Back to reality….

Having got the blog published on Saturday morning we went back to Morphie and got ourselves ready for another beach afternoon – having said farewell to Arndt (Zanshin) who was heading over to the USVIs. We dinghied around the point, pulled dink up the beach, and went into the Soggy Dollar bar.

Liming in White Bay

Of course, we were planning to visit other places too…. but we were enjoying liming, bobbing, socialising, people watching and plain old chilling so much that we didn’t end up moving on. We met some really nice people and had a great afternoon. Mic was in a devilishly – or should I say horny??? – mood and might even have missed his ferry because he was too interested in a certain lady wearing not much more than a thong!!!!

Liming in White Bay 2 Mic was feeling horny

We had a great time, as always, said our sad farewells to everyone – and dinghied back around the headland admiring the stunning cloud formations.

Beautiful sky

For the evening we went into Corsairs for a great dinner – and enjoyed a few laughs with Vinny, Debbie and JR when they caught their breath between serving customers. The place was rammed and people just kept on coming…. including one group of nine whom without any reservations wanted to be seated immediately and were not prepared to wait. They got seated quite quickly but the service wasn’t fast enough – so they left! I think it was probably for the best as they had been quite rude and I think Vinny might just have told them what he thought if they had stayed LOL.

Corsairs staff having fun Having fun with Vinny

Relaxing at the bar after dinner we also met up with the Californian couple that we had spent some time bobbing with earlier in the day. In the restaurant there was a large table of Sicilians being quite noisy and then suddenly they started singing…… serenading the staff…. and then one largish guy stood up and wowed us with his opera! Not what you expect to happen in Corsairs – what an amazing day!

Sicilian opera singer

Sunday morning and we were up early getting the boat ready to depart on Monday. And I was cooking lunch for the gang at Corsairs as promised – this time it was a shepherd’s pie. So at around 1pm we headed in and served it up for us all. Went down well – everyone enjoying their taste of English comfort food – and certainly the plates were cleared pretty quickly. We had a couple of beers and then said our farewells. Vinny is remodelling Corsairs for next season so wants us to head back to see it if we can in the future – never say never!!!!

Sunday lunch

Having left Corsairs we wandered down the sand main street to the Police Station to do our customs clearance in preparation for leaving Monday morning.

Main road, Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke Great Harbour 1 Customs house Great Harbour

Well – the immigration guy was there but the customs lady had gone walkabout…. So we waited – and then more boat captains came in and were starting to kick up a stink. They were asking questions and being quite difficult….and aggressive. We refused to get involved and just quietly walked up to the desk to await her return and to make sure we remained first in the queue. Eventually she came back – in an absolutely foul mood! – so we quickly completed our paperwork, paid our $5 fee, and left them all to it……

Back to Morphie we lifted dink and had a quiet afternoon and evening on board, enjoying our final BVI sunset.

Sunset in Great Harbour

Monday we slipped away quietly – saddened at having to leave having had such a great time – but it is time to get back to reality!

Goodbye JVD

We hoisted our sails and had a spectacular 90 degrees reach across the channel bearing 210 degrees on the compass – which, incidentally, is the proposed bearing for our run to Bonaire. That made us smile….. We rounded Carvel Rock and we were able to continue sailing up alongside St John.

Carvel rock

We both really enjoyed ourselves. We picked up a mooring ball and dinked round to Cruz Bay to clear into the US Virgin Islands. This was friendly, very quick and no money exchanged hands. Result!  We then went to pick up our parcel – was all very efficient and they only charged us $3 for the one-off service. Amazing… We had a quick lunch – completely forgetting about the size of US food portions – so eventually surrendered and resorted to taking a doggy bag back to Morphie as we were so full!!!!

