Blood red moon.

I woke up in the wee hours this morning to experience the lunar eclipse.  One day I may have a camera worthy of capturing such a moment, but I managed to get a few ok shots with my reliable Canon PowerShot D10.   These are 5 shots, shown in order, as the Earth’s shadow passed left to right across the surface of the Moon.  1-April3

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.

April 3 – New day, new country.

Thursday, April 3.

This morning we topped up the water tank, got some ice and emergency provisions (i.e., Dove Bars) before heading out from Great Harbour.

Dove Bar wisdom.

Dove Bar wisdom.

Destination:  St. John’s of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Since we’ll be leaving BVI and entering USVI, we have to visit Customs & Immigration to check out before leaving here, and check in at Cruz Bay once arriving in St. Johns.   This is our first time to go to USVI by boat from BVI and deal with the Customs/Immigration thing.   I’ll let you know later if it’s worth it.

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We didn’t go ashore in Cruz Bay other than to clear customs.   We caught a ball in Caneel Bay and ate lunch, then waited through some rain showers for the other 2 boats’ crews to come back to make a plan for the night.   The original plan was to stay in Leinster Bay on the north side of St. John’s.  But we’re getting intermittent rain stroms, and the wind is really kicking up now.  So, the NE swells would make for a very rough mooring.  Instead, Monte suggested Lameshur Bay on the south side of the island.   Maggie stayed in Caneel Bay, since they were unable to anchor if it turned out they didn’t get a mooring ball.   But Tan-a-Na and Jim’s Dream decided to make a run through the rain for a very remote and unspoiled Great Lameshur Bay, and got two of the last remaining mooring balls in time to watch a beautiful sunset.

A rain shower in the distance, from Lameshur Bay.

A rain shower in the distance, from Lameshur Bay.

Sunset over Great Lameshur Bay, St. John's, USVI

Sunset over Great Lameshur Bay, St. John’s, USVI

 

April 2 – Sandy Cay.

Wednesday, April 2.

Today we took a daysail to Sandy Cay.   It was a beautiful day for it.   This is our 3rd trip to the BVI, and this is our first time to stop here.

Sandy Cay, coming from Jost

Sandy Cay, coming from Jost

Susanne and Laura are getting the hang of this sailing thing…

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We set an anchor and ate lunch on the boat before snorkeling to shore for a walk around.  Tan-a-na joined us.  Unfortunately, Maggie’s windlass was not working, so they had to sail on to Cane Garden Bay.

Tan-a-na and Jim's Dream anchored off Sandy Cay.

Tan-a-na and Jim’s Dream anchored off Sandy Cay.

We had intended to moor overnight in White Bay, but its been getting a bit stormy and the wind is really picking up and driving up big NE swells so it would be too rough in there tonight.   Instead, we all ended up back in Great Harbour for one more night.

Back to Great Harbour for the night.

Back to Great Harbour for the night.

We cooked up our first meal aboard tonight.   This is not roughing it!

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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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March 29 – Road trip!

We’re on our way to the Caribbean for a sailing vacay!  Our flight itinerary takes us there via Puerto Rico.   We’ve decided to stay 2 nights in San Juan, since we never visited there before.  We won’t have (and don’t want!) internet connectivity while we’re away, so I’m drafting these blog entries as I go along, and am posting them in order, after I get back.

Saturday, March 29.

We are leaving on a beautiful day in Austin.  Here’s a great shot from the plane showing Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, the booming downtown skyline, the 40 acres, Longhorn stadium, UT tower, Erwin Center, the Capitol, Disch-Falk field, … What else can you spot?

20140329-115220.jpgAfter arriving in San Juan and checking into the hotel, we took a walk around the neighborhood.  We stopped into a pub nearby and I found one of my favorite brewskis from my misspent awesome youth!

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Our crew, Susanne and Laura, arrive in San Juan tomorrow!

Polar vortex strikes again.

While we were driving home last night from Louisiana we watched the temperature drop from the 70s to the 40s in a matter of minutes. By the time we got home it was freezing in our neighborhood. Spring is only 17 days away, but it’s a tad chilly here!

Tonight I joined Doray, Laura, Irene and Ann for dinner to celebrate Lori’s birthday. Back home in time to wait for the rain and sleet to come in from the west. I hope it lingers over the lake.

An interesting chandelier from Justine’s tonight:

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