Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mega Back(b)log

The only other "Back(b)log" I posted was back in December of 2011 when our friends Steve and Cindy showed up and all we did was play. No work. No blogs. No anything. I'm sensing a pattern here and will lay the blame for this back(b)log squarely on the friends and family that came down and encouraged us to spend time playing and totally ignore all other responsibilities. You know who you are. And if you don't.... you'll see yourselves here in this post!

First, there's Denise and Jean Pierre on Absaroque, whose company we continue to enjoy whenever we find each other in the same anchorage. They still whip us in dice games, though we win a few now and then. We did our usual meals together and again rented a car for a whirlwind shopping trip around the island. If you want to know where to get bargains on wine, foie gras, cheese or just about anything else.... track down Absaroque and ask.

JP kindly holds my glass up for a toast to our friendship
Next up are Tiffany and Josh, with their French bulldog Jacques, on Occam's Razor. They're friends from Rhode Island who are on their maiden voyage in the islands on their fast and funky catamaran. That big yellow cat in any anchorage? It's them.

Occam's arrives! Tiff photographs me, photographing her.
Occam's had a few rough sails (to say the least) on their trip down and were grateful to finally be in the quiet (if not very swimmy) waters of the lagoon. So what do they do as they try to anchor? They pick up a massive chain lying on the bottom. You might say it's a rite of passage of sorts... and if you haven't done it yet, you probably will someday. A couple of guys nearby reach them before we do and help them disentangle so they can re-anchor. Welcome to St Martin Occam's!

Who put that anchor chain there?
We weren't sure we'd see Tiff and Josh since we were on different tracks up until now so this was a treat for us all. Secretly, we really wanted to see Jacques most of all - though to Tiff and Josh that's not much of a secret. He's a sweet quirky little guy and we love him. He's not much of a water dog but seems to have adjusted to this watery lifestyle pretty well.

Jacques comes over for a visit
The crews of Absaroque, Occam's and Saralane all love to cook (and eat), so we gathered on the big yellow cat for some food and drink and socializing. Denise and JP spoke French to Jacques and funny thing - he seemed to understand. Hmmmm...

Around the table from L: Tiffany, Denise, Jean Pierre, Josh, Skip

On the morning radio net we'd been hearing a very enthusiastic young Spanish woman advertising her services as a massage therapist... "Hi, I'm Sylvia from Spain! I give super good deep tissue massage...!" etc. I wish I had a recording of her energetic, cheerful and forceful delivery. She made us laugh each time we heard her on the radio, with her thick Spanish accent and happy self confidence. Since Tiff and I both love a good massage, and since Occam's Razor has a huge back 'deck', we called her and had her come over for massages. She was as energetic and cheerful in person as she was on the radio.... she's been sailing down here with friends for a few years, and is having the time of her young life.

Dinghy + massage table + can do spirit = Sylvia
From top L: Tiff & Josh finding out how frustrating it is to find wifi on St Martin, Sylvia - the traveling liveaboard massage therapist, waitress at Coco Loco on Orient Beach where we stopped for lunch with Absaroque, Orient Beach view complete with blue beach umbrellas
Brilliant rainbow caps off the crummy weather that had been hanging around St Martin
Everyone had plans to make a break for somewhere new when the weather was right and it wasn't long before we all went off in different directions. We had friends and family coming to the USVI so we headed off for the BVI first.

The familiar early morning departure from Grand Case, St Martin
Good thing we bought a new BVI flag - the old flag is looking a little bedraggled
Our usual first stop in the BVI is along the south shore of Prickly Pear Island and when we arrived and attempted to anchor.... the windlass said 'I don't think so'. Time to tear the boat apart to get to the windlass and all the tools and bits and pieces needed to test/replace what needs testing/replacing. 

More messiness
The good news is that the problem wasn't as bad as we thought. The better news is that we decided to have friends bring a replacement part with them when they visit in case the next time the windlass quits, it really quits. 

We stuck around North Sound long enough to do laundry and ogle the big boats that were there for the annual super yacht regatta hosted by the YCCS. No fancy pool time for us at the YCCS while they were busy with actual customers.


