S/V Delilah

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

Monday, April 30, 2007


These guys stayed with us for quite a while as we were crossing the Caicos Banks, an area of shallow (8 to 12 feet) water that took us most of the day to cross.


Out of Everything

Sunday, April 29
Kidd Cove, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas
N 23 degrees, 31.705 minutes
W 075 degrees, 46.077 minutes

It took us a little longer than planned to get to Georgetown from Mayaguana, owing to the series of storms that locked us into the southern Bahamas for two weeks. Those two weeks, in company of Carapan, Indra, and Crossroads, were a lot of fun.

But the outer islands are distinctly lacking in a few comforts we need, mainly food (other than what we catch); reasonably priced, potable water; diesel; cooking propane; and gas for the dinghy engine. Georgetown has all of that in spades, in addition to WiFi on the boat (when it works) and a NEW computer for me, brought down by Crossroads's latest set of guests, and thanks to quick work by Claudia and Matthew!

Rum Cay (two islands ago) does have a terrific marina, but the prices were way out of our budget, so we just drifted by on fumes and rainwater for a few weeks. And since I've purchase enough canned food to last us for another trip around the Caribbean, were we to turn around now, we didn't starve. Far from it. One night on Rum Cay we made use of an abandoned 50-gallon drum and some picnic tables for a barbecue and bocce on the beach. The next day Jamie from Indra made friends with the owner of the nearby marina, and procured permission for a group of us to use, for free, the marina's outdoor, wood-fired pizza oven.

On the wild ride (20+ knots on the beam, 6-foot seas) up to (uninhabited parkland on) Conception Island from Rum Cay, Indra pulled in one of the biggest mahi mahi we have ever seen. After a relaxing afternoon of admiring the spectacular water around our boat and wandering along Conception's white-sand beach, we headed back to the boat for satay mahi mahi. While it was cooking, Dean and I sat in the cockpit and watched the sunset, and were treated to a green flash. Yes, the green flash is real, but we've only seen it a few times on this trip. Atmospheric conditions must be perfect, and since Conception itself is a perfect place, we've now seen the green flash twice from that anchorage.

The next day was very busy. I had to pack in an hour of beach combing in the morning before Dean and I suited up and dinghied up to the 2-mile-long reef that extends north of Conception. We saw very little of this great system, since we didn't stay in the water too long. All that fish and lobster and stuff swimming around the reef does seem to attract sharks. We saw a 4-foot reef shark within about 30 seconds of splashing in. He had seen us and was moving on, unconcerned. We did the same.

A few minutes later I came nose to nose with a very large barracuda. Now, barracuda don't normally attack humans unless you have a squirming lobster or bleeding fish in your hands, or unless you are wearing something shiny. I was clear there, but I still haven't gotten used to the way those fish sit motionless in the water and STARE. We moved along again.

That's when Dean spotted and pointed out the 8-foot reef shark. Again, that shark had obviously spotted us first. He was not concerned with us, but I was concerned with him, so our snorkel that day was over!

Deciding to pursue a more mild-mannered creature, Dean and I dinghied down to the salt marsh that makes up most of the interior of Conception. Along the shallows at the entrance to the marsh, we watched adolescent turtles cavorting. Later we learned that friends on Carapan, who stayed on Conception one more day, came upon the fresh tracks of a turtle that had swum up to our beach in the night and laid her eggs. I am guessing those baby turtles have a very short time, once they are hatched, to make it to the salt pond before they become prey to the predator fish that swim in the area, and may account for such a concentration of big fish right off the beach. Yikes.

Friday we left Conception for Georgetown, and we had another great sail most of the way. Early on Dean pulled in a fabulous bull mahi mahi (also called a dolphin or a dorado). It was big enough that we were able to share some of it with Crossroads, whose guests brought our computer down, and with John and Kit on Kittiwake, who have been holding a package for us here in Georgetown for 2 months. The package was mailed to us by Greg over a year ago, but it arrived after we headed south, and it has sat in the cruisers' mail bin at the local market for a whole year. Well, Greg, we got it now. Some of this stuff would have been EXTREMELY useful last year, had we waited for the mail.

Georgetown is a different place this time around. Most of the regular cruisers who sit here all winter and treat the place like a retirement day camp have left. This weekend Georgetown belonged to the Bahamians (as it truly does, of course), who hold an annual regatta in which each Bahamian island competes. The wooden sloops that compete in these races are gorgeous, and it's a lot of fun to watch the crew race out on the wooden boards they stick out the side of the boat for ballast. We had intended to arrive in Georgetown earlier in order to watch more of the races, but given how much reprovisioning we need to do, and our social calendar, and WiFi, and a new computer, I'm not sure that we'd have seen much sailing this week anyway.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Service with a smile

Stephen helps Rose into the dinghy.


