Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas 2011 : Chrissie Visits Sinbad

Chrissie arrived on Christmas Eve, to make Di’s Christmas complete and to spend 11 days cruising the Virgin Islands aboard Sinbad.  We enjoyed a welcome dinner of crispy crust pizza with pesto and chicken, chef salad and chicken wings, at Crown Bay marina in St. Thomas. The next day we set sail for Salt Pond Bay, St. John, where we stayed for two days. 

 We snorkeled a lot and Chrissie began to settle in to the sailing and island lifestyle . We harvested three conchs to make a delicious conch ceviche with coconut milk later on. We hiked back to see the salt pond, where in the past valuable salt was collected as the pond evaporated during the dry season. 
 We went on to see Drunk Bay, with it’s shingle beach and “voodoo” people made of coral chunks by previous visitors to the beach. The some figures were cute (this one reminded us of Unc) but most were like skeletons and were a little creepy.

The next day Chrissie and Di hiked up the trail about a mile ( as the crow flies) to the top of Rams Head Point, where there were spectacular views of neighboring islands  and bays, rugged rock crevasses and cliffs dropping vertically to the sea.

We also discovered the small hot-pink fruits of the Turk’s head cacti, which grew everywhere on the point, and found that they are delish!

  We grazed our way back to the boat, where Randy had been working on repairing the autopilot, alternator and tachometer.  Then more snorkeling and relaxing.
Next we moved around to Coral Bay, where upon landing in the dinghy, we met Dickie with a 2 ½ pound lobster which he offered to sell us.  We gratefully purchased the live lobo for later feasting.  Then we loaded him into Randy’s backpack and continued on to Skinny Legs, where Chrissie enjoyed a really good fresh wahoo sandwich.

The next day, we dinghied ashore to pick up groceries.  While walking to the store, we were menaced by a jackass…no, really!  One of St. John’s famous wild donkeys decided that we were threatening his girl, so he laid back his ears and came after us. Before he could bite, Di flapped a bag in his face, making a snapping noise, which caused him to reconsider, and we made good our escape. 

 Then back to the boat and off to Jost Van Dyke to clear into the BVIs and check out Foxy’s.  We strolled around Great Harbor in the evening light, then came back to Foxy’s to eat.  We had dinner and Chrissie had her picture taken with the old Calypsonian himself-cool!!

The next day we moved over to Little Jost and anchored near the reef, with big rollers breaking and making awesome surf.  We snorkeled but the visibility was poor, which still did not prevent us from going in twice.  We dinghied over to Foxy’s Taboo restaurant, and hiked back to the Bubbly Pool,(described in an earlier post).  The surf was really smashing in and the pool was frothy , with lots of tourists in enjoying it.  We hiked up over the nearby cliffs and found a blowhole which would sound a note when the surf made it blow. Great views. .

Then back to Taboo for a rich Mango Colada, and back to the boat for dinner, shower and bed.
We woke up the next day to discover that Sinbad’s water tanks were unexpectedly empty. Randy looked into this issue while Chrissie and Di took the dinghy to check out the old Ho-House on Little Jost, but couldn’t land due to big surf.  Instead, they headed the other direction toward Salty Point, and landed the dinghy on a beach by an old beached boat, with all sorts of interesting flotsam to check out. They succeeded in relaunching the dinghy in moderately big surf (which was a huge relief to Di!). Randy informed us that we had only used up the water (there were no leaks or system failures), but our plans had to change so that we could water up soon.  So we headed to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, a four hour trip upwind.  We got a slip at Leverick Bay, a surprisingly pleasant and inexpensive marina, with a Pusser’s Store, a swimming pool, grocery store and live music.  We also found our friend musician Michael Beans was there preparing for this season of entertaining at the resort.  Nice to see a familiar face from Beaver Island. That night, Chrissie and Di went ashore to hear the band play, and were delighted when a troupe of local “Jumbie” stilt dancers came on to perform.  They were great!  The  dance troupe consisted of young people and old, of various skill levels as reflected by the height of their stilts. The tallest stilts were at least five feet high. We watched them sitting on a low roof in a nearby alley getting dressed to perform. It was neat.
Next day was New Year’s Eve, and we rented a car to tour the island and visit the Baths, the famous formations of gigantic rounded granite boulders tumbled at the edge of the sea.  The only vehicle available was a mini safai, a standard transmission truck with benches in back and an orchid colored canopy; we had our own tour bus!  Randy drove the tank: up and down steep hairpin curves and narrow, shoulderless roads, all while driving on the left. What a guy!

