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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Journey to the Caribbean and seeing the boat
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.
From Lance: December 16, 2002 Jolly Roger Inn West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
    We managed to finish our packing and made our departure from Berkeley. On Saturday, the day of our planned departure, it continued to pour and caused the cancelation of our planned garage sale. This freed up time for lots of final preparation, packing, and a most wonderful final dinner prepared by Emma for ourselves and her new housemate, Mackenzie. A fine, gumbo, salad and garlic bread. United has a red-eye to Chicago and a once-a-week Sunday morning flight from Chicago directly to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was 34 degrees in Chicago and the plane didn't seem much warmer. We were entertained by the luggage inspectors, bored because there were no passengers to inspect. The airport TV was recycling old news and hashing it digitally so even that it was impossible to follow. A lot of those inspectors are going to get laid off, in San Francisco they seemed to out number the passengers.

We were met at the airport by Ronnie of Crystal Palace as arranged via the internet. He is fourth generation to inhabit the family home which is now a delightful B&B. The room was huge and well furnished with antiques. Ronnie showed us a great number of projects he is planning on getting around to but "what's your hurry, the sun don' go down til six." He gave us a small tour of the island and regaled us with Island history. A whole lot of flags flew over the Virgin Islands but it appears to have been most marked by the Danes. Ronnie looks solidly Danish, the old fort, the parliament building and the general architecture still seem vaguely north European. Solidly "Island" accent, attitude and stories make the stay pleasant while we recover from lack of sleep.

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Our room has a wonderful balcony looking over the bay and we walk down the very steep lane to inspect the mega yacht tied up to the Cay and have dinner at the Green House on the water. Tropical breezes and Carib beer. Fried conch and people watching. We may have walked past the third oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere on the way back up the hill. It is reported by Ronnie to be in the immediate neighborhood, but opinions as to whether we saw it or not vary. The Island was freed from the cruel lash of Danish imperialism by the American purchase just before World War II when it was deemed as stratigic to control the Caribbean (it is centrally located) and the approach to the panama canal.

Occasional bouts of sleeplessness through the night were not the fault of the proprietor, but rather nervousness, jet lag, and the general excitment about the sudden shift to tropics from the much less weather friendly Bay Area. A fine breakfast in the morning and Ronnie gave us a ride down the hill to the Ferry which took Susie, Lance and one other passenger the 45 minute trip to the West End on Tortola.

We were not out numbered by the crew unless you count ticket agents, baggage handlers and shore based line handlers. Seems like a deal at $45.00 for both of us. But then again, they don't seem to have the overhead for security suffered by United Airlines

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Arriving on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, we did have a short interview with a customs agent who seemed friendly but not overly eager to speed the process as there was no one else in line. The immigration agent who was to examine the bags also seemed more eager to talk than to actually feel the need to search the luggage. I guess we have achieved harmlessness in our old age.

Taxi to Nanny Cay ($15.00) and Bungie Flynn, our yacht broker of the euphonious name, showed us to the boat. He kindly let us alone while we opened, inspected and tried everything we could think of. Eaux Vives appears to be largely as advertised - new engine, sails but otherwise, like most charters, rode hard and hung up wet. Late lunch, languid conversations with the other boaters in the marina and a trip to the internet cafe. We tried to help Bungie with his windows 98 device driver installation for a camera interface and while he was antsy to get away from work. He gave us a ride back to West End and regailed us with beer and sailing stories until fairly late. The tropical sunset, nearly full moon and a pleasant walk around the harbor put us in the mood to hang out on the balcony, reading, typing this and waiting for the building to cool off. The wind swung 180 degrees, a short rain and we are ready to sleep. Tomorrow the survey, sea trial and haul out.

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