the cruisers we are, we bought a 6-pack of President beer , found a park bench and enjoyed the late afternoon and regaled our accomplishments. It had become a tradition… now that we had done it twice??? Ha ha
Back to Thursday morning, I am waffling about getting a much needed haircut.
1. The cost.. ok so its my birthday ( excuse enough?)
2. The covid thing. Could I sit in a salon for 30-45 min getting my hair washed cut and styled with a mask and hope not to catch anything??
3. My sister in law had agreed to help Mike via video cut this crazy mop. ( of course I trust HER!! But In all that Mike can do.. I was afraid. Plus where would the hair go? Everywhere on the boat . I’D BE CLEANING LOCKS OFF OF EVERYTHING.)
I think it was that last thought that sold me on the salon.
We had coffee and took the dinghy to yacht basin dinghy dock and it was a 3 min walk to the salon. Mike said he’d be back when I called.
I arrived at the door but it was not open. Checked the watch 10:00. Rechecked my text message with the appointment time. Ok ‘ Island time’
About 10:10, after some worry, I had the wrong place, or time, and just about then, the owner showed up and told me my stylist was on the way. To my surprise… no one else was there. There was another woman who showed up as I was leaving, but my fears of a crowded salon were relieved. And my stylist walked in with this long kinky curly head of hair… I think we could have passed for sisters 20 yrs ago. She was THE right person for the job, and the cut was perfect!!
I depart the salon pretty happy that I got a great birthday present, I call Mike, and we head back to the boat.
We had spent a few days of much needed polishing and cleaning. What is funny in retrospect is as soon as Mike started a job, I would find something like the stove or the bathrooms to clean. Why not have a sparkling ‘house’ for your birthday weekend. And so we did a bit more cleaning…polishing the plastic doger sections, reorganizing the kitchen. .. By mid afternoon I get a text from my friend Polly. ” we’ve been out all day shopping, want to meet for a beer?” Back to the tradition we had set.
With the sun coming in the cockpit, its HOT. A beer sounds good, but I really need a shower. So we quickly get wet, change clothes and head for our favorite park bench.
We open and down 6 bottles between the 4 of us, as the sun goes down behind the luxury yachts in the marina and we watch people coming and going at the end of the day, walking dogs, jogging, making grocery runs. Mike stands up looks at his phone (?) and asks if he should get another 6 pack. I’m kinda full if beer, but Polly says sure she’ll share one with Brian. So who am I to argue. It will be cooler if the sunsets, and we have invited Polly and Brian to the boat for burgers. I’m in for the logic.
Mike leaves. For the life of me I can’t even recall what story I was telling Polly and Brian, but I’m looking off in the distance and my brain registers.. ” oh that girl has same body type and skin color as…. OMG ! Brain cells fire! Its Kelsey! and tailing her is Christopher. I let one explicative fly, and my heart is about to stop, and I realize what’s happening.
I’ve been set up for the most wonderful surprise of my life! I’m in tears now… I look at Polly and Bryan and I think they had wet eyes as well. Big hugs… but where’s Mike? 2 minutes later he’s back with the beers and has missed the unfolding surprise.
I regain my composure and then cant believe I didn’t see the signs….the food, alcohol, radio silence from both kids this week, Kelseys insistence on meeting us in St Lucia , and all the cleaning of the boat.
I need another beer now. We sit briefly and discuss their covert operation…. Kelsey’s ruse, Mike keeping me from seeing his text messages ( funny how he was saying his muskey fishing friends that were texting him alot?? It’s not even muskey season), Christopher just plain off the grid, and my friends Polly and Bryan playing along.
We had a great weekend. Kelsey has been on the boat twice before, but to get Chris aboard was a delight. He has never seen Lost Loon!! Many thanks to his wife Jenni for encouraging him.
We anchored in Waterlemon. Hiked to the ruins.
We snorkeled, Chris fished in the flatsand Kelsey and I hiked to Coral Bay, 5 miles round trip.
Mike had wanted to dive with Chris, but we didn’t think we had enough weights. When Kelsey arrived in Coral Bay, we were within 1/4 mile of Busy Bee dive shop. We bought extra weights.. and carried them back to the boat.
