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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Cooper Island, BVI
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.
Sunday, January 26, 2003.
    We spent two days in Nanny Cay, but the refrigeration is not fixed. This boat came with an environmentally correct HFC-134 refrigerant based system, but somewhere, down island, it was converted back to (ozone depleting) freon. The problem is that among the expensive pieces of the refrigeration are the compressor, the condenser, and the expansion valve. The new refrigerant and the old are not compatible, so someone replaced the compressor with a freon (R12) one, and now everything has been modified, so we'd have to replace nearly everything to get back to the modern refrigerant, but its hard to find the right pieces for this cobbled together system. Now we need a new expansion valve unit. So for now, we're using it as an icebox, while we look for parts. When we can get block ice, it works fairly well, but cube ice melts pretty fast.
    We did manage to get a piece for the gooseneck machined and installed, so something was accomplished. We recovered from our repair woes by sailing over to Leinster Bay, St. John, US Virgin Island National Park. What a beautiful spot. The snorkeling is great. There is a lovely beach with shade, that you can get to from your boat, or people can hike to it. And there is a trail to a restored sugar mill in the National Park. The history of these islands is pretty interesting. Some of the early inhabitants, known as Taino or Arawak, had an apparently well developed culture, matriarchal, with lots of religious rituals and a stable life. Then, along came the Caribes, an aggressive war like tribe, that sent 100's of men off in big hollowed out canoes, to conquer other
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people. They were known for their cannibalism. Columbus landed here on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, and since Spain was the major power in Europe at the time, the trade route soon became established, carrying gold and other goods back to Spain. The Caribes were happy to find a new group of people to attack, having more or less absorbed and digested the Taino. Other European nations quietly encouraged piracy and privateering against Spain, and St Thomas became a major pirate town. Various European nations claimed islands, so the islands became Dutch, Danish, English, and French and sugar plantations were established. Slaves were brought in for the plantations. But after a while, the sugar beet, which was much easier to grow, could grow in Europe and produced lots of sugar, put an end to the sugar cane fortunes, and the plantations failed. The slaves were freed here in 1848, and the islands were left to subsistence farming and not much else. The US bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark in the early 1900's, not wanting the various warring European nations to have footholds so close without US having one too, and during that century, tourism became the major industry.
    The major storms on the east coast are supposed to be causing extremely large swells on Northern beaches here, so we sailed 5 hours yesterday to come over to Cooper Island in the BVI, a quiet protected spot. It was rocking and rolling and raining last night. We were happy to be on a mooring. Beautiful rainbow this morning -- we get lots of those.
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