December 2011

After almost a month in the boatyard, we were ready to start cruising again. We left Trinidad on the first day of December hoping to quickly travel north before the strong northerly Christmas winds started. We had a good overnight sail to Grenada where we stayed a few days waiting for more favorable weather. John had hoped to play some volleyball, but most of the volleyball organizers from the summer had left the island.

The weather forecast was for very light winds which meant no sailing for us, but at least no strong northerly winds as we tried to head north. We decided to be a motor boat for a few days and left Grenada arriving in Deshaies, Guadeloupe less than two days later.

Monserrat volcanoWe spent a long week-end in Deshaies where we enjoyed the fresh French bread and an organized fresh produce market with delicious locally grown fruits and vegetables. The updated weather forecast predicted a couple of days of light winds before the first strong north winds of the season., so we left Guadeloupe heading for St. Croix.

Once again we were a motor boat most of the trip to St. Croix. The sea were as flat as a lake and we could see the “wakes” of the flying fish as they skated across the water. The active Soufriere Hills volcano was visible as we sailed past Montserrat, but was of little danger since the light wind was blowing any debris away from our route. Very few boats were spotted as we sailed past the islands of Nevis, St. Kitts, Statia and Saba. After a 36 hour passage we arrived in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. It was a clear day and we could easily spot St. John and St. Thomas on the horizon. We filled up with diesel fuel and had a restful afternoon and evening before heading toward St. James island the following morning.

Baby spotted drumWe picked up a mooring ball in Christmas Cove on St. James island just off St. Thomas and finally relaxed and felt as if we were cruising. We had a nice snorkel around the boat where we saw a beautiful baby spotted drum under a rock. Our friends Jim and Amanda, who sailed with us on their boat Adventure Bound in 2006 and 2007, were anchored near us on the boat Catsy on which they work as captain and chef for charter quests. It was great to catch up with Jim and Amanda, see their charter boat, and hear about their life ensuring that their guests have a wonderful time while visiting the Virgin Islands.

Beach holiday message

As Christmas neared we traveled into St. Thomas and did some shopping. We experienced the typical “Christmas rush” for the first time in about five years as we stood in line at Kmart for about 30 minutes trying to pay for our purchases.  A cruiser’s Christmas gathering was planned on St. John, so we headed to Francis Bay on St. John to participate.  It was great to get back to St. John and we enjoyed hiking with our friends Barb and Chuck from Tusen Takk II and swimming in wonderful Francis Bay.  Ann baked Christmas cookies in her swim suit and we listened to Christmas music as we tried to get into the Christmas spirit. We found a great holiday message on the beach made from pieces of coral and thought it was a fitting representation of Christmas in the Caribbean.

About 50 cruisers enjoyed a delicious Christmas Eve dinner with ham and turkey at the Maho Bay campground.  On Christmas day, Chuck and Barb joined us on-board for a dinner of turkey, cornbread dressing, and all the appropriate side dishes. On Christmas afternoon, about 18 dinghies rafted together to share food and enjoy the sunset.  We were entertained by Trudy on Persephone playing guitar and singing beautiful holiday songs.

Dinghy raft-upChristmas dinner

Lobster catch

Our first diving and lobster hunting expedition of the season was not a disappointment. In the first five minutes of our dive John snared a huge lobster from a ledge while his slightly smaller buddy watched the action until he was snared by Chuck from Tusen Takk. Chuck and Barb found another lobster later in the dive. This is the largest lobster that John has ever caught. We all enjoyed lobster pizza from this one lobster and the legs and antenna were so large that Ann cooked those for lobster dip. We were excited by our luck, so we went back the following morning where John snared another two lobster.

On the south side of St. John, our lobster luck didn’t hold true, but we had a beautiful dive. We enjoyed some good hiking and had a peaceful New Year’s celebration aboard Livin the Dream with Jim and Debbie from Loonsong and Chuck and Barb from Tusen Takk II. Since we usually go to bed early, we continued our tradition of welcoming the New Year at Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is five hours earlier than our Atlantic Standard Time (AST).  We ended the year in a peaceful anchorage, surrounded by beautiful water, and enjoying time with friends which is what the cruising life is all about for us!