We got to the Baths just ahead of the real tourist busses with their hoards of people, so we enjoyed the Baths, the caves , and a series of pretty beaches in relative privacy.

We made our way back to the car park and then enjoyed tea and lemonade at the nearby restaurant , which also had a refreshing fresh water swimming pool overlooking the dramatic granite-stewn landscape of the Baths. 

 After that, we headed to the old copper mines on the ocean coast of the south end.  We picnicked among the ruins and scrambled down to the sea down a long trail of mine tailings of milky white quartz, flecked with green copper and a silvery crystalline mineral.

We started back toward the North Sound, and decided to check out a dirt road which lead to Savannah Bay. It was too tempting to pass up, so we busted out the snorkeling gear and headed out to the reef.  We saw some sea turtles and really large puffer fish, and some recovering branched corals. Then back to Leverick Bay, where Di had a swim in the pool, we all had lovely fresh water showers, and went to bed early on Old Years Night, 2011.

New Years Day, and time to head to Norman Island. We had wind on the quarter and sailed with the jib only and had a nice easy sail at about 5-6 knots.  When we arrived at Benures Bay, the best anchorages were taken or blocked by a mega yacht towing a 30' tender. No room for us.  We looked in to the Bight, which had about 200 boats, and we’d rather sail all night than go in there!  So we went around the corner to Privateer Bay, which was lovely and uncrowded, and took a mooring ball for the night.  Then went snorkeling again.  We saw shoals of fish, especially young ones of many varieties…it was like a nursery.  The next morning, we finished our coffee and moved the boat over to the Indians, a rock formation rightly famous for good snorkeling.  It was the best we’ve seen so far; Hurricane Marilyn crushed up the reefs pretty badly in the late 1990’s.  Schools of all kinds of fish were there feeding, and there were several varieties of coral and sponges.  After we finished, we moved the boat to Benures Bay which was uncrowded at that early time of day.  We attempted anchoring three times until we were satisfied with the holding, but had good location for (you guessed it) more snorkeling.  Saw some squids and ghostly white jawfish coming out of holes in the sandy bottom there; interesting.
We left Benures Bay to motor along the north coast of St. John to Cruz Bay, St. John, to clear back in to the US.  Instead of bouncing around at anchor in Cruz Bay (see previous post), we took a mooring ball in Caneel Bay and dinghied around to the Customs house.  We just beat a whole ferryload of tourists in to clear in. Whew! After that, Chrissie and Di took a little walk around the town and met Randy back in the square after he had watched ESPN for the first time in months.

  We returned to the boat and moved it around to Hawksnest Bay, deciding to stay on the west end to make the trip to St. Thomas a bit shorter. While the snorkeling was not as good as we have been seeing, we saw some fine mature elkhorn corals making a comeback - it was encouraging to see.  We thought we saw an eel, but it turned out to be a palm frond.  It’s a pretty bay and we enjoyed the sunset over dinner in the cockpit (the conch ceviche!)

We returned to Crown Bay Marina, St. Thomas before noon the next day, and took the public “safari” bus into the old town of Charlotte Amalie to explore the historic district, with many of the oldest buildings dating from the late 1600’s. We had delish fish tacos at a restaurant overlooking the harbor.  It was raining quite heavily for much of the day, and we got some clear garbage bags from the restaurant to use as raincoats.  Not elegant, but we stayed dry and were the envy of many who were soaked! We hiked up the 99 Steps to Blackbeard’s Castle, an old Danish watchtower. It was just closing, but a kindly tour guide let us in to explore the grounds for a few minutes after closing time. Wonderful views of the bay, well preserved 17th century Danish Colonial homes, and lovely landscaping, all linked together by old steps and alleyways designed to provide shady,pleasant walking routes through the steep terrain of the city.

  We caught a safari back home, had a bite to eat at the Marina, and then Chrissie had to pack for her trip home.  We sure enjoyed her visit !

No comments:

Post a Comment