S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Sunday, April 2
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
N 18 degrees, 20.14 minutes
W 064 degrees, 55.76 minutes

We have just put the anchor down in St. Thomas, but first we need to write about our anchorage yesterday in Salina del Sur, Vieques. That spot was just a two-hour sail from Sun Bay, so we got up early in order to have a whole day there.

Salina del Sur is on the easternmost edge of Vieques, in a section that was, until recently, part of an active bombing range for the U.S. Navy. And though there is no more "practicing" going on there, the evidence remains. The hill above our boat was still charred, and a dozen or more burned-out tanks sat rusting along the ridge. Civilians are still not allowed onshore, but we could snorkel, and in the bay we found lots of shells--the manmade kind--as well as mortars, bullet casings, and all sorts of hunks of metal that would delight Rory and Bryce...and probably Dad.

We also found a bunch of conch, which we turned into conch salad and shared with s/v Amanzi and s/v La Galipote over drinks for happy hour. Roxanne and Mark of La Galipote are native French speakers from Quebec, and I have been attempting to practice my French with them and other Quebecoise sailors. To my dismay, however, their two kids, who spoke almost no English when we met in the Exumas, have picked up English far faster than I have been able to resurrect my French.

All of us were planning to leave early this morning from Vieques to arrive in St. Thomas, 25 miles distant, before the afternoon trades built. We ended happy hour by 8 for an early night, but before I could get to sleep, it started raining.

When I went outside to get towels I had hung to dry on our lifelines, I was surprised to see pinpoints of light in the water all around our boat. The bay, being surrounded by undeveloped land on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, is quite dark. With clounds covering the moon and stars, it's as black as pitch, but the raindrops hitting the water were disturbing the phytoplankton in the water, and each drop created a burst of light on the surface. Looking deeper, we could see bigger bursts of light shaped like the fish that were swimming near the boat.

Inside again, we were just about to drop off to sleep when a big gust of wind came along, perhaps 50 knots, catching the boat on the beam and tipping her sideways. Everything that had been on our table and countertop crashed to the floor, including the fancy mugs that Mark had been admiring hours before, wondering how we had kept them on the boat for so long with nary a chip. Now they are shards.

On the heels of this gust of wind came drenching rain, so heavy it left four inches of rain in the dinghy this morning. Dean and I ran outside once again to check the anchor rode and to secure all the items we had left strewn about the deck when we went to bed. The mainsail needed extra sail ties, the dinghy needed a second line to the boat, and our snorkel gear was in danger of blowing overboard. By the time we were done, we were soaked through.

We arrived in St. Thomas a little before 1 PM. Who knows how long we'll stay.

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