It's All About Friends
Thursday, June 5
Nancy is up at 2:15 and we begin gathering our final items and getting ready to drive up to IAH. We are all loaded and on the way at 3:15. About two miles down the road I ask Nancy if she remembers packing the Jams World T-shirt that I am taking to give to James Leonard (Jamsie). She says that she did not -- she thought that I had packed it. I don't remember packing it, so we turn around and go back to grab the shirt. When I first saw that shirt, I immediately thought of Jamsie and knew I had to get it for him. At 3:30, we are really on the way.
There is almost no one in the check-in line at the airport, so getting through the formalities at the check-in counter is quick and uneventful. I am not packing windsurfing gear down to the islands this year, which makes the trip much easier. This year I have decided to rent all of my windsurfing gear from Jeremy Wright. We still are not light packers. We check four bags: two bags with clothing, a dive bag with snorkel gear, duct tape, spare lines, and other sailing gear, and a bag with our Breeze Boosters in it. In addition, we have our hands full of carry-on items. I have my camera bag, my notebook computer, and another camera bag full of electronic equipment (2 GPS's, a digital audio disc recorder, a DC power inverter, FRS radios, battery chargers, cables, etc.). Nancy has two backpacks and her purse.
I packed our own Breeze Boosters because I have no idea what kind of gear we will find aboard our boat. We are chartering this year from Tradewind Yachts. It is our first charter with Tradewind, and I am being cautious because I do not know what to expect. All I know is that they are a "second-tier" company, and are about half the Moorings price for the same boat - A Leopard 4500 catamaran. I figure that saving five thousand dollars may be worth a little bit of inconvenience. I do know that on a hot still night we will be wishing for those Breeze Boosters.
We get to the American Airlines gate area at about 4:45AM. Frank and Sara Little, and their two daughters Tannah (age 16) and Taylor (age 14) are our crew this year. We meet them at the gate area -- they are also very excited, of course. Frank and Sara did the trip with us in 2000, but this is the daughters' first trip to the BVI. Our American Airlines flight to Miami boards a few minutes after 6:00, and we are in the air precisely at 6:35. Away we go!
In Miami, we have about an hour and a half between flights. We finally get the call to board flight 1305, which is scheduled to depart at 11:05AM. As we walk to the jetway, I look out the window and notice a mechanic with a tool pouch on the ramp beside the number one engine of the A300. The engine is running, but is shutting down. I tell Frank that this is not a good sign.
When we reach the end of the jetway, the mechanic has just come up the stairs and the captain is walking to the doorway to the stairs. I slow down so I can listen. I hear the mechanic tell the captain that "it will be about another half hour". It is nearly 11:00 AM now.
We board, but we sit and sit -- no sign of pushback. From my window seat, I cannot see the engine, but I can see a maintenance truck parked in front of the wing. At 11:15, the captain announces over the intercom that the plane has a mechanical problem, but that he expects us to be ready to go in another 15 to 20 minutes. The interior of the A300 is very hot as we sit and wait.
At 11:30, the captain announces that the plane cannot fly, and that we must exit the aircraft. American will find another aircraft for flight 1305.
At about noon, a new plane arrives at an adjoining gate, but it is an international arrival and U.S. Customs has to inspect the aircraft before it can be prepared for us to board. Our new planned departure time is 1:00PM. We are going to miss our connection from San Juan to Beef Island. I sure hope we make it in time for dinner at Brandywine Bay.
At 12:50, we board the new plane and sit. And sit. At 1:15, the captain announces that this plane also has a mechanical problem and cannot go to San Juan. Everyone gets off the plane and waits for further news. At this point, many passengers abandon the flight, thinking that two aircraft problems is enough for one day.
Eventually, the American gate agent announces that another airplane is inbound and that it will be used for flight 1305. This airplane is scheduled to arrive at 2:00, and with the turnaround, we should be able to depart around 2:45.
All the while, I have been watching the afternoon thunderstorms develop all around the airport. Are they going to play a part in this crappy hand that we are being dealt?
At 1:45, I hear an intercom announcement that that American ramp is now closed. I'm not sure what this means, but it doesn't sound good. A few minutes after 2:00, the American Airlines agent tells us that our plane is on the ground, but that it cannot come to the gate because the ramp is closed.
The American ramp workers' union apparently will not work if there is thunderstorm activity anywhere in the area. Airplanes are landing, and we can see airplanes from other airlines departing. However, American Airlines activity is at a standstill.
Around 2:45, they make an announcement that the ramp has just reopened, and that our plane will be at the gate shortly. Our new planned departure time is 4:00. I head over to the bar and order four Cuba libres for us. The bartender pours up the drinks, places them on the bar, and says, "Thirty-six fifty, welcome to Miami!" Geez, $36.50 is four BOTTLES of the best rum in the islands. I will sure be happy when Miami is behind us.
Back at the gate area, American announces that they are giving out meal vouchers for flight 1305 passengers. We each get a $10 voucher. The voucher comes with a few restrictions, though. Each voucher can only be used at one vendor, so you have to spend your $10 in one purchase. The really bad restriction is that the voucher cannot be used for alcoholic beverages. We have already tried to eat the terrible cold cuts, and there really is not any other decent food around. I take the two vouchers for Nancy and myself to the fast-food bar. The lady serving there almost chokes when I hand her the vouchers and ask for twelve bags of potato chips. I figure that somewhere along the way we can find a use for them. Now we have another carry-on - a bag full of potato chip bags.
At 3:45, American announces that our new plane also has a mechanical problem, so we will be delayed again while they try to repair it. There is no estimate for a new departure time, and the agent is unsure as to whether the problem can even be solved.
At 4:15, American announces that there is another flight to San Juan that is departing at 4:40, and that passengers that do not have any checked baggage will be allowed to get on that flight. Passengers with checked baggage cannot get on the flight, though. These days, all passengers must travel with their baggage, and there is not time to pull any baggage from flight 1305 and transfer it to the new flight.
The waiting passengers are getting very vocal around the gate agent's desk, and it is beginning to look like a riot is at hand. I get laughs when I tell the folks around me that the real reason that we are being delayed so long is that it is taking much longer than usual for the Miami baggage handlers to rifle through our luggage and steal the good stuff.
Dinner at Brandywine Bay is looking pretty iffy now. Davide and Cele are expecting us and I need to call them and tell them our situation. The only problem is that I do not know their phone number. Using Nancy's cellphone, I call Sprint wireless information, and ask for information for Roadtown, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. After a long wait, a fellow comes on the line and asks the name for which I need a number. I ask for Brandywine Bay Restaurant, and he tells me that there is no listing for anything starting with "Brandywine" within 35 miles of Tortola. I then ask for the Tamarind Club, where we are supposed to stay assuming that we ever get to Tortola. He tells me that there is no listing for anything Tamarind within 35 miles of Tortola. Obviously, this guy is useless.
I really do need to get in touch with Davide or Cele, and am grasping at ways to get the Brandywine Bay phone number. Sara remembers that she has a Tortola restaurant guide, and starts to look through their carry-ons for it. After combing through everything several times, it does not appear. It must be in their checked baggage.
Then I have a brainstorm and remember that I have had Jeremy Wright's number in my memory for years. I call Jeremy's shop and speak to Finian Maynard, who is filling in while Jeremy is down island in Dominica. Finian looks up Brandywine Bay and the Tamarind Club's phone numbers for me. I quickly call Brandywine Bay and Cele answers. I tell her that we are still hopeful on making it for dinner tonight, but the realistic probability is that we won't make it. I tell her that we will call when we get to San Juan. If we do get to Tortola at a reasonable time, we will just go straight to the restaurant from the Beef Island airport.
I try the Tamarind Club, but get a recording saying to call a different number. Thanks to Sprint's "clear" digital network, I cannot quite make out the number. After calling back and listening to the recording two more times, I have a number. When I dial the number, a FAX machine answers. I give up on calling the Tamarind Club.
Finally, at 4:40, they call for flight 1305 to board it's third aircraft. We are airborne a few minutes later. We have changed our American Eagle reservations to a 7:30 flight, arriving at Beef Island around 8:15. We still have an outside chance at dinner with Davide and Cele. The A300 is less than half filled - by now, the majority of passengers on flight 1305 have either given up or have switched to another flight or airline.
We are on the ground in San Juan at 7:10. When we get to the American Eagle gate at 7:25, the gate agent is making the final boarding call for our flight, which must have also been delayed. She takes our boarding passes, but then quickly calls us back. Since we just arrived, our bags may not make this flight. The new TSA rules are that you must travel with your baggage -- if your bags don't get on a flight, then you don't either. She makes a phone call to American baggage, and then tells us that American says that they will not get our bags to the plane on time, so we cannot go on this flight. She gives Nancy and me confirmed reservations for a 9:20PM flight. The Little crew gets confirmed seats on the 10:00PM flight -- the last flight of the day to Beef Island.
I call Brandywine Bay and cancel our reservation. I also call the original Tamarind Club number that I got from Finian and can hear the recording well enough now to make out that the number that I had tried before was wrong. I call the correct number and Lynne answers. She tells us that she will wait for us.
Nancy and I board at 9:00PM. Our flight has four empty seats. We are finally on the ground at Beef Island at 10:00PM. Guess what? Our bags are not. So much for those TSA rules. Apparently, two hours in San Juan was not enough time to transfer our bags.
The American Eagle agent in San Juan told us that American Airlines' baggage handlers in San Juan had been very difficult for the past month, and were apparently being deliberately slow in transferring baggage to American Eagle.
We wait for the next flight to arrive. Frank, Sara, and the girls are on it. They make it through immigration before the bags are on the conveyor, and find that their bags are already here. Apparently, their bags traveled with us on our flight. When the baggage is unloaded, we have all but one of our bags -- the one with the Breeze Boosters. I fill out a missing baggage report, leaving Jeremy's phone number for contact. Since we will be in the general area of Trellis Bay for the next day or two, we can check back in with them for the Breeze Boosters.
We taxi to the Tamarind Club, finally arriving at 11:15PM. We quickly absorb the run punch welcome drinks that Lynne has poured for us. Plus another round or two. Lynne tells us that breakfast is "seven thirtyish" and leaves us in charge of the bar.
Even at this late hour, it is apparent that the Tamarind Club is beautiful, with exquisite flowers and plants everywhere. They also have a very nice pool that Nancy and I use to end the long day. The travel day from Hell is over and we are sleep at midnight.
Friday, June 6
We have a taxi pick us up at 9:00. When we go, we have the taxi pick us up at the top of the hill behind the Tamarind Club. When we the taxi brought us late last night, it let us out in front, which is way below where our rooms are. We had to carry all of our bags up the stairs to the main level, through the dining area, across the pool bridge, and up another set of stairs to our rooms. This morning, the taxi picks up our baggage right outside our rooms. We know to ask the taxis for upstairs delivery from now on.