The dock in Rum Cay, Bahamas.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Thursday, April 19
Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas

And so, this week, having checked into the Bahamas, and with fishing license in hand, we have begun, to the extent one still can, living off the ocean.

During the day, for the past few days, we've been venturing out to the four-mile-long reef to see what we can catch (that enormous grouper from last year is still hiding in the old wreck, still too wily for humans to catch him). At night, we turn the fish and conch we've caught into the main course for an ever-growing, travelling potluck. Conch fritters, conch chowder, and grilled fish with butter and lime have made the menu, along with sides of cornbread, thai noodles, chicken curry, and lemon poppyseed cake.

Unlike the enormous and anonymous potlucks in Trinidad and Grenada, where some boats would roll in with boxed mac and cheese or even plain Jello--one singlehander simply opened a can of beets one Sunday--our group, with nothing to do but snorkel and cook, has emptied the larders for every meal.

We are eating well here, but if we don't move soon, we'll be down to canned beets ouselves! The store, such as it is, is stocked to sell to whomever of the 200 total residents shops on this side of the island. Supplies for the store arrive twice a month by barge, weather permitting. From the looks of the shelves down here, I suspect we are somewhere toward the end of a shipping cycle. It's a good thing cabbage keeps so long.

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Monday, April 23
Rum Cay, Bahamas
N 23 degrees, 38.518 minutes
W 074 degrees, 50.767 minutes

Our most recent 24-hour sail from Mayaguana to Rum Cay was pleasant and fast and comforable and...cold! I had to dig out socks and blankets and layers of fleece for my late-night watch.

We have officially passed back out of the Tropic of Cancer, and the tropics in general, and it shows. The water is colder, the air is colder, and the miserable weather that affects the east coast of the U.S. makes its way, in diluted form, down to us now. There is allegedly some great snorkeling along the reef on the southside of Rum Cay, but I don't think my thin blood could take it.

Tonight I will be wearing pants at our beachside barbecue of fresh fish. What a shame.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back in the Bahamas

Monday, April 16
Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas
N 22 degrees, 21.9 minutes
W 072 degrees, 58.7 minutes

We have made the long trek up to the Bahamas, and we are waiting in a beautiful but desolate outpost for weather. Indra is here with us, and Carapan and Crossroads have shown up as well, so we are in for a very social week.

We have been writing blogs faithfully since we left Puerto Rico last week. Because of a lack of Wifi, we'd been storing them all on the computer for a later date. And then yesterday, our computer just died. Those particularly eloquent blogs are gone forever.

Fortunately, Dean was great about backing things up to a hard drive, so we haven't lost everything permanently. We just can't look at our photographs, for instance, until we get a new computer.

So, what did we write in the lost blogs? I will try to recap.

Passage: We had our longest passage ever, three days (exactly 73 hours), from the east coast of Puerto Rico straight up to Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos. The weather was mild, we sailed most of the way, we caught a big mah mahi (also called a Dorado, Bryce), and I oohed and aahed over the beautiful stars and phytoplankton in our wake. We also kept up with Indra, which made that big ocean a little bit less lonely at three a.m.

Sailing at Night: It's scary, it's boring, it's draining, and we don't sleep well. But it is also peaceful, meditative, and awesome. We are just two people in a little boat, making our way across a deep ocean, with an even deeper, more mysterious sky above us. Scary, yes, but I always find myself out there at three a.m., wonder-struck and blissful and feeling very, very lucky.

Sunset: The third evening at sea, the wind had died and the ocean was flat, and we witnessed the kind of sunset that features prominently in religious literature and the covers of sailing magazines (sailing magazines being their own kind of religious literature.)

TCI: The water along the banks here is so clear that sailing between islands is like being in the deep end of a swimming pool that stretches from one horizon to the next. We did some excellent snorkeling, we got inked by squid and chased by a territorial triggerfish, and we discovered that the south side of Provo, with its murky water and heavy industry and unprotected anchorage in a southerly wind, is NOT the same place as Grace Bay on the north coast, where all the tourists go. We anchored off a reef for a day and enjoyed one more night of clear skies and endless stars.

Large mammals: While at anchor off Grand Turk, we spotted a whale, startlingly close to the stern of our boat, working the steep dropoff along the island's shelf.

