24 January 2008

Historic Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI

January 24, 2008

This week started out on a tragic note: the loss of our first Whisper-caught mahi-mahi. Yes, this is a “fish that got away” story. On Sunday we sailed from St. Thomas to St. Croix. Approximately 40 miles. The weather was squally and blustery and Whisper and her crew performed exceptionally well. The wind was blowing consistently between 20 and 25 knots and during one squally gusted up to 35 knots. We set up the windvane self-steering and averaged around 5.5 to 6 knots. Yee haw! What a perfect time to fish!

We threw a lure overboard and soon enough there was a tug on the line and we had hooked a HUGE mahi-mahi. Exaggerations aside, this guy was at least 4 feet long and looked to have weighed around 40 pounds. He was fluorescent blue and green with a silver belly and he thrashed around like crazy. Hans sat on the coachroof and slowly pulled in the handline. Kristen positioned herself in the cockpit with the gaffing hook ready to gaff him and pull him aboard. Alas, we forgot to think about the dinghy which was being towed behind on a 20 foot line. The smart mahi jumped the dinhgy line, tangled the fishing line with the dinghy line and the fishing line broke. ARRRGHGGGHHH!!! And SH&*&*%$& AND FU*&#(*$^!!!

To console ourselves we wandered ashore that evening in search of dinner…what luck! We found a bar with a live blues band, reuben sandwiches and the Patriots game. GO PATS! See you at the superbowl!

A view of Christiansted from the fort.

Touring historic Christiansted.

A typical street in Christiansted.

Since then, we’ve been reading a lot (it’s been pretty squally and rainy), successfully snorkeling for lobster and conch, hiking around the historic town of Christiansted and touring the island by car. We are here with our friends Becky and Joe from the boat Half Moon. Yesterday we rented a car and drove around the island to see the Point Udall (the eastern-most point in the US), the Hovensa oil refinery (largest in the western hemisphere, ugh), the Cruzan rum factory and we went snorkeling in Fredriksted with the hope of seeing sea horses. No luck.

A successful lobster and conch harvest.

At Point Udall.

The main economy of St. Croix was sugar...the ruins of sugar plantations can be found all over the island.

Hans looking for coconuts.

Hans sniffing the fermenting rum.

Barrels and barrels of rum..

The island-touring crew.
We’ll be in St. Croix for a couple more days and then we’ll head north again to the BVIs. We’ve been having many problems with our dinghy, but the excellent warranty and customer service of Achilles is shipping us a brand new dinghy from Japan. It is being shipped out today to St. Thomas so we’ll be back in St. Thomas to pick the dinghy up and also to meet up with friends Jerry & Laurie from MA who will be in St. Thomas for a night as part of their cruise.

18 January 2008

US Virgin Islands

January 18, 2008

Bleary-eyed after lack of sleep (or was it the rum cocktails?), this morning we dropped Anne off at the airport in St. Thomas after a week-long visit. Anne was here to forget all about her second year of law school and to look a little bit less like death-warmed-over. Successful on both counts! Unfortunately, we only have a few pictures to document the progress from “stressed out, shaking, high blood pressure, anxiety-wracked dreams, Wisconsin white cheddar complexion Anne” to “relaxed, warm and tan Anne.” The second day of her visit, our digital camera decided to go swimming. Unfortunately, high quality electronics aren’t giving swimming lessons and it drowned. No worries, Kristen pulled our her standby film camera and happily snapped away for the week. Scenic vistas, hikes, sailing shots, sunsets, etc. Come to find out, there was no film in the camera. Doh!

Anne: pasty white, and ready to party!

We all had a fabulous time. The Virgin Islands really are sailing paradise. The wind is always blowing; beautiful anchorages are just 5-10 miles apart; white sand beaches aplenty; fantastic snorkeling; and enough charter boats to provide entertainment. Oh, and did we mention the rum is a mere $3/liter.

Anne is currently en route to Wisconsin and we’re planning our next move. Our dinghy has quite a few problems. It appears we got a “lemon” so the Achilles dealer here in St. Thomas is talking with Achilles about getting us a replacement. We’re crossing our fingers! We’re thinking of heading south to St. Croix and Buck Island National Park next with our friends Becky and Joe on the boat “Half Moon.” Then we’ll test the waters of the BVIs, maybe find some English candy, and avoid the charter boats!

Kristen gets one step closer to her dream of a transatlantic on the Queen Mary 2.

Anne awed by Caribbean sunset.

Hans and Anne, hard at work, on the beach at Jost van Dyke.

We missed this hot-spot, but the graffiti art inspires a return trip.

Above, two pictures from historic St. Thomas harbor.

09 January 2008

Leaving Culebra

January 9, 2008

All rubber chickens will walk the plank or be hung on sight.

After dropping off Suzanne and Libby at the airport we, (Hans especially) have been in a state of depression… The only relief has come at the expense of the lives of many an innocent lobster. Fortunately, our friend Anne is coming to visit tomorrow so loneliness is passing.

Today we’re sailing from Culebra to St. Thomas where Anne is flying in. It looks like the trade-winds are taking the day off, so we might end up motoring in flat calm… a better alternative to motor-sailing into 25 knots.

We’re looking forward to the Virgin Islands, but it is going to be difficult to leave Culebra since it is such a great place to be on a boat. Especially since we now know where all the lobsters are hiding.

A beach at Culebrita, a small island east of Culebra owned by the National Park Service: pristine & spectacular.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at Culebrita on Monday, we had some company! We went snorkeling on the other side of the island until they left, then we hiked up to the lighthouse.

Views from the light house at Culebrita.

We spotted a dinghy washed up on the beach and decided to hike over to salvage it, envisioning riches beyond compare...alas, it had seen better days.

Yesterday we went lobster hunting with Gil from Phoenix III, Yvon and Ben. Together we slayed and later consumed 12 lobsters together with the rest of the crews (8 people in all). Lobster bisque, green salad, barbequed lobster tails and flank steak… just another average dinner, really.

Gil steams the lobster heads for lobster bisque.

Kristen picks the lobster heads for the bisque.

Gervais serving up the soup.

04 January 2008

3 hot blondes (and Hans) on Whisper

January 4, 2008.

Happy New Year!

We spent the last week having a blast with Suzanne and Liberty who came to visit for New Years. Here are some photos of the adventures:

Suz and Libby arrived in Culebra on Friday, Dec. 28, in the afternoon... Suzanne got to sit in the co-pilot seat for the flight.

Suz and Libby settle in on Whisper.

Hans and Suz ham it up for the camera on the bridge in Culebra. Smiles originating from the two bottles of rum they just bought.

Kristen the pizza delivery girl... what can we say?

Ringing in the New Year in style in Culebra! What happens in Culebra stays in Culebra...

Our friend Dave, flanked by two adoring hotties... ay! Que caliente!

Hans tells one of his appropriate and unoffensive jokes, as usual... to Suzanne's delight.

Hanging out on Playa Zoni... While Kristen and Libby went swimming, Hans and Suz played hunter gatherers and found some coconuts.

We rented scooters for a day to explore the island. Beep-beep!

After one too many pina coladas, Libby lost her marbles and started chasing a chicken with the machete. Run chicken, run!

Sailor babe Libby Jones keeps an eye on the horizon looking for some salty dogs to keep her warm at night...

"Aaaahhhhhh!!!!! Could someone please, please, put a stop to all this giggling!"

"OK... I take it back, the giggling is worth it"

"hubba, hubba, hubba"

Suzanne keeps a lookout during a nice sunset sail.

Suz, Hans and Libby found some tasty dinner, everyone was happy...

... except Libby when the lobster started wiggling in her hands!