PELICANS!

Pelicans have always been near and dear to my heart not because I am an avid bird watcher , rather because when my brother was in college (read, already an adult, but not really acting like one yet) he and some friends discovered that you can make 63 other words out of the seven letter word PELICAN including the six letter word PENCIL.  Pretty cool, huh?  Well, I love trivia, and every time I hear that word or see a pelican I tell anybody who will listen about my brother’s great accomplishment.

Tonight I am in the cockpit at PELICAN feeding time – sunset.  It is a frenzy out there and there are so many of them all diving into the same place.  I don’t know whether that is where the fish are swimming or something bigger has died over there.  My suspicion is the former.  Pelicans are everywhere in the BVIs and they are so funny.  They circle their prey from above and then plop down in the water with such gusto, you can’t help but laugh out loud when you watch.  And they zoom right back out of the water and start circling again.  They must be swallowing while they fly because they dive right back in.

Resting between dives

Graham’s Christmas poem to his parents

Out to Sea

St. Augustine
Forts of stone, forts of wood.
Pirates of Old in a Museum of new.
Places where gators are snacks, not creatures of fright.
Province Town
A festival.
A Land of space.
Lobster and whales in the harbor free.
A ship has been lost in a sea of books.
Freeport
A friend to see after many years.
A spider-web of traps and tricks upon a scurried entry.
Friendly stars make a return in a cloud-less sky.
Acadia
Harbors of all cardinal directions.
Mountains of great height next to the flattest land.
Friends that were made both new and old.
Nature of beauty untold by words.
The Virgin Islands
A mountainous island, free of lights.
The air of magma, the water of ice.
A place that is bitter, yet very sweet.
A wreck of cows, under the sea.
A city of lights, without need of the stars.
Out to Sea…

Christmas in Jost Van Dyke

CHRISTMAS WEEK WITH THE PORTERS

We rafted up with the Porters in Little Jost Van Dyke for almost a week.  It was great fun and the best part about it was not having to use the dinghies to go back and forth.  Graham spent a lot of time with Will and Danielle in the kayak and the Pudgie sailboat exploring nearby islands.

Will, Graham, and Danielle

The whole group trekked to Bubbly Pool one day and it reminded us of Rachel’s Bubble Bath in Compass Cay in the Bahamas where we spent Graham’s birthday, aka Valentine’s Day, earlier this year.  Bubbly Pool is a natural whirlpool/blowhole with a small beach.  There was a tremendous undertow and luckily a local was there to warn us against going out too far.  One person has already died this season.  We were amazed at how far people would go out.  The kids went geocaching to no avail.

The reef between Jost and Little Jost

Graham with the Porters in a calm moment at the Bubbly Bath

Not so calm moment at the Bubbly Bath

We shared dinner with the Porters every night and had a special Christmas meal with all fixins.  We watched Christmas movies and laughed and made new memories.  They let us use their BVI phone to call home quickly on Christmas.  Unfortunately for them, their freezer broke and they had to give us their frozen foods and head to St. Thomas for a fix.  We are holding their food hostage in hopes of seeing them again soon – perhaps in St. Maarten.

After saying goodbye to the Porters, we moved around the corner to Great Harbour on Jost.  Sailboats are flocking here for New Year’s Eve but we won’t stay.  Matt and Amy went ashore for laundry and the place was a little bit like Twin Peaks.  The whole town is a ten minute walk yet there is competition between Rudy’s and Foxy’s (bars at opposite ends of the town) for the big pig roast.  We saw a pig being hauled up a tree like a pinata.  The laundromat was up a little hill, behind an out of the way bull dozer, guarded by a sweet little girl wishing us a “Happy Christmas”.  The laundress offered to do our laundry and told us to come back at a certain time.  When we returned and the laundry wasn’t finished, she told Matt just to hang it dry on the boat.  It was fine, just odd.  We stopped into the grocery which was sparse but we are used to that.  A couple of American teenage boys stomped in slamming the door after them while we were shopping.  Without greeting to the grocer, the older one demanded, “Where’s your nearest ATM?”  What?  This place is slightly more populous than Gilligan’s Island but an armored car has surely never visited.  Nearest ATM is probably St. Thomas.  We stopped into the bakery which was good enough to make it into guidebook.  It was pretty bare but Matt bought some banana bread; when I asked what kind of bread was in a particular tray, the cashier looked at me and shrugged, “I don’t know”.  The whole place was a bit surreal.

