Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ghosts, Goats and Turtles

Raising the BVI courtesy flag
It was a 10 day romp through the Virgins - Spanish, US and British with 4 twenty-somethings aboard. Roy and I were thrilled when it started, exhausted when it finished and wouldn't have missed one minute of it for all the tea in China.

Austin and Amanda joined us on May 20th. A week after graduation for Amanda, finals for Austin. On the 24th, in St Thomas, Will and Natalie would come aboard having just finished their own graduation celebrations. A final great fling for four good friends. Will and Natalie would be heading to California to start their post graduation life, Amanda was off to grad school and Austin would be starting his senior year in Microbiology a week after trip's end. Roy and I were ready for company and had a fast paced agenda ready.

Sea Turtle
There was no time to lose so the very next morning we headed East. Amanda had asked if we would see turtles and our lunch stop at Cayo Luis Peña answered the question. Four green sea turtles popped their heads out of the clear azure water to give us a look-see. They then hung around for Austin and Amanda to snorkel near to them. Cayo Luis Peña is a nature preserve managed by our Dept of Natural Resources. The island has hiking trails and, not knowing the significance, we saw our first wild goats. It's a lovely day stop with mooring balls for an easy way of securing the boat AND you don't damage the coral. A perfect first stop!
"Putting a Price Tag on Nature's Defenses"

We then motored over to the town of Dewey on Culebre, another of the Spanish Virgins. Dinner ashore and an easy overnight had us ready for our second day exploring Culebrita and enjoying "the jacuzzis".  Boulders and cliffs make up pools for the Caribbean to rush through, throwing up spray with each wave that rolls in. Another green turtle met us just as we dropped the hook!

Its not always perfect - we had a rather uncomfortable ride over to St Thomas. A NE swell had kicked up and winds were high. Luckily it was only 26 miles before we reached our anchorage. I had wanted our first stop on St. Thomas to be magical. I didn't realise all that would be waiting.
OMG!! Ghosts of those near and dear came calling: Roger, my brother, Nancy our dear friend even my Mother waited to greet me recalling all the times we visited while Roger and Lindy chartered Island Fever out of St Thomas! They hung around recalling past island stories and rode along the next day when we took a slip in Red Hook at the old marina. (Johnny Harms then, American Yacht Harbor now). I think the arrival of Will and Natalie the next day made Wahoo feel a little crowded for "them".  That morning while we visited in Charlotte Amalie I felt a soft farewell.
Family photo; Megan's Beach circa 1980
("little" Roger, Michele, John Edward, Lindy, Roger, Timmy)

Get that mooring!
Wild Dingy Riding
After our night in Red Hook, we headed for the BVIs and Jost Van Dyke to dance the night away at Foxy's.

It was even Wooden Boat Regatta weekend! Can't get any beta dan dat! Our next stop was Cane Garden Bay and a salute to Jimmy Buffet.

Dinner at Foxy's (dancing came later)

Then came the big day which started with our early arrival at the Baths. A rather long swim to shore (no dinghies allowed) brought us to one of the wonders of the British Islands. The Baths are a hugely wonderful geological formation of immense boulders which tumble on top of each other making for shallow pools on the edge of the Caribbean. Work your way, often on hands and knees, through the maze until you come out on beautiful Devil's Bay.

After returning to Wahoo and grilled burgers aboard to renew our flagging energy Captain Roy turned the boat for a downwind sail through Sir Frances Drake Channel. There was no rest yet - we needed to snorkel the wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone. This was a British ship which lost its anchor during a hurricane October 29, 1867 and was washed ashore near Salt Island. Again we were happy that the Park Service's mooring balls made for an easy afternoon stop.

Austin, Amanda and Wilfred's in there somewhere!
Evening found us in for the mooring field off of Peter's Island. We had no trouble jumping into the water to snorkel the ledges around the shoreline. But once back aboard it was Amanda who kept hearing a plaintive cry up on a rocky cliff. At first no one else could see the source but Amanda's insistence that something was there had us all looking and listening. As night fell we could hear the cries of what proved to be a young goat stuck, who knows how long, in the brush and cactus on a high rocky ledge. When morning came Austin and Amanda were determined to "Free Wilfred". An expedition was arranged and soon the intrepid rescuers were ashore and climbing the rocky cliff. Austin's superb climbing skills (he is a Capricorn you know) got him close. He tried and he tried to free Wilfred using the boat hook to push and pull the brush aside but nothing seemed to help. Finally he managed to climb higher and with great daring-do grabbed hold of the trapped front leg and pulled it free! With a great leap and to all of the cheering squad's yells, Wilfred was a free goat once more.

Happy Grandma!

The stormy morning couldn't dampen our spirits after that. So even
Good Friends
 though we had to skip snorkelling The Indians we all rode into Road Town on our natural high. Which was a good thing because if anything could have dampened our spirits Road Town was it. From the inability to get Pussesr's Rum's guidebook deal to the sad look of the town itself and the depleted shelves of the "supermarket" it was the one spot that missed the mark. (Except for our waitress Lucy - only the menu's Bull Foot Soup was available but Lucy made the meal memorable.) Perhaps it was knowing that our time together was coming to an end. The next morning we were headed back to Red Hook.

Spirits picked up as we took a rogue ferry ride to St John's and Cruz Bay. Its hard to stay down when you're having lunch and browsing the shops at Mongoose Junction. May 30th came and we bid adieux as the four "younguns" took a Safari taxi in to Charlotte Amalie for one last look around. Roy and I took Wahoo and their luggage into St Thomas Harbour where we all said our last goodbyes.
It's Been Fun!