30 June 2009

The Dinghy Poker Run

Mike and I are manning the computers and inputting the results for this event so we are up and at the bar by 9.00 setting up the equipment.   Lots of people dress up as pirates, some doing it really well.

IMGP1582Photo:  Nick and Monica 

IMGP1585Photo:  Me and Ali

Monica registers each entrant, taking their money and giving them an armband, then they each come to Mike and I to record their card on both paper and computer.  At the end of the event, the computer program will have worked out the best hand.  Candace and Robin arrive just before we are set to move to the second stage.  Their help is invaluable as now we can input twice as fast.

580089187_FaSL3-O[1] Photo:  Mike and I hard at work

The second stage is at Sandbox, the third at Saba Rock, the fourth at Bitter End Yacht Club, the Fifth at the Fat Virgin Cafe and then it’s back to Leverick Bay for the sixth and final stop.  We go from stop to stop in one of the 30ft Bradley Powerboats run by Mike at Leverick Bay Water Sports.

IMG_0101[1] Photo:  Nick and Monica head out to the first stop

While all this is going on, our crew behave in a very lively manner.  Susan, attempts to steal our dinghy but Amy is having none of it.  She takes a flying leap at the dinghy, flattening Susan against the bottom of the boat. 

Tim comes to help Amy, and accidently gets himself kicked in the nether regions, but eventually recovers enough to secure the boat with Amy and repel Susan over the side.

580091457_beic9-O[1]Photo:  Tim comes to Amy’s rescue and Susan adopts an unlady-like pose

Heather, fed up with being bombarded with greasy water from Saildoggie’s water gun, steals the gun but later on Malcolm gives it back, much to the disgust of the rest of the crew.

All over North Sound, dinghy crew are lobbing water bombs and throwing buckets of water at each other.  No one returns to shore dry.  I am so glad Mike and I are on a fast motor boat that no one can get.

580092616_mhEiL-O[1]  Photo:  The Eustacia crowd living it up on Nick’s baby cat

Unfortunately, there is always someone who takes it a bit too far and they spray cheese whizz over all the dinghies except ours, which points suspicious fingers at our crew who were blameless in this incident.  (For the none Americans, cheese whizz is a repulsive excuse for cheese that comes in an aerosol can.)  Even dinghies that are not part of the Poker Run get the same treatment.

The event is run totally for charity, and raises over $2000.  All the restaurants and bars that take part must quadruple their takings for the hour that the dinghy crews are there, and by the end of the event, most people are three sheets to the wind.  Unfortunately this makes an extremely small number act like complete ****holes but generally the atmosphere is one of great fun.

580104203_z7vCW-O[1] Photo:  Hurray – my computer work is done!

In the evening is the prize giving.  Two of our crew get prizes – won honestly by good hands.  No one stays out late – in fact we are all back on the boat by 9.00.  Malcolm and Joe fall asleep on the trampolines but wake up and come back into the boat later on.

By 10.00 everyone is tucked up in bed, and early night to prepare for tomorrow’s race to Anegada.

29 June 2009

Marina Cay to Leverick Bay

I wake up at 5.30am and know that as Mike is still snoring it will be a long wait for my first cup of tea, but sleep eludes me for some reason.  At the first sign of Mike wriggling I accidently nudge him in the hope of bringing him fully awake, and into tea-making mode.  It works, and by 7.15 I have my first cup.  After the second cup, and my breakfast in bed, I’m almost ready to move.

When I eventually emerge, we are already motoring off as the sea is flat calm.  We arrive at The Dogs before 9.00 and pick up a mooring ball.  Caribbean Dream is already in, and has been since 7.00. - early birds indeed.

This morning Linda looks like she has had a fight with Mike Tyson, and I wonder what they all got up to last night while we were asleep, but she assures me that it is far more innocent than that – she has a mosquito bite on her eyelid.  It looks very painful – I think the sunglasses will stay on today.

All of a sudden there is a lot of commotion.  A fishing boat has arrived and laid down a net.  The guys are shouting to each other and there is a lot of activity, but 10 minutes later when they pull up the net, it is empty and they clear off.

A large barracuda stalks the boat and everyone puts off the evil moment of getting in the water, just like the beach scene in ‘Jaws’.  Then Malcolm gets in, and it’s one in, all in (well, one in, four in actually).  The barracuda keeps his distance.

