Rusty Sandals
Walker's Journal of Bareboating the British Virgin Islands
June 5-21, 2002

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Wednesday, June 5
We are up at 3:00 AM to make the 6:12 AM departure from Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Everything is packed, we just have to load the van and go. We are not light packers. We have a backpack, camera bag, and small handbag as carry-ons. We are checking our two larger clothes bags, a large dive bag, and my windsurfing gear, which consists of an 8-foot long bag with 3 sails inside and 2 booms strapped to the outside and a separate 9-foot long bag with masts. At the American Airlines counter, the agent tells me that the windsurfing gear is oversized and will require a surcharge. I screw up and tell her that American charges a flat rate of $75 for a windsurfing package, which may consist of up to three pieces (that is American's policy). Apparently, she does not like a customer telling her how to do her job, and replies that American is no longer allowing any windsurfing gear to be checked to the Caribbean. I back-pedal quickly, take an humble demeanor, and $150 later the windsurfing gear is checked.

As we board, Nancy is pulled aside for the random passenger search. The trip from IAH begins with a return to the gate - a cockpit annunciator is indicating something wrong in the tailcone of the MD-80 aircraft. After about 20 minutes of investigation at the gate, it winds up being a problem with the annunciator itself, but it takes another 20 minutes to find a mechanic who is authorized to sign off the problem so that the aircraft can depart. We finally leave, about an hour late. We originally had a close (45 minute) connection at DFW for our flight to San Juan. If we make it at all now, it is going to be very tight.

We land at DFW and literally run to make the SJU flight. They close the door on the 757 right behind us. We know that we will be without any luggage when we arrive in Tortola. No problem, mon, we are both dressed in island gear, and are wearing sandals. In fact, I didn't even pack any other shoes. The sandals on my feet are all I will need for the next two weeks. We have an uneventful plane change at SJU, other than both of us being selected for the random passenger search.

We arrive on time (3:40 PM) at the new Terrance B. Lettsome Airport terminal at Beef Island. The ramp construction is not complete, so the American Eagle ATR-42 has to park a long distance away, which makes for quite a long walk to the terminal. Once we are inside, the terminal is very nice - in fact, nicer than we expected. Miraculously, our checked luggage is on our flight - minus one bag - my windsurfing masts. After I file a missing bag claim at the American Eagle counter in the terminal, Franklyn takes us to the Mariner Inn. There are 23 people plus Franklyn on his new vehicle, which he is very proud of. Actually, it looks like he may have two new vehicles - there is another identical one parked in the lot at the airport. Almost everyone else in the taxi is part of a huge Moorings flotilla that is sailing tomorrow.

At the Mariner Inn, we bypass the check-in desk, which is mobbed with the flotilla, and head straight to the bar for our ceremonial rum punches while the rest of the crowd checks in. When we finish our rum punch, the check-in desk is clear, so we check in. Room 14 this time, which is upstairs next to the pool. We have been in this one before. We call Brandywine Bay and make dinner reservations for 7:30, then go back down to the bar for Caribs.

Since we have bought owner's time this year, we already know that we will be on Texas Two Step, so we walk out on the dock to check her out. The cleaning girl is aboard and tells us that she will have the boat ready for us early in the morning.

We shower and dress for dinner. We are twins wearing Jams World - my shirt matches Nancy's dress. We get a taxi to Brandywine Bay, a beautiful restaurant with a true chef, Davide Pugliese. Davide and his wife Cele are wonderful and gracious hosts. We start off with mussels and carpaccio, followed by herb-crusted halibut for Nancy and porchetta ripiena for me, with a bottle of Australian pinot noir. After the main course, I order the orange salad, then we simply order chef's choice for dessert. Chef's choice was a flan with raspberry syrup drizzle and a crunchy granola-like topping. Davide, the chef, is very attentive and makes our dinner a very personal experience even though there is another large group dining there. After dinner, we express our pleasure and assure him that he will see us again before we leave for home. The taxi driver had told us that it would take 2 hours for dinner and he was exactly right. We walk down the stairs to the taxi at 9:30 and are sound asleep by 10:00. We sleep like rocks after the long day.

Thursday, June 6
We are up at 6:30 AM and looking for coffee. The flotillas (there are 2 of them sailing today) have every table in the Mariner Inn restaurant reserved. "No problem, mon, sit anywhere you like." We have the breakfast buffet, then I call American Eagle - no word yet on my masts. K-Mark'sWe walk over to K-Mark's for provisions. The selection is not nearly as good as previous years. However, we are able to get most of the items on our shopping list. Passion fruit is at the peak of the season, so we pick some up at only $1.50 a pound. We taxi our purchases back to Texas Two Step, then walk to RiteWay for the remaining items on our list. They have reworked RiteWay quite a bit since we were in there last. They have a huge selection - we will shop there next trip. The only negative about RiteWay is that they do not carry Carib.

We taxi the last stuff to the boat, then load our luggage and windsurfing gear (minus masts) and check out of the Mariner. The boat only has 2 bags of ice aboard, so we buy more 3 more bags and 1 block from the dockside grocery. The dockside grocery is convenient, but I definitely would not recommend provisioning from it, as it is a small store and thus has a very limited selection. I check the water tanks and find them full. We toss the docklines and are out of the marina by 11:00AM.

Flying the flags on Texas Two StepJeremy Wright's Trellis Bay Cyber Cafe and Boardsailing BVIThe wind is southerly today at 12-15 knots. We sail around to Trellis Bay and hoist our flags on Texas Two Step. On the way, I clean the knotmeter wheel and calibrate the knotlog. In slack water I have the knotlog and GPS reading within a tenth of a knot of each other. After the flags are flying, we dinghy across to Jeremy's to pick up my board and our a kayak. "My" board is Jeremy's personal F2 Thommen, which was Peter Thommen's prototype board, made in 1996 for Bjorn Dunkerbeck. Jeremy bought the board from Bjorn after Bjorn sailed it in the Hiho. He has been letting me use his board for the last five years. This is a real privilege to me - I don't think he lets many people touch this board. I call American Eagle from Jeremy's but there is still no info regarding my masts. I ask them to deliver the bag to Boardsailing BVI when it arrives, and I rent replacement masts from Jeremy. Mary, the cook at Jeremy's Cyber Cafe, has a jug of freshly made passion fruit juice, and it is delicious. She tells me how to make it (we have fresh passion fruit aboard!).

Marina CayFrom Trellis Bay, we motor over to our ball at Marina Cay. We call Donovan's Reef on VHF 16 and make dinner reservations. I activate our CCT Boatphone, and call the crew back in Houston to check on the STS-111 shuttle launch. STS-111 was the first flight using the space shuttle trajectory system that I designed and built over the last five years. STS-111 was scheduled to launch last week, but launch delays caused the launch to be yesterday so I was not able to watch my system in its first real operational use. Pat tells me that the new system performed flawlessly and that everyone is overjoyed at how well things are going. Jeremy has promised to track down my masts, so I call Jeremy and leave him our phone number.

We paddle the kayak over to Cam Bay, then over to the little sandy beach across from Cam Bay on Scrub Island, where I pick some frangipani flowers for Nancy. She puts the flowers into her swimsuit top and we paddle back to the boat. Nancy empties the first gallon water jug into a pitcher and we make our first gallon of painkillers. After a shower, we head to the Marina Cay "Top of the Hill" bar for happy hour with Michael Bean. Bean is a great entertainer. He plays guitar, harmonica, an old squeeze box, and kicks rhythm on a plastic bread carrier atop a cardboard Carib box with microphones inside -- pretty clever. He puts a whole new meaning in "Arrrrrrrrrgh!". I win a shot of Pusser's Rum for knowing that Blackbeard's real name was Edward Teach.

Donovan's ReefAfter a couple of painkillers each at the bar, we dink back to the boat to dress for dinner (matching Jams World again), then dink to Donovan's Reef right at sunset. Nan has salad and Donovan's Reef chicken, and I have pepper pot soup and pan fried sea bass. The food is very good, the restaurant is very nice, and the service is excellent. The key lime pie we have for dessert is perfect.

We are back to the boat at 8:30. My list of satellite viewing opportunities shows SEASAT coming at 9:12, and the sky is perfectly clear tonight. SEASAT shows up precisely on time, moving right through the Big Dipper and very plainly visible. This is amazing for something that is 600 miles away, about the size of a Volkswagen, and lit only by sunlight. We go below and set the Breeze Booster. There is a nice breeze, and we are very cool. In fact, around 3:00 AM we have to break out a blanket. This will be the last night of the trip that we set the Breeze Booster.

Friday, June 7
I am up at 6:45 and make our first pot of coffee on the boat. It is waaay too strong, and requires dilution before we can enjoy it. We have grapefruit and granola for breakfast, and I make my first passion fruit juice. One fruit makes one glass of juice. I save the seeds from the passion fruit. They grow wild here in abundance -  maybe with lots of care, we can grow a passion fruit plant along with our thriving plumerias in Houston. We load the CD player with Quito CDs. It is a beautiful day, with beautiful skies and wind from the east at 12-15 knots.

Tortola Two StepAfter lots of thought and discussion, we name this year's dinghy "Tortola Two Step". I cut out and apply the duct-tape lettering to the port side of the dink.

We paddle to Trellis Bay and walk around to Sprat Point. On the way back, we stop at de Loose Mongoose for Caribs and conch fritters. As we walk in, there is one other couple inside. Stinky and the JudgeBefore we even sit, the curly-haired guy in the couple says to me, "Is that a Texas accent?". Before I can finish saying yes, he says, "Walker!". It is TTOL'er Erich and his new wife  Gaetan, aka "Stinky and the Judge". We sit and compare notes thus far and take a couple of photos. They are here on their honeymoon on a crewed charter aboard "Calypso Queen", a Voyage 38, with Mike and Jennifer Kneafsey as captain and first mate. I tell Nan that they are on their honeymoon and she tells them that we are still on ours, even though we have been married for 14 years.

Sprat Point Beach Trash SculptureWe paddle back, making a detour ashore to the east of Sprat Point to photograph and contribute to the beach trash sculpture there.

Stupid!When we get back to Texas Two Step, I do something really stupid. As I am pulling the kayak up on deck, I step through an open port atop the port hull, with my right leg passing all the way through the port and my crotch stopping my fall. Thoughts of a seriously screwed up trip flash through my mind before the pain set in. Luckily, I do not break my leg, but escape with a big scrape where my leg slid along the edge of the port, a couple of good scratches, and a soon-to-be huge bruise. I lay down on the tram after a couple of ibuprofen and the necessary tall painkiller. After a half hour, I get up, get out my fins, and let the salt water cleanse while I exercise the leg in the water. Nancy comes in and we have a short snorkel.

TTOL Group at Marina CayWe shower and go ashore for the TTOL get-together at the Top of the Hill. For a long time, it looks as if Nan and I are the whole TTOL party. About 6:30, Herve leads a group of 13 or so TTOL'ers into the packed bar. We meet Herve and Dorothy, and Mike and Jennifer Kneafsey, have a round of painkillers courtesy of Stinky and take some group photos. Kneafsey and I talk about various boats - he thinks that the Voyage 38 is a real dog. I win another shot of Pusser's Rum for knowing that Blackbeard's real name is still Edward Teach.

Afterwards, we go down to make our 7:30 dinner reservation at Pusser's. Conch fritters (of course), conch chowder, and snapper for both of us with a bottle of Penfold's chardonnay. We make it back to the boat at 8:45. Lights are out early, but it's a long time before we are asleep. We are still on that honeymoon....

