Friday, May 29, 2015

St. Thomas

Sitting and waiting on weather gave me time to do some last minute laundry along with everyone else. I did my two loads of laundry and then took them back wet to the boat as I didnt want to be gone all day waiting on the dryer. Besides I think they dried twice as fast hanging on the line. While doing laundry I looked outside and this guy plus one smaller one were hanging around. He was a pretty good size but a little skiddish when I walked up to him.
Well hello there
We also had seen many manatees hanging around the anchorage and it must be mating season for them. I think each and every one of us have a photo of our dinghies being molested by them. My photo isnt as good as some I saw but it was getting evening so it was low light.
Mr. Manatee having a moment with our dinghy
The day before we decided to depart Salinas for St. Thomas we headed out to the mangroves in order to stage for an early morning departure. We made some water and Dirk hopped in the water to clean our bottom from sitting idle for over a week. We pulled the dinghy up, had an early dinner and decided to pull anchor at 10pm to head east. We traveled through the night and arrived in Vieques (vee-aye-case) Spanish Virgin Island at 9:30 the following morning. The rest of the rat pack decided to head elsewhere so we had the anchorage just about to ourselves. During the trip while Dirk was on the front of the boat looking out for fish traps I heard and felt an odd thud then we had a terrible vibration in the steering. Dirk went below to check all systems. Everything looked good, had we run over a fish trap unseen? Well it was the middle of the night and there was no moon so it very well may have been but we couldnt do anything about it till daylight. Once it finally got daylight the vibration had eased quiet a bit so we waited to check until we were at the anchorage. I really didnt want Dirk diving under the boat while in the middle of nowhere. As soon as we dropped anchor Dirk dove in and was happy to find, well, not exactly happy but happy to know there wasnt something else wrong. He pulled a liquid laundry detergent bottle and about 2 feet of line from around the prop. Guess that fisherman lost his trap, sorry dude but next time paint it white or put reflective tape on it.
The culprit
Later that evening we were joined in the anchorage by another Rat packer, Victorias Ghost. We had not seen them since they left the Turks and Caicos. We talked on the radio a bit but neither one of us had a dinghy down so there would be no visiting in person. We promised to get together for a drink soon somewhere. The next morning at daybreak we picked up anchor and were happy to find the vibration totally gone and our speed seemed normal once again. Thankfully the fishing buoy did no lingering damage to anything. We knew that there would be a chance of scattered showers as we traveled but we didnt like seeing the squall lines we were seeing in the sky. The day was spent reefing the sail, unreefing it and dodging the numerous cells showing up on our radar.
First glimpse of St. Thomas
Later that afternoon we saw St. Thomas come into view, can see what type of day we had. We pulled into Charlotte Amalie and found a spot to anchor away from the cruise ship dock but close to the coast guard station and all the ferry traffic.
As we were entering the channel of course the skies opened up and we were forced to close the enclosure which meant limited visability. I spent those moments trying to keep the windows defogged as Dirk watched radar closely. I really dont know how people do it without, you couldnt see past the end of our bow sprit. As we approached the anchorage it did let up just a bit which was nice but I knew Dirk would still be getting soaked setting the anchor.
Our view from the boat
St. Thomas at night
As we heard later they had a record rainfall that day. Just our luck, they haven't had rain in ages and they get records the day we arrive. I have to admit, our first impression of St. Thomas was not the greatest. With all the rain all the trash and muck had been swept into the harbor and it was very murky and trashy. In the next couple days our impression improved but we have to say, we dont know what all the hype is. We went into town the following day to grab a bite to eat and just perhaps do a bit of shopping at the street fair. We took the dinghy over to the town dock and tied up to the concreat wall.
I think this dinghy has been here a while
Looks like its time to replace that cleat.
After tying and locking up the dinghy we walked across the street and were instantly bombarded with people trying to sell stuff. We both noticed that no prices were on anything as they wanted you to ask. They would say it cost this much but I will give it to you for this much. Believe me folks, I know your not giving me a deal and it cost the lower price so why not just say what it cost the first time. After finally getting to a point we couldnt make eye contact with anyone I found one place that was ok and had a cute little cruiser type purse. Just something to throw a camera in, a couple bucks and be able to cross it over your shoulder. Plus it was pretty island colors and looks a bit hippy to me. Five bucks got me that, ten bucks got Dirk a tee shirt then we scooted out of there. I know these people make their money off the cruise ship tourist but Im a cheap cruiser. I buy what I need, not what I want. We then went in search of food and found a little out of the way place called Back Street Pub. After two drinks and two burgers set us back almost $50.00, yikes............20% tip included on the bill, we hopped back in the dinghy and headed back to Renegade before we could spend anymore. While in St. Thomas we ran into a couple that we had met a couple years ago in the Bahamas and went for happy hour drinks in a much cheaper place.
Renegade dwarfed by the cruise ship
Renegade anchored in St. Thomas
Sitting at the bar keeping an eye on Renegade
We would be moving on the following day and were told that once we leave here fuel would be much more expensive. We decided to go ahead and top off at the cheaper price. Going into the fuel dock proved to be no problem at all as we squeezed between the cruise ship and a mega yacht. Actually it was wide open, just seemed that the massive ships would swallow us up.
After filling up there were ferries picking up cruise passangers and they basically had us pinned to the dock with their back wash so we waited as they and several charter catamarans picked up customers to shuffle them off for various activities. Finally we made an attempt and had to abort as we couldnt get the rear far enough away to turn before running out of room. We spotted a man going past us in his dinghy and asked him to act as our bow thruster. He grabbed a rope from our bow and pulled us away from the dock, once we were far enough away he tossed me the rope and we made the turn and headed out. Farewell St. Thomas, next up, Jost Van Dyke, the home of the famous Foxy's and Soggy Dollar bars.

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