January 2012

Polar bear plunge group

Polar Bear Plunges are held in many locations on New Year’s Day. At a Polar Bear Plunge, a group of people jump into the water which is usually quite frigid this time of year. Last year we reported on the Polar Bear Plunge in Marathon, Florida (see January 2011). We have become so wimpy after residing in the Caribbean for seven years that we thought the Marathon water was too cold for our participation. We heard about a Polar Bear Plunge in St. John on New Year’s Day and decided to participate.

Taking the plunge

 We hiked with Barb and Chuck from Tusen Takk and Jim and Deb from Loonsong from Lameshur Bay to Salt Pond Bay on New Year’s morning. Participants were encouraged to dress in cold weather clothing, so we donned our wool gloves, mufflers and wool hats along with our swim suits. A little over 40 people braved the air temperature in the mid-70’s and water temperature of about 80. It was a fun time and a great way to start out the New Year.

Repaired sandal

 We have learned to be resourceful and improvise during our cruising life since we can’t always get the exact thing we need or want. While hiking on St. John, the upper portion of Ann’s sandal separated from the sole of the shoe. We looked around for something to make a temporary repair. A long runner from grass was initially used to tie things together. Later, Ann found a pair of airline earphones in her backpack and used the electrical wires to tie things together. The repair worked fine on the hike back to the boat where the sandal was permanently repaired with 3M 5200 marine adhesive.


Beautiful North Sound



In mid-January we spent about ten days in the British Virgin Islands. We hiked every day around the North Sound area and on Norman Island which provided panoramic views. John enjoyed watching the kite boarders at North Sound, especially friends Jim and Amanda from Catsy. We also had some interesting snorkeling in areas where we had never snorkeled.






Our cruising life requires a little bit of work from time to time. We did our semi-annual varnishing, and a few other boat projects during the month. Our batteries had been weakening (sulfating) more and more so we made a quick trip to Puerto Rico to West Marine where we were able to replace the batteries under warranty. The boom for our main sail also needed some repair and we were able to get the necessary welding in St. Thomas. 

wild donkeys


While hiking on St. John you often see evidence of the wild donkeys that live on the island, but don’t often see the donkeys since they tend to shy away from people. Donkey poop is often found on hiking trails and along roads and you may hear load braying from an angry donkey from time to time. The National Park conducted a survey several years ago and estimated that about 400 donkeys live on the island. The free St. John Guide Book states “When everyone is home at the same time, some 4,000 friendly residents and approximately 400 asses live on the island. That is a ratio of 10 to 1 - not bad.”

Sunset at Bewer's Bay



In past years we have written about seeing the green flash at sunset (see February 2008). We have noticed that we observe the green flash more often in winter months than at other times. You need a sun setting into the ocean and a horizon free of clouds as the sun dips into the ocean. We were lucky to see three green flashes during January. We haven’t discovered a way to capture the green flash in a photograph. This sunset had too many clouds for a green flash, but it was a beauty that we wanted to share.