Sunday, April 29, 2012

Of Fishing
In my younger days I had a love/hate relationship with fishing. I had the patience to sit there and tease something along and was infrequently rewarded with catching something alive that I had no desire to kill or eat.  I had no mentor and subsequently the fishing desire soon lost its allure.  Then came the Florida Keys. Warm water fish.  Within a millisecond of my first taste of US 1 road side smoked tuna, any thought of ever eating a Betty Crocker shake it but don’t break it overcooked flounder (sorry Mom) or a Mrs. Paul’s Fish Stick, were forever obliterated.  I ate Islamorada specialties of truly "caught that day” fish with some conch fritters or a bowl of fish chowder with sherry for every meal while there. I was transformed into a fish lover. Killing the catch was now, well, going to be part of the deal and, forgive me, I was hooked. 
Early on I had a friend who I grew up with on the New Jersey shore, John Duxbury, who eventually became a Captain of a professional charter fishing boat out of NJ and FL. So fishing was efficiently limited to waiting till a boat showed up at  the dock towards the end of the day at the Whale Harbor Inn (a few beverages in hand always made fishing easier). The times I spent on board fishing were limited, but I understood the process, although I also understand the process of brain surgery and probably would have equal success at both. My other mentor was Jack Curtis, an avid, very experienced angler,  who I watched hook-up and wrestle Marlin and Mahi off the back of Thai Hot on returns from Bermuda. Net-net, my personal fishing time was limited. Better at steering the boat, I seldom took a rod. Also the chances of landing and subsequently eating a fish were much higher with experts, and, after all, that is the ultimate goal.
At the beginning of this trip I was well supplied and coached from Capt. John & Jack about fishing. I also had purchased a “how to” book titled ”The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing” by Scott & Wendy Bannerot, and with that we went to sea.  A lot of the time sailing and getting a fish to bite and get boated at the same time is tough. One has to have conditions that a couple can dowse sails and control the boat while dealing with a potentially large, very unhappy fish that doesn’t want to be dinner. Much easier for a crew of four to five guys then a cruising couple.  And, the fish that I was looking for had brand names like Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna and the like. Those fish liked deeper waters. They also liked areas that had small tasty things swimming about. Most waters of the southern Caribbean don’t have one or the other or both. Locals tend to eat everything, including the bait fish and the reef fish. But I tried. Dragging lures behind Thai Hot wherever we went.  And then it happened. Laura & I were motorsailing westward along the southern side of Puerto Rico when a small Barracuda took the lure.  It was a quick fight as the gear I was using was the “you’re dinner” heavy stuff not the ‘Oh Skippy, let’s go fly fishing for Marlin’ weight. Barracuda was not on the menu for a lot of reasons so it ended up being a catch and release.  The next hit was on our way to Turks & Cacos from Puerto Rico. I was surprised by the skyrocketing Bull Mahi-Mahi that was at the end of the line.  My first thought was DINNER, actually, lots of dinners. Throughout the Caribbean I was surprised at the lack of variety of fish and/or the price. Lobster dinners burned on 1/2 55 gal drums using garbage for fuel at only $54!, Wahoo steaks and a thimble of rice and frozen veggies for $36! Most places south of Guadeloupe there just wasn’t any offered. Shrimp that had been frozen and thawed more times than Newt has X’s or “fresh fish” / fish of the day, that came out of the freezer and was further tortured by the cooking staff. Red Snappers were common and we enjoyed them often. But I needed the real thing…

It was an ugly fight and gaff but, it is, after all, about results.

I'm not sure who's more surprised !

The evolution of fish, Swimming, Sashimi, Ceviche,  Blackened,  Happy Bride

I think we need a bigger cutting board..
(He measured 42 Inches)

Thanks to Jack and Capt. John.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Thai Hot Itinerary Update

Sunset in Tobago Cays, Jamesby Cay(left), Union(center) and Mayreau (right) islands in the back 

