Saturday, March 01, 2008

Picture: What the shark left!!

By careful coordination, Bev and Kathy and Pete flew into San Juan the same day. Ross, with Denise and Paul from Vixon, did the well practiced Fajardo - San Juan routine, and were waiting at the airport with the rental car. We even had enough time to stop at West Marine and still make the 7pm ferry back to Dewey.
We were looking forward to showing our favourite Virgin island spots to Pete and Kathy, who had been with us last year in Martinique, Dominica and Guadaloupe. They had been in training at their Canadian gym for this trip, so we started off with a hike to one of our top ten beaches, Flaminco. As expected. K&P we impressed by its beautiful crescent uncrowded beach, affordable campgrounds and tank art.
We wanted to go to Culebrita, but decided to head for St Thomas for two reasons. First, northerly winds and swells would make the anchorage uncomfortable and we had one empty propane tank. Ross had been unsucessful finding propane man on Culebra while Bev was away, and we knew it was easy to obtain in Crown Bay.
Once underway, fishing lines were out. Immediately we caught a 48" barracuda, which we released. Our next strike, would have been a very large yellowfin tuna, had we not had to share. The guys did forensics on the teethmarks, and determined our thief was probably a shark. Even our share was sufficient for a good meal once we anchored in Charlotte Amalie.
We hadn'd told P&K about all the seaplanes that fly in and out of the main harbour. We passed the two large cruiseships at Crown Bay Marina, and just as we motored through Haulover Channel a seaplane was landing on our starboard side. A surprise for them, but Bev was more concerned about the failed depth sounder, as she negotiated the narrow waterway. We had been in and out of Charlotte Amalie so often that anchoring without a depth sounder wasn't a problem.
The next couple of days were spent exploring the town including all electronic and marine stores to see if replacement electronic parts for the depth sounder could be found, or a fishfinder could be purchased as a backup plan. Pete and Ross had the depth sounder apart, all contacts cleaned, soldering points checked, and for no reason at all, the depth sounder resumed working, but not consistantly.
We motored to Moho Bay, St. John to show K&P another of our favourite islands. We did our usual hikes, and snorkeling and relaxed, until unexpectedly the second propane tank ran out. Now we are in St. John, with company and no propane for the stove. Bev was not impressed, since she had suggested we stop in Crown Bay on our way through and we hadn't. We don't know why we ran out, as the guys could not find any leaks, so maybe it hadn't been filled properly wherever we had had it filled wecan't remember. Fortunately we had one small can of propane (off a torch), which fit on the BBQ. The girls tried to sweet talk the guy at the Moho Resort to sell us some gas, but he was afraid he wouldn't have enough for his glass melting kiln. Imagine valuing a melted beer bottle paperweight more than our meals. He suggested we eat in their restaurant!! We were able to buy another small canister in Cruz Bay, so we won't have to eat raw meat, but the meals will be interesting. After a couple of very enjoyable days snorkeling in Christmas Cove, we headed back to Crown Bay and refilled both of our propane tanks. Let the cooking begin.
The weather had settled down, and we had a lovely downwind sail to Culebrita. Here we did a lot of beach walking, hiking, turtle and deer watching, and playing in the Jacuzzi's. Alas K&P"s trip was coming to an end. Back on the early ferry to Fajardo, rent the car, and off to San Juan..all without a problem. On the way back we once again stopped at West Marine, and bought a fish finder. We haven't shut our depth sounder off, and it was been working for over a week, but we still know it will quit sometime in the future. We have asked Pete to check out a replacement for ours on Ebay.
It is now time to continue our trek north, but the weather gods want us to delay a few more days, before sending us lighter winds to head to Vieques. We overnighted at Green Beach, and made an early start the next morning for Salinas. We hadn't even got the sails up, when Ross sighted a dinghy floating offshore, no motor, or painter. The party boats in Green Beach weren't answering our radio hail, so we contacted US Coast Guard and told them we would tow it to Salinas.
We also had a whale surface very close to RAFT and show off with a few blows before waving with his dorsal fin goodbye. Sorry no pictures, but vivid memories.
Next day, after turning the dinghy over to the Park Police, we were off to Gilligan's Island. This was one of the anchorages we had missed on the trip down (you don't stop when you have west winds). While we were here, we heard Valeda IV on the radio. What are they doing here?? Aubrey and Judy were on their way back to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic. We were so excited to see them, we had parted company last fall in Venezuela. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and the next morning we had to part again but such is the boating life. Who knows when we meet again.

Picture: Baby turtle on beach at Gilligan's