Talk About Scary

frankdivingsharksWhat is scarier than spending five years leaving home and sailing around the world? Scarier even than diving with over 100 shark? I’ll tell you: coming home and suddenly realizing all the things that want to come out of the woodwork and grab their greedy paws on your wallet!

We’ve been back less than two weeks, and our only plans were to get somewhere to live a few months in our last home town so we can get ourselves situated and begin thinking about what’s next for our life. Of course, this means we need to get a car, or two, so we can get around. And then we start realizing there’s a huge number of other things we need.

moneymoneyCar insurance (tags, vehicle taxes, sales taxes, state inspection, etc.), health insurance, lodging insurance, utilities, phone services, Internet service, property taxes, new clothing (our tropical clothes will get us through the summer – but, Winter Is Coming!), our smart phones are old – time to upgrade, and the list goes on. We can be thankful we can avoid getting a residence phone (just use the cell phone), and we don’t need cable TV (just use the Internet). But, when will it end?!

I can just seeing the web of tentacles reaching out to sink their teeth into our every pore and try to suck the very life (money) out of us!

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Tahina Completes Expedition

Yesterday, we completed our expedition and ended up in the exact same spot where it all began on November 14, 2009. We had a very pleasant passage from the Bahamas and sailed across the gulf stream to end up in Carolina Beach, North Carolina at the same marina – and even the same slip – where we were located at the start at Joyner Marina. So, full circle! Below is a picture from before we left, and yesterday after we arrived:

Tahina at Joyner

Tahina at Joyner

We had a brief visit from a US Customs and Border Patrol officer who completed a form for us and asked a few basic questions. Then we were officially back in the US. A short while later, our daughter Trisha arrived after driving down from Raleigh. Happy reunion! She is staying with us and is helping us clean up the boat some. We are inviting friends of Tahina, and family members to come down to help us celebrate our return.

We plan to have some food and drinks on Saturday afternoon. If you are a friend of Tahina, then drop me a note here or E-mail, and we’ll add you to our invitation list.

It’s been the experience of a lifetime on this trip, and I have to say the emotions and thoughts approaching this moment have been very interesting. We have both been dreading and looking forward to completing the journey on many levels. The cruising life has been a very wonderful experience. We had the great fortune to spend two wonderful weeks in the Bahamas with two other cruising sailor boats which greatly enhanced the last experiences of the trip (both s/v Gromit and s/v Salty Ginger arrived safely last night in Beaufort, NC). We were all trying to get the most out of our last few days – and we relished every moment of it. We were so fortunate to get to share that time with them and it so much helped with the emotions we were experiencing.

At the same time, we are so looking forward to getting back to friends, family, and a sense of home. We have been on the move for so long, we are unsure how long it will take us to like staying in one place again. We may never adjust. But, right now we are thrilled to have one daughter back on the boat, and a bunch of friends and family coming down tomorrow to celebrate.

One final thought, it isn’t about how you go about doing a trip like this, or the places you visit. What makes doing something like this worth all the trouble to make it happen is the experiences you have when its all over. We have had a wealth of experiences that we could never have imagined at the start. And those experiences have hopefully taught us some things about how to live our lives going forward to value the new experiences of life.

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Coming Home This Week

Tahina and Crew

Tahina and Crew

We’re coming home! Tahina left North Carolina in November, 2009. And now after 45,000 nautical miles circumnavigating the Earth, some amazing adventures, a few trials and tribulations, fantastic wildlife encounters, making new wonderful friends, and building a gigantic library of memories (read this blog) – this phase of our travels is finally coming to an end. We expect to arrive in North Carolina in a few days. We’ll take a couple days to clean up the boat, and then we’ve planned to invite some friends and family to come down to Tahina near Wilmington, NC and help celebrate our return next weekend. If you’d like to come, or even if you can’t make it, drop us a note here, or on our Facebooks, or e-mail.

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More Fun in the Abacos

Tilloo Cay

Tilloo Cay

We have been having a blast with our Canadian friends on the boats s/v Salty Ginger, and s/v Gromit. After our first stop and Lanyard Cay we moved up to Tilloo Cay and Tahina anchored in beautiful turquoise waters in just 5-6 feet of depth over sand. We had acres of beautiful water all around us and we loved it. Nearby was another beach with a great “camp site” which had some basic furniture brought in by other boaters so you could do cookouts under the trees, relax by a camp fire in the evening, and enjoying the beautiful white sand beach going in both directions.

