Monday, December 31, 2012

Beach Quest 2012

   The Berube's came to visit for the past week, and we partook in "Beach Quest 2012," seeking out some of the best beaches on Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin, and on a neighbor island of Anguilla (UK).
   We collectively decided that a "perfect" beach needs the following:
 - Natural shade (Chris)
 - Perfect power sand (Kathy)
 - Background music (Don)
 - Warm water (Kellee)
  So in our quest to find these criteria, we visited about 9 beaches in three countries over the past week, and along the way were assaulted by scantily clad men, wayward fowl, and too much patisserie.  However we saw some pretty cool beaches.
   The highlight was a three day diversion to Anguilla, where we sailed to Road Bay and spent some time on the quiet and beautiful island.
   St. Maarten is great - but all to easy to eat baguette and pain au chocolat every day.  So, with that in mind, we'll be shoving off for St. Barts (French) in a couple days to continue our trek southward.

  Check out a couple videos from the past week on the "videos" link above.  Happy New Year!
 St. Maarten

  Maho Beach

  Hollywood Casino

  Meads Beach, Anguilla

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Photos

We were going through our files and decided to post some of the best photos from the past six months of sailing Navigator down the east coast of the US and the eastern Caribbean.  Hope you enjoy!  Better resolution photos are available on Flickr on the "Pictures" link above.  Happy Holidays from St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies!   


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Adios to the BVI and Arrival in Sint Maarten

We safely arrived in the Dutch side of St Martin (Sint Maarten) around lunchtime today and after a nap, checked into customs and made the evening bridge opening into the protected Simpson Bay Lagoon, where we were able to bump up our dock reservation.  We arrived a couple of days ahead of schedule in order to take advantage of a weather window, which made for a beautiful over night sail from Virgin Gorda. 

Since leaving Soper's Hole (delayed a couple of days due to Christmas we checked out Roadtown, nothing of note to report from there), we headed over to Peter Island, home of deadman's bay and the video from the last post.  We also explored Peter Island, a privately owned resort island of which the likes of Robert DeNiro supposedly spends his Christmas holidays.  We hiked over the island to White Bay and did some snorkeling, which was okay, but the highlight was finding a bunch of perfectly preserved, already bleached, sand dollars.  The next day we grabbed a dive mooring on Dead Chest Island and did a nice dive amongst some canyons filled with coral.  Saw a large sting ray too.  We also hiked up to the top of Virgin Gorda, a 9.5 mile pretty steep hike, but with a good view at the top.  

We haven't talked much about our snorkeling escapades, but on any given day we've seen lots of fish, a night snorkel yielded lobster and octopus, we've seen a few spotted eagle rays, small eels and a couple of turtles and nudibranchs.  We see a lot of turtles sailing around, and this morning we saw a pod of sperm whales as we approached the island.  We did one last snorkel in the BVIs up in Eustatia Sound and saw a bunch of live conch shells and a neat starfish.  Our first impression of St Martin is that this is where the wealthy come to  "yacht", we've seen more megayachts just today than we have in the whole of our journey so far.  Chris' parents are coming to visit for the holiday, so we're going to use our early arrival to get some needed boat maintenance done before their arrival so that we can enjoy the beaches, snorkeling, shopping and fine cuisine when they arrive.  Chris has been boning up on his french so at least we can order hamburgers and lemonade  on the french side of the island.  This island is the smallest landmass to occupy 2 distinct countries.  You can drive or walk seamlessly between the two, but if sailing, we will need to clear in and out of each country, even though the offices are only about 5 miles apart!

The next several islands  in our travels (Saba, St Barts, Statia, St. Kitts) are all visible from here, the next time we'll have to make an overnight passage will be after Grenada!  We are getting spoiled with having the next adventure always so close by!  Merry Christmas everyone!

 Peter Island hike.
The Sand Dollar haul.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Short Video

   While visiting Peter Island, in the British Virgin Islands, we found ourselves dropping the anchor in Dead Man's Bay.  Across the water was Dead Chest Island.  It turns out this region is alleged to have inspired the lyrics "15 men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!"  Who knows if this is true or not, but regardless, we found ourselves in need of some oreo cookies....

