Saturday, November 15, 2008

Free Flu Shot

Things have slowed down to such a crawl that the big news is I lined up with the locals at the Fire Station in Coral Bay to get my influenza shot. It was a real community event. I came equipped with my thick health record that the Coast Guard kept for me for 20 years. It was supposed to be sent to the VA and I was told that if I wanted a copy I was more than welcome to make one myself! Oh joy what fun making copies of chest xray's at the office copy machine. Just another one of those irritating issues from my military days. The kind of irritant one tends to forget as time passes. They surely failed to show that scene in "The Guardian." So I swiped my record before it could be shipped off to the VA. When I was standing in line with all the hippies I clearly looked very squared away. It pains me that no one including me had a clue where to log the shot in my phat record, but I did log it in Google's snazzy online health record.

I have now been in St John for a week and still getting a routine down. The wind has really picked up to Christmas trade velocity. For the next three days wind is easterly at 25 knots and with the squall activity, at times the wind hits 35 knots. The mooring field that I am in has developed a small ground swell. So things aboard have become a little bumpy. In fact I have surprised that all of Coral Bay is pretty much exposed to the east and therefore the anchorage is not smooth when the wind is up. I suspect that I am spoiled from my time in Puerto Rico. Salinas really is a top notch place in terms of protection. It is fine though. The mooring that Jeff and Susan have loaned me are on three sand screws. To explain as I just learned what sand screws are. They are three to six feet long and resemble a large drill bit with about a 1 inch shank. It is threaded only at the tip. They are then simply twisted into the sand to the hilt. So Christa is riding on three of them via one line that has been nicely spliced in a seaman like fashion to all three screws. I believe it to be a pretty powerful set up.

Now again I can't claim to be the photographer of this here photo. But it was taken from one of the numerous hiking trails on St. John. I was intending to do some hiking this weekend but the weather is a bit sketchy so I wait it out. But the first trail will be the one that overlooks Coral Bay from a ridge line and then meanders down to the north shore to Haulover Bay. I really haven't had a chance yet to do much exploring but hope to do some soon. Mean while I have been working on my communications program. My cellphone is being relayed from towers in The British Virgin Islands at a rate of 3 dollars a minute. But I can get back on to the Sprint tower in Cruz Bay but have to take the 45 minute bus ride and even then I'm on my day time minutes as the bus runs only during the day. I have found a couple of free wi-fi signals that I can use with my iTouch but it is not feasable to sit on the side of the road with said laptop and Skype. But The Donkey Diner does have very good wi-fi that I can use to skype with but 30 days cost $60 big ones.

That is the way it goes in paradise. This in St John are very expensive and the local people have to work pretty hard to make ends meet. I had a philly cheese steak the other day at a cost of $13 bucks and your average breakfast will set you back 10 to 12 beans. On a positive note the bus is only a buck into Cruz Bay and you get free wi-fi in the park. So that is that.

More later from the Donkey Diner.

Capt Chris

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day!

Good day to all you fellow vets out there! I'm blogging from the park bench here in Cruz Bay St. John waiting for the Veterans Day Parade. Like many things in islands communities nothing is on schedule and alot of confusion reigns. But who cares! I'm a retired Vet.

So I snapped this gem of a picture from the dink of Christa tugging at her mooring in Coral Bay. The mooring sits behind a reef which is from where I took the shot. i did some snorkeling off Christa bow yesterday. The reef was very nice with all kinds of tropical fish and big ole lobster lodged under a coral head. Could be dinner!

My impressions of St. John are just as billed. A pretty mellow enclave indeed. It is much more mountainous than I expected with the roads very narrow, steep with all kinds of twists. This surely will impact my running as I don't think I can handle the hills! Where I'm based out of, Coral Bay, sits on the east end of the Island. I can easily see the British Virgin Islands but a scant few miles to the east. But, Coral Bay is a very small hippie town with all kinds of interesting folks. i have to say folks seem to be very friendly. Right out of the gate Bill from Marlat and another fellow who also lives on the island, Steve have been just great. For a new person who enters an unknown environment there kindness makes all of the difference. Bill took me to Cruz Bay in his ride and pointed out all the particulars, schooled me in the bus system and pretty much welcomed me to town. Beautiful! Of course this tone is in line with Jeff and Susan from Free Spirit who offered me the use of the mooring in the first place.

So logistics will be a challenge as not everything is within arms length. But then again when everything in paradise is easy it tends to be overun which I think is why Coral Bay remains a very unique outpost. But like all beautiful places the island of St. John is under significant development pressure. But back to logistics. To get ashore I take the dink and beach her, walk along the shore line sometimes in the water and at others, during low tide along the beach. Then up to the road where it is a half hour walk to the sleepy Coral Bay village. When it is calm I will be able to take the dink into town. But the good news is the bus comes along once an hour and for a buck will take you all the way to Cruz Bay on the west end where the ferry from St. Thomas arrives. Or you can just get off in Coral Bay. As an aside hitch hiking is standard here, but you don't stick your thumb out. You point with your index finger in the direction your going which can be tough because they drive on the left side here. Go figure. This explains why on day one I was dissed as I had my thumb out! The next day the finger got me to where I needed to be. So Coral Bay does have a small market with everything one needs, some breakfast joints and a very famous open air bar called Skinny Legs.

I think that does it for today's post as I'm tired of tying. On an admin note I've added a few more pictures to my google photos and I know I may have some grammatical errors but I'm typing fast and sitting in a park.


Capt Chris

Sunday, November 9, 2008

St John To Port

Well it seems I have really arrived in a paradise like place. But let me explain this mornings sailing. Christa and I continue to beat to windward which as you all know I just can't stand. The conditions could always be worse, but earlier in the week the weather folk were predicting some pretty light wind. That really has not materialized and in fact later on this week the wind is supposed to pick up to 15 to 22 knots for the foreseeable future. So instead of being stuck in the large metropolis of Charlotte Amalie for weeks on end I decided to head to St. John. Anchor was up about 4:15am and I peeled my way out of the harbor with great caution as it is a busy place. The forecast called for 12 knots out the ESE and that is pretty much what I had. Between St. Thomas and St. John is a sound called Pilsbury Sound. The seas were lumpy and chaotic due to a lot of current. However Christa was running strong with a full main and the Yanmar cranking along at 2500rmp.

Now awhile back in Salinas I had met a very nice couple on SV Free Spirit and they had offered the use of their mooring in Coral Bay. Of course I am all over it! So I had been in touch with Free Spirits neighbor on St. John, Bill from SV Marlat who coincidentally had left a comment on this blog saying to keep an eye open for Jeff and Susan on Free Spirit. Another great small world story. Any who as I pulled behind johnsons reef there was Bill on Marlat who directed me to said mooring. Beautiful. The beauty of the place is shocking to the senses. More later.

Capt Chris