Thursday, 28 May 2009

Guest Writer, Barry

Spices for sale in St. Martin, French side.

Mangoes, bananas, limes, capsicum (bell peppers), plantains and chilli peppers.

Hi to Family & Friends in Australia. From Baz. Bristol Rose is a lot larger down below than I expected. Dinner with Jenna and Ray, Night Hawk.

These Orange computers are a lot harder to work than I expected. Think you need to switch it on first. After that I,m not sure.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Who Loves You The Most?

Heard while traveling with Slow-Mocean

Try this simple happy marrage test:
Lock both your wife and your dog in the trunk of the car for an hour.
When you return, who is the most delighted to see you?

Baz Has Arrived!

Cheers!  Our friend Barry has arrived from Australia and is settling in well to life aboard BR.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas

St. Thomas is geared up for the cruise ships so the shopping is great, duty free. We anchored off the Yacht Haven Grande marina. When there are no cruise ships in port, the stores in the Havensight Mall at the marina are all closed.

While at St. Thomas we helped Blake celebrate his 40th birthday aboard Spectra. Slow Mocean stayed a couple of days before heading back to Culebra where she will stay for a couple of weeks while Sunny and Blake return to the States. We hope they will catch up with us further "down island".

Some of the bar and souvenir kiosks on a cruiseship-free day.

Abandoned sugar mill.

Daisie enjoys a walk and a photo op in St. Thomas.

Strelitzia Reginae, Bird of Paradise

Puerto Rico, Isla Del Encanto

Porch tiles at the home of Victor and Ruthie, Vieques.

Puerto Rico, its islands, Vieques and Culebra, and its people enchanted us from the start with charm, beauty, history, and most of all, a joie de vivre.  No argument, the US territory of Puerto Rico is the Island of Enchantment!  Fun times were had with Sunny and Blake, Slow Mocean doing some buddy-boating and crossed paths many times with friends on Spectra, Night Hawk and Astarte.

I had a lot of difficulty choosing images to share so as soon as I can I'll update the albums to include more of Puerto Rico.  It's been a challenge in the last few weeks to find strong wifi connections as well as time to spend on the blog so while we have the chance we will do our best to bring it up to date.  

Thanks for your comments and emails.  We love to know you are traveling with us through the blog.  Our friend Barry has joined us so we might just get him to post a thing or two as a guest writer!

For now, here's a look back at Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra......

Drive by shooting with Joe, M/V Spectra at the wheel of the rental car.  Those are tree ferns.  We whirled around the bends, 13 per minute, climbing up to San Sebastian from Ponce.  Houses literally cling to the edges of the cliffs and the vegetation is lush.

Dinner aboard M/V Spectra. Mel, Joe, Daisie, Robert, Trish and David (yes ladies, he's single!)

Big, orange starfish, commonly seen in the waters around the islands.

The tarpon are protected in Ponce Harbour.  $1 buys a bag of sardines to feed them.  Pelicans and seagulls compete for sardines but leave the tarpon alone.

La Barkita, on a corner in Salinas, PR serves great empanidillas (meat filled pastries).

Barbara, S/V Astarte and Robert enjoy a drink at an Irish bar on the outskirts of San Juan.  Yep, those Irish bars are everywhere.

We tagged along with Mike and Barbara from Astarte when they had to go up to San Juan to get their dinghy outboard repaired.  Thankfully there's a happy ending to their outboard worries.  The outboard dealer is also the Harley Davidson dealer so we enjoyed checking out the Harleys and got to walk through the workshop (laboratory clean!).

The colors of Puerto Rico are generally bright and intense.  A drive around Vieques was a real treat, courtesy of new friends of Sonny and Blake, Victor and Ruthie.

A sad sight along the road beside the sugar cane field in Salinas.

We enjoy exploring the mangroves.  There's always lots of aquatic life to see.

There's fabulous snorkeling right off the beach at Rosario.  There's no escaping the military history or presence throughout Puerto Rico.  The sign educates about protecting the coral as well as warns about unexploded ordinances.  

Flamenco Beach, Culebra was once off limits when used by the military.

In a strange way, the activities and management by the military of much of Puerto Rico for so many years has prevented over-development, keeping the area naturally beautiful.

One of those days.

Blake, Robert and Sunny take the ferry from Vieques to Fajardo, about 16 miles and a great deal at $3 each.

Girls day out in Boqueron, Mel, Trish, Jenna, Sunny.

Slow Mocean at anchor.

The beautiful ketch Night Hawk built by owners Ray and Genna, sailing in Puerto Rico.

La Paguerra boat houses, colorful and playful.

Bacalao, a Spanish dish of dry salt cod.  Yolanda's in La Paguerra serves this delicious dish!