To give another boat a chance at the mooring ball, we leave The Dogs and go over to a bay we haven’t anchored in before – Long Bay on Virgin Gorda.  There is nothing in this bay except a couple of villas and two other boats anchored close to the beach.  The sea is completely flat and turquoise blue, showing a lovely sandy bottom along which it is easy to see large rays moving across the sea bed.  There are a lot of fish jumping out of the water, really going wild.  Something big must be chasing them from underneath.  So everyone goes in, even me, again, twice in one week!  With the aid of my buoyancy aid and a bright barracuda attracting noodle, I stay in for over an hour and it is the first time I have been cool all day.

IMGP1581Photo:  Beautiful deserted beach at Anguilla Point, entering North Sound, Virgin Gorda

Late in the afternoon, we motor over to Leverick Bay – lots of the boats for the Second Annual Dinghy Poker Run are arriving into the marina at the same time.  We moor up next to Sophisticated Lady and Rick comes out to help us tie up.

Mike disappears over to another boat, Aristocat II, to help them sort out a problem with the genoa halyard swivel as we have had the same problem on Jeannius, while the girls do the laundry, braving the mosquitoes to do so.

IMG_0063[1]Photo:  Heather and I after the laundry run

Back on the boat I am busy cooking the rest of yesterday’s tuna when we suddenly realise that the main air-conditioning unit is not working.  Mike removes the filter for the pump under the floor, and discovers that it is full of barnacles!  How the hell did they get in there?  He cleans it out but it still won’t start and the bloody manual is all in French.  He wonders whether it will start when it has cooled down, and eventually, nearly two hours later, he is proved right.  Another problem solved.

Then he realises that the water maker is not making water.  In nearly an hour it has only produced about ten gallons instead of twenty.  He discovers that the shore power tripped when the microwave was switched on.  It’s days like this when you wish you had a house to maintain rather than a boat!!!

Eventually there is enough water for Mike to have a well earned shower and rest, and I follow suit, feeling clean for the first time in hours.  Everyone else has gone out but Mike and I have a full day ahead of us tomorrow doing the results for the Poker Run, and we stay in, absolutely shattered.

28 June 2009

Norman Island to Marina Cay

Everyone gradually surfaces and we make a long zig-zag tack to the dive site over the wreck of RMS Rhone, by the side of salt island.  On the way, Linda hauls in an albacore, Mike guts and cleans it, and I fillet it (or hack it off the bone). 

Everyone except Mike and I snorkels over the wreck because visibility is good today, then we motor around the corner and anchor in a quiet bay so that they can go to the island.

DSCN1615Photo:  A treasure chest on a deserted beach


 Photo:  Heather discovers the treasure chest is empty

DSCN1623Photo:  The salt pond, hence Salt Island

DSCN1638Photo:  Abandoned buildings – hopefully for livestock!

DSCN1654Photo:  Amy finds a conch shell with the creature still in it

DSCN1656 Photo:  Stones mark the graves of the RMS Rhone wreck victims

While they are exploring the island, I mix sesame oil, wasabi paste and thinly sliced raw tuna.  It is delicious.  I have never risked this before but the tuna is so fresh.  It all disappears when they get back then we continue our journey to Marina Cay.

DSCN1703Photo:  Heather and Joe posing

DSCN1699 Photo:  The girls pose for a photo, and the male photographer moaned!

We arrive at Marina Cay to find much less breeze than usual, and way too many mosquitoes so we shut the boat up and spray it with noxious chemicals but some of us still manage to get bitten.  These are hungry buggers!

In the evening, after dinner on board, everyone goes ashore to stretch their legs and have a drink.  Mike and I have missed our afternoon naps so we stay aboard.   

27 June 2009

TMM to Norman Island

Both Mike and I are awake just after 5am but while I desperately try to get back to sleep, Mike actually gets up and starts work on the boat – tightening up the stays, for which he has had to borrow the most enormous wrench I have ever seen.  We will no doubt have to buy one of these beasts.

Joe gets up early too and helps out.  I lie there in vain, waiting for a cup of tea but by 6.30 I realise that it just isn’t going to materialize and get up and make one myself, then go back to bed, by this time having abandoned all hope of further sleep.

We leave hot, sweaty Road Reef Marina just after 9 am and due to the direction of the wind, Mike decides to try out his newly mended and mounted gennaker.  It works fine.  Then he chances his luck by gybing it as we pass between Little Thatch and Soper’s Hole, and this works too so he is pleased with his efforts.  We roll it away as we round Steele Point and motor the rest of the way to Cane Garden Bay where we are to pick up the rest of the crew; Malcolm, Linda and Amy.