Diving: or lack thereof. I had been planning to do some scuba diving here, in Mecca, until we realized that the price for it all was double what we would pay on every other island. We consoled ourselves with snorkeling. Along one reef at the edge of the banks, we were amazed by the sharp difference in temperature between the warm, shallow sand banks and and the chilly Atlantic Ocean. Through our maskss we could see the eddies and whorls of warm and cool water mixing.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Guest Blog: Rose and Stephen

Rose & Stephen’s Guest Blog:

Friday, March 23rd – Our adventure starts at 7am when we gate Lolli in the kitchen, drop Margot to sleepy neighbors, and drive Bryce to school. At the last second, Stephen realizes we can park at his building and save $100. So, we circle back with enough zip to bring on a slight sense of motion sick. We’re not yet on the boat. This may not be good. However, with a surprisingly smooth check in, we head off to warm ocean breezes, sunshine, and lively conversation with Jill and Dean. Arriving in St. Thomas, we taxi to our agreed upon meeting place, Duffy’s Love Shack. A clutch of Maine firemen entertain us along with the taximan’s clutch driving skills along hilly, hairpin turns, and 1 lane roads. Amidst the excitement of being on the island and the distraction of our fellow travelers, I realize that my newly prescribed anti-motion sickness patch must be working. This may be good, though we both remember the queasiness of South Boston. Once at Duffy’s, much to Stephen’s surprise, Dean, cold beer in hand, announces that there is no time to waste, kills the beer, hurries us to the dinghy dock and out to Delilah. A sea turtle’s orthogonal course provides a glimpse of things to come and instantly makes the trip a smashing success, with one item crossed of our mental list of things to do. When traveling with certain members of the Martyn family, checking things off the list of things to do is almost as exciting as doing the things which are to be crossed off the list. In the future when you see check you will know what is meant. Jill awaits us with Amstel Bright and the story of how the motor on the dinghy died. Dean returns the borrowed outboard to a nearby boat, rows back, and we are off under a double-reefed main sail to Caneel Bay, St. John (sailing-check!). Mooring at Caneel Bay, Rose jumps in for a long awaited reunion with her aquatic friends (snorkeling-check). About an hour later it’s happy hour with fresh made guacamole and beer, then tuna steaks with couscous and spinach, yum! (happy hour –check.) Jill did a wonderful job cooking in a space Stephen can barely stand in without slamming his knees into the fridge handle. J&D are surprisingly chatty, and the conversation drifts easily. After short talk of our next day’s plans we call it a day at 10:30ish. This is well past Cruisers’ Midnight which is 9pm, as Jill tells it. We settle into the sitting area newly transformed into a bed and we are gone. Rose slept fine on a gentle mooring. The patch works!

Saturday, March 24th. Our Wiemaraner, Lolli’s 1st Birthday. No doubt MaeMae will have treats back home, as Lolli is just behind Jill and Rose’s brother Doug in the pecking order. We wake early. J&D follow in time to listen to Chris Parker, marine meteorologist extraordinare. Dean and Jill are actually awake, though not conscious. Rose sits on the bed/dining room table happy with the stock of Diet Coke while Chris Parker speaks of mid-level disturbances, weak troughs, and squalls. However, a sunny warm day awaits us. Our hosts explain the workings of the bathroom, including the Edith Piaf CD - mood music/white noise, your choice. The trumpeting of the toilet pump alerts all, near and far, to the business at hand. Breakfast is Pop-Tarts & Barry’s tea. The plan is set for some snorkeling, and we’re off to Trunk Bay. Jill has researched the snorkeling here, so we avoid the crowded circuit and swim to a colorful deserted reef. Snorkeling has good visibility, fan and brain coral, giant purple urchins, parrot fish, jacks and trumpet fish. After lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and Presidente, we motor to Maho Bay hooking a mooring 100 yards from shore with inviting clear water under us. We swim(check) to shore and explore the popular hillside eco-tents of Maho Bay. Campin’ cousins lookout! ...you’ve got the sales pitch of a lifetime coming at you soon! We hike around and quickly discover that happy hour begins at 4pm at the dining pavilion. Stephen silently screams check. The steep hillsides and pavilion afford pretty views of Maho Bay. The chef’s choice of PEI mussels seems counter to our trip, so we head back to the boat for Dean’s better than Pizza Hut pizza and stories of Amherst.