Tilloo Cay pool

Tilloo Cay pool

We spent one afternoon just lounging around the shallow water sand bars in our very own giant multi-olympic-sized pool. Occasionally a big ray would come scooting by and we managed to get some pictures of one. We brought out lots of water toys on our dinghies and just hung out for hours.

We moved the boat up to Marsh Harbour – the main town of the Abacos – and got some provisions at a huge American-style grocery store. Karen and I enjoyed a nice dinner at a restaurant with the adult crew of Salty Ginger one night.

Amelia zooming

Amelia zooming

Early the next morning we moved north a few miles to Fowl Cay – which is home to a protected marine park. We loved the beautiful waters on the south side, but everyone piled onto Tahina and we moved out to the north side to anchor amongst the reefs. We had a delightful few hours snorkeling the various reefs out there. Beautiful colorful coral, lots of fish, lots to explore. The kids enjoyed becoming part of my underwater photography and were often swimming into view. Lots of photos in the slideshow down below. The photo here is of Amelia – which shows you why they call their boat Salty Ginger.

Hope Town lighthouse

Hope Town lighthouse

After relaxing the afternoon away at Fowl Cay, while we waited for high tide, we sailed a few miles east to Hope Town of Elbow Cay. They have a lighthouse near the town, and it was a favorite photography object. The Gromits were meeting someone on the island, so Salty Ginger and Tahina went ashore and enjoyed a lunch in the town, and did some souvenir shopping. We were also checking out the real estate as this is a beautiful place – but, we found it to be a bit pricey.

The next morning, Tahina led the way through a shallow area along Elbow Cay sailing the whole way back down to Tilloo Cay. The Salties took some pictures of Tahina as we were sailing down. After lunch, we took Tahina’s Dinghy down with the Salties and a couple of the kids and did another snorkel off Pelican Cay. We saw some awesome Spotted Eagle Rays – the largest I’ve seen at about 1.2m in width, and got some good pics. We also saw some shark, and a nice variety of fish and coral again.

BBQ BBQed

BBQ BBQed

That evening, we did another cookout on shore. Actually, Graham of Salty did all the cooking on his BBQ grill which he brought ashore. He set it on a makeshift table made out of wood, which kind of caught fire after he had been cooking a while. But, we got it under control. After another nice pot luck dinner, which was capped with some great desserts from all three boats, I got to play some frisbee on the beach! Later, Liam – the son from Gromit – made a nice camp fire again. The girls Amelia and Maya came over and serenaded us with songs and guitar, and ZoĆ« performed an amazing Tahitian dance (she learned at a Tahitian school in 2011).

Yesterday was a rainy day (which we knew was coming). Liam came over to Tahina for a few hours of video game playing. Karen was invited to play board games at Gromit – which she enjoyed as always. I spent many hours today – another rainy day – processing hundreds of photos – of which I’ve reduced it down to a mere 75 for you to enjoy below:


View full-sized slideshow

We have to wait another few days to see if a weather window will develop to allow us to sail our final leg back to the US. We are definitely having a great time while we wait though! A little while ago, we saw a big shark swimming through “our” swimming pool. The kids just watched “Jaws” last night, so I don’t think they’re going swimming today.

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Now in the Abacos

Tahina Abacos

Tahina Abacos

Karen and I have been to the Bahamas a few times before. But, we have never visited the Abacos for some reason. Our Canadian friends on s/v Gromit and s/v Salty Ginger went to Mayaguana while we were in the Raggeds the previous week. We decided to rendezvous in the Abacos – where Gromit was last at 7 or so years ago – and they would be completing their circumnavigation there. They have a favorite snorkeling site there which they remember fondly, and a favorite beach camp site (which they called “Club Med” because they had so much fun last time).

We got a message from Salty Ginger that the two boats had left Mayaguana Thursday (23-May) and would be arriving Abacos on Monday morning. Since we were only one day of sailing away, we spent a day doing laundry and prepping. We had a mini household disaster when I accidentally left an open container of hydraulic steering oil on a counter and Karen knocked it on the carpet, AND a few drops landed on our freshly folded laundry! It took us half a day to get everything cleaned up. Oh boy.

