Monday, June 20, 2011

Underwater world, briefly

We got an underwater camera a few weeks ago (see: “Why you tink day way?”) and were so excited to photograph all the underwater beauties we’ve been seeing since we splashed into Bahamian waters months ago. Our excitement was short lived however, since the camera started leaking days after we got it and went belly up and died not long after that. So… enjoy these photos…. they’re the last ones we’ll have until we get a replacement camera.

A hungry crab and a south end of a northbound turtle....

 Staghorn coral and schools of little fishes are everywhere....

My fish photos are as elementary (read: unsuccessful) as the dolphin photos I took in the fall, so you'll have to take my word for it that this parrot fish was much prettier than it looks in the photo.

Great color fins for underwater photos!
Peacock flounder... how's that for camouflage? 
Camo is wearing off a bit here...
We spent a few peaceful days on Jost Van Dyke before we left the BVI and it was a completely different scene this time. Seems the owners of those power boats with multiple outboards have to work during the week to make enough money to fill those tanks. (see again: “Why you tink dat way?”)

From there we sailed back over to St. John for more swimming and snorkeling and finally, some hiking. The weather has been great lately, though all the rain has little bite-y things out in droves. We hiked a few trails from Cinnamon Bay – a loop trail that took us around the ruins of old sugar and bay rum processing factory. 

Looking for Indiana Jones
The bay rum trees have beautiful bark and root structure and the air is heavily/heavenly scented with their leaves. 

The trees are home to some cool critters and some really creepy critters.

Female Golden Orb... yes, she's really that big, about 4 inches long. Wow and ick at the same time.
About 6" long, the extremely creepy gongolo millipede. Bonus: It spits a liquid that will temporarily blind you.
Not the greatest photo, but I couldn't believe I got two critters in one shot!
We started off on another trail another day and came across a trail that branched off up a hill to the America House ruins. The trail map said it was a ‘moderate incline’. ‘Moderate incline? Really? I’d call it a 'moderately vertiginous' incline, though they didn’t rate any of the trails that way, so maybe it’s just me. 

Nice views at the top though…

Francis Bay on the left, Maho Bay on the right... and Saralane in the center just above the treeline!
Cinnamon Bay

One nice thing about this part of St. John is that there are a bunch of nice anchorages that are good in all different kinds of wind. We spent time in Caneel Bay, which has pretty good free wifi out on the boat, Hawksnest Bay which is absolutely beautiful, and where we witnessed some idiots taking small conch to break open and eat, Cinnamon Bay, which has good snorkeling and where Kenny Chesney has a home/castle and Francis Bay and Maho Bay, where we were treated to the sight of dolphins. 

Very cool sundial at Maho Bay eco-lodge.... it's 5:00 somewhere!
Francis and Maho are the best spots to stay clear of the wakes of the ferries that buzz back and forth going at least 75 miles an hour according to my dad who rode one over from St. Thomas to Tortola. (See yet again: “Why you tink dat way?”) Having been on the receiving end of the ferries’ wakes, I’m inclined to agree with him.

Saralane sits in wake-free Maho Bay. Just to the left of the top of the mast is America House ruins. Moderate incline, eh? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“Don’t stress, mon”

Since we’ve been quoting local wisdom lately…. these were the words of the mechanic working on our outboard motor in response to our question “How much do you think this will cost us?” Easy for him to say.

Hey... bring back our dinghy!
In true island fashion it took a few weeks to get the parts that we needed (though each day they said the parts would probably be in ‘tomorrow’) and we were looking forward to finally having the motor up to speed (bad pun not intended).  So… the outboard is fixed and runs "like a bat outta hell” (another direct quote from the mechanic). We paid the ransom… um.. I mean.. the bill for the repairs and were on our way.

The rain still comes and goes in big heavy downpours… filling up our water tanks, and the dinghy, each time.

We’ve been bumping around the BVI for a while – visiting some of the over-visited spots as well as some places we haven’t been before. In no particular order…. Key Cay, Trellis Bay, Saba Rock, Spring Bay, Little Harbor, Lee Bay, Cam Bay, Monkey Point, Anegada and a few others.

Waiting for the rain in Key Cay

Spring Bay – just up from the Baths on Virgin Gorda is beautiful, and we ended up spending time there since the Baths were so full of charter boats we couldn’t get near them.

Trellis Bay – with it’s wonky dock and cafe with spying eyes.

Saba Rock - at the north end of Gorda Sound, has a great view of the sound and draws charterers and us regular people too. We anchor pretty much everywhere, but they have a great deal here - pick up one of their mooring balls for $25 and get up to 200 gallons of water and a bag of ice! We ended up being here between big rains (and I'll admit to using our rainwater tank fills rather freely, since for a while it seemed like it would never stop raining) so we picked up a mooring ball and filled our tanks. Judging by the number of dinghies at the dock here, looks like we're not the only ones who thought this was a good deal.

Two more good reasons to stop at Saba Rock..... well placed hammocks, and $2.50 painkillers every day.

And a reason to take a look around the nearby Bitter End Yacht Club - cool artwork! Even showing the way to the restrooms....

But one reason not to stay for too long is that everything else is really expensive! You'd have to really be craving your Cheerios and Triscuits to buy them here. 

Cool critters and cool flowers still all around....

With the rain still hanging around.... we decided to go north to Anegada for a change of pace (yep... gotta get away from the fast pace over here on Virgin Gorda) and sit out the cloudy days there. There's a flock of pink flamingos that makes it's home on Anegada and we trekked out around the Salt Pond hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Nope, no sign of them... not even a pink feather floating around. Still it was a nice walk and we did see some cool orchids.

Saralane waits for the rain in Anegada
Leaving Anegada...
One place we keep returning to is LIttle Harbor on Peter Island. It's close to Road Town and seems to be overlooked in favor of the bigger splashier places, but it's a lovely little harbor full of fish, turtles, spotted eagle rays, goats and birds.

Sunset in Little Harbor
This little box fish hangs out under the boat every time we stop here...
As usual I've let too much time lapse between posts so this is getting long enough that my attention span is beginning to feel challenged. I'll pick up with the fishes in the next post...