Hello USVI and Spanish VI
All Ways boat news, March ‘09’
It was hard to say goodbye to the cream cheese Quesitas we had become addicted to at Deli France, but our allotted 30 days in the BVI’s were up (the BVI’s didn’t want our money anymore) so we headed for St. John’s in USVI’s. Most of the shoreline of St. John’s is a national park with strict rules of what you can or can’t do. One of the rules is you can’t anchor (because of the coral reefs) and you have to use one of their provided mooring balls. We cruised into Maho Bay and found a large selection of balls to choose from. We decided on the one we wanted and headed up wind to snag it with Chuck at the helm and me out on deck with our trusty boat hook to snag the line of the ball to then hook up our line to it. I successfully snagged the mooring rope, but the boat hook refused to slide easily down the rope to where I could grab hold of it to attach our line as is the typical scenario. No matter how I tugged the boat hook wouldn’t slide and since our boat is continuing to move with the current and wind, I reach the critical point where it’s either me or the boat hook or the mooring ball, but one or more of us has to go. So before the point of getting yanked overboard I prudently decide to unhook the boat hook from the mooring line and let it go. Now ordinarily that should have been the end of it and we would just circle around and have another go at it. However – this particular mooring ball seemed to have it out for us. It apparently had been run over by some other boat and it’s line and float and ball were all a jumbled mess and no longer capable of staying in it’s assigned place and behaving normally. As we tried to back away from the ball it kept coming at us until it went under the keel and tried to attach itself to our rudder and turning propeller. We did an emergency stop and quickly killed the engine to thwart the attack. An overboard look at the situation revealed that in fact it was lightly tangled in our prop and we thought we might have to cut it loose (we didn’t think the park was much going to appreciate that and we could even incur a fine), but fortunately after a few moments it freed itself and floated off to entrap someone else. Needless to say we selected a different mooring ball for the night. The night turned out to be quite windy and rolley. Preparing dinner below deck I was mindful of the Charlie Chaplin film where he is being blown around and hopping on one foot first one direction and then the other direction. That’s exactly how I felt.
We spent another couple nights in St. John’s (different anchorage). We picked up our part that we had mailed to our friends there (no duty that way) so Chuck could now finish installing our new CD player with the IPod docking station (this is all space age stuff to us). We had a close encounter with the Westin ferry boat in Great Cruz Bay whose captain apparently felt we were anchored to close to the channel and decided to teach us a lesson. He throttled up his ferry to high speed, in a no wake zone, just before he got to us and threw a 3 foot wake broadside at our boat which had the effect of flinging our drinks off the table and all over us and throwing everything not battened down in the galley onto the floor and almost swamping our dinghy full of water. Chuck was immediately on this incident with the USCG and wrote emails with pictures to them, the Westin and the ferry boat company about the need for this dangerous captain to appear before the Captains Review Board for a refresher course in safety and etiquette training. After that, we decided to move on to Christmas cove at Great St. James just off St. Thomas. This is a beautiful little anchorage picture book right out of an island paradise advertisement. Nice and calm, no mooring balls and no ferries.
We spent a lovely week in St. Thomas in Charlotte Amalie. We met several new cruiser friends. All the amenities we needed were close at hand and reasonably priced and we enjoyed the area. One of our neighbors at home is living ashore there for the winter, so he picked us up in his car and gave us a grand tour of the island. We are now in Culebra, one of the Spanish virgin islands about 20 miles from Puerto Rico. This is a lovely little laid back island that seems to exude “ no worries mon “. We were going to share a rental car today with another boat we are cruising with, but the weather has turned rough and several boats have been breaking loose from their anchor holds and dragging (including our friends in the dark last night). Having to re-anchor at night in the dark, possibly in the wind and rain is something all cruisers strive to avoid. So we are all sticking close to our boats today to keep an eye on things instead. On days like this, one just hangs out and reads, or you work on boat projects, or write the next ‘AllWays’ boat news. I think we’ll do some of each.