February 2017: St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands

posted on
June 8th, 2018 by

January 21st – February 14th: Simpson Bay Marina, St. Maarten

We settled in at Simpson Bay with plans for maintenance, provisioning, and of course, having fun. Aftermath would be staying for a just a few days, as they were planning to leave for Florida, taking the northern route back. Symbiosis elected to anchor out in the bay to save the marina fees.

The satellite antenna, part deux

One of the first things we did after arriving was contacting the KVH antenna repair shop, The Wired Sailor. The owner, Shai Talmi, came out to the boat to check things out. First he wanted to verify that the cable was okay, but to substitute it out, he would have to get up to the antenna. His assistant believed that he could get to the antenna using a bosun’s chair, which Scott had on board. He was able to swap in a new cable, but that did not solve the problem.

                        Assessing the options                                               I was glad it wasn’t me up there

The next step was to take the antenna down and test it in Shai’s office. There was no way that it could be taken down using the bosun’s chair, so Shai suggested that we contact a boat yard across the harbor – the yard could get a bucket truck next to the boat. We took the tender over, but the yard manager said the slot where we could get to the truck was booked up for at least another week. The next suggestion from Shai was to take the boat over the sister marina, Isle del Sol. It’s designed for superyachts, but there would be space to get a truck to the boat, and the marina manager could arrange that for us. We talked with her to set up a date.

A few days later we moved over to the big boy marina, and we went into the assigned slip. There was a huge crane taking off life rafts from the boat next to us – we thought that crane would be helping us, as the marina manager said that way, we would not have to pay the travel costs. However, the crane operator said he knew nothing about this, and left as soon as he finished the life raft job. We talked with the marina manager, and she said that she had talked with the crane company, but obviously the word did not get to the operator. She was able to get a bucket truck to come out in about an hour. In order to reach the antenna, we had to essentially parallel park in the slip – we just walked the boat over, as there was no wind. The marina people said they had never seen such a small boat in their slips – we looked like a tender compared to the 200’+ boats docked there…

               We initially docked normally                            But for the truck, we pulled into the head of the slip

                     The truck arrived                                                            And up goes the technician

                  A little more to the left and up….                                  Antenna down! Antenna down!

After a few days, Shai told me that he had powered up the antenna, and it appeared to be working, but without tracking the satellite. Shai said that he needed the RF tone generators – I knew what these were, but I had no idea where to find them. They were not in the compartment with the receiver, where I would expect them to be. I traced the cables out, and voila – I found them in the compartment beneath the navigation instruments. I removed them, and Shai was now able to get the antenna to track the satellite. However, he was not able to get it to fail – very frustrating. At that point, the only option was to replace the electronics in the antenna, which would be quite expensive. Given that we would soon be out of range, we elected to give up.

We took the boat back to the big boy marina, paid for another visit from the truck, and got the antenna reinstalled. All that Shai could do was clean all of the connections, and we had a Christmas miracle – a working antenna. He even showed us that we could get HD signals. When we originally bought the antenna, we opted to go with the SD version, as it was half the price of the HD version. But Shai was convinced that sine we had an HD receiver, we could get HD channels – and he was right! At least we were done with trying to fix the damn thing…

Simpson Bay life

We noticed that a big Nordhavn, a 57-footer, was in the marina. We stopped by to introduce ourselves, and we found out that the couple on board were delivering the boat, and would only be there a couple of more days. We swapped Nordhavn stories, and they offered me shots of rum from a very unusual bottle. It was made in the Cayman Islands, called “Big Black Dick”. I know what you are thinking, because that is also what I was thinking. There is a story about the origin of the name – I’ll republish it here, but I have my doubts…

According to the Big Black Dick Rum website, Big Black Dick is believed to have been born of ‘Royal’ African parentage.  You can pretty much guess at the story, Hometown Boy Prince captured by French slavers. Rejecting his African name they decide to call him ‘Richard Le Noir‘, which means ‘Black Richard’. He gets tossed overboard by the slavers near an uncharted Caribbean island, where he miraculously swims ashore only to be promptly captured and becomes a slave working in the Cane fields.

