The circle of life.

Today we met Julie’s new dog, Blake.  She’s a good doggie, and I know will bring much happiness into eachothers lives.

IMG_3264 Today we also learned that another one of our canine friends, Kokopelli (aka “the Admiral”), left us for the big boat in the sky.  Farewell, Koko, you were a great boat dog, and a good friend to Marty and Sue for many years.  Sail on…. we’ll miss you.1-DSCN3701

April 9 – Heading home.

Wednesday, April 9.

We all flew to San Juan together.    Then headed to our respective destinations.  What a great trip!   Monte, you were an awesome Skipper.   Susanne and Laura, you are TROOPERs!  We’re so glad you could come along on this adventure.

This is our third charter with ProValor Charters, thanks Jim & Cecilia!

Thanks to Doray and Tom for Keeto-sitting.

And thanks, too, to Marty & Sue for teaching us the charter ropes on our past trips with them.   We are looking forward to you joining the next trip with the crazy B-dockers.

I go to come back!

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Our route…

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So…. would I want to do the whole check-out-of-BVI, check-in-and-out-of-USVI, then check-back-in-to-BVI Customs & Immigration thing again?   Not sure.   St John was amazing, but it did burn some of our days planning where and when to check-in/out.  I guess the take away is that it is best to be flexible….especially with the weather… and just roll with it.

April 8 – Our last night.

Tuesday, April 8.

This morning we dinghied over to shore to tour the shops and artists’ wares at Trellis Bay.

Welcome to Trellis Bay.

Welcome to Trellis Bay.

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One of the bathyspheres that they cut away to make the fireballs for the full-moon parties.

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We missed Full Moon by about a week this trip.  Next trip we'll definitely have to book during a Full Moon!

We missed Full Moon by about a week this trip. Next trip we’ll definitely have to book during a Full Moon!

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On the sail back to Fat Hog’s Bay today, Susanne was at the helm and Laura worked the lines by herself.  They’ve both done really well with learning the ins and out of the boat, and they’re bonifide sailors now!

We got to the marina in time to finish up the closing paperwork on the charter.   We’ll spend the night on the dock, since our flight leaves at 7:30 AM tomorrow.  It’s a bittersweet day.   Sad that it’s almost over.   But ecstatic to use the showers at the marina!

We walked over to Red Rock for an amazing dinner.   A perfect last supper for a fantastic trip.  So many great memories and experiences.   As always, I already can’t wait to come back.

April 7 – The Baths.

Monday, April 7.

This morning we are headed to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths – always an awesome sight no many how many times you’ve been before.   The winds and waves were strong, but not too strong.   We made it to the Baths with one tack.

Heading to Virgin Gorda

Heading to Virgin Gorda

When we arrived, the mooring field was already full, so we had to wait a bit for a ball to free up.   One finally did, and when we tried to get the ball, we approached it from windward – a mistake in our haste to get the ball.  We drifted too quickly after hooking the ball with the pole, so that we had to drop it and the pole in the water.   I jumped in to retrieve the pole and we were able to hook it the second time, before the other circling boats did.   Never a dull moment.

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Approaching the Baths.

There was a yellow flag warning at the Baths, so the swim from the dinghy dock to the baths was a challenging one.  Some of the sights from this trip to the Baths:

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Looking out at the mooring field from the Baths.

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A view from inside the Baths.

A tide pool inside the Baths.

A tide pool inside the Baths.

We all enjoyed a cheeseburger in Paradise at Poorman’s Bar at the foot of the hill.  For extra points, we all had to execute a dinghy flop one more time for the ride back to the boat.  No pics of that, though.   :)

After the Baths, we headed for Trellis Bay on Tortola to spend the night.   We hit the Loose Mongoose for happy hour ashore (and a quick update on the Final Four and Championship game).

Sunset over Tortola - from Trellis Bay.

Sunset over Tortola – from Trellis Bay.

Then headed back to the boat for our last dinner aboard, and we played Rummikub until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.  Noone made it ashore to watch the NCAA Championship game.

April 6 – Staying put.

