Swans to the left of me, Oysters to the right, Beneteaus stuck in the middle......

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Mon 14 Apr 2014 17:00
Swans to the left of me..... Oysters to the right ....Beneteaus stuck in the middle with .........
(courtesy of Gerry Raffety).

We have missions to follow, and, yes, the world is a little more orange!

So with the auto-pilot installed and the alternator fixed, we planned to head off to the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands before heading north once more. We had eventually set off from Trinidad with the idea that we would spend at least a month in the Virgin Islands, 4 weeks cruising then at least a week in Tortola before leaving for Bermuda, in the meantime we had spent 3 weeks in St. Martin....... However we also hadn’t planned on lunch – well, several actually. We set off for a provisioning shop and ended up having a delicious and enormous smoked salmon salad with Chris and Sharon – that took out the rest of the day! Three of us had the Norwegian salmon and each was presented differently, a very nice touch, but much, much bigger than anticipated – this was in Mark’s Place on the way to Phillipsburg. Ok, next day we’ll try again, and less on the lunch.

On a final raid on the chandlers we saw two very nice orange chairs for the cockpit that had just arrived in Budget Marine – they must have known we’d be around.

Then strong winds combined with a large northerly swell were forecast, well we have things to do...... ok, we’ll try tomorrow. Next day called by Chris and Sharon who said that as we actually hadn’t gone yet why not join them for lunch in Marigot on the French side of the island – ok, sounds good. Second call, Piano (Sue and Malcolm) are here and they are coming too. Buses were caught, radios used and we all met up-it was good to be together again. Malcolm and Sue were here for some batteries and had just sailed up from St. Lucia. With winds still high and swell fairly steep, we decided to wait until Monday, when after another lunch, (we are now “cruisers wot do lunch”!) (), we cleared out, paid our dues and with the excellent assistance of the dock crew left our B15 berth in a bit of a stiff wind. We pottered around the lagoon for a short while before leading the charge through the 4 o’clock bridge, out of the lagoon, off into the sunset and the Virgin Islands.

Chris and Sharon are meeting friends in St. Croix, the southern most of the US Virgin Islands, Malcolm and Sue head back to St. Lucia to meet their third guest of this season, while we planned to head overnight for St. John, reputed to be the most scenic of the islands and mostly a nature reserve. We hope to meet Quicksilver once again before our early May departure from Nanny Cay on Tortola.

The trip to the Virgin Islands began quite smoothly but before long the sea was rolly again, we had the genoa out and the mizzen up and were making steady progress. It was a much busier night too, there were vessels passing us in all directions, it felt a bit like Piccadilly Circus. During the night a bird (we think it was a booby) attempted to land on the boom several times. It came and went and came and went several times and then things quietened down. That it was a bird we were quite sure about but the colour was difficult to determine. Anyway on we sailed and thought no more about it. Then, just off Virgin Gorda (at dawn) our passenger decided to leave us – it had been roosting on the boom, but we could not see it. The cheek of it – all the way from St. Maarten to the Virgin Islands and not a word of thanks nor payment for the passage – just a bit of poo on the deck! Outrageous! We shall be writing to our MP about this as long as Susan doesn’t delete the response, again! Wrote to Mr Sharma a while ago only to find that Susan, in a fit of house-keeping (mail wise) had deleted his response!

We made for the Round Rock passage into the Drake Channel and calmer waters, a relief after the rolling, with the added advantage that we would see quite a few of the islands as we headed down to St. John. We passed Ginger, Cooper, Salt, Peter and Norman Islands on our port side with Tortola on our Starboard. Sailing along the north coast of St. John we could see Great Thatch, Little Thatch with Jost Van Dyke behind and in the distance were Great Tobago, Little Tobago, Hans Lollik and Little Hans Lolllik and of course St. Thomas. We arrived before mid-day in Cruz Bay.

The anchorage in Cruz Bay was full and we needed to clear in – bit of a problem. After several circuits of the bay we decided to head out and pick up a mooring in the previous bay (Caneel) , after asking some very friendly National Parks officers, who said this was ok and we could legally do! Excellent – nothing in the pilot books about this! We snagged a buoy first time again, this time without the benefit of an audience and in no time at all had the canopy up, the dinghy launched, the outboard ready to go and we were off to clear in. The customs and immigration folks were really friendly as well and after having our fingerprints scrutinised and our passports inspected, with the comment that is was a very good thing that we had our American Visas, we were welcomed. Lunch now beckoned and we found a restaurant overlooking the dinghy docks and enjoyed a snack whilst engaging in the very pleasant pastime of people and boat watching. It was then back to Andromeda to relax on the very nice NPS mooring - $15 per night, and recover from our trip up.

Caneel Bay is quite large and has several different white sandy beaches, we were opposite the middle one and our buoy was on its own well away from any others. We had a very nice peaceful evening and night was with the occasional roll about but generally being very stable and flat, no untoward bangs or sliding sounds as something escaped below. We were also treated to a lovely moon and bright stars for company.

