Today Caron, Andy, Arlon and Marie left to head back to the States. We are still in St Thomas for a few days to finish up on the boat and then we head back to Abu Dhabi. I cut the logo out of the big sail so that’s what we are lying on. Not sure what I’m going to do with it though.
Superb lobster dinner at Cotter’s By The Sea, the lobster was perfectly cooked and delicious with melted butter poured on it. As the wind had died off this morning we headed to a spot on the reef that runs off the island for a few miles. The plan was to stop for some snorkelling but the water was still full of sandy sediment from the wind and waves of the last week or so, and wasn’t very clear. It did however make for a great image of the boat sitting in the blue amongst the reef.
I think that when one thinks of traveling the world by boat, this is the image that many have in their minds. The reality is somewhat different, but it was nice to remind myself of the dream once again.
We spent last night in Virgin Gorda outside The Bitter End. It used to be a resort, now it’s a shattered wreck. Just round the corner is Necker Island, owned by Richard Branson, also a bit of a mess but nothing compared to Virgin Gorda. There were the usual boats up on the beaches, but the hotel itself was destroyed; roofs from the cottages hallway up the hill and the front wall of each cottage gone leaving just a skeleton. I took the drone up for a look this morning but managed to fly it straight into the mast after take off. Amazingly it’s still alive. Eric will remember me doing something like this before.
We moved across to Anegada for tonight; I’ve never been here before. It’s a totally flat island so we need the wind to die down which it is forecasted to do. I’m looking forward to a lobster dinner tonight with some exploring tomorrow.
We spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening in Little Harbour which is the favoured spot for the catamaran charter crews to hang out when not on charter; one of Willo’s favourite places in the BVI. It was Ildi’s birthday so Alexis cooked all her favourite foods; a magnificent chicken and chorizo paella for lunch, pasta aglio e olio and lamb chops for dinner followed by a passionfruit pavlova. It was a great day with magnificent food and great company.
We had a good drive around St. Maarten today and the damage from Hurricane Irma is still very evident. Most of the cars have damage to them and it’s not from the driving abilities of the locals. There are shattered cars lining the roads, hotels and houses with no roofs and boats scattered along the road near the lagoon. It’s going to take a long time before this place is recovered, and there’s not guarantee that it won’t happen again in a few months time.
One good thing is that the local Carrefour supermarket on the French side is packed with a wondrous selection of food. We spent a very happy hour and a half stocking up for the coming week. Willo was hanging around the cheese section for most of that time.
It was a twelve hour trip from Antigua to St. Maarten, all downwind and very pleasant. There was a little bit of cross swell, but nothing too uncomfortable, and I have my sea legs back.
Arriving in time to make the 3pm bridge opening to the marina, we passed by the damage caused by the recent Hurricane Irma. There are many boats still lying half sunk or half on the dock and half in the water; houses with no roofs, and the cell towers for the mobile network are only just coming back online. There’s no internet in the marina, shock horror!, and the cell service is GSM at best. It looks like it will be a couple of years before this place is back to full operation.
After ten years we are finally selling the boat, and flew into Antigua last night for a final holiday on her. I wanted to fly this morning and woke up at 5am with a bit of jet lag but there was already a stiff breeze so I decided against it. We took a quick tour around English Harbour this morning, and went to the top of Shirley Heights to get a great view of the harbour with Falmouth Harbour in the background.
We are now sitting in Deep Bay with a rainy squall blustering around us. I’m going to swim out to investigate the wreck a little later and early tomorrow we set sail for St. Maarten.
Ildi’s cousin, Eva, has been staying with us for the last few days. It has given me a chance to do all the touristy things that when you live in a city, you rarely do, and it’s been great to do it.
Last night we did by far my favourite Sydney experience, although I have only done it once before and that was nearly twenty years ago; the Bridgeclimb. We did it at twilight, walking up as the sun set and staying up there for nearly two hours whilst the lights went on in the city. There was a storm off to the west with lightning that gave us something to worry about for a while, but it passed by without coming anywhere near us. Overall still a great experience and one I highly recommend.
I decided to try some more slow shutter speed shots for the last day’s diving with the pups. It ended up more of the same as they all love the game of trying to bite the light from the strobe and it is such a fun game.
Today was one of those very rare days that make all the travel and effort worth while. All three dives had interactions with sea lion pups that got better and better. We spent a fair amount of time in a cave that the pups like to play in, and Rick and I found ourselves together for most of the dive with the pups. We let them gnaw on our hands and fingers; their teeth are surprisingly not sharp and they are very gentle, just mouthing really. If you get a little boisterous with them, they respond in kind, just as a dog would do, but they start off quite submissively. One or two are braver than the others and once they make the connection with you, they keep coming back for more, nudging your hands for attention if you are not watching them.
I spent some time on the last dive in a cave on the sunny side of the island with Alex and discovered a new game with one very boisterous pup. He would come up to the camera and I would suddenly thrust it towards him and trigger the flash at the same time. This really set him off and he went nuts, swimming away and then coming back to me again and again pretending to bite at the camera. Each time the flash would go off he would bite at it and then barrel roll in front of me and zoom off at top speed only to return a few seconds later for more. He did this for what seemed like ages and the whole time I was shooting at a low shutter speed to create some really different action shots. It looks very aggressive but it is in fact just great fun.