On Sunday morning, we left at the crack of dawn and had very good conditions for a brisk sail during the day. We were within 20 miles of the turn around Eleuthra island, that would put us on a direct course for Abacos, when I decided to try hailing the two Canadian boats on the VHF. They actually heard us and were only 25 or so miles away. It was a happy virtual reunion over the radio, and we were able to communicate through the night to coordinate our arrival.

Lynyard Cay, Abacos

Lynyard Cay, Abacos

Tahina, being the faster boat, arrived first to the pass we had decided to enter through the barrier reef and cays which provide the wonderful shelter for boats in the Abacos. We arrived just a few minutes too early (before sunrise), so we hove to (sat with our sails perpendicular to wind – sort of like parking your boat, and a very comfortable way to take a break while you don’t move very fast). When the sun was up (and a little rain squall passed) we dropped the sails and motored slowly up to the pass, and confirmed the pass conditions were good, and were soon in the smooth protected waters. It was a bit shallow, so we had to pay close attention to the charts to ensure enough water leading us to the anchorage. The photo here shows what the view from Tahina looked like a couple of hours later – that white sand beach was later vacated by the day-trippers and we had the place to ourselves! The map below shows the track of our trip to the Abacos and if you zoom in you can see other places we have gone since.

A couple of hours later after our arrival, the other two boats had negotiated the same pass (with tips from Tahina) and were soon anchored close by. We have spent the rest of the week greatly enjoying the company of the four adults and four kids and spending our time snorkeling, swimming, playing on the beach, enjoying pot-luck dinners and camp fires on the beach until late at night with a moon that gets brighter every night. I took a panorama from my seat around the camp fire one night shown below (click for larger):

Beach fire

Beach fire

Yesterday I pulled out my kite aerial photography gear and we took photos with a GoPro camera of each of the boats from above. The photo at the top of this post shows Tahina in the shallow water we anchored in, and the nearby cay and beach we have been playing on at night (called Tilloo Cay). The photo here shows the happy new family circumnavigators on their boat Gromit (named after Wallace and Gromit).

Gromit family

Gromit family

Below is a slideshow capturing a few of the moments so far in the Abacos. It’s been a great time so far, and a great way to finish off our long voyage around the world!


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We plan to continue exploring these fantastic cruising waters for another week before we start looking for a weather window to head home.

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The Ragged Islands of the Bahamas

Sunrise Bahamas

Sunrise Bahamas

Weeks ago, we got some great tips from an old sailing buddy, Dave who is formerly of s/v O’vive and s/v Melusine (who we first met in 2003 in the Bahamas), for the Bahamas. Dave and his family live in Florida and regularly cruise the Bahamas. His favorite cruising locations for the Bahamas are in the Ragged Islands. These island cays border the eastern edge of a vast shallow area of water south of the Exumas. The islands provide shelter from the trade winds and deeper waters, yet provide easy access to fantastic coral reefs and fish. We had been looking forward with great anticipation to arriving at the Raggeds. We left Great Inagua the day after checking in to the country there, and sailed for one day and a night to arrive early the next morning on the 16th of May. The picture here is of the awesome sunrise we had before arrival. See the map below which shows the passage from Great Inagua. Zoom in to the north-western end to see the places we went in the Raggeds.

Flamingo Cay

Flamingo Cay

We chose to go to Flamingo Cay first. We arrived and dropped our sails before entering a narrow pass between ragged rock islands going from 1000 feet to 30 feet of water under our keels in less than a mile. We tried out a bay on the north side with a pretty beach, but there was a slight swell in the bay that would have made it uncomfortable at anchor. We moved to the west side of the island and anchored off a pretty bay with another white-sand beach. Later I went ashore and explored the beach, found a trail to the north beach (which was marked with flip-flops and rock cairns), and took pictures of the beautiful beach there (one of them is below). There are a few other photos of the beach in the album further below. Late in the afternoon we had a nice rain shower that rinsed the salt off the boat.

