Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jost Van Dyke and Tortolla

We heard from our friends on Me Gusta and Nenufar that they would be at Jost Van Dyke to clear in so that is where we went to meet up with them. Miriam's mum was with them and at the age of 85 she climbed over big rocks and hills with us to the bubbly pools on Jost Van Dyke. This is where the waves come crashing through rocks into a pool. Again you can not stay there overnight so we sailed together to a bay on Tortolla.
We had planned to sail with our friend till the mum would leave in another 5 days. However I got a message from my family that my dad is pretty bad so we decided to sail as quick as possible to PuertoRico where I can catch a flight home.
That evening we said goodbye to our Canadian friends with a bit of crying because after having sailed together and having spend the hurricane season together in Grenada this looked like the end of the line. Very sad.
We cleared out of Tortolla Britsh Virgin Island and sailed straight to St Thomas US Virgin Islands. I have written about that in an earlier entry.
When you try to hurry all sorts of things go wrong. First our toilet got blocked and did not want to unblock. Calcium build up in the pipes. Rocky bought stuff to fix it in St Thomas but will do this in Puerto Rico in the Marina. So we are using the bucket.
Then after a day of sailing on rough seas the motor stopped because the fuel lines got blocked by the dirt in the diesel. We sailed to Culibra (Spanish virgin island).
We had to sail into the channel while Rocky blew out the fuel lines. The motor started but we could only go on very slow which was hard in the wind and waves. We took adoring behind the reefs. Because we could not get to the shops as we planned I made bagels while Rocky sucked dirty diesel out of the bottom of the tank. We have to get a diesel pump to polish as they say the diesel (filter).
The next morning we put the sails up got away from the mooring ball and idled the motor. We sailed through the reefs and then through the channel and had a pretty good sail till we got close to Puert Rico coast where there was hardly any wind.
I forgot to tell about all the fish. On the way from St Thomas to Culibra we caught first a big Barracuda which we threw back. Then a huge amber jack which got away at the last minute. Then today sailing here 2 barracudas we let go and another one we are not sure of that spit out the hook. All very big and very exciting but not productive.
We managed to run the motor but did not use it to sail into the marina. Now weare on a slip. Had a swim in the pool. Tomorrow I will do the washing and get ready to go to Holland the day after. I will be back in 2 weeks and then Gail and Grant will fly to mainland US to start another adventure there and we will sail 450 miles to Curaçao.

Virgin Gorda (SabaRock)

We left The lagoon in St Maarten through the bridge opening. This happens 3 times per day. We waited for the 2.30 opening which means you motor there and hang around (moving forward and backward because the deeper channel is very narrow dayly boats run aground). Then we anchored outside in the bay till the next morning 4 am to do the 80 miles passage to the Brtish Virgin Island. We arrived at Vigin Gorda around 3 pm and took a mooring ball. You pay 30 dollars us and get 250 gallons of water and a bag of ice.
Saba Rock on Virgin Gorda is a small rocky island with nothing on it but ra lovely pub/restaurant. Happy hour is from 4 to 6 where we had painkillers 2 for 1 so they were 3 dollars each. I can not remember what is in them but they are lethal. We took a ferry from Bitter End resort to the little town to clear in. That was fun cause the ferry went fast.
After 2 days there we moved to another island calledMarina Island which had another beautiful bay. Everywhere mooring balls and always 30 dollars. The Virgins are a real charter boat haven. You see cats and yachts everywhere because there are so many island quite close together. It is all very beautiful and a great holiday playground.
The next morning we left early to get back to Virgin Gorda but the other side where you have the famous Baths. Here you can only moor during the day and it is very busy with tourists. There are huge rocks which form caves that you go through to get to all kinds of pools (baths) in the rocks.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Customs at US Virgin Islands

Today we got to St Thomas USVI. We cleared out of the BVI earlier today. Both Rocky and I have a visa for 10 years that we applied for while still in Australia. We had to get this because we only had a one way ticket because we would leave on our boat. Australians do not have to get s visa but can get an online visa waiver. Gail and Grant, our friends travelling with us have such a thing which states 'valid till 2014 sometime. So we thought we were all good. After Rocky had filled out numerous forms for the boat and I filled out personal forms for us we were told that we had to wait and someone would interview us all together.
In the mean time Gail and Grant did not have to do anything yet theirs was different Ok so finally we were ushered in. Rocky had to go to a counter and Gail Grant and I had to stay on this red carpet exactly on this line. Gail had to go to another counter where she was told that her visa waiver was only valid for 90 days and as they had come into the country in January their time was up. The visa waiver is valid for 2 years and within that 2 years only 90 days from entering the country
Rocky and I had finished our clearing in by then and taken somewhere else. The official explained to Rocky that as the captain of the vessel he was responsible for his crew. Fair enough we thought. We had to leave and take them back to the BVI The only other option would be for Gail and Grant to pay $585 each to get another waiver only for Puerto Rico. That being ridiculous Rocky said ok we will sail back but can we please stay on our boat on anchor till the morning.
No said the official you need to leave now.
Rocky got angry because by then it was late and we would have had to sail in the dark which he did not want to do in the dark. So he said to the guy 'the US government is putting our lives at risk'.
Well he did not take kindly to that and said rocky was offending the government. He asked if anything was wrong with our boat. Then a lady official came and told the other official to step back. He and Rocky were standing quite close. IThe man started talking again and Rocky said 'I must stop you there' where the guy said that Rocky was not allowed to stop him rocky did not listen to him and told him that he as the captain was responsible for his crew. I dont think the guy heard this so I sort of stepped in front of Rocky because I was afraid that they would put him in jail that is how angry that guy got. Anyway I said I was sorry he got offended and that it was not meant that way. He started pointing at me with his blue plastic gloved hands but did calm down.
At this point we asked to discuss the options with our friends so they went and got them. Although we told them we would go back with them Gail and Grant opted for paying. Then they let us wait some more and started the paperwork.finger printing and taking photos. We had to pay cash and since we did not have that much the official escorted Grant and Rocky to an ATM. Grant could only get $ 300 from the machine and when Rocky tried it had run out of money.
We scraped the money together with a few dollars short that they took from their kitty.
They had been told that if they wanted another waiver they would have to go back to Australia to do it. This is where they did something nice because Gail said that she was so disappointed that she could not go to America. They gave them a different kind of visa till October that they can use to go to US mainland as long as they stay in US. So now they can actually fly from Puerto Rico to US mainland and tour there till October. So now it looks like they will leave us in Puerto Rico when we head from there to Curaçao.
What a day this was