Our boat this year is "Arpeggio" - a Leopard 4500 catamaran. When we arrive at Tradewind, Arpeggio ready for us to go. I received an email a month ago from a couple that had just finished a charter on Arpeggio. The email listed numerous problems that existed on Arpeggio, but most of the problems were not serious. I know what to look for, and find that none of the problems have been addressed in the month since.
Terrance from Tradewind starts to give us our boat briefing, but everything that he starts to show us I obviously already know about. After only a few minutes, he says, "OK, mon, cot ta da chess. Wha da ya need ta know?" I tell him that we know the boat systems, and that only need to know what is wrong with this boat. He tells us that the boat only has a couple of problems. The autopilot does not work, and the engine starter buttons on the engine control panels only work part of the time. I already knew about these problems from the earlier email. We can live without the autopilot. He shows us the emergency starter buttons in the lazarettes that override the buttons on the control panel and tells us that these buttons are reliable.
I do a quick search of the boat and find that it only has one winch handle aboard and no coffee pot. We send Terrance off to solve the shortage.
We only need our provisions from Bobby's. About the time that Terrance leaves to find us a winch handle and coffee pot, our provisions show up. Our provisions are mostly liquid, with a lot of snack food and fresh fruit. We plan on eating all of our dinners ashore. We can cook at home, but when we are at home we cannot have dinner at the island restaurants. Life is all about not missing opportunities.
When Terrance arrives with the winch handle and coffee pot, he sees that I am removing the barbecue from the stern rail. If we are not going to use it, we don't want it in the way. Terrance says to just leave it on the dock if we don't need it, which we are more than happy to do. The second winch handle that he has brought is a real lightweight handle -- not for a big boat like this. This handle certainly would not be good for opening conch shells. It doesn't matter, though. We are not planning on cleaning any conch this year. He also brings us a coffee pot, which has all of the necessary parts, even though it is obvious that the parts did not start life in the same coffee pot. The pot itself looks as if it has been used for a bait bucket. It doesn't smell, though, and the lid fits reasonably tight, so we settle for it.
We are loaded and under way at 10:30AM. We motor around to Trellis Bay and pick up our water toys from Finian. We get three boards: "my" F2 Thommen, a Starboard Start, and a new Starboard Hypersonic. I get three sails: an Aerotech 9.7 and 7.5, and an Aerotech 4.5 for the Start. We also get a two-man kayak.
Our provisions from Bobby's somehow did not have the Coco Lopez that we ordered, so Nancy and Sara pick some up at the Trellis Bay Market so that we can make our painkiller jug.
I hoist our flags, including our new "Mangum" private signal flag. Our old Mangum flag was destroyed last year when it flew through a tropical wave with sustained winds over 50 knots. When we got home last year, we had a new one made, much larger and of much more durable material. While we are moored, Taylor spots what she thinks is a big fish on the bottom beneath Arpeggio. I come up and take a look. It looks to me like it is a large bag, possibly a mesh dive gear bag. I quickly get my mask out and go down to check it out. It turns out out be a really nice and large waterproof bag.
We motor from Trellis Bay over to Marina Cay, and are moored by 3:30. Bill Hartzman quickly spots us and dinghies over from "Sanctuary", the Island Spirit 37 that was previously owned by Mike Kneafsey and known as "Aristocat". Even though the new owner has renamed the boat, it still bears the name Aristocat. It is in charter service with Tradewind, and they have not yet painted the new name on it. The charter business is slow this year, but Tradewind still does not seem to have the time to get anything done. We make arrangements with Bill to meet later at the Top of the Hill Bar for a round or two of drinks.
The mooring tender comes by to pick up our mooring fee. It is now $25 -- up from the $20 that it has been for the last five or so years. I ask the man in the tender about Roger Garside, who I know from TTOL, and he tells me that Roger is away on vacation.
We all dinghy ashore, make dinner reservations, and are at the top of the hill at 4:30 enjoying painkillers. Tannah and Taylor are having bottled water. We enjoy Michael Bean's Happy Aargh. I give the girls advance info on some of Bean's pirate trivia questions so that they can win a few shots of rum (for us, of course). Tannah manages to score for a shot before Bean even starts his show. Hartzman and Diana ("Lady Di") come in with their crew, and we all share some laughs.
Tannah enters the conch shell blowing contest. Despite the fact that she barely gets any sound from the shell, I figure that she's a shoo-in to win since she's the only female. I am wrong; a couple of guys do manage to blow the shell pretty well. Females usually win, but this is an older crowd; maybe Tannah is just too young to win on that basis. I wander around the top of Marina Cay and take some flower and sunset photos.
We have dinner at Marina Cay. Nancy and I are always serious about our conch fritter research, so at dinner, we all have conch fritters. They are good, but not the best in the islands. Nancy and I have grilled snapper, which is excellent. We also have a bottle of Penfold's chardonnay.
The shak-shak sticks are apparently working. Good jumby.
Saturday, June 7
The crew is up around 8:00, and we have a light breakfast -- fruit and English muffins. A continental breakfast, I suppose. It rained quite a bit last night, but Frank does not remember any rain at all. He really slept well. The breeze at Marina Cay was cool last night, and everyone said that they were very cool during the night.
This morning's destination is the Baths. Just before we leave, Hartzman and crew motor past and say goodbye.
We are at the Baths at 11:00. There are plenty of mooring balls available. We tie up, then load the dinghy. I drop everyone off at the beach. As I leave to go tie up the dinghy to the off-beach mooring rope, a group of tourists yells and asks me for a ride out to their boat. There are five of them. Let's just say that none of them are very athletic looking. A swim from the beach out to their boat is probably not going to happen. Frank stands in the water and steadies the dinghy while they climb/fall aboard. I take them out and drop them off on their boat, which is a day-trip excursion power boat. Then I go tie off our dinghy on the off-beach mooring and swim ashore.
At the Baths, we walk about halfway through the Crawl, then come back out and walk up to the Top of the Baths restaurant for lunch. Conch fritters in the name of science. These are doughnut shaped and very coarse in texture, are tasty, but are still not the best in the islands. Most of the crew has cheeseburgers, and I have a flying fish sandwich. Both are very good. We take a quick dip in the pool, then do some shopping.
We walk back down to the beach, and I swim out and get the dinghy to take the crew back to Arpeggio. As everyone boards the dinghy, Sara forgets about the brand-new Canon digital camcorder hanging around her neck, wades out, and submerges the camera. No more video this trip.
We go back out to Arpeggio, then snorkel back in for a bit of fish-watching. Nancy brings her new Canon S400 Digital Elph in the Canon underwater housing. The package works very well, and although the water is not very clear today, we manage to get a few decent underwater photos.
Nan and I swim back to Arpeggio and Nan sunbathes on the tramp while I make up our first gallon of boat painkillers. I call Brandywine Bay on the cellphone and leave a message saying to expect us for dinner tonight.
When all are back aboard, we motor down to Brandywine Bay, arriving at 4:30. I call the restaurant back to confirm that we are here. The hostess that answers says that Davide wants me to call him on his cellphone. I call Davide and he tells me to use two of his mooring balls -- one on the stern -- to keep the boat facing the bay entrance. He also tells me that to tell the other boat that is moored there that he should do the same thing. I motor out in the dinghy and pick up the pennant for our stern mooring and hand it up to Frank, who ties up our stern while I dinghy over to the other boat.
When I get to the other boat -- "Pilialoha", a Moorings 362 -- it takes a bit of yelling "HELLO!" before anyone aboard hears me. The boat isn't rocking, so they must be just taking a nap. The skipper comes up and I introduce myself and tell him about Davide's suggested mooring arrangement. His name is Tom. He and his wife are from Jasper, Georgia. I dinghy out and pick up his new stern mooring pennant. He likes the idea because, as Pilialoha was facing, she was a bit too rolly for their liking.
We dinghy in to the little concrete dock in the southeast end of the bay, tie up the dinghy, and walk up. At the restaurant, we settle on the patio. Nadine brings us their aperitif menu and we ask for water while we look over the choices. Within a minute or two, Davide (pronounced "DAH-vi-day") appears with his brilliant smile and says that he is blinded by our matching Jam's World shirt and dress. Nancy and I get hugs and kisses and we introduce the Little crew. We order mango bellinis, and Davide sits with us to chat before his evening's work begins. Nan and I give him the 1995 Michel Schlumberger cab that we brought him, and Frank and Sara have a bag of coffee beans for him also.
For openers at dinner, Nancy and I have mussels in an arrabiata sauce and a wonderful portobello napoleon. For the main course, we both have a pork tenderloin that has been pan-roasted, then stacked with apple slices, dipped in a light tempura batter, then quickly fried. It is all wonderful. Frank has Davide's tagliata and raves over it. Sara has a lobster-stuffed artichoke that is a work of art. Taylor has the portobello napoleon for dinner. Tannah is not an adventurous eater, so Davide prepares an off-the-menu pasta alfredo for her. The wine for the evening is a 1998 Pio Cesare Barbaresca. It is also very good, and two bottles are needed for the table. We finish with panna cottas and chocolate mousse.
After dinner, Tannah and Taylor are not very enthused about hanging out with us on the patio, and are sleepy. I take Davide's truck and drive Tannah and Taylor back down to the dock and dinghy them out to Arpeggio.
When I get back up to the patio, Davide already has Nancy, Sara, and Frank into the grappa. Mine arrives shortly after I get back and we each enjoy. Davide joins us, but he is drinking wine as he still has dinner guests to cook for.
When Davide is done for the evening, he and Cele join us for more grappa. We make plans for tomorrow's picnic at Davide's Beach on Scrub Island. We then say goodnights, walk down, and dinghy out to Arpeggio. The flashlight that I thought to pick up when I dropped the girls off comes in handy, as the walk down is quite dark. Frank does a flying dinghy mount from the dock that draws oohs and aahs from Nancy and Sara, and they rate his acrobatic move as exceptional.
Back aboard Arpeggio, we all down an ibuprofen or two that we prescribe for ending and evening of bellinis, wine, and grappa.
Brandywine Bay is not very breezy, so I try to set out the three Breeze Boosters that we found aboard Arpeggio. I am too grappa'ed to deal with the assorted problems that each of the Breeze Boosters has, so no success is had.
Sunday, June 8
I have coffee ready when the crew wakes up, and we cast off for Trellis Bay at 8:30. The wind this morning is south-southeast at 20 knots, and the Drake Channel has some big seas running in it. Tannah stays below to put on makeup, but soon comes up and is feeling pretty queasy. If it were not for the makeup, she would be green.