Saturday, June 8
Approaching AnegadaI am up at 6:30. My leg is very sore, but I think exercise will help. Cantaloupe and English muffins with jelly for breakfast. We prepare for this morning's sail to Anegada. The wind is easterly at 17-20 knots, so it should be a nice tight reach. We are away from our mooring at 7:45. Once clear of Scrub Island, the breeze is nice, true wind about 15 to 17 at 60 off the starboard bow. The boat moves along nicely (for a 3800) at a steady 7 to 7.5 knots. The current off Scrub Island is very strong to the west, and we have to steer 060 to hold the rhumb line. The current eases up about 5 miles out, and we can crack off to 050. The boat is flying along in the high 7's, with an occasional 8 on the fun meter. It is fairly hazy today. I first spot the pines at Setting Point Villa with the naked eye from about 8 miles out. I take a lot of photographs as we approach Anegada to use on my Navigating to Anegada web page. Kneafsey left about a half hour behind us, and we are kicking Calypso Queen's butt. She's hull down with 5 miles to go and getting smaller. I spot the outer channel buoy with naked eye when we are 1.5 miles away.

We are anchored at our traditional Anegada spot at 10:45 AM. We dink ashore and find Lowell setting a short length of 3 inch PVC pipe into concrete at the head of the hotel roundabout. He's always building something. His favorite toy is his front-end loader (not a toy one - a real one). He is like a kid in a sandbox with it on Anegada. The stub of pipe is the base for a flagpole. The flagpole will simply be a length of PVC pipe that he can drop into the base stub.

Anegada LobstermenI spot our Anegada buddy Keith and we say hello. We have known Keith for 5 years and always have fun with him. There is no such thing as Jelly Bellys in the BVI, so I bring Keith a bag of Jelly Bellys every year. The book The British Virgin Islands - A Photographic Portrait, published by Sail Magazine and containing wonderful photos of the BVI by Mauricio Handler, is available in the finer shops in the BVI. A picture of Keith is in the book on page 111. Calling Keith a lobsterman is a bit inaccurate, though. Keith is pretty much the "boy Friday" around the Anegada Reef Hotel. Keith does a bit of everything.

KeciaNancy at SchoolNancy and I spend some time on the hotel beach deciding whether to do anything or not. We decide "or not", so head back to the boat to pack a bag for Cow Wreck Beach - the best place for "or not". In fact, Nancy has a sign made from a piece of driftwood that we brought back from the BVI and engraved island-style (burned with a magnifying glass and sunlight) hanging in her classroom in Houston that says "Cow Wreck Beach - 2072 miles". Keith drives us over to Cow Wreck with a group of about 8 others. Bell is as cheerful as always - what a sweetheart. Lauren's new baby Traticia (sp?) is now 9 months old and as cute as can be. Tika's new baby Shayna is also a doll, sitting in her highchair beside Traticia. They are really a pair and entertain each other cooing back and forth. Kecia is getting prettier and prettier - she's really cute and plays with everyone. (Wendell and Bell, who own the Cow Wreck Beach restaurant, have 4 daughters: Ann, Lauren, Ellie, and Tika. Ann lives in Florida, and Lauren, Ellie, and Tika live on Anegada).

Conch ceviche at Cow Wreck BeachWe have conch ceviche and fritters. Bell wins the conch fritter competition hands down. Hers are different from all the others. Nowhere else is even close. This is something that you have to experience to understand, and Nancy and I have done extensive research on the conch fritter issue.

Stinky and the Judge at Cow Wreck BeachWe laze around, swim a little, and have a few Caribs. Stinky (Erich) and the Judge (Gaetan) appear in the middle of the afternoon.

We talk to Wendell and decide to come over to Cow Wreck for dinner tomorrow night. Wendell says that they have a large group coming tonight. When we pay our tab, we find that Stinky provided us with some of the Caribs that we consumed this afternoon. Tanks, mon!

We are back to the boat around 5:15. I take a solo paddle around to the ferry dock. It is breezy, making paddling the fat two-person kayak upwind quite a workout, but the thing really scoots downwind in the waves - surfing at times. When I get back, we clean up, dress (matching Jams World again - "pineapples") and go ashore for lobster dinner at the Anegada Reef Hotel. I have a 3 pound bag of Jelly Bellys for Keith and a bottle of Rabbit Ridge OVZ for Lowell. Lowell is looking good as always. There are few changes here from last year - a new covered table and some sand retention timbers on the beach. At the bar, we meet Mark and Joe, a father and son from Tortola, who are trying to guess where we are from. Their guesses are Baton Rouge and Kansas. They are very nice people and are amused because Nancy and I are dressed alike. Joe, 11 tears old, is a very neat and engaging boy, obviously highly self-motivated. They are from England, but have lived on Tortola for 7 years, and 2 years in the Caymans prior to that. Mark's wife is back in England and Mark and Joe flew over for a night in the hotel. This is their first visit to Anegada.

Keith has Thursday as his day off, and is planning to go to Tortola this Thursday. He invites Nancy and me to go to Tortola with him so that he can show us Tortola from a non-tourist perspective. This sounds interesting: visiting Anegada and flying to Tortola for a day trip, essentially doing the Anegada thing in reverse. Nancy and I decide that we will do it.

We enjoy a couple of "smoodies" (the proper pronunciation here for smoothies). Ellie is working at the bar and her son Mikey, who is now 5, is sitting on a stool at the bar. Mikey is surprised that we know him (we have known him since he was a baby). I tell Mikey that everyone knows him.

We enjoy our lobster dinner and catch up with Lowell at the bar. Lowell and I eventually get around to airplane talk (he owns a Cessna 206), He cannot get instruction since 9/11. He has a grand total of two hours of instruction in his logbook, but flies solo about 3 times a week. He hopes to get signed off for solo before long....

Captain Glenn from Sunsail spots Nancy and is on her like a refrigerator magnet. We have bumped into Glenn a couple of times in years past, and he apparently remembers. Glenn danced a lot with Nancy a couple of years ago at Billy Bones. Afterwards, Nancy jokingly said that Glenn must have had a really large dinghy flashlight in his pocket. Glenn wants us to go next door to Potter's disco. Maybe he still has that flashlight. Nancy and I are still chatting with Lowell, so Glenn leaves for the disco. The Stinky and Kneafsey crew drifts by - headed for Potter's also. However, they are back soon - nothing is happening there. Glenn is back also, hanging close by. Nancy and I are the last to leave the bar. We dinghy back to the boat for another good night of sleep.

Sunday, June 9
I am up at 5:50 AM and have the coffee going. By now, I have the proportions right. I decide it's time to work this leg out, which is still quite stiff and sore. I take a couple of ibuprofen then load the windsurfing gear into the dinghy and move it to shore at the hotel beach. The wind is round 12 to 15, so I rig my Aerotech VMG 9.6. My right leg is so stiff that I am not sure that I will be able to lift it high enough for a port-tack beach start with the 48cm fin on the board. However, I manage to hop on the Thommen. This board is a rocket, and I instantly remember why I like it so much. A little puff and I am in the straps - well, almost. The footstraps, which are probably set for Jeremy, are way too tight for me so my first run is with me on the straps instead of in them. I sail it back to the beach, adjust the straps, and tweak my sail settings. After that, I sail for another half hour or so, then sit and rest. My leg is working fine - the sailing (and the ibuprofen) relieved the stiffness and soreness. I really love this section of beach at Anegada, on the west side of the hotel dock. When I die, my ashes are to be scattered here. I will be part of this soft sea bottom that I have waded through for many years. Thoughts of that give me a warm peaceful feeling as my feet sink into the soft bottom.

Calypso Queen at Neptune's TreasureNancy and I decide to paddle the kayak around to Cow Wreck Beach. We pack a bag and head out. We take a few photos along the way - including a shot of Calypso Queen anchored off Neptune's Treasure. We paddle right up on a couple of sea turtles that do not seem to mind us very much. The last stretch, past West End Point to Cow Wreck, is challenging. We are paddling directly into a 20 knot wind, and there are extremely shallow spots. Even though we are well off the beach, we wind up wading for a few yards at one point. The GPS says that the trip around is 3.7 NM, and we make it in an hour and 20 minutes.

Shellfish sandwich at Cow Wreck BeachLunch at Cow Wreck Beach - I remember how good that cheeseburger looked that Wendell was eating yesterday afternoon, so Nancy and I split a cheeseburger and a shellfish sandwich. Tika asks if we have ever had shellfish before. I answer "Yes", thinking that it was crab, etc., and ask her what other kinds of shellfish were in it besides crab. Tika laughs and says "no crab - shellfish!". It turns out that "shellfish" is actually trunkfish. The locals call it a "shellfish" because the trunkfish, which is a member of the boxfish family, has scales that are fused together to form a solid shell which covers almost the entire body, thus it "lives in a shell". They boil the fish and pick out the meat, which has a consistency and flavor much like crabmeat. It is very tasty, and they make a great sandwich out of it at Cow Wreck Beach.

Mark and Joe are at Cow Wreck, Joe out snorkeling all over the reef. Nancy takes a nice walk around the point to Bones Bight. I paddle the kayak solo out beyond the reef into the open ocean. Joe wants to try the kayak, so we let them paddle around a bit. We make dinner reservations with Alex, then paddle back around to the boat. It is quite a bit harder once we round Pomato Point and are paddling into 20-25 knot wind and steep chop. We make the trip back in an hour and 30 minutes.

Neal's AirCamWhile I am showering, Nancy yells "A plane just landed between us and the hotel!" Texas Two Step from the airWithout even looking, I am sure that it's Neil with his AirCam sightseeing plane. I have never seen it, but know about it from the TTOL board. I rush to dress and get ashore. Yes, it is Neil. I quickly arrange for a ride around Anegada and rush back to the boat to get Nancy. Neil takes us on a very nice tour around Anegada at 50 to 200 feet. As we thought, there is essentially nothing on the island that we have never seen. However, we had no idea of how extensive the old stone fences at the eastern end of the island are. We see a couple of large eagle rays and a six-foot shark in the shallows to the west of Pomato Point. The island is really beautiful from the air. Of course, I take photos. I fly the AirCam a bit myself - it handles very smoothly. When we land, we wave at Stinky, who is swimming beside Calypso Queen, and I get a great photo of Texas Two Step.

Alex picks us up for dinner at Cow Wreck. We have lobster and shrimp. Bell's lobster is very good. It is split, with the meat breaded with a very light mix of bread crumbs, garlic, and other seasonings, then broiled. Nancy says the Rosemount chardonnay that we have with dinner is "pirate wine" because the cork is covered with R's. It's a Michael Bean thing: "Arrrrrrrrgh!". After dinner, we start out with Tika driving us back to the hotel and Nancy holding Shayna, Tika's precious little baby. Near the Pomato Point Restaurant, we meet Wendell driving the other way, Tika and her baby exchange places with him, and Wendell drops us off at the hotel.

Back at the ARH, we have a smoodie. There are very few people around tonight. We talk with Sydney and Clinton for a while, then head back to the boat. We lay out on the tram for a while. I go to sleep on the tram, but wake up around 11:30 too cool, even with the blanket, and go below for the rest of the night.

Apparently, during my sleep below, I dream that I am still up on deck. I am awakened in the middle of the night by Nancy asking "What are you doing?". I realize that I am peeing, so I stop and answer "I'm peeing", then I resume. Here is the situation: I am sitting on the side of our berth, which is about four feet above the floor. Yes, I am peeing - off the side of the bed nonetheless, and it is making a very loud sound as it strikes the wooden floor sole way down below. The sound is what woke Nancy up. Nancy says "You are peeing on the floor!". I stop again, and sleepily reply "Yes, I guess I am", and continue again. Nancy then says "You are peeing on my shoes!" I pause briefly, consider the situation, finish peeing, lay down, and go back to sleep. Nancy is not amused, and has trouble going back to sleep.

Monday, June 10
I am up at 5:45 and have the coffee going. I get the deck bucket and wash down the cabin floor and bilge, which has a strange odor. I also get Nancy's sandals and give them a good washing. I hope they don't rust.

