Saturday, April 28, 2012

Home for the Summer

Sending this from Toronto Pearson Airport...

Highlights from 2011/2012 cruise...
Sailed from Florida to the BVI
Had visits from family and friends
Met new cruising buddies
Good snorkeling, swimming and fishing
Loved improvements to the boat including wonderful new fridge, new plumbing, cockpit screens and washdown pump
Repairs to a minimum - boat running very well
Saw whales, dolphins and the ugliest iguanas and lizards
Did overnight crossings
Flew 6 different courtesy flags from different countries

Sadly we lost some dear family this year - makes you realize that life is short - you only live once, so live it well!

Out she comes...

Summer Home

Murphy the dinghy gets a ride, too.

Excellent security - police station next door!!!
See you in the fall!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blue Pearl Shutdown Checklist

This is our Shutdown Checklist with responsibilities divided between Glen and Pam.  Pam disagreed with some of this and so we are having another look at the division of labour.
  1. empty water tank - Pam
  2. fill fuel tank - Pam
  3. remove sails/sail covers - Pam
  4. remove canvas - Pam
  5. open bilge through-hull - Pam
  6. flush holding tank - Pam
  7. clean/hoist/tarp dinghy - Pam
  8. secure/service outboard - Pam
  9. remove bullet wifi radio - Pam
  10. liquor cabinet maintenance - Glen
  11. defrost/clean fridge - Pam
  12. dispose of perishable food items - Pam
  13. disconnect batteries - Pam
  14. remove solar panels - Pam
  15. remove chartplotter - Pam
  16. protect instrument panels - Pam
  17. porthole covers - Pam
  18. clean interior teak with vinegar and water - Pam
  19. clean toilets - Pam
  20. laundry Pam
  21. change engine oil - Pam
  22. service generator - Pam
  23. UV wax cabin top - Pam
  24. Pest proof (Formaldahyde) the cabin - Pam
  25. Protect through-hulls from pests - Pam
  26. Remove prop for maintenance - Pam
  27. Hurricane straps - Pam
Sails off, canvas still on for shade.  It's 97F - little breeze.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Palmas del Mar

We put Brad on the plane in St. Thomas and spent the day in Lindbergh Bay, swimming, enjoying stolen internet and just being generally lazy.  With 2 weeks left in our Caribbean Cruise we had more than enough time to re-tour the USVI or head back over to the BVI – but you know what?… we realized that we are done.

It is time to think about our parallel universe where grandchildren come to stay at our house, kids get married, friends come over for dinner and other good stuff.  So with a new sense of purpose and adventure we headed back to Puerto Rico to put Blue Pearl to bed for the summer.

Pizza oven

Pam's kitchen window - looking out at Green Beach, Vieques
We raised anchor in time to beat a bit of bad weather and raced back to Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  We were there earlier with Jen and Jackson and with the Inmans so it was familiar ground.  Enjoyed walking around the town and doing boat chores – picked up a couple of bottles of communion wine since we were low.  Then to Green Beach on the west of Vieques and finally a 12 mile sail to the Marina at Palmas del Mar.

We stayed at Palmas in 1995 for a week and we are amazed that something this big and opulent has managed through these tough economic times.  We’ve seen so many of these “grand schemes” that have failed so someone must be doing something right here at Palmas.  It was stunning in 1995 and is every bit as stunning today.

We will be hauled in a week so we will enjoy the marina life – pool, tiki bar, chandlery, proximity to Costco wines.

Friends Mary Clare and Axel from Azaya arrived today and spent the day with us in a rental car, driving from West Marine to the outlet mall to Costco to Walmart getting all kinds of provisions and bits and pieces for the boats.  Azaya is hoping to capture one of the last spots in dry-storage here for the summer alongside Blue Pearl.

Stay Out!!! Turtles hatching.

Mary Clare and Axel on Palmas beach

AC making a difference

Yay for Costco wines!
We will start the process of taking down the sails, the canvas, changing oil, changing filters and all the other things on the “put to bed” check list. Looking forward to putting Blue Pearl to bed SLOWLY – with AC.  
Coolin' in the pool

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saint Croix

The islands of the USVI and the BVI are so close together that from one spectacular spot to the next is often only a 5 to 10 mile sail.  St. Croix is about 35 miles away so that puts it apart from the rest.  It is part of the USVI.  We hadn’t heard from anyone who had been there so we decided that we needed to visit.  The added bonus is that it is directly south of where we were so the easterly trades would give us a beam reach coming and going.  We are coming to the end of our 2011/2012 cruise and we have spent much time motoring and motor-sailing so the thought of a serious sail was inviting.