We sailed to Christmas Cove and Mike and Chris took off to dive Cow and Calf dive spot.
We made some good meals, drank some good wine, had a couple great sunset happy hours.
Feeling blessed that these two made a big effort for my birthday weekend. I will cherish the memories and hope to repeat some day, somewhere.
Hoping you find blessings in your life today. Have a great week!
After a long awaited journey back to Lost Loon in St Thomas, VI, we are enjoying the warmth, sunshine, and blue water of the Caribbean.
To catch everyone up…..we arrived mid December (the longest we have been away from Lost Loon) to splash our dear boat back in the water. We completed the last of our seasonal goodbyes, traveling from Florida to Minnesota and back to take off on a bright Monday with our negative Covid tests in hand. After four days of hard labor, scraping, painting, replacing batteries, reorganizing we were ready.
Wait who is that character on our boat??
Oh it one of the repair guys.. we had a through-hull replaced over the summer, they did the work and can you believe they showed up for the launch to check and make sure there was no leak???? Thats service!!
Good news no leak!
We are sitting in the slings as they are called , and hold our breath as the engine fires up. The slings are released into the murky water of the lagoon and Lost Loon surges forward, as naturally as a horse out of the gate.
We met up with our friends on SV Joli, who made an incredible sail from Maryland early November. (Read about it here SV Joli blogspot). With Covid still present on the islands, we decide to stay put for a bit……and as you’ll see… a bit longer. The trouble with cruising to other Caribbean countries is the testing and quarantine. The requirements are all over the map. Most countries require a test before leaving and then a test upon arrival, along with 3 to 5, and in some places 14 days of quarantine on the boat, with no going ashore before they clear the crew in. What is more frustrating is that they are changing their requirements frequently.
Other cruisers have commented that its like trying to hit a target while intoxicated and blindfolded. So we have made the Virgin Islands of St Thomas, St John, and St Croix our winter home.
Debrief on the Virgins
St. Thomas has many bays and anchorages, but we found a gem near the airport , Brewers Bay. Ok so we watch and listen to jets taking off between 11 and 4, but the beach there is wonderful. It is well maintained by the University of Virgin Islands, and on weekends closes due to Covid outbreak at 4:30, so no all- nighters on the beach. Which means peaceful sleeping for us. It is also within walking distance of some shopping…2 miles or so. We spent New Years Eve here with friends on 3 other boats…. we enjoyed a great night of progressive apps and cocktails,finishing the night dancing on the huge foredeck of Joli.
Charlotte Amalie, Long Bay, is a harbor right in the city. In non-Covid years it is chock-full of cruise ships and travelers from everywhere. Right now it is full of charter catamarans that have little or no business and need a place to park. This location is great for provisioning in large quantities, getting laundry done, and catching a safari bus that runs all over the island for a few dollars each way. We come here to get things done.
St John is lovely, with huge green hills, beautiful white sand beaches, and clear blue water. We spent a couple of days in Lameshur Bay on the south side of St John a couple of weeks ago with our friends Ric and Mimi aboard. There is a terrific spot to dive and snorkel in settled weather and a great out of the way beach as well.
We made our first trip to St Croix a few weeks back. It is a 35 mile sail south from St Thomas, so we waited until the wind is from the east or a little north and the seas were settled . The first sail was quite squally, and we were reacquainted with the quickly changing weather and waves in this region. Our second sail was the Valentines Regatta… (another post in the works!)
This island is a little like a place that time forgot. There is a very colorful beachfront, old buildings transformed into hotels and restaurants., cute shops, a struggling museum, a bakery, dive shops, an ice cream shop and KFC… yep Kentucky Fried Chicken!! The Colonel sure has an edge in the fast food market here.
The anchorage at Fredricksted Pier holds a collection of boats, mostly cruisers, very few charters. So what I’m say is that its … shhh ..quiet!
There are beaches everywhere and the SCUBA diving is awesome. From the anchorage we can visit nearly 10 dive spots with the dinghy. We have made 5 or 6 dives here and have never been disappointed. The big fame is diving the pier and looking for seahorses. We looked, we didn’t see them. We are told there is one location and possibly only 1 resident seahorse??…oh well we will keep looking.