Looks big close up...
...and big from far away. That's Saralane in the bottom left corner closest to shore.
Big and beautiful
For as much time as we've spent anchored here over the years, we've never hiked on Prickly Pear Island, so this time we followed the goat trails up and enjoyed the scenery.

From top L: driftwood, flamingo in the salt pond, tamarind tree, trail along the pond
The view from Prickly Pear... whitecaps everywhere.... very windy!
Baby goat... pretty darn cute.
Our Ithaca friends Rob, Marybeth, Jim and Heidi were due to arrive on St John, overlapping with a visit by Miles, Lex and their friend Becky - all were renting houses on the island and we decided to stay in Francis Bay to be able to connect easily with everyone. 

Boys in the water; girls on the beach
Heidi and Marybeth
Lex, Miles, Skip, Jim, Marybeth,Heidi, Rob, me..... missing is Becky who did the camera work.
The lovely Becky, with a Dark & Stormy
Jim, Rob and Lex get acquainted
Miles, Skip, Heidi and Marybeth
Heidi and Marybeth

By not so strange coincidence, our Ithaca friends ended up renting the house that Miles and Lex rented previously. They were hoping to book the house again this time, until I mentioned it to Rob when they were looking for a rental. Seems the Ithacans hit the "book it" button faster than Miles and Lex did when they made their plans! It was really fun to have everyone there for an evening and Miles, Lex and Becky were good sports about missing out on the house this time. 

We'd loaded up on food and drink in St Martin, where everything is less pricey and more available than in the Virgins, and unloaded it into the lovely house. There was an extra bedroom in the house and we had the unexpected pleasure of staying ashore with them for the week. A week in a square non-moving bed. A week of daily hot showers. Room to spread out. The company of good friends. Very nice.
Lex, Miles, Skip, me in Francis Bay
After snorkeling along the shore in Francis for a few days, we took the Ithaca crowd out on Saralane for a day and they got their fill of swimming and snorkeling off the boat. Along with the usual mix of pretty fish and coral, they got to see a nurse shark (those who didn't flee when I said "Look... a shark!") patrolling the shoreline. Mostly though it was an escape-the-cold-soak-up-the-sun kind of week.

Heidi gives two thumbs up
Jim and Rob make lots of bubbles
Lunch on deck between snorkels
A hike to the America Hill house gives us a great view of Francis and Maho Bays
Heidi, Marybeth, Skip, Rob and Jim... notice a Block Island/Grateful Dead vibe in this group?
Skip and I have been visiting these four on their annual vacation on Block Island for years, but since we've been down here there's been talk of a get together in the Caribbean too. This year it finally came together and it was long awaited and much too short! Maybe we'll see them out on the Block again this summer when we're back in Rhode Island. Good to see you all.... and thanks for ferrying down all the goodies we kept having shipping to you!

It's normally just Skip and me in the dinghy and it seems that having six people in dinghy was just a little too much for the old John H. He popped a seam and started losing air fast. Sorry John! We mixed up a bubbly solution to spray on and once we pinpointed the leak we worked out a patch of sorts. It seems to be working pretty well so far but John's looking a little sad with all the patching we've done this year.

Big bubbles give away the leaky spot
Lots of new patches
It was pretty quiet after all the visitors left and we walked the beach, swam, snorkeled and spent time with friends on nearby boats. 

Waterline on the rocky shore

A crowd for sunset drinks on s/v Always Summer  

Steve and Eva from s/v Music making their evening rounds as Bay Hosts, with super cool cat Kedi riding up front
One very cool cat
Lots of sailors come to the beach for a get together
Steve plays the guitar when we get together one night on their aptly named boat, s/v Music

Eva, also a musician, and always smiling
Me, Eva and Laurie from s/v Reality Check
We've gotten to know Steve and Eva pretty well over the past few weeks and are sorry to see them leave. They're headed to Florida with plans to sell Music and look for another boat. Maybe we'll see them back here again? We hope so.

I first titled this post "Back(b)log but added the 'Mega' since it seems to have developed into a mega blog without me noticing and I think it's only right to give you fair warning that it's a long one!  But, that brings us up to date and with no new plans for friends to visit I'll have fewer excuses for not keeping up with the blog. 

Gotta end this long post with a simple sunset. 

Sunset in Francis Bay