Incommunicado on St John

Friday and the weather kicked in – we didn’t even go ashore!   It was pouring with rain….and then cloudy….and then raining….with very little sun. So we ran the generator to top up the batteries and made some water. The wind, actually, was not as bad as forecast but the conditions weren’t nice – and definitely no good for varnishing – so glad we stayed put and enjoyed a lazy day.

Saturday and the weather improved – looks like they got it wrong again…. Oh well, always better to be safe rather than sorry!   We did a few boat jobs and then went ashore later in the afternoon to catch up on the internet – during happy hour – and then over to the Willy T.   Nothing going on again – Richard was very amused by the tacky pirates ship lamp clock thingy that was on the bar – and we had a chat with a few people before having a very good chicken and chips supper, cooked by Branson. Back on board for an early night.

Tacky pirate ship

Sunday and it was lovely and we decided to spend some time on the beach….. It was nice for a while, but it was pretty busy, there was a lack of chairs, and lots of kids screaming….   So we retreated back to Morphie and sat on the transom drinking cold beer from the fridge.   Lovely way to end the day as the sun went down.

Goodnight from Norman Island

Monday morning and we were up early. We are headed over to the USVI today – our plan is to go into American Yacht Harbor to get our replacement temperature gauge fitted.   And of course the weather turned as we picked up anchor!  So we left Norman straight into bad weather and 30+ knot winds…. There was certainly a different view today of the Indians in the gloom. It is a downwind run from Norman to Tortola, so we actually had a fantastic sail under a reefed genoa alone. We did get wet a few times though as rain storms passed through.

Leaving Norman The Indians Bit of a wet sail

Arrived in West End and the first thing we see is this huge black yacht – all black, no name, no AIS, nothing!   We thought it looked decidedly evil….   And check out the size of the guy standing on the transom… That’s what you call a big boy’s toy LOL!!!

Huge black yacht

As we entered the mooring field there wasn’t a mooring ball to be found. People were stooging around waiting for balls even for customs – so we decided to turn around and perhaps go to check out from the BVI in Jost instead.   As we were leaving we were checking out the depths just between the Fish and Lime Restaurant and Steele Point – and found a sandy spot in 25 feet…. So decided to anchor…   We got a great set straight away and sat there for a little while to check how the wind would move us around. Happy that Morphie was safe we left her and went into the Customs and Immigration Office and checked out. Very quick and pleasant experience – makes a change!   Even the weather had started to improve….

Then over to D’ Best Cup coffee shop and we’d received an e-mail to say that the spare gauge had not arrived….. So we quickly cancelled our slip at AYH – rescheduling for early February – as we didn’t want to go into the marina for nothing… and debated our next move. Well – we have to leave the BVIs now as we’ve already checked out – so decided to go shopping at the Marina store for some bits and bobs and were very happy to find Branston pickle, French cheese, French baguette and English pork sausages. Sadly they had run out of English cheddar cheese… So got our fill of those LOL!

Back to Morphie, picked up anchor, and sailed downwind to St John.   Had another exhilarating sail in washing-machine like seas – but we enjoyed ourselves a lot!   And we almost got 8 knots out of Morphie on reefed genoa alone….   Great fun.

Leaving Tortola Choppy seas

We picked up a mooring in Caneel Bay and dinked round into Cruz Bay marvelling at the colour of the water – cleared customs into the US Virgin Islands – and then picked up our parcels. Two out of three only had arrived so we’ll have to come back again another day.   Got some drinking vouchers out of the bank and then headed back to Morphie where we had a quiet time on board and an early night enjoying the view.

Colour of that water! Cruz Bay 1 Cruz Bay 2 Caneel Bay

Tuesday morning and back into Cruz Bay – some more drinking vouchers obtained – and we had breakfast while we were out.

Breakfast venue Panorama of Cruz Bay

Then we found the local supermarket and did some more shopping. We managed to get some steak and some great fresh produce….. so salad for the next few days!   Yay!!   Back on board, provisions stowed, and then we dropped the mooring ball and motored upwind to Mahoe Bay – being passed by the huge yacht Erica VII.

Here comes Erica

We arrived into Mahoe – this is a beautiful bay with a white sand beach edged with palm trees, backed by lush hills, and spectacular clear blue water. We picked up a mooring ball – compulsory here as it is a marine park – and started taping up Morphie, getting the ropes all stowed out of the way, removing some stainless steel etc – all in preparation for her first rub down tomorrow.  No distractions here other the natural beauty of it all – no bars, no restaurants, no internet, no nothing! Just turtles popping their nosy little heads up checking who is around….and the fins of tarpon chasing little fry around the bay.   This is one of our favourite places and we enjoyed sitting in the cockpit having a quiet night on board.