We dined at a couple restaurants , rented a car and took a trip to the larger city of Christiansted, made our way to the Eastern tip of the island Millennial Monument, Point Udall, ordered carryout Roti, and even stopped at the Mutiny vodka distillery. ( why? Because they have closed the Cruzan Rum distillery because of Covid).
So today we are back in St Thomas, we need our SCUBA tanks inspected, need to buy a starter battery for the engine, and need a propane bottle filled.
But we have a date back in St Croix….. March 12, 3 pm for our 2nd Covid vaccine. Unbelievable but everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated here, but word has it the locals are reluctant. So we got on the list and got the call. We know several other cruising couples taking advantage of the opportunity. Feeling lucky.
Well so much more to tell, like the birthday surprise… next up….and Valentines Regatta / Race
Thanks for hanging in there with me. XOXO from the crew of Lost Loon.
The latest addition to the Lake Vermilion fleet is a 1981 15 ft Sparkman Stephens designed fractional sloop Designers Choice. (For those of you who are not aware, S and S are top of the line designers for so many boats. They have designed early on masthead yawl rig sailboats, naval marine units like the ones they used for D-Day, power boats and bluewater sailboats like Hylas, Morris, Tartan, Palmer Johnson,Nautor Swan…and others. ). Not the most elegant or creative of boat names, but our DC is apparently one of nearly 8000 produced we are number 680 built between 1968 and 1985. The THS (theoretic hull speed) is a whopping 4.78! But her sail area/displacement ratio or performance index is 41.52!!! A good racer is at least 18-20.
We were looking for a something a bit more challenging than the sunfish that I have had so much fun with over the last 15 years.
She has a few gel coat cracks, and some hull blisters, but we’ve had her out on the lake twice now and in moderate winds she is a blast. The mast goes up easy with 2 people, but light enough for 1. And she is rated for 900 pounds of passengers and gear!! There is even a boom vang to manage the mainsail shape and a spinnaker pole to use with a bright yellow symmetrical chute.
The day we brought her to the cabin last week we had 15-20 knot winds and towed her alongside the Lund fishing boat. We were mistaken when we thought that a 300 pound boat would easily be dragged ashore given an improvised ramp. (Granted it was a 3 foot rise from the lake to shore land) WRONG! We spent nearly 2 hours pulling her up on a couple of heavy beams we rescued from the boat house we just took apart. The following day we headed for L and M Supply in Virginia and bought 4 – 10 ft, 3 inch PVC pipes and screwed those to the wood and she came up like a charm.
We probably need a bigger winch, but we switched to a nylon strap, and bought a improvised bridle. Now we can at least get it out of the water with fewer explicatives! Getting the boat out of the water prevents her from banging on the dock and getting caught in a wind storm there or worry about a coming loose from a mooring during a midnight storm.
The first sail was fantastic. Winds were 8-10 and the lake was quiet, so no dodging skiers or tubers, like on the weekends. We had gunnels in the water and a few times needed a hiking strap in some of the heavier gusts. It’s nice to have 2 people comfortable in the cockpit, sharing the enjoyment. We spent a few hours just tacking upwind and then used the spinnaker on the return. We also rigged the spinnaker pole with the jib and came back downwind wing on wing…something we have yet to perform on Lost Loon.
Will be working on getting some of the larger spider cracks repaired and adding a few blocks for the spinnaker halyard and sheets, otherwise this 15 ft darling will be enough to keep me sailing year ‘round!
Last sail… since this time in early September, she’s been covered secured for the winter, and apparently ready seen the first snows of the season. Left to watch things as we head South to start our 5th sailing season in the Caribbean.
A post from February that seemed to miss the Internet upload??? Anyway, enjoy while I get work on what we are up to this summer!
One of the most beautiful spots in the southeast Caribbean, the Tobago Cays. It is a destination for charter and long term cruisers as well. The reason is the crystal clear water, sand beaches, an abundance of turtle life all protected by a huge reef. That makes it special because we are usually anchored or moored behind an island in waters protected from the Atlantic waves and swells, but here we have full view of the great ocean. This morning’s sunrise was then extra special as it was beautifully clear. And because it is such a desirable location, there are many boats here! They start coming shortly after noon and continue up to sunset.