After years of labour, he learns the secret of how to turn sugar cane into the Caribbean’s finest rum. Because he was such an honest hard-working guy, he is granted his freedom in the early 1700’s.  Of course, he immediately became a dashing pirate who wore incredible purple velvet, carried four pistols, and becomes known as Big Black Dick, the Pirate. Unlike most other pirates, he lives a long and hearty pirate life, and then he retires to a fine life making his famous Pirate Rum… and his famous Secret Seasonings,…. and of course his famous Caribbean Hot Sauce.

Anyway, after we said goodbye, we were walking past Aftermath, and I stopped to ask Debbie and John if they wanted a taste. Debbie gave it a try. She is fun, but a little conservative, bit after tasting it, she told me, “once you go black, you never go back”. We just about died laughing.

They left shortly after that, heading back to Florida for family stuff. We’ll miss them, but we know we’ll get together again. We took Scott and Noi over to the Fat Turtle at the Isle del Sol marina to use the pool. While we were there, a crew from one of the charter boats was getting instructions on using the survival suits. It was an unusual site, to say the least.

                      Pool at the Fat Turtle                                                     Space alien invasion

Within walking distance from the marina was the Hollywood Casino and the Red Piano Bar. The casino was decent, but the gang preferred the piano bar, which featured an American artist who could play pretty much anything.

We heard that a number of our cruising buddies were in the area: Brian and Lauren from Nightingale, Pete and Mary from Neko, Robin and Mike from Mermaid and a couple that Scott and Noi knew from the Dominican Republic. We all agreed to a happy hour in a bar just across from us, Lagoonies. It was great seeing everybody again. Brian and Lauren had Nightingale on the hard on the Freench side, and they were painting the bottom on their own. They had decided to look for a business in San Juan, so they had an interesting future ahead of them. Pete and Mary were slowly working their way back to the USA, and we expected to see them again. It was a lot of fun to catch up with everyone.

We rented a car to show the island to Scott and Noi. We visited Oyster Pond on the Dutch side, and Orient Bay on the French side.

                  Iguanas were in the bushes                              Anchorage at Oyster Pond on the Atlantic side

                Orient Beach on a cloudy day                                               The Selfie Queens

             Lucky, Scott, and a new “friend”                          Bar overlooking the runway – yes, there was one

We returned to the Dutch side, we took them to Maho Beach to watch the airplanes – the scene of the crime where Little Blend got flipped. We smartly avoided the beach, and went to the Sunset Bar, which is just south of the runway. Of course, Noi being Noi: she had to go to the beach to experience the jet blast firsthand. Check out this video for a close up of just how powerful the blast can be.

                                           View from the Sunset Beach Bar of landing aircraft – safe!


                                             Yes, Noi had to go and experience the blast

After we left Maho Beach, Scott wanted to go to a bar where he had heard he could get IPA’s. We found the bar in a strip mall just south of the French border. We were the only patrons, and the owner was a very friendly Venezuelan guy. They didn’t make their own beer, but he was importing IPA microbrews from Miami – Scott was happy. The owner, Rafael, was playing music videos from Youtube, and after a while, we took over the computer. We kept on drinking and drinking, and eating, and drinking and drinking. Rafael brought us some shots of a very good Venezuelan rum, normally costing over $10 each, compliments of the house. We played darts, had our own karaoke party, and generally raised Hell. We stayed there for about five hours, spending the last hour sobering up for the drive home. The mall was mostly empty, and we didn’t think the business would last, but we had a total blast.

                                                            Cheers at the rock ‘n roll Perola Bar!

                   IPA heaven for Scott                                                         Teaching Noi how to play darts

    “Stop right there!” karaoke                 A great Venezuelan rum                 Dogfish Head – sounds delicious!

At Booze it Up

We did a lot of provisioning while we were there. St. Maarten has about the best provisioning in the island, for both food and liquor. The best liquor store we found was called Booze it Up, which usually results in questions from your credit card provider. Across the street was a little sushi bar that we had discovered previously, and as it turns out, the chef was from a village in Thailand not too far from Noi’s home. She had a great time talking with him. For the Super Bowl, we ended up going to the Fat Turtle. We had a pretty good time, but the Tom Brady miracle comeback didn’t sit well with us.