Sunday, March 25th – We motor to the point in outer Trunk Bay and have a nice snorkel. Jill warns us about the current on the point but also mentions a turtle, so out we go. We’re rewarded not with a turtle sighting, but with an exhausting swim back to the boat. We cross the channel to a mooring off Whistler’s Cay and have yet another great snorkel. I try out the extra wetsuit and am last in the water. The others are way ahead when I’m suddenly face to face with a large Barracuda. This encourages me to catch up. Emerging from under a rocky coral shelf, a turtle is kind enough to hang around until I’m able to beckon Stephen back for a look. We swim south towards an abandoned cottage and Dean on the beach. After a poke around we enjoy the swim back to Delilah. Jill contacts SV Eira’s Val and Menno who offer us a loan of their extra dinghy engine. We agree to meet them in Leinster Bay where Waterlemon Cay is situated…we’ve been told Waterlemon Cay is great snorkeling. Motoring over in the afternoon, we meet up with SV Eira. Val and Menno’s kids are of similar age to ours and we’re fascinated to see how easily they have adapted to this lifestyle…including homeschooling! Jill has researched conch harvesting at Waterlemon Cay and we’re allowed a conch each as long as we didn’t throw the shell back – they count the shells. Stephen entertains us swimming the crawl stroke with a large conch in hand. Alongside the conch field, we see skates, a flounder and tons of urchins. We dinghyed to the beach for Sundowners with SV Eira - the boys show us how to release the conch from the shell with a hammer and knife. Back on the boat, Jill and I chop and chop until we have a large bowl of ceviche. Again, Yum!

Monday, March 26th – Dean dinghys Stephen and me ashore for a jog (check) along the coastal trails. We follow a pretty path which takes us back to the entrance to Francis Bay before returning to our dingy driver. We then have a great snorkel along the beach among schools of bright blue fish, translucent/yellow fish, large parrot fish, and a variety of vivid coral. One last snorkel along the other side of Waterlemon Cay before a swim out to Dean in the Dingy around the far side of the Cay. Half way to the dingy we spy two sharks skulking along the bottom. They are four ft, sleek, gray with a silhouette that could disappear all too easily. Safely back in the boat, it’s now time to stow everything and head out under sail around the east side of St. John to Coral Bay! Stephen tries his hand at the helm, while Jill and Dean take the sails and winches. They make it look easy, but I come to know better after my feeble tries. A couple of hours into it, I go below and learn that the patch has its limitations. Returning to the cockpit, I keep my eyes on the horizon and am fine. We arrive in Coral Bay in perfect time to a mix of upscale boats, wrecks and derelicts! Dean dinghys us ashore, and we walk around the bay to find the apartment we’ve booked for our last 2 nights. I booked the room as a safety in case the patch didn’t work and know now we didn’t need to. The apartment, named Inner Beauty by its owners Mark and Mark, is brand new, clean, and proximate to Skinny Legs – which I’m told was the inspiration for Cheeseburger in Paradise. We took long overdue showers and met J&D back at Skinny Legs an hour later. The menu is sparse, but the blue burgers, key lime pie, and beer were fabulous! The Boston theme (Red Sox, Patriots, Marathon, and UMass) was very homey. Chris Parker’s forecast had given our hosts a bit of worry over their anchorage due to a threat of evening squalls. They head back to the boat rather than attempt the futon we offered.

Tuesday, March 27th – We meet J&D for a morning trail hike across the island(check). St John is mostly national park and the terrain is very hilly. We have several false starts, including one ending on private property with the ominous sound of bees. We abandon the map and find our destination, Brown Bay, amidst a downpour. Upon return to the apt, Dean’s adventures in pointless excursion (he never said that, but I have a hunch) are rewarded with use of shower and clothes dryer. With the weather uncertain, we attempt the public bus system (check) for shopping in Cruz Bay…10 miles west…a very hilly ride but opportunity for Dean to nap. I like to venture out via public transit when traveling. We usually come away with a murky sense of triumph. Cruz Bay is commercial, but fits our needs. We get our few trinkets, duck into the Beach Bar for a beer and head back to Cruz Bay. J&D dinghy out to the boat for the computer to try the WiFi at the apartment. It works! And we get the bonus of calling home – all’s well. It’s agreed that we’ll try a new restaurant tonight, but we head right in to Skinny Legs. More Blue Burgers and Key Lime Pie…who ordered extra burger and pie? I’ll never tell.

