Free at last!

The sail turned up Saturday morning about an hour after the time they agreed…but it is island time so no surprises. We took it out of the bag and – thankfully – it’s now the right colour and they’ve done a good job. We did want to hank it on there and then, but in a 20 knot breeze with the wind up our chuff in the slip, it probably wouldn’t have been the wisest move. So we take it down below and get ready to leave…

At last, at 12.50 pm, we slip out of Red Hook, St Thomas, for the very last time. We are free!!!!    Hurrah!!!!    Hugs all round….and head straight into 8 ft seas, whitecaps and 25 knots of wind gusting higher. So we plowed through it under motor – as this is head to wind all the way – and got pretty wet with green water coming over the bow. Picked up a mooring ball near Cruz Bay, St John, and went into customs to clear out of the USVI. Waited in line behind some Argentinians who were getting a really hard time – they were pussy cats to us by comparison.

Back around Lind Point in dink to pick up Morphie and went straight out towards Jost van Dyke to check into the BVIs. Well…as we rounded Carvel rock….the wind picked up and now we are at 31 knots and building seas. Without the stay sail to balance us on a close hauled tack we decided to drop the sails and run in under motor. Pretty choppy is all I can say…and I got soaked again with water coming over the bow…but nothing could detract from our feelings of relief that we can now start planning our trip properly.

Anyway….we arrive into Jost and, because of the conditions, all the mooring balls are taken so we anchored in Great Harbour and stayed on board for a while to make sure we had set as the conditions here are tricky. Luckily we got a good set first time and headed ashore to do normal stuff and book dinner at Corsairs.

Had a great welcome back from the gang and enjoyed Roger’s lamb cutlets and mint sauce. No, not Caribbean fare, but lamb is a rarity over here so I eat it whenever it appears on the menu, which is very very infrequently…. Yummmm….

In the morning as part of our usual routine we realised that the weather forecast was for Christmas winds – a couple of weeks late – which are going to be a feature for the next week or so, along with small craft advisories over hazardous sea conditions.   Went ashore so that I could skype my mum and had a chat with the famous Foxy Callwood who always regales us with fun stories of his life and particularly when he came to London with his family to collect his MBE from the Queen.

We also met the pastor from the little church and heard – down the street – his hell and brimstone sermon… Wow there must be a lot of sinners in town… We were planning to renew our wedding vows here but having heard the tone of the sermon we decided that perhaps we’ll do this further down island instead!

So after more boat jobs – Richard was sorting out the macerator which needed tightening up, definitely a blue job that one – and I did pink things like wiping the salt off my previously polished stainless steel rails… And together – in a lull in the wind – we hanked and furled the new sail on.

At this point we decided to stay put and relax for rest of the day – so we headed off in dink round the corner for a soggy afternoon in White Bay.   The new outboard is now run in so Richard was making it plane…   It was like a rollercoaster ride and great fun – not sure what everyone thought of a couple of 50+ year olds laughing and squealing with delight like kids as we buzzed around!   

The huge cruise ship – The World – was anchored off and the queue at the Soggy Dollar was five deep so we headed off down to the beach to see what was going on at One Love, which is owned by Seddy, Foxy’s son. Seddy was out of his head – not sure on what – so the atmosphere wasn’t that great. So after a swift cold one, we headed down to Gertrudes where we ate the local pork platter for lunch.

After that we returned to the Soggy Dollar and bumped into Kyle and Julia from Canada who we had met earlier in the trip at Virgin Gorda. Nice time was had by all. Dinked back round the point and after a few hours went ashore for a quiet evening at Corsairs…and yes, I do mean a quiet evening, although Richard did get tempted by that Fireball (Cinnamon Whisky) shot at the end!

On Monday we headed out into big seas again – and sustained winds of 27 knots – and made great progress on reefed main / genoa and full staysail…. An exhilarating – if not a bit of a bumpy and wet – sail. Into Norman Island and over to Pirates for a bob – didn’t actually make it into the water though, as we bumped into Kristine and Doug who we had met many years earlier on previous trips. Enjoyed chewing the fat with them for a couple of hours and went back on board for a bite to eat. Decided not to go to the Willy T and had an early night.  

Surprised to see a Seadream Yacht Club ship at the Bight too….and could this be Jack Sparrow on a new boat????

This morning the conditions have deteriorated so we decided just to run round the corner to Peter Island. As we left the comfort of Norman there was a huge rain squall where winds topped 37 knots and a complete white out. Not so nice. I even felt cold in the rain! Anyway….arrived here safely….to the spectacle of hundreds of pelicans feeding and tucked in neatly along the shore. Have decided not to go ashore at all today – if the sea state calms down I might get a swim – so tonight we have designated a non-alcohol movie night!

Oh yes, a new neighbour has just puled called Blind Date and, surprise, surprise, Cilla isn’t on board!

Bye for now