Once the three and their luggage are on board we retrace our course back the way we came and head for Norman Island, anchoring quite close in to the beach at Pirate’s Bight and Heather and I prepare the marinade for the garlic chicken and poor Joe is trying to talk to his real estate agent back in Houston, trying the negotiate a deal on the sale of his house.

DSCN1599  Photo:  Joe negotiating on the phone to Houston

Mike and I are exhausted and once the anchor is well and truly dug in we go below for a little nap.  Mike awakes with a start and says “Jean, it’s 7 o’clock” and we leap out of bed, to find that Heather is just putting the chicken on to cook, so the two of us finish preparing the meal, and we all sit down to eat.  Heather and Joe have been so taken with the Ian Dury record (Wake Up and Make Love To Me) that they heard last night on my MP3 player, that they want to hear more, and I put the whole lot on.  More education into British culture!

Linda and Amy do the clearing and washing up, then then they go, with Malcolm, to the Willy T.

26 June 2009

Peter Island to TMM

When we wake up we see that the unmarked customs boat is still making its periodic sweep of the bay, presumably making sure that there are no paparazzi around.  We have lots of things to do to the boat so we motor over to the TMM base at Road Reef Marina.

While Mike and Joe do their stuff on the outside, Heather and I tackle the inside.  I have to forcibly restrain her from cleaning the toilets – she is so determined to help and knows that I moan about doing them, but there are limits – it’s my responsibility.  So instead, she makes the beds, making the sheets so tight things can bounce on them.  I could never do them that well!  Then she cleans the galley (which is pretty spotless as it has had nearly two days of being ‘Heathered’ already) and the saloon.

While we are both busy, the a/c goes off.  We are attached to shore power and it has suddenly died.  It is a general power cut in the area.  We down tools immediately as it is impossible to work inside without the a/c on, and Mike gives in and puts the generator on.  Hurray.  Even when the shore power is restored, for some reason it won’t deliver juice to the boat so we stay with the generator.

Linda and Amy arrive around lunchtime, bringing their provisions with them to put away (or ‘up’ as Heather and Joe would say).  They drop us in Road Town and go for lunch while Heather and I shop for the provisions for the meals we are cooking at Supa Valu and Bobby’s.  The schlep back to the car is extremely long in the heat and we each have three heavy bags to carry (in fact I think Heather had four) but we make it, and we stuff everything in the boot, and Heather waits with the a/c on while I go and get Linda and Amy who are lunching at Le Cabanon.

An electrician comes to check out the power supply to the winch and Mike says he might have to strip back one of the beds that Heather has so beautifully made, to get to the engine underneath and she turns pale at the thought of going through it again but in the event it is not necessary.

Both Mike and Joe have worked all through the afternoon and early evening.  The TMM base is airless, as it is protected from all breeze, and the mosquitoes are abundant and hungry.  They look exhausted and ready to drop.

Unfortunately, some of their efforts are not rewarded.  The replacement of the ball bearing part at the top of the mast is not a success, and after trying various ways to fit it, it is declared a bigger job than we have time for today, the old one goes back on and a date is made for a couple of weeks time when we are not so busy.

Happily, The Dove restaurant phone to say that their electricity is restored and they book us in for tonight, but it is chaos on the boat, and at one point it looks like we won’t make it.  I phone them and put the booking back to 8pm.  There are men crawling all over the boat, and one of them is hosing it down with chemical cleaner and a pressure hose.  When he has finished, it looks cleaner than it has done for months.  We cannot achieve those sort of results with Ajax, a scrubbing brush and an ordinary hosepipe.

In the middle of this melee, Chris Curran and his wife, Tracy, arrive, armed with presents of t-shirts for Mike and I.  They are greeted by four people dripping in sweat from, literally, head to toe.  Lovely.  Not!  I provide them both with drinks, and Tracy with magazines, and slightly rudely (on my part, as hostess), Heather and I disappear to shower and get ready, followed by Joe, and eventually, at 7.40, by Mike.  This feels especially rude as it is the first time any of us have met Tracy.  Poor girl.  What an introduction to us and Jeannius!

We all manage to get into Chris’ hire car (me in the boot!) and unbelievably arrive at the restaurant only five minutes late.

IMGP1572 Photo:  Mike and super-helper, Joe

IMGP1570 Photo:  Heather and myself

IMGP1569 Photo:  Tracy and myself

IMGP1568 Photo:  Tracy, myself, Heather, Joe, Mike and Chris

We have yet another beautiful meal.  The Dove never disappoints.

25 June 2009

Peter Island

It’s my birthday and having drunk just over two glasses of wine last night, I start the day with a hangover headache.  There is no justice!

