With Mermaid in the Spanish Virgins, we’ed made the hardest part of the upwind journey from Panama was behind us but we still had a lot of easting to do before we reached Sint Maarten, where the islands take a right and we won’t be going right into the teeth of the trade winds and the seas that go with them. Our goal was to be in the American Virgins before Christmas to avoid the stronger trades that often start around Christmas. During the winter months the trades sometimes become compressed by fronts coming down from the north resulting in reinforced trades that often blow 20 to 25 knots with a eight to ten foot swell. The Islanders refer to them as the Christmas winds as the commonly fill in around
Christmas. It was early December and we planned to take the next good opportunity to hop over the St Thomas whenever we good a nice weather window. There was more we would have liked to see and do on Culebra but the forecast was for 10 to 12 knots out of the southeast with a 2 to 3 foot swell. We would have loved to have hung in the Spanish Virgins longer but we checked out, said adios to friends and headed out of the anchorage at sunrise.
We planned to anchor in Honeymoon Cove on Water Island, just off the coast near the largest town, Charlotte Amalie. St Thomas is a very popular boating destination for US sailors during the winter months and there is a good number of both cruisers, long term liveaboards and charterers. Honeymoon Cove was predictably packed. We anchored well off the beach in a bit of chop. We zipped around the island on a souped up golf cart with our friend Katie owns a nice place on the island. We met Katy in Shelter Bay Marina when they were delivering a Cat through he canal.
Honeymoon Cove was far to rolly so we moved Mermaid over to the huge anchorage at Charlotte Amalie. We settled to re-provision and make some repairs then headed over to Brenners Bay. If you’ve ever flown in St Thomas, it’s the bay just to you left as you land at the Airport. It’s a great place to hang out away from the crowds off the cruise ships.
Having our oldest son Alan and his girl friend Rachel visit was a highlight. We hung out on the beaches, snorkeled, hiked and had a boisterous sail from Charlotte Amalie to St John. It’s always rewarding for a parent to see one of their offspring flourishing and Alan was.
We spent some time exploring the the Virgins until strong trades were predicted in a few days and last a couple of weeks. We decided that North Sound on Virgin Gorda would be the best place to ride it out. We left Norman Island early and were tacking up the Sir Francis Drake Channel in 10 to 12 knots of breeze with only a light chop. We were tacking just outside of Cooper Island when two big cruising cats sailed out of the mooring field above us. Mermaid matched their speed and sailed around 15 degrees higher. At the next tack we were a quarter of a mile above them. Mermaid is an old girl and ok, she doesn’t point like a race boat but but it was good to know that she still had some good sailing left. We anchored on the west side of the bay off Prickly Pear Island between the Lunch Box and Saba Rock and settled in. North Sound was a great spot to hang out. We visited The Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, Levericks Bay as well as other fun spots. We ate good meals, took in a Michael Bean Happy Arrrrh (or two), enjoyed a few happy hours, watched the Cowboys loose to the Packers in a thriller the playoffs.
Robin on the Bow from the top of the mast