During the day we see turtles pop up for a breath and a peek around. We watch snorklers follow the sea life around the anchorage. There are turtles everywhere, just a quick snorkel around the boat and they are feeding on the grass below. One afternoon I counted 6 during a 10 minute swim. There is a cut through the surrounding reef to deeper waters for snorkeling and diving when the seas are calm. Here we see bigger pelagic fish, sometimes sharks and rays.
We are lucky to have our friends Rick and Mimi aboard again. We picked them up at the ferry dock in Carriacou, ( after a cancelled flight to Houston, made Charlotte, then Miami to Grenada where then spent the night so they could get the one ferry to Carriacou!)
Carriacou is part of Grenada which is celebrating independence Feb 6th. They are already decked out for the affair!
We have sailed as far north as Bequia with a stop in Mayreau and now, on the way back south, we stop here in the Tobago Cays a small archipelago of islands that are part of St Vincent called the Grenadines.
Last night we enjoyed a fun lobster beach barbecue with so many other cruisers. We saw piles of lobster being served and wonder how this is sustained day to day month to month , year after year. But this didn’t spoil the delicious taste of the crustacean served with local provisions of plantains, rice pilaf and grilled potatoes. We were enlightened by other cruisers who brought appetizers and bottles of rum, wine and even a couple with champagne!
We snorkeled, hiked a couple small islands close by and people -watched… an activity that comes naturally as boats come and go in the anchorage. We play ‘what flag is that?’ as well as ‘where will they try to anchor ‘ guessing games. After being on the water long enough down here it’s pretty easy to predict. Our week took us to the islands of Palm, Mayreau and Sandy.
Our last day was a perfect bright snorkeling stop just off Hillsborough of Carriacou. We swam for over an hour seeing 2 octopus, numerous sergeant majors, angelfish, lobster den, and porcupine fish to name a few. This area is also a protected marine area and despite reports of declining coral reefs in the Caribbean this one was beautiful. There were huge stag horn coral, fans, purple tubes, and fire coral .
Best breakfast recipe!!
According to our guest Rick, this Men’s Journal recipe is good for hangovers. We just love it when our guests like cooking.( recipe is our version)
1 bag of plain tortilla chips
1 jar of picante/ salsa
1-2 cups Shredded cheddar
Combine the chips and most of the picante/ salsa stirring so most of the chips are coated. Let sit while shredding the cheese.
Preheat oven to 375.
Pour the coated chips into 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle cheese on the chips evenly. Break eggs atop the chips, evenly in pan.
Bake for 10- 15 min, then raise the oven shelf and turn on the broiler to cook the eggs as well done as preferred. Watch constantly to prevent burning.
Serve each person with egg. May use additional picante/ salsa.
We think sour cream would be great but don’t usually keep on the boat.
Best Restaurants this week:
Tobago Cays Beach Barbeque- lobster!!!!!
Laura’s in Bequia – excellent tuna and mahi
Tainty Mavis in Carriacou- fresh wahoo and nice provisions ( sides)
Best Beach bar:
The Ranch Escapade- this is a kick off your shoes, enjoy the beach deck and swing, walk the sand, endless ocean view beach bar!! It is on the windward side of Mayreau, a short walk to near paradise for a cold beer and awesome view of paradise!
Thanks for stopping . Leave us a message or comment.
Three years ago when we sailed within the US and British Virgin Islands, shortly after Hurricane Irma released her powerful fury, we were witness to the incredible destruction of homes, resorts, cars, and boats. We saw the carnage in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, Nanny Cay, Tortola, and boats strewn ashore in St John and St. Thomas. Today, much of that has been cleaned up, but there are still derelict vessels in the mangroves and other de-masted sailboats on moorings that remain as a warning and reminder of how life is so easily disrupted and the power of nature. We spent about a month between the countries there at that time and mentioned as we left, we were glad to have secured a place nearly as far south as we could for the hurricane season in Grenada. We were still cognizant that storms could occur there, but with far less frequency.
It is now mid May and we have done something that has surprised even us….left our boat in the Virgin Islands!! Scary huh? We think so too, but like I mentioned in the previous blog we were not in favor of making a non-stop trip back to the US from the Virgin Islands and Grenada was closed down tight from our perspective. So it’s done. And we pray for all hurricanes go North of these islands!