Waterfront Cruz Bay, St John

Back on board – and Arndt was still not on board Zanshin so we missed saying farewell to him sadly – and slipped towards our next destination Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. As we headed towards Current Hole – which is a cut between Great St James Island and the mainland – we realised there was a large ferry bearing down on us from behind. Then he gave us two loud horn blasts – which actually means in sailing speak that he is going to be turning to port – but continued straight at us at speed. So we had no choice but to turn 90 degrees to starboard to avoid getting run down. As we were turning he passed us closely and we had to hang on as Morphie rode the serious wake…. Richard gave the captain the finger while all the tourists on the top deck were taking photos of us and waving. Hmmmmmm….. The most annoying thing about all this was that ferries actually go through another cut – not the one we were heading for – so this ferry ended up turning starboard straight across our bow once he had passed us so we had to cope with his wake for a second time. Phew….. Why he didn’t just pass our stern to starboard in the first place is beyond me. Richard was pretty calm – although annoyed – whilst I found it all a bit stressful as I was on the helm at the time.

Arriving into Charlotte Amalie we saw that we had one cruise ship in town already – and we anchored out in the bay enjoying the sights of our new huge neighbour and the superyachts in the marina. Once we had got ourselves settled in we went into the marina to get access to the internet primarily to check the weather forecast and pick up e-mails. We were expecting an e-mail from a weather forecaster who supplies this service to cruisers…. but unfortunately it hadn’t arrived.

Huge neighbour

IGY marina

Was fun to wander the marina – with its top end stores like Gucci, Louis Vitton, Bvlgari to name just a few, some little huts selling tourist tat on cruise-ship days, and the landscaping with flowers and trees everywhere. We eventually ended up in the Fat Turtle for a couple of happy hour beers before we headed back to Morphie for a quiet night on board enjoying our first St Thomas sunset.

Flowers and trees everywhere 2

Tourist stuff for sale

view looking out from the marina Yacht Haven Grande shops Our new local

Flowers and trees everywhere 1Sunset in St Thomas

Tuesday morning and we were up very early. Richard installed the new SSB earthing system we had purchased while I sorted out the laundry and compiled a shopping list for items that we need for the passage meals…..

New grounding system for the SSB

We also spotted that our fridge and freezer were not behaving themselves – again…. Hopefully it is not a sign of things to come. Oh yes, and the SSB problems are not fully resolved. Grrrrrr……

Later in the morning we headed to the Coffee Shop for internet – and picked up the e-mail. The weather window we had identified ourselves remained a good one for the run down but there was a wave coming through Bonaire which meant we would have to arrive by sunset Saturday latest. If we average five knots – allowing for strong / weak / no wind at times – then we have to leave early Wednesday morning to make this possible. We are now in a dilemma – we want to get going but we still do not have a working SSB and we may have refrigeration problems to boot. Bearing in mind this is Tuesday lunchtime now…. We haven’t got our meals done and need to get an expert to look at the SSB.  If we stick with our original Wednesday midnight departure we could be looking at a forecast of 33 knots of breeze and biggish seas for the last 12-24 hours of the passage. Hmmmm…..  We decide that this puts us under too much pressure and it is prudent to wait for another window. If we had got this e-mail Monday afternoon as planned we might just have been able to do it…. Oh well…. looks like we are going to be here for a little while after all. Really disappointed but these things happen….

But we want to be ready when the weather co-operates – so we go back briefly to Morphie, collected the laundry and took ourselves off to the self-service launderette. Not the most exciting of things to do on a hot and steamy afternoon – but at least they had a TV and fans!

Wash day again.....

Task completed, we headed back and dropped our laundry off at a complimentary baggage check place in the marina!!!!  Then we had a couple of happy hour drinks in the Fat Turtle before returning to Morphie, having been reunited with our laundry, for another quiet evening on board.

