3/28/2012 – Preparations in Charlotte Amalie
Our good friend Susan Setter's plane arrived from Minneapolis-St. Paul mid-afternoon on Wednesday. After quickly “settling in” on the boat, the three of us were off to the Fat Turtle in Yacht Haven Grande for appetizers and dinner with friends Bruce and Susan Harris and Tom and Irma Brinkley, a cruisers gathering that helped Susan quickly switch onto island time.
3/29/2012 – Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, to Soper's Hole Tortola, BVI
Winds in the 15-knot range weren't light enough to ease the seas from the prior few days, so Susan got to experience a lumpy upwind motor-sail indoctrination to the Virgins. Once we were able to duck behind St. John the seas eased a bit, and by the time we reached Soper's Hole we were out of the waves and well sheltered for the evening. As it turned out, our windiest, roughest day for the week was now behind us. After quickly clearing in with BVI Customs and Immigration we headed for the local Soper's Hole shops, however, many had closed earlier that afternoon, purportedly because their high season was now over.
They must have a different definition for the end of high season than we have. Every mooring in Soper's was taken that night, with several boats anchored in the deep water behind the mooring field. In a word, they were “full” … there was no more room in this inn. Guess we just don't understand retail.
3/30/2012 – Soper's Hole to Norman's Bight, BVI
On Friday morning the seas in the Sir Francis Drake channel remained a bit choppy, so we decided to motorsail the short upwind distance to Norman Island to keep things as smooth and quick as possible. It turned out to be an easy passage, and by 11:30 we were on one of Norman's inner mooring balls ready to start exploring the island.
Normans offers some spectacular ocean views from its high ridgeline, so off we went to take a look (see photo of Judy and Susan to the right). Later that evening, Bruce and Sue Harris arrived on Andiamo in time for sundowners aboard Jubilee and dinner with us ashore at the Pirate's Restaurant (btw – the Pirate's chicken roti is outstanding – the best we'd had down this way). It had been another great day in the BVI's.
3/31/2012 – Norman's Bight to Marina Cay, BVI
Saturday morning brought an almost perfect 10-15 knots from the ESE (mostly E of course) for a comfortable upwind sail and favored starboard tack to Marina Cay. Susan was really getting into the swing of things, trying a little winch cranking and a little steering as we worked our way up the Drake channel. The prize at the end was of course the beautiful Marina Cay, its gorgeous beach and reef area, and Pussers, where we stopped mid-afternoon for some appetizers and pain killers as well as some souvenirs from the store. It was a near-perfect day, but there were more days like it to come. We were on a roll!
4/1/2012 – Marina Cay to Cane Garden Bay, BVI
For a change of pace, after leaving Marina Cay we snaked out between Hawksnest Point and Monkey Point for a gentle off-the-wind eleven mile sail down the north shore of Tortola to Cane Garden Bay. The seas had largely laid down, the wind had tamed, and the off-wind sailing was so peaceful Susan could hardly believe she was in the same ocean as our prior days.
Cane Garden is often listed as one of the prettiest bays in the BVI's, which is saying something given the many spectacular anchorages here (see view upon entry to the bay at left). The surrounding hills tower over the small settlement, with steep switchback roads leading down to the bay for people visiting by car. Home to several restaurants, beach bars, small resorts, a small grocery store, a school and more, the settlement has everything one might need without becoming too touristy. We met Bruce and Susan there and explored the town together (see photo taken from beach bar on right), followed by appetizers and dinner with them aboard Andiamo to close out another Virgin Islands day.
4/2/2012 – Cane Garden Bay to Jost Van Dyke, Cruz Bay, and Christmas Cove
Wanting to show Susan bit of Jost, we dropped our mooring ball at Cane Garden Bay a little before 8:00 a.m. for the short six-mile run to Jost's Great Harbor and a shore-side breakfast there. After breakfast we strolled over to Foxy's and were lucky enough to catch the man himself. Quite the guy and quite the talker, that Foxy.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m. we motored in near-calm conditions over to Cruz Bay to clear back into the USVI's. After clearing, we then jumped the short distance across to Christmas Cove just off St. Thomas for our last night out prior to returning to Charlotte Amalie first thing Tuesday morning to begin wrapping up our week together.
4/3-4/2012 – Christmas Cove to Charlotte Amalie Harbor
After anchoring in Charlotte Amalie Tuesday morning, we quickly launched the dingy and headed for town where five cruise ships worth of tourists were all shopping for souvenirs. After a little shopping ourselves, we grabbed the dollar bus (quite the contrast from riding an MTC bus in the Twin Cities) and headed across the island for Red Hook to catch some tasty late afternoon happy hour appetizer specials while overlooking Red Hook harbor at Fish Tails. Wrapping up our land explorations on St. Thomas, we returned on the dollar bus for dinner at the Green House in Charlotte Amalie to close out another full day. It was almost dark when we took the dingy back to the boat after dinner.
We found it hard to believe that Susan's visit was so quickly drawing to a close. Our week with her had been nothing short of fantastic, but there can be no rest for the wicked. After Susan's departure for the airport, the two of us quickly switched gears to again ready the boat for two more weeks of BVI exploring. Laundry, groceries, ice, a little souvenir shopping for ourselves, and even haircuts for both of us were all packed into our Wednesday afternoon. By evening we were ready to head out again the next morning. Watch this space as we return to the BVIs to explore many of the spots we missed in our prior shorter trips there this year. See you on our next adventure!