We spent several days in the water, cleaning and polishing and getting ready for the haul-out. We were actually contacted 3 days before the BIG day and told that the boatyard would be closed because of a holiday on May 1st (our intended date) and that we would now be hauled on April 30. Come to find out, the holiday was Carnival, but Carnival was cancelled due to the Covid virus precautions and restrictions. Wow! Cancel Carnival? That’s crazy parades, bands, food, drink, and parties !!! But as a resilient people, they decided they would still take the holiday. We have definitely learned to live day by day out here in this life on the water.
We had made a last sail around to Charlotte Amalie a few days previous where we would take off the sails and get a few other things done in what we thought would be a settled location. Little did we know that for 3 days we would have 15-18 kn winds and from where we anchored a bit of a chop and swell. We made the best of it and got the work done.
So at 1:30 on that Thursday we were sitting in the lagoon waiting for a signal. We made a phone call as we saw no one manning the lift and found out there was a boat ahead of us. Kind of disappointing, but they did move quickly to get that boat in the lift and put us on the staging dock. By 4:30 we were out and the sailing season for Lost Loon was over. Always a bittersweet moment. I will admit that I love this life so much, I did shed a couple of tears.
After procuring water and electric sources we were back to work in the cooler part of the day..late afternoon. We still had 3 days of work ahead before we flew back to the US.
We were fortunate to find someone willing to rent their AirBNB at a very reasonable price for us during this time. Our host even picked us up at the end of the day and returned us in the morning! Superhost! And a beautiful location above Red Hook with the best hot shower and comfortable bed.
From here we could see most of St John, St James and parts of the BVI.
We even had a nightly visitor that would conveniently show up as we were cooking dinner
We spent 3 long days working away at our list of tasks, crossing them off and adding new ones each night. Sunday,Departure day, arrived with a gorgeous our sunrise and we were off by 730 AM to finish the laundry we needed to leave on the boat.
By 1030 we had made it back to the boat to take one final look and turn the lock for the last time this season. She was as ready as she would ever be.
With our bags packed, masks and alcohol gel in hand we headed for the St Thomas airport that afternoon. It was a breeze through customs and security that afternoon, as there were only about 25 people on our flight back to Miami.
Thanks Pia for the masks!
We spent 16 days in Punta Gorda, FL as part of our self quarantine ( thank you Jeff Bellairs!) We spent these days walking in the early morning, biking, and kayaking, fishing, swimming. ( not a bad quarantine!) We feel great, our exposure was likely very minimal once we got off the boat through the airport, but enroute to see family, it’s what you do, right? Protect whom we can!
Next up the journey north….there are walleyes to catch on Lake Vermilion!!!
The sun peeks through the overhead hatch as the watch on my wrist vibrates signaling the beginning of another day as the music comes up… click here
I am sure many of you feel just as Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, does in The movie Groundhog Day that we are spinning in perpetual motion day after day as these days of the Covid-19 quarantine , self-isolation, “stay-at-home’ drone on.
Meanwhile, Lost Loon is sitting safe in the US Virgin Islands. We are surrounded by like cruisers who have either come here with plans to head back to the US or like us waiting to see if Grenada opens their doors.
We arrived in US waters on March 14 after an uneventful overnight motorsail from St Maarten. It was our plan to stage here before leaving for the ABC Islands. Shortly after our arrival we became well aware that a minuscule microscopic menace would effect a huge change to our plans. And little did we know that things would change nearly daily on a worldwide as well as local level. More about that in a few….
For a period of time, shortly after arrival here, we were literally between a rock and a hard place, with no where to go. Our insurance policy on the boat says we need to be north of the Florida GA state line or south of 12 degrees latitude … that’s Grenada. Explicitly out of the typical hurricane zone. It would have been our choice to head for Grenada ( only 350 mikes) but we see boats in quarantine, limited haul-outs and very random flights leaving the country for the US. So our second option was to head back to the US (1220miles!!). And… to our disappointment Bahamas waters are closed! ( meaning transit outside their territorial waters …no stopping for an overnight rest!) This would also mean a whole Fall season of trying to get East against the trades to just get right back here in the VIs.