Jorge Acevedo, painter and drummer in his Culebra Studio.

Jorge Acevedo's studio looks like it sits at street level.  In fact, it rests in the trees.  His backyard drops away quickly to the mangroves where hummingbirds and land crabs live.  

This tank was left in the sand when the military ceased their activities on Flamenco Beach.  Jorge had painted the tank in bright colors, now faded, and it became something of a symbol.  He told us about an organization called Coralations which was founded to promote and protect the land and sea environment of Culebra.

Destination Unknown Journals is a site I just discovered.  The author shares some pictures and info about Culebra.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Oh-My-God-A Passage! This is getting boring.

I’m about to indulge myself with a little complaining. That’s right, I have some complaining to do.Easting for months on end is really getting boring. I see all the self-satisfied sailors heading west, sometimes flying brightly coloured spinnakers. Show-offs! They’re getting a free ride! The grass is greener, the sea is always bluer heading west with the Trades.

Slogging into the Trades can be tough, wicked! We pinch a little off the wind where we can but mostly we are sailing 40-45 degrees off the wind and healing enough to get some exciting, splashy action shots.

Photographic proof that even the cars have to tack in the trades.

2,000 miles and we have the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf Stream behind us, and the Mona (read Be-Moana) Passage from the Dominican Republic, the south coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and the Virgin Islands.1,000 miles of pure easting and we’re not done yet. Oh My God, Sunday May 10, we expect to cross the Anegada Passage (aka the Oh-My-God-A Passage) 64 miles from Virgin Gorda to St. Martin at 115 degrees (that’s east). Chris Parker, weather guru, gives us a “marginal” window with Sunday/Monday being the best of the bad days.

We could have dropped off the East Coast of the US and headed straight to the Leeward and Windward Islands to avoid so much easting, but we would have missed the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, the DR and Puerto Rico. And they are not to be missed.

We could have done what some smart sailors do and hired a delivery Captain. A delivery Captain could have had BR waiting in the Southern Caribbean for us to fly in and then work our way north and west along our route, and not missed anything. Unlike most of the sailors we’ve met, we won’t be sailing back to the States. So easting we will go.

M/V Spectra, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

One of the beaches looking west of Caneel Bay

Yesterday we said farewell to our friends Joe and Mel on Spectra in St. Thomas and had a great sail to Caneel Bay, St. Johns. It’s a beautiful anchorage and we enjoy a nice meal aboard, ready for sleep and a big day tomorrow. Tomorrow we will “yellow flag” past Tortola (UK) and on to Virgin Gorda where we might get a short rest before going through Necker Passage.

Approaching Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Sunday afternoon and we have tacked back and forth all day into the wind. The islands cause something of a wind tunnel with the prevailing easterly Trades. We take time out to rescue a kite surfer who’s hanging on for dear life having lost his board off Nanny Cay, Tortola. Amazingly, I spot the board with the binoculars and Robert is able to pick it up with the boat hook. We circle back and drop it overboard to him. It takes him no time at all to get back on and take off at great speed with a cheery “Thank you”.

Although the sailing and sights have been wonderful on this gorgeous sunny day, our timing is now a little off and we don’t get any time to rest before heading out into the Passage.

We connect with Night Hawk and Anthem around 4pm on the VHF. They are about 4 hours ahead of us and finding the going a little tough. We continue on and hope conditions hold, at least.
The conditions become more difficult and we cannot stay on our rhumb line. We have to do more tacking than we would like and we motor-sail on and off. We’re nervous about the repaired engine mount so we baby the engine more than we should. It is difficult to know why but we feel we are dragging and should be making better time. Is the current affecting us so much? We may have picked up one of the many fish traps that line the passage and it’s slowing us down. Whatever the reason, we’ve let our timing slip on a marginal window. That’s never good.

Monday night and after 24 hours of hard slog, and our most frustrating crossing so far, we drag ourselves in to the anchorage in St. Martin in the dark and collapse in a wet, soggy heap. There’s water in the boat where there never was water before.

Tuesday we check in with Customs and Immigration and check into a marina. All we can do for the next few days in St. Martin is catch up on sleep, do laundry and dry out and put ourselves back together again. We are looking forward to picking up our friend Barry who’s arriving from Australia on Thursday. We’ll use the time also to enlist the help of Ray, Night Hawk, to check our rigging. It’s time too, to get the barnacles and marine growth scraped off the bottom. Maybe that will help.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Steelers Terrible Towel Flying High in Culebra

p Mysterious Steelers fan with official terrible towel. (Just for you, Frank, thanks for the towel!)
Oh yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers have fans far and wide. Even in Culebra, PR, months later, fans continue to celebrate their smashing Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals, 27-23, on February 1, 2009 at Tampa Bay. May those terrible towels forever fly.