Matt had a microbrew at Foxy's Bar we didn't stay for the New Years Party

AMY IN JOST

I am sitting under the tarp on the bow on my beanbag.  There is a delightful breeze and tarpon are jumping all around.  Turtles are navigating their way through the anchorage.  The mountains of Tortola are in the distance.  I can’t believe my good fortune to have this life.  My son is below having completed his Christmas thank you notes and is enjoying his winter break as he is well-ahead in school, my gourmet husband is cooking dinner, and my family is healthy.  Thank you God.

ARRIVAL IN BVIs

We parted ways with Angie in Puerto Rico as she had to get back to the States to do another Caribbean delivery.  We cleared customs into the British Virgin Islands in Soper’s Hole/West End in Tortola on November 22.  We moored there for one night there before heading out to Bitter End in Virgin Gorda to meet up with the rest of the folks from the Salty Dawg Rally, some of whom had been there almost a week already.  We went to Pusser’s for appetizers a la $60.  Ouch.  The next morning we set sail for Virgin Gorda but only made it to Road Town, Tortola and found no place to anchor and the moorings were fit for mega yachts so we took a slip in a marina and enjoyed the laundry and shore power.  It has been really hot here.  Next day we finally arrived at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda – 360 degrees of beauty.

Bitter End Yacht Club

We enjoyed free moorings and use of the pool.  We got to hook up with the Porters on Evenstar who we have been following since Maine.  They took off the next day and Matt and Graham went scuba diving while Amy went for a pedicure in the spa atop the mountain.  The next day we hired a taxi who took us all around including to a bar on top of a mountain, Spanish Town to the Chandlery (marine store) and shopping, and the Baths, which are natural caves for swimming and exploring.  Not all days are like this but life is pretty much a constant vacation for us right now and for this we are very grateful.

The View from Hog Heaven overlooking North Sound, Virgin Gorda

Graham at Hog Heaven

The Cave at the Baths in Virgin Gorda

The Salty Dawgs hung pretty close together in the mooring field and socially.  Sailing vessel Goldilocks is named because she is not too big and not too small – she is just right and Colleen and Michael sailed her over from Hampton alone.  Moriel is named for the Angel of the Wind and Vicky and Jim have lived aboard for 10 years.  We left for nearby Anegada after a few days.  It is a very small island with only about 6-7 feet of water in the approach.  It has one “resort” complete with cows and an honor bar.  The island is resplendent with flamingos.  A taxi took us to Loblolly Beach the first day and we were the only people on the beach.  We had a not very good and expensive meal – the people were lovely.  We had to leave when the number of people on the beach got up to 14.  Too crowded for our blood.  Our taxi driver took us to the town store on the way back to our boat.  It had four walls which kind of leaned into each other to hold each other up.  Most products were out of date and flies were everywhere.  Again, the cashier was so kind, you just wanted to buy a bunch of stuff from her anyway.

Lunch at Loblolly Bay

A packed beach at Loblolly Bay

Amy received a surprise opportunity to fly back to the States to stand by her friends Jamie and Luiz as they married later in the week.  She started her trek on one of two ferries early Monday morning for the Friday wedding.  It was fabulous.  Graham and Matt went snorkeling at Cow Wreck Beach in Anegada and met up with some other Salty Dawgs with kids.

Beach time with our friends from Patronus and Anything Goes

They eventually made their way back to Bitter End to hang before they had to cross back into the US Virgins to pick up Amy when she flew in the following week to St. Thomas.  They restocked, although Amy brought much of Trader Joe’s back with her, and then headed back to the BVIs to meet up with the Porters for Christmas.

St Thomas

We did a bit of touring in St. Thomas.  We wanted to climb the famed 99 steps to Blackbeard’s castle.  Instead we were hustled into paying to get a self guided tour through an amber museum and it turned out to be many, many more than 99 steps to get up to Blackbeard’s teeny tiny little tower, which, and this is important to note in case you are going here, you can get to for free without going through the museum.  Anyway, we saw an amber waterfall and the glass dated back 300 million years and then were hustled though some amber gift shops.  I did get a great shot of Matt with his head in a dinosaur’s mouth (amber is from  Jurassic period).  Ultimately we made it to the top and climbed the rickety stairs to the lookout atop the tower.  We had beautiful views all the way to Puerto Rico and St. Croix.

Graham and Matt at the Amber Waterfall

Matt's last photo before we lost him to a raptor

Atop Blackbeard's Tower