Hello from St Croix

Rick, Helen, Sue, John
Thu 28 Apr 2011 18:06
Now we're at 17:44.92N 64:41.91W which as you will see is on the north coast of St Criox.  Actually, its a marina - of sorts.  Definition of a marina:  a purpose-built harbour offering comfort and shelter for pleasure boats with facilities ashore (often including nice hot showers).  Definition of Caribbean marina:  A few pontoons held loosely in place by wobbly, concrete-filled plastic piping and mostly exposed to the prevailing swell/wind with a cold water shower operated by a piece of string.  So we're hanging on to this 'dock' with the fenders squeaking and the lines straining and groaning to the extent that I shall not be aghast if, one morning, we  find ourselves adrift in mid-ocean with the silly little dock still tied alongside.   
It was a pretty tough slog to get here.  Since we turned north to get out of 'pirate country' (the Venezuelan coast)  we've been hard on the wind with the Shrek sometimes giving a extra shove (other times silent, sulking and awaiting attention) and it was a nail-biter almost until the last mile.  With the strong west-going current and our abbreviated sail-plan (the genoa being out of commission), if the Shrek had decided to take another unscheduled break we'd have been taken westwards towards Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic or gawd-knows-where. So every change of the engine note, every surge or fade was very much heard and felt and pondered.
Of course, having landed in St Croix, we're now in US territory.  This is how it goes with US immigration these days:  You go into a beautifully air-conditioned office.  A very smartly uniformed, rotund man takes your passport.  Opens it.  Reads it. Takes it away to the back office.  eventually comes back and calls, 'John?'.  Longish pause with full eye contact (being a Brit I squirm, stare at my feet and somehow manage to look guilty).  'We wanna talk with you right now.  Come on and sit right here'.  There would be no change of tone if he were to say, 'John?  You're the guy we've been looking for. You're under arrest. Now where's the anthrax?'  Anyway as we had recently visited the US - by dint of landing at Miami on the way to Curacao - we were apparently friends but another couple had just sailed in and - notwithstanding that the owner was Norwegian and his partner American - were told in most unequivocal terms, 'go away and please don't come back'. 
Sometimes it can be a harsh, sad world.
As to our plans. Clearly there have been some difficulties with the boat and last night we talked over a few options.  The central question being, is she fit to do a transatlantic?  We can sort the genoa problem but the difficulties with the Shrek are largely due to the incorrect alternator being fitted in Curacao. The v-belt whizzes round three pulleys and as they are not properly aligned it wears away over a couple of days giving cause to frequent and unpleasant head-down visits to the black lagoon to fit a new one. 'OK, well, just get another alternator', you say.  Perhaps I should explain - or at least offer - a possible history of Shrek.  During its middle-age Shrek was lifted from a WW2  tank (which had been abandoned at Tobruk), sold for scrap, lost in the desert, found again, used as a sinker for a large ship mooring and finally brought to the surface by an optimist who sprayed it green and stuck it in this poor old boat, laughingly stamping VOLVO on what was once its crank case.  So when one calls Volvo and quotes the model number the response is either laughter and a dead line or, 'Good God, could we have it for our museum?'
If we decide against the long haul, plan B would be to sail up to Tortola in the Virgins and put her on a ship for Europe.  The only issue there is that it takes a fair bit of Krug to ship, what in effect is a fifty-five footer, from here to the UK.  Before we get to that stage, R has just left for his conference, H and S will stay until next week and in the meantime Dave - my 'Atlantic mate' will arrive and no doubt help assess the situation over the weekend.  So until then we're here, clinging on to the wobbly dock.
Love the crew.