North Flamingo Cay Beach

North Flamingo Cay Beach

Karen snorkeling

Karen snorkeling

The next morning, I took Karen to three different beaches on the island. We took lots of pictures and found some beautiful conch shells on the beach. We also saw some interesting lizards with very curly (even coiled) tails. The next day, we left to move the boat to Water Cay – a 10 mile sail north east. We actually had to motor most of the way because it was upwind that day. We were amazed at the beautiful waters here. It was everything Dave told us to expect. We anchored in super shallow water near Water Cay. There was a rusty fishing boat shipwreck nearby. Later, Karen and I took the dinghy out to some coral reef and had a great snorkel. We saw very healthy coral, and lots of coral fish. There’s a bunch of underwater photos in the album below.

Tahina from Kite

Tahina from Kite

The next day, in addition to snorkeling, we got out my kite and special camera mount and tried taking some pictures of Tahina and the islands. Unfortunately, by the time I set it up, the winds had dropped. So, the Kite wouldn’t fly very high. But, we got a few good shots of Tahina anyway. We later took Tahina out a couple miles to a blue hole. This is a circular shaped deep spot which usually has a coral reef around it (possibly the reef and currents form the deeper hole, I don’t know). Anyway, I had already investigated it earlier and wanted Karen to try it out. Her back was bothering her though, so she missed snorkeling it. I saw some great fish there including sting ray, baracuda, dog fish, trigger fish, and had a huge swarm of jacks surround me for a few minutes (they seemed attracted to my bright yellow fins). Great fun!

We moved the boat to another anchorage on the north side of Water Cay after the blue hole. The next morning, I was up well before the crack of dawn and prepared us for a pre-dawn departure. That was when we sailed to Georgetown as mentioned in the previous post. Below is the photo album which shows you a few glimpses at the fantastic experiences and sights we had at the Raggeds. If we come back to the Bahamas, we are definitely going back there!


View full-sized slideshow

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Move to Georgetown, Great Exuma

Yesterday we woke up before the crack of dawn to move the boat to Georgetown, Exuma. We had spent several days in the Ragged Islands 30 miles south of Georgetown (which I will write about later after I process photos). The Raggeds a series of cays (little islands) bordering the edge of a vast shallow area south of the Exumas which provide a huge array of coral reefs, blue holes, and many kinds of fish. To the east are deep waters between the many islands of the Bahamas. We did some snorkeling and island and beach explorations. But, our goal on this morning was to move the boat 25 miles north-north-east to a place called Hog Cay Cut which would afford us the shortest route to Georgetown. The map below shows the route (zoom in to see how awesome the water in the Raggeds look):

speed and depth

speed and depth

We had about 15 knots of wind from the south east, and once we departed the anchorage we raised our sails. We were soon sailing at 9 knots average, which in this case was a bit unnerving. Why? Because we were in pre-dawn conditions in only 20 feet of water with coral reefs all over the place. We needed to be at the cut by high tide at 9AM. But, we had good satellite imagery from Google Earth, and charts. So, we were reasonably confident we shouldn’t hit anything. We continued like this for a while, and the shallowest we saw was 12 feet. Then we approached the area south of the cut where we knew it was going to get shallow. When it got to 8 feet, we stopped and lowered our sails. We then motored towards the cut. By the time we got near it, we only had 4.5 of water under the hulls (our keels are about 3 feet deeper than the hulls). Yikes! In fact, we saw as little as 3.8 feet briefly. But, we never touched bottom and it was sand anyway.

Approach to Hog Cay Cut

Approach to Hog Cay Cut

When we got to the cut between two islands, we knew it was in a zig-zag. You could see rocks blocking the straight route, but you could also see deeper water in a S like shape. Once in the cut it was 10 feet deep and we actually breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of the way through the cut was uneventful except to make sure we stayed in the center because it was only a couple boat-widths wide! Below is the view as we departed.

Through the cut

Through the cut

St. Francis Resort

St. Francis Resort

We wanted to go to Georgetown to get some provisions. But, the main reason was to re-visit the home base to where we bought Tahina in 2008. Stocking Island is home to a place called St. Francis Resort. The owner is a South African man named George who is the sales representative for St. Francis Marine (the maker of Tahina). He sold us Tahina. So, we drove Tahina right up to the resort so we could take a picture showing that we had brought Tahina full circle right back to where we bought her after sailing around the world.

