US VIRGINS, AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
POSITION: N18:20.45 W64:58.77
BREWERS BAY, ST THOMAS USVI
Tuesday 14 April 2015 CULEBRA TO ST THOMAS, US VIRGIN ISLANDS, AND GOODBYE TO STU
Stu’s famous and much travelled floppy white hat had blown off some time ago, and with his Canadian winter tan he was getting quite badly burnt on the face, so was offered the freedom of my collection of half dozen baseball caps to cover the relatively recently appearing bald patch, an event greeted with sly enthusiasm by his long-bald brothers. Stu, of course, selected the cap with just a peak, no top, RAS’ed from an Argentinian couple in Turks and Caicos who had had their boat shipped by sea, the hat duly emblazoned with the shipping agents name on the peak.
‘Stu. That’s not going to work, is it!’ I reposted, knowing it was futile.
‘Well…..the others don’t fit.’
‘They’re adjustable Stu’.
He was not to be moved. Trouble was, of course, that bald patch.
Stu duly reappeared with a green T-shirt wrapped around his head Arab style, peak on top,
‘You look like Bin Laden’ I laughed. ‘If US Customs see you they’ll go nuts!’. And they would too..
The peak on top later graduated to an even more Arabian looking head torch strap reversed, which combined with flip-up shades completed the, er, interesting look.
And Stu loved it of course, being different that is.
That’s my brother.
First light found us weaving our way through the throng of anchored boats, Stu on the helm, David up on the bow and me somewhere in the middle with the Big Boy searchlight, picking out yachts ahead in the beam. There was no moon..
Later I asked Stu if the light had helped him helm.
‘No, not really’.
For some reason we had FOUR sails up, genoa, staysail inside it on the inner forestay, main and mizzen, which made the endless tacking rather interesting with two foresails to pull across each time. With the inner forestay in place it was plain hard work, as the genoa had to be furled nearly all the way in first, then pulled out on the other side of the inner forestay, then the staysail itself sorted. Plenty of muscle work on the winches. But we kept up a respectable 4 – 6 kts on a hard tack, and by teatime were approaching Brewer’s Bay anchorage right next to St Thomas’s International Airport, where Stu would be jumping ship the following day. Going in on impulse, it proved an excellent spot not just for its nearness to the airport, but great beach, calm waters, peace and quiet and then lovely aeroplanes to watch land now and then.
Met later by Luke, an acquaintance of Stu’s, we were to learn that the whole area was owned and administered by the Island University, who kept it pristine. Better still, we were welcome to use it!
Next day, with Stu thankfully no longer wearing his headdress and safely despatched to Departures courtesy of Luke in his four litre banger jeep, we were then taken on a round Island tour of sail lofts in an attempt to get my two damaged genoas repaired. But after a wearisome day of traffic jams and noise, it became clear that at St Thomas prices it was out of the question, and would take far too long anyway.
Thursday 16 April 2015 RESTOCK, AND KEEP MOVING.
With newly promoted 1st Mate David still dripping from his early morning swim, we took Pinball out of the pleasant Brewers Bay round the corner and into the swanky Crown Bay Marina in Charlotte Amalie just a couple of miles up the coast, to get fuel. But there was a big fat trawler sitting on the refuelling dock, so called up the Marina on and asked for a sitrep on the trawler.
‘Call the fuel dock direct on #11’. I did. No reply. A guy in a RIB waving a handheld around starting shouting at me, as I did a good job of holding PW in position inside the entrance. I gathered he’d tried the fuel dock himself with no reply.
‘I’ll go and talk to him’ he bellowed.
A big fellah came out of the office.
‘What length?’ he shouted from the dock.
‘Three six’ I replied.
He waved me on, around the other side of the trawler, where a small gap on the dock awaited. It would have to be starboard side to – not Pinball’s favourite – which meant coming in dead straight, getting a turn to port going before going into reverse to counter the prop-walk to starboard. I think the wind generator’s blades missed the smart trawlers rail by about four inches.
As Fuel Dock Operators go, this one was a particularly grumpy basket, and got shouted at for using the wrong pump.
‘Pump number FOUR I said’, he roared.
I pointed out the tiny number four I had finally found on the wrong pump, and remonstrated at the unfairness of the accusation. The problem was, the correct number was far too big for me to notice it. Pig.
Fuelled and watered, Pinball was taken back across the sound and anchored amongst all the others, dinghy launched and a resupply run to the Supermarket initiated. David is a veggie, so we tend to buy separately, so we split. The shop is split too, the older part mainly tins and non perishables which is where we started, then found the entrance to the more modern, refrigerated half where all the fresh stuff resides. Even veg is refrigerated in the tropics. I got what I needed, but hadn’t seen hide nor hair of David for ages, so went looking. He appeared by the door we had come in through, looking quizzical.
‘You do know there’s another part of the shop, with all the veg and stuff David?’
‘Oh! I thought you had left so I went back to the dinghy!’
But this was an important day for David – it was the first day he had actually eaten something under way.
Charlotte Amalie not being the most attractive place in the world, Pinball then set course away from all the hubbub a few more miles to St James Bay, a pleasant popular anchorage which provided moorings too, a good place to spend the night and a little further East. Always East.
PIC: TEAM PINBALL