For groceries, there are three really good stores: Cost-U-Less
and Le Grande Marche, both on the way to Philipsburg, requiring a car or a taxi ride; and Carrefour, across the bay from us. As a side note, the Carrefour was heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma, and is still being reconstructed as of the summer of 2018. In addition, we found another mini-warehouse store, Prime Cash and Carry, near the Budget Marine across the bay from the marina.

                                                 Happy Hour at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club

          Noi, painted up to root for the Falcons                                       At the Thai sushi bar

Maintenance time

Well-dressed for dinner

St. Maarten is a yachter’s paradise. As a duty-free port, the cost of parts, groceries, and hardware is quite reasonable. Services are widely available, and the repair places are pretty responsible. Scott was having electrical problems with his solar panels, navigation plotter and alternators. There is a large electrical supply store across the bay, Electec, where Scott procured parts for his solar panels, along with a new alternator. He was able to get a new cable for his plotter through Budget Marine. Our outstanding repair was on the hull. We still had the rather serious scrape we picked up at the mega marina in St. Thomas, as well as a gouge from a nail on the customs dock at Antigua. We contracted a reasonable price with a couple of guys to fix the scrapes, along with a few other areas. Their work looked great, so we were pretty happy.

Before we left, we paid a visit to Philipsburg for some shopping, and of course to stock up at the liquor store – I could get the 18-year old Flor de Caña rum there for a song. We also had a final dinner out at the Greenhouse, a restaurant within walking distance. We were well-stocked for a stay in BVI.

                    Dinner at The Greenhouse                                                  Simpson Bay Beach

                                                                  Beachfront at Philipsburg

                     There’s always a bar                                                      The shopping zone

February 14th – 15th: Simpson Bay Marina – Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI

With both boats well-provisioned we departed for the 4:00PM bridge opening on Valentine’s Day. There was quite a line-up of boats waiting to depart, so we jogged around with everyone else until the bridge opened. Of course, one jerk had to bull his way into the line in front of us, as if the bridge would close before he made it through.   🙄  

                      Goodbye to the big toys                                             Through Simpson Bay Bridge

                                                              Sandwiched between some big cats

                    Last look at Simpson Bay                                  Nothing but clear skies and flat seas ahead

Because of the bridge schedule, we needed to do a short overnight passage to Virgin Gorda. Once we cleared the bridge, we turned west, headed to Virgin Gorda. Shortly after departing, the inevitable happened – the TV antenna failed yet again. 👿  We resolved to give up on it… Later in the evening, we heard a very loud clunk – we weren’t sure if something had hit us, or if something had fallen outside. We scoured the boat inside and out, and could find nothing. Bumps in the night, we supposed. It was a very relaxing passage for us, but Symbiosis had little wind to help them along. While I was napping around 9:30 that night, Rosé received a radio hail from a Disney cruise ship. They were notifying boats in the area that they would be shooting fireworks at 10:00PM. Rosé said it was quite the show!

We arrived just after sunrise, and turned in through Colquhoun Reef to our anchorage at Leverick Bay. Once anchored, we settled in for some naps prior to clearing customs at Gun Creek. Looking over the starboard side of the boat, I figured out the source of the bump in the night. We had snagged a fish trap line on our stabilizer, and the noise was caused when the small buoy banged against the hull. We were carrying a considerable amount of line, and we were lucky it did not wrap around the prop. I cut away what I could, but it was well snagged between the top of the stabilizer and the hull. It had done a nice job wearing away our brand new bottom paint in that area. 😯 A few hours later, Scott and I went around to Gun Creek to clear in to the islands.