After speaking with lots of cruisers coming North we have switched strategies and are not staying South for the Summer. We will be sailing North back up the East Coast of the US as far as Laura’s resilience to the cold will let us (I’m thinking Maine, Laura’s thinking Boston). We should be in Antigua around mid March, hope to check out the Bucket Race in St. Barts  on the 22nd & 23rd  We have already seen some of these boats in the Islands but would LOVE to see these guys racing.  Working our way quickly West through the BVI’s & USVI to Spanish VI, Puerto Rico early April, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Hitting Florida and West Palm by early May. Should be in the NY area by mid June. We will be working South in October and November and plan to spend next winter primarily in the Bahamas and Southern Florida. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Beast From 10 Fathoms
The old grill came with the boat. A round, relatively small, Magma, maybe 14 inches across. Serviced by 1 lb. bottles of highly priced propane, actually, the propane was cheap but you had to buy the steel container it was packaged in (I can’t believe that no one is out making fiberglass ones).  My dream was to buy a big enough grill and a 10lb aluminum tank, connect the two and live out the rest of my days grilling shrimp the size of my fist. After a few seasons of living with my old grill with its little lava rocks and quirky hot and not so hot spots, I came to enjoy its simplicity, To the delight of the local fish an Italian sausage would occasionally roll off and over the low side accompanied by a twirl and a splash. These losses were rare and taken as part and parcel of grilling on a non-stationary platform.  The only serious lost was when I was lighting the grill with a long lighter, I created a fire ball that sent me backward in an effort to save my eyebrows. I inadvertently picked up the grates with the lighter and sent it flying into the deep. The fish and I were not amused. This was the first night of a two week vacation and we were loaded with little goodies patiently waiting in the fridge for their turn to be on the fire. Fortunately, we managed to find a ridiculously priced replacement at our next stop and were once again in BBQ heaven. The day arrived at last, the long researched square “Newport” Magma of my dreams was being heavily discounted at West Marine, shipping in the contiguous US free! Now was the time. I pounced on the web site and within a few seconds had one on its way to the house. Who cares if it’s February? Thoughts of grilled steak fragrances wafting downwind…
We used the standard rail mount clamp that worked so well with our old round grill, but felt that the grill was not quite outboard enough, and we were going through one pounders like candy on Halloween. I tried moving the base around but was not truly satisfied with its location. To cut down on the propane cylinders, we purchased a little brass contraption that allowed me to refill used one pounders from a larger propane tank. For a while, things were good. But alas, my anal tendencies goaded me, can you say OCD? I purchased an aluminum tank, a match to the two we already had on board. Always good to have redundancy I told myself. Also a 6 ft. hose, set up for a propane tank to a heater with all the right ends, and started my dream project. The set up worked perfectly out of the box on a few pieces of chicken and I thought we were on our way. All I had to do is mount the tank somewhere, wire-tie a few things, and we could get down to some serious grilling.  As Bugs would say “What a maroon”. The almost full propane tank stopped delivering. Odd. I changed tanks and it worked again. Bad or frozen tank valve on a brand new tank I thought. We were still in the Chesapeake heading south and after a couple of stops and some phone calls I located a propane distributor who could do the job. Great guys, even refilled the propane tank when done. So I happily brought my newly refitted tank back to the boat and, you guessed it…same problem. I started looking more closely at the hose then went back to the Internet. Sure enough, this wasn’t any old hose. Being a hose for a heater it had some built in “safety” features, and like the new tanks, had to have enough pressure on the fittings to open, it also had some spring loaded internal valves the size of 14 gauge wires inside the fittings. At this point I’m going to launch the hose into low atmosphere. I might as well see what makes it tick and set about carving off the ends and taking apart the fittings. I finally found a screw driver small enough to unscrew the internal restrictors and wire clamped the hose ends back on. Well I got flow; I got so much flow that I could cook a 4 lb roaster in 20 minutes. Flames were jumping out the back of the grill and I could not get any control of the heat. Turns out the little grill regulators are no match for that much propane under pressure. It took a while but I managed to just crack the valve on the tank enough to “leak” gas to the grill without a flame out. All this for a lousy hot dog, I should have just gone down to the local greasy spoon. With the gas issue under control I tackled the issue of location. I know that Magma sells these arms that sit in a fishing rod holder and are highly maneuverable.  Great, I’ll just buy one and a clamp on a rod holder then I can put the grill anywhere at whatever angle. I first started with an old rod holder we had on board, which, just as advertised could be mounted anywhere and all you need to do is drop in the grill. Unfortunately the new grill base was not tapered, the old holder was, and after a night of grilling, heating and cooling the two became stuck together. So stuck that one had to unscrew the holder and the now attached grill, from the rail, find a nice area to lay this out and beat the holder off with a winch handle. On an early attempt in Great Harbor, Peter Is, BVIs I hit it so hard that the drip pan jumped out and, of course, went immediately overboard. The fish were fine with this as it had not been cleaned yet. I was about to mark the spot with the rest of the grill & holder assembly but thought better about littering the sea floor.  So with that knowledge I mounted a new holder purchased from West Marine and tried again. It went in and out easily but never held the base firmly. The grill would rock back and forth like a bobble head and sometimes rotate off to one side. I had to make a point of mounting it straight up. It worked but always was on my mind when it was on the rail. At this point we had made it down to Guadeloupe and the “Saints” a small cluster of Islands belonging to Guadeloupe just South of the main Island. I was working on my next plan to mount and had placed the grill over the transom. We had a grilled lunch and even made some extra chicken for future lunches. All seemed well, until that evening…. Laura and I had just finished dinner and were running the engine to top off the batteries when a crash was heard on deck. We both jumped up to the cockpit looking for the cause.  The grill was gone. The mounting clamp was still attached, but the tube and its burden were gone, shaken apart with a combination of load shifting and engine vibration. We looked over the transom hoping the swim platform had caught it, but no luck. 60 ft to the bottom.  I could hear the fish screaming with delight, food and housing, maybe this was part of the long awaited artificial reef. I started to laugh, not the ”I saw the Three Stooges do this before” kind of laugh, but as Laura would subsequently describe it, a more institutional type of laughter, closer to a wail or a scream. I was torn. I could leave the evil thing at the bottom and learn to grill with a garbage tin lid, some old palm fronds and some gasoline siphoned from the outboard or perhaps start wrapping things in foil and heating them on the exhaust manifold. Tough choice.  I was not about to let a piece of equipment get me, and for the rest of the evening I planned my next move.  We had purchased a used dive tank in St Martin. This would mean taking my first dive in 16 years in equipment not used or serviced in 16 years and go on a salvage dive to 60+ ft. Brilliant. Next morning I pulled out the old gear and tank. The BC (Buoyancy Control) had a leak in its rubber bladder, a very bad thing, the master valve was releasing pressure via a safety valve due to the tank pressure being over the 3500 lbs. not expected but not a bad thing. All the regulators worked, the dive computer came up but it had a low battery warning. I guesstimated the weight on the belt I should wear.  Not to worry, we temporarily fixed the BC with the dingy repair kit. We dropped a weighted line from the stern to pull up the grill if I found it, and in I went.  Things came back pretty quickly, I guess your brain realizes the importance of such things and goes into overdrive. Breath normally, clear your ears, slow descent. I was happy the visibility was so good that I could see the bottom clearly from just below the surface. It was grass about 4 to 6 inches over sand on a sloping hill.  I hit bottom at 63 ft. and started to where I thought the grill should have hit. I was worried that as it fell through the water the grill tumbled and opened up spilling out the grates. They would be almost impossible to find in the water or at local boat stores. It would be easier to buy a whole new grill. I started in the direction of where I thought the grill should have landed and within a few minutes found it. It had stayed together but a top corner of the lid was mashed up and some tack welds had broken. I locked the cover and tried to pick it up. Not a chance. I held on to it and inflated my BC to its max. The grill finally came off the sea floor and we made our way to underneath the boat. After securing the grill to the lift line, I went back to find the mounting tube. It had to be close to the impact area of the grill. After a few sweeps up and down the hill I found that also. A home run! Time to get back to grilling. I ascended to the boat and handed over the tube to a jubilant Wife. We just needed to hoist the bugger up. I stayed in the water to watch the process and Laura put the haul line on a winch and cranked away. At the surface we switched to the dingy engine hoist and brought her home. Can't wait to see what new trick of fate awaits. 
There will be unhappy fish.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Final  on the BVI’s:  Pros: great sailing, easy navigation, lots of places  that are still worthwhile.  I’d still come back for Peter, Cooper, Virgin Gorda, the Dove and Anagada.  Cons: Very tough to anchor at Jost van Dyke, Norman, West End, due to the excessive mooring balls.  Most of the “cool” places have become merchandisers with pricy food of dubious quality. Vendors preying on charter boaters and cruise ships.

