Monday, April 8, 2013

A Tropical Easter

As we continued sailing northward through the leeward islands of the Caribbean, we stopped briefly again in Antiqua, where we originally made landfall on our passage down from Virginia in December.  After that we sailed to Saint Bartholeme or St. Barth.  Along the way we passed the smoldering volcano on Monserrat.

We also saw two pods of cavorting hump back whales, porpoises and large fish jumping a dozen feet in the air.  Near the end we caught two fish.  

But these were nasty barracuda that can make you sick.  Since they feed on reef fish, barracuda carry the toxins that can give you the illness called Ciguartera.  We don't want that so we threw these ugly fellas back.

While in St. Barth, we found Richard Spindler and Dona de Mallorca who publish the west coast yachting magazine Latitude 38.  Richard and Dona spend about 3 months every year here aboard a Leopard 45 catamaran named Petite Profligate which is in the charter fleet the rest of the year.   They showed us parts of St. Barth we would otherwise have missed and were fun to meet and get to know.

St. Barth is for the rich and famous, evidenced by this all leather and brass hammock at the Louis Vuitton Shop.  The lady said "give it a try"…when we heard the price (27000 euros or $35000 US), we said "thanks, we're just looking"

We wanted to stay longer in St. Barth.  We had planned to arrive  early for our rendezvous with our kids and grandkids in the BVI so sailed on to St. Martin.  Now, St. Martin is an odd place because it is one island divided in half and shared by the French (St. Martin) on the north and the Dutch (Sint Maarten) on the south.  The border  crosses a huge lagoon which offers flat protected anchorages for yachts.  In the lagoon, you never really know which country you're in, and nobody seems to care.  Except the Dutch officials.

Megayacht captains have more to worry about than the bridge fee.
The trouble is you must pass through a drawbridge on the Dutch side to get into the lagoon.  The Dutch expect you to clear into the Dutch country, pay a bridge fee, and a fee for anchoring.  Cruisers are cheap, so lots of them get around this by navigating through the lagoon to the french side where they can anchor for free and clear in there using the french computerized customs system for 5 bucks.  

The Dutch seem to resent this because they photograph every yacht passing under their bridge, and maintain computerized records for years.  If you skip out, the boat can accrue charges to be collected if ever she lands in the dutch country.  

We didn't want that for ourselves or Moonshadow's future owners.  Besides, we needed fuel we could only find at a dutch marina.  So we went against Richard and Dona's advise and dinghied over to the Dutch Customs office, where we dealt with the rudest agents we've run across so far.  The cost: $160.  Maybe it was the customs experience, but we couldn't find one reason to stay or return to the island and couldn't leave fast enough.

The best thing about Sint Maarten was putting the island astern in a beautiful sunrise.
After an early morning departure from Sint Maarten, we arrived in friendlier and more familiar surroundings in the BVI, where we've chartered twice before.  Deb was excited to get up and dance with the other yachties at a bar on Virgin Gorda.

We sailed through some of our favorite islands and coves that we planned to show the kids, praying our grand daughter Natalie's cast would be removed before their flight to meet us.

That meant testing the deserted beaches, hammocks and the dance floor at Foxy's Bar in Jost Van Dyke.

But the highlight of our Caribbean Cruise was the long awaited arrival of family.  Ryan, Shelly, Brandon and Natalie flew in to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands where we picked them up and ferried all and their luggage out to Moonshadow in the choppy harbor.

Minutes after this photo, all of us and the luggage were soaking wet!

Then it was time for some sailing…


Before long Brandon felt like the king of the world!

It was a week of fun giving the kids a taste of tropical cruising life.

The kids discovered snorkeling...

...getting towed on Boogie Boards...

...and body surfing.

Look out Daddy!

They learned to drive the dinghy...

...dove and did cannon balls.

Hey, wait... those aren't kids!

For years we celebrated Easter with the extended family at  San Diego Yacht Club's Easter Brunch, so it was fitting to celebrate Easter at the Bitter End Yacht Club this year.

Another BVI tradition is the portrait with upside-down sunglasses at the Pusser's Painkiller Bar at Marina Cay.

We also took turns getting schooled on the game of Mexican Train in the cockpit.

Best of all was the chance for some one on one with those we dearly love.

The week went by so fast and after the kids left, Moonshadow was a really quiet place for a while.  Still, we have some beautiful memories to keep while we sail to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curraco), then further to the San Blas Islands in Panama.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there You guys look like you had a lot of fun Meeting this summer Love Scott

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