Just posted a new video in the "video" link above.  It is low quality due to bandwidth restrictions in our present location - we'll replaced it with the HD version in a couple weeks or so. Hope you enjoy:
Click here to go directly to the video.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Virgin Islands round 2

Greetings from Soper's Hole, West End of Tortola, BVI.  The last 10 days have been very busy... (sarcasm).  After relaxing at the pool and enjoying the tv, spa and restaurants of the Marriott, we got back on the boat and motored over to Crown Bay Marina to give the Navigator a little TLC.  We topped off on food, water and fuel and planned out the next week or so.  We sailed over to St. James Island the next day, just to take advantage of a free mooring and nice anchorage for the night.  Then we motored up back to Francis Bay, part of the national park on St. John...and spent the next 5 days there, swimming, chillaxing, reading, doing some boat projects, cleaning, relaxing some more and just hanging out.  The "Christmas winds" are in full effect, so it blows 25kts most of the day and calms a bit at night, so the bay was a nice place to be.  It often rains, seemingly out of nowhere, and only for about 5 minutes, which is nice to keep things cool, but frustrating to have to close the hatches in the middle of the night.  We stayed on the boat for the most part, but did spend one day ashore to hike 9.5 miles from the north end, up and over the peak of the island to the south end on the "Reef Bay" trail.  It was a perfect day for it, breezy, but no rain, and there were some neat sugar factory ruins along the route.  We were a little sore the next day, so we relaxed some more, swam to stretch out and ate an entire tray of brownies for dinner...we figured we earned it.  Today had us itching for fresh food and an internet connection, so we motored the less than two miles over to the BVI, checked in at Customs and got some fresh groceries.  We'll stay here tonight, probably head over to Norman Island tomorrow, then the winds are supposed to lighten up over the weekend, so we want to head over to Peter Island and dive "Dead Chest Cay"...supposedly where the phrase "15 men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" originated. From there we'll work back up to Virgin Gorda, get a dock in Spanish Town to clean the boat and fill tanks, then wait for our weather window to head over to St. Martin, which is 80 miles away and should take us a full day/night. Chris' parents are meeting us there for Christmas and we can't wait to explore the Dutch/French island with them!  We'll check back in from Spanish Town before we head over there, hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Virgin Islands Week 2

We just completed a circumnavigation of the British Virgin Islands, stopping at all the cool places and snorkeling our brains out.  It was a good time with perfect weather.

One of the highlights of this past week was diving on the wreck of the RMS RHONE, which sunk in a hurricane in 1867 off the British Island of Salt Island. The ship was a mail transport vessel which was carrying passengers, many of whom unfortunately drowned in the disaster.  The wreck lies in two major pieces in about 50-80 feet of clear water, with several swim throughs and artifacts present.  It was a great 2-tank dive with a local company.

After leaving the southern BVI's, we stopped at Tortola to partake in a full moon festival, which was quite interesting, including spending some quality time at the "Bomba Shack" on the beach on the northern coast of Tortola.

Right now, we are back in St. Thomas to drop our friends off at the airport.  A side benefit is that we can cash in our Marriott Rewards Points for some free/discounted time in a hotel (I guess the long winter months in Maine were good for something!) It is an unbelievable luxury to have a shower, pool, internet, and real bed.

In the next couple days, we'll be heading back east again, through St. John in the USVI for some hiking  and then quickly through the BVIs again before heading over to St. Maarten for our Holiday Rendezvous.

There are some new pictures posted on Flickr in the link above.  Also there is a long (35 minute) "documentary" about our trip from North Carolina to St. Thomas in November. It is basically just a video blog to give you an idea about what it's like to sail a small boat south.  Kind of long but hopefully enjoyable.

Signing off for now - the pool awaits.

 Shawn checking out a dive site.
 Diving on the RHONE
Navigator at St. Thomas