I'm going to do some sailing on the Thommen today. There is decent breeze by 7:00, and I sail until 8:00 on the 9.6. Calypso Queen motors out around 8:00. We have a big breakfast aboard this morning: bacon, eggs, English muffins, coffee, and orange juice. Food sure is good in the sun and breeze. We are limin' today. We dink ashore and visit the "mall" (Sue's shop). At the mall, we meet JD (another TTOL'er) and crew. JD owns a Beneteau 402CC "Daix Dream", but is chartering a Lagoon 38 catamaran. They were sitting at a table finishing dinner last night as we are walking to the dock, and called me by name, but I didn't quite hear. JD tells me that they are having problems with the propane system on their catamaran and we discuss how to troubleshoot it.

On the way back out to the dock, we run into Keith. Keith had seen me sailing this morning out near the reef and tells me that I must be careful because the sharks are in and they are hungry. Clinton's commercial fishing boat "Aviance" is tied up at the dock, so I ask Keith about when Clinton goes out fishing. Keith says "E's goin' out taday - ya wanna go wid im?". I say "Sure!", so Keith runs and tells Clinton that he will have someone on the boat with him today. I take Nancy back to Texas Two Step and pick up the camera and a few Caribs to take on the fishing trip.

Before Clinton and I leave, Keith brings out a plate of fish that he has just cooked. It is absolutely delicious - firm, white, tastes like freshwater perch or tilapia. I ask Clinton what kind of fish it is. He says "groopah" and smiles at Keith. Keith finally admits that it is "shock". It turns out that it is a small blacktip shark that Clinton has just caught and cleaned. Keith put some Bohio seasoning on it and pan-fried it. Man oh man, this fish is as good as any I have ever had!

Clinton driving "Aviance"After the shark breakfast, Clinton and I board Aviance. Leaving the anchorage, Clinton shows me how to let out his trolling rigs, which are simply lures on steel leader at the end of 300 pound test monofilament line. I let out the lines to the length that Clinton wants and just tie them off to the boat. No fishing rods here: if a fish hits, we will just drag him until the fish is worn out. We troll with no strikes around the west end of Anegada to where Clinton has his first set of lobster traps. I pull in the trolling rigs and we start hauling traps. The catchClinton drives while I snatch the trap floats with a boathook and put the line on the hydraulic winch. Clinton knows how many lobster he wants to bring back, and we stop fishing when he has enough. We only take large lobster, and he is very careful not to take any egg-bearing females. Clinton is surprised at how well I can spot the floats on his traps. I can find them from a good bit further than he can. This LASIK stuff works! Clinton locates his near-shore traps (within a couple of miles of shore) by memory. He doesn't write anything down. He just remembers shoreline landmarks and how many traps he has dropped in the area. Offshore, where there are no landmarks, he uses a handheld GPS given to him by his son. We wind up with about 40 pounds of lobster, which Clinton sells to the Anegada Reef Hotel for $8.00 per pound, and I am now an Anegada lobsterman.

Clinton is 55 and retired from government service. Apparently, there was some sort of disagreement between him and the government and he wound up getting an early retirement. He gets about a modest retirement income from the government, but makes many times that from fishing and his rental properties (Lavenda Breeze and Bonefish Villa). Clinton has been married to his American wife for 37 years, and they have three children, all grown and professionals. His wife is currently in the US - there has been a death in her family.

Beach trash sculpture on AnegadaAs Clinton and I are heading back in, I spot Nancy walking around Pomato Point. She is carrying something long and red that I do not recognize. It is a piece of a swim noodle that she has just found and adds to the beach trash sculpture just to the east of Pomato Point.

Back at the hotel, I sit on the dock for a while and talk with little Mikey. He tells me that he has two girlfriends, Jamie and Annette.

We dress for dinner at the hotel. Clinton has promised to catch another blacktip shark for me to have for dinner, but he fails to produce, so tonight it is snapper and Penfold's chardonnay. After dinner, we lie out on the tram under a sky full of stars. Nancy goes below about 10:00, but I wrap up in a sheet and blanket on the tram and sleep until a light shower forces be to go below at 4:15 AM. This is our first night rain of the trip.

Tuesday, June 11
I am up at 6:00. I make a quick pot of coffee, then am on the Thommen for a while. There is good breeze this morning. After sailing, I go up to the beach and talk with Keith for a while. Keith tells me that Lowell is building a swimming pool. Yes, a swimming pool on Anegada. I guess there is just no decent place here to swim!

"Geyser" barge off west end of AnegadaBack to the boat. Nancy is up and reading. We have Pam's cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then decide to walk around the beach to Cow Wreck. We pack a couple of Caribs on ice in our soft cooler and set out barefoot. The walk around only takes two hours, with many stops for photos and to add to the Pomato Point beach trash sculpture. You can see the "geyser" barge blowing like a whale very clearly.

Catamaran about to hit the reefAs we walk around the west end, we watch a catamaran get too far west, sail past Anegada, then attempt to approach the west end beach. The boat (a Catamaran Co. cat) has two people up on the bows watching for reef. They drop their sails and motor southeast, and almost hit the reef off Ruffling Point before quickly turning back out. They eventually find the channel by watching the traffic and following another boat. Shortly afterwards, we watch another boat sail beyond the west end, then drop her sails and then abort an attempt to motor in - same song, second verse. Two near-misses on the reef in a span of less than 20 minutes. I didn't believe Keith yesterday when he said "chahtah boats on de reef ahl de time". Now I do.

At Cow Wreck, we talk for quite a while with Alex. He tells us about Wendell's incident with Sunsail. Wendell used to lead a Sunsail flotilla into Anegada. A couple of years ago, Wendell was helping a boat pick up a mooring at the hotel. There was an accident, and the boat ran completely over Wendell, resulting in Wendell's hand being severely broken. Wendell now has steel implants in his hand. Sunsail refuses to help Wendell with the medical bills, which are considerable.

When we set out on foot this morning for Cow Wreck, I forgot to bring my wallet. This is no problem at Cow Wreck. Our tab can remain open as long as we wish. This is truly a wonderful place.

Walking around AnegadaAfter a great lunch and an afternoon of limin', we grab a couple of to-go Caribs and head back along the beach to the hotel. The walk back only takes about an hour and a half, and is very pleasant - about 6 miles of beautiful beach and not a single other person for the entire walk back. Back at the hotel, I go for another sail out to the reef and back, but am only good for one run since my legs are pretty tired from the walk to Cow Wreck and back.

I run into Keith up on the beach, who asks how long we will be at Anegada. At his point we aren't sure, but we know that it will be at least until Friday, since we are planning to go to Tortola with Keith on Thursday. Keith asks what will we do for the next few days, and I tell him that we have nothing to do and jokingly say "I need a job." Keith tells me that if I am serious, he would like for me to come and help him work tomorrow. He starts work at 7:00 AM, but will have breakfast ready a little after 6:00. This sounds interesting to me, so I accept. I will get to learn yet more about Keith, the island, and everyday life here.

We shower and dink in for dinner. I spot Wendell out working on his boat "Just a Little Bit II", tied up out on the dock off Potter's. I walk out and talk with him a while, getting the details on the Sunsail incident. He tells me that he was in his own small power boat and was helping a Sunsail charter catamaran that was unable to pick up a mooring line. As Wendell handed the pennant up, the Sunsail skipper hit the throttle and went into full forward, running completely over Wendell's boat. The mooring pennant wrapped around Wendell's hand and snapped many bones. He says that Sunsail will not even talk to him now and is claiming that, according to their documents, the catamaran that ran over Wendell was not even out on charter that day. Assholes!

Smoodies at the bar, we visit with Clinton. The Queen's birthday celebration this weekend is going to be a really big thing. This is Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, celebrating 50 years on the throne. The ferry is going to bring over a marching band, the governor, the chief minister, and lots of other folks. There will be a parade and a huge open-house party at the hotel with free food and drink. It looks like we will have to stay through Saturday!

For dinner Nan has chicken, I have ribs, and we have a nice Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet. The barbecue chicken and ribs are delicious.  After serving dinner, Lowell sits at our table with us and we enjoy his company.

Wednesday, June 12
I am up at 5:45. There was just a little bit of rain last night, not much. I make a pot of coffee, then dink in to spend the morning working with Keith. Keith has breakfast ready: fish and chips and Carib. The fish was grunt, pan fried with Bohio seasoning, and was very good. After breakfast, Keith tells me that he has a bucket of fish that he has bought from Clinton out on the dock and that the fish need to be cleaned so that he can sell them. I tell him that I can clean fish. We walk down to the dock and Keith shows me the fish. There are about 6 grunt, a few snapper, a porgy, a hind, and an angelfish in the bucket. He stays just long enough to see that I know how to properly scale fish, then leaves. As I am cleaning the fish, a bull strolls around the fence extending out into the water at the east end between the hotel and Potter's and heads up the beach toward the hotel grounds. I drop my fish cleaning, run to the beach and drive the bull back around the fence. When I am finished cleaning the fish, Keith comes out to the dock, takes one look, and says "Ah no, mon! Ya cot off de heads!" Sure as heck, that's the way I learned to clean fish. Keith explains to me that, in the West Indies, the heads are always left on. To many West Indians (including Keith), the head is the best part and you essentially cannot sell a fish with no head. Keith assures me that it was no problem, though, because he knows someone who will take them, ruined as they are.

We start the morning's work by hauling off the trash to the dump. On the way to the dump, Keith asks me if I would mind driving. I tell him that I would be happy to drive, so we exchange places and I become the driver for the rest of the morning. After we have dumped the trash and cleaned the bed of the truck, I drive over to the cargo dock where we pick up a couple of truckloads of cargo that arrived on the boat overnight. There are eggs and other food items, merchandise for Sue's shop, and lots of beer, liquor, wine, juice, and soft drinks for the bar. There is also an important package from the government with the official decorations for the upcoming Golden Jubilee celebration. We take the cargo back to the hotel and unload it, stacking Sue's merchandise in the room next to her shop that was once Lowell's soap factory, and stacking the food and beverage items in the hotel storage building beside the kitchen. Then we go and look for firewood for the barbecue pits. I learn all about how to identify and pick "torchwood". Keith explains to me that the torchwood lights easily, is dense, makes very hot coals, and burns for a long time without going to ash. While we are gathering wood, Keith shows me his limin' spot up at Windlass Bight. We gather a full truckload of wood, which we take back and unload behind the hotel. Keith has been barefoot the entire morning - even out in the thorny brush picking the torchwood. His feet must be made of leather. Keith makes a taxi run while I use an axe and chop the large pieces of wood into segments that will fit into the barbecue barrels. I'm not sure that I have ever been this filthy in my life: from cleaning fish to hauling trash to pulling torchwood from the sand, I am covered with grit and grime. We drive over next door to Pam's Kitchen, where Keith buys me a fried chicken lunch. I hose myself off with Pam's water hose and enjoy the chicken.

Mangroves off Saltheap PointAfter lunch, I am done. Keith is still expressing concern over me sailing out there with the sharks. He offers to cook dinner for Nancy and I tonight, and tells me that we should meet him at the employee kitchen behind the hotel about 7:15 PM. I go back to the boat and shower. Then Nancy and I paddle upwind to the mangroves off Saltheap Point in 20 knots of wind and steep chop. It takes forever to get there, even though it is only a little over a mile. We have to get out of the kayak and pull it across the flats where it is very shallow. As we are wading, we see small blacktip sharks come up close to us, complete with dorsal fins and the tips of their tails protruding from the surface of the water. We drag the kayak into deep water off the mangroves and scoot downwind, surfing some of the larger waves.

4 Cheeks To The WindBack at the boat, we add "4 Cheeks To The Wind" to the starboard side of the dinghy with our duct tape lettering. I then take the dinghy out and survey the depth in the anchorage and out to the channel, using the dinghy anchor as a leadline. There are no surprises, but it is nice to confirm that the bottom is as I had thought from windsurfing the area over the years. The visibility is very good today: you can see Jost Van Dyke clearly from the hotel anchorage. "Rusty Sandals" would also work well on the dinghy, but no one would understand the name. Nancy is not done ribbing me about that incident (and will not be for quite a while, I suppose).