Goodnight Morphie

Wednesday morning and we are up early – and we have an SSB guy coming at 10.00 am. He turned up on time….but he couldn’t fix the radio. It appears ‘locked’ in that some of the buttons do not work so you can’t tune through different frequencies on different modes – so we couldn’t even listen to the local radio station which gives out local strong signals to check our receiver. So we are restricted to pre-programmed frequencies but we could live with that – but he couldn’t get the reception clear enough to hear anything. His view is that this is an ICOM factory problem not something a user can fix. Damn….. looks like we’ll have to do without it for now then!   But at least we know that it isn’t something I’ve done – as the official certified long-range radio user on board…. Pleased about that because I had been starting to doubt myself.

In the afternoon after a quick lunch we headed off to the large Pueblo supermarket which is within walking distance. It’s a bit run down – and not exactly upmarket – but we managed to get pretty much everything that we needed. Back on board – all shopping stowed – and we go back out for a while. I got my hair cut in a very up-market spa in the marina – with complimentary mimosas whilst I was being tended to – and Richard was at the coffee shop surfing the net. We met up again for happy hour in the Fat Turtle before going back to Morphie for the evening. St Thomas is not the safest place we have stayed so we are not really planning evenings out unless it is within the marina complex but enjoy going ashore for a couple of hours to relax after doing boat jobs the rest of the time…..

Goodnight St Thomas

Thursday morning and it’s clear that the fridge and freezer are playing up again…. Groan….. They are draining huge amounts out of our batteries and are struggling to maintain, or even reach, their programmed temperatures. Oh dear… so we head off ashore again to try and organise a refrigeration company to come out to us. We have an old Nokia phone that we put a Grenadian pay as you go chip in to use while we are out here – but, of course, this phone won’t work here in the US Virgins as they use a different frequency. This is getting tedious.

We send an e-mail instead and decide to go and buy a local phone – Kmart is the best place so off we wander. We managed to get one with credit for only $40 so wasn’t too bad and got some other things we had been after for a while too – so was a pretty useful trip. Back on board we head off in dink to find Antilles Gas which is round in Crumb Bay – about 20 minutes away. So we putter along enjoying the sights of the waterfront of St Thomas…. and as we come round Crown Bay we realise that there is a huge cruiseship in there today, one that holds more than 5,000 people!!!! And we need to go round it. Wow – didn’t ever expect to see one of these up close and personal.

Charlotte Amalie Up close and personal with a cruise ship

Arriving in Crumb Bay and we realised that we were in the ship graveyard with remnants of hulls just sticking up through the water. So we puttered through pretty carefully. We found the propane plant and got our gas bottle filled up – and felt the heat from the huge power station as we went past.

Boat graveyard 1

Boat graveyard 2 Power station

Arriving back on board and we chilled for a little while – before heading back into the marina realising that a huge cruise ship was following us in!  So we picked up our pace and got away from the channel quickly. We made it into the Fat Turtle for the opening match of the FIFA 2014 World Cup – I guess this is our silver lining to the cloud of having to delay our departure south!!! We enjoyed the Brazil –v- Croatia match, although thought that the referee drawing a line on the grass with an aerosol can for players to stand behind was a bit over the top!!!! After the match we came across loads of locals doing a Zumba class in the square in the marina – was like a flash mob. Great fun! Back on board safely for another quiet night.

Trying not to get mown down! Exercise class in the square Goodnight St Thomas 2

This morning – Friday – and we are up very early. So early we saw the huge full moon before it went to bed – and the sun as it rose in the sky. Beautiful until the peace of the morning was shattered by another cruise ship turning up.

Huge full moon Sun coming up

Anchor buddy

We are onboard awaiting the refrigeration man to resolve our issues. I am feeling quite anxious as I have a lot of good quality meat in the freezer that I don’t want to thaw and I’m already cooking up meals for our passage to go in there too so don’t want all that effort to go to waste. In the meantime, I’m blogging while Richard is keeping himself busy with domestic jobs and has just dropped me off to get this published as we have heard that he won’t be with us until later on today now…..

The weather guru is going to revisit the passage plan on Monday – but thinks it it unlikely we will get another window next week….. so could be here for a little while longer, probably watching football!!!  Will keep you posted.

Bye for now.