Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Discombobulated and Recombobulated

Goodbye BVI!
Suddenly we were back in US waters... technically.  Just a few minutes ago we were happily enjoying the BVIs... and we stopped briefly at West End to talk to the "nice lady" at Customs & Immigration...


tr.v.  dis·com·bob·u·lat·eddis·com·bob·u·lat·ingdis·com·bob·u·lates
To throw into a state of confusion.

Hello USVI
And then we turned our heads and it's hello USVIs!

I once thought the world was big...  I thought that it would take a long time to move around between the island groups.

I once thought that wandering around between countries was... well.... I NEVER thought that you could just WANDER AROUND between countries!!!

It's just too EASY!  Its strange!!!

Arriving at Waterlemon Bay
But here we are hopping from anchorage to anchorage in the USVIs... for a few days.

I had to scramble to do some research about the USVIs.  Luckily it's not a very big place and the information is all out there on Facebook, Active Captain... and of course the companion books that came with our NV Charts and the companion Harbour & Anchorages Pilot that comes with them...

DIY Payment barges in the National Parks
St. John is the closest of the USVirgins to the BVIs and it is necessary to clear in to the USVIs upon arrival.  There is only one port on St. John in which to do this, but it is the furthest away.

Let me just tell you... going through the trouble of getting into the SVRS system before we left the States has paid off!  I hadn't even realized when we signed up for it that we could use it clearing into and out of the US Territories!

Side Trip for Cellular
Instead of going all the way to the far side of St. John to clear in, we were able to just call (after creating a float plan while we were in the BVIs) and get our business all taken care of over the phone.  The guys in the USVI office were not NEARLY as nice as Officer Nieves in the Puerto Rico office.  They gave me a hard time because my phone connection was spotty... and chewed me out because "You're supposed to call AFTER you drop anchor... not before...".  Well as you can see from our track, we got into the anchorage and then left again.  Why?  We were searching for AT&T cellular signal so that we COULD call in our arrival.

Anyhoo... We got cleared in and commenced to enjoying the rest of our day.  The mooring balls in Waterlemon Bay, also known as Leinster Bay (I'm not sure which is correct) were practically deserted.  We picked one up close in to the beach in hopes of escaping the surge, which was marginally successful.  We settled in and went to pay for our mooring ball.

A giant pelican attacked our boat!
There's a nice beach there for a short walk with some ruins back in the bushes.

There is a trail that leads all the way around the bay and there were quite a number of land-based visitors walking in to enjoy the snorkeling and swimming around Waterlemon Cay .

We watched the pelicans feeding

There was no need to hurry the next morning.  The anchorages here are very close together.  This gave us time to explore a bit before moving on again.  We deployed our inflatable kayak and paddled over to the "dinghy landing" near the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins.

Bruce has a pulled muscle in his leg so he didn't want to do the hike up the hill... so I left him with the kayak and walked up with the other tourists.

Well-worn trail
Slave's Quarters.  They got the best view!


Boiling pot


Departing mongoose
The plantation has been partially restored and there is a nice boardwalk to assist in the climb up the hill.  Back down at sea level, I rejoined Bruce and we paddled back (upwind) to the boat.  Our little kayak performs surprisingly well and we are sure we'll have a lot of fun with it...  After lunch, we gathered our snorkel gear and dinghied over to Waterlemon Cay.

There's a dinghy mooring available as it is prohibited to anchor inside the marked area.

We plunged in and at first were a little unimpressed with what we saw.  There is some area that is devoid of much of anything... but as we got closer to the Cay and swam around the perimeter... we were WOWED!

There were SO many fish, big ones, little ones, colorful ones...


Territorial Wrasse in my face!

New sighting... What IS this???

Ever popular Flamingo Tongue Snail...

I almost missed this flounder!

See him now?

And different colors... darker

The best part was the feeding frenzy!  We've seen birds feeding on top of the water many times and wondered what was going on beneath.  Here we were actually in the middle of it!  There were millions of baitfish swimming all around us, the predator fish were swimming in schools along the bottom beneath them.

Suddenly the fish would begin darting upward causing a literal FRENZY of feeding from below and above... all around us!  It was awesome!!!

We could have snorkeled there for hours but we really began to get cold.  We swam back the way we had come with many stops... Tarpon!  And pretty much just dropped our lines from the mooring ball and moved over a couple of miles to Trunk Bay.

I must say that we were a bit disappointed there... The mooring balls are quite far from the beach and there are swim buoys between the moorings and the beach... There is a dinghy channel at the far end of the beach and it is the only access to the beach from the moorings other than a LONG swim in pretty much open water.

The wind was really blowing and the moorings are not protected much so it was a bouncy night.

There is an underwater snorkel trail here that we had planned on seeing, but we put it off hoping for more moderate conditions in the morning.