George of St. Francis

George of St. Francis

George came out in his custom St. Francis power cat to greet us. He said Tahina looked great and looked good enough to be shown at the Miami Boat show! What a nice compliment. He was actually serious, because he said he was looking to show a St. Francis at next year’s show. We told him we weren’t interested right now because we aren’t currently planning to sell our boat. Later we went to visit him at his nice restaurant and bar and he treated us to some drinks while we told him a few stories about our trip. Below is a map where we are anchored now just south of St. Francis Resort off the island (away from mosquitoes).

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Bahamas Passage and Tahina is Boarded

We had an excellent passage to the Bahamas from St. Thomas (US Virgin Isles). It was about 530 nautical miles and we completed it in 2.75 days for an average of just under 200 nm/day. It was downwind conditions the whole way and we flew the spinnaker or mainsail in downwind configuration the whole way.

One problem we ran into was jibing our spinnaker (changing it from a port tack to a starboard tack due to a change in wind angle). In the process of chuting the spinnaker in high winds, we went too far over and the sheet go wrapped around the sail causing a small 10″ rip. After getting the sail down, we found the rip and taped it with rip-stop tape. The tape only partially held the hole tight though so we will have to repair it properly later with some sewing.

Our weather was really good with no rain or squalls, and only one 20 minute period where our when got shifty on us. We had steady easterly winds between 15 knots or higher the entire trip with only slight variances.

Upon arriving on Thursday morning at Mathew Town, Great Inagua, we noticed a Royal Bahamas Defence Force (their equivalent of the coast guard) cutter was at anchor. After getting permission to anchor in the area near the airport, we anchored and put away our sails. Then we started preparing to take showers so we could go ashore to do formalities. As I was getting ready to take a shower, I noticed a boarding party on one of two other sailboats in the anchorage. I started my shower, but before I finished I heard a boat outside and felt its wake at it circled Tahina.

I grabbed a towel and came out – Karen also came out to investigate – and found a boatload of defence force personnel waiting behind our boat. They apologized for interrupting my shower and requested permission to board our boat for an inspection. They wanted to check our paperwork (which I pointed out since we just arrived we had none – and they said they understood that and it was no problem), and then they wanted to just look around the boat. Only two personnel came on board and they were very professional and friendly after waiting for me to dress. First they filled out a “boarding form” with our boat details and had me sign the form indicating my authorization. Then one of them walked around with my supervision and opened a variety of random cabinets and storage areas in each cabin and companion way. After a few minutes, they were done and congratulated us on our circumnavigation. They gave us a copy of the form for our records. It wasn’t too bad and we were soon finishing up our cleaning process. Our speculation is that they were looking for problems such as missing paperwork, stow-aways/un-papered passengers, signs we might be carrying contraband (drugs or merchandise for sale), or illegal fishing maybe.

Later we went ashore and found the customs and immigration. The officials were very friendly and soon had our paper work done. Unfortunately, the Bahamas has one of the most expensive fees for entering and getting a cruising permit and fishing permit in the world. It cost $300 for permits which supposedly gives you up to a year, but once you leave you can only come back once and only if you do that within 90 days of departing. So, if you leave for hurricane season, you have to pay the same fees over again when you come back.

A few other interesting points: 1) we were able to get a SIM card for our phones so we have cell phone and 3G service. It cost $30 for 2GB data and you can buy more when you run out. The SIM card cost $10, and we put $10 of voice minutes on the phone. 2) they had a bunch of rain recently and the mosquitoes are vicious – even in broad daylight! We had to keep the boat screened up day and night. 3) Finally, no signs of sargasso seaweed which has plagued the seas throughout the Caribbean (and the whole northern equatorial Atlantic from what we’ve heard). So, we can do some fishing again. Yay!

The three Canadian kids boats who were going to follow us a day behind did leave. But, apparently they decided to stick with their original plan of taking the northern route through the Bahamas. After they had heard our recommendation for going the southern route, and requested routing details, we had assumed that meant they were going to follow us. We were disappointed they weren’t going to join us in what is reportedly the best snorkeling and fishing areas in the Bahamas – south of the Exumas in the Raggeds. So, we may be exploring those waters alone when we sail for there today. It’s another overnight passage as the Bahamas are a big area with lots of miles between islands. We would have stayed here another day, but the mosquitoes are vicious!

We still hope to meet up with the Canadian boats in the Abacos when we head that way later. But, that will be a week or two away. We will probably be without phone/Internet communications for several days while we explore the Raggeds. We will be able to send out text postings via radio or satellite phone.