We are in Trellis Bay at 10:00 and I call Davide. He says that they should be here about 11:30, so Tannah decides to get her hair braided while we wait. Nancy and I walk over to the airport and pick up our missing bag with the good Breeze Boosters in it.
Davide and Cele arrive, but Tannah's hair braiding is far from done. Davide and I dinghy the food that he has brought out to Arpeggio, then we return to the beach. Aragorn's shop is open, and Frank and Nancy are inside picking out shakers and drums. Davide introduces us to Fredericka, Aragorn's wife. Davide, Cele, Fredericka, and Aragorn are very close friends. Davide is the godfather of Dante, Aragorn and Fredericka's son.
Davide and Cele have brought Donatella with them. Donatella is their dog, named for Donatella Versace. Donatella is very pleasant.
When Tannah's braids are done, we dinghy out to Arpeggio. It takes two trips to get everyone aboard. On the second trip out, a rain shower gets us quite wet. More showers are around and are threatening our picnic.
We motor from Trellis Bay over to a mooring ball at Donovan's Reef. On the way to Scrub Island, Davide tells me about the "Coco" charter that he and Cele are planning for early August and says that if Nancy and I are interested, we should give it a thought. When we are moored, I dinghy Davide, Cele, Donatella, and the food ashore. Davide gets a four-wheeler and a car from Donovan's and has them waiting by the time I get everyone else ashore. We bring Carib, rum, and painkiller mix.
We all drive over the dirt road on Scrub Island down to Davide's Beach. Davide and Cele own two acres on Scrub, just to the east of Davide's Beach. They are planning a house with rental bedrooms. Davide is planning on operating a cooking school here. This is my idea of school!
Davide's Beach is in the low pass between the two ends of Scrub Island, and is actually on island "common" ground. The owners of Scrub Island are not happy with the name "Davide's Beach", but it has become known by the name. Davide did not name it. Others did -- because of the fantastic picnics that Davide puts on here.
Davide starts a fire in the oven by rubbing two sticks of wood together. OK, the sticks ARE matches, but he still says he's doing it the "Boy Scout" way. Gasoline from the four-wheeler helps also. He then puts the piece of sheet metal on top of the rocks that line the side of the fire and heats it. While the fire is getting ready, Davide sets up the up the Scrub Island food prep area (the top of an old wire spool). When the fire is ready, he pours olive oil onto the sheet metal, then sautés two kinds of sausage, some raddichio, and some onions on the metal plate.
Next, he rolls carefully out nice thin crusts from dough that he made fresh this morning, then lightly browns both sides of the crusts in the hot sheet metal.
Then he adds the toppings. The toppings are a nice marinara sauce, the sautéed sausage and veggies, gorgonzola and a delicious mozzarella that he just made this morning. He then returns the completed pizza to the hot sheet metal, which is now heated by the coals underneath. The result is fantastic. The crust has the crispy finish of the very best pizza, and Davide's toppings are superb. We start out with four incredibly good pizzas. Nancy and I both agree that we have never had any better.
This ain't Pizza Hut! Scrub Island pizza is the best in the world. It's going to be hard to franchise, though!
Pam from Donovan's Reef comes down and joins us as we sit in this beautiful setting and enjoy the picnic with us.
For dessert, Davide makes two more pizzas that are simply out of this world. He prepares the crusts as before, but does not use olive oil on them. Instead, he brushes on a layer of moscarpone, then adds sliced bananas and some brown sugar to one, and sliced figs to the other. All of this -- killer pizza, mojitos, Caribs, painkillers, beautiful people, beautiful beach..... What a day!
After pizza, we all go for a swim off Davide's Beach. The beach is in a small bay that is well protected from all but northern seas, and is very smooth and fun swimming. We do some in-the-water photos. Donatella is not thrilled with Davide carrying her out into the water, but she does smile for a photo.
Nancy and I get some cuttings from the wild frangipani on Davide's Beach. The frangipani tree is covered with caterpillar-like worms. They are very brightly colored and quite pretty, but they are making quick work of devouring the frangipani foliage.
Too soon, it is time to pack up and go and we load up the truck. Davide offers a ride back across the peak on the back seat of the four-wheeler, and Nancy is interested. Davide asks me, "Are you sure you trust me with your wife?", to which I reply, "Hell no!". Davide smiles and yells "Good!" and off they go.
We get back to the dock and I dinghy the crew out to Arpeggio, then I go back to load Davide, Cele, Donatella, and the picnic gear. I dinghy them all the way across to Trellis Bay. We manage to plane most of the way over, so it is a fairly quick ride across the 1.6 miles.
Davide and Cele have not been up to Anegada in over a year. Tomorrow is a holiday (Whitmonday) and Brandywine Bay is closed. Davide and had planned to sail over with us, then fly back on Tuesday. However, they have not been able to confirm a flight back and they must be back by mid-day Tuesday for the restaurant. I really want them to go, so I promise them that if they cannot arrange a way back, I will sail them back to Tortola on Tuesday morning. They really want to come and agree with my plan. When we unload, we set a pickup time of 8:00AM for tomorrow's sail to Anegada.
Alone in the dinghy, I fly back to Arpeggio and we spend the night on the mooring at Donovan's. Donovan's is closed today, and we have the area to ourselves. We enjoy a sunset snorkel, and I take an after-dark paddle in the kayak. Taylor entertains us with the miniature steel drum that they have brought along, while Nancy blows bubbles into the night.
Monday, June 9
We untie from the dock and motor over to Trellis Bay. On the way, we pass the employee ferry going in the opposite direction carrying staff to Marina Cay. I dinghy in and pick up Davide and Cele from the North Sound Express ferry dock. We then motor back over to Marina Cay, and find that dock is now open but is occupied with another boat taking on water, so we now have to wait for space at the dock. Finally, we are topped off with water and dinghy fuel and set sail for Anegada. As we leave Scrub behind us, we get a good look at Davide's Beach -- the scene of yesterday's gala.
A few miles out of the Camanoe/Scrub Island passage, Arpeggio shows signs of needing some adjustments. The wind today is backed a little more than normal, and is blowing a fairly steady 18 to 20 knots. To lay the outer markers at the Anegada channel, we are hard on the wind. The jib lead blocks are all the way aft, and with maximum jib trim only the bottom quarter of the jib is working. The old racer in me takes over and I decide that the jib lead must be improved.
I give Frank the helm. I take the lazy starboard jib sheet and load it directly on the port sheet winch, then release the port jib sheet rope clutch and slide the block forward a good three and a half feet. I put some tension on the starboard jib sheet and lock it off, then I release the starboard jib sheet from the winch, The tail of the starboard jib sheet is still led across the deck and the stop knot at the end is almost at the starboard rope lock, leaving very little slack in the tail of the sheet.
When I push the small loop of the starboard sheet off the tailing lock of the port winch, the remaining wrap slams tightly to the winch taking the middle finger of my right hand in under it. My finger is firmly bound between the now taut sheet and the winch right where the sheet starts to wrap on the winch drum, and the sheet is creeping further down into the winch, taking my finger into the winch with it. I immediately realize that I am about to lose my finger and scream for help. Davide and Cele rush to help and Cele yells for Frank to go head to wind. By the time the boat heads up enough to ease the sheet, my finger is damaged pretty badly. When I get it free, the skin around it from the first knuckle has been pulled open and retracted all the way down to the top of my hand. There is a lot of open flesh showing, and I am dripping blood all over the place.
Davide calls for ice, and we pack my hand in a ziploc bag full of ice. I quickly down four ibuprofen and a Carib. We are still two hours out from Anegada, but I decide that we will press on. Davide calls ahead on his cellphone to the Anegada Reef Hotel and gets word that we are coming in and that I will need medical help.
Cele's quietness belies her wisdom, wit, and experience. On the way to Anegada, she points out the green tint on the bottom of the clouds over the Anegada shallows. We have been sailing to Anegada for fifteen years and never noticed it before.
Frank sails the boat very, very well and manages to keep good speed on and lay the outer channel buoys. Many changes of ice, many Caribs, and two hours later we are approaching the Anegada entrance channel. By now, the ice has completely suppressed the pain, and my hand is relatively comfortable without it, even though it still slowly bleeding from the open flesh. When we are just off the outer buoys, Arpeggio's engines start without needing to go to the emergency starter switches in the lazarettes, and we quickly douse the sails.
I have a good GPS position for the channel entrance, but several people have asked me for the position of the two markers. So, as as we motor in, I swing by the two outer buoys and get accurate GPS positions for them.
Frank, Davide, Nancy, and I dinghy in to shore. A car is waiting, but it takes us a minute to decide who will go to the clinic with me. There is no way Nancy would let me go without her -- and she has the insurance cards and the checkbook! Davide really wants to come, and so does Frank. Both of them are concerned that they may be needed to help. Since Frank is a dentist, we decide that he will go since, in a pinch, he could do sutures which I am certainly going to need.
On the way, I introduce myself to our driver Johnny, who is from Dominica. He has been on Anegada for three months and really likes it here.
The nurse at the Anegada clinic is Tamara Semenko-Farion. Monday is her day off, but Davide has managed to get her called in to the clinic. When we get to the clinic, Tamara is waiting. It is obvious why Davide wanted so strongly to come with us: Tamara is a gorgeous woman!
None of that 100-question, show proof of insurance bullshit here. Tamara simply asks what medication I have taken, asks if I have any allergies, and takes a quick infrared temperature reading in my left ear, which is exactly 98.6 degrees. She carefully checks for any signs of nerve, tendon, or bone damage and finds none.
The ice packs have worked very well, and by now the ibuprofen is really doing its thing. The wound, although very, very ugly (sorry -- no pictures!), is painless now. I take my first really good look at it and immediately have a "vagovasal syncope" -- a fancy term for saying that I am passing out. Frank and Tamara recognize the symptoms (I am turning green and sweating profusely) and have me lying down quickly. I do not actually faint, but I come real close. While I am lying down, Tamara applies Betadine disinfectant to the area around the wound. She then does a "ring block"anesthesia with four injections of lidocaine around the base of my finger. The last injection stings like a wasp.
Soon, my finger is totally numb and the adjacent fingers think that there is a dead piece of wood between them. I am back on my feet now and can walk over to the counter top where Tamara will suture my finger. She prepares a sterile work area, gathers everything that she will need for suturing, and gets underway. She cleans the wound very carefully, and thankfully finds that it is very clean, with no debris in it.
While Tamara is working on my finger, I tell her that I know who she is, but have never actually met her. She asks how I know about her and I tell her about George and Reggie and Bill and Diana. She is very flattered that everyone thinks so highly of her. She is from Canada, near Winnipeg, and is in her second year of contract with the BVI Government Health Service. Her husband teaches at the Anegada School, and their young son is in school here. Her contract expires in November, and she sounds as if it is doubtful that she will renew. I cannot tell if the doubt is on her part, or if she is simply not sure that the government will offer her a renewal or extension. Later in the week, I learn that everyone on the island thinks that she is incredibly wonderful and that everyone is praying for her to stay for at least a few more years.