On to St. Martin.  The Wind Machine Director (WMD) in the nose of the boat was working overtime on our way to St. Barts to catch the New Year’s Celebration. We were hoping we could find a spot under the bow of some Sheik’s moving island to catch the fireworks and toast 2012 with fine Italian Prosecco. Alas, it was not to be. We fought a stiff current and breeze that only got stronger as we approached and decided to cut our losses and make Marigot Bay, St. Martin.  We found great little Creole restaurants, bakeries, cheese and wine shops, and kicked back. At least we won’t starve or go thirsty.  Broke perhaps. We immediately formed a habit consisting of croissants and espressos.
The Dingy Dock at Marigot, St. Martin 
We set out on New Year’s Eve with great expectations, foreign port, no Dick Clark mumbling into the mike. Turns out Marigot does not have a night life. We found two places doing a US style dinner-buffet all included gig which were already in motion.  We then happened upon an open air bar with a very short but highly enthusiastic Karaoke wrangler, cajoling patrons to pick songs and sing. It’s good to know that most French can’t carry a tune either. The crowd   and restaurant owner appeared to have been celebrating for most of the day and we had a blast watching the show.  The owner turned out to be from Sicily and was not shy about his feelings for the French or showing me his semi-automatic hand gun or describing his indiscretions in detail.  Luckily, he spoke with his hands.  The juice pretty much ran out about 10 and we drifted to one of the all-inclusive places that had a trumpet and piano accompanied by a sound machine. Most of the patrons had left and we were met with empty tables brimming with New Year’s Eve “equipment”: Pointy hats, sounding devices and adult size spit ball cannons.  Hopefully they will find an age appropriate place to go, perhaps kindergarten class. The music was quite good but the whole affair ended at 11:45 PM. I checked my ZULU offset 3 times.  We closed the year out at our floating home with our own bottle of bubbly.
While coming in from the BVIs we were plagued once again by leaking water from the cap rail even after re-epoxying some of the seams and made the decision to varnish. Also took some time to correct some issues with the reefing system. Nice work done at FKG on the Dutch side. Delivering the boom on the dink:
No job too big for  "Lil Peppa"