Sunday, April 6.

After the marathon day we had yesterday, we’re taking it easy today.   We all dinghied over to Cistern Point and snorkeled for quite a while.

More swimming with the fishies.

More swimming with the fishies.

Between Cistern Point and our boat, a turtle was hanging out.  He was one cool dude – he didn’t mind that we floated close by to watch him for quite a while.   These are the best pictures I’ve gotten of a turtle of all my Caribbean trips.  I like how the colors get clearer and more vibrant as he gets closer to the surface.

Turtle dude surfacing - 1

Turtle dude surfacing – 1

Turtle dude surfacing - 2

Turtle dude surfacing – 2

Turtle dude surfacing - 3

Turtle dude surfacing – 3

The guys are headed back to Jost again today.   Tan-a-na’s crew leaves early tomorrow morning, so they are headed back to Tortola to spend the night at the marina.  After lunch we shopped ashore and enjoyed people/boat watching all afternoon, before hitting happy hour again on Cooper.

Cooper Island palms.

Cooper Island palms.

For sunset, we dinghied out to the mouth of the bay, beyond the anchorage, to get an unobstructed view of the sun setting over Tortola.

Sunset behind Tortola - viewed from Cooper Island

Sunset behind Tortola – viewed from Cooper Island

 

April 5 – A long day.

Saturday, April 5.

We headed out early this morning, by 7:30AM.   Winds are still 20+ knots.  3-5′ seas, very rough.  Luckily the rain seems to have passed.  We sailed it to Soper’s Hole, to go through BVI Customs & Immigration again.  We picked up a few more provisions there, but quickly headed back out to make Cooper Island by sunset, and join up again with Maggie and Tan-a-na.

The BVI Spring Regatta is in full swing this week.  We got a front-row seat of some of the races as we cruised across the channel to Cooper Island.

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We pulled into Machioneel Bay at 4pm, at exactly the same time Maggie did.  After a quick dip we all met up at the Cooper Island Beach Club for Happy Hour and dinner.  It’s good to have the gang back together.

Cooper Island has the best sunsets…..

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I ♥ Cooper.

 

April 4 – Just another day in paradise.

Friday, April 4.

Sunrise view from the v-berth hatch:

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The winds have turned nasty, 25-28 knots out of the east.  Here in Lameshur Bay, we are very protected, so you’d hardly notice.   We’re staying another night.   Tan-a-na is going to make a run for Road Town on Tortola to check back into the BVI, as they discovered an error with their visas – they expire today, instead of the day they leave.   The guys are heading back to Jost, I think, for the night.

So we look forward to a very relaxing day and night here.   We made the right decision, as Tan-a-na told us that they had a terrible passage to Road Town.  6 foot waves, 28 knot winds, rain.   Once in Road Town, the winds were so strong, they couldn’t get an anchor set, so they made a run to Norman for the night.

Nestled into Great Lameshur, we went for a long snorkel this morning.

Fan coral.

Fan coral.

A pair of cuttlefish.

A pair of cuttlefish.

Now, what is it they say about snorkeling among a school of baitfish...?

Now, what is it they say about snorkeling among a school of baitfish…?

Rugged beach at Great Lameshur Bay.

Rugged beach at Great Lameshur Bay.

In the afternoon Susanne, Laura and I headed ashore to hike the Lameshur Trail.  We got lucky and missed the rain completely.  We had gorgeous views from the hills along the trail.

View from the Lameshur Trail, overlooking the plantation ruin and Little Lameshur Bay.

View from the Lameshur Trail, overlooking the plantation ruin and Little Lameshur Bay.

View from Lameshur Trail.  Great Lameshur Bay in the distance, Little Lameshur Bay in the foreground.  That lone boat in Great Lameshur is ours.

View from Lameshur Trail. Great Lameshur Bay in the distance, Little Lameshur Bay in the foreground. That lone boat in Great Lameshur is ours.

Hermit crab on Lameshur trail.

Hermit crab on Lameshur trail.

Looking SSW from Lameshur Trail.  Reef Bay in the foreground.

