Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hello Virgin Islands

The sails finally arrived and looked fab; the mainsail stack pack needed a little alteration but all in all we are very happy with them. I went up the mast and did a final rig check; we said goodbye to all our friends in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin and headed out Friday lunchtime via the French side bridge. It was wonderful to be anchored outside in the turquoise blue water despite the wind and squally skies and the roll after 6weeks in the mucky but flat calm lagoon. We set sail on Saturday on a downwind sail to the US Virgin Islands. We left in the afternoon to blues skies which quickly turned grey and ominous looking. We are such big chickens and don’t like anything other than fair weather. While anxiously discussing the merits of turning back to Sim, a good omen appeared in the form of dolphins leaping out of the water right behind where Sim was sitting, squealing in delight and nearly giving Sim a heart attack, we decided to carry on.

We arrived the next morning to St Johns in the USVI’s after a rolly but not too uncomfortable night sail. It was a Sunday and was also the last day of the Rolex regatta where we managed to get in the way of all the racing boats. Our finger prints were taken by customs and immigration when we finally managed to get to Cruz Bay; a port of entry. We decided to carry on to Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas and finally dropped anchor and were settled by 5pm with a well deserved drink!

The US Virgins are very different to the East Caribbean. As most people know they are home to the yacht charterers, where year round thousands of Americans and Europeans flock to the islands that offer easy sailing in the sun. Everything screams tourism. Every bay is packed full of charter boats, the VHF radio constantly crackles into life and is generally misused. But there is a fun and laid back feel to the islands and their charm can’t be denied. The water is clearer than the rest of the Caribbean and in the main towns everything is readily available.

We had a couple of wonderful days with Sam and Jon at Christmas Cove in St James. The water is the most amazing blue and while we were there the weather was beautiful. We swam and snorkeled and had dinner together – all the things you expect to do in the sunny Caribbean. We said our goodbyes again and sadly got underway. As we are still not totally sure where we are going we never know if these are our last goodbyes or not but as Sim has a flight booked from Puerto Rico in less then a week we are under pressure to get there in the next few days. We moved back to Charlotte Amalie for a couple of nights, a mecca for cruise ships and tourists and met up with an old friend Josh from Second Star who we had met in the Bahamas and The DR a few years ago.

Now we are in Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands, a group of islands just to the east of Puerto Rico which are small and quaint, attracting a different kind of tourist. We have met up with John from Stingo and are now deciding what to do with the couple of free days that we have. The wind is up, the seas are up and the skies are overcast and occasionally drizzling with rain… feels like England.

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