After 19 days it was well past the time to move on and we made our way to St. Barts. There was a great nature walk at our first anchorage from St. Anse de Columbier to Anse des Flamandes .  Good place to off gas, swim, clean the bottom and regroup. The main town of St Barts is Gustavia, filled with a flotilla of Saudi Sheiks love palaces and over upscale clothing boutiques.  There were some local joints filled with foul smelling, chain smoking, unkempt Frenchmen drinking absinthe and hoping they looked like a cross between Marlon Brando and Gerard-Depardieu but they generally kept to themselves and urinated in private.

 Anse des Flamandes, St Barts.

We made our way to Statia or St. Eustatius depending on which chart you are using. Nice place, mediocre Chinese food, with a very rolly harbor which ended up shorting our stay. Then Nevis, where the first person we met was an Ossie Davis look alike winner. Charming guy, followed by the not so charming rasta man who tried to sell us everything from homemade reggae sounds to Island tours. The guy was everywhere on the Island and relentless, perhaps there was more than one. We also got introduced to the EC, a currency that no one out of the Caribbean has heard about, including your bank. Pegged at 2.67 per US dollar, it is how business gets done. It is colorful with lots of pictures of English monarchy, but any currency with a 1 and a 2 cent coin can’t be taken seriously. Once out of the main city of Charlestown the Island was strewn with old plantations converted into hotels and resorts and the shoreline was dotted with upscale homes and restaurants. Very nice.

We tried to sail to Guadeloupe but the WMD was working and we took shelter for the night in Montserrat, sleeping next to an active volcano. Notice we are upwind…