Looking SSW from Lameshur Trail. Reef Bay in the foreground.

Another dinner aboard tonight and then we will head back to the BVI in the morning.

March 30 – Viejo San Juan.

Sunday, March 30.

We headed out to visit Old San Juan this morning.  Caught a bus right outside our hotel.  The old town is a beautiful place to see.  Here are some of the sights….

A guard turret in the old wall — called a garita.

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A view looking out at the sea from one of the garitas. 20140330-125342.jpg

The colorful building facades:

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A view of the stunning Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, built in the early 16th century.

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We went back to the hotel in the afternoon to meet up with Susanne and Laura.   Then we all went back to Old San Juan.    We ate dinner at a restaurant Irene recommended – El Jibarito, and I recommend it, too!  Great home cooked Puerto Rican dishes.  They also make a yummy sangria.

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Thirsty Thursday.

Cheers!

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And, some daiquiri humor:

One doctor always stopped at a local bar after work for a hazelnut daiquiri – a special drink the bartender created just for him. One day, the bartender ran out of hazelnut flavor so he substituted hickory nuts instead.
The doctor took one sip of the drink and exclaimed, ‘This isn’t a hazelnut daiquiri!’
‘No, I’m sorry’, replied the bartender, ‘it’s a hickory daiquiri, doc.’

Wine me, Marge!

Happy National Drink Wine Day!!! Of course, I obliged:

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For dinner, I made a side dish I’ve been wanting to try for a while.

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Roasted Curried Cauliflower
- 1 cauliflower head, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 T curry powder
- 1 t garlic powder
- 1/2 t tumeric
- 1/4 t sumac
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T coconut oil
- kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 F. Combine spices and oil in large bowl. Toss cauliflower florets in spice mixture. Turn out onto jelly roll pan. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring and turning at halfway point.

Getting ready for Mercury.

According to Sky and Telescope, Mercury is at its highest tonight, and reportedly the best view of it, all year. So, after sunset, I toodled over to my favorite nearby west-facing vantage point and caught this shot of it to the top left of the crescent moon.

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For those of you that are inclined to look towards the stars for influence on our day-to-day lives, be warned that Mercury will enter retrograde from Feb 6 to Feb 28. Get ready for some weird happenings and funky vibes. More background here. And you may want to bookmark this link for future reference.

And, let me wish everyone a happy Chinese new year. 2014 is supposed to be the year of the horse. But let me just add….. GO HAWKS!!!!!

Applebuttery goodness.

I have had a hankering for apple butter lately.   My HEB has a poor selection.   The only one they stock was full of multi-syllable chemical ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup.  I couldn’t bring myself to put it in my cart.    When I was a kid, apple butter was one of the many delicious things my mom would make and I would help her with the cooking and canning.   So, i decided to make my own apple butter.

There were many different recipes online.   I wasn’t looking to go the whole canning route, as I just wanted to make a small batch.    Some recipes started with apple sauce.   But I wanted to go as close to the good old fashioned way as possible.   I found a recipe that sounded minimalistic and simple.   I halved the original recipe, and it yielded 2 pint jars (i recycled some Bonne Maman 13 oz jam jars) of applebutter, which have a fridge life of about 2 weeks.  Or could be frozen up to a month.

I’ll start with a picture of the result, to get your mouth watering, and follow with the recipe:

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You’ll need a crock-pot and an immersion blender.   Here’s the before:

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You may want to use a variety of apples.   I used mostly gala, which are on the sweet side, and mixed in a few red delicious which are less sweet.   I also have one of these awesome contraptions, which makes peeling/coring/slicing the apples a breeze:

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Crock-pot Applebutter    (yields 2 pints)

3 1/4 lbs apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 T vanilla extract

Place apple slices in crock pot.   In medium bowl, mix sugars, and spices.  Sprinkle dry mix over the apples and stir gently to coat apples and combine.

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Cook on low, covered, for 12 hours.

Stir in vanilla extract and puree with immersion blender until smooth.  For thicker applebutter, can cook on low another hour with lid ajar.

Cool and place in jars.  Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.