Well we found out last week that just about anything is negotiable for $$$$$. We have tentatively arranged to haul the boat out here in St Thomas for a sizable additional fee on our policy and get one of the scheduled flights back to Miami. I know, it’s very obvious to us that this IS A HURRICANE ZONE, but so is most of the East coats of the US! At this point with options closing off for us we needed to make a decision.
Doing this we give up our option for Grenada. And if things don’t look good here or we have a change of mind, we will end up with our last plan and head to the continental US.
If we were making a return to the US doing the 1200 nm, and that’s 10-12 non-stop days. We have been told that there will be no anchoring in any islands; we would need to make a straight shot north – NW from here. AND they have invoked a $10,000 fine with possible imprisonment if caught anchoring or even in the waters!!
Presently we sit at anchor waiting for our haul-out at Independent Boatyard on St Thomas on May 1st. Week #4.
So what’s a day like in the Virgin Islands when you are not sailing and visiting anchorages?? It’s like having a floating condo… a very small condo. We are living in 250 square feet.
The day starts with the morning radio net on the VHF . We find out the latest local changes ( if we haven’t read Facebook), get weather, discuss options to get food, laundry done, and order pizza! Yep, there is a local pizza place that actually served 40 some boats some 50-60 pizzas today by boat!
We have a list of duties/ tasks to complete before we haul out and a list of jobs for after haul out. So everyday we get 1-2 things done …the stainless is polished, the heads are lubricated, the diesel fuel is treated, the food and medicine inventory has been completed. We have reorganized lockers, and started taking equipment off the rails.
The weather is good, sunny most days 80 degrees and light breezes at night. We can be dropped off at a closed beach just to cross to the road for a walk. ( Trails and beaches just opened yesterday again!!)
We spend time checking in on the HAM network of boats, email and messages, reading, and watching news clips from home in the morning.
Afternoons we may swim, SCUBA
do yoga aboard ( oh yeah that’s a challenge!), cut each other’s hair 🤣
and read. We have had excellent cellular service to make calls to the kids and grandkids, mothers, sisters, and brothers.
So here is a list of Lost Loon’s recent reads:
Cape Horn The Logical Route, Bernard Motissier
Dreamland, San Quinones
Land of Dreams, Vidal Sundstol
The Ravens, Vidal Sundstol
Only the Dead, Vidal Sundstol
Chasing My Cure, David Fajgenbaum
Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
We are making the best of the situation in our little floating home. We feel we are some of the lucky ones to be located in a US territory. Some of our sailing friends are in foreign islands and either cannot leave or are stuck on their boats until the government says they can haul their boats out…. and then hope for a flight back to the US!!
We pray for our friends and family they they stay safe and protect each other. We are doing the same. And wake up each morning hoping this crazy dream is just that!!!
Hey folks! This is just images…no words from our latest stop at St Barthelemy. Enjoy!
No words this blog.. ok just explanation. Spent 2 days in beautiful St Barthelemy on our way up the Leeward chain as we head to BVIs, and US Virgins…St Thomas. Thought it was quite worthy of a silent pictorial.
It’s a beautiful and very French place here in the Caribbean! We’re off to Sint Maarten 🇸🇽! Au revoke!
We have taken some sailing courses along prior to setting off in 2016, but one important trip in particular with John Kretschmer (www.yayblues.com) really solidified our desire and confidence in buying a boat and heading out on our own to sea. He offers a variety of sailing experiences around the world and I bet our 9 hour trip yesterday from Chateaubelair St Vincent to Rodney Bay, St Lucia in some pretty “salty” conditions would qualify as a day in the life of one of his heavy weather courses! Another thanks John, for your wisdom and on-going advice to give us the confidence to make this journey.
Our day started long before we had anticipated for such a weather-filled trip. With frequent showers and very little wind overnight in Chateaubelair it was mostly quiet. We had swam over the anchor to assure it was held in sand and some grass near the idyllic Caribbean backdrop on the north part of the bay. The numerous heavy downpours would be a foreshadowing for things to come the next day.We had not anticipated that the 50 ft Amel that dropped ( operative word- not backed down on) anchor 100 ft or more from us at 1800 would bump into us at 0400 the next morning.