Steamy at Montserrat

Next Guadeloupe and why I should have studied French instead of Ebonics. (Damn those Liberals)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Recap on “Erwin 2011” boys trip. We met Captains Erwin, Hendricks, & Weber and their merry crews on their first day in the BVIs. We took the opportunity to provision at the nearby Right Way. Never seem to get out of these grocery stores for less than $60. Could be the $1.25 per roll toilet paper. What do the locals use? Zimbabwe Dollars?  Next day we sailed upwind to Marina Cay. The island is dominated by a Pusser’s bar/ restaurant and outlet. Pusser’s rum, had a long tradition with the British Navy.  Not only was it rum of choice for daily rations up until July 31’st 1970, I’m sure it had much to do with recruitment tactics just prior to a ships leaving port.  Pusser’s Inc. on Marina Cay has evolved into a slick marketed product, full of branded overpriced shirts and hats, and, on an island with no competition, a pretty overpriced place to eat and drink. We did enjoy our 8 dollar cocktails and 36 dollar Wahoo dinners, but I won’t be back anytime soon. In fact I was so miffed at the Wahoo pricing that I obtained a BVI fishing permit which took all of 15 minutes and 45 dollars. What I found most interesting was when I walked out of the BVI Administrative Building, I carried out only two pieces of paper, the credit card receipt and the license itself. If I was in the states I would have been buried with 25 pamphlets saying what not to do, when not to do it, a life study of some endangered species that no one gives a rat’s ass about although it has some lobbyist’s fingerprints all over it.  Not here. Nothing saying you shouldn’t fish with dynamite,  catch and eat new born sea turtles and use their shells for ashtrays.  Nothing.  Now this is government that can run lean! Team Erwin and Thai Hot went our separate ways for the remainder of the week with a promise to meet up at Cooper Is. on Friday or back at Conch Charter on Saturday. We started off at Cam Bay, Great Camanoe Is. which is just south of “Throw Way Wife Bay” (can’t make this stuff up) for a restful night alone at anchor listening to the breakers on the reef just off our bow.  We than worked South to Norman Island, where we first started noticing a trend develop,  no room to anchor. The “harbor master” has seen fit to carpet bomb most of the harbors with mooring balls making it damn near impossible to put an anchor down. You are then compelled to use a 25-30 dollar mooring instead of a free anchor. We made our way northward and upwind from Norman Is. to Cooper Is. in rather “snotty” conditions. Gusts of wind would tear the whitecaps off the waves and send them off in a fine spray. Enough rain water to fill the dink.  Cooper Island went through some management changes a few years back and the new group has reinvented the place. New open air restaurant and bar along with several cottages for rent, very professional staff.  A pleasure to go there.  Met some fellow North Jersey sailors from a neighboring town on the beach and shared stories and cocktails.  Always great to meet people with a sailing passion. Erwin’s fleet didn’t make it from West End, Tortola and had to put in at Norman’s for the night. We caught up with them in Road Town and had a wonderful dinner at the Dove. So good that we made reservations for Christmas Eve dinner there. It’s our first Christmas not being spent home or with family. And I don’t care how you spin it, Reggae Xmas overdubs and lights on palm trees don’t cut it. Although I don’t miss any of the holiday craziness, malls, over commitments and deadlines.
We made our way to Anegada.  An Island of the BVI’s that’s a bit off the normal path.  It was always billed by the chartering companies from which we rented from in the past, as a place that’s great to go to but the journey there leads through the gates of Hell.  The real reason is that it is “over the horizon” ie: you can’t see it from your current anchorage.  The chartering company isn’t sure their charters can read a compass or pick out a coral head in the crystal clear water. The main attraction to Anegada is its relative remoteness, fresh local fish, and what has become a staple in the Islands… a $53 Spiny Lobster grilled over a split 55 gallon drum fired up by loose branches and whatever is lying about.  Sucker!   The next day we thought of renting bicycles and touring the Island.  It was either $40 for two bicycles or $50 plus gas for a small car w/ac. After a brief description of the Islands road “system” we opted for the car and quite happy we did. We left with a stern warning to not drive into the pond and a “stay left” we were on our next adventure.  We ran into our first road crew just as the road ran out of concrete, just a few miles from “town” this crew was busily cutting side brush.

Just another example of lean government. No union guys leaning on shovels here… and fertilizer to boot!   We looked into all the pond openings we could find for the fabled Caribbean Flamingos but did not see any. Perhaps they have taken up new digs on the front lawns of America. We did find one of the last remaining great places to go, Cow Wreck Beach.  An open air restaurant and bar looking out at the reef system and breakers on the North side of the island. Incredible views, deserted beach, and someone had the foresight to put a restaurant there that could put out excellent ceviche as well as an ice cold beer. You were so close to the water that the leading edge of the cement slab the building rested on, was a tad undermined.  This was the BVI’s before merchandising areas got bigger than the bar.  Ms. Bell, the owner/operator made sure everything was right as she went about her chores.   

Ms. Bells Place.

Now that’s a beach!

Cowboy boot sandals, hand tooled! Soon to be a Dallas craze.

Where’s the Corona bottles?
Tearing ourselves away from near perfection, we continued our trip circumnavigating the Island.  We next hit the other main beach restaurant at Loblolly Bay. Nice for the family, but no Cowboy Wreck. Headed past the Airport and into the “settlement” as the locals call it, which actually shows they have a sense of humor.  There were herds of goats, chickens, more donkeys, and the best... free range cows and bulls. Luckily the little fella was following a clearly hot cow into the local garbage dump for a little dinner before dancing. We finished our adventure back at town, dropping off our vehicle and headed to Neptune’s Treasure Restaurant.  A bit away from the rest of the establishments, but far and away the best.  Great fresh fish and wonderful service with a view of the BVI’s.

