compass rose

 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Great Britian to USA plus a little history and technology
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.
Saturday, February 1, 2003
    Last night we sailed from Britain to the US. Still the Caribbean, but two different worlds. I was nervous as a plane marked "police" swooped low along the border (an invisible line in the water) as it is not clear if we are supposed to clear out of BVI and into USVI every time or only when our visa's expire. We chose the liberal interpretation. It appears that we are not very suspicious looking and the police have bigger fish to fry.
Brief history is in order:
    The Taino Indians were the original inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands. They were absorbed (literally, not figuratively) by the considerably fiercer Carib ( from whom we have the words: barbecue and cannibal). The Europeans met with fierce resistance which in some areas was not overcome by the European fleets who wanted to control the Caribbean seas. The British still own BVI (duh) and the customs agents work for "Her Royal Majesty" and there are lots of Hugh Grant types running around in shorts. The USVI was originally only semi-conquered by the Danes who set it up as a free port. Here you could exchange pirate loot, slaves, stolen ships without anyone asking awkward questions. The slave economy supported sugar plantations and the sugar was made into rum. The lash of Danish imperialism was rather light, sugar beets killed the sugar and rum trade, and Danish ability to sustain Empire was minimal. By the beginning of WWI, the US considerably outweighed the light Danish influence on the Islands ( by then, mostly ex-slaves and a few missionaries) and the US bought the whole place to protect the Caribbean and the Panama Canal from the Germans. Coral Bay is the original port during slave days and is now the far back woods on a rather steep and rugged island All these influences have combined to make for a kind of West Indian Bolinas. Trailer Trash meets the Mangrove. The bay is full of boats in various states of seaworthiness and the land is full of goats and chickens. The community dinghy dock has had several additions and is ringed by dinghies two deep like a beard all around its considerable meandering length. Two sides of the bay are mangrove swamp holding (and in some cases, holding up) various boats-in-progress and boats beyond hope. Old stone ruins vie with shack/restaurants for the wandering sailor's attention. Our purpose in visiting, was to attend the monthly meeting of the Amateur Radio Club in the very home of the Caribbean weatherman "George KP2G" of the Caribbean Cocktail and Weather Net. Having heard them on the radio, it was fun to put faces to the local cruising hams on the morning net. It was great fun, we met lots of people, who had lots of encouraging suggestions about places to go, and things to do from people who have already done it. We are starting to meet the same people in different places, so we are becoming part of the cruising community.
    We were very pleased with the rigger who tuned the rig on Monday. He used to work for The Moorings, where this boat comes from, so he knew all about the boat and told us lots of things. While provisioning, I saw a Sunday NY Times, and decided to splurge. When I pulled it out at
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anchor, I discovered that last week's Sunday times had been slipped in the middle, so we had two weeks worth. We hung at anchor for a whole day enjoying the read. Then we went over to The Indians, some rocks that have BVI National Park Moorings around them for snorkeling and diving, and had a lovely snorkel. From there, we sailed over to Coral Bay, USVI, where we found Connections -- here we were able to use the internet to find the vendor for the expansion valve, use the phone to call up and order the part from New Hampshire, and use the address to receive the part. It's much better and faster to receive parts in the USVI -- no customs, no duty. Lance's hat was picked up by a gust and disappeared, even though he had it attached. He was very sad, and dove for it twice.
    Then we had email (thanks to Tom) from some cruisers who are selling dinghy davits that we wanted to check out, so we sailed back to Road Town to meet them, and after lunch and a few errands (found a new hat for Lance, almost like the old one!), we got out of Road Town (not a nice place to spend the night, lots of ferry traffic) and back over to Little Harbour, Peter Island. We had a text book anchoring, with no mistakes, and enjoyed another lovely evening with superb sunset. From there, we sailed over to Nanny Cay for a short stop to pick up the evidence of removal from Canadian registry so we can get the boat USCG documented. There was nearly no wind, so we found ourselves hot and sweaty in the middle of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, until we gave up and motored. It started pouring just as we were docking, and then stopped as soon as we were tied up. While there, we got water, hit the internet, printed and filled out the USCG application, copied the papers, and got ice. We sailed back to Coral Bay so we could be here for the breakfast meeting.
    After the breakfast meeting, we explored a little, walked up a very steep trail to the top of the hill and a view of Leinster Bay. I can see how much we have acclimated, that we are willing to walk up hill in this hot weather. Mad dogs, Englishman and cruisers. It was a spectacular view of the other side of the Island plus Tortola, Thatch and minor Cays and the clear water. We climbed back down, got the paperwork filled out and mailed off to the coast guard. We will try to get pictures tomorrow of the high point of our walk: two goats standing on the roof of a car which had been converted to a chicken coop. Eggs: $2.00/doz. This connection is by High Frequency radio and works at about 800 bytes a minute. It involves slinging copper foil off the after deck into the water to serve as ground and hoisting a long piece of wire up the mast using one of the flag halyards. Actual broadcast dims the house lights alarmingly and causes every gauge and warning light on the vessel to gyrate and glow. Although dramatic and slow, we can check our mail regularly and Tom screens our email to eliminate the porn-get-rich-quick- lose-weight-enlarge-your-penis ads and can forward anything of importance or timeliness. Pictures and picking up non-critical email occurs on more irregular visits to internet cafes.
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