Five sutures later, she has the wound closed and the bleeding stopped. She then applies an antibacterial ointment and plastic bandage over the wound. After a tetanus shot, she calls the doctor on Tortola to see what antibiotics and pain medications I should get. I hear her ask the doctor several times "Are you sure??". The doctor has told her not to give me either. We are done.
While we are sorting this out, I spot Keith Smith out front, who has just stopped because he saw Johnny waiting in the car. I rush out and Keith and I hug each other. It is so great to see him again.
Back inside, Nancy asks how we should pay and Tamara says, "Oh, I almost forgot about that!" She thinks for a second or two and says "Thirty dollars should do it." We are shocked, but only manage to talk her up to thirty-five dollars - five for each suture and ten for the tetanus shot.
Tamara's cellphone rings. It is Sue Wheatley, who has called to ask how I am doing. Tamara hands me the phone and I say, "Hi, Sue!" She answers, "WALKER?" It is marvelous to hear Sue's voice, and it brings tears to my eyes, which the whole finger injury thing was unable to do. Sue tells me that everyone has been looking for me, and that she will call George Brown and tell him that we are here.
Johnny takes us back to the hotel where Sue is waiting. When I get out of the car, we embrace for a long time, both of us with teary eyes. Sue then takes me by my hand (left hand!) and tells everyone else to please just give us a moment or two. We walk inside her shop and talk about losing Lowell. She gives me a gift - a cap with "Captain Lowell" embroidered on it. This cap will have a special place. Sue tells me about the memorial album that she is assembling for Lowell and tells me that she would like for me to add to it. This is an honor, and I ask her to give me a few days to compose my thoughts.
Frank dinghies out and picks up Sara and the girls, who have spent the last couple of hours cleaning the blood from the boat. When I left it, it looked like it had freckles.
Sue calls George on her cellphone and hands it to me as it is ringing. George answers and I tell him that we will be coming over to Lavenda Breeze shortly. George says that they will probably be down on the beach when we arrive. Sue calls Henrietta and tells her that we need a car for eight people. Shortly, Henrietta arrives with our car for the afternoon, which is an island-style pickup truck with bench seats in the bed in the back. Sue tells us that she will be coming over to the north shore and that we will see her a little later this afternoon.
Before we leave, Davide talks briefly with Clinton, asking him to bring "some fry" for Davide to use to make appetizers for dinner. We have no idea what he is talking about.
We load the whole gang of us into the truck that Henrietta has brought. With Davide driving, we start out for Henrietta's shop, where we will drop her off. We find that the road on Anegada is now paved all the way down to the government dock. The only unpaved section between the Settlement and the dock is the intersection of the main road with the cutoff road to the dock. This intersection is now a sand roundabout, and looks like it will be the next bit of paving done. Imagine that! A traffic roundabout on Anegada! I guess it had to happen. After all, Tortola has a traffic light now. There is as yet no pavement west of the roundabout.
As we cross the bridge across the small inlet that connects the salt ponds to the sea, we spot a group of four flamingos standing out in the shallows of the mud flats in the sea on the south side of Anegada. We have never seen flamingos in the sea before. Davide stops for a moment while Nancy and I take photos of the birds. Later in the week, when we tell others about seeing them, we find that no one else has ever seen flamingos out in the sea. Sue Wheatley is a bit worried that maybe something is wrong.
We drop Henrietta off at her shop and Davide drives the gang over to Lavenda Breeze. Davide has been to Lavenda Breeze before, but has never actually met George or Reggie. A couple of years ago, Davide was involved in a venture to produce a cooking series for public television. One of the videos for promotion was taped at Lavenda Breeze. Unfortunately, September 11, 2001 chilled everything, and the entire venture is still on hold waiting for someone to back its production.
We get to Lavenda Breeze and walk up, finding the house empty, so we walk down to the beach and find George and Reggie liming. We bring down more beach chairs and sit and sip Caribs, having the ultimate TTOL party. Soon, Davide mentions how hungry he is, since he lost all of his breakfast in the sail over to Anegada.
Tannah and Taylor have walked to the east, and by now are down near the point at Flash of Beauty. We try waving to get their attention, but they are totally engrossed in the Loblolly Bay beach. I write a big note in the sand to Tannah and Taylor, and we walk over the the Big Bamboo.
The Big Bamboo kitchen is now closed, and Davide asks Diane if we can order food. Diane tells him that we can have anything that we want and calls for the kitchen to be fired up.
Shebha is our waitress. She takes our order for conch fritters (what else?) and French fries.
The lidocaine in my finger has now totally worn off, and I am very pleased that there is no pain at all. Tamara does good work.
While we are waiting for our food at the Big Bamboo, Sue arrives with her friend Nancy. Nancy's husband is away on business for a couple of weeks, so Nancy has brought their boat over to Anegada for some relaxation. Sue and Nancy join us and we have fritters and fries. Sue tells us that we will all be at her table for dinner at the hotel tonight. She also invites Sophie, who has been playing Scrabble with Diane. Having dinner at Sue's table is a great honor on Anegada. Sue takes our dinner order and phones it to Sidney. Nancy and I order lobster. A trip to Anegada is not complete without a lobster dinner, and Nancy and I always have lobster on our first night on the island. It is all about avoiding missed opportunities: you never know for sure that this is not your last night on the island.
Tannah and Taylor walk up in time to have a bit of the food. We settle up our tab and walk back down the beach to Lavenda Breeze. George takes the crew on a tour of the house before we leave. Tannah and Taylor declare that this is the most beautiful house that they have ever seen. They are also very impressed by Reggie.
When we get back to Arpeggio, we all clean up for dinner. Nancy and I are in matching Jams World again. While everyone is enjoying smoodies, I wander back to find Keith and give him the supply of Jelly Bellys that we brought for him.
I walk into the Anegada Reef Hotel kitchen, where Davide and Sue are making our dinner appetizer. Davide has prepared a huge tray of what looks like French fries. I pick up a couple and try them. They are delicious. Per Davide's earlier request, Clinton has brought Davide a large bucket of "fry". Fry are those small fish, about an inch and a half long, that you see swimming together in large schools near the surface of the water. Think minnows. Clinton used a fine cast net to catch them. Davide coated them -- alive -- in a seasoned flour and flash fried them whole. He is arranging them on the tray with a sauce that he has put together, and Sue is adding lemons and parsley. Quite a creation.
We sit at Sue's table -- Nancy (from Tortola), Sophie, George, Reggie, Tannah, Taylor, Frank, Sara, Davide, Cele, Sue, Nancy, and me. Sidney pours everyone a glass of the KWV Chenin Blanc that Davide has ordered. We have a toast to Lowell and then enjoy the fry and wine. We have a grand dinner party, then return to the bar where Sue pours after-dinner liqueurs.
At the bar, a hand comes over my shoulder and I turn to find Mike and Jennifer Kneafsey, who are down on a charter. We talk for a few minutes before they have to move on with their charter clients.
Davide and Cele are staying in the hotel tonight, and Sue has made arrangements for them to fly back to Beef Island in the morning. Cele, Davide, Nancy, and I decide to meet ashore at 8:00 in the morning.
We return to Arpeggio. I take four more ibuprofen and I sleep extremely well.
Tuesday, June 10
I will not have to take them back to Tortola this morning. Sue has arranged a flight for Davide and Cele back to Tortola with Clair Aero. Clair Aero does not usually fly on Tuesdays, but Sue has connections and is able to get a special charter flight over for Davide and Cele at a good rate. Davide and Cele have to be at the airport at 9:30 for their flight.
For years, Nancy and I have said that we need to bring our Santa hats with us to the islands so that we can have a cute photo taken for our Christmas cards. This year, we actually remembered to bring them, and sometime in the last two days we told Davide about it. Davide suggests a Christmas card photo shoot under one of the casuarina trees on the beach in front of the hotel. Nancy dinghies back to Arpeggio and returns with our hats for the photos. Davide was a fashion photographer years ago before he fell in love with cooking, and he still has an eye for shot design.
Soon we are done with the photos and it is time to say goodbye to Cele and Davide. We have had so much fun with them that it is hard to part, but we will see them next Monday night. Saying goodbye next Monday night is going to be very difficult. Grappa will help.
Lawrence Wheatley is out early this morning, and asks how my finger is this morning. Over the years, I have heard lots from Lowell about Lawrence, but up until now I have never actually met him, so I introduce Nancy and myself to him. Thanks to yesterday's finger-in-the-winch incident, he already knows who we are. He thanks me for the Tribute to Lowell Wheatley page that I put together after Lowell passed away last year. Lawrence very strongly resembles the photos of Lowell from 20 years back, and his voice and accent sound dead-on like his father. I thoroughly enjoy hearing those familiar sounds and expressions. He really reminds me of Lowell when he uses Lowell's old "ya ya ya" expression.
After Cele and Davide depart for the airport, we go back to Arpeggio and pick up the Little crew. We are walking to Cow Wreck Beach this morning. We cover ourselves with sunscreen and we are off. As we walk to the west, we pick up small items along the beach to add to the beach monument just to the east of Pomato Point. We spot a complete Mistral Equipe windsurfer that has washed ashore and is now up in the vegetation line. I pull the fin from it to add to the monument. When we get to the monument, we each tie our additions to it and admire our work.
The sky is blue today, with few clouds, and the water is a beautiful topaz blue as we round Pomato Point. Of course, we have packed Caribs on ice for the rest stop at the halfway point. Other than us, there is not a single person, boat, or any other sign of life on the entire two mile stretch of beach between Pomato Point and West End. The water, with the morning's brilliant sunshine, looks like a gigantic glowing swimming pool. The colors are magnificent.
As we round Pomato Point, Tannah and Taylor are pretty much ready for Cow Wreck Beach to appear. I tell them that it is just around the next point and they are relieved.
Soon, we round the last point and Cow Wreck comes into view. We arrive to find Lauren, Tika, and Alex. Lauren gets prettier every year and she just laughs when I tell her so. We ask for our usual conch fritters, and Lauren tells us that they have none today, as they are out of bread crumbs (one of the two secret ingredients that make theirs the best in the islands). They do have some lobster fritter batter already made up, so we ask for them along with some conch ceviche.
At the bar, Alex pulls us cold Caribs from the chest and we relax and visit. Tannah and Taylor find the real cheeseburgers in paradise. There is quite a crowd (comparatively) at Cow Wreck today. Frank and Sara snooze a while, and Nancy gets a good shot of Frank doing what we came here to do.
