New Island And New Friends

We pulled our anchor up from the soft mud in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie, after one week of visiting St Thomas, USVI. We are continuing our journey westward. Aside from a longish (but enjoyable) dinghy ride to search for Bahamas cruising guides, a longish walk into the tourist-Mecca of town, and a few provisioning adventures, we hadn’t seen much of the island’s interior.

Downtown Charlotte Amalie. A town made for shopping tourists.

We were mildly put off by the enormous cruise ships docked on and off throughout our stay. Not to mention the Covid-19 issue, once unloaded, thousands of bone-white occupants flood the surroundings. The giant vessels themselves silently come and go, except for their traditional hooooooonnnnk, just before departing. Safely crawling so slowly to and fro, I can’t imagine them running anyone down.

Kelly admires the Disney Fantasy cruise ship. $200 million are brought to St Thomas every year by cruise ship passengers.

Upon arrival, we dropped the hook in USVI at about 1400, after a half-day motor over from Jost Van Dyke. Back in the BVI’s we touched base with friends whom we had met last October (before parting from Hampton). Brian and Polly, aside from being very pleasant folks themselves, cruised aboard Joli, their beautifully restored C&C 61. Joli has an interesting race pedigree, complete with drug smuggling. To give us something in common, Polly’s parents had owned a Pretorien like Fayaway for many years. Wish we had taken more time to chat before we headed out, but never is there enough time for this.

Joli, a beautiful and rare C&C 61 moored in Jost Van Dyke.

Some brisk wind and squall activity was due in the area in a few days, so we figured this protected harbor to be a good spot to sit tight. In our thirty foot (deep) spot amongst several other boats tightly anchored and moored, we had set only a bit more than 3:1 scope on our chain, which seemed to be holding well. Tom, on a nearby catamaran had about 150 feet out, but he was resetting after uncomfortably swinging a bit toward another mooring. This is how we first met Tom, his wife, and their dog Buddy, aboard their Catana 38.

Kool Kat, a Catana 38. She’s for sale!

Kool Kat (Catana 38 catamaran) and her occupants had recently sailed from Portugal, via the Canaries and Guadeloupe. Unfortunately we didn’t get Tom’s wife’s name as she had just (after briefly waving hellos) flown back to Toronto to visit a needy relative. In brief, these folks have an interesting story to tell. Six years ago they bought their boat in Florida and sailed off with two adult children , a dog and a cat to the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda and then Europe. Tom, an ER doctor, and his wife a nurse, schedule three months on/off work on both sides of the Atlantic, making passages in between. Somewhere along the line their kids flew back home. He says the three months time-off is quite welcome after the stress of patching up barely-alive gunshot victims for three months. Even in the paradise of the Virgins, this violence still occurs. Now with only his faithful Weimaraner Buddy to keep him company, Tom uses his time-off to walk with Buddy and spiff-up Kool Kat, with hopes of selling. He’s ready for living on land back home again in a couple months before hurricane season starts. Good plan, Tom!

The Box Bar is a great place to share sailing stories with friends.

Also amongst our more notable new acquaintances, are Keith and Jaime, of Kookaburra, who also keep jobs on the island. No kids, in their fifties (guessing), they do multi-year work gigs. Keith, a civil engineer, found good work with a construction firm, while Jaimie works at the marina office. During our stay, Jaime helped us receive postal mail (gotta do the taxes!), and offered much advice about finding and doing things on St Thomas and beyond. We celebrated Jaime’s birthday with a drink at the Box Bar, then pizza on our last evening in St Thomas.

As usual, we’re always sorry to leave. But it seems like normal to many nomads like us. So goodbye St Thomas, and hola Culebra, Vieques & Puerto Rico! New islands and more new friends will be discovered as we continue our slow journey west.

Kelly reviews the Puerto Rico cruising guide, as we sail west pass Sail Rock, halfway between Culebra and St Thomas.

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