Mike and I awoke immediately at the sound of metal knocking on metal, like the alarm going off at the firehouse, to sailors. Its an ominous sound. In the dark, we raced out to the cockpit to find the bow pulpit of the Amel peaking over the railing of our port stern. It’s truly a sleeping sailors nightmare to see another (huge) boat encroaching in on our space. Our brains attempting to clearly think …what to do? You dont just give her a shove, however we tried instinctively. Fifty foot boats dont just move when pushed by hand. We immediately started the engine and pulled several feet away from it. We know the lay-out of the boat and the owners cabin is in the stern of the boat, so likely they didn’t hear the noise until the engine started and we were talking and calling somewhat for them. The other option would have been an air horn, but we figured that would wake everyone in the anchorage. there was no use in that, yet.
Moments went by and she was creeping closer to us again as the sleepy captain and first mate of the Amel came on deck. Most cruisers can tell me what their first words were……… yep, “oh it looks like you have dragged anchor, ” as they calmly went about retrieving fenders from somewhere and placing on the port side of their boat as we watched. Mike was the perfect gentleman. I have seen him more riled up at catamarans anchoring in “our space”, but he just as calmly said, “well I’m not sure but I think WE are right where we have been all night in reference to other boats.” There was no accusation, no laying blame on anyone. They lit up their deck lights and examined the bow pulpit for damage, which we assured them didn’t exist and how lucky we both were. And again she creeped close enough for us to restart the engine and pull forward. In the calm of the windless night, there was a current, a strong one to pull them toward us. Our anchor we figured was already strung out as far as it would go, as were the other boats anchored near us we figured. The Amel’s approach was relentless. Despite the fact that they indicated they put out a good 160 feet of anchor chain, they were sure she was still set. Yet, they were reluctant to start pulling anchor as they silently realized that it may not be where they “placed” it the evening before. So we all sat patiently, as the current propelled her again closer, enough for a third start of the engine. It was now 0545 and there was a very little bit of light discernible in the East. We were all waiting for daylight in order to locate the position of our anchors, and for the Amel to make a move out of our space.
What is the best thing to do at a time like this? Well, make coffee of course. We knew we would not be going back to sleep and should get on with the caffeine fix for the day. As daylight proceeded to filter through the clouds, a few rain drops fell. We went about prepping the boat to sail. As I came out of PJs, I noticed the boat of the other crew had done the same and were collecting fenders. They were still only 10 feet to our stern. They asked if we were leaving and we indicated “at some point, but not immediately.” They told us they would begin moving and needed to anchor closer to shore to check into the immigration office there.
Now mind you, 160 feet of chain, right? Well, if they had put that much out and WE had dragged, we would see him moving quickly away from us as they collected chain to where he was “anchored” ( the previous night) nearly 100 feet away, but no. As they retrieved the anchor they pulled it up right there next to our boat and not anywhere near 160, or 130, or even 100 ft of chain retrieved. They had clearly dragged anchor on us. We bid them a good day as they motored away. No foul, no harm, thankfully.
With a hot cup of java already taking its affect on our senses, we waited out another shower, double checked that everything in the cabin was secure, readied the mainsail, and weighed our anchor. We had motored 10 minutes out of the anchorage before we began to feel the wind, swell and waves. We raised the main with 2 reefs, and put out just a “bikini bottom” of a genoa and set a course north. We tried to stay close to the shore thinking our heading across the St Lucia channel would be a better angle, but found that the waves and swell were actually playing off that shoreline slowing our progress as they continued to build on the nose. We turned just a bit more downwind and were able to turn off the motor. Despite the 5-9 ft waves at 6 second intervals, the 22-25 knots of wind was taking us at an acceptable 6.5 knots per hour.
The waves continued to build as we headed into the channel between the islands, as it usually does and we were occasionally hit by some huge ones breaking over the bow, and onto the boat. We counted four that soaked the cockpit, thankfully we had the companionway closed off. Winds were steady from the East, putting us at a good 25- 30 degree heel, which puts the downwind rails underwater and makes getting a good stance challenging while manning the sails. It meant being ready to let out sail if the winds were overpowering our set up. If the sea salt soaking wasn’t enough, we contended with 3 squalls with winds up to 27 knots, ……but of course its fresh water we say, cleaning the salty sails!