Alex is excited that his band, "The Harmonic Sounds", will be playing in this year's August Festival. It sounds like it will be very exciting. The band will be performing from the back of a large sound truck in the big Festival Parade. Anegada will have big-time representation in the festival this year. The production is expensive, but they have a sponsor that is paying the bills.
Around 3:30, we get Tieka to drive us back over to the hotel. The girls are not interested in walking back.
Nancy and I stop at the bar and order snapper for dinner, and we dinghy back out to Arpeggio to clean up. Keith drives us over for a visit with Shirley Walters. In last years journal, I wrote about a lady who needed a birdbath moved. It turns out the the lady was Shirley Walters, and that she had read my journal on the internet. I did not have her name in the journal, but she clearly remembered us stopping to move the birdbath for her. Shirley told Keith that when we came back to Anegada, she wanted for him to bring me over so that she could meet me.
Shirley is out working in her yard when we arrive. Keith introduces Nancy and me, and we talk briefly. I tell Shirley that Nancy and I would like to come back tomorrow if possible for a longer visit. Shirley tells us that she has to teach school in the afternoon, so 10:00AM tomorrow will be a good time.
We leave and drive into the settlement to Faulkner's Country Store for a quick visit with Doris and Stan Rodriguez. The orchids that I cut for Doris last year are doing great. Stan tells us that Doris is over on Tortola. The big election is coming up next Monday, and, of course, Doris is in the thick of the political activity. She will not be back on Anegada until next Monday, so we will miss seeing her this time. Stan tells her that he will be talking to her on the phone tonight and promises to convey our hello.
When we get back to the hotel bar, I dinghy out and pick up the Littles and bring them in for dinner. At the ARH bar, we run into a fellow that tells us that this is his first time over to Anegada, and that he was able to sail over here because he found a page on the internet with navigation instructions. I introduce myself and tell him that I am the creator of that page. He is surprised.
He tells us that he and his wife are going to take their dinghy around the island tomorrow. I tell them that I doubt that they will be successful, as the water past West End is far too shallow for even a dinghy. He insists that he has done this before -- fifteen years ago -- and that there was plenty of water then. Nancy and I laugh about the idea, and Nancy decides that the wife must be new and wonders how the wife will react to reality after her hubby's buildup of the dinghy trip that they are going to attempt. We figure he will tell her that all of that coral and sand must have grown there in the last fifteen years.
As we are sitting at the bar discussing the proposed dinghy adventure, a woman approaches me and says, "Walker!". It is Maryanne ("map" from TTOL). We chat for a while and she thanks me for the information and waypoints that I have posted on the internet.
Pam brings Nancy and me our snapper. The servings are huge. Nancy and I do not pay much attention to the white-wine-with-fish philosophy, and we have a Penfold's cabernet/shiraz with our dinner.
Lawrence Wheatley brings over a platter covered with lobster and asks if we think we can manage them also. Of course we can! Later, Lawrence comes by and we enjoy talking. He moves to another table nearby, and I hear the "captain" seated at the table tell Lawrence that he has been coming to the islands for 15 years, but has never been to Anegada before. He tells Lawrence that he was able to make the trip over this time because he found "a website with good directions and waypoints". This is not the same fellow that we met earlier at the bar. I really enjoy hearing all of this -- I am bringing new business over to Anegada! That might explain the lobster that appears with our dinner (and continue to appear for the rest of the week).
Wednesday, June 11
Nancy and I leave Frank and gang behind and dinghy in to get the truck. Sue calls Dean at Henrietta's, and the truck quickly appears. We drive back to Henrietta's to do the rental paperwork and drop Dean off, then we drive the 50 feet west from Henrietta's shop to Shirley's driveway.
Nancy and I walk through Shirley's gate and around to the stairs on the back of her house. Shirley is waiting for us, and we have a delightful visit. She has a beautiful home, and has very refined taste in decoration, art, and music.
Shirley tells us all about her very interesting life. She has a master's degree from Columbia University, and has done very many interesting things. She is a direct descendant of the Faulkner family from Northern Ireland that originally settled Anegada in 1776. She was not born on Anegada, but her grandparents were, and she used to come and visit every summer when she was a little girl. She loves to write, and has written a comprehensive history of Anegada that is waiting to be published.
She is currently working on a biography of someone that she knew quite well many years ago. She cannot tell us who the subject is or any details yet, but from the little snippets that she does disclose, this should be a very, very interesting work.
Shirley, who also goes by the name Vanessa, operates the after-school "Sunflower" program at the Anegada School. She also created and manages the botanical garden at the intersection of the main road and the Airport/Loblolly Bay road.
As we are wrapping up our visit, Shirley says that she is going to call someone to pick her up for a ride to school today. She just bought two new tires for the front on her Jeep Cherokee, which is nine years old, but doesn't look nearly that old. These are the first new tires that she has put on it since new. One of the new tires is flat -- the first flat tire that she has had in nine years!
I volunteer to change the tire for her, and we struggle to find the tools, which have never been used. I find that the jack will not quite raise the vehicle high enough to get the spare tire cleanly onto the brake drum, so I have to coax the tire into place one lug at a time and then rotate it to the next.
Eventually, the spare tire is mounted and I am hot and have filthy hands. I tell Shirley that I will take that cold beer that she graciously offered earlier. She directs me to her bath to wash my nasty hands. In the bath, I flip the switch on the wall to turn on the light. It is the wrong switch, as I hear the motor of a whirlpool bath come on. I quickly turn it off and Shirley points out the correct switch as I reflect on the surprise of finding a whirlpool bath here.
Shirley opens a cold Heineken for me and a sports energy drink for Nancy. She then shows us her original artwork. She does mixed-media works, combining painted brush strokes with sea life forms. She has done several art shows, and the two pieces that she has on hand to show us are very nice. She is very creative and artistic.
It is near noon, and Nancy and I use our FRS radio to check in with the rest of our crew, still back aboard Arpeggio. Arpeggio is several miles away, but the radio works just fine. I tell Sara that we will be back shortly to pick them up.
Before we leave, we ask Shirley if she could give us a tour of the botanical garden. She says to come back and meet her at 1:00 for the tour.
We drive back to the ARH, and I dinghy out and pick up the Littles. We then drive into the Settlement to the clinic so that the doctor, who is on-island today, can take a look at my finger injury. Tamara, who is stunningly beautiful today, removes the old dressing from my finger. The doctor is a different one than Tamara consulted with on Monday. He thinks that I should probably be on an antibiotic, and directs Tamara to give me Cloxacillin, 2 capsules three times a day for five days.
Tamara applies the new dressing, then gives Nancy sterile bandages, a roll of tape, a tube of Polyderm bacterial ointment, and some rubber gloves for me to use in the shower so that I can keep the dressing dry. The bill: $3.00.
The smallest bill that we have is a five dollar bill, and Tamara has no change, so we tell her to put the $2.00 change into the clinic donation can when change becomes available. We also put a large donation in to the can.
Tamara gives everyone a quick tour of the clinic. Frank is interested in the dentist's office in the rear of the clinic. I take photos, and Nancy gets some photos of Tamara and me together. Tamara is actually quite shy!
I ask Tamara about her upcoming contract, and she tells Nancy and me that she and her family must return to Canada when her contract is up in November. Her family has numerous benefits such as health car insurance and retirement benefits that they will lose if they remain expatriate for more than two years. It will be a huge loss to Anegada when she leaves. Maybe she will be back some day.
Tamara walks out of the clinic with us and we say goodbye. The finger-in-the-winch affair has been serendipitous: we met a wonderful person because of it. This is far more valuable than the few days of windsurfing that I lost because of the injury.
We leave the clinic right on time to meet Shirley back at her house. She is waiting out front in her Cherokee when we arrive. We drive together down to the garden and she gives us a splendid tour. The plants here are very nice and well cared for. There is a small shed with a roof to collect water, but there is not enough rainfall to properly keep the garden watered. Water has to be brought in by truck, 1,000 gallons at a time.
Frank is very impressed by all of the varieties of bougainvillea that are blooming here.
After the tour, we say goodbye to Shirley and drive up to Loblolly Bay to pick up some cold Caribs at the Big Bamboo. Then we drive back into the Settlement and down to the old marina, where we show the Littles the conch shell mounds. Taylor finds a turtle shell in the mangrove hammock there.
We drive out past the school and take the back road to Loblolly Bay, then back down through The Wilderness and out to the salt ponds. There, Sara drops her digital camera into the rocks and it quits working. She really has been hard on cameras!
After leaving the salt ponds, we drive along the north road, where we stop and gather some wild orchids. We then drive over to Keith's liming spot on Windlass Bight, then over to Cow Wreck to finish off the afternoon.
Sue meets us when we arrive at the ARH. A big blast of wind blows my smoodie off the bar, and Sue grabs a mop to clean to concrete. We think that mopping concrete on the beach is a funny sight, and get a photo or two. Later, I stay ashore for a while with Sue while the rest of the crew goes out to Arpeggio to clean up. She and I laugh and cry for a while. She is a fantastic person with a good sense of wit, and I really enjoy her company. I invite her to come over to Tortola on Monday night for dinner with us at Brandywine Bay and she tentatively accepts.
While I am talking with Sue, Sidney walks out with a telephone and says "Phone call for Walker Mangum!" I am shocked to be getting a phone call ashore at Anegada, and relieved to find that the caller is George. We discuss plans for a visit tomorrow, and decide that I will pick up some fried chicken and chips at Pam's Kitchen for a luncheon at Lavenda Breeze tomorrow.
I summon for the dinghy on the FRS radio, and Frank runs in and picks me up so that I can shower for dinner.
For dinner tonight, Nancy and I both have swordfish, with a Penfold's shiraz. Our table tonight is the beachfront directly in front of the dock. The staff has figured out who Arpeggio is, and we are getting the prime table. During dinner, Lawrence comes by for a nice visit, bringing more lobster.
Thursday, June 12
After breakfast, I make my entry in Sue's memorial book to Lowell. An excerpt from my entry: "We know for certain that if Heaven did not previously have a backhoe, it does now, and we know that you are smiling as you operate it."
Dean brings us the truck. We first stop by Pam's Kitchen and order lunch, telling Pam that we will be by to pick it up around 12:15. We drive up to Cow Wreck for the morning. We bring the Santa hats for more Christmas card photos
We also bring the remains of our Mangum flag that was destroyed in last year's tropical wave. Alex nails the decent half of the flag to the top of the bar, and we put the tattered tail on the beach monument there. While we are there, a group of ladies from the BVI Tourist Board comes by on a tour.
Alex goes out to pick lobster from the Cow Wreck lobster pen. I get what I think are the best photos of the entire trip as his tiny niece hauls in the pen by pulling the rope attached to it, then hauls the pen back out when Alex is done.
A few Caribs later and many more photos, it is time to run by Pam's and pick up the fried chicken and chips for lunch with George and Reggie.
