We made the overnight crossing to Anguilla on Wednesday night, the 16th of March. For the past three days we’ve been unwinding and relaxing (along with a little work). On Thursday morning we dropped anchor in Road Bay, the main harbour for clearing in on Anguilla. After a two hour nap, we dinghied in to the town dinghy dock and cleared customs and immigration, a quick and painless process. It cost us all of $23.00 to clear into Anguilla. Afterwards, we had lunch at Elvis’ Beach Bar and Grill. We then returned to the boat for the evening. I don’t know if it is the fact that we’re moving closer and closer to the equator or if it is just that spring is nearly upon us, but the mid-day sun is getting hotter. We took a dip into the turquoise waters just behind the boat to cool off. Later, we watched the latest James Bond flick, Sceptre.
This pooch was having a hard time burying his coconut in the sand at Elvis’ Beach Bar.
Our view from Elvis’ Beach Bar
Cindy along the road behind the beach at Road Bay. There is a salt pond to the left which was operative for around 400 years (up until the 1960s).
A refreshing dip off the back of Beatitude
Diving into the beautiful water from Beatitude’s deck
Chillin’ on the trampolines
A turtle visitor in the water near Beatitude
Sunset Day 1
On Friday, we took Dalí into lunch again, this time dining at the Dolce Vita, a very nice Italian restaurant right on the beach. The panini were very good. The setting was fantastic. When we returned to Beatitude, we jumped into the water once again to cool off. Then, I dug out all my financial records from 2015 in order to do my income taxes. I’ve used Turbo Tax for the last ten years or more and I am using it this year as well. As much as I had been dreading doing my taxes, the whole process was fairly painless. My taxes were a little more complicated this year seeing how I was an employee up until April and an independent contractor afterwards. But, it all went well and my greatest fears were not realized — owing a lot of extra taxes from my eight months as a locums physician. The bottom line came in much lower than I had feared. Thank God! To celebrate, we enjoyed a rum runner and watched the excellent Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies. It was great. I’d highly recommend it.
Our view from Dolce Vita
Virtually every restaurant in the islands comes with the requisite hens, roosters, and chicks
Walking back from the Dive Shop
Looking down the beach toward the dinghy dock to which Dalí is tied.
Cindy on Sandy Ground Beach (Road Bay)
Sunset Day 2
Today, Saturday, the 19th, I went scuba diving in the morning. We dove a reef on the first dive and a wreck on the second. At some point, video will be forthcoming. Cindy drove the dinghy in to drop me off, returned to the boat, and returned to pick me up. This was her first time handling Dalí on her own. I’m proud of her! The diving was great and I look forward to diving again while here. Upon returning to Beatitude, we hurriedly changed and dinghied in to pick up our rental car. We rented it for a couple of days, one reason for which was to drive into church on Sunday. We went for a drive and got a little lost on the island, finally ending up at Rendezvous Bay on the south side of the island. We had burgers on the beach at Coconuts Beach Bar and Grill. Everywhere you turn on this island is a gorgeous white sand beach and turquoise waters. After hanging out at Coconuts, we drove the length of the island to the eat end, passing through the capital, The Valley, along the way. We found an Anglican Church to attend tomorrow morning. Finally, we returned to Road Bay and revisited Elvis’ for snacks and drinks and wifi.
Gives a new meaning to watching for kids playing in the road
Saturday in Anguilla — and all the kids are out playing in the water off the dinghy dock
Cindy, taking Dalí back to Beatitude after dropping me off for diving
Barry on the dive boat leaving the bay (pointing toward Beatitude and Cindy, who is taking the picture.)
Our view from Coconut’s Beach Bar and Grill
From Coconuts, looking out into Rendezvous Bay
Looking down onto Road Bay Anchorage (Beatitude is the 4th from the left)
Our departure from St. Thomas was delayed by a fire in the marina. One of the large motor yachts which was docked right next to the fuel dock went up in flames. The yacht, Positive Energy, which appeared to be perhaps 85-90 feet long, started smoldering just before we were to clear out of the USVIs. We had an appointment at 2 p.m. with Customs and Border Patrol. As we awaited our designated time, smoke increasingly billowed from the yacht. All marina personnel were scrambling to assist in dealing with the emergency. This meant it wasn’t the most opportune time to check out of the marina. Soon there was an explosion and darker smoke began to ascend from the conflagration. It wasn’t long until the visible flames appeared. All the while, a sizable number of marina staff and fire department folks stood by, seemingly having no idea what to do.