Mahoe Bay 1 Mahoe Bay 2 Getting taped up 1 Getting taped up 2 Getting taped up 3 Ropes sorted

Wednesday morning and we started the mammoth job of rubbing down by hand…..   The teak needs some tender loving care with the varnish peeling and rubbed off in loads of places.   We pretty much finished the first rub down and collapsed in the cockpit – albeit with aching muscles – just had dinner and then straight to bed…..     Here are some ‘before’ pictures.

Before 1 Before 2 Before 3 Before 4

Thursday we got up very early and washed down all the dust and sanded a few more bits that we’d missed yesterday.   We then started to apply our first coat of varnish and were really pleased with ourselves – such a shame we have to rub it all off again tomorrow in preparation for the next coat!!!   While we were in the middle of all this – and I did get distracted a couple of times by a sting ray who kept swimming underneath Morphie – we saw a familiar boat in the distance.   It was Orion! They had just left the BVIs now that their friends had gone home – and wondered whether we would be here….   So when we finished our varnishing we all went bobbing for a couple of hours while Morphie looked all shiny and enjoyed her surroundings….

Morphie enjoying her surroundings

First coat 1 First coat 3 First coat 4 First coat 5 Bobbing friends Orion behind us

Friday morning – up early – and started rubbing down again…..   This took us until about 3pm – then we started applying the next coat.   During this time Julia came by on the kayak to invite us over for sundowners…  We said we couldn’t guarantee what time we would get there – but that was fine by them.   So when we finished we cleaned ourselves up, left Morphie to dry and headed over.

Second coat 1 Second coat 2 Second coat 3 Second coat 4

They had invited Kirk and Chrissie over too – and we realised that we had met them two years ago – what a small world. Well sundowners turned into a late night – fun times!

Saturday morning – up even earlier. We actually started rubbing down at 7.30 am! This is the final coat we want to apply so needs to be a good one.

Third rub down

We worked really hard and at 5.00 pm we had finished.   It looked fantastic – wood under glass – amazing!   High fives all round.   Quite relieved – that was physical hard work.  Although it was really our turn we couldn’t host sundowners as we have wet varnish everywhere – so back over to Orion again for a nice time catching up with Lyle and Julia.  They also opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate my birthday early as we are going our separate ways again for a little while.   Well – during the evening it rained.   We had fingers crossed that the varnish was dry enough by the time it came down – oh well, what can you do? And so to bed and it rained again – hard.

Sunday morning – up early – Happy Birthday to me!!!   Opened my cards – thanks everyone.

Happy Birthday

And then we inspected the wood.   We thought we might have got away with it as there was water sitting on top of the rail…… But it looked milky….. So we dried it – and disaster – it’s ruined!!!  All that hard work – we’ve got to rub it down and redo it.  If only the rain could have held off another few hours…… Not the best start to our day.

It rained overnight.... And this is what it did to the new varnish!

So what to do?   We decided not to stay here in Mahoe Bay – we need to get reconnected and I needed to blog!!!   Oh yes, and I’d like not to have to cook on my birthday LOL.   So I tidied up, completed the customs / immigration paperwork and drafted this.   Richard worked hard on deck reinstalling all the lines and the stainless etc in preparation for us departing.   We then motored across – straight into wind and waves – to West End, Tortola.

Managed to pick up a mooring ball – and then went into customs.   Got some major bull from the customs guy – wants $200 for temporary importation duty for Morpheus as we are going to be in the BVIs for more than 30 days in a calendar year.   Hang on – we came in on 20 December, left on 5 January, and are returning today.  Surely it has to be 30 days consecutive???   After some discussion we persuaded him not to charge us – and we have until 2 February to get out or pay.  No worries mate – we’ll be gone for sure.    We have been coming here for years and this stuff happens all the time – but this is a new one on us.   On 20 December we paid $15 to clear in – total.  Today it cost us $55.  OK it’s a Sunday so there is overtime…. but really????   They just make it up as it goes along.    This really hasn’t been the best start to my birthday for sure……  Grrrrrrr

We are in D’ Best Cup now – catching up on news from home and was lovely to receive loads of birthday messages and to speak to my mum.  Thanks everyone for remembering.  Feeling more chilled now….   As the song goes, things can only get better……..

Later on we are going to Cane Garden Bay where we know there will be live music at The Elm tonight. We are both really looking forward to seeing the Elmtones again and maybe a bit of dancing??? The varnishing can definitely wait a few days. We are working our way up to Virgin Gorda as we have our friends Carolyn and Ron coming in for a holiday at the end of the week. So once we’ve arrived up there we can spend the time before their arrival varnishing – again…… Sigh…..

Bye for now