When we arrive at Lavenda Breeze, Reggie has a salad and a pasta pesto to add to the meal, plus more Caribs. George soon arrives -- he had to go get diesel fuel for the Lavenda Breeze electrical generator. We all sit on the deck overlooking the beach and enjoy lunch. The food is great with the breeze and the ocean smell.
While we are eating, Tony (of Tony's taxi) walks up the back stairs and tells George that he has a group of visitors from the BVI Tourist Board that would like to see Lavenda Breeze. It is the same group that we saw earlier at Cow Wreck. While the rest of us finish lunch, George graciously gives them a tour of Lavenda Breeze, and they are all obviously very impressed.
After lunch, I check in on TTOL with George's computer. His internet service is via a wireless modem to CCT, and is very slow (19.2 kb). At this speed, TTOL is very painful. Waiting for the ads at the top of the page to download so that the pages will appear is very annoying.
I reply to a couple of posts, logged in as George (georgepb). Service is so slow that logging George out and myself in on TTOL would take forever. I simply add a note at the top of each reply saying "From Walker using George's computer".
Everyone else walks down to the beach while George and I drive into the Settlement to take the two workers who have been servicing George's generator back to the government building. On the way, George and I get to talk at length about Anegada and how we outsiders fit into it.
Back at Lavenda Breeze, we all take a nice walk down to the point at Flash of Beauty, and I try taking some of photos of just bare sand, thinking that I might get some interesting backgrounds for web pages. The background of this page is made from one of these photos of Anegada beach sand.
Far too soon, it is time to say goodbye to George and Reggie. We have had a great time with them this year. Although we both love to visit Anegada, our visits have not overlapped for the past four years, so it is great to be able to visit in person again.
We drive back over to Cow Wreck to pay our tab for the week and to say goodbye there. Bell has been away all week doing her work for the VIP party for the upcoming election, and she is supposed to be back this afternoon. As we drive along the north road, Lauren drives past in the other direction, headed to the airport to pick up Bell.
When we arrive at Cow Wreck, we have more Caribs, then a bushwhacker for me and a mango daiquiri for Nancy. Alex tells us that the sponsorship for his band to participate in the August Festival has fallen through. Sue Wheatley has spent the afternoon over here with him putting together a list of potential individual people to contact to pick up sponsorship for the band. Nancy and I add $100 to his fund on the spot, and Frank and Sara also make a contribution.
Lauren arrives with Bell and three grandsons from Florida. Bell is beaming -- she has all nine of her grandchildren around her. The boys from Florida are down for the summer. We have a short but nice visit with Bell. Lauren told Bell that we have stayed over an extra day on Anegada just so we can see her, and she is flattered. She jokingly tells us that she will have grandchildren for sale or rent in a few days.
When we get back to the ARH, I take everyone out to Arpeggio to clean up for dinner. While everyone else is showering, I take a portable GPS in the dinghy and a 6-foot lead line out for some surveying. I record the positions of the new buoys marking the channel into Neptune's Treasure, and I record the 6-foot depth line in the anchorage off the hotel. The tide is now at its peak, so this line should be a 5-foot depth line at low tide. Plenty safe for a catamaran.
After I do my surveying and I shower, we head in for out last dinner at the ARH for this trip. I get a few nice photos of the nearly full moon rising over the ARH bar, and a stranger volunteers to take a couple of shots of Nancy and I together.
We have the beachfront table again, and Nancy and I have snapper and steak, which we share. The wine tonight is a Penfold's Semillon Chardonnay, which goes very well with the platter of lobster that Lawrence brings to us. Tonight Lawrence visits at length. He has been a gracious and very hospitable host.
We sleep very well our last night at Anegada.
Friday, June 13
We raise the mainsail at anchor, weigh anchor and say goodbye to the island until next time. We "go to come back."
We have nice breeze this morning, and make it to Marina Cay in two hours. There, we take on ice and water, and I go into the office to find Roger Garside, who should be back from his vacation. Roger is a frequent poster on TTOL. Roger tells us that tonight is Michael Bean's last show for this season. Bean will be heading up north next week to pick up his boat, which has been in a yard all year being refitted.
When we leave the dock, we see a sight that we have never seen before: the Marina Cay moorings are completely empty. Other than us, there is not a single boat in sight.
We motor over to Trellis Bay to return the unused windsurfing gear. On the way over, we spot a boat coming toward us with someone on the foredeck waving. It turns out to be Maridee Robinson, a friend from back home in Houston. They pull alongside and we briefly discuss where we are going to be for the next few days, but it does not look like we will be in any of the same anchorages. When we get into Trellis Bay, Tannah and Taylor paddle the kayak to shore.
It takes me three trips to ferry all of the gear back to Jeremy's. It was a real shame that I did not do any windsurfing at all this trip because we had fantastic wind every single day at Anegada, my favorite sailing site in the world.
Jeremy is back from his trip to Dominica with Aragorn. They have been researching native rafts, and Aragorn is writing a book about it. He tells me that their trip was fantastic.
We have the "awesome sandwich" for lunch at the Trellis Bay Cyber Cafe, and I check in on TTOL, making a couple of posts. Nancy and I split a mahi-mahi sandwich. The sandwiches are very good. They are made on a seven-grain bread that a local bakery makes especially for Jeremy. The sauce is very tasty, and we all think that it has curry in it. Jeremy tells us that there is no curry at all in the sandwich -- the flavor comes from Matouk's Kuchela, which is a blend of unripened mangoes, west Indian spices, and peppers. Jeremy gives us an unopened jar of it as a gift.
Nancy and Sara walk over to the Trellis Bay Market to look for more Bohio seasoning to take home, but they return empty-handed.
Nancy takes some photos of Jeremy and me at Jeremy's Beach Bar. Jeremy tells us that we should be here tomorrow night for the Trellis Bay Full Moon Party, and I tell him that we will most likely be at Jost Van Dyke tomorrow evening. We say goodbye to Jeremy, who must go back to work behind the shop repairing sailboards.
There is a box of passion fruit sitting outside Jeremy's. I ask one of the girls if I can buy a few. She asks the other girl how Jeremy sells them, and the other girls tells her that Jeremy will not sell any passion fruit. Before I can go back and ask Jeremy, the first girl simply reaches in to the box, picks out several real nice ones, smiles, and gives them to me.
We slip the mooring at Trellis Bay and are off to the west. White Bay is today's destination. We take the "forbidden" passage between Beef Island and Little Camanoe. I record GPS waypoints through the passage, and we are never in less than thirty feet of water.
When we get to the lee of Little Camanoe, we hoist sails for the run down to White Bay. We keep Arpeggio moving fast, jibing downwind, and are at White Bay by 3:30. Nancy dinghies into shore with an FRS radio to make our dinner reservations at the White Bay Sandcastle. She calls back to the boat that tonight's menu is duck, shrimp, or veal. Our orders wind up split between shrimp and duck.
While Nancy is ashore, we are watching our anchor. We are anchored up in the far east end of White Bay. The bottom here is very hard, with only a thin layer of fine sand. The Bruce anchor that is on the windlass is useless on this bottom, and is dragging everywhere. I get out the auxiliary Danforth and we set it. It holds well, but we leave the Bruce out also. I mark a waypoint on the GPS to see how we move over time on the anchors.
Nancy and I dinghy ashore to find a new toe ring for me. Somewhere on this trip, mine as come off. I noticed that it was missing on Monday, soon after the winch took a bite out of my finger. There are no toe rings to be had at White Bay, but we do find some more Bohio seasoning. While Nancy and I are ashore, the Littles snorkel the east end of the White Bay reef.
Back to Arpeggio. We have snacks and painkillers, then we dinghy in for dinner. Diets are not part of this trip. When we get to the beach, Nancy suggests that we tie the dinghy to a tree, but I decline since we have pulled it so high on the beach.
Oliver, the Sandcastle chef, does a nice job. We all enjoy the eggplant served with our dinner, and I normally do not care for eggplant. We also have roasted potatoes and broccoli in a sesame seed oil. We have a nice South African pinotage with dinner and an excellent coconut flan for dessert.
When dinner is done, I walk down to the beach to attempt a photo of the nearly full moon, However, when I get to the beach, I immediately notice that our dinghy is missing. I rush back into the Sandcastle and tell the crew of our new predicament. I sure am glad that Nancy is not the "I told you so" type. We borrow flashlights from the Sandcastle and I head west, in the downwind direction, along the beach looking for our wayward craft. I come upon a dinghy that is up on the beach and untied, but it is not ours.
I walk on, and in the far northeast corner of the bay I spot another beached dinghy. I walk to it and it is ours. I tug it out into the water and fire up the engine. When I get back to the beach in front of the Sandcastle, Frank is missing. He has walked to the east and is nowhere in sight on the moonlit beach. I load everyone else aboard the dinghy, return them to Arpeggio, and run down below and pick up my good personal xenon flashlight so I can go back and search for Frank.
I am guessing that he has crossed the rocky headland in the middle of White Bay and is now somewhere along the eastern end of the bay, probably very near where we are anchored. I tell everyone aboard not to worry, that I am going to mess with Frank just a bit.
The moon is nearly full, and I spot Frank immediately. He is on the beach adjacent to Arpeggio, only about 150 yards away. I put the dinghy in gear and head to the beach, a bit to the east of where I have spotted Frank. I then shine the bright light on the beach as I make a run to the west, and watch Frank waving frantically as I pass, pretending to not see him. Near the headland, I turn the dinghy around. On my pass back to the east, I again pretend to not see him, and I avoid getting the flashlight beam on him. This time, I can hear him shouting "HERE I AM!". I continue on past, then turn around again. This time, I put the light on him and do the rescue. A good laugh for the folks aboard, and Frank is amused when I tell him that I saw him all along.
Saturday, June 14
It is very sunny this morning, and I go for a snorkel on the White Bay reef. While I am gone, Nancy cooks up a huge plate of bacon for the crew. They save some for me for when I return from my snorkeling session.
I take Nancy's Canon S400 in its underwater housing. I see a group of six squid lazily cruising along and would like to photograph them. They are very difficult to see since they are mostly transparent and they are skillful at avoiding me. When I dive and swim hard toward them, they easily jet away into the distance.
When I get back to the boat, I check the anchor lines. I am expecting to find them wrapped or twisted together, since the boat has swung through numerous complete circles. I find that the anchor lines are more than just wrapped: the rode on the Danforth has good couple of wraps around a large rock on the bottom, and the chain on the Bruce is tightly bound in a twist in the Danforth rode on the top of the rock.
I dive and slowly unwrap the rode. Eventually, the chain pops free. Them I dive and unwrap the rode from around the rock and we are free.
