Monday, December 7, 2015

Leaving the Salinas safety zone

Over a month ago, with a new and improved engine, we left the safety and friendship of Salinas harbor. It was a welcome though thoughtful transition. We had a new dinghy with VI registration, and a good weather window. The last evening before the biggest passage we had made in many, many moons was our hurricane go-to spot, Bahia Jobos. It was an uneventful night until I was awakened from a deep sleep with Mike saying, Cate I need you to listen for Ollie in case he falls in the water. Those of you who know us, know that our cats live solely down below. I woke with a great adrenalin surge. Apparently the screen we had used in the companionway for the last three years was mighty enticing the night before our big jump. Both cats had pushed through the bottom and were huddled on the starboard deck close to the lifelines. Rose immediately came in for the treats, Oliver . . . well his feral switch was triggered. So as I called his name I could hear the pitter patter of his large cloven hooves . . . fortunately Ollie is a momma’s boy. So he came to my voice. How had they gotten the memo on our next destination? Or was the tranquil still water and Coqui, which we had experienced many times, enough to call them out on this night? What made this night different from any other night . . . not even Passover time . . . A bit too much of a coincidence in my book.

Then we caught our breath, put in the Plexiglas divider and proceeded to Green Beach, Vieques. It took about 8 hours. After a night there we had a four hour trip to Culebra, which was every bit as beautiful as we had been promised. To sweeten the transition, our good friends Diane and John came and spent several days exploring with us. Though several restaurants were on fall break, we had a delightful time seeing a crown jewel of Puerto Rico. Snorkeling as good as the Bahamas, mountains to rival Western Maryland, friendly people, a great library, blue waters . . . a must see. We met up with Richard and Sue Klumb as well as our Thanksgiving partners of last year, Brian and Jennifer, on Moon. Cruising in the Caribbean allows an ebb and flow of people that is like a well-orchestrated Virginia reel.

Three or so days after arriving at Culebra, we headed to St Thomas, a mere 14 miles, 4 hours of motor-sailing. The weather was perfect for the intrepid . . . low swell, low wind. We could see it from Culebra. Our first port of call was Honeymoon bay. The amount of moorings throughout Crown Bay and Druif Bay, or Honeymoon was a bit off-putting. We anchored at the back of the pack and spent a very rolly night before pulling anchor and heading to Christmas Cove off of St James. It was pristine blue, an easy mooring, and equally rolly. I now think I had been spoiled from being on the Southern side of first Hispaniola and then Puerto Rico. Rolling seems to be inevitable in the Virgins. Suppose it is logical with two confluences, the Atlantic and the Carribean, joining. Only small scraps of land to anchor/moor around. So we skipped from Christmas into Charlotte Amalie harbor. It too was mostly rolly, but the availability of the town, the safari buses, and the magic of the island charmed us. Free Zumba at the yacht haven marina, local night on the tram, first Bushwhacker, Lobster at Green House, and the magic of sitting in the harbor with the twinkling lights of Charlotte Amalie all around. Magic.

After a business trip to FL, we took the opportunity to move to Brewer’s Bay, far less roll, a lot of natural beauty. To port of the airport, aft of the University of the Virgin Islands. An easy hike from the beach to Safari bus, lovely. Pelicans as entertainment for the cats. Every move harbor to harbor is 2 hours of less of trauma for them. Between the accessibility, the academic breeze, the natural beauty . . . I think I could spend considerable time in Brewer’s Bay.

We are now on a mooring near several old friends met through Facebook. Followed for several years, waiting to finally share a harbor. Bar has nightly events. The beach is beautiful and a stone’s throw away. The folks are an instant community of care. Life is good in yet another paradise.

As cruisers stop into St Thomas for provisions on the way to somewhere else, I wonder at their hurry. But I, like others we have met, value our best kept secrets.