Thursday, March 22, 2007

From Bermuda to the Virgin Islands – a very delayed report by Astrid

Since I’ve left Sea Scout, the boat and it’s crew have experienced many new adventures, have seen many new things, got to know many new people, they went through good and hard times.

It’s quite a while ago since I came back to Austria. I had to leave St. John on Wed. Dec. 6th. After quite a long journey from St. John to St. Thomas (Ferry), from there to Puerto Rico, then to Washington, Paris and Munich I finally arrived back home in Silz/Tirol (Austria) on Dec. 7th. The change couldn’t be bigger – I had to start working the days after, at ski school. From sea level to 2020 m altitude, from tropical temperatures to the alpine winter. It somehow went well and I enjoyed skiing again, but my heart, my thoughts were still in the Caribbean, still thinking about the great time we had there – thanks again to Geert, Olina, Jennifer and Leo … and of course all the other great people I met … and sorry, that it took so long to write the story.

The time on Bermuda was great, but getting a bit too long and expensive after a while, so we checking were the weather forecast every day after we (mainly Geert) had done the repairs, went sight seeing, swimming, diving, …. Southerly winds, again and again and again – no way to sail south! Finally, on Nov. 25th the wind went N, later NE, first only 5 knots, later with 10-15 knots, perfect conditions to say good bye to the island and get used to sailing again.

As Herb gave the advice to do some easting to all boats asking him via the short wave radio, we did it as well – and it was a good idea! Additionally we tried to become friends with Neptun, the god of the sea, by giving him some Whiskey.

In the following days the wind became stronger, the waves became higher, but still perfect sailing with wind between 25-30 knots – taking us south with a speed of 4-7 knots.

Loads of flying fish were joining us on our journey, we even caught a Mahi Mahi! While I was steering Geert and Jennifer were fighting with the very strong fish – after a while it was on board. It was my job to gut it … and clean the boat afterwards (-: Jennifer then prepared a wonderful meal for us!

Most days we hardly met any boats, somtimes sailing boats hiding behind the waves ...

... but whenever Jennifer was on watch there were either huge monsters (container boats etc.) – for example the ship “Sonja” on starboard port (wherever this is!) or very wet showers with unpredictable windshifts. I somehow seemed to be the lucky one with fair winds and no frightening meetings, but I promise, this was not on purpose!

Jennifer had a satellite phone with her, to stay in contact with the family, to give interviews ... and maybe also to report about the great meal she prepared for us ;-)

After 8 days of wonderful sailing: “Land in sight!” (and this time I didn’t think it was a cruise ship like I did when we first saw Bermuda) – beautiful green islands on the horizon.

We decided to take a salt water shower on the foredeck before arrival, we even used some of the spare freshwater to rince, what a feeling! When we reached the shallow turquoise waters of the reefs the waves became smaller, still great sailing. We decided to clear in at customs at Jost van Dyke ...

... a paradise on earth – it’s capital: a sandy road, some buildings (one office building hosting municipality, police, customs, …, one church, a shop, a few private houses and loads of bars) on one side, a sandy beach with palm trees and hammocks on the other – all a sailor needs after a passage from Bermuda!

Unfortunately Jennifer left us the same day ...

Geert and me went to discover the island the day after – great, but very hot walking conditions: lunch at Diamond Cay in Foxy’s Taboo, a great swim at Bubble Pool in the north and hitchhiking back with one of the local Pick Ups. X-mas preparations in the capital. Sunset at White Bay. The perfect place to relax, a paradise on earth!

On Dec. 4th we decided to sail to St. John ...

... and cleared in at Cruz Bay, quite a lot of paperwork to do, a less relaxed atmosphere than on Jost van Dyke. Customs told us to leave the dock as soon as possible as a “big” ferry was expected. We tried to do this, but the engine didn’t start – and the panel first showed no light, then two lights. Two men from the shipyard finally towed us to a very beautiful anchorage near their garage, just across the bay.

There we read the manual and realised that there were always mend to be two lights (as usually) but we were so used to only one light that we were concerned … - and the “big” ferry worried us as well. Anyway, some wires were loose and corroded and had to be fixed anyway.

St. John is a lively colourful Caribbean town, the “1 $ Bus” from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay is the best opportunity to get an overview of the green island with its loads of natural treasures and many protected areas.

Reef Bay Sugar Mill

The Reef Bay Trail took me through fascinating tropical vegetation to the lonesome Reef Bay. After a short swim I walked back and looked out for the bus, which never passed, fortunately I could hitchhike back and avoided a long walk.

In the evening Geert and me went for dinner to a wonderful bar on the beach, unfortunately our last one as I had to leave the day after.

Bye Geert ...

Hi mum ...... and dad!

It was a great time, thanks to everyone who made it so special!