We discuss where to go for this evening. Bomba's Full Moon party is tonight, but Frank and Sara have serious misgivings about taking Tannah and Taylor there. We decide that we will spend the night in Great Harbor and will have Foxy's barbecue dinner.
We motor over to the Sandy Spit, where we find six boats already anchored. We anchor up in the shallow area just to the northwest of the Spit. We snorkel ashore, then enjoy some snorkeling on the reef to the southwest of the spit. The water is nice and clear here. There are plenty of fish here, and this turns out to be the best snorkeling we have this trip. Nancy spots a flounder on the bottom, just of the beach of the Spit. The flounder is very well camouflaged.
We all swim back to Arpeggio and have lunch aboard, using cold cuts, cheese, and breads. We are now in the "use it up" mode.
A power boat arrives with about a dozen females in bikinis and one lucky guy. They all go to the beach and play a fairly vigorous game of football on the Sandy Spit. It is very entertaining to watch. This guy must have died and gone to heaven. We speculate that this is an episode from the next "Bachelor" television series.
After lunch, Nancy and I dinghy ashore for some photographs on the Spit. I find a nice cool spot in the seagrapes that feels like an air conditioned room, and we relax for a while with the Caribs that we brought ashore.
When Nancy and I go back to Arpeggio, we motor over to the gap between Little Jost Van Dyke and Jost Van Dyke and tie up to one of the mooring balls at Foxy's new establishment on the eastern end of Jost. The bar/restaurant is not yet open, but it looks to be essentially ready for business. I am guessing that it will open with the new November season.
I dinghy ashore behind the restaurant and walk around the point looking for the "bubbly pool". I have forgotten the directions that I had seen on the internet, so I follow a goat path through the mangroves and eventually wind up in a large rock formation. I climb over and find a pool with sea surges into it, but I am not sure that this is the bubbly pool because the rim is lined with black spiny sea urchins.
I go back to the dinghy and then run over and tie up to the dilapidated concrete dock on the southwestern end of Little Jost Van Dyke. Again, I go ashore and follow goat trails. Here, they do not go very far and I am quickly at trail's end with lots of cacti preventing me from pressing any further. As I walk back to the dinghy, I find a like-new inflatable water lounger in the rocks that must have blown off a passing boat. I pack the lounger into the dinghy and take it back out to Arpeggio.
We untie and motor back around to Great Harbor. As we are motoring in, Foxy passes us on his way out in his blue fishing boat. He smiles the big Foxy smile and waves.
We go ashore to do some shopping. As we are walking off the dinghy dock in front of Foxy's, we spot Baldwin, call him by name, and say hello. He tells Nancy that she is prettier every time he sees her.
I think that this might be a good place for some more Christmas card photos, so I dash back out to Arpeggio in the dinghy and pick up the Santa hats and Frank gets some more photos of us. We still are not letting Sara touch our cameras!
I find a new toe ring in Foxy's boutique to replace the one that I lost. We make reservations for dinner at the beach barbecue, and Nancy and I get a very good bushwhacker before we walk down the beach to Rudy's Grocery to pick up more Coco Lopez for the painkiller jug. We also pick up more Bohio seasoning. The girl working at the grocery has a comical sign out front. It turns out that she is from very near where we live in Texas.
When we get back to the east end of the beach, Foxy is just beginning his afternoon session, and I happen to have the recorder. Taylor and Tannah are very amused by Foxy, and I get a very good recording.
A bushwhacker or two later, we dinghy out to Arpeggio to get ready for dinner. We now have a fresh supply of Coco Lopez, so I make a new gallon jug of painkillers.
We have a great barbecue dinner at Foxy's. We have ribs, barbecue chicken, jerk chicken, mahi mahi, salad, fruit, and a nice bottle of La Poussie Sancerre.
After dinner, a band plays good reggae. Nancy and I are the first to the dance floor tonight and we dance, dance, dance. Baldwin "The Dancing Machine" also has a dance or two with Nancy, which Nancy always enjoys.
While we are enjoying the music and dancing, a tropical wave arrives with a hard pouring rain that continues for quite some time. Baldwin brings Nancy a large white dry towel and tells her that she will be wanting it to dry off her dinghy seat. He really is thoughtful. I go down to the dinghy dock and find several inches of water in the floor of our dinghy. I take the dinghy out to drain it while it is still drainable. It takes a long bit of motoring around before the water drains down adequately.
Finally, the rain subsides and I shuttle everyone back out to Arpeggio, and we sleep a very good night's sleep.
Sunday, June 15
When we arrive at Cooper Island a little before 1:00 PM, we find many mooring balls available. We take the ball furthest out form the beach, hoping that it will be in the best breeze for the evening. The winds in the Manchioneel Bay anchorage are very light and unsteady, with constant shifts and eddies in the lee of the island.
Nancy and I are looking forward to seeing Jamsie. As soon as we are moored, we dinghy in to shore to see if he is on island this afternoon. We find Liz, his Portuguese girlfriend, who tells us that Jamsie is over on the other side of the island at a Father's Day celebration at the Leonard estate.
Nancy and I have also been looking forward to visiting the beach at Cooper Island Bay, which we call "Trash Beach". The beach is in a weather bay and collects all of the flotsam that comes its way. It is literally covered with items of all descriptions: shoes, toothbrushes, bottles, even a complete Volkswagen bumper. It is at once both ugly and interesting, and we always enjoy a visit there. We intended to go to Trash Beach last year, but met Jamsie and became so engrossed talking with him that we did not make it.
Of particular interest are the sounds of "Trash Beach". The beach is lined with granite stones, called "blue bitches" by the natives because of their color and extreme hardness. There are large banks of these stones, combined with bits of coral, that have been rounded, smoothed, and polished by the constant wave action of the incoming swells. The waves push the stones up high on the steep back. Then , as the water recedes, the stones tumble back down to the bottom. As they tumble down, the stones make one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. The sound is sort of like a "rain stick", but much deeper voiced. The sound of a wave carrying the stones up, then the stones tumbling down is something like "Whoosh! Cottle cottle cottle cottle...." and is very soothing and relaxing.
Frank and Sara visited Trash Beach with us on their previous trip and also want to go back over. Since the water is so rough to the south of Cistern Point today, I think that to try to take the whole crew over to Trash Beach would be dangerous, so I tell Frank and Sara that they best stay behind. I need for the dinghy to be able to maintain planing conditions in the seas, and with more than just Nancy and me aboard I am doubtful about being able to do so into the wind and waves.
Nancy and I pack my camera and the recorder into the waterproof bag that we found the first day in Trellis Bay and we dinghy to the tiny beach at Haulover Bay. This is a very tricky dinghy landing, as there are very large rocks in the deep water just off the beach, the tops of which are just barely submerged. The surge of the seas causes strong currents to run to and fro between the rocks. Over the years, we have learned the safe pathway into the beach by going in when the seas are relatively calm. Today, me make it in to the beach without incident, despite the large swells. We pull the dinghy up high on the beach, then tie the dinghy anchor line to the painter, making a line long enough to securely tie up to the seagrapes that are up on the crest of the beach.
It is very windy today, so minimizing wind sounds in the recording is a challenge. I find a large plastic pail (this is Trash Beach). The pail conveniently already has a section broken away from one of its sides. I turn the pail upside down and brace it into place with stones with the open side facing away from the wind. I then stick the recorder stereo microphone into the rocks in the very back of the pail, so that very little wind strikes the mike. My "recording studio" appears to work quite well. I worry a bit about a large wave crashing over it, but I place it as close to the water as possible to capture the sound of the tumbling stones as well as possible.
The sound of the stones today is not as good as usual because the waves are large and the wave noise drowns out the sound of the stones to some extent. However, I take what I can get. This will be my only chance this trip to capture this sound. I record a good half hour while a herd of goats watch Nancy and me comb the beach for beach glass and other interesting items. I also get a couple of nice cuttings from the wild frangipani here.
After the recording is done, we gather some of the smaller "blue bitch" rocks to place in our bathroom at home. They will be silent there, but the sight of them will remind us of the sounds here.
When we dinghy back around to Arpeggio, we find that Frank and Sara have also had an interesting afternoon. Unbeknownst to me, they had stored a hard-sided suitcase in the locker of the forward starboard hull. I always treat these as wet lockers. While Nancy and I were at Trash Beach, Sara went to retrieve the suitcase so that she could begin packing for tomorrow's departure from Arpeggio. When she opened the suitcase, she found that it was full of seawater. Apparently, in the beat up to Cooper Island, sea water had found its ways into the forward locker and had flooded the suitcase. The interior of the locker does not now have water standing in it, but it is damp and salty.
Also, Sara had put the suitcase on top of their bunk to open it, and their mattress was now soaked with salt water. They now have the mattress propped up and the suitcase standing open to hopefully dry out.
I take the "Random Acts of Kindness" Jams World T-shirt in to give to Jamsie, but he is not yet back. I leave it with Liz, who tells me that he will be back for sure by early morning.
While we are cleaning up for dinner, the Bitter End Yacht Club ferry "Corinthian" comes into Manchioneel Bay. Corinthian is jamming with a huge party aboard, music playing very loud as it makes its way into the dock. There are about 50 or so people aboard, and they all go ashore for a buffet dinner at the Cooper Island Beach Club. I find out later from Jamsie that the group is BEYC employees, out for a Father's Day party.
There are still quite a few empty mooring balls by the time we finish cleaning up and dressing and dinghy in for dinner. We are a bit early, so we sit at the CIBC bar and have painkillers before dinner. The BEYC employees group is obviously having a grand time, with lots of laughter. These folks know how to party.
As we wait, Nancy spots Jamsie returning from the other side of Cooper Island and we rush to say hello to him. Jamsie has cut his hair short, and looks much different from last year. He yells "Wahkah! Texahs Rangah!" and gives both of us big hugs. He tells me that he thought of me when we lost the shuttle Columbia this past February. He also asks if we can come over to his family's home for dinner this evening. We already have plans for tonight, so I tell him that we will do it next trip.
Jamsie goes up and mingles with the BEYC crowd. They all know him, and he adds many laughs to their party.
We are soon seated for our dinner. Nancy has grilled shrimp and I have my traditional rosemary pork chops, and we have a bottle of Lindeman Cawarra Shiraz/Cabernet. I sample Nancy's shrimp and they are delicious. I may have to rethink the pork chops next year.
We close with the CIBC Spanish custard, served in a rum flambé. Jamsie stops back by our table and tells us that we must join him for a drink after dinner.
I take the Littles back to Arpeggio, leaving Nancy ashore with Jamsie. When I return, Jamsie asks the bar for a Carib for me -- he remembers my preference in "beyah". The CIBC bar has no Carib, so I settle for a Heineken. We get engrossed in talk and, before I know it, Jamsie is pouring me a second Heineken.
