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 Accidental Cruiser in the West Indies

Christmas dinner at Maho Camp at Francis Bay, St. John
This journal is a log of all the messages from Susie & Lance. For pictures, please see the Gallery.
Wednesday, Christmas Eve, 2003: Francis Bay, St. John
    Merry Christmas. We heard that last year there were a whole herd of dinghies rafted up together here on Christmas Eve, so we headed back here for the experience. Around 4 o'clock, I saw two dinghies rafted together, but there was also a squall threatening over the hills, so we stared at that for a while, and then said, oh well, let's go see what's up. By the time we got the dinghy launched, there were 5 dinghies rafted, and soon another 10 or so rafted up. Apparently, they had come to know each other as participants in the Caribbean 1500 rally for cruisers. The protocol is everyone brings their own drinks and some kind of appetizer to share. Appetizers are passed in a clock wise direction, more or less. At some point, the crew of Sea Fan organized introductions, and everyone announced their crew and boat names. Tomorrow, most of us will proceed up to the Maho Camp restaurant for Christmas Dinner. Our favorite of the boat decorations is a well lit, traditional Santa on sleigh being drawn by green crocodiles. Christmas is a little odd when the temperature is above 80.
    When we pulled into Francis Bay, rain was threatening, so we tied up to a mooring ball, and pulled out the experimental rain catcher and hooked it up. First it looked like we had indeed scared away all rain, but then a squall came through, and we established that some tuning would be needed before the rain catcher would catch much rain. Most of it blew away. We have made some refinements, but not much more rain has occurred, so we can't really say if the rain catcher will work. But it is perfectly functional as shade over the forepeak, so all it is not wasted.
        The Virgin Islands are quite beautiful, but I'm not sure I understand the attractions of a land-based vacation. On a boat, you move from one beautiful spot to another, and in general; the anchorages are breezy and comfortable, and relatively bug free. On land, their are many fine views, but it is hot, and often buggy and I think beaches get boring after a while. It's really too hot to do much hiking, and the taxi's and other ground transportation are pretty expensive.
I think I would recommend that any non-sailor try a crewedClick for a journal entry list charter of either sail or motor boat, in order to enjoy the islands, without spending too much time in one space.
    Last week we visiting Biras Creek Resort, in Gorda Sound in the BVI. This is an expensive place, a room for two, meals included starts at $525/day in the low season. That includes bicycles to get around the resort, kayaks and sail boards and snorkeling equipment, snooker tables, and afternoon tea. The rooms have air conditioned bedrooms, and open air sitting rooms and showers, and spectacular views. We had expensive fruity drinks at the bar. It is lovely, but I think I would still recommend a crewed charter. You could choose sail or motor boat, have all meals, air conditioning, and visit all the best places, without unpacking or hot, expensive land transportation. The charter business is doing better this year. The biggest bareboat charter company is Moorings (bareboat means no captain, no crew; crewed charter means you hire a boat with a captain and chef), and although their base if full of boats, people say the season has lots more bookings than last year.
    This year is a little buggier than last year, which doesn't much matter on the boat, but means you should always remember your insect repellent for land trips. The rains in November were biblical, so everything is unusually green and even the cactus are blooming. We sent along one picture of the US Natl' Park truck stuck in the water. Apparently, they are in the habit of driving right across this road that has a little water in it, but it had a lot this year, and didn't make it out. Another truck got stuck trying to help it out, and then they managed to pull one of them out. Perhaps by now they have got the one in the picture out.
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