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Water Island

As mentioned before, we left Charlotte Amalie last week to join up with our Raleigh friends on the boat s/v Wild Goose. We first met Hugh and Linda about 4 years ago when they were in the final stages of preparing to depart on their first sailing adventures. They spent the last 3 years sailing to the Mediterranean and exploring those waters, and then, early this year, sailed back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. We were hoping to have them along with us as we sailed the final stages to North Carolina. But, they made the decision shortly before we arrived to speed up their return home for business reasons.

We are really glad Wild Goose introduced us to Druif Bay, which is a nice cruiser hang-out off Water Island. There is a beautiful beach with a cordoned off swimming area, and enough beach left over for a couple dozen dinghies to park. The water is very clear. There is a newly built bar on that end, which also regularly has live music, or conducts karaoke or open mic nights. Food is pretty good as well, and another restaurant has great hamburgers during daytime hours. There’s even WIFI and an ATM at the bar. Below is a map showing Druif Bay and where we were anchored:

We also met a couple of other cruising boats with kids at Water Island. One called s/v Neptune II, is from Australia, and we enjoyed comparing notes on passages from there to here. We happened to go the night they were having karaoke, and Karen even got up and did a song with two other cruising women.

Meanwhile, s/v Salty Ginger and s/v Gromit showed up at Charlotte Amalie and started getting provisions, doing laundry, etc. in preparations for leaving for the Bahamas. Looking at the weather, we all decided we would be leaving on Mon/Tuesday (May 11/12). Over the weekend, we took the dinghy over to Crown Bay and got final provisions, dinghy fuel, and I got a new topping lift (to replace the one I cut to free Karen’s finger). We had fun on the weekend at Water Island, and Salty Ginger came over for a couple days to enjoy the more relaxed cruiser-like environment. But, they returned on Sunday to join the other kid boats. s/v Rhythm was expected to arrive over there on Monday after stopping in the BVIs for some boat work.

The hope is that we and the three Canadian boats (Salty Ginger, Rhythm and Gromit) will all rendezvous in various places in the Bahamas for some cruiser fun! Tahina left on Monday to get an advanced look at the places we had recommended to the other boats based on input from our friend Dave (formerly of s/v O’vive and s/v Melusine) who regularly cruises the Bahamas from his home in Florida.

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Scary Finger Incident and Move to St. Thomas

Tahina party

Tahina party

We had some delightful days in Virgin Gorda visiting with three Canadian kids boats: s/v Rhythm, s/v Gromit, and s/v Salty Ginger. I enjoyed getting to do some snorkeling (we found a very distinctive cannon in one spot), did a hike with the men from all four boats where we combined some beer stops with scenic overlooks and finished at a bar and ordered pizza. We also went exploring and found a nice beach on the other side of an island where we had a beach hangout afternoon. The last night, we had everybody over to Tahina for sundowners. The shot here shows everyone (except me) in Tahina’s cockpit which I took with a fisheye lens and then corrected the perspective.

Karen and I needed to get moving so we could catch up to our friends on s/v Wild Goose (a boat owned by friends of ours from Raleigh who spent a while in the Mediterranean and are headed home for a while). We first sailed over to the far end of BVIs to clear out in Soper’s Hole, then took a short jaunt to do a snorkel at Water Lemon Cay. That snorkel turned out to not be so fun because there was a lot of little jellies called “sea wasp” and I got several small stings and one nasty one on my upper lip. I did see a nice sea turtle that let me swim around with him though.

The next day we moved to St. John’s Cruz Bay and cleared in to the USA – since St. John is part of the US Virgin Isles (USVI). It only took a few minutes, and then we went ashore to do some shopping. One goal was to get a SIM card for 3G service. Well, it being a US area, it wasn’t so easy. After being told no SIM cards were available from the local cell companies, we ended up having to get a very expensive one from AT&T. Welcome back to America. Our average SIM card around the world was $4, AT&T was $30. Our average 3 or 4GB plan was about $35, AT&T was $60 for 4GB. Ouch.

BBQ St John

BBQ St John

Next we went to lunch at a local BBQ place that we had smelled earlier. It lived up to its smell with fabulously tasty BBQ pork ribs. We tried to find some t-shirt souvenirs, but were very disappointed with t-shirts costing $32 (in St. Martin, similar quality shirts cost $5).

