8 April, 2017
Top of the Morning
The week spent with Jeremy and his family went by waaayyyyy too quickly. We did a whirlwind tour of some of the hot spots in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. On the day of their arrival, March 30th, we did the tourist/shopping thing in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. We were off the dock by 08h30 the following morning to grab a mooring ball at Leinster Bay, where we toured the Ananberg sugar mill ruins. After a morning snorkel, it was off to Great Harbour, on Jost Van Dyke, to clear Customs and have a snack and sip at “Foxy’s.” By 15h10, we had moved to a ball in Little Harbour, in anticipation of our dinner reservation at “Sydney’s Peace and Love.” While the girls cleaned out the gift shop, Jeremy and I made drinks at the “honor bar.” (You keep track of your drinks on a scratch pad, then tote them up at the end of the night to pay). Later, we enjoyed our meals that we had pre-ordered on the VHF radio. Being the end of the season, we were the only patrons in the place. The night wasn’t quite as lively as the last time that Jeremy was here, at the peak of the season, but we had a nice quiet dinner prepared by the owner, Strawberry’s Mom. 07h30 the next morning, we were on our way to North Sound on Virgin Gorda, where we took a ball in Biras Creek. The Bitter End Yacht Club, the Fat Virgin Café, and Saba Rock were our targets there. We even had time for a little swim. Wanting to catch a ball at the Baths, we left North Sound at 06h20, and got a ball by 07h35, just as they were beginning to fill up. Getting to shore was a challenge, as the swell was up, and the waves were crashing. To compound matters, the dinghy corrals that were there the last time that we visited a few years ago had been removed. In their place was a roped off swim area that extended 100 yards or so from the beach. We tied the dink to a buoy, and went hand-over-hand along a buoyed line to the beach. We spent a couple of hours climbing in, around, and under the unusual rock formations and the sheltered pools that they create, availing ourselves of numerous photo-ops (A Sports Illustrated swim suit issue was shot here a few decades ago). Next stop, Marina Cay, home of the Pusser’s Bar (home of the Painkiller). We had a couple before motoring to White Bay, on the South side of Peter Island. While the rest of the gang caught their breath at anchor, Mikaela and I had a great snorkel. We started out to just dive the anchor, but ended up being out over an hour. Swimming over the Eel Grass on the way to the reef, I spotted “something” on the bottom which looked really weird. It was a blood red and orange ball with blackish spiky, feathery appendages-kinda like a round featherduster, and a little bigger than a softball. It was obviously some kind of critter, maybe an urchin, but it looked like an alien. In all of our diving in several hemispheres, I’ve never seen anything like it. When we got back to the boat, we brought the rest of our crew out for a look-see. Digging out our critter books, we discovered that it was a Magnificent Urchin. Strange thing is that they’re usually found at fairly great depths-I don’t know what this guy was doing in 15’ of water, but we were happy that he was there. We slept in the next morning, and motored the 3 miles over to Benure Bay, on Norman Island. Instead of hitting Pirate’s Bight, another beach bar, we voted for a “rest” day, just enjoying the scenery, snorkeling, and sunning before heading to Cruz Bay the following day to clear back in to the U.S.A. After clearing Customs, we made the obligatory pilgrimage to “Woody’s” for cheeseburgers and fries before moving the Girl to Francis Bay on St. John’s for our final night together. Early on the 6th, we departed Francis, moving over to Crown Bay Marina in St. Thomas, where the gang caught a taxi to the airport for their flight back home to Atlanta. Whew! Makes me tired just recounting the high points. You know what comes next-BOATCHORES. We rolled over and used a laundry service instead of doing it ourselves. At a buck eighty-five a pound, the forty-two pounds was a bargain. All we had to do was drop it off, bring it home and vacuum-bag it. Two days later, with the oil changed and the Girl spiffed up, we were ready to bid “Adieu” to the Virgin’s, and get on South and East, back to St. Maarten.