Wednesday morning Andrew did some hull and prop cleaning – barnacles are persistent little beasts – and the conditions in the lagoon in St. Maarten were ideal for them – three weeks there giving them time to latch on despite all we spend on anti-fouling. Once out of the water it was obvious that he had scraped his legs, yet again, barnacles do fight back you know and he was greeted by “stop bleeding on the deck” – not it should be pointed out by unguents, lotions and bandages and a concerned partner, so was left to figure out where to go and what to do – blood, water, ah sharks (not that we have seen anyway, but then once you get a picture in your mind............) or a verbal telling off – hhhmmmmm, difficult one this one. (and don’t believe a word of it- well the bleeding yes). Anyway he eventually stopped bleeding and so we headed back to Cruz Bay to explore the place and chill a little. We had a nice wander round and what do you know it was time for lunch again, this time in a restaurant that we particularly liked the music in.

We are enjoying the longer days this far north but find ourselves starting our days earlier and earlier as we get up when the sun rises, well before 6 now, then it doesn’t get dark till after 7. A consequence of this is that by 9 o’clock in the morning we are already thinking about lunch.

Thursday morning we left buoy no 205 and headed down the Pillsbury Sound towards St. Thomas and Charlotte Amalie and by 12 o’clock had our brand new anchor down for the very first time, carefully checking she was dug in. The rocna was doing its job well yipeee!

Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the US Virgin Islands and is a busy place. There were 3 huge cruise liners on the dock with boats going to and fro. The anchorage itself is lovely and spacious no worries about bumping into anyone else or them into us. We had great views of the seaplane taking off and landing as well and the sights of lots of other water traffic.

We have bought guides to all the places we have visited so far and usually find them very informative and helpful – especially the Leeward, Windward and Trinidad guides written by Chris Doyle. The Virgin Islands have been covered by other people and just do not have the detail in them. No information on dinghy docks, serious provisioning or wifi availability and as for the order the coasts are covered – it’s baffling. As a result of this we were carefully watching the dinghies heading into shore to work out where we should go.

Friday morning we headed in for a look round. Charlotte Amalie has the most traffic we have seen outside of Trinidad. They also drive on left in the US Virgin Islands, curiously, in part due to the Danish heritage no doubt, but the vehicles are all left hand drive, including huge monster trucks, so it’s quite an odd sort of place. We didn’t see any fast food outlets either! It has a European feeling but is not necessarily a place we would want to return to. Wandering around the small streets we found myriad places selling much the same stuff – jewellery, perfume, electronics etc. So many that you wonder how any of them make a living but the sometimes there are 5 cruise ships in at the same time – so the potential for thousands of customers heading their way. We just had a little mooch until Andrew spotted a lovely ORANGE hoodie for Susan, just the thing for the colder climes we are heading to (we must be mad!) Then at the market Susan just stopped stock still. Bag stores were all over the place, not only that, they were all sporting a selection of orange bags in different shapes and sizes. We sensibly stumbled on and across the road found “Jen’s Place” with conch chowder on the menu.....the best we have ever tasted, yet another lunch was had! Afterwards Andrew steered Susan back to the market to choose a bag as we couldn’t really leave without one, could we.

We met Walter from Portugal at the dinghy dock who was really friendly – he is heading down to Trinidad and Peakes for the hurricane season for the first time so we gave him all the info he may need. He is sailing a very fast MacGregor 65 – wow, he’ll be there in no time.

Saturday morning it was time to leave St. Thomas and we went to fuel up at Crown Bay Marina. A bit of fun was had getting on the dock and with a last minute change of approach, Susan was racing up and down the deck repositioning fenders and lines but we were soon tied up securely. We have been led to believe from a few people that this was the place up here to get fuel, the price was good, well just to let you know, on extensive investigations we have found the price of fuel to be very much of a muchness throughout the islands, certainly we have paid between 75 – 77pence a litre wherever we have got fuel, the difference mostly being what the exchange rate is doing and I think it will be similar here. The only really cheap fuel we have seen is in Trinidad where the locals pay the equivalent of 15p per litre but for cruisers it is around 77p. We now have full tanks and all our Gerry cans are filled too so one less job for when we get to Nanny Cay.

Heading up towards St. John, Andrew asked “How is it wherever you would like to go, the wind always is on the nose?”, it’s a real mystery to us but very true, we might set off in great conditions but a lot of the time the wind swings round and is on the nose yet again.

It took us two hours to motor up to Christmas Cove – a distance – let’s be generous here – of about 7 miles – but it’s a gorgeous little bay and it had a buoy just waiting for us. After getting settled we took our new seats on deck and had a delightful lunch with a beautiful view followed by some great snorkelling and a swim.

And now to the missions! Well, we have two actually. One is ARC Europe, naturally; the second is the recipe for the Andromeda cocktail. Yes – Crews Inn down in sunny Chaguaramas, Trinidad have created a cocktail called Andromeda and its “orange” – check out the picture. Marilyn and Martin from Rocking Horse have the recipe and we are in hot pursuit! They are having the boat shipped to the UK from the Virgin Islands, so we have to meet them before too long – apparently the cocktail is yummeeeeee! We may or may not share the recipe but are very much looking forward to trying one, or two, or..........!

More on these missions in due course!

Susan and Andrew
Andromeda of Plymouth
US Virgin Islands,
Caribbean SEa

ps Susan really must stop singing the Pina Colada song

pps only Andromeda cocktail photo others to follow when we get them off the tablet

JPEG image