Early stage of the yacht fire (as seen from near our boat)
An explosion (by the fuel dock!) creates the plume of black smoke
With the fire obviously out of control, in a vessel parked by the fuel dock, the Coast Guard wisely ordered the vessel to be moved. It was towed over to the west end of Yacht Haven Grande. There was only one problem with that. Beatitude was the westernmost boat on the westernmost dock in the marina! In the middle of clearing customs, we heard a frenzied call on the radio that the boat in slip D-13 needed to be moved immediately and that they could find no one on board. Of course, that was because the crew of Beatitude was in the customs office! The office staff arranged for an emergency golf cart ride down to the west end of the marina, where we found Positive Energy to be totally engulfed in flames not too far away from our vessel. The heat was intense as we made our way to our slip. Once we were aboard, the dock hands hurriedly released our lines and we made our way from our slip over to the fuel dock to tie up. Whew! We then returned to Customs and Border Patrol to complete our clearance from the USVIs. Once that was finished, all we needed was fuel since we didn’t have enough to make it all the way to Anguilla. Unfortunately, the marina was pumping no fuel until they were given clearance to do so because the vessel had been burning at the fuel dock. We had wanted to leave Yacht Haven Grande by about 2:30 so as to make it to our planned anchorage in St. John before dark. That was not to be. A little after 4 p.m., the go-ahead was given to pump fuel. We filled our tanks and finally pointed Beatitude’s bow toward the harbor exit.
Taken from the golf cart in which we are being whisked to our vessel near the raging inferno known as Positive Energy
Taken from Beatitude. Positive Energy needs some.
Waiting on fuel: Cindy on Beatitude from the fuel dock
Beatitude has moved out of harm’s way and onto the fuel dock, next to the three massive cruise ships in port on this day.
All the Positive Energy has been consumed.
Here is a video shot by a bystander on land of the vessel burning. You can see Beatitude to the left of the picture behind the inferno:
The late hour of our departure assured a nighttime arrival in Round Bay, St. John. We were okay with this because we had anchored here before after a long day’s passage from Fajardo, PR. We were basically the only boat in the anchorage on that day. And, the anchorage was fairly wide open. We expected to be one of the only, if not the only vessel, this time as well. Boy, were we mistaken. When we arrived, there were seven other sailing vessels and two megayachts already there. We eased past the two luxury yachts and dropped our hook directly in the middle of all the other boats in 40 feet of water. We put out 135’ of rode, turned off the engines, and put steak on the grill for dinner. All was serene in the calm and protected anchorage. I felt pretty comfortable that we were anchored fine, but Cindy was a little anxious about it and got up a couple of times during the night to check on things. Her concern on this night was unwarranted. We awoke the next morning with the sun shining gloriously upon us all and all boats in their place.
Gold-domed building on Little Saint James Island in the USVIs. I couldn’t find out exactly what this building is, but in my research I discovered that the island is owned by the wealthy financier, Jeffrey Epstein, who is a known-sex offender. Apparently the island is nicknamed “sin island” for his evil deeds. As a bizarre side note (in juxtaposition to the prior info), he has a conference center on the island which reportedly sponsors cutting edge scientific and medical research. Stephen Hawking has attended. Who knew?!
Sharing Round Bay Anchorage with these two megayachts and their toys.
From our Round Bay Anchorage in St. John, Schools of jack jump and flitter in the water around Beatitude.
Our plans were to leave for Anguilla around noon. Until then, we enjoyed the last U.S. cellular service we would have for some time. We were pleasantly surprised to be visited by Rick and Sherry, from the sailing vessel, Sheric. They and their friend, Cathy, dinghied over to see us from their boat which was nearby. We had first met them in Culebra and immediately struck up a friendship at The Dinghy Dock Restaurant. We sat in the cockpit catching up for a bit before they left us. Then, just after noon, we weighed anchor and departed the United States Virgin Islands for the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Our first intended landfall in the Leewards was the British Island of Anguilla. She lay about one hundred miles ESE of St. John. If we made 5 knots of speed motoring into 2-4’ seas and 10-15 knot winds, we would arrive sometime the next morning. It’s never fun heading directly into the waves and wind, but conditions were tolerable. This would be the last leg of the “Thorny Path” for us. The route from S. Florida to the Caribbean has been given this moniker because of its difficulty. It is uncomfortably upwind and into weather the entire way. We’ve been pretty fortunate in that we’ve only had a couple of days of really bad conditions, the 21 hour passage to the Turks and Caicos being the most memorable. But, with this final passage, extended upwind sailing would be a thing of the past for the crew of Beatitude, at least for the foreseeable future.