Position at destination: 18º29.969’N, 64º23.405’W
Air temp: 80, Humidity: 61%, Water temp: 78
Nautical miles for this leg: 82.1  Total: 10,938
Departed at 4:00pm, arrived at 7:00am

February 15th – 17th: Leverick Bay

We took Scott and Noi to see the cheesy Michael Beans pirate show at the Leverick Bay resort. The show is popular with charter boaters, and all except the most seasoned cynics can find something enjoyable in it. We stopped at the bar before his show, where he was setting up. We knew that he had a foundation that worked with Île-à-Vache in Haiti. We had considered stopping there, but we thought that Hurricane Matthew had done a lot of damage there. We asked Michael about it, and he told us that it had fared very well. After hearing that, we decided to put it back on our itinerary, and we asked Michael if there was something we could take there. He got that “aaaarh” look in his eyes, and said that he did have some supplies in a storeroom at the resort. He had some old sails, some snorkeling gear, and some clothing. We told him we would be glad to take those supplies with us, and we agreed to meet up with him the next morning to pick them up.

Scott and Noi loved the show – Noi got a kick out of shaking the maracas, and both of them entered the conch blowing contest. Scott had a conch on board, and he could blow it for quite some time. However, he didn’t do so well at the show. He attributed the poor performance to a lack of home-conch advantage.

                           Happy Arrr at Jumbie’s                            Michael was impressed with Scott’s practice blow
              The Selfie Queens strike again                                                   The Conch Blowing lineup

                                               Scott blows a mighty wind from the conch

The next morning we moved Tropical Blend to the Leverick Bay dock to pick up Michael’s supplies. There were a lot more of them than we were expecting. There were six sails, several duffel bags and suitcases full of clothes, and two bins with some of the worst looking snorkeling gear we had ever seen. We guessed that the gear had been picked up from the ocean bottom, as they were encrusted with stuff. We decided to store the sails on our boat deck, and we split up the snorkeling gear and clothes. Rosé did a really good job cleaning the gear – most of them looked brand new. We had also decided to pick up some additional supplies for Île-à-Vache while we were in Puerto Rico. We asked Michael what we could bring, and he gave us contact info for his Foundation people in the USVI. Thoroughly loaded with stuff, we returned to our anchorage, and then headed up the hill to the Hog Heaven restaurant. The view and the food were still excellent.

                           Back at Hog Heaven                                                     Best ribs in the Caribbean


                                                          Million dollar views of the North Sound

                                             If ever there was a justification for a panorama shot…

                       Leverick Bay Marina                                                           Just another sunset

February 17th: Leverick Bay – Anegada

Scott and Noi had not been to Anegada during their BVI cruise, so we wanted them to see it. It’s amazing that in our chartering days, we considered going to Anegada to be a big deal. It was fourteen miles off of Virgin Gorda, and you had to rely on instruments to get there. We had met some charterers that were fearful of such a voyage. And now, we considered it to be just a stone’s throw away. With calm seas, it was an easy cruise for us, and an enjoyable reach for Symbiosis. We arrived at Setting Point after a short two and a half hour cruise, and we tried to anchor in the same spot we had been in during our previous stay. As before, the anchorage was full, so we wanted to be well away from the charterers, anchoring in the eastern section off of Potter’s. We had about eight feet under our keel, which made Scott nervous, but we were both well set.

Position at destination: 18º43.281’N, 64º23.120’W
Air temp: 83, Humidity: 58%, Water temp: 79
Nautical miles for this leg: 14.23  Total: 10,952
Departed at 8:15am, arrived at 10:40am

February 17th – 19th: Anegada

The crews of Tropical Blend and Symbiosis signed in                          The beach at Setting Point

     “Now I’m gonna tell you why you are here”                               Anchored in beautiful waters

We went ashore for some bar-hopping, and we ran in to Pete and Mary from Neko – we last saw them at LeMarin on Martinique. They were anchored at Pomato Point, and they would be in Anegada for a couple of days. We arranged to meet up with them the following day for a scooter tour of the island. We rented larger scooters this time around – they were 125cc, but were light enough to handle easily. We started off for Loblolly Beach for some snorkeling.

                                                                     Loblolly Beach at its finest

What a beautiful place, and a beautiful morning!                            Sand formations on the beach

                                                              Lovely ladies, lovely beach, lovely day

After snorkeling at Loblolly, we attempted to take the short cut to the Anegada Beach Club, but we got lost. Fortunately, it’s a very small island, so we found our way back to the main road, and soon arrived at ABC for lunch and drinks. There was a small helicopter there that seemed to be giving island tours. Noi found a tree tire swing, and she was in heaven playing around on it.