As we approached the southern tip of St Lucia, near the Pitons, we were greeted by a huge school of dolphin. They seemed energized by the crazy sea and weather. They followed only for a few minutes, cresting and jumping across the bow and alongside the boat. With all that we were doing to keep on course, I couldn’t get my camera fast enough for any photos, sorry. It was a great distraction from the constant watch for the sea state changes.
The sun came and went, drying us off for another approaching squall, the last one, really a mere shower. We learned our lesson on previous trips here where the winds tend to scream around the pitons surprising us on even very settled days. So we sailed off shore a couple of miles giving the dear wind plenty of berth. With the protection of the island now, the seas settled and we found more comfortable sailing conditions. We had passed our refresher in heavy weather sailing.
We pulled into the huge anchorage at Rodney Bay by 4 pm, nearly 12 hours after wrestling with a wayward Amel. With the anchor safely set in sand, a bit of fresh water to rinse the cockpit, the stainless and windshield, we were finished for the day. The Lost Loon had performed well , seeming to say thank you for keeping her safe from harm that morning.
Peace and Love ❤️
Crew from Lost Loon wish you Happy Valentines Day!!!
As I write from Chatham Bay on Union Island we watch others coming into the anchorage trying to find the perfect sandy spot to drop the hook. We made a 11 mile sail from Carriacou this morning under a hot sun, bright skies and 12-17 knot winds.
We have been in Carriacou for a few days enjoying the hiking, swimming and, and traveling around on island buses to see parts of the island. We celebrated last night with some known and some new cruiser friends..Star Shot and Aphrodite. After a nice dinner at Tanty Mavis restaurant, we took a few drinks at a new French bar above the Frog Dive Shop. We were greeted with local hospitality and a few appetizers while we shagged to some American favorite music hits!
We ended the night , well past cruisers bedtime, at Aphrodite’s Boat.We chatted, as we usually, do about people we have in common, places we’ve been, and places we want to go. No fireworks here this year we were told by the bus driver earlier in the day, just a few random flares and horns went off along with cheering from boats welcoming in 2020.
Random kindness in the new year
In this brand new year I need to share 2 random acts of kindness that have happened in the last 24 hours.
During our travels around Carriacou yesterday we were on a couple of different busses to get to our destination on the windward side of the island to see a local boat building site and remote beach. The busses are just large vans equipped to carry about 10-15 people… depending on the size of the people. And like any bus they will stop at predetermined stops, but also will stop for anyone walking in the same direction if they have room and are hailed.
We had seen the boat building and found the bird sanctuary and Carenage beach.
Afterward, we were picked up in Windward by a bus with only a few people aboard. A young man, a middle aged woman and a young boy about 10.
We picked up a young woman and her about 4 year old daughter along the way. Now the ride is about 25 minutes over bumpy and sometimes gravel roads, over hills that give us a gorgeous view of surrounding turquoise water and other islands of the Grenadines. As we are traveling, this young boy opens his backpack and takes out a new bag of chocolate chip cookies. Before he takes one, he offers them to each of the passengers and the driver. We watched his eyes grow big when the little girl took 2, but he continued to offer more cookies to everyone. He took a couple then put them away. Our friends paid for his bus trip when we made our transfer in the next town. We find the people of the Caribbean islands are so kind and helpful, and it’s also evident in what they teach their children.
Today, we had anchored and one of us usually dons snorkel gear to check the anchor status. Mike was first in the water and gave me the thumbs up that we had a good hold. We had noticed a couple working on the bow of their boat with the anchor chain. He swam over to offer assistance. He was welcomed aboard and quickly went to look at the problem. Finding that their windlass wasn’t working, began to help them pull the chain and anchor in by hand. The owner was driving the Boat foot by foot closer to the anchor while Mike pulled in the heavy chain and the owners wife hand cranked the windlass to get the chain into the forward locker. It took them 30 minutes or so and they were off. Mike jumped back in the water with a huge thank you from the 54 ft boat’s owners and family. Mike told them both that we have been in some situations where a helpful hand was usually there, it what you do!!
So blessed to witness much kindness in such a small part of the world 2 days in a row.
In this new year I would challenge you to pass it on!! Maybe you have a great story to share here?? Please send for a posting!!