Where in the world?

Where in the world are Mindy and Reinhart now?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Meeting friends in the US Virgin Islands

The Virgin Gorda Baths
We spent a few days at the beginning of March at Virgin Gorda, anchored in one of our favorite spots near “The Baths”. Each night we had several neighboring French-flagged boats. This anchorage isn’t mentioned in any of the English guidebooks, but I wonder if there is a French guidebook that extols its beauty. We had a nice couple of days visiting Spanish Town, swimming, snorkeling, and exploring the unique boulder formations of The Baths.

Our month in the BVI was almost up, and we had some business to do in the USVI, so we decided to get over to Jost Van Dyke to check-out of the BVI. Most of our sails so far have been close-hauled motorsails as we made our way eastward in the BVI, but this was a fast and luxurious broad reach westward back to Jost Van Dyke, which was over too soon. We arrived in Great Harbor and decided to pick up a $30 mooring on a whim, because one was available. What a great decision!  It turned out to be a huge night at Jost Van Dyke, and the anchorage was packed a few hours later. Even our new friends on “40 Below” were there. We were entertained that evening by the raucous activities in the harbor, and the next day we dinghied in to check-out of the BVI and sailed over to Cruz Bay, St. John to check into the USVI. We headed straight over to anchor in Red Hook where we’d be meeting up with old friends, Kristi and Will, and their newly arrived guests.

Rockhopper at Anchor
When we left the British Virgin Islands, we had all sort of “ideas” of what we wanted to do in the USVI; we avoid the use of the word “plans”. We were between spending a day or two in St. Thomas then a couple days in St. John, or maybe we should go ahead and spend several days in St. John. Well, I guess that is the reason we avoid the word “plan” because we have been thrilled with events over the past week that never could have happened if we let “plans” get in the way. 

We met up with Kristi and Will and their friends, Denise and Gary at the American Yacht Harbor and had a delightful dinner. Red Hook was a miserable anchorage with high winds and swells coming into the Harbor. Boats were dragging around and we had to keep an anchor-watch up over night. We hated to leave since we wanted to spend more time with the gang, and Kristi and Will suggested we anchor near their home in Secret Harbor. 

Secret Harbor...maybe it really is a secret!
Secret Harbor is a resort on the southeast coast of St. Thomas and the guidebooks barely mention it; however, it is a wonderful spot to spend a few days. At this point, I’ll start to use “generous” a lot, because Kristi and Will generously let us use their laundry and their lovely home as a base camp; they generously bought us wine, fed us, and took us to the grocery store; they generously gave us care packages every time we showed up at the door; and they generously shared their friends with us. We all had such a great time, dining at the unique places in Red Hook, listening to fun music, and hanging out at the Secret Harbor beach. We were thrilled to have everyone over for sundowners (and midnighters) one night and then went for a day sail over to Little Lameshur Bay on St. John one day. We joined Denise and Gary on a ferry trip over to St. John for the early St. Patrick’s Day parade and had an amusing time perusing the lovely shops of Cruz Bay. Before we knew it, a week had passed! Now Denise and Gary are back on a plane to Connecticut, Kristi and Will are both at work recovering from entertaining us all week. We feel like we have a new set of lifelong friends, and I’m sure we’ll meet up with Denise and Gary when we find our way up north year later this year. All of this fun has also made us start to reconsider some plans for next season, and we might try to find a way to spend a few months in the US Virgin Islands next year.

Now it is time to straighten up this boat and get her ready for the 20 hour passage over to St. Martin and ready for our own guests!  Seana is coming in for a few days, and then Cara will be right behind her, so our aft cabin will finally be housing guests March 20-30, rather than acting as a utility closet.  The next update will be coming from St. Martin…same latitude, new longitude.

Rockhopper Anchorages:
18°25.267N 064°33.752W; Buck Island, Tortola, BVI; 01-02Mar16
18°26.330N 064°26.659W Valley Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI; 03-05Mar16
18°26.492N 064°45.087W Great Harbor Mooring, Jost Van Dyke; 06Mar16
18°19.561N 064°50.681W Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI; 07Mar16
18°19.036N 064°51.199W Secret Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI; 08-14Mar16
18°19.088N 064°43.566W Little Lameshur Bay Mooring, St. John; 10Mar16

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Three weeks in Paradise

We’ve been here several weeks now and we are doing things differently from when we were here a few years ago.  Looking back at our entries in our 2007 blog, we realize we were experiencing the Virgins similarly to the charter folks – a different harbor every night.  We rarely stayed two nights in one spot.  This time around we are staying several nights at each stop.

When we last updated you, we were still anchored in Jost Van Dyke.  It was so much fun to hang out in Jost and watch the daily changeover of boats.  It is a big stop in the charter circuit, and folks make a point in getting there early to fight over the moorings.  By the end of each evening, the moorings and anchorage were packed, there was a large yacht or two anchored outside of the harbor, and often there was a Windjammer or another cruise ship.  The last couple of days in Great Harbour started getting a little “sloppy” with swells making their way in and opposing winds picking up.  It was time to leave and we decided to make a short trip over to the north side of Tortola.