The next stop on our island tour was the famous Cow Wreck Beach. It’s the ultimate beach bar, although it’s no longer an honor bar as it was in the past. Who knows what the drinks cost, and who cares? It’s one of the most beautiful beaches we came across during our trip, with a combination of heavy surf protected by a reef, and seemingly endless white sand beaches. Some local goats decided to adopt Noi and Mary, as they are both animal lovers.

          The pool at the Anegada Beach Club                               We guessed this was for island tours

                             Scott and Noi                                                                Pete and Mary

            Noi was swinging!                                      Well, duh!                                       The wrecked cow

                                 One of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean – Cow Wreck Beach

                        A very friendly goat                                                    Get your motors running!

For dinner that night, the six of us made reservations for lobster dinners at the Anegada Reef hotel. We had previously had a great dinner at the Wonky Dog, but we wanted to try a different place – a decision we would regret. We took Scott and Noi ashore on our tender, and something happened when Rose was getting on to the dock. Scott was out first, and either she missed his helping hand, or just slipped, but she ended up in the drink, along with her bag that had he iPhone in it – yikes! Fortunately the water was only waist deep, so the phone seemed to be okay. We high-tailed it back to our boat so she could change, and this time we made it to the restaurant high and dry.

When we made the reservations, we all decided that we would split a lobster for each couple. We were advised that we would also be splitting sides, which was also fine with us. We did the same thing at Wonky Dog, and there was plenty of food. Well, things started out on the wrong foot quickly: we were told that we did not get a choice on the sides, and that the chef would decide. Then our salads came – one little bowl for all six of us! We asked why each couple didn’t get a salad to split, and we got no answer. When the lobsters came out, they were small. We had been told they would be one and a half pounds – I would be surprised if they weighed in at a pound. The “side dish” consisted of about six French fries. This was by far the most pathetic dinner we had ever had at Anegada. If you go, we recommend that you stay far, far away from the Anegada Reef hotel.

February 19th: Anegada – Spanish Town

We returned to Virgin Gorda the following morning, first stopping at the Spanish Town anchorage, so we could take Noi and Scott to The Baths.

Position at destination: 18º27.304’N, 64º26.449’W
Air temp: 79, Humidity: 66%, Water temp: 79
Nautical miles for this leg: 17.1  Total: 10,969
Departed at 7:10am, arrived at 10:15am


February 19th: Spanish Town – Trellis Bay

We left The Baths behind to spend the evening at Trellis Bay. On the way over, our VHF radio emitted a DSC emergency signal, but we had no information where it came from. Scott contacted the Coast Guard with the time and location of the alarm, but we never heard what happened. We guessed it was an accident from a charter boat. One thing we learned – that is an incredibly loud alarm for such a small radio.

Position at destination: 18º26,875’N, 64º31.861’W
Air temp: 83, Humidity: 55%, Water temp: 78
Nautical miles for this leg: 5.48  Total: 10,975
Departed at 2:15pm, arrived at 3:15pm

February 20th: Trellis Bay – Sopers Hole

We planned to cruise around the north side of Tortola to Cane Garden Bay. Conditions were calm for the first couple of hours, but the wind and seas started picking up as we approached Shark Bay on the northwest corner of Tortola. As we turned southwest, the swell picked up quite a bit. By the time we entered Cane Garden Bay, the wind was blowing around twenty to twenty-five knots. We only saw a couple of boats inside, but we took a look anyway. It soon became clear that staying was not a good choice – we did not trust the moorings in that wind, and we would have been rolling a lot. We decided to seek shelter in Sopers Hole, which is usually protected from the north swell in winter. True to form, it was calm once we got inside the anchorage, but it was very crowded. It is too deep and too crowded to anchor, but we did manage to find the last two mooring balls, so we were set for the night.