Our friends Sherrry and Rick depart after their visit (Sorry, Cathy. You were fixing your glasses in the photo).
The conditions were gorgeous as we made our way slowly eastward. The sun set and the stars emerged as we plodded along. The gibbous moon was with us most of the night, setting behind us a few hours before sunrise. Our shifts on watch came and went without a hitch. As we neared the shores of Anguilla, we slowed down a bit since we didn’t want to arrive before sunrise. The sun rose at 6:21, and we dropped our anchor in 11 feet of water around 6:50. The harbour was much more crowded than I had imagined, but we found a small spot amidst the other vessels and claimed it for Beatitude. After making sure we were secure, we went down to nap for a couple of hours before we went ashore to clear into customs.
A turtle plays behind Beatitude prior to our departure from White Bay.
On Sunday, March 13th, we released the mooring lines in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke and sailed the 17.7 nautical mile passage between St. John and St. Thomas to Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Charlotte Amalie, by the way, is named after a Danish Queen. The United States bought the USVI’s from Denmark earlier in the 20th century. We enjoyed a beautiful sail over from the BVIs with brisk winds coming from the port side and following seas.
Snapshots from our passage to St. Thomas: Tracy at the helm.
Wind in our sails!
St. John to port, St. Thomas to starboard
A typical cruising sight on Beatitude: Cindy crocheting in the cockpit.
When we arrived in St. Thomas Harbor, we tied up alongside the megayachts at the Yacht Haven Grande, a high end marina that caters to the super yacht clientele. What were we doing here? Good question! Most yachts were well over 100 feet long, even the smallest sailboat’s mast dwarfed ours. Actually, we chose the Yacht Haven Grande for its proximity to the airport (Julie and Tracy flew out on Monday), a laundromat, a grocery store, and a K-mart. The facilities are also top-notch with multiple restaurants and a swimming pool on the property. Also, we could clear in and out of the country right at the marina. For all these reasons, we splurged for a couple of days.
Raising the “Q” (Quarantine) flag as we return to the USVIs.
Entering St. Thomas Harbor
Julie and Tracy beside Beatitude in her slip
A few of the Megayachts we are docked alongside.
We haven’t done a lot of sight-seeing or pleasure-seeking. Our short visit to St. Thomas was, for the most part, a business visit. As previously mentioned, Julie and Tracy flew out on Monday. We’ll sorely miss our additional crew! Cindy and I did a lot of laundry at the local laundromat a couple of blocks away (and a very good one I might add). We did some provisioning at K-mart and Pueblo, the nearby grocery store. It has been raining just as often as not since we’ve been here. We’ve also just chilled and relaxed a little in preparation for our next phase of cruising — The Leeward Islands.
Our sad good-byes. Julie and Tracy are heading to the airport.
One of the cruise ships in St. Thomas Harbor, backing into position on the cruise ship dock.
The 137′ Roseway, a wooden gaff-rigged schooner launched on 24 November 1925 in Essex, Massachusetts. She is now operated by the World Ocean School. Beautiful.
It’s raining in paradise!
This seems like another big step up in our grand adventure. Although we’ve left the U.S. and travelled to several countries, they have been The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, the USVIs and the BVIs. Future islands in the Caribbean will stretch us a bit more. First up is Anguilla and then Sint Maarten. We have about two weeks until we will need to leave Beatitude in Sint Maarten for a month while I work and Cindy has knee replacement surgery. We’ve been watching the weather because the passage from the Virgin Islands to Anguilla involves over one hundred nautical miles of open-ocean sailing directly into the trade winds (and the accompanying waves). We could possibly hang out in the USVIs and the BVIs for another week before making the crossing, but it looks like we have an excellent window for making an overnight crossing on Wednesday Evening. Winds are forecast to be in the 10-12 knot range. So… the plan is to leave Yacht Haven Grande Today, anchor out somewhere tonight (likely in St. John) and leave tomorrow afternoon for our overnight crossing to Anguilla. Exciting!
Running all the way down the dock after forgetting the gate key.