We left Peter Island in the BVI at 7 am and sailed due south averaging more than 6 knots for the trip.  The entrance into Christiansted, St. Croix, is well marked – there is a serious shoal right in the entrance to the harbour and there are many, many buoys.  So many, that Glen did several U-turns before we finally made our way in.  Customs and Immigration clearance was painless and we were soon in Murphy the Dinghy, heading for the Fort Christian Brew Pub.  From the mooring field, you dinghy past Fort Christian to the promenade along the front of the town harbour.  We tied Murphy off to the dock and took a short walk along the waterfront before Glen was overcome by the heat and we had to stop for rehydration at the brew pub.
We made arrangements with a local car rental place to get a car in the morning and then retreated to the boat for a delicious Pamacita Jambalaya. 
Old windmill on the waterfront

Waterfront walkway

Rehydrating at Ft. Christian Brew Pub

In the morning we set off to collect our rental car – only to be hit by the only negative on this trip.  Any drivers other than US are required to purchase ($20) an “international drivers license.”  Now, we’ve driven many places in the world, Europe, Mexico, and the good old USSA, but we have never been required to pay for an “international drivers licence.”  Anyway, the rental clerks were nice – not their rule – so we paid and off we went.
There are lots of great sights to see in St. Croix. 
We toured the grounds of the Buccaneer Hotel – fantastic views!  We went out to  Point Udall, passing an 82-foot dish antenna which is part of the Very Long Baseline Array – cool to see it moving and adjusting.  We followed the south coastline and passed the huge HOVENSA refinery on our way to the Cruzan Rum Distillery.  It’s not well marked on the road – you have to be careful or you will drive past it – like we did.

Part of the Very Large Array or a kickass satellite tv dish

Pt. Udall Monument to the Millenium

I prefer the Single Barrel

Cruzan Rum windmill remains
Did the obligatory rum tour, tasting and purchasing and then spent a lovely afternoon touring the island.  We did a quick drive through Fredericksted on the west coast and had a super lunch on the beach at Rhythm's Beach Bar.  A beautiful setting right on a beautiful beach. 

We drove the route of the St. Croix Triathalon and saw “The Beast,” a steep, steep hill.  We drove down the hill, the competitors drive up the hill.  It has got to be gut wrenching.
We ended up back in Christiansted, stocked up on a few groceries and retired for a peaceful evening back on sv Blue Pearl.

Brad chooses Grey Goose
Our sail back to St. John was as smooth as our trip down.  We caught no fish but enjoyed a lovely beam reach all the way at 6 plus knots.  We had heard that Coral Bay on the southeast corner of St. John was a nice anchorage but there must be two of them – one way nicer than where we ended up.  We left and headed south and west for another couple of miles and spent the night on a mooring ball at Salt Pond Bay.  Considered to be one of the best snorkeling locations on the island, it was busy with guests arriving by car and with 3 other boats on mooring balls.  We did lots of swimming and snorkeling in this beautiful spot. 

We recommend St Croix.  Now we can say we are Cruzan Cruisers!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brad visits sv Blue Pearl

We picked up Brad at the airport in St. Thomas and whipped around to Brewers Bay to get out of the surge.  Great to see The Boy!

Swimming in the USVI
We had some good swims, toured through St. Thomas harbour and then headed up to Caneel Bay on St. John.  Too much surge and wake from the ferries so we moved up a bit to Hawksnest.  We’ve enjoyed showing Brad the big boats, the great scenery and the wonderful anchorages.  We cleared into the BVI on his birthday, April 3.

When he got to Brad's passport, the customs man said, “His birthday today!”  Glen mentioned something about buying birthday rum and he actually smiled!

Painkillers at Pussers

the dessert menu

Really - $7.95???

Went all out and got him a pool noodle for his birthday!
Dark and Stormies - Barritts Ginger Beer and Pussers

Mmmm mmmm good!
Callwoods Rum
We sailed to the obligatory Sandy Cay and then to Great Harbour so we could have a birthday dinner at Foxies.  The next day we went back past Sandy Cay to Cane Garden Bay to pick up some Callwoods Rum!

PR boats lining up for the partay!!!

We’ve been at Normans for the past two nights.  Today has been amazing as the Puerto Rican Navy settles in for maneuvers.  Must be a holiday in PR – ‘cause all the boats are here.
We are planning more adventures in the BVI and then hopefully the wind will pick up for our sail to St. Croix. 
Sailors… always complaining about the wind.  Too much… not enough!