Monday, March 13, 2017

Puerto Rico to Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

A panorama of beautiful Brewer's Beach

We're getting ready to move over to the US Virgin Islands in the next weather window. After a week of begging ("Welcome to the Caribbean"), I got a temporary mailbox set up. Let the internet shopping begin!  New toys in our future. Stay tuned!

Flummoxed. No dew on the hatches this morning.."Do I hear a chicken?"
And why is Amelia nicknamed the Princess (among many others)?  She's added a new step to her morning routine:  Sit on the table & stare at Mama while Mama brushes her teeth.  Petted by Mama for 5-20 minutes, depending on how late Mama slept.  Medicine.  Breakfast ("You don´t need coffee!  Breakfast!"). Hop up on the table and stare at Papa's spot until he wakes up to give her some lactose-free milk (if Mama hasn´t given in yet.  "Splash some over here after you pour some in your coffee, stingy lady!").  Morning nap if Daddy oversleeps.  Daddy gets up.  Beg for more milk then treats.  Take a second run at breakfast.  AND NOW, head out on deck to lick up some morning dew.    Heaven forbid you miss a step...

STT, here we come!  Hoping to wrastle up a light breeze...

After two days of waiting for the water to lay down after the week of high winds, our feet are ITCHY!  I nudge El Capitan along for a 8:00 am departure.  It's only 20 miles but we like to be anchored in time for lunch and comfortable our anchor is set before dark (We're constantly amazed at the number of people that re-anchor just before sunset.  Yikes).  Our anchor is close to our friends on s/v Altona II so we back slowly out and swing around as a turtle pops his head up to say goodbye.  That's a good start to the day.  

Emergency big white flappy thing

A 5 kt diurnal wind allows the genoa to be 1/3 unfurled, if nothing but for a sunshade.  Our fishing line is set in 65-80 ft of water and and as we round the southeastern point, St. Thomas comes into sight along with lots of sails.  Before the second red buoy, "FISH ON!"  I was skeptical and as the line came in he looked tiny.  However, as he came up out of the water, he was bigger than he originally looked.   "Tuna, my favorite!"  He's small but quickly on board.  Amelia isn't interested (she prefers her tuna in a can) and it's stowed in the dinghy.

Fish on!  Whoo hoo!  Skipjack Tuna (thanks for the positive identification, Sandy)

Sailing along, our anemometer shows 8 kts out of the north on the beam reach.  It seems more like 15.  We'll add that to the list of things that need work when we go up the mast.

We're saaaaaiilinngggggg!

Halfway across the Virgin Passage. 10 miles to Brewer's beach. "Is that a whale?  A dolphin?  It's big but it's not moving?" {turtle pops his head up}.  "Dude!  He is huge!"

You aren't done anchoring in Brewer's until the resident pelican has "christened" your boat

Arrived!  Anchored in Brewers Bay, St Thomas, USVI--right next to the airport I used to fly into!  (No airplanes on approach until we entered the anchorage. We thought we were lost!). This is our first pelican, who landed on the bow to assist with cleaning our fish. "Are you gonna eat that?"  Mine!

Summary:  Total time 4:06, total mileage 20.2, average speed 4.9 kts (1/3 motor sail, 2/3 motor)

Can you see the dolphins in this picture?

We're privileged to spot the four dolphins that frequent the anchorage, according to a Professor at the University.  It's two mama's and two babies.  They swam through anchorage, along the beach with babies playing and doing spins.  We get asked if we see a lot of dolphins and the answer is "not as many as we would like!" but other cruisers have had better luck.

For a girl from the midwest, today's snorkel was like swimming in the Springfield Bass Pro or Shedd Aquarium saltwater fish tank. A ray (unidentified because he was under the sandy bottom except for eyes & tail), lots of blue fish turning black near coral then turning white over sand (doctorfish?), bottom dwelling (orangespotted?) goby giving me the stink eye, pink big eye blackfin snapper (? Beautiful & my first. Also giving me the stinkeye), lots of speckled black smooth trunkfish, Angelfish, butterfly fish, blue tang, purple & yellow damselfish and one those floating twigs with eyeballs (he was friendly. We hung out for awhile). Couldn't find the resident turtle. We need an underwater camera!