Wednesday, March 28th – Stephen and I head out early for a run. On hill # 2 or 3 (did I mention that St. John is HILLY!!) we stop and walk. It hurts my pride to walk, but my husband is happy. I am now in awe of my running friend Mimi who ran St John’s 8 Tuff Miles last year as we trained for Boston. We limp back, pack up, and meet at the dinghy dock for a final ride to Delilah. Today’s sail has turned to a motor trip to St Thomas due to threat of squall. Stephen notes that sailing through a squall hasn’t been checked off yet. Luckily, we avoid the storms visible on the horizon and make it to St Thomas in time for one last snorkel. I see two fish I’ve never seen before. One is black with glowing cobalt spots, the other is bright cobalt with orange stripes. Dean tells me the black one is his favorite fish. The 2 large conch shells we want to bring home provide a challenge to our 2 carry-on packing goal, but we conchure it..haha...that’s in there just to tickle Jill’s sense for editing. We say our goodbye’s on Delilah, take a last dingy ride in and feel instantly deflated - the adventure is over. Fear not! The Cessna to San Juan proves a bonus adventure. As we take pictures for our 12 year old airplane enthusiast, our Captain seized on this enthusiasm and beckons me into the co-pilot’s seat saying, “Since it’s just us we can have some fun.” This differed from Dean’s predicted comment, “I smell something stinky from the sea.” I sat co-pilot the whole trip with our pilot dipping his wings to show points of interest including the 11 mile deep trench. Then visibility is nil as we sailed through a Squall (check!) After a smooth landing the rest is predictable.

We’re home now and wondering why we don’t chuck our jobs and set out for turquoise waters. Our heartfelt thanks to Jill & Dean for a wonderful adventure and for teasing us with a lifestyle of which we may only dream. Unless…

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Big Hop

SOMEBODY is a little late with the guest blog. In the meantime, here are two blogs regarding what we've been up to for the past week. Read the bottom one first.

Tuesday, April 3
Bahia de Sardinas, Isla de Culebra, Puerto Rico
N 18 degrees, 18.038 minutes
W 065 degrees, 18.308 minutes

The prop worked, we hightailed it out of St. Thomas, and we had a fast and lively BEAM REACH to Culebra on Thursday afternoon. Delilah ate up the waves, making up to 8 knots (!!!) as the wind built toward the end of our sail. We caught no fish, but Indra caught two tuna, which they shared with us that night. Ah, sashimi! Nothing in the world tastes so fresh as tuna caught the same day, then cooled and served raw, with a little soy sauce and wasabi for a kick.

Amanzi and Carapan turned up one day later, and since then, between squalls, wind, and heavy socializing, who has time to snorkel? The little, laid back town of Dewey, off which we are anchored, takes about five minutes to walk through, but it has a good vibe. Ferries arrive from mainland Puerto Rico several times a day, and a cheap bus system whisks tent and cooler toting spring breakers to Playa de Flamenco in a constant stream. Dean and I took one of these buses on Sunday, and we found that we were, by far, the oldest beachgoers in sight.

Farther down the long, white sand beach, the crowds thinned out, and stakes marked off a few protected spots where turtles have come ashore to lay their eggs. The waves on the north coast have been building all weekend, and the crashing surf on the reefs is mesmerizing. I don't know how those poor turtles make it in and out each night.

By Monday we were ready for a little civilization, so all 10 of us took the early-morning ferry ($2.25 per person for a 30-mile jaunt) to Fajardo. We negotiated with a couple of gypsy cab drivers for a trip to Old San Juan, punctuated by side trips to West Marine, Walmart, and McDonald's (there were kids with us, after all). We got the shopping part of the day out of the way first, and then lit out on the long ride to the city.

Our driver kept us occupied on the twisty roads by blasting songs from the Spanish Top 40 out of a speaker next to my ear and driving like a maniac. "That's all right," Forbes, who was in the death seat, assured our driver after we had bottomed out on a particularly bad turn. "I don't think you needed that part anyway." Fortunately for us, we've spent enough time in the Caribbean that near-death driving experiences in extremely rickety cars do nothing to raise our blood pressure. Rory would have been impressed by the extensive bondo work on our cab's doors and frame.

Our driver redeemed himself completely in my eyes by pulling off the road on an impulse and encouraging us to try the fare on offer at one of the many, MANY roadside stands with a woman out front tending a wood fired. I have no idea what to call the thing that I ate. It was cornmeal on the outside and it looked quite like a corn dog, but it was full of smoky chicken. We wiped out the vendor's supply, so we watched while she made more, selecting beef, chicken, or crab to line the center of the cornmeal dough, then shaping it with an almond tree leaf before sliding it into the hot oil for a few minutes.