After a pretty lumpy night, we were less inclined to linger in the morning so we began to prepare for departure.  There was another couple snorkeling from the boat behind us and when we saw that they headed for shore and were already returning to their boat before  we could get ready to leave, we felt better about skipping this spot...  It must not have been very good if they took all of ten minutes to see enough!

The next spot on our agenda is another of my "Bucket List" items!  Christmas Cove on St. James Island here we come!

Crossing the bay between St. John and St. Thomas was interesting.  It started out nicely but by the time we reached the pass that would take us into Christmas Cove, we were rolling down some pretty good sized waves.

St Thomas
I've got to admit that it was somewhat of a relief when we made that turn and got out of those waves. I think this is one of a very few times we have had to hand steer instead of just letting the autopilot do all of the work.  It just couldn't keep us ahead of those occasional BIG rollers!

Our eyes popped when we got a look at the Cove.  It was just gorgeous with bright blue-green shallows and lots of reef to explore... and...

The reason for our visit here!  Pizza Pi VI!!!  Put a checkmark next to that one on the Bucket List!  We have arrived!!!
Paddling around killing time before PIZZA!!!
As soon as we were settled we paddled the kayak over to say hello and place our order for Pizza For Dinner!!!
Placing our order!
You have NO IDEA what a luxury it is to be able to order Pizza out here! I didn't realize how much I missed Pizza Delivery until this moment.

Just dinghy right up to the window!

This pizza cost $30 but it was totally worth it!  Everything on their menu is unique and original.  They have some unusual combinations but the one we got was just delicious.  No corners are being cut here.

I couldn't believe it when they told us that a lot of their customers never knew they were here!  A place like this should be on every Cruiser's Bucket List!

OK... unsolicited advertisement complete! NomNomNom...

Sailboat races just off our starboard side
We had an extra day to spend since we left Trunk Bay early and this protected and beautiful cove was SO much better!

We spent the day resting and snorkeling and just being lazy...

Time was growing short.  Did I mention that we've got another group of Friends From Home due to arrive in Fajardo in a few days?  This is why we're heading back to Puerto Rico right now instead of making our way down south!  So, we dropped the mooring in Christmas Cove and sailed off again into the Big Water!

Sailing downwind with following seas is WORK!  But our route is a short one and soon enough we were once again doing our anchoring routine...

Heading for Happy Hour at Dinghy's!
Several people had mentioned this spot as one where Cruisers hang out.  There's a live-aboard community that are taking up the moorings and much of the prime anchoring space, but we were able to find a spot at the back of the pack but still in about 15 ft of water with relative protection from the prevailing winds.

There is a nice crescent beach with powdery white sand and a beach bar at each end!  What more could one want?

We don't spend much time in bars... but this one was just our style...  Small, sandy and attended by very sweet and welcoming bartenders!

We spent not one... but TWO evenings here for Happy Hour!  This is almost unheard of!!!

Peanut Butter... Chocolate... and alcohol!!!
That's the face I make when I realize I'm in TROUBLE!!!

Twice a week or so the other bar sets up some chairs and a screen on the beach for Movie Night.  We just happened to be here on one of these nights... We had every intention of watching the movie...  But after a filling dinner and only ONE of those Peanut Buttery heaven drinks... I was no longer inclined to hang out on the beach... or even sit up for that matter!

Our time here is short but we will be returning in a few weeks so maybe we'll catch that movie next time... 

The lights of St. Thomas are so beautiful.  It's like Christmas!  We did some reading about Charlotte Amalie and will definitely be returning to check out St. Thomas again!  We filed a float plan and headed for the waters of Puerto Rico.  

Passing Sail Rock
By this time, we're learning the Downwind Drill.  The weather forecast was driving us onward.  The waves were supposed to be in the 3-5 ft range and they were every bit of that with the occasional monster.  

I took the first shift of what would be about a four hour sail.  We were leaving the USVIs and entering the waters of Puerto Rico... Once again the waves were big and we had to hand steer because the autopilot just couldn't keep the boat from rolling wildly when a set of those huge waves rose up behind us.  

It was hard work but good exercise... and good practice!  We've spent so much of the time using the autopilot, it's good to know we still remember how to sail this boat!
The waves are camera shy...
It is necessary to clear into PR in order to go through the formality of "Customs"... The USVIs are duty free.  You must declare any purchases over $1,600 per person... We were really happy to see the channel markers that lead into the calm anchorage of Ensenada Honda on Culebra.

Dewey Public Dock
We set our anchor just off the town dock and relaxed.  We're here...

We made it back to Puerto Rico with time to spare.  Our friends don't arrive for a few more days... 

All of this time we've been sort of dazed and confused as to where we were going and what exactly we were doing.  We've just been bouncing around out here...  time to settle down and think about (ya think???) storm season.

Time to get our heads on straight... rebobulate...  We think we've got it!

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