Before I start the story about the finger, here’s a photo album showing lots of pictures from the very scenic Virgin Gorda, the cannon we found, and other underwater shots.


View full-sized slideshow

We finally left early afternoon planning to sail to St. Thomas to meet up with Wild Goose. We were setting up the sails and Karen was putting away the mooring lines we had used. I asked her to loosen the topping lift at the mast since she was up there. In the process of releasing the topping lift, her finger got caught in the line on the winch. Yikes! I ran up to see if I could help, but it was not possible to unwrap. I had to run back inside to grab a knife, and of course my usual knife wasn’t where I almost always put it. So, I grabbed another knife and cut the line and released her finger. She was a bit in shock, and we could tell her finger was hurt with a couple of bleeding lacerations and a worry it might be broken. So, we changed plans to sail to the main port of St. Thomas of Charlotte Amalie where they have at least one hospital.

An hour and a half later, I dropped the sails and got us in the anchorage and set the anchor. Then we quickly got ready and I dropped the dinghy in the water and took her to the nearby marina dinghy dock. We started out looking for a taxi, but saw the hospital was only a few blocks away so we just walked.

Welcome back to American healthcare. We ended up waiting almost 4 hours before we saw a doctor in an emergency room that was staffed with only one doctor and one assistant, but had plenty of not very busy nurses and other staff. They did manage to get her xray done while we waited, but never even offered an aspirin for her pain. When we finally saw them, they said she had a micro fracture and that the lacerations didn’t need treatment. They gave her a prescription for anti-biotics, and a splint. The bill (which is not the final bill they said) was $650. That’s way more than it would have cost in almost any other country we visited. In fact, many wouldn’t have charged anything and the wait would have been far less. Anyway, 5 hours later we left the hospital after waiting 20 minutes for a $10 taxi to take us the 3 blocks back to the dinghy dock.

Anyway, the good news is that it was only a minor fracture. She’ll have to endure a few days of a large splint on her middle finger, and jokes about holding her middle finger up a lot. It’s also a little awkward sleeping.

The next day, we watched the big cruise ships arriving only a couple hundred meters away. Ultrawide pano below shows a third one arriving. I got an early morning visit from our friend Randy of s/v Mystic. He and Jenny have been anchored here for a few weeks after sailing straight from South Africa to the USVIs. They wanted to get jobs and replenish their cruising kitty, so the USVI was the closest spot they could get jobs without hassles. Randy is a refrigeration mechanic, so he found employment easy. Jenny is working at a restaurant for now. We made plans to meet up at her restaurant in the evening.

Three cruise ships

Three cruise ships

During the day, Karen and I went ashore to check out the grocery stores and get her prescription filled. Then we went back to the boat and relaxed doing Internet and calling with our US phone a bit. Later we went to dinner and had a great time catching up with Mystic. After dinner, we decided we wanted to try to go see the new Avengers 2 movie at a nearby theater. We made it in time and had a fun time in 3D watching the movie. It was a late night for us as we didn’t get back by taxi until after 11PM.

On Thursday morning, I went to get a haircut and got another load of drinks from the grocery store. Then we raised the hook and moved Tahina 4 miles to a little bay called Druif Bay that is a cruiser hangout. s/v Wild Goose was there. Karen was feeling a little tired (she didn’t sleep well with the finger after the movie). So, I went over and we talked about plans for heading back to NC. It turns out Wild Goose has decided they need to get home sooner, so they are going to take a fast paced route home. So, we are only going to get a few days with them before we split up.

Heard from our friends on s/v Salty Ginger and s/v Gromit that they arrived in the afternoon to Charlotte Amalie (where we just left). We’re planning to get them to move over here to Druif tomorrow.

Late in the day, we invited Hugh and Lina of Wild Goose to come over to Tahina for sun downers. They finally got to see Tahina for the first time, and we had a nice time sharing cruising stories. Then they convinced Karen and I to come shore to the new bar on the beach. They were having karaoke night – which is not our normal thing. But, it was mostly cruisers on shore and a fun crowd. Karen even went up and sang once! I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s ears, so I didn’t try. But, the drinks were good, and a fun crowd of cruisers.

We finally got back to the boat at 11PM again. But, we had fun!

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