Heather has already done last night’s washing up when I get up, bless her, sets to making pancakes for my breakfast and then washes up after that meal too.  What a little treasure!

Then the work begins.  Heather and Joe are helping us to clean the hull and outside of the boat - barnacles need to be scraped off the hull and the green slimy gunk removed if we are to have any chance in the race to Anegada next week.  Joe gets straight in the water and gets going with a brush, but Heather sees a large barracuda and sits on the steps taking swipes at him (the barracuda, not Joe) with one of the swimming noodles.

IMGP1564 Photo:  Joe scrubs while Heather checks for the barracuda!

IMG_5342Photo:  Friendly (?) barracuda under Jeannius 

IMGP1561Photo:  Mike cleaning under the boat – or taking a sneaky nap?

We notice a motor boat circling the bay and presume that it is a local guy offering trips to the people on the beach, until the boat approaches us and the guy politely asks us to move our boat from the bay.  Apparently there is a private function going on on the island this week, and no one is allowed to anchor in the bay.  I argue with him (as usual) and he flips an official badge at me.  Gulp.  We leave!

I am sure there are details all over the British press about this function and you can read about it there!

We anchor in Great Harbour and Mike scrubs from the dinghy, and Heather and Joe scrub from the water.  After a lot of arm action, Jeannius is pretty barnacle and algae free.  Even I get in and do some scrubbing because it is so hot, and even the dinghy gets a bit of attention.

IMG_5338Photo:  Mike, myself and Joe taking a rest 

The sea is so refreshing that I stay in for two hours – I can’t believe it – and neither will all the people who have laughed at me for not getting in over the last few months.  I even surprise Mike by snorkelling – is there no end to my bravery?

IMG_5341Photo:  Heather giving me a birthday cuddle

The phone rings and it’s The Dove restaurant where we are booked for dinner tonight.  They are phoning to cancel our booking as they have had no power for 36 hours.  They hope to book us in tomorrow if the power is back on.  We try to think of somewhere else to eat, but you know what it’s like.  Once you have your mind set on something, everything else, no matter how good it may be, seems second best, so I opt for eating on board. 

We have grouper on the barbecue and dirty rice, and Heather cleans up again after.  The rest of the evening is spent chatting, and doing the backlog for the blog.

24 June 2009

Norman Island to Peter Island via USVI

We aim to get up really early – literally 5.30 or so, and set out by 6.00 because our guests need to be dropped off at Cruz Bay, St John and we need to get back to pick up our next guests from Road Town.  As usual, we are later than we planned but are off by 7.00.

We headed around the south side of St John, this being the most direct route from Norman Island.  The wind was 15-20 knots, mostly dead behind us so at one point the genoa and main sail were ‘goose winged’ as we still haven’t got our gennaker or the bow sprit fitted back onto the boat.  The waves were 6-8 feet and beautifully smooth, but this was more than some of the guests had experienced this week, so there were some green faces quite soon after setting off although fortunately no one was actually sick!  There were many cries of ‘are we nearly there’!

Once at Cruz Bay, all the luggage and all 9 of us had to go, in relay, by dinghy to the Customs and Immigration to check in.  Mike and I had to go even though we were going straight back to the BVIs – bureaucracy gone mad or what?

The guests were through before us, even though our processing started first, but eventually we were done and back in the dinghy.  After re-fuelling we started back to Tortola. This time we go around the north side of St John, thus making a complete circuit of the island.  It has so many beautiful bays and beaches that we decide we must come back and explore some time.

We anchor just outside the customs office at Road Town and Mike goes off to check us back in, then it’s up anchor again and round to a little spot just inside the harbour wall at Wickhams Cay, and the cleaning starts.  Then it’s a trip to the laundry where the lady that never chats to me actually chats quite happily and lets me sit in her chair in the doorway to catch some breeze.  While I am there Mike goes off in search of something from the rigging and to pay this month’s Social Security.  When he comes back, exhausted from the heat, he takes the chair and I go off to do some food shopping from Supa Value.

We stagger back to the boat, dripping with sweat (lovely) and I finish cleaning the stern cabin and toilet ready for Heather and Joe and just about finish when the phone rings - they’ve arrived at Village Cay Marina.  So it’s back in the dinghy and round the corner and there they are.  Heather has learned from her trip last time and has bought soft bags and only half the amount of stuff, so we manage to get all four of us and their things in the dinghy in one trip.

We get back to the boat, bring up the anchor and we are off, over to Peter Island for the night.