Anegada sunsetKeith's grillWe go ashore a little bit early for Keith's dinner and watch a beautiful Anegada sunset. Keith appears about 7:15 and we make a torchwood fire on Keith's grill behind the hotel. He is actually wearing shoes and socks. Keith has a couple of last-minute errands to run before we cook, so Nancy and I enjoy Caribs while tending the fire, watching the remainder of the sunset and the sliver of new moon and the planets in the early evening sky. Keith soon returns and starts preparing dinner. He has steaks for himself and me and a lobster for Nancy, makings for salad, and has put potatoes in the oven to bake about an hour earlier. The lobster is huge, the largest that Nancy and I have ever seen - obviously carefully chosen. Steve, a Moorings captain and friend of Keith's, joins us for dinner, bringing some fish that he has bought and some vegetables. Steve, a Brit, is the captain of the Moorings 3800 that is anchored astern of Texas Two Step. Nancy and I get Steve to tell us some of his horror stories about captaining a charter boat (there are some!). Tonight's wine is a Carib Brewery lager of rather recent vintage. During dinner, Keith tells us that, if we go to Cooper Island, we must find his friend "Lizard" there. All in all, this was a very special dinner, and it is a privilege to have been invited. As we leave, Keith tells us to be ashore around 9:45 in the morning to make the Clair Aero flight to Tortola.

Thursday, June 13
I'm up at 6:00. We are going to Tortola with Keith today. I have some coffee, then sail the board for a while. I am definitely being more deliberate in my jibes after all the shark talk. I am also watching the water out in the area that I call the "swimming pool" - the sandy area just inside the outer reef to the south of the hotel, about a mile offshore. I call this area the "swimming pool" because the bottom is white sand and, being just behind the big reef, the surface out here is very smooth regardless of the wind. This makes the bottom very, very bright. To me, the smooth surface and brilliant bottom are very similar to a swimming pool. If there are any big critters out there, I should be able to see them from the board. Actually, though, the big worry for me here is not sharks: I figure that there are always sharks in the neighborhood when you are sailing in an ocean environment. Instead, the thing to worry about when sailing here is a gear failure. I am out here sailing alone, at times a mile from the beach, with no one else really aware of what's going on. What if I should have a mast, boom, or fin break? I have broken masts three times at home while sailing. In the event of a breakdown out beyond the channel, the wind and current would make paddling the board back in and reaching the beach without being carried past the west end an iffy thing. For this reason, I carry the FRS radio with me, sealed inside a waterproof bag, with the other radio where Nancy can hear it should I have trouble and need a dinghy rescue.

Me and Keith with fish for TortolaAfter sailing, Nancy and I have ham and cheese toasted on English muffins for breakfast, with the rest of our home-made passion fruit juice. As we are finishing, Keith motors up in a dinghy and tells us to get ashore as soon as possible, that we will be riding to the Anegada airport with Sue Wheatley and that Sue will be ready to go shortly. We hurriedly get ready and dink in.  Apparently, we are not going to leave quite yet because Keith is on the dock cleaning fish that he is going to take to someone on Tortola. When Sue arrives, Keith tells her that we are going to Tortola with him. This is news to Sue, who is also going to Tortola and has already made arrangements for the Clair Aero charter. The plane that is coming is a Cessna 172, which only has four seats. Keith comes over and very disappointedly tells us the situation: that there is only room for one of us. Nancy tells me that she will stay and sun, that I should go. Sue is in a hurry, worried that we will be late for the plane so we hurriedly get into her car and head for the airport.

Anegada airportWe get to the airport and wait for the plane, which should already be here. The customs agent, who I met at the ARH bar a couple of nights ago, is there. He is still calling me "Texas Ranger". Sue calls Clair Aero in Tortola, who also says that the plane should already be here. Sue spots Keith out in front of the airport making a cellphone call. Sue and I are both surprised to see that Keith has a cellphone! After about 10 minutes, the plane arrives. It is a well-worn Cessna 172P.

Landing at Beef IslandWe board the plane and take off with me in the copilot's seat. I have forgotten what dog a 172 is when loaded. The flight to Beef Island takes about 15 minutes, VFR at 1500-2500 feet. Our pilot uses the "big sky" theory: even though we are VFR, he makes no attempt to stay clear of clouds. Overall, I suspect that attention to flight rules in the Caribbean is not given nearly as seriously as we do in the states. I enjoy the view, seeing Anegada from the air again - this time from a bit higher, and snap a few photos.

Crossing the new bridgeWhen we arrive at Beef Island, I get to walk through the "Domestic Arrivals" door for the first time instead of having to pass through Customs and Immigration - it is quite a pleasant feeling. Sue has a car in the airport parking lot and gives Keith and me a ride into Roadtown. The new bridge connecting Tortola with Beef Island has just opened, and we get to drive across it. Instead of the Blackburn Highway which runs along the south shore, Sue takes the Ridge Road along the northern side of Tortola. It is a very scenic ride, much different from the south shore. There is very little traffic, no speed bumps, and we are up high where the air is noticeably cooler. Sue drops us off on the north side of Roadtown, at the base of the mountain, near the Botanic Gardens.

Keith and I walk a short distance up the steep road at the base of the mountain to our first stop, to deliver the fish that Keith was cleaning earlier this morning. The woman that Keith has brought the fish for is not at home, so Keith leaves the bag of fish with a neighbor. We chat with the neighbor, an elderly woman, for a few minutes. She says that she will refrigerate the fish. The fish, mostly snapper with a couple of olewife (flounder), have not seen ice or cold for a couple of hours now, but they were semi-frozen when Keith cleaned them.

As we leave, Keith pulls out his cellphone and calls his old friend George, who arrives very quickly with his taxi. George drives us over and drops us off at Village Cay, where we have lunch at a small place called Simply Delicious. I have curried chicken with spinach rice, which is very tasty. Next, we stop at a pharmacy where Keith buys some Nair for facial hair. I suspect that his beard is about to go away. Then we walk up to a combination hair salon/snack bar/internet cafe. I wait at the snack bar while Keith disappears into the salon to get trimmed. When he reappears, the beard is indeed gone. I guess the Nair is for keeping his beard down for the next few days, since I doubt that Keith has a razor.

George picks us up and we drive over the mountain to Cane Garden Bay. Keith wants me to meet his friend Skelly, "the man with no belly". We ask around and search the beach area and stop by Skelly's house, but cannot find him, so we drive back to Roadtown where George drops us off at Scotia Bank. It is nice and cool inside, and there is a long line waiting to do business with the teller. Keith's business with the teller takes several minutes, and I enjoy sitting and resting in the air conditioning. From the bank, we walk over to Bolo, a department store. Keith tells me that he likes to visit the store because it is cool there. However, it is not nearly as cool as it was in the bank. I think that the truth of the matter is that Keith likes the girls that work here. It seems that Keith is quite the lady's man. For the entire morning, we have been unable to walk (or ride with George) for more than a block without a girl yelling hello to Keith, and us having to stop and visit. Even though Keith has been living on Anegada for eight years, he has friends everywhere - especially female friends. George tells me that when they were in high school, Keith "control all de women".

After Bolo, we walk over to Scato's to get chicken and chips for Keith to take back to Anegada for his dinner. I also get some chicken and chips to take back to Nancy. George picks us up at Scato's and drives us to RiteWay Cash & Carry (also known as Roadtown Wholesale) for Keith to do his grocery shopping. Keith picks up 12 gallons of water, several cases of canned vegetables, and a case of soft drinks. We load them into George's taxi and head back to the airport. George sees a woman walking along the road with an armful of packages, and stops to give her a free ride.

Anegada DivineWhen we arrive at the airport, we learn that we will have to wait for another hour and a half because the plane just left for Anegada with Sue and lots of cargo. Sue has been gathering up supplies for this weekend's Golden Jubilee celebration, and apparently has quite a bit of stuff. While we are inside the Clair Aero office, I notice on the wall a hardcopy of the "Anegada Divine" page from my website. Keith laughs when I show him and the Clair Aero person the last page with "Nancy and Walker's Scrapbook" at the bottom. The Clair Aero guy is surprised when Keith tells him that I am this Walker.

Since we have time to kill, we walk over to Trellis Bay. Of course, Keith and Jeremy know each other. Keith was working over at Nanny Cay when Jeremy had the Boardsailing BVI shop there. American found my masts and they are at Jeremy's. I will just leave them there and pick them up when we sail back into Trellis Bay to return Jeremy's board, masts, and kayak at the end of our trip. We have a fish salad and a baked potato at Jeremy's, which are delicious and we are both hungry. The ice cold Carib is also good. When we order the food, Keith is shocked to learn that they can bake a potato in only six minutes - he is unfamiliar with a microwave oven!

Jeremy introduces me to Aragorn. I tell Aragorn that I would very much like to have a piece like his wonderful coral eye with metal dreads that is in his shop that is, of course, not for sale. He gives me his card and says that he may be able to do another as a commissioned work, provided that he finds a suitable piece of coral. His email address is dreadeye@surfbvi.com, and I realize that "dreadeye" must be the name of the coral eye.

Aerial photo of Setting PointWe walk back to the airport just as the plane arrives, load all of Keith's cargo aboard, and are off to Anegada. I get some nice aerial photos as we approach Anegada. In particular, I get a photo of the stretch that I like to windsurf in. The area that I call the "swimming pool" is clearly visible: a big light-colored patch just to the north of the reef. I don't see any sharks.

Waiting for the next charterWhen we land at the Anegada airport, everything is locked up and no one is around, so we have to pass Keith's groceries over the fence. Keith calls his friend Tony, who has a taxi. The Clair Aero pilot has another charter from Anegada schedule a little later, so he rests and waits. Keith is pissed that they charged us full price for the charter when they had to bring the plane over for the pickup anyway. The Clair Aero pilots and the Fly BVI pilots enjoy free bar privileges at the hotel, but they give nothing back in return.

Tony picks us up, then he drives up to Loblolly Bay to pickup someone getting off work at the Big Bamboo, then back to the Settlement for more afternoon pickups and drop-offs. We run a regular route through the Settlement, more like a Metro bus than a taxi. Just outside the settlement, I see Lowell pushing sand around with his front-end loader.

As we drive along, Keith tells Tony that a lady called him this morning and asked him to stop by and help her move something heavy, so we must stop at this lady's house on the way back to the hotel. We stop at her house, which is not far ahead. She is obviously very well educated. Her item that needs moving is a heavy concrete birdbath. It seems that the birds are unhappy with the birdbath because it is in the middle of her back yard, out in the sun. She believes that if we move the birdbath to a shady spot, the birds will make use of it. This is important because, at the present, the birds are choosing to perch on her roof and their droppings are spoiling her cistern water. I ask about her struggling garden and she tells me that it has been difficult to get it started because it has been very dry and the crabs come at night and eat her young plants. As we leave, I see the "Columbia University Alumni" decal in the back window of her car. Anegada is indeed a fascinating place.

When we finally get back to the hotel, we unload Keith's cargo from Tony's taxi into Keith's quarters behind the hotel. I walk out on the dock and yell out to Texas Two Step to ge7t Nan's attention.

Nancy dinks in and picks me up. She has spent the day sunning, swimming, and paddling. We have a couple of painkillers (we are on our third gallon of them now), then head back in to the hotel bar. Things are slow ashore. We laugh a bit with Clinton and Lowell. I joke with Lowell about playing with his big toy (the front-end loader) in the sand. He understands the joke and laughs. We have fish, shrimp, and a Penfold's chardonnay for dinner. We make it back to the boat around 9:15 and lay out on the tram. SEASAT shows up right on time at 9:22. People dink by on their way back to their boats, and there is a big Lagoon 470 anchored not very far off to starboard. It is nice that the new moon has just passed and that the moon has already set - we are invisible on the tram and people cannot see what we are doing.