Last year, we anchored downtown in Charlotte Amalie.  It's time to learn a new side of the island.  It's Monday, so we're up early and dinghy to the beach.  Walk to Lindbergh Bay for reconnaissance of the anchorage then along the industrial bay of Krum, then on to Crown Bay Marina.  We sign some paperwork at the Mailbox Stop ($30 for 30 days of mail), stop at the AT&T store ($60 for 30 days, 10 GB data, talk & text), swing through the chandlery, then stop at Tickle's restaurant overlooking the marina for a quick refreshment (10:00 am, still serving breakfast!).  Grocery, Chinese restaurant for some wifi & shared a beef stir fry ($10 cheapest lunch yet.  We'll be back).  Safari back to the beach by 1:00 pm.

Another beautiful sunset from Brewer's Bay

The Captain patiently waiting while I take pictures

Raven the Dinghy with the anchorage in the background

Dinghy parking with the University dock in the background

SW wind?  WTF?!  It's amazing how quickly The Captain can get a swell bridle on in the middle of the night. 

Sailing tip:  Even the most experienced cruisers forget the ocean swell can arrive the night before the forecast wind shift (ie not just us!)

Today, just for fun, we rode the full route on an open-air $1 safari bus the locals use. I loved it. The Captain wasn't a fan. Although the consensus is the locals are some of the best & most courteous drivers in the Caribbean--even though they drive on the wrong side of the road. 

iRocker SUP in a handy backpack

Unrolled & ready to inflate

Hey, look what showed up in the mail today!  My iRocker SUP!  A huge thank you to our friend Wendy on sv Altona II for introducing us to iRocker and to Dale at the Dinghy Dock for buying my kayak.

A little bit of a workout to inflate...

The new addition to our crew

Trip #1, getting started
Getting better

Crazy yacht with a slide (note the tender pulling three jet skis)
Getting to know our neighbors.  Can you find us?
Beautiful sunset ahead of the squalls

More neighbors

It's a pic of the cat at sunset inspecting the SUP and the new wind generator mount all in one!

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As previously mentioned my gadgets have all switched themselves to Espanol (including recently, YouTube ads). Yesterday, The Captain's texts switched themselves to French. Communication is getting interesting!  (Did he call me a tard?!)

Mother Nature.  She's running the show.  The winds have been weird this last week.  Trade winds should be out of the east.  It's been several days since the cold front clocked through south and west.  The forecast was for NE winds this week.  However, we're still bobbing around between SE and N!  I suspected the wind coming over the island mountain affected the winds in our anchorage/bay along with some current, which other cruisers concurred.  However, today, we dinghied around to the south side of the airport to Lindbergh Bay, hoping to relocate.  We were surprised (but not totally surprised) that there is a south swell still rolling in, despite the forecast of NE winds.  There was only one monohull anchored (bobbing like a cork) & a cat departing!  I guess the boat is really swinging to the SE wind!

View from the UVI Marine Science dock

Some days as cruisers, we arrive and happen upon an amazing experience.  Other times, we have to stay somewhere long enough to experience something amazing!  After deciding not to relocate this morning, we headed into town for some grocery shopping.  On the return, as we hopped on the safari, a woman behind us, said "Hurry!  Hurry!  I have to get to the beach!  Are you going to beach?  Do you have your snorkel gear?"  It turns out she was volunteering with a group from the university to count turtles!  When we arrived, she grabbed a bag of groceries and lead us around to the UVI Marine Science dock and introduced us to Steve and John who work at the university!  We talked turtles (they've counted 17 in one day!), dolphins (we saw the 4 in the bay yesterday!), rays (yep!  Seen em), buoys (They also collect data.  Maintenance is contracted out--the one below was getting it's chain scrubbed!), wildlife in the tiny bay behind their dock (all kinds of birds & tarpon), no wake zones (jet skiis are banned.  Yeah!) and whether or not you should use a powered sup in the swim zone (NO).  They added us to their contact list!  (Odin is in the top right)

After getting a better understanding of the operations at the UVI Marine Science dock, we headed out for a snorkel to find some turtles.  I saw three and a pufferfish (so well disguised on the bottom, The Captain couldn't see him).  We also found a nice sandy spot if we wanted to relocate and confirmed there is a cable coming off the beach per the charts (and also a pipe.  Give those buoys a little room!). We returned to the boat all wrinkly.  THEN I grabbed the SUP and did a short paddle standing up!  I had hope to make it to the swim area but came up a little short.  The winds were pretty strong, so I kneeled and floated back home.

Stand by for Part 2, underwater camera pics of Brewer's Bay!

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