Thursday, April 6, 2017

Let's Start Island Hopping!

Lindbergh Bay, St. Thomas:  With the weather forecast improving, we can start moving again.  After filling our water tanks, we motor around the airport to Lindbergh Bay (a gentle reminder how rough the water is in winds gusting to 23.  We've been anchored too long).  The anchorage is a little rolly, but we find a nice patch of sand in 15 ft of water and put on our swell bridle.  sv Encore follows us around and anchors next door.

Summary:  Total time 0:49 min, avg speed 3.8 kts, total mileage 3.1 nm, 2 engine motor.

Garmin BlueChart routing, 2.5 nm!

We're closer to the grocery, so we can provision up for the two weeks we have scheduled in St. John.  There are also two beach restaurants here (all Brewer's is lacking), wifi and best of all, more friends already anchored (sv Outta Control)!  A girl's lunch is quickly planned but we can't wait that long and the three boats quickly assemble a laundry run.

The girls aren't ready to end our "girls lunch" so we retire to Beachcombers...

sv Encore stops at a neighboring boat to learn their flag is Iceland!  I quickly swim over when I realize their hailing port is Aspen, CO!  We have another taker for girls lunch!

We assemble an incredibly diverse group of intelligent women.  We stop at a little Dominican Restaurant called The Flight Deck near the laundromat for lunch.  Two of our group have backgrounds in health care, so after discussing politics {eek, no blood shed} and world economics we declared all world problems solved & retire back to the beach.

All the crazy weather has been cutting into the sunset photos...

And the lights on the hillside above our bay--reminds me of night time in Charlotte Amalie without all the noise & traffic!

And the boat craziness begins as we inch closer to Charlotte Amalie--tall ships, cruise ships, yachts OH MY!

I'm accompanied on my morning walk/grocery run by one-half of Encore and the day concludes with a lively happy hour on sv Eva where we learn a little about the culture in Iceland, architecture and the favorite snorkeling sites of all involved (Thank you Oli, for grabbing the chart & pointing, while everyone yelled out their favorites...)

I'm floating in the bay with my noodle, with Sally on the SUP
Sally on Encore is considering a SUP, so I paddle over to drop mine off.  She quickly jumps on and we begin to tour the anchorage, ultimately ending up with both of us onboard, proving it's possible and results in a lot of silliness.

More errands.  The Captain dinghies around the corner to fill our spare propane bottle while I run into Charlotte Amalie with Encore.  I take them to my normal stops around Yacht Haven Grande and they find a few new ones!  Kmart for some sundresses & other necessities. Tap & Still for lunch. Gourmet Food Gallery for some treats. Natural Food Store for even more treats (corner of main intersection across from Wendy's & next to Pueblo).  I had a cup of Moringa tea this morning, courtesy of Jerry.

Emerald Beach Resort with sv Encore & sv Outta Control

So, I mentioned there are a couple of hotels on the beach.  We park the dinghy on the far right with the hotel's blessing ($300/night hotel).  This results in the occasional conversation with hotel guests while walking down the beach:

What's in the bag?
Laundry (or sometimes groceries)
Where are you going with your laundry/groceries?!
I point to The Captain arriving on the beach with the dinghy.
Wow, where did you get that?! {ie. I want to rent one!}
It's ours.
Where do you go with that? 
We live on our boat and we're anchored in the bay.  It's our car. 
{slack jawed}  Where are you from?
St. Louis
That's not on the ocean!
We left from Annapolis & are now based out of Puerto Rico.
How did you get your boat here?
We sailed it...
{and then I jump in the dinghy and zoom away...}
That never get's old!  We're living the dream! 

Lindberg to Christmas Cove via Charlotte Amalie harbor

Christmas Cove, Great St. James I, USVI:  After six days in Lindberg Bay, we're ready to start moving towards St John, USVI.  Anchor up!

Passing the Marriott, where I used to stay for work, on the way into open water

We take the scenic route through Charlotte Amalie harbor, mostly to avoid to wet ride awaiting us on the south coast of St. Thomas.  We're once again motoring into an east wind and swimming upstream of all the ferry boats that are constantly waking us.  Note to tourists:  always check the weather before boarding a ferry.  The rarely cancel & it looked like a sporty ride for them also!

The only thing between us & a pizza is our friends on sv Encore! (That's The Captain headed in for a pick up...)

Christmas Cove is a strategic stop, just before Current Cut.  And, oh yeah, there's a pizza boat! We drop next to Encore and I jump in to snorkel the anchor while the Captain orders a pizza for lunch (Yes, I planned it that way!).  I'm greeted by a barracuda who has already taken up residency under our boat.  "Oh, yeah.  Hand me the camera!"

Pet barracuda
According to the DeLoach's Reef Fish Identification book, barracuda can be 6 ft long, 
"Open and close mouth to assist respiration (not a threat)...
Reaction to divers:  Apparently unconcerned; have the unnerving habit of approaching divers and following them about the reef.  This appears to be nothing more than curiosity, as there are no reports of unprovoked attacks...Normally move away if closely approached."  

All I see are eyes and TEETH!  I swim out to check the anchor & then to invite Encore for sundowners.  After lunch, I receive a text from a friend that their kids went to high school in Indiana with one of the owner's of the pizza boat, so I'm back in the dinghy to relay a "Hello from Anderson!"  

Summary:  Total time 1:49, avg speed 4.5 kts, total mileage 8.2 nm, 2-engine motor.

Anchored in the gin clear waters of Christmas Cove and having pizza for the second day in a row. What the hell. We'll get jobs when the pizza money runs out!

Besides the pizza, there is some great people watching! Hobie cats, dinghies & small powerboats from the Yacht Club across the way. Dive boats. MegaYachts. Charter boats & the occasional schooner and/or pirate ship. Apparently, we're anchored just in front of a private mooring that belongs to a charter sunset cruise. Sundowners with Encore last night was like being a fish in an aquarium--"{whispering & pointing} Look. Cruisers. A unique species found all over the world, but especially in the Caribbean..."

Dive boats & a mega-yacht!
An overcast day but the schooner is still spectacular!
sv Encore braving the cut & forecast for St. John.  We're right behind you {wink, wink}

Encore leaves for St. John with an iffy forecast of big waves.  We're lazy so we stay behind and I get in some snorkeling.  Last year we followed the tour boat that dropped snorkelers off at the black rock on the beach.  This year I follow a dive boat to check out Fish Cay, the rock that separates the north & south side of the anchorage.  As I'm learning, a snorkel may look like a dud then turn spectacular!  This was no exception.  (I'm not happy with my Nikon Coolpix.  I've downloaded some different software and may be able to clean these up a little in the future, but for now...)

Can you see him?

It's been difficult getting a wide-angle of some of the places we've snorkeled, but this gives you an idea...

More pufferfish.  Bashful & won't hold still for the camera.  These two are swimming a figure-eight.  I even tried to catch them on video!

My first sea slug

Check out our Google maps for Year 3, for the best snorkeling spot in Christmas Cove.

Standby for our trip to St. John!

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