Friday, June 14
Driving around AnegadaI am up at 6:15 with the skies clear and a nice breeze blowing. It rained quite a bit last night, so we slept most of the night with the hatches closed and the sorry excuse for a cabin fan rattling loudly. We have eggs and English muffins for breakfast, then decide to rent a car and tour the island by road today. After all, we have walked around it, paddled around it, and flown around it. We are not going to swim around it, so the only thing left is to drive around it. I get my BVI driver's license and we hit the road in a Geo Tracker. The Tracker has absolutely no shock absorbers, and about the best we can do on most of the washboard coral roads is 15 miles per hour. Our first stop is the Settlement, where I need to get some writing paper because I have run out of paper on which to write this journal.

We stop at Pal's General Store, "the world's smallest department store", which unfortunately does not have a stationery or office supplies department (or much else, for that matter!). The only writing material she has is a small package of envelopes, so she directs us across the road to Faulkner's Country Store.

Inside Faulkner's we meet the proprietors, Stan and Doris Rodriguez. Doris is the niece of the Faulkner who started the store (now deceased). They have been married for 50 years and they are quite a pair. Doris was born in New York City and raised in the Dominican Republic and New York. They have a home in the Hamptons (Sag Harbor) and a home in the Dominican Republic, but have lived on Anegada for the past 12 years. Doris tells us about about being in Austin in the 60's, working in Lady Bird Johnson's Beautification Campaign. She has been involved with the National Organization for Women, the International Organization for Women, and has participated in events at the White House Rose Garden. I tell her that I am keeping a journal and need some writing paper, and she asks Stan if they have a writing pad. He says that he believes that he got one some time ago and will see if he can find it. Stan goes and digs around a bit and walks out holding a 100-sheet writing tablet. We pay for it, a couple of cold Tings, and a bottle of water, say goodbye, and head off. These are fascinating people - it would be terrific to come back and sit and talk with them at length.

Settlement dockBust of Theodolf FaulknerWe drive through the Settlement, down to the Settlement dock, see the conch shell mounds, then drive over to look at the Anegada Primary School. Next, we stop at the Theodolph Faulkner museum, which is closed, but we take a photo of the bust outside. Theodolph Faulkner was an Anegada resident who played a gigantic role in BVI politics, and was instrumental in restoring elections and the Legislative Council in 1950.

Anegada airport customs officeNancy has never seen the Anegada airport, so we drive over there. There are about 5 cars parked there and the building is open, but there is no one around. I take a picture of Nancy standing in the customs doorway with the customs sign made from baggage packing tape.

Salt pondWe drive out through the wilderness, to the big salt pond. The GPS is handy here - roads go everywhere and most of them lead to nowhere!

Windlass BightNext, we drive along the north shore and stop at Windlass Bight, Keith's liming spot.

Bones BightWe drive out to the beach at Bones Bight. Windlass and Bones Bight have really nice beaches, but because the bays are very shallow they are unswimmable. Nonetheless, there is a disturbing amount of land clearing and construction going on at both locations. We drive over to Cow Wreck for a quick visit. There is one other couple here today.

Nancy at Loblolly BayLavenda BreezeAfter a couple of Caribs at Cow Wreck, we drive back through the wilderness to Loblolly Bay. The place is packed with large groups, crying babies, and is not very peaceful at all. I take a couple of photos of Nancy that look a lot like the one of her on B-V-I.com's Online Travel Guide Anegada Page. We get a couple of Caribs from the bar and try to find a place to lime on the beach. It is just too busy for us, so we drive over and look at Nenneth Norman's cottages. In all honesty, they are pretty shabby. I doubt that they will last very long and I think that they will probably not get much rental either. All in all, they are an eyesore on Loblolly Bay. Right next door is Clinton's Lavenda Breeze, which is probably the nicest place on the entire island. The design and structure of this showplace is quite incredible.

Flash of BeautyWe drive over to Flash of Beauty, on Loblolly Bay East. There is a beach bus from the Anegada Reef Hotel stopped alongside the road on the way. I know before we even get near that the driver is catching a quick nap after lunch. At Flash, we meet Cheryl who is working there. She is very pretty and very friendly. We get some conch fritters (in the interest of our fritter research) and yes, some more Caribs. Her conch fritter sauce is very good - it has a bit of kick to it.

We start back to Cow Wreck, but instead of back through the wilderness we drive around the south side of the island so that we can stop along the way at the Anegada Reef Hotel and order our dinner. Leaving the hotel, we pull off onto the little road to the flamingo pond across from Neptune's Treasure and we can see a few flamingos on the eastern edge of the pond. We also find also a dead cow here, which I estimate has been dead for 2 to 3 weeks. Since there are no vultures in the islands, crabs must do the scavenging.

Cheeseburger in paradiseBack at Cow Wreck, we have the place totally to ourselves. Only Alex, Tika, and Shayna are there. It is a welcome contrast to the hubbub of the Big Bamboo. We have to have more Caribs, some conch fritters and conch ceviche. One of Cow Wreck's excellent cheeseburgers tops off our lunch. We lime away the rest of the afternoon, doing nothing at all except an occasional dip into the water and chat with Alex.

Alex and WalkerWalker and Nancy at Cow WreckAlex is an interesting guy, and has done a lot of things. He was a cop on Tortola, but left for personal reasons. He is a commercial pilot, with multiengine and instrument ratings. He has no interest in becoming a professional pilot, though. Like myself, he feels that flying an airliner is too much like driving a bus. We both enjoy flying for the pure fun and freedom of it, very little of which can you experience as a professional pilot. Alex also maintains Cow Wreck's website. He takes a couple of pictures of Nancy and me. One of these may be our Christmas card photo this year.

Flamingo pondWe leave Cow Wreck and drive out to the north side of the flamingo pond. We can see the masts of the boats anchored at Setting Point from here.

We drive over and look at Wilfred's cottages at West End Point. They are nice, but appear likely to be severely damaged by a good storm as they are just barely above the water's edge. Next we drive to the Anegada Reef Museum at the Pomato Point Restaurant. The museum is no longer open, so we drive back to the hotel where we call an end to today's tour.

I go for a short sail, then pack up all of my windsurfing gear and take it back to the boat. Tomorrow is the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee celebration on Anegada. A large crowd is expected, so I don't want my gear laying about. Dinner tonight is ribs and lamb, with another Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet. Keith asks me to come in early in the morning and help him, as there is lots to be done in preparation for the jubilee. After dinner it is back to the boat and time to lay out on the tram for a while.

Saturday, June 15
I am up at 5:45. No rain last night. I have a cup of coffee and dink in at 6:20. Keith has a couple of triggerfish in the bucket on the dock for me to clean for breakfast. He tells me that it is OK to cut off the heads. I clean the fish and we fry them. Keith also has a large bowl whose warm contents appear to be some sort mashed vegetable. I spoon some onto my plate and taste it. The taste is pleasant and sort of familiar, reminding me a bit of white sweet potatoes. Keith asks me if I know what it is and I tell him that I think that it is some kind of potato. He laughs and tells me that they are green bananas - not plaintains - just very green bananas. He boiled them until they were fork-tender, then mashed them with butter and salt, just like potatoes. I recall that in the markets in Roadtown thet there were very few ripe bananas; most of the bananas that we saw were, in fact, very green. They are very good - we will make some when we get back home. Fish, mashed bananas, and Carib for breakfast - what a way to start the day!

We start out in the truck, but it needs fuel. Kenneth Faulkner's service station is not open yet, so we have to resort to alternative means for refueling the truck. We pour diesel fuel from a 40-gallon drum into a plastic washtub, then lift the tub up onto the truck bed. Keith produces an old piece of garden hose to use as a siphon. I stick one end of it into the tub, and Keith starts the siphon by mouth. The siphon is reluctant to start, and Keith winds up with several mouthfuls of diesel fuel before it is flowing properly. When it does start, I siphon fuel from it into the truck's tank. The process is complicated by the fact that the tub has a major crack in it and leaks fuel faster than the siphon takes it. Keith quickly produces a gallon water jug with the top cut away for me to use to catch the leaking fuel, and then he disappears. I hold the jug under the tub to catch as much of the leaking diesel as I can, continually dumping the caught diesel back into the tub, while also keeping the old piece of hose that I am using for the siphon immersed in the diesel fuel so that the siphon does not stop. Even though I am now covered in it, I don't really want to have to taste the diesel fuel by restarting the siphon. This must be quite a sight to watch! Keith soon returns, telling me that there has been a change in plans. Lowell has something else that he wants Keith to do right now, and there is nothing I can do to help him. It looks like I'm done working, so I dink back to the boat and shower to get the diesel fuel off of me.

After 10 days aboard Texas Two Step, we are on our last bag of ice, so I dink back to the hotel to buy ice. I pay for two bags, but there is only one bag in the ice box. Everyone is busy preparing for the Jubilee and by now I pretty much know the hotel operation, so I go out back to the ice house and fill two bags myself, then take them back to the boat. Nancy and I paddle down to the beach trash sculpture and add some more stuff to it that we have accumulated.

When we get back, I remember that we want to get some frangipani cuttings to take home, so I dink ashore thinking that I might just walk out and find some. Keith, done with whatever Lowell needed earlier, spots me and calls me over. He desperately needs help. There is still much to be done and not much time, since he must be at Big Bamboo at 1:30 with the taxi to pick up a group of people. I unload a truck full of cargo into the storage building. The cargo is mostly beverage items, but there is a lot of it. When the cargo is unloaded, we take the truck to get firewood. Once again, I am the driver. Keith is hungry, so we stop at Faulkner's Country Store so Keith can buy some cookies to hold him over. He tells Doris that we are on our way to cut firewood and that I am going to get some frangipani cuttings. She tells Keith that she would sure like some orchids, which he has apparently promised numerous times before to bring her,  but never done. As we leave, she gives us each a cold drink from the store's ice box. I tell Keith that we must bring her back some wild orchids.

Keith and I go over to the north side of the island and gather torchwood, completely loading the truck. Then we head west, where Keith knows there are wild orchids. He shows me how to spot them. As it turns out, there are lots of wild orchids on Anegada - you just have to know what to look for out in the wild outback. While Keith gathers yet more torchwood, I use the machete to carefully collect seven nice orchid plants for Doris. When separating the orchid root (orchids are parasitic plants) from the host torchwood, I have to be very careful to keep the long flower stem and delicate flower intact atop the orchid plant and root.

Next, we head back through the wilderness, where we stop and I get about 20 frangipani cuttings. We take the orchids back to Doris, and I also give her some of the frangipani. She is delighted, and that makes me happy. She tells Keith "You have been promising me orchids for years, and it requires this man from overseas for me to get any!" The Rodriguez's house, which is next to their store, is fairly typical of the older Settlement houses. It is a small simple house, very well maintained but, of course, not air conditioned. She has a nice little garden in the shady area between the store and their house. She tells me that she visits their home in Sag Harbor a couple of times a year, and would like to return to live there, but that Stan won't leave the island. "He won't budge!", she says, "He has set deep roots." As we leave, she tells me that her new orchids will be beautiful when Nancy and I return next year.

The ferry arrives at AnegadaWhen we get back to the hotel, I go back at the boat, take a transom shower, and change to nice clothes for the afternoon's Jubilee celebration. We stay aboard drinking painkillers until we see a big Smith's ferry come in. The ferry brings a marching band and marching units from the Royal BVI Police Department, the Fire Department, and Her Majesty's Prison System. The ferry also brings the Governor Frank Savage, the chief minister Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal, plus a host of other BVI officials, wives, and guests.

