With fresh provisions on board we slipped the mooring in Elephant Bay, St Thomas on 12 March with only a basic plan—sail towards St John and proceed somewhere from there.
After a wonderful week in Culebra it was time to head back to St Thomas. Unfortunately, St Thomas is about 20nm dead upwind against the powerful Caribbean trades. We prepared the afternoon before by stowing gear and stripping the sun awnings and sail covers. We hauled Sweet Pea up and inverted her on the cabin top and snugged her down securely in her teak chocks.
For the last month or so it’s been pretty easy living. The Far Reach and I have mostly remained here in Elephant Bay, St Thomas until Gayle could join us. The pace of living has been slow and relaxed. There has been plenty of time to read, sleep, swim, eat, study the sky, think, and meet new people.
Until recently, while anchored in Elephant Bay, I had been rowing in and out of Crown Bay Marina in St. Thomas, USVI. I purchase water there and sometimes ice. I load up to 35 gallons of water at a time, in seven 5 gallon collapsible jugs, to haul to the Far Reach. I also use the dinghy dock to get a beer or occasional meal at Tickles Pub or grocery shop around the corner.
After about two weeks of rowing in and out, the marina office sent a security guard to tell me I couldn’t row into the marina. “It’s not allowed….”. I responded with something along the lines of “I don’t even understand that comment.” So, I went and talked to the management. They were adamant. No rowing. “Why,” I asked. “Well because you might not be able to maneuver out of the way with other boats coming and going.” I said “It’s a no wake zone. No one is going any faster than me and I am far more maneuverable than any power boat.”
I slipped out of Jost Van Dyke early on 30 December. The anchorage was already getting crowded in anticipation of the big New Years Eve bash. The night before I left, while I was ashore helping Baba, a 62’ private charter cat anchored way too close on the starboard side of the Far Reach…exactly the reason I wanted to get out of Great Harbor.
The Far Reach—Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke
My 13th Day at Jost Van Dyke. I have spent the last 8 days helping out Ali Baba on whatever projects he has lined up. Painting, helping run wires, building a booth for the New Years festivities, etc. I have really enjoyed working with Baba and getting to know him and Urinthia. They have fed me and engaged me in interesting wide ranging conversations. I have learned a little about Island culture and got a peek or two about what goes on behind the scenes. I have traveled all over the world yet never cease to be humbled by the kindness so many people extend to people they barely know. There is nothing that demonstrates how we are so much more alike than different like foreign travel especially when you engage outside your own community and culture.
I departed Beaufort, NC on the heels of a low pressure system and after 12 days at sea made landfall across the north bank of the British Virgin Islands. I cleared in through customs at Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke where I anchored in clear blue water on a sandy bottom.
We had hoped to sail to Bermuda this summer but it was just not in the cards. We had too many balls in the air especially with the kids graduating from home high school and the seminar I teach at Camp Lejeune graduating at the end of May. So, we decided to enjoy a more simple to execute, week long cruise out to the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This trip was just for Gayle and me. Because the kids are usually with us, it was the first time Gayle and I have been alone on the Far Reach for more than a night. So we left the newly graduated high school seniors at home with a credit card and the car keys.
While I would prefer to have the Far Reach engine free all the time it would require access to a mooring that we could sail on and off. There are very few moorings in NC and none where we are. She is berthed in a small marina with 360° of protection. So, we often carry a Honda 9.9hp four stroke outboard on a custom-made removable swing arm bracket attached to the port quarter. The outboard allows us to more conveniently move her in and out of her slip, make the tight turn onto the fairway, then exit the narrow 1/4 mile long channel out to the Neuse River.