Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catching Up

It’s been a long time since the last entry!  In late September, Randy’s daughter Astara and her friend Patrick came to visit us on the boat in Bonaire.  Their enthusiasm for living  was so refreshing for us, and it was a pleasure for us to show them around and to see Bonaire and life aboard Sinbad anew through their eyes.  We visited the Washington Slagbai National Park, the southern end of the island with it’s commercial salt ponds of varying shades of pink and red, and did a lot of snorkeling and some scuba diving too, which Astara and Patrick took to like young merfolk.  They used the rugged environment of the windward side of Bonaire to practice acro-yoga poses, while Randy did a photo shoot.

In mid-November, our friend and shipmate Larry “Swabby” Mitchell  came to visit again , his first return to Sinbad after his rigorous introduction to sailing during the crossing from Beaufort NC to Jost Van Dyck through Tropical Storm Sean in November 2011.   It was fun to have him back aboard!  Di and Larry had not done much scuba diving in many a long year, and we changed that in Bonaire.   We did about ten scuba dives while Larry was here, most around 60 feet max., but one day we dove to about 110’ briefly, strictly adhering to the Navy dive charts for time/depth limits for safety.  We did several dives on Klein Bonaire, using the unseasonable calm wind to explore some really nice dive sites. 

When the weather window opened, we departed Bonaire for the Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.  We intentionally did not designate a definite destination, since the wind and weather dictated how fast and how far east we could get. We had easy and uneventful sailing, standing four hour watches by day and three hours at night. When we were in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, around two hundred miles from land in any direction, a little martin bird approached the boat and managed to land for a brief rest.

 She was so far from land, and her rest so brief, I am afraid she did not make it back to safety.

Larry put his new fishing gear to the test, hooking four mahi-mahi and a mackerel, which we happily dined upon while under way.  It was delicious, lightly seasoned with Cajun blend spices and cooked in butter within an hour of being caught! 

 After four and a half days of easy sailing on a close reach with ENE winds, we anchored in Elephant Bay, St. Thomas shortly after sunset on Nov. 7.  In the morning, we headed over to Jost Van Dyck to reward ourselves with a day on the white sandy beach, a nice buffet dinner and dancing at Foxy’s.  After a few days, Di flew home to visit her family.

  Randy and Larry then had some manly sailing time, heading to Virgin Gorda to get some jobs done, to Coral Bay to hang out and eat great cheeseburgers at Skinny Legs, then back to St. Thomas to pick up Di.

Swabby Larry headed home the day after Thanksgiving, and since then we have been at anchor in Elephant Bay, St. Thomas, working on projects.  We had a brief interlude at Salt Pond Bay, St. John, when suddenly the refrigerator broke down.  Back to St. Thomas to make phone calls and order parts!  During this time, Randy has done lots of projects and repairs (replacing joker valves, ordering and building support structures for additional solar panels atop the bimini, etc.), and Di and the sewing machine have made a truce and produced mesh-and-canvas shade panels for the side of the cockpit, and canvas shade panels to attach to the aft end of the bimini for use underway.  Many other projects are on the to-do list.

It has been interesting to be back in St. Thomas.  Last year this was all new to us. This year, we see people whom we recognize and some whose names we remember, and they recognize us too. We know how to get around the island, where to find the things we need, and have even gotten some discounts for being “locals”. It’s a small place, and people on the island get to know faces pretty quickly.  It’s nice to be back in American territory, because all the foods, goods and services are cheaper than in other islands, especially marine parts.  And there’s good coffee and other American foods we like, such as Triscuits, Jimmy Dean sausage, and Johnsonville Brats!  Presently we are waiting for the solar panels and the electrical part for the broken refrigerator to arrive, so Randy can install them. After this, we intend to head to Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI to complete projects requiring being at the dock (stitching up torn mizzen sail, deep cleaning upholstery, etc.). From there, we plan to travel onward to St. Martin for French wines, cheeses and baguettes, and then south to Antigua, hopefully before the new year.  This will put us in a good position to move on southward, hopefully before the gusty “Christmas Winds” begin to blow.  If we can reach the Antigua before that, we will be less hindered by weather as we move south to explore Dominica and the Windward Islands.

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