Position at destination: 18º23.184’N, 64º42.097’W
Air temp: 82, Humidity: 61%, Water temp: 77
Nautical miles for this leg: 15.7  Total: 10,990
Departed at 10:00am, arrived at 1:00pm

February 20th: Trellis Bay – Sopers Hole

We planned to cruise around the north side of Tortola to Cane Garden Bay. Conditions were calm for the first couple of hours, but the wind and seas started picking up as we approached Shark Bay on the northwest corner of Tortola. As we turned southwest, the swell picked up quite a bit. By the time we entered Cane Garden Bay, the wind was blowing around twenty to twenty-five knots. We only saw a couple of boats inside, but we took a look anyway. It soon became clear that staying was not a good choice – we did not trust the moorings in that wind, and we would have been rolling a lot. We decided to seek shelter in Sopers Hole, which is usually protected from the north swell in winter. True to form, it was calm once we got inside the anchorage, but it was very crowded. It is too deep and too crowded to anchor, but we did manage to find the last two mooring balls, so we were set for the night.

Position at destination: 18º23.184’N, 64º42.097’W
Air temp: 82, Humidity: 61%, Water temp: 77
Nautical miles for this leg: 15.7  Total: 10,990
Departed at 10:00am, arrived at 1:00pm

We went ashore for lunch at Pusser’s Landing, with its usual legendary slow service. The dinghy dock was massively overcrowded as well – no surprise there either. The girls did some shopping, and then we called it a day. We saw Alternate Latitude, which was the charter boat operated by our friends Ralph and Stacey back at the end of 2015. Given the multitude of problems with that boat, we were surprised to see it.

                              The anchorage                                                            A blast from the past

February 21st: Sopers Hole – Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke

Our short visit to the BVI was almost at an end. We had decided to go to Roatan at the end of April for a friend’s birthday celebration. We wanted to be back in Florida before flying to Roatan, so we had a schedule that allowed us to make a number of stops on the south side of the Dominican Republic, as well as Île-à-Vache in Haiti, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and then Isla Mujeres Mexico, before returning to Florida. We didn’t need to dawdle too much on places we had already spent time in, so we went to Jost Van Dyke for one final day and to check out. The weather had calmed significantly, so it was a quick and easy trip to JVD.

Position at destination: 18º26.493’N, 64º45.066’W
Air temp: 80, Humidity: 58%, Water temp: 77.5
Nautical miles for this leg: 4.98  Total: 10,995
Departed at 10:00am, arrived at 11:15am

Great Harbour was pretty empty when we arrived, and we decided to go the easy route and pick up a mooring. Ashore, we elected not to waste too much time with the lousy service at Foxy’s, so we hailed a cab to go over to the Soggy Dollar Bar.  It was actually a very happening place compared to Great Harbour. We had several rounds of drinks and generally enjoyed ourselves before heading back to Great Harbour.
                                                    New decor at Foxy’s did not improve the service

                                                         Views of Great Harbor and White Bay

                                                             The beach at the Soggy Dollar Bar

February 22nd: Great Harbour – American Yacht Harbor, Red Hook, St. Thomas

We checked out, which took forever because some charter company was checking in about twenty different passports, and cruised to Red Hook on St. Thomas. I used the SVRS system to file a float plan to simplify our check-in. Scott had not enrolled, so he might have to report in person. Once we tied up at AYH, I called to report our arrival. I was very surprised to be told that Rosé would have to report in person since she did not have an SVRS number. I argued that we had previously checked in to the USA several times with her on the float plan, but they insisted that was not possible. I thought that something was wrong, so I called the office in St. John’s, and got the same story. I again argued the point that all of Rosé’s pertinent information was on the float plan, and they again claimed that she could not have checked in before without reporting in – but she had. I asked why I had to bother even listing her on the float plan if she still had to report. Finally, I heard the phrase, “extreme vetting” related to her, and I realized this was a result of Trump being elected. 😡 

We all hopped on to a safari bus for Charlotte Amalie, where the Immigration Office was located at the ferry dock. We had to wait for quite some time, and they eventually looked at Rose, looked at her passport, looked at her form, and said “welcome home” – extreme vetting indeed. We asked about getting an SVRS interview appointment, and we were told to go online – for some reason, they couldn’t give us an appointment at the office itself. Later, we found that we could get the appointment in two more days – Scott and Noi did the same thing. This was much ado about nothing. 😐 

Position at destination: 18º19.511’N, 64º51.064’W
Air temp: 80, Humidity: 64%, Water temp: 78
Nautical miles for this leg: 9.44  Total: 11,005
Departed at 10:45am, arrived at 12:30pm

February 22nd – 26th: Red Hook, St. Thomas

We had the following day free so we caught the ferry to St. John’s. We did some bar hopping and some shopping, managing to kill off an afternoon.