Next, back to Jos Van Dyke

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! Thai Hot in full X-mas mode. Facing Saba Rock and the Bitter End

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We are on our way today to meet up with Erwin and his annual outing of boys cruising the BVIs. Can’t wait to see some familiar faces.  Seeing the BVIs from the USVIs was like peering down a favorite ski trail last ridden long ago. Can’t wait to point the bow over.   

The wrap up on the USVIs (sans St. Croix for now) goes like this: St. Thomas, while being the most populated, has the most problems. Large cruise ships and a great port of entry make for an economy on fast food. Ships come in and hoards disembark, get delivered to ”downtown” via the local transportation with its overpriced yet lousy restaurants, tee shirt shops, bars and a plethora of jewelry shops. Barkers descend on the throng like whales herding bait fish, cutting to the weak, vulnerable and potentially lucrative. All of the characters are there; greasy salespeople that would make a used car salesman turn and run, a well-disciplined security team to eliminate the all too easy grab and go. And, of course, the prey. Not sure but I think footwear is the single biggest tell. Very new white sneakers, they are as subtle as laser beacons.  Outskirts of town are the usual Island mix of broken down, funky living conditions, children dressed in school uniforms, gated resorts and luxury properties. The Island reminds me of strip mine mentality, leaving the equipment to rust after the numbers go red.

Laura and I used the mass transportation, which are heavy duty pickups with a seating / hard top arrangement that’s welded or bolted to the truck frame. They sit about 20 and are called a “Safari”. For  1 $US per ride and 2 for across the Island they are a handy inexpensive mode. Generally the locals made us feel welcome if we worked through the sometimes thick cognitive dissidence. The expatriates were a trip. Fell into 2 groups: 1st those down for less than 3 months, young, looking for something other than the job they were doing. Ok, so they were all bartenders or wait staff, what did you expect, we’d hang out at a nunnery? And second, those that have no interest in the “states” and are planning on living their lives out in their hippy style with the help of food stamps and cheap rum.

On one of our excursions Laura commented on all the construction going on. It did seem like a lot until you cut the active from the inactive sites. About 90 percent were abandoned or stalled, they reached back in time to when the Incas got beaten off the Islands by the Spanish. Sites left for dead and overgrown, usable materials long ago pilfered. Construction techniques follow the common Island mentality.  There is not 5 linear feet of quality workmanship to be found on the St Thomas public areas.  Maybe that’s as far as you can put together in a day.

We anchored in Red Hook, St. Thomas, had to come back from St. John for some repair stuff, laundry, fuel, happy hour. Saw some great things, race horses being swam for exercise with loud snorts of exhalation.  An on the beach baptism of 6 people, each pulled violently backwards by the minister into the clear sea, giving the devil a “I’ll show you who’s in control!” Amen! Those gathered on shore howling in delight.  We also became aware of a people movement pattern we called “the migration” of those in the know.  Going to the early bars with the current, best, offerings of drink and food happy hour specials and working the streets until they have had their fill.  There were a few places that snare the newbie or casual drinker with something exotic. My favorite to watch being consumed, is produced at Duffy’s Love Shack and is called the “Shark Pool” it’s 62 oz. with 6 liquors, presented in a fish bowl that Gary Larson would be proud of.  It is the color of florescent aqua blue and comes complete with two, three inch rubber Great Whites, jaws wide, menacing, and liquor filled. The imbiber can either add the contents back into “the Pool” but more commonly has a mouth to mouth with the savage beast.   The bowl comes with 6 straws (perhaps a suggestion of how many patrons the drink should be divided by) which by the second round are usually adorning someone’s hat in a My Favorite Martin-esq manner. You can’t beat this for entertainment.

St. John has a few different personalities. The most dominate is the US Park System which keeps a tight ship on access and anchoring. The shores and coves are pristine and they have an abundance of trails and nature walks. Cruz Bay, the big town on St John has a decent night life and shopping for most of your needs. A bit too tight for more than a day.  And on the East end, Crystal Bay, it was labeled an anti-tourist destination and we thought that might fit our increasingly bohemian life style. Unfortunately it was populated with the expats that could not afford St. Thomas.

I’ve taken to turning on the Internet and skipping over the MSN page. The last time I looked, the media bashing had started in full earnest ahead of the election with only 11 months to go. Very glad not to have a cable feed.
We were just getting into a pattern of waking up, diving off the back of the boat, rinsing off, drinking coffee, (we’ve managed to hold off “cocktail hour” until 4 or 5) and either sightseeing, reading or working on the boat. Formal cocktail hour and dinner. Rinse, repeat. 
On to the BVIs