They have been up since 3 in the morning travelling so after dinner and a few drinks, it’s off to bed for all of us.  First though, we watch an episode of ‘Game On’ as a further education in British sit-com humour.  We promise Heather that tomorrow she can watch ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ as she has been unable to buy it in a US format and has withdrawal symptoms!

23 June 2009

Jost Van Dyke to Norman Island

I get a bad night’s sleep and am cranky first thing because I don’t feel well, and Mike’s headache turns into a migraine so we are a couple of old crocks today.

Mike takes all the passports and goes over to check out at the Customs and Immigration office, then we sail over to Norman Island intending to stop for lunch at either The Indians or The Caves.  It is a good sail across.  We tacked up the channel until the wind lightened and headed us away from Norman so we took the sails down and motored to The Indians.  As usual, it was like a car park – no mooring balls available so we carried on to The Caves.

Only David and Nicky actually go snorkelling, everyone else is having a lazy day.

I check the internet for a recipe for coconut rice and make my version of it, trying to emulate Tony’s (The Elm) rice.  I probably put too much Coco Lopez in it as it is stickier than I thought, but it goes beautifully with the shrimp and is a great success.

After lunch we motor around the corner and pick up a mooring ball in front of the beach at Pirates in The Bight, and everyone except Mike, myself and Chris (all in different states of poorlyness) go ashore.  Once they have finished swimming and drinking, we move and anchor near to the Willy T, so that they will only have a short dinghy ride when they go to eat later.

DSC00373Photo:  Burhan taking a late afternoon nap

Deliverance, the supplies boat, drops by and is just too tempting for our guests who all get an ice cream, before heading off to eat at the Willy T.  Stories of body shots and naked girls with whipped cream have been told, which makes some in a hurry to get there, and others a little more circumspect!

DSC00377Photo:  Shyelynn gets her obligatory Willy T ‘tattoo’

In the event, it is a pretty tame night at the Willy T.  There are lots of family groups enjoying a somewhat quieter time than is usually had there, although I expect our clients liven it up a little.

DSC00380Photo:  Drinking shots at the Willy T – no one spilled a drop! 

DSC00378Photo:  Our guests enjoying British fish and chips!

22 June 2009

Cane Garden Bay to Jost Van Dyke

Mike takes Mai, Chris and myself to buy a few provisions and to look at the shop at Myetts then we set sail for White Bay.

As it’s not a weekend, the bay, when we arrive, is quiet and beautiful, as usual.  The guests go ashore, some by dinghy and others swim.

At lunch, we cook the barracuda.  Initially, only Burhan and David say they will eat it, and everyone else is going to see if they survive, but one by one, Burhan force-feeds some to everyone, and guess what?  It’s good;  better than the red snapper that we ate yesterday.  Burhan is vindicated but some of us are a little nervous about what will happen to our stomachs as a result!  In the event, nothing does.  The cause of the concern?  Well, it’s said that barracuda can carry some nasty bacteria which are not killed by cooking.  I suppose it depends where it is caught.  We are lucky.

In the late afternoon, we motor round to Great Harbour which is very uncrowded, and we manage to anchor straight away in a lovely quiet spot (well it’s all quiet today).

IMGA0662 Photo:  Mai, Mike, myself, Sama and Burhan posing on the bow

IMGA0663Photo:  The gang

The guests eat out at Corsairs but are only gone just over an hour.  They call Mike to pick them up as they are all getting bitten to death by mosquitoes even though the staff put a fan on them to try to keep the dammed things away.

The guests go to bed early, tired and itching.  Mike and I stay up;  Mike catching up on some computer things while I make the marinade for the shrimp.

21 June 2009

Anegada to Cane Garden Bay

We leave Anegada early as it’s quite a long sail to get to Monkey Point, our lunchtime snorkel stop.

On the way, Burhan catches a barracuda, saying that they are delicious.  We have heard otherwise and no one except Burhan and David are willing to eat it, but they clean it and gut it and cut it up into fillets anyway and it goes in the freezer.

DSC00310 Photo:  Burhan with his barracuda

I spend the whole morning in the kitchen being a nautical domestic goddess(!).  The red snapper is stuffed with a mixture of garlic, ginger, chilli, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and oil, and goes on the barbeque for a hour.  It’s great, although some of the younger guests view this monstrous beast with a level of suspicion and have sandwiches instead.

It’s Father’s Day today, and Victoria remembers to send her daddy an e-mail which makes him smile.  And I didn’t even remind her.  Mike manages to talk to his father using Skype which, given how bad Skype has been recently, is a relief.