Band members at Potter'sBefore the paradeWhen they disembark, most of the marching unit members are in street clothes, carrying their uniforms in plastic bags. I suppose that is because it might be difficult to keep their uniforms fresh for the parade if they were wearing them while riding over on the ferry. The marching unit members begin to change into their uniforms and many gather at Potter's bar prior to the parade. Some of the musicians gather in small impromptu groups and begin wailing away on their instruments. Some of these folks can really play. "When the Saints Go Marching In" is a particularly popular number with the brass and saxophones.

Doris and Stan RodriguezLocal Anegada people also begin to arrive. Stan and Doris Rodriguez walk through the hotel gate. She is dressed to the nines in a stunning red dress, red hat, and beautiful jewelry. I tell Nancy that Doris looks like the Queen.

A parade on Anegada!Nancy and I walk over to the dock to catch the parade as it starts. The parade marches from the dock along the road and through the hotel gate, covering a total of about 250 yards. The Anegada Primary School students also march in the parade. The march ends with the marching units in formation  in the area between the hotel roundabout and garage, facing the new flagpole Lowell was working on when we arrived last Saturday.

The BVI flag is unfurledThe BVI flag, which has already been hoisted in a tight bundle, is unfurled by chief minister Hon. Ralph O'Neal pulling on the flag cord as the band plays "God Save the Queen".

Gov. Savage inspects the marching unitsGovernor Savage, in full regalia including feathered hat and sword, ceremoniously inspects the marching units and meets the school children. There are quite a few other prominent people from Tortola and elsewhere here. I estimate that there are about 100 people in addition to the 100 or so in the marching units.

The JubileeThe hotel staff was busy until late last night and again early today, and has prepared a huge buffet of food. The spread includes all sorts of island food: conch fritters, lobster-stuffed orange halves, barbecue chicken, curried rice, etc., arranged on tables covered with seagrape leaves. Sydney is pouring drinks from an open bar.

After everyone has a served themselves, the Governor Savage speaks. It seems that the legislative council has decided that Anegada has been neglected, and is therefore considering having a sovereign's birthday parade on Anegada every other year, alternating years with a parade on Jost van Dyke. I think to myself that yes, what Anegada really needs is a parade every other year. That should greatly improve the conditions here.

Anegada SunsetAbout 5:30, people start heading back to the ferry, which blows its horn loudly a couple of times before pulling out at 6:00 PM. All of the local Anegada people also leave. Many of the visitors from Tortola stay. Nancy and I dink back to Texas Two Step to have a painkiller and relax before dinner. Even though there are not many boats in the anchorage tonight, all five grills are lit on the beach - burning the torchwood that Keith and I gathered this morning. Nancy gets a couple of nice sunset photos from the boat.

When we dink back in, things are very quiet - only Lowell, Nancy and I are at the bar. The overnighters from Tortola are probably inside their rooms enjoying the air conditioning and changing clothes for dinner.  Around 7:00, people begin appearing, including Governor Savage in casual dress. By the time dinner is served, there is a good crowd. Sue sits with Governor Savage for dinner with Lowell across the table.

It is our last night on Anegada, so Nan and I each have another ARH lobster. After dinner, we say goodbye to all and head for Texas Two Step.

Sunday, June 16
Up early again, Nan cooks bacon and eggs for breakfast. I dink ashore to drop off our garbage and walk back to Keith's quarters to say goodbye.

The eight days on Anegada have been very pleasant. I have spent so much time with the locals that  I can carry on conversations fairly easily with most of them, and, unconsciously, "Ah beginnin' ta tock lak dem". There is way more construction going on now than we have ever seen before, and that is disturbing. A lot of the construction appears to be willy-nilly and just doesn't make sense to me. There are three more restaurants under construction within spitting distance of the hotel. If they all complete, that will make eight restaurants within dinghy range of the hotel anchorage. Where will the business come from to support these? There just are not that many boats in the anchorage, and you have to consider that some of the boats that are there are not eating ashore. There certainly cannot be enough land-based business to support eight restaurants, since outside the hotel, which really is small, there are only a handful of cottages around. Also, I suspect that a large percentage of the cottage visitors cook for themselves. Will there be a lot of deserted restaurant buildings at Anegada in a few years? I don't know, but I do know that the restaurant business is difficult at best under the most favorable conditions. As much as I enjoy Anegada, I would not want to live here. This is not because of the harshness of the island, but rather out of love and respect for it: outsiders moving here, myself included, would change things. I hope that others feel the same way, and that Anegada remains the relatively pristine place that it is for years to come.

Anegada in the distanceBack aboard Texas Two Step, we make ready for sailing. I hoist the mainsail to full hoist while at anchor, Nancy pulls the hook, and we are away by 7:00 AM. We are headed to Leverick Bay to try to find some more bronze frogs. We promised Dr. Toad last September that we would pick up a pair for him. As we reach open water, some weather is passing through and the wind is gusting to 30. I head up and drop the mainsail and we fall off and reach across to Leverick under jib alone. I take some more pictures of Anegada for my Navigating to Anegada web page as we sail, since it is not very hazy today. I can still clearly see the trees on Anegada from 10 miles away.

We are moored at Leverick at 9:30. We dink in and find that Palm Tree Gallery (the shop with the frogs) is not open yet, so we shop at Pusser's for clothes. By the time we are done, Palm Tree Gallery is open and we find three interesting pairs of frogs. We stop at Buck's Market to get a couple of gallons of fresh water, then fill the dinghy gas tank at the fuel dock before leaving.

We consider stopping and snorkeling at Starfish Reef before leaving the North Sound, but decide to head on to Savanna Bay. We motor through Anguilla Cut, then set sail for the short run down to Savanna Bay. Anguilla Cut is tricky if you do not know how to navigate it. If you do know the way through and there is no ground swell, it is quite passable as there is a good six feet of water all the way. I carefully mapped the passage in GPS waypoints a few years ago.

Pond BaySavanna BayWhen we reach Savanna Bay, we decide to go a little further north and anchor in Pond Bay, since it is nearer Giorgio's Table. We have never been here before, so we dink ashore and explore a bit. We dink over to Giorgio's and make a reservation for 6:30. We then dink into the beach at Pond Bay, enjoy a couple of Caribs, dink over to Savanna Bay and have some more Caribs, snorkel, swim, and just generally lime away the afternoon. We watch a Moorings 322 make four attempts to anchor nearby. The bottom here is quite hard and anchoring is difficult. Even at their final location, we can see that they are still slowly dragging. We are firmly hooked, thank goodness.

Even though our reservation is for 6:30, we head in to Giorgio's at 6:00 to sit on their deck and enjoy the sunset. The couple from the 322 is already seated at a table on the deck. They are obviously honeymooning.

Dinner at Giorgio'sThe menu and wine list at Giorgio's are incredible, making it difficult to make a single selection because there are so many interesting items. We have an Italian cheese plate with pears, walnuts, and honey; a plate of gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce; a beef tenderloin in a wine sauce, and a beef in a puff pastry, Wellington-style. All are excellent, as is the bottle of wine: a '95 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino 'Castel Giocondo'. We finish with a tiramisu, which is the best tiramisu we have had anywhere. The service here is impeccable, but is a bit formal. This is not a restaurant for the faint of heart: the check for the two of us comes to $248. A sudden squall blows in just as we pay our check, so we linger for a few minutes until the rain passes.

When we get back to the boat, we find that it has swung 90. The rain squall had a wind shift, then very light wind. I sure hope the anchor is set well enough to tolerate the swing. I had set the GPS earlier to use as an anchor watch, so I look to see how we have moved and if we are outside our previous swing. To my surprise, the GPS says "Satellite Reception Lost"! For the entire trip thus far, it has continually tracked at least 10 satellites, and 12 much of the time. Suddenly, when I need it, it has no satellites at all. Has my GPS (a Garmin eMap) crapped out, is the DOD doing some of their GPS jamming tests, or is the GPS system shut down for some other reason? Anyway, our position relative to the other boats and to the shoreline has not changed significantly, so we go to bed.

Monday, June 17
I am up at 6:30 to find the GPS still showing absolutely zero satellite signals. It did not rain any more last night after the squall. This is a very comfortable anchorage: nice breeze and very quiet. Fishermen are already out on the water in Mahoe Bay, using three boats to work a very large net. Around 7:30, the GPS starts to receive six to seven satellites. Apparently, my GPS is working fine - the DOD must be playing around with something. We are still full from Giorgio's last night, so we sail out of Savanna Bay at 7:45 with full sail and the wind from the east at 15 to 18 knots. We are headed for White Bay on Jost van Dyke.

I can see a rain shower approaching, but it does not appear to be very threatening. The shower starts developing into a solid mass and the wind builds to a steady 20 and feels cool. We are sailing essentially dead downwind, just high enough to keep the winged-out jib full, and our speed is running about 8.5 knots through the water, 11 over the bottom. I decide that it is time to reef so I send Nancy to the mast. Before she has time to do anything, the wind has built to a solid 35 and I decide that we should drop the mainsail. The jib is still out and is going to take a lot of work to furl in this amount of wind, but my concern is in getting the main down. The main halyard, which I carefully tidied up when I raised the main, fouls in the wild wind on the foredeck and the main stops coming down just below the second reef. Fortunately, Nancy knows the "one hand for me, one hand for the boat" rule very well. Nancy is able to avoid the flailing jib sheets, but the sheets manage to get themselves wrapped with the fouled main halyard. This is a crummy situation: no leech tension on the main, so it is now flogging violently, and the jib cannot be furled because it's sheets are fouled. The wind is now up around 50 knots, gusting above 60, the seas have quickly grown to 10 to 15 feet, and everything is wild and loud. I am going to have to go up and clear the foredeck. I get both engines up to 2400 RPM to maintain steerage, get Nancy back into the cockpit, and go to the foredeck. The rain and spray are blowing so hard that it feels like bee stings when the drops hit me. It takes a few minutes, but I am able to untangle enough of the huge knot of braided line to get the main 90% down and the jib almost furled. In this wind the jib rolls very tightly, requiring more turns of the furler than normal. Unfortunately, the furling drum is not wound with enough spare turns, so that with this load, the jib will not furl beyond the last 3 feet or so. We head back downwind, making over 8 knots under diesel and the little bit of jib that is still exposed. The wind is still in the 50's. With the boat downwind and the apparent wind reduced, I am able to finally clear the foredeck and get the sails stowed. The knot log shows that we hit 11.2 through the water, and the GPS is showing 13.4 max over the bottom. The rain is so dense that we cannot see more than a hundred yards or so, and it still stings like hell. I am thankful that we chose to take outside route around the northern end of Camanoe and Guana Islands and that we have good sea room. I am also quite happy that the GPS system has come back to life.

After the rain passedAfter a half hour or so the rain passes but the wind is still near 40. We have had enough fun for the morning, so we stay on the Westerbeke diesels and catch our breath. After another half hour or so, the wind is back in the 20's, so we spin the boat and set the main, but on the first reef this time. We unfurl the jib and are zooming downwind again with boatspeed in the 9's. Big lesson: shorten sail early, especially when short-handed! This is not a race, so don't make it difficult.

We sail on to White Bay, where the next adventure awaits. As we approach White Bay, I bring the boat up to about 120 apparent so that we can furl the jib behind the main. Just as I start to ease the sheet and take up on the furler, the jib collapses then hourglasses and quickly spins onto the forestay, trapping both sheets under the wrap. The jib cannot unfurl because of the hourglass, and the jib sheets are at the stop knots, loading the furler so that it cannot furl, and the free portion of the jib above the hourglass wrap is flapping violently. Geez, what a morning! I spin the boat up and, thankfully, the main drops cleanly and quickly. I untie the stopknots in the end of the jib sheets, let them run, and furl the whole ugly mess. It isn't pretty, but it isn't flapping any more. We motor back up to Great Harbor looking for a spot with light wind to straighten this mess out. The wind is pretty far to the southeast, and there are whitecaps throughout most of Great Harbor. I find a spot on the very eastern edge where the wind is at least under 20 and we drop the anchor. In the lighter wind, the jib unfurls all by itself and then refurls cleanly. Nancy raises the anchor and we motor back over to White Bay. We have had enough sailing for the morning!