Surfer in Cane Garden Bay
We arrived in Cane Garden Bay on Tortola and anchored just outside of the mooring field.  This location ended up being the spot to pick up floating items blown off other boats.  We returned a sneaker to the beach, a fin to a tall ship, and a fender to a charter boat.  This was the second place we anchored in the BVI, and once again we didn’t seem to be able to pick up a wifi signal at the boat; it turns out this will be the norm for the trip.  Cane Garden Bay has a cute town with a pretty beach and an old Rum distillery where they let you try all of their products for a grand total of $1.   There were large groups of tourists brought in daily from the cruise ships in Road Town, and a lot of activities were set up to entertain them.  Our biggest entertainment; however, were the large breaking waves on the rocks nearby making a perfect surfing spot for the locals.   Almost all of the boats we see are charter boats, but there are some cruisers (like us) as well.  A cruising couple from New Bern on their Island Packet, “Charbonnneau”, anchored nearby.  We dinghied over and it was great catching up with some folks from NC.  A bigger blow was in the forecast and we decided to head to the west side of the island for better protection.

Norman Island Bight (Willy T & Rockhopper in foreground)
Everything is so close in the BVI, so it was wonderful to have a 2-3 knot sail over to Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tortola and not be worried about coming in late.  We know from experience that Soper’s Hole is deep, so we knew we’d be picking up a mooring.  What we didn’t expect was to get a mooring on the front row so late in the afternoon.  Alas, no wifi at the boat.  We could barely pick up Pusser’s wifi signal when we were sitting in their restaurant. Soper’s Hole is always a fun stop with the range of boats and lots of land activities.  This was the first stop where we didn’t want to swim near the boat, so we walked up the street into the neighborhood nearby and eyed some of the beautiful properties.  We decided to spend a second windy night on the mooring and late in the evening, we were thrilled to see “Charmed Life” sailing in.  It was great to catch up with Mike and Sharon while we were there and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up with them again when we all have time.  The winds were back down the next day and we were ready to be on our own hook again.  

We decided to head over to The Bight on nearby Norman Island.  We weren’t planning on picking up a mooring, good for us since there were barely any available at 3pm on a Sunday.  We anchored along with the big yachts just outside of the mooring field.  It turns out that Sunday is the big night at the local bar,  “Willy T” with lots of new charters and the locals coming over from Tortola.  We had a great time watching the local speedboats come in and listening to the crowd at Willy T.   The next day we re-anchored right next to the bar – it is a very protected spot although the bar is a little rowdy to call it a quiet anchorage.  It is another “must stop” in the charter circuit and the anchorage emptied out every morning and filled up in the afternoons.  It was fun to watch the customers leaping from the bar roof into the water at all hours.  There is a gorgeous snorkeling spot right around the corner from The Bight, so we snorkeled and swam every afternoon. Norman Island also has several trails that afford wonderful views of the BVIs.   The Bight is a great anchorage, but every night the wind funneled over the hills and was bothersome.  We checked the old blog, and we complained of gusty winds at that time as well. We decided to head somewhere even quieter.

Med moor in Little Harbour, Peter Island
We pulled into Little Harbour on Peter Island and anchored in the middle of the peaceful bay.  It was more beautiful than I remembered.  There were three of us anchored in deep water in the middle of the bay, but several boats had their sterns tied to shore in the shallow water (med moor).  That night we experienced a “first”.  We were awoken by a disturbing crash that sent us scrambling onto deck.  Some kind of large sea creature flew headlong into one of our dorades and tore it off of the boat.  There was a lot of blood on deck, but we never saw what actually happened.  The next day we decided to med moor as well.  We left the anchor where it was and used two long lines to tie to rocks on the shore before shortening up our anchor rode to keep us perfectly balanced over the bright shallow area. The snorkeling right off the boat was wonderful and we still enjoyed the turnover of charter boats and yachts on a daily basis, although several boats were staying in this idyllic anchorage for a longer time.  We were moored beside a catamaran named “40 Below”, and we ended up spending 3 nights enjoying Ron and Barbara’s charming company with sundowners or dinner.  Little Harbour is the prettiest anchorage we’ve ever been in and is the type of place we could stay for weeks; however, it had been 10 days since we had wifi access and I was about ready to find a good grocery store with some freshies. 

South side of Norman Island
We finally headed out and made our way to the east end of Tortola.  Ron and Barbara had suggested an anchorage near a town with a great grocery store and an American style coin laundry.  We are currently anchored with one other sailboat in the lee of Buck Island.  It is a big dinghy ride for us to get into town, but they weren’t kidding about the grocery store – it has its own dinghy dock!  The laundry is a really nice place, and we’ll keep it in mind, but we’ve been doing all of our laundry in our “wonderwash” on board and will probably wait until St. Martin to bother with the larger stuff.  We still don’t have wifi on the boat, but there was a good signal at a great restaurant in town and we are going to head over there tonight with all of our electronics and get all caught up and finally publish this blog!

Rockhopper Anchorages:
18°26.462N 064°45.060W; Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke; BVI; 09-14Feb16
18°25.693N 064°39.670W; Cane Garden Bay, Tortola; BVI; 15-18Feb16
18°23.143N 064°42.113W; Soper’s Hole (mooring), Tortola; BVI; 19-20Feb16
18°18.849N 064°37.158W; The Bight, Norman Island; BVI; 21-24Feb16
18°21.329N 064°36.030W; Little Harbour, Peter Island; BVI; 25-29Feb16
18°21.329N 064°36.030W; Buck Island, Tortola; BVI; 01Mar16