After lunch we motor round to Cane Garden Bay, but after extolling the virtues of The Elm, neither Mike nor I are hungry enough to eat there and I am too tired to go out at all.  Mike takes the guests ashore, all of whom have decided they want salads anyway as they are also full.  He leaves them at Quitos and wanders down to The Elm to say hello to Candace and Malcolm.  It’s a good job we didn’t manage to talk our guests into going there tonight as there is no music and Candace, Malcolm, Jim and his guests are the only people there.

P1000392 Photo:  Our guests at Quitos

He comes back to the boat and attempts to fix the light that was working this morning but now isn’t in one of the guest bathrooms.  Problem is, he can’t find the screwdriver that he needs – he had it earlier when he disconnected the bilge pump (which kept switching on for no reason).  Lots of swearing and banging noises erupt from the bathroom.  I keep out of the way and make a cup of tea!

20 June 2009

Leverick Bay to Anegada

To give our guests as full a day as we can at Anegada we leave Leverick Bay at around 9.  I serve breakfast on the go and by the time it’s done and the washing up is complete I am very hot and sweaty and starting to feel seasick, but I quickly recover once I get outside.

We have a lovely sail over, reaching 8.4 knots, but averaging around 6.5 most of the way and it only takes an hour and three quarters to get there.  Anchored outside Neptune’s Treasure, Mike organises a hire car for the guests and they go off to explore the island and its beaches, notably Cow Wreck Beach and Loblolly Bay.

DSC00264 Photo:  The guests at Cow Wreck Beach

DSC00843 Photo:  Shye and Sama with freshly caught lobsters

I spend the day cleaning up a bit and actually sunbathe for a short while.  Mike takes the opportunity of having a rest as he has a headache.

The guests dine ashore and don’t come back until around 7.30, but when they return they bring back a huge red snapper weighing about 12lbs.  Burhan bought it from a young girl at the dock.  Initially, being a good salesman, she tried to charge him $200, but he knocked her down to $100, knowing full well that it was only worth $40-50.  He didn’t mind being hustled because he liked her enterprising spirit!  He managed to get some bait and a couple of hooks thrown in with the deal, although when he tried to get a heavy duty empty reel included in the deal, she stiffed him for another $5.  Quite a smart cookie for a 12-year old girl!  The young lady in question was Vernon’s granddaughter, (he’s the owner of Neptune’s Treasure) and he found it very entertaining to see that she had inherited his entrepreneurial spirit!

DSC00265 Photo:  The enterprising fisherman

They clean the snapper when they get back to the boat – tomorrow it is going on the barbeque.  They continue to fish for quite some time, getting a black finned shark, but nothing I consider edible comes back to the boat.

DSC00269Photo:  Nicky looking decidedly uncertain about the shark!

19 June 2009

Marina Cay to Leverick Bay

It promises to be a lovely breezy day, just right for a good sail up to Leverick Bay, but first some provisions are needed for the making of BBCs, bananas to be precise, as my guests have been treated to the delights of this delicious drink and want more!

We go over to the shop at Trellis Bay but the bananas are so ripe they have split right open and Mike comes back empty handed.

We have a lovely sail over to The Dogs for the guests to snorkel but Nick is now more interested in fishing with Burhan than snorkelling and soon our bucket is filling up with single portion sized grouper.  As I am preparing lunch, I hear a Mayday call over the radio.  A Sunsail boat has gone aground on rocks between Great Dog and West Dog – we are moored at Great Dog – and after listening for a while to the exchange between the US Coast Guard, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue and the captain himself, Mike decides to get the dinghy down and go over and see if he can help in any way.

While he is gone, I relay messages from VISAR to the stricken catamaran as they can’t hear each other, probably due to something being in the way of the radio waves.  Basically, VISAR talk to Sunsail who get a salvage boat out to tow them off the rocks, but the poor guy on the boat has children and a hysterical wife on board and it all gets very confusing.  After a while, Mike comes back, having been unable to locate the boat, it not being where the guy thought it was (the guy on the other boat did say he might have got his location wrong) and the sea was too rough for our small dinghy.  It becomes apparent that he has been trying to sail between the Seal Dogs, which is impossible (as he found out!) whereas there is plenty of water between Great Dog and West Dog which is where he thought he was.  Listening to the radio, we hear he is eventually pulled off with no casualties.