Walker at the Soggy DollarWe find Calypso Queen anchored in the east end of White Bay, but with a whole new crew aboard. We dink in to the Soggy Dollar and get some long-overdue painkillers. I suppose this morning is what you get when you start the day without Caribs. Bad news again, though: we had planned to overnight here and have dinner at the Sandcastle restaurant. However, a wedding party has the Sandcastle restaurant booked for the night, and they are not accepting any outside guests. We each have a flying fish sandwich and another painkiller, then decide to go back to Great Harbor for dinner.

Shortly after we weigh anchor at White Bay, a second squall hits from out of nowhere. Once again, we have low visibility and high winds. We motor out through the reef, around the knuckleheads anchored right at the inside of the channel (why do they do that?), and head back to Great Harbor. After the day's events, I am feeling kind of knuckleheaded myself. We should have waited this one out at White Bay, but the squall was not even visible until after we had hoisted anchor and were underway. At least this one doesn't catch us under sail.

Back at Great Harbor, we set the hook and go ashore to make reservations for dinner at Ali Baba's. We find that there has obviously been a clean-up campaign on Jost van Dyke. The Great Harbor beachfront is the cleanest that we have ever seen. The dilapidated shacks, one-time beach bars and junk that once lined the beachfront are gone; in their place is nice clean white sand. We shop a bit, but don't find anything that we think we need.

We go back to the boat for painkillers.  The GPS is back to tracking 10 to 12 birds. Last night must have been some sort of test. The GPS is great for monitoring anchor position. We are obviously holding tight here because we swing back and forth to within 3 feet of the same spot. After we finish off the trip's third gallon of painkillers, we decide that we need to relocate the boat. Someone has anchored too close for comfort. With the squally conditions, I think that they might swing into us. We move to our "outer" Great Harbor anchorage.

Back ashore for dinner at Ali Baba's, the power on the JVD beachfront is off and the only light at Ali Baba's are a few candles. Nancy has shrimp which are unremarkable, and I have the worst tuna that I have ever had in my life. It is covered with scales and is way overcooked. I never thought that tuna had scales - at least not this large. Maybe it isn't even tuna, or maybe these scales came from another fish that was being cleaned. The next time we have dinner in Great harbor, I guess it will be at Foxy's. Since Monday night is not a Foxy's beach barbecue night, we thought we would give Ali Baba's a shot. The last time we ate here it was fine. It looks like Ali Baba's might be OK for ribs, which we had here before, but not much else. Maybe the power being off made cleaning and cooking fish in the dark difficult. I don't know. What I do know is this day could have been better. At least no one got hurt and, other than our flags, nothing was broken.

Back at the boat it is too wet for the tram, so we play below for awhile.

Tuesday, June 18
Another rain squall!I stay in bed this morning until nearly 7. We had rain squalls all night long and were constantly opening and closing the hatches. We have grapefruit and coffee for breakfast, then set sail for the Bight. A dark squall is approaching, so we set the main and jib on the first reef. The squall hits just as we clear Great Harbor, with winds in the 20's gusting to near 30. The seas are very flat, though, and Texas Two Step is sailing fine. The current at the Thatch Island cut is extremely strong - I measure 3.5 knots delta between the GPS and knotmeter. The wind is also extremely light inside, so we fire up the Westerbekes to clear the cut without tacking. Once we clear Frenchman's Cay, the wind is a nice 15 knots and the seas are still flat, so we shake out the reef and beat upwind to the Bight. The sail upwind is very, very pleasant and peaceful - in stark contrast to yesterday.

Nancy at the CavesWe stop at the caves and have to wait about 10 minutes for an open mooring ball. Nancy gets her snorkeling gear on and as soon as she enters the water she is literally mobbed by a large school of sergeant majors and grunt.

BarracudaA large barracuda comes by and takes shade under our dinghy. I get into the water with the disposable underwater camera, which is apparently shiny enough to attract the cuda. I want to photograph him, but I have difficulty getting far enough away to get the entire fish into the viewfinder, as he is really interested in the camera. At times, he is less than an arm's length away.

PiratesWe motor into the Bight and take a mooring along the northern side, about half way back from Pirates (ex-Billy Bones). We paddle up to Pirates and make dinner reservations. The place is obviously different - tables are set on what was once the dance deck. We paddle back along the southern side of the Bight to the Willy T, which is unchanged. There is a crowd of power boaters tied up alongside. We paddle back directly across the Bight to Texas Two Step. The puffs of wind coming over the hill are giving us 30 knot bursts of wind, which makes paddling interesting. Back aboard the boat, I make the trip's fourth gallon of painkillers and we relax away the afternoon with Caribs and painkillers. We decide that our painkillers are better than any we have had ashore, with the possible exception of the Soggy Dollar.

These flags are tired!I take a photo of our flags. They have taken quite a beating! Our Mangum flag has an entire panel gone, and the TTOL flag is also pretty much ragged out. The Bight is relatively empty. By 4:00 PM, only about 30% of the mooring balls are occupied. The mooring balls still say "Pay at Billy Bones", and a large inflatable boat comes by to collect the $20.00 fee. The receipt is stamped "Billy Bones", so I guess Bones still owns these moorings.

DeliveranceDeliverance comes by, and we have garbage to get rid of. The girl aboard Deliverance tells us that Deliverance will no longer accept garbage without an additional purchase, so we buy a couple of their mega-brownies and get rid of the garbage. There is another smaller inflatable cruising the Bight with a sign on it that says "Mooring Fee Collection" and "Garbage Disposal". It must be affiliated with Bones because it does not stop at our boat.

AristocatLate in the afternoon, Mike Kneafsey's Island Spirit 37 "Aristocat" pulls in and takes the mooring ball just off our port quarter. Mike is not aboard, though, as Aristocat is on a bareboat charter. There appear to be eight people aboard, quite a crowd.

Pirates menuPirates has been open for three weeks and business is slow. There are only three or four other tables having dinner while we are there. The menu has lots of write-ins and scratch-outs - obviously not stabilized yet. The wine list is on a hand-written slip of paper in the waitress's pocket. The waitress tells us that Pirates is owned by Dr. Jarecki, who recently purchased Norman Island. It is being operated by Elvet Myers, but Jarecki owns it. The dinner is good. I have grouper poached in lemon butter, and Nancy has chicken in a wine and mushroom sauce. We have a bottle of Penfold's Koonunga Hill Semillon chardonnay.

Dinner business at the Willy T looks to be slow also. As we dinked in to Pirates, almost every boat that we passed had their grill lit. Since the Bight is a first-night stop for many charterers, I imagine that the excitement of cooking on a boat for the first time in the Caribbean must be pretty strong. Back on the boat tram after dinner, we spot the Hubble Space Telesope which is clearly visible even though there are a few clouds around and the first quarter moon is creating quite a bright sky. Aristocat's main halyard slaps the mast loudly on every puff of wind that comes down the Bight, making the Bight sound like a boatyard. After we go below, I look up and spot the ROSAT satellite through our open hatch.

Wednesday, June 19
We slept really well last night. There was a great breeze in the Bight and we only had one very brief shower. I don't know how in the world the folks on Aristocat got any sleep, though. Their main halyard slapping the mast still sounds like a jackhammer this morning. One of the kids aboard comes up on deck and stares at it, bewildered by the noise. I think to myself that the kid is probably pretty irritable about now.

Nancy makes us a ham and cheese omelet, using the last of our eggs. This, plus half of one of Deliverance's mega-brownies and I am stuffed. We slip the mooring at 8:00 and set sail for Manchioneel Bay on Cooper Island - dead to weather from the pass between Norman Island and Pelican Island. Behind Peter Island, the wind is only 15-20, so we go full hoist initially. As we clear Great Harbor on Peter, the wind and seas build so we shorten to the first reef on the mainsail. Before we get across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to our first tack just off Brandywine Bay, the wind freshens to near 30 and a squall is approaching, so we shorten again to double reef main and jib. Once again the boat is happy. We are going to weather at 7 knots, tacking through just over 90 with the GPS showing us making good about 110 over the ground from tack to tack. Cats are fast to weather if you let them breathe. We make Manchioneel Bay by 10:00 - almost 4 knots VMG in rough seas - not too shabby for a doggy 3800.

Manchioneel BayWhen we reach Manchioneel Bay, we have no problem getting a mooring. I count 13 empty balls when we arrive, and we get our favorite one - the one at the northernmost end of the anchorage. We know which way the current flows here, and hence which way the head discharge drifts. Best to be at the head of the stream if you want to swim.

James LeonardAshore, we stop at the Cooper Island Beach Club and make our dinner reservation, then walk down the beach to the gift shop. The stock in the shop is very thin - much less than we have ever seen there before. We leave and walk next door to the small shop just to the north. An unexpected pleasure awaits. This shop is very interesting - a wooden floor, but deliberately covered with sand so as to mimic the beach. No worry about tracking sand in here - just be careful not to remove any when you leave! The fellow that owns the place is laying outside in a hammock, limin' away the day. I walk up to him and ask him if he knows of a man called "Lizard". He replies, "Yeh, he ma faddah!'" I tell him that Keith from Anegada had told us to look Lizard up. He introduces himself as James Leonard, and we are instant friends. He tells us that he has a terrible hangover from last night. He tells us that he has known Keith since childhood - that he lived and went to school in Sea Cow's Bay where Keith is from.

Nancy and I sit and talk with James for the next hour. He asks if we are on the cat with the Texas flag, and I tell him we are. He tells us that he watched sailing up the channel, that we were really flying along, and that sure was a clean fast tack we made just off of Salt Island. James asks Nancy if she has any Salt Island salt, and Nancy tells him that we do not. James hops up, runs inside his shop and comes back with a large ziploc bag of Salt Island salt which he gives as a gift to Nancy.

James tells us all about the goings-on on Norman Island, Dr. Jarecki (James calls him "Docta Jerky"), Jarecki's political affiliation with the minority party, and how the minority party will likely take power in the next election thanks to Jarecki's influence and money. We are later to learn from others that Jarecki's "Conservation Agency" is not what it seems. James is keenly aware of how screwed up things get when big business/money gets its hand in government. James confirms that Jarecki owns Pirates and that he allows Elvet to operate it, but Elvet has no stake in it at all and can (will) be tossed out whenever Jarecki chooses. Jarecki is building a facility on Norman Island that, when complete, will outshadow the Bitter End, but will only cater to the ultra-high dollar mega-yachts and offer essentially nothing to the lowly charter fleet. Dr. Jarecki begins to remind me of Ian Fleming's Dr. No.

We are getting thirsty, so I ask James if he wants a beer. He says no, but if I have Coca-Cola he would like some. We talk a few minutes more, then I take Nancy back to Texas Two Step and pack the soft cooler with Coca-Cola, Caribs, and ice and go back ashore to lime with James. When I get back in, James has changed his mind - he's ready for a beer. We talk a lot more, and I learn a lot more. We discussed the serious inbreeding on Jost van Dyke. Nancy and I have always wondered about some of the people there. James confirmed what we thought.

James is quite an island philosopher, and a very quick thinker. He knows everyone in the islands that we know, and knows a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that is otherwise invisible. James knows details about everyone and everything - he is truly the coconut telegraph, better than any newspaper.

When we finish the Caribs that I brought, James asks if I want more. I tell him yes, that I will run down to the bar a get us more. He insists on going himself because "I get a discount". He quickly returns with about 10 more beers and a bag of ice, which he puts into a cooler. James really appears to be a happy fellow with damned few worries. He loves living on Cooper Island. His family owns land at Coral Bay on the other side of Cooper Island, and they are fishermen.