Nancy and I eventually say goodnight to Jamsie, and Jamsie and I decide to meet on the beach early in the morning. Jamsie gives Nancy a large ziploc bag and tells her to send it in with me in the morning so that he can fill it with Salt Island salt.
Monday, June 16
Jamsie has put in ten moorings. His moorings are the ten southernmost moorings in Manchioneel Bay. He has had his application for seabed lease and mooring permits in for years, and they were finally approved. Simple things work slow in the island government. These moorings belong to Jamsie -- not to Moor Secure. A friend of his installed the moorings for $350 each, and did not require any up-front payment. Jamsie tells me that he has thus far paid off about half of the debt and is looking forward to having it completely paid off. He is happy that he can make $250 a day simply collecting mooring fees. He also has plans to move his boutique and lunch operation to a new location on the small stretch of beach south of the CIBC.
We talk about today's election, and both of us believe that the VIP has grossly underestimated the strength of the NDP. The NDP may make history today and take control of the BVI government. After 20 years of VIP rule, it is time for a change.
Jamsie tells me about the widespread belief in witchcraft in the islands, and tells me stories of a mystical brotherhood on Tortola. Many beliefs and traditions from old Africa still survive in the Caribbean.
It is time for Jamsie to finish his morning collection, and it is time for me to return to Arpeggio to help Nancy pack our gear before this morning's return to Fat Hog's Bay and Tradewind Yachts, so we say goodbye. I dinghy out to Arpeggio and pick up the inflatable water lounger, bring it back in and give it to Jamsie. He can let his guests use it in the peaceful bay here.
We slip the mooring and are quickly motoring in to the dock at Fat Hog's Bay. I am unable to raise anyone from Tradewind on channel 10, so I call for fenders and dock lines to port and motor to the end of the T-head at Tradewind. As we approach, one of the Tradewind hands spots us and comes out to assist us in docking.
It takes quite a while for us to unload, lower our flags, and say so long to Arpeggio. As we walk the length of the dock moving our gear to the waiting taxi, I look over the other boats at Tradewind. This is, for the most part, a very tired looking fleet. Almost every boat on the dock has obvious visible problems. Who knows what other problems lurk inside. Maintenance is obviously not a priority at Tradewind. Instead, it appears that emergency repairs appear to require too much time to otherwise allow proper care of these aging boats.
Operations at these second-tier companies is obviously a challenge. The older boats that have spent their prime years at the Moorings or Sunsail are now in the years where much more maintenance is required to keep them in good condition. Yet the charter revenue in these second-tier companies is far less than that in the boats' earlier lives. This obviously puts a real squeeze on maintenance.
I decide that we were fortunate to have had a relatively problem-free charter on Arpeggio, but that I would probably not charter with Tradewind Yachts again. Saving a few thousand dollars is really not worth jeopardizing the vacation that we look forward to so much each year. Consider this: if your vacation was hampered by boat problems, would the knowledge that you saved one-third of the cost of the vacation make up for it? It would not for us. Our trips to the islands are precious, and looking forward to them is one of the main things that propels us through the rest of the year. Every day with our friends in the islands is priceless.
Also, if I was a boat owner looking to place my boat into charter service, I am certain that I would not choose Tradewind Yachts.
As it turns out, none of the items that was on the list of problems that I received in the email a month prior to our charter had been repaired when we began our charter. Granted, some of the squawks were for relatively minor items, but the issue of the inoperable starter was there on the previous charter's list of problems. Unstartable engines are a serious safety concern. I told this to Guy, the Tradewind operations manager, when he debriefed me. He appeared to sincerely agree and said that the problem must be addressed immediately. I am certain that he told the previous charterer the same thing, and that even now nothing has been done to repair the problem.
We taxi over to the Tamarind Club and relax in the pool while we wait for our rooms to be ready. Once we have our gear put away in our rooms, we take a taxi into Roadtown for lunch and shopping. I have the driver drop us off at the taxi stand across from Pusser's Company Store and ask him to pick us up at 4:00 PM at the Mill Mall.
We begin our shopping at the beachfront Sea Urchin shop. This is where I bought my very first Jams World shirt ten years ago. Nancy and I each buy a "Got Rum?" T-shirt, a take-off on the popular "Got Milk?" advertising.
We stop next door at Capriccio di Mare, Davide's in-town eatery. I have a pizza margherita, and Nancy has the pizza capriccio. Both are very good, and remind us of the great time we had last Sunday on Scrub Island. Today is election day, so no alcoholic beverage can be sold between 6AM and 6PM. Frank and I have Capriccio's "peach passion" iced tea with our lunch, which is very refreshing.
While we are sitting and enjoying our lunch, Davide happens to come up -- he is delivering paychecks to the Capriccio staff. We tell him that the pizza is good, but takes a second place to Scrub Island. He sits and visits with us while we finish. He tells us that Sue has emailed and said that she won't be able to make it to dinner with us, and that she has left an email for me with him.
We go in to Bolo's department store, where we pick up some Jam Band CD's. We heard Jam Band CD's up at Cow Wreck beach and really liked their lively music.
We walk next door to Bobby's Market and look around (and enjoy the air conditioning), then we walk over to the Mill Mall area and shop in the Sea Urchin shop there. I find a Jams World shirt that is not in my collection, and I find a toe ring that is identical to the one that I lost.
The lady at the Sea Urchin shop recognizes my "Caribbean Cowboy" T-shirt and asks where I bought it. I tell her that I got it at the beachfront Sea Urchin shop about six years ago. She remembers having them in stock.
Our taxi driver picks us up right on time at the Mill Mall and drives us back to the Tamarind Club. The taxi driver tells us that it is only a 10 or 12 minute walk down to Josiah's Bay from the Tamarind Club, and that the beach is covered with nice shells. So, while the rest of the group cleans up for tonight's dinner at Brandywine Bay, I walk down to Josiah's Bay. I walk quickly, and find that it is really more like a 20 minute walk to the beach. When I get there, I am the only person on the entire beach. It is election day, and the bar there is not selling Carib. After the walk, I really could use one. I walk the entire beach and find that there are no shells at all here -- at least not today. The sand is very nice, though, and the bay looks to be very nice for swimming. However, all I really care about at this point is getting back to the Tamarind Club and our stash of ice cold Carib there.
After taking some photos, I walk back up the hill to the Tamarind Club. It is humid and still on the walk back, and by the time I get back to our room, I am soaked in sweat. I cool off in the pool, then take a shower and dress.
We started the trip with five cases of Carib from Bobby's Market, but we bought a lot of Carib ashore at the beach bars. We have nearly two cases left. We take them to Davide and leave them at Brandywine Bay.
Nancy and I are in matching Jams World again tonight, as we all taxi over to Brandywine Bay. I take lots of photos while our gang has cocktails on the patio. Davide comes out and welcomes us. We have our Santa hats, so Davide takes some more Christmas card photos.
We begin making plans in earnest for Nancy and me to come back down at the end of July to join Davide and Cele for the Coco charter. Davide will be closing Brandywine Bay for the season the first of August, and we will sail, cook, eat, drink, and play on a TMM Lagoon 41 catamaran for a week or so. Nancy and I will come early and spend a few days ashore at the Anegada Reef Hotel before the charter.
For dinner, Davide has acceded to Nancy's special request and French onion soup is on tonight's menu. Nancy and I both have one, and I also have a carpaccio. For our main courses, Nancy has Davide's tagliata and I have his roast duck. I really like good creative sauces, and tonight the duck is with a very tasty port wine and tamarind sauce. With our dinner, Nancy and I have a 1986 Chateau La Gurgue Margaux which, after decanting and breathing for a few minutes, is spectacular.
Nancy and I finish the meal with lemon sorbettos, which are nice and rich and creamy. Davide starts the grappa and rum.... I don't really remember much past that, but I did somehow manage to get some nice photos of Davide and Cele before we left.
Tuesday, June 17
I have sugar that I picked up yesterday at Capriccio di Mare, so I make up passion fruit juice drink from the fruit that I got on Friday at Jeremy's. I juiced the fruit two days earlier, but had no sugar to sweeten it for drinking. I also saved the seeds for growing back home. Nancy and I go down to the Tamarind Club for a breakfast of coffee, English muffins, and passion fruit juice.
After breakfast, we do our final packing. We have lots of unopened food items and fresh fruit, which I take down and give to Dawn, the owner of the Tamarind Club. She assures me that none of it will go to waste.
Our flight from Beef Island is scheduled to depart at 12:30PM, so we have a taxi pick us up at 10:30. When we get to the airport, we are in the check-in line behind Maridee. She shows us the Bat Cave tattoo on her left breast that she earned last night. She has obviously had a fun trip also.
At the airport, we run into the couple that was going to dinghy around Anegada. They tell us that they actually made it all the way to the Big Bamboo. I am amazed.
We get our bags checked in, our departure tax paid, and I walk over to say goodbye to Jeremy. Finian is still around, leaving tomorrow for the world speed sailing challenge. Finian may be one hell of a sailor, but he also has quite an attitude. He is probably the only person that we have met on this trip that seems to thoroughly enjoy being disagreeable.
We board and say goodbye to the BVI as we take off for San Juan. On departure from Beef Island, Nancy snaps photos of the islands through the dirty window of the American Eagle ATR until the islands disappear in the clouds. We are both quiet and don't talk much for a while.
In San Juan, our connection is very close. We go through immigration, claim our bags, walk through customs, recheck the bags, and immediately board our flight to DFW. No stop in Miami this time -- thank goodness. Our connection in DFW is right on time, and Nancy and I are at home (with all of our bags) a little after 10:00PM. Another trip complete.
Thanks to Sara, Frank, Tannah, and Taylor for putting up with me. I can also be disagreeable once in a while. (Nancy says that it is probably more often than "once in a while".)
I am not the least bit sorry about the finger-in-the-winch incident. It made the trip all the more interesting. I would rather have had Tamara remove the sutures, but I did not think that I should wait another five weeks to remove them so I removed them myself on June 21. The scar is one to be proud of. It will always bring back good memories. Of course, I will have to have Tamara recheck the finger when we return.
We had intended to christen our dinghy "Rusty Sandals" with duct tape lettering this trip, but Arpeggio did not have a cutting board or surface that was suitable for serious duct tape carving. It is a good name, though, so we will save it for the next trip.
I injured myself while we were on our BVI charter last year (June, 2002). I sure hope that this injury thing is not becoming an annual event or tradition.
Once again, writing a daily journal was very rewarding. I did most of my writing early 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 writing 72 hand-written pages in a college ruled notebook. Transcribing the journal to this page took the better part of three days, but it was time well spent. Nancy and I will be able to read this over and over again and relive this trip.
We find new people and make new friends on every trip to the islands. If wealth is measured in friends, then I think that we are rich.
February 2, 2004
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