Just after that, we hear another Mayday call via the coast guard.  A drowned swimmer from another Sunsail boat, this time off St John in an area where there is a fierce current.  The Coast Guard is calling for assistance from anyone with experience of CPR as the poor guy is not breathing.  We have no idea how this one turned out, but it didn’t sound too hopeful.

DSC00793 Photo:  Lunch - shrimp and scallops with Swahili sauce

After lunch we motored up to Leverick Bay.  I go for a lie down and just fall asleep when Mike announces that I need to get the boat ready to moor up in the marina, oh, and I will probably need my wet weather gear!  And I do!

I go ashore when it stops raining and do our personal laundry, popping back to the boat to make BBCs for our guests, who have managed to find bananas in the supermarket here.  We join Nick and Monica for a drink at the Jumbies bar when they finish work, and also see Rick and Kim, Mike Kneafsey, Jim (from Blue Moon) and Soren.  One drink multiplies but we extricate ourselves before we do too much damage!  Our guests go out to dinner but we stay aboard as we are both really tired.

DSC00816 Photo:  The Mocko Jumbies doing their stilt-leg holding thing

DSC00823Photo:  Shye and Sama with the Mocko Jumbies

18 June 2009

Cooper Island to Marina Cay

We leave Cooper Island quite early as we are heading for The Baths at Virgin Gorda before heading to Marina Cay.  It is a good sail there, tacking all the way.

Even though we arrive at The Baths around 10.30, it is crowded but Mike spots the only mooring ball and goes straight for it.

Our guests go ashore to do the walk from the beach through the rocks to Devils Bay and back again except Burhan who has spotted a barracuda swimming around the boat and wants to catch him.  Nick catches a small fish before he leaves for the beach and it is carefully removed from the hook and put back in the water.  As it swims off, the barracuda eats it.  It really isn’t his day!

Burhan catches another small fish and uses it for bait, jiggling it around for the barracuda, but he’s not interested – he’s obviously full now and suspicious.  Burhan keeps at it for nearly an hour, determined not to let the fish get the better of him but it does and eventually he gives up and he and Mike go to the beach to pick the others up for lunch.

After lunch we motor over to Marina Cay.  Early in the evening a large Lagoon 500 sails incredibly close to us and I rush out ready to glare or insult, whichever is necessary, then realise that it is Mike Kneafsey coming to say hello.

DSC00778 Photo:  Marina Cay

I go down to empty the rubbish and discover that the rubbish bag has broken and deposited everything – coffee grounds included – all over the cupboard and my cleaning materials and the coffee grounds escape over the floor as I open the door.  It is quite a mess and cursing does not relieve the frustration I feel when I see it.  Coffee grounds are disgusting to touch.  As I remove the bag to I realise that it hasn’t split at all.  The person who put it into the holder – Captain Mike – had failed to understand the simple principle of actually opening the bag, and just inserted it, closed, into the opening, so that when rubbish was dropped into the chute, it just dropped straight through ending up everywhere except the bag.  He is in dead s*** for a while but he has the good sense to look extremely sheepish while I (note, I) clean it up.  That episode will be stored in the very small book entitled “When Mike Cocked Up!”.

In the evening we all go out to the Pussers restaurant at Marina Cay and I have my favourite, fillet mignon with curried rock crab.  Delicious.

DSC00780Photo:  Mike and I at Pussers, Marina Cay

DSC00783 Photo:  Mike, myself, Sama, Burhan, Mai, Chris, David and Shye (sorry Nicky – the waitress cut you off!)

17 June 2009

Road Town to Cooper Island

We are expecting our next charter guests today so I get up relatively early (for me anyway) to finish off getting the boat ready and clear some space ready for the provisions when they arrive, which should be 9 am.

At almost 10 am we get a phone call from Chris saying they have arrived in the car park!  Panic!  We weren’t expecting them until at least midday.  I still have one bed to make, the dusting to do in the saloon and to get myself dressed.

I hurriedly make the last bed, but when I look out of the window, they have arrived – and so has the man from Bobby’s.  Agh!

We load bags and guests onto the boat and then begin the laborious task of checking off all the goods.  Well, actually Shye and Sama, the two young ladies of the party do it for me.

Mike and BB go off to find some bait for fishing.  BB wants squid and I seriously doubt that they will find it at Bobby’s.  Eventually when they get back, they are armed with huge tiger shrimp and scallops.  Those fish are in for a treat – well, that is, before they discover the hook!

We set off as it is stifling in the marina, and sail over to Deadman’s Bay for lunch.  Remember, it always rains when I put the anchor down there, and today is no exception.  A short, but ferocious downpour which is over in about 15 minutes – much shorter than the ones we have had recently.