We lime away a good part of the afternoon. James is amazing at reading people. A younger guy wanders up and, hesitatingly, asks "Where are you from?". James quickly replies "From heh, but ya really wan ta ax me sometin else sa jes get right ta da pint." The kid is obviously taken aback, and makes small talk for the next several minutes before finally asking "Do you know where I can get some, you know....  some weed?" James knew that this was coming from the moment the kid walked up. He replied "Na heh mon. Ya ha ta try a nex ilan".

Later, another man walks up and, before he says a word, James asks him if is looking for cigars. The man, surprised, replies "No, well, sort of..., yes". James tells him that he has cohibas for $10, and the man buys one. The young guy is fascinated by the exchange, and James walks back into his shop and brings him a cohiba for free. He knows that it will amusing watching the kid smoke the cigar. We spend another hour talking with each other and the kid. James is 26, dropped out of school in the seventh grade, and says that he is "self-educated". The kid is 21 years old and is a law student. The two are light years apart in world experience. Give me James rather than the kid anytime things get tough. I like this guy.

By 3:00 PM all of the mooring balls are taken and we amuse ourselves watching the late-comers circle like sharks outside waiting for something to free up. A couple of boats do leave their moorings, and the sharks sprint for the free ball. Nan calls on the FRS radio and wants me to come snorkel. She has been snorkeling around the rocks at the north end of the bay and has seen a large school of squid. I invite James to have dinner with us at the Beach Club and dink back to the boat.

Carol Bay, Cooper IslandNan and I snorkel around the northern end of the bay and have a really pretty turtle swim around us, seemingly indifferent to our presence. After the snorkel, we go back ashore and walk up the trail behind James's shop to the crest of Cooper Island, from where I can see Coral Bay and James's home. The boat "Miss Jean" is in the bay. Miss Jean is James's mother. The boat "Sonia" which Nancy and I saw a few days earlier at Anegada is James's uncle's boat, and also fishes out of Coral Bay.

James joins us for dinner and is, to say the least, entertaining. By now he is really wound up. James has the rosemary pork chops, I have chicken roti, and Nancy have snapper, and we have a couple of bottles of Penfold's chardonnay. Dinner at Cooper is always good. The only disappointment was that they were out of their signature flan dessert. After the second bottle of wine, it didn't really matter.

Thursday, June 20
It was very comfortable last night. Cooper Island is normally not very breezy in June because the anchorage is in the lee of the island. However, we have had good wind for the entire two weeks and our cabin was very breezy last night. We are off our mooring by 7:00 and are off to Trellis Bay to drop off Jeremy's toys and pick up my masts. We hoist to a single reef for the sail across and are moored in Trellis Bay by 8:00.

I dink ashore for the drop-off and pickup and am surprised to find Jeremy up when I get there. After the quick trip, we motor out of Trellis at 8:30 and set a single reef again for the run down to Road Harbor. Good wind and nice waves get Texas Two Step up into the high 9's. We are tied up alongside the Moorings dock by 10:00. At the dock, I check our fresh water tanks and find that we still have about 25 gallons. We made it for two weeks without having to take on any water. We stowed the fenders when we sailed two weeks ago and did not have to get them back out until now. I calculate that between the two of us, we used a little over 12 gallons per day from the tank.

We wind up not needing the two gallons of fresh water we bought last Sunday at Buck's, but we are out of Carib. We have to buy another six-pack to help us unload the boat. We have our gear off the boat by 11:00, but have to wait until nearly noon for a room at the Mariner Inn. That's why we have our soft cooler packed with ice and these just-bought Caribs.

After we get our room, we shower, call Brandywine Bay for dinner reservations, and walk into Roadtown. Nancy finds a beautiful Jam's World dress at the Sea Urchin Shop and I find a new Jam's shirt. We walk over to the other Sea Urchin Shop next to Pusser's, and Nancy finds the T-shirt that she has been looking for. Then we do Pusser's, Latitude 18, and Sunny Caribbee. At Sunny Caribbee  we refresh our nutmeg supply and buy a good supply of soaps. Finally, we walk back to the Mariner Inn, where we sit out on the seawall under the seagrapes and finish the last of the fourth gallon of painkillers.

Walker with Davide PuglieseOur dinner reservation at Brandywine Bay is for 7:00, but it is a beautiful day and we go early so that we can sit out on the patio and enjoy the sunset. Nancy has a fresh ginger daiquiri, which is different and very good. We are the first guests tonight and Davide comes out and visits with us for quite a while. As it turns out, he and Cele also enjoy Anegada. He is quite surprised when we tell him that we just spent eight days there, and volunteers to sail over with us on our next trip.

Brandywine Bay artThe artwork at Brandywine Bay is by Aragorn. The piece hanging inside was one of Aragorn's first pieces. It is made from the door of a discarded refrigerator. The Brandywine Bay logo was taken from this piece.

Nancy has French onion soup, which is quite different from the standard pot of soup with a piece of bread and melted cheese. Nancy says that it is the best French onion soup that she has ever had. I have ravioli, which is also good, but that soup really shines. Nancy has Davide's tagliata, which is a seriously good steak with shiitake mushrooms. I have the duck with cherry sauce. Tonight's wine is a Penfold's "Old Vines" Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre, which is excellent with the tagliata and duck. My dessert is a panna cotta, which is a flan-like custard with a raspberry sauce and Nancy has Davide's lemon tart. Both are, not surprisingly, excellent.

Friday, June 21
Nancy and Walker at the MooringsThe Moorings docksWe slept well last night in the air conditioned room under the ceiling fan, and did not get up until almost 8:00. When we get up we do our final packing. We finished off our orange juice with mimosas made from the bottle of Chandon champagne that the Moorings had waiting for us on the salon table when we boarded Texas Two Step two weeks earlier. We take a couple of photos out by the Moorings sign, and couple more of the Moorings docks with all of the boats.

We check out of the Mariner Inn at 9:30 and ride to the airport with Franklyn, who manages to pack 18 people and an incredible amount of luggage (including my windsurfing gear) into his open-air taxi. The woman sitting behind me gripes all the way to the airport about all of the luggage packed around. Apparently, she forgot to leave her bitchy attitude behind when she came on vacation. I bet her husband has had a really long week.

It takes over an hour to get through check-in at the Beef Island airport. By the time we are checked in, the flight to San Juan is boarding. We did not get a chance to walk over to Trellis Bay as we had hoped. I hurriedly take Nancy down to the Clair Aero office and show her the printout from our website on their wall with "Nancy and Walker's Scrapbook" at the bottom. The fellow in the office is amused that we are the Nancy and Walker.

The flight to San Juan and entry through customs and immigration is completely uneventful. We have time to kill and there is no Carib in the San Juan airport, so Heineken has to suffice. I get comments all day long, from the Moorings through the Beef Island airport, and in San Juan about my "Caribbean Cowboy" shirt with the jolly roger.

In Miami, we have to walk forever to get from our arrival gate in Concourse E to our gate in Concourse B for the flight back to IAH. The path is through a circuitous maze in the new construction, and is much longer than it would be to just go to the main terminal and cut across from E to B. However, this would require us to exit the secure area and reenter. When we finally reach Concourse B, we find that we have to exit the secure area anyway to take the tram out to the satellite gate from which we are departing. As we board, I am carrying the Nathan's hotdogs that I just bought for our dinner and Nancy is carrying all of our carry-ons, which are loaded with stuff. Of course, she is once again selected for the random passenger search.

We get back into Houston George Bush Intercontinental right on time at 9:00PM. Nancy goes and gets the van from the parking lot while I round up our baggage. Everything that we checked makes it back, and we are at home in Clear Lake City at 10:45. There is a pile of mail waiting, but we are still on vacation.

Saturday, June 22
Frangipani cutttings from AnegadaI get up and resume my normal activities. At 8:00 AM I am over at the Johnson Space Center R/C field with my buddies flying R/C helicopters. When I get back home a little after noon, Nancy has the pots for me to start the Anegada frangipani cuttings in. I have over 600 pictures to download from the camera, and 40 pages of journal to start working on, and Nancy has a rusty pair of sandals to replace. She really should take better care of her shoes.

 

Epilogue:
We have always enjoyed the BVI, but this trip was exceptional. What made it so was meeting new people and making new friends. The islands are beautiful, and have great sailing, scenery, food, and drink. However, getting to know the wonderful people there really makes us feel like we have personal connections, and draws us back year after year.

Nancy and I enjoy sailing the BVI with other people aboard, and normally carry others on about half of our trips. It is fun and rewarding taking others and seeing them experience the islands for the first time. This year, with just the two of us aboard, we were able to linger where we wanted, and did not have to take anyone to the must-see stops for first-timers.

Having only two people aboard the roomy 3800 was absolutely luxurious. We slept in the forward port cabin, used the aft port cabin for our closet, and seldom went into the forward starboard cabin.

The eight days at Anegada gave us time to explore, enjoy, and really relax.

I think Lowell owes me an Anegada Reef Hotel staff shirt.

Bell does make the best conch fritters. Lauren told us the secret to them (I'm not telling), and we are working at home on getting them just right.

The development on Anegada is disturbing. Quite a bit of it is by outsiders, or at least non-residents. I wish there was a way to prevent this, but I am sure that there isn't. I am concerned about what will happen when the Anegada land ownership issue is settled and the non-residents who wind up with clear title begin to sell off their land to outsiders.

My favorite soap was Lowell's Anegada Sand Soap, but he has been out of it for over a year and most likely will never make soap again. I liked the feeling of the sand and the smell. Most of all, I liked touching a bit of Anegada every morning. The sand soap from Sunny Caribbee is wonderful, and is a good replacement.

Our frangipani cuttings seem to have made it. They are hardy plants, and a couple of them have already produced new flowers since we rooted them a little over a week ago.

We normally use sea salt for fine flavoring, and are now using Salt Island salt that James gave us. Nancy spread it on a cookie sheet and gently dried it in the oven. It compares very favorably with the French "Fleur de Sel" that we normally use, and has a slightly finer, more consistent texture. We did have to pick some shell fragments from it, though.

Never argue with an airline gate agent. They are in control and they know it. In fact, they will be more than happy to demonstrate to you just how much in control they are.

After 14 days on Texas Two Step, it took a couple of days for the to-and-fro swaying in the shower at home to stop. We wish it hadn't stopped.

Writing a daily journal was very rewarding. I normally did most of my writing in the mornings while I enjoyed my coffee in the new day's sunlight and fresh breeze. It gave me a chance to reflect in detail on the previous day before charging out on the new day. I wound up with 40 hand-written pages. Transcribing the journal to this page has taken a lot more time than I thought it would, but it has been a lot like enjoying those days all over again. Furthermore, Nancy and I will be able to read this over and over again and relive those days. In some ways, the words are better than pictures. I wish I had kept a journal on our eleven previous trips.

Nancy is not letting me forget about the shoe incident. Next year's dinghy will likely be chrisyened "Rusty Sandals".

Footnote (July 13, 2002)
I just received an interesting email from Dee and Vicki Maner, of Savannah, Georgia. They were reading this journal and realized that they were reading about themselves. They are the couple that were "obviously honeymooning" on the Moorings 322 on June 16. They even spotted themselves in one of the pictures that we took at Giorgio's Table. It turns out that, to quote Dee, "we have been married 126 dog years as I say affectionately to her often - 18 human years although she does say I don't always resemble a person." He further wrote, "Honeymooning??? If ever I need a laugh, I'll think of you - in a good way of course."

Footnote
On July 13, 2002, a tragic accident on Anegada took the life of Lowell Wheatley. I am thankful for the recent time that we had with him, and will miss him for the rest of my life.  Click here to visit a page that I put together about him.

 

 

Da Caribbean, Mon!

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