Tuesday, December 31, 2013

XMAS in Cane Garden Bay

Please don't say manaña if you don't mean it
I have heard those words for so very long
Don't try to describe the ocean if you've never seen it
Don't ever forget that you just may wind up being wrong.
I hear it gets better, that's what they say
As soon as we sail on to Cane Garden Bay.
But I know that I'll get 'em, I know that they'll come
Through the people and places and Caldwood's Rum
Manaña, Jimmy Buffet
We spent XMAS in Cane Garden Bay on Tortola with friends from Skylark and Tivoli. Cane Garden was made famous in Jimmy Buffet’s song Manaña . Down here you’re more likely to hear on the local radio the The Best of Jimmy Buffet on Steel Drums. Chris and I got in our traditional Christmas day snorkel on the outside reef in the bay.
ICaneGardenBayMG_3768The bay sits on the edge of heavily jungled steep hills with a wrap around beach. Its a quite town on most days. When the cruise ships are in at Road Town, on the other side of the island, the beach chairs and sun umbrellas cover the beach early and the crowd arrives by the bus load.
CaneGardenBayIMG_3811 The Callwood distillery, producer of Arundel cane sugar rum for over 200 years, is located in the bay. It is the oldest, continuously operating rum factory in the islands. Its small and does not pretend to be the Disneyland of breweries.
CaneGardenBayIMG_3805 It does have clear signage like Disneyland. “Employees Only, Keep Your Ass Out”
Some of the rum actually appears to be aged beyond a week or two.
Rum tasting
That leads to the purchase of a small bottle of rum.

We’re in Little Harbour, Peter Island, British Virgin Islands now, with an anchor off the bow and a line from the stern tied to the rock cliff behind us. The airs about 82*F and the water is 85*F. We’ve gone from St Augustine, Florida to the Bahamas and back up north as far as Maine over the last year. About 7,000 miles total. The next year should put a few more miles under Georgia’s keel.
Happy New Year, and we hope it’s a good one for our reader.
Paul and Chris

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays

And best wishes for the New Year.
From the crew of Georgia!!!
Paul and Chris

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Bounty Sinking

The Bounty
“Experience in a vacuum doesn’t make us smarter. Experience has to be processed. It has to be considered with full disclosure.”
G. Anderson Chase
The sailing ship Bounty was lost in 2012 on passage from Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida after sailing into the fury of hurricane Sandy. The Captain and one crew member died after a daring rescue by the US Coast Guard of the other crew. There has been a lot of second guessing and armchair analyzing the captains choices and the ships seaworthiness.  Anderson Chase does an excellent job of going past the Coast Guard Enquiry and looking at the issues that effect the decision making when crews take on the risk of going to sea. His analysis applies to any endeavor where groups willingly take on risk. Its a good read.
The article is here: Lessons of the BOUNTY

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Suicide Hike

(If you look really carefully, you can see Georgia in the upper right blue water)
We pulled into Great Lameshur Bay on the south side of Saint Johns islands. This side of the island is not visited a lot by cruisers or charter boats. You aren’t allowed to anchor in the bays, but there are a fair number of national park mooring balls.
We’d heard about a 2.2 mile hike that ends in some sugar plantation ruins and petroglyphs. Now I’m not really a big fan of hiking but I was OK to cruise along a flat trail to the ruins. No one mentioned that this hike actual goes up for 1.1 miles to the tallest ridge here and then down the other side for 1.1 miles. So hiking up hill in the tropical heat on a mud and broken sharp stone trail is really way down on my list of things to do. But I trudged along, one foot in front of the other.
LemshurIMG_3711 There weren’t many places you could see out of the trail. I guess jungle growth will do that. Here’s a peak down from near the top of the ridge.
Entertaining jungle overgrowth air plants were all along the trail.
As we got toward what we thought was the end of trail – after making a few dubious decisions at various Y’s in the trail, we found ourselves walking along a narrow trail along the edge of a 50 foot cliff. The cliff had typical jungle plant life eking out an existence along its steep, rocky surface. Chris was in front and I was about 15 feet behind. Next thing I knew I was hanging head down, face up over the cliff face with my ankles just wrapped on the cliff edge above. My head had jammed into the Y formed by some branches of a very small and thorny tree. Fortunately, my head was big enough to almost safely lodge me in the branches. The tree limbs actually pulled in tight on my jaw joints.
It was kind of an awkward situation looking out into the open air with my head down. The main view was upside jungle plants. I tried to un-snare myself from the situation, but it seemed like moving my head and neck was not only difficult, it offered a quick head first trip to the bottom of the cliff. Fortunately Chris has not significantly increased my life insurance policy and she came back up the trail with a stretched arm and bullied me up the cliff edge.
lemshurIMG_3717 You can see the red welt starting just under my ear along the manly jaw line. The next day it was pretty sore.
We never did see the petroglyhs. Here’s Chris investigating the plantation ruins.
The ruins are completely over grown with jungle. The area was original cleared by slaves. They cleared the forests, terraced the mountain sides and grew sugar cane. Tough, tough work. The average life of a slave once they arrived in the West Indies and  started working on the plantation is reported to be 4 years. That probably contributed to the 1733 slave rebellion that took place on the island against the Danish plantation holders. It was one of the largest and longest slave rebellions. The rebels took control of most of the island. They did have some strange, to our sensibilities, plans. They planned to take over the island and use other slaves to continue to farm it. It was eventually put down after French and Swiss troops from Martinique arrived in mid-1734. Some of the remaining rebels reportedly jumped from cliffs in the end.

