S/V Delilah

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

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…


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