                    They didn’t see me coming                                      The beach at Cruz Bay, St. John’s

                 The ferry looks more like a bus                                Can I have some of what she had?

The docks at American Yacht Harbor are in really bad shape – we hoped that no storms would come through while we were there, as I doubt the docks could hold. It was a little dangerous getting off of the boat at low tide.

                                                          The docks at AYH were a menace to safety

On Friday, we went back to Charlotte Amalie for the SVTS interviews, which were over quickly – but now everyone had their numbers, which would speed arrival once we got to Florida. While we were in Red Hook, Scott had a diesel mechanic come out. He was still having engine troubles, with the engine quitting at random times perhaps due to a hydrolock issue. The mechanic made some adjustments, and he seemed to think the engine would be okay to get Scott back to the states.

While we were in St. Thomas, we tried to connect with Michael (Beans) Gardner’s administrative director, who lives on St. Croix. Michael had given us a package to deliver to Mandy, which I believe was a large clock of some sort. We had also been raising money to buy additional supplies for our Haiti mission – a lot of Scott’s Facebook followers had been donating money, and we eventually had around $1000 in donations, plus some of our money. We wanted to know what to buy (we planned to shop in Puerto Rico), but we weren’t getting responses. Mandy was supposed to be in St. Thomas on Friday, but she canceled. We eventually left the package with the marina, and the foundation president in Haiti gave us a list of supplies. No good deed gets done without a little aggravation…

We didn’t do anything in particular – there are a lot of bars and restaurants in the Red Hook complex, so we enjoyed that. We elected to depart on Sunday morning for Culebra, Puerto Rico. While leaving the dock, Noi fell off of the boat in a fending off action, as Scott’s engine choked again – his problem still wasn’t solved.

February 26th: Red Hook – Culebrita, Puerto Rico

We went straight to the small offshore island of Culebrita, where we had spent a night in 2015. We wanted to spend a couple days there to enjoy the beach and to explore the surroundings. After arriving, we hopped into the Symbiosis water taxi to walk the beach. Onshore we found some of the biggest hermit crabs we had ever seen, and Noi promptly “upside-downed” some of them. Towards the end of the afternoon, the Puerto Rican Navy (powerboats from Fajardo) left the bay, leaving us to our own devices. There was no swell in the bay, eliminating the need for a stern buoy, popular with the locals. We had a restful night, and we planned to hike to the lighthouse the following day.

Position at destination: 18º19.161’N, 65º13.693’W
Air temp: 84, Humidity: 63%, Water temp: 78.5
Nautical miles for this leg: 25.94  Total: 11,031
Departed at 10:00am, arrived at 2:30pm

             The Puerto Rican Navy was there                                            Storm clouds on the horizon

February 27th: Culebrita – Marina Puerto del Rey, Fajardo

The following morning the skies looked clear, with light winds, but Scott called and said that God (aka Chris Parker) said some heavy weather was coming our way. Although the passage over to Puerto del Rey was short, we agreed to go ahead and weigh anchor. Shortly after leaving the island behind, Scott hailed us and said that his engine had quit again. He had enough wind to sail, and told us to go ahead to the marina. We told him to keep in touch, and if he couldn’t get it started, we would find a way to help him into a slip. By the time we reached the marina, Scott still couldn’t get the engine fired. We were having a difficult time getting the marina to respond to our hail, but they finally directed us to a slip. By the time we tied up, Scott had reached Sea Tow, and they were standing by to help him. Shortly after he arrived, the engine fired, so he was able to enter on his own.

Position at destination: 18º17.334’N, 65º38.015’W
Air temp: 82, Humidity: 67%, Water temp: 78
Nautical miles for this leg: 24.56  Total: 11,055
Departed at 9:00am, arrived at 1:00pm

               Symbiosis sailing past Culebra                                            The marina was quite full


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