The long ferry and car rides were worth it. Old San Juan is a spectacular city, founded in the 1420s, with a well-preserved fort, welcoming plazas and courtyards, and elegant homes along cobbled streets. We all scattered like mice, eager to make the most of the short two hours we had before we needed to get back in our cabs.

And when we returned, each of us had already determined that we'd really need several days here in order to enjoy San Juan fully. While Dean and I had spent some time at the fort enjoying the ocean views, as well as strolling down the beautiful streets, the Carapan family had purchased a kite from the vendors at El Morro to make the most of the trade winds, David on Amanzi had a Panama hat fitted, and Indra enjoyed tapas on one of the pedestrian streets. We will all be back again someday. Next time, Dean will buy himself a hat.

We would be happy to stay in Puerto Rico another few weeks and maybe get around to all that snorkeling we thought we'd do, but the weather has other plans. It looks like we will have an excellent opportunity to make our biggest hop yet, from Puerto Rico to Turks and Caicos, bypassing the Dominican Republic in order to make some miles. I am sad to miss the DR, which also has so much more to see than we could pack into our short visit last spring, but I will be glad to get a few miles behind us as the time left in our trip grows short.


Thursday, March 29

Water Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
N 18 degrees, 19.757 minutes
W 064 degrees, 56.919 minutes

As we mentioned in a previous blog, we treated ourselves to a newer dinghy so we would not have to worry about transportation for our last few months at sea. So what happened next? Our outboard engine promptly quit. Now, this would not be such a catastrophe, except the engine stopped working just as we were at "battle stations": our frantic, final preparations for Rose and Stephen's arrival on March 23. How would we get them to the boat? After that, how would we all get off the boat again?

Fortunately for us, we happened to be anchored next to Ryan and Mumfy on Liberty, whom we had last seen in August back in Trinidad. We borrowed their engine to pick up our guests. The rest of the time, we figured we'd get around by rowing or swimming ashore.

Soon enough, we ran into Eira, and they came to the rescue with an EXTRA dinghy engine, nicknamed the eggbeater, as that's just about how much power a 2hp engine packs. We were thrilled to have any motorized assistance, so we borrowed it, and we all celebrated together on the beach in Leinster Bay, St. John. Menno and family patiently and skillfully prepared the conch we had harvested behind Waterlemon Cay. Dean and I have learned to leave conch cleaning to the experts, as we only manage to make a mess and torture the poor creatures in an attempt to make dinner. As it turns out, I'd rather have a blue burger at Skinny Legs in Coral Bay any time.

But this blog isn't about our time in St. John, as Rose and Stephen will provide details in their guest blog (assuming we ever get access to the Internet again). This is about the story of our dinghy engine.

Some time in the middle of our visit with Rose and Stephen, we got a call on the radio from Forbes and Jamie, two cruisers on Indra whom we met for the first time in St. Martin. Indra, originally from New Hampshire, is heading north this spring as well, and they were calling to see what our plans were. Over the VHF in the middle of a tack, I gave our five-second situation (guests until the 28th, then one outboard to fix and another to return). Forbes shot back with his instant engine diagnosis (a spun hub), and a great offer (he'd meet us in St. Thomas today and give us a replacement propeller).

Dean and I, knowing that nothing is ever that easy, were skeptical. But we figured, as we were returning to St. Thomas to drop Rose and Stephen near the airport, that we might at least find a repair shop. We decided that, rather than anchor off the town, we'd try staying at Water Island, which is close to Crown Bay, a full-service marina. And as we dropped our anchor there, we saw a boat nearby that looked familiar. After closer inspection with binoculars, we recognized Maranatha, which we last saw at Waterboat Marina in October 2005! Rob left the marina just a few short weeks ahead of us for an offshore passage to St. Thomas, and he has been here ever since.

Rob spotted us on his way back to Maranatha last night, and when he came aboard to catch up, we mentioned our outboard woes. Rob's immediate diagnosis: a spun hub. He even showed us how to do a quick test to confirm it. Yup, we need a new prop.

So it's looking like it's going to be that easy. Indra is anchoring nearby as I type. As soon as we get the new prop from Forbes, we'll drop off Eira's outboard with mutual friends who have settled in the harbor here, and then we'll head over to the Spanish Virgin Islands with Indra and maybe Carapan, followed one day later by Amanzi, for a few days of magnificent snorkeling.