After lunch, BB only has the rod out for a few minutes and he catches a remora which he carefully unhooks and puts back in the water.  He promises to fill my freezer for me this week.  I hope he keeps his promise.

We motor over to Cooper Island where we will spend the night.  I’m not sure what goes on in the afternoon, as I fall asleep in my cabin for a while. 

P1000359 Photo:  David and Burhan after the tequila

P1000360Photo:  Sama and Shye 

In the evening the guests go ashore to eat and Mike and I have peanut butter sandwiches – yum.  The guests come back to the boat early as they are tired.  Some of them have travelled from Kuwait for this holiday, and they have all been up since  dawn this morning as they caught the first ferry over from St Thomas.

16 June 2009

Peter Island to Road Town

Today is boat turnaround day.  Again I wish I had spread the associated chores over the last week, but apart from the laundry, I haven’t, so I have the lot to do today.  Entirely my own fault!

We leave Peter Island, and, dodging the showers, arrive in Inner Harbour Marina shortly after 11.  First job, get the air conditioning on.  Next job, lie down as it’s so hot but that would be too good, so instead I start on the internal wipe-down – work surfaces, floors, walls (in the bathrooms), and not forgetting my favourite job, the toilets.  Then make the beds.

Jus after we arrive, the heavens open, and boy, does it rain.  There is thunder and lightning too and the sky turns really dark.  Just like at home!  After about 2 hours it stops, but the sun doesn’t come out which is unusual.

After lunch Mike goes out to get the fishing licences, the cruising permit and some other stuff for the charter while I continue my cleaning routines.  Three hours later, he still isn’t back.  By this time, I am frantic.  I’ve seen the way they drive here – some of them actually seem to aim at you.  It occurs to me that if something has happened to him, no one would know to come and find me on the boat, and I can’t contact him because he has left his mobile phone on the table.

I am seriously contemplating phoning Malcolm to ask him what to do when I spot Mike chatting up (well, talking to – I am exaggerating here for some dramatic effect) the blonde off the boat next door).  As it does, my relief turns to anger.  Now I know he’s back safely I am going to kill him!  But obviously, I don’t, although the arms crossed stance and eyes full of daggers are quite a warning and he has the good sense to grovel.  He hasn’t been out enjoying himself, as I find out, so I let him off - eventually.  He has walked the length and breadth of Road Town looking for the fishing gear he wants and ended up borrowing it from Kelly on Caribbean Dream.

After a cuppa, we go out shopping to get the last bits of provisioning for tomorrow’s charter but Supa Value has a nasty surprise in store;  no chicken, no mahi mahi and only two packets of shrimp instead of three.  In my head I immediately start revamping the menus for next week but am not happy.

We’re both tired at the end of the day, and have an early night.

14 June 2009

Lazy day at Leverick Bay

Laze around for most of the morning reading and using Skype.  It is a good connection so I manage to have a long chat with Victoria then Johanne.  Then, when it gets really hot, to the point that the air conditioning is struggling to keep the temperature inside the boat to the low 80s, I decide to cook the plantain and the shrimp to take to Nick and Monica’s.  Duh, should have done it first thing!

The day is hot and unfortunately the humidity is back and we almost regret walking up the hill, having turned down the offer of a lift, but our little legs don’t get much exercise these days so it probably does us good.

It’s a smaller gathering today;  Nick and Monica (obviously) and their friend Kathy who is staying for them for a while, us, Mike from BVI Watersports, Soren from Dive BVI, and Rick and Kim.

When I have been to the ‘treehouse’ on previous occasions, there has been a breeze because the house is half way up the hill, but not today.  Eventually I give in, get changed into a costume, and get into the not-so-hot tub.  At least it stops me from getting bitten.  Although I have liberally sprayed myself with noxious chemicals and should be OK, I am taking no chances.

IMGP1545Photo:  Monica and myself – we turned the bubbles off as they were too noisy!

IMGP1546Photo:  Not to be left out, Mike and Monica 

IMG_9845 - Version 2 Photo:  The rose between three thorns!?  Rick, Mike, me and Nick

IMG_9856 - Version 2Photo:  Mike and his harem – Kim, Monica and myself

IMG_9848 - Version 2Photo:  The cuddle before the headache 

Around five, and now supporting headaches (no, not hangovers – just too much sun and not enough water) we wander back down the hill and luxuriate in bed with the air conditioning on, which is now faring better than when we left it.  Tea is really exciting – cups of tea and marmite on toast.  Sometimes the simple things in life hit the spot!