LemshurIMG_3721  We saw a few critters on the hike. Here’s a shy, non-native, mongoose. We also saw a white tailed deer, brought over by settlers for food.
LemshurIMG_3732 The bay is home to a fair number of hawks bill turtles.
An underwater view
Remora cleaning time
Big, unidentified fish cruising around our mooring ball.
Chris’s search of another green flash…

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The High Life in the British Virgin Islands

Torbin and Judy (Tivoli) invited us over to Great Camanoe Island to share lunch. They have some friends from the Bay area that have a winter house on the hill within Indigo Plantation. Aptly named as it used to be a plantation that grew indigo.  Indigo was prized for making blue dye. The island’s use apparently goes back to the 1600’s and the Dutch West India Company. Above is the view from the deck over looking Lee Bay.
IndigoIMG_3640 It is an island style house to die for, with high ceilings, slow ceiling fans and windows and doors that open to all the breezes. No A/C or heater needed here.
IndigoIMG_3644 The sliding barn doors open to the kitchen where Ricky is busily working on the lunch BBQ prep.
IndigoIMG_3649 Georgia safely anchored behind the Marina Cay reef while we play on the island.
IndigoIMG_3654 There’s that cute couple again
Ricky (honorable son), Judy and Torben. It was fun to meet Ricky, as he has just gotten off an intense work period. Ricky graduated  with a degree in mechanical engineering and through some fortuitous planning and luck, he landed a job working on the Oracle team America’s cup entry. Lots of of interesting technical stories. Ricky is now intimately familiar with titanium and saving grams of weight. He’s, hopefully, headed to grad school and wants to be ready for the next Cup.
IndigoIMG_3658 Island flowers
These flowers just didn’t look like they had real colors. Turns out they mark someone's driveway and are plastic. Not everyone has island class.
We headed off to Monkey Point for some morning snorkeling.
These two girls decided to dress entirely different for ball.
There were a lot of pelicans roosting near by. These fry are what they were snacking on.
Another fancy dresser. The trunk fish are not very skittish. They almost pose.
This lobster was trying to decide if my camera would make a good meal or if it was a mortal threat.
A blue tang town meeting, think Dorrie in ‘Finding Nemo’. “Keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swim, swim,swim, swim…”

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Abandoned Boat Recovered Off Anegada

sca2t_IMG_3600 SV Scat with Tortola in the background
Breaking up the boredom while hanging out in Anegada, we heard some VHF radio traffic this morning between the fishing vessel Pelagic and the US Coast Guard, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
scat_IMG_3600 This is Pelagic towing in the abandoned sailboat Scat (reportedly a Southern Cross 32). The boat has been floating around for the last month(since Nov 3rd) after being abandoned 400 miles north of Puerto Rico for a medical emergency.
CG_10676790286_0182801f42_n The Winnipeg, Canada, based owner was apparently severely dehydrated and was picked up by a cargo vessel after contacting the CG. When the vessel got about 200 miles off Puerto Rico, the owner was airlifted from the ship to a San Juan hospital. The CG was going to notify him this morning that his boat is now anchored in Settlement Harbor on Anegada – and probably has a decent sized salvage bill awaiting. Other than a broken boom, the boat looks in remarkably good shape. The solar panels have kept the batteries up, as the bilge pump was still pumping.
These ghost ships  are not something you want to run into at 3am.

Anegada Island

For those enjoying slush in the Pacific Northwest
We spent a few days over on Anegada Island. Its the only coral island in the BVIs, as opposed to the volcanic islands of the rest of the British Virgin Islands. The trade winds had finally calmed down a bit, giving us a great beam reach sail over – we did the 15 miles in a couple of hours. The anchorage is a little rolly, with some strange swell getting in.  But I guess we need something to complain about.
anegadaIMG_3582 We rented car with the crew of Terrapin and Skylark (sans dogs) to circumnavigate the island by road.  Here’s the path to the beach at Loblolly Bay on the NE shore of the island. The reefs are far better on this side, than on the leeward side where we are anchored.
AnegadaDSCN0523 A photogenic box fish.

IanegadaMG_3576 The restaurant at Loblolly with some long-hair walking past.
Monica, the owner of the restaurant. She’s an import from Trinidad and has adjusted to the small island living on Anegada, as compared to the big island, big city living of Port of Spain, Trinidad. She goes back each year Aug, Sept, Oct, during the slow season here. Good food, good hospitality, not cheap. Actually nothing in the BVIs is cheap.
Flamingo Spotting

The pink guys way off in the distant mangrove swamps along the salt pond.
We stopped at the bakery on the way back. This is the first time we’ve seen Lion fish on the menu. These are non-native, very aggressive fish that are overtaking the reefs in many places around the Caribbean. Even they aren’t cheap.
Unidentified purdy flower
Sunrise over Anegada Island