Catching up

May 18, 2024
By Jim

Good to be back in the BVI.

We apologize for not providing any real updates the last 60 days or so, but we’ve had quite a bit going on. Since mid-January we’ve been in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. We crisscrossed the islands of the BVI from January 17th until February 17th. If you look at the tracks on our tracking page, you’ll get an idea of the fun we had going from anchorage-to-anchorage. We were excited to be in the BVI because that’s where we have spent so much time the last two decades. After being in the Windward Islands of the Caribbean from July 2023 until January 2024, being back in the BVI felt like coming home. It was fun to visit so many islands in the Windwards that we had never visited before, but being in a familiar place and seeing several of our friends was fun as well.

Our latest BVI sailing experience was much different than our previous trips to the BVI. We’ve sailed in the BVI more than a dozen times, usually for stretches of one or two weeks at a time. Before, we always had guests on board or fellow sailors, this time it was just Linda and me. Instead of going from island to island every day trying to hit all the high spots during our 6 or 10 days onboard, we were lazy sailors. We usually spent two or three days in each anchorage. We were not on a schedule, and we played everything by ear. On days with good wind, we sailed fast. On days with light wind, we sailed slowly. We did a few boat projects, but some days we did almost nothing at all, except hang out!

We love Tim with TMM. Always smiling and willing to help us.

One neat thing that happened while we were in the BVI is we took Ocean Song back to TMM (Tortola Marine Management), our former charter company. We had asked for recommendations for having some minor projects completed on the boat and TMM offered to do the projects for us. It’s virtually unheard of for a charter company to allow one of their former charter boats to take up valuable dock space and have their staff help with projects, but that’s exactly what TMM did. I’ve included a post I published on a boating forum about how grateful we are to TMM and what a fantastic experience we had.

While in the BVI (and while in the USVI) we had a chance to catch up with friends Wes and Suzanne Turton, owners of S/V Sea Tiger, a Clemson boat, as well as Paul and Michele Grego owners of S/V Una Vida. We’ve known Wes and Suzanne for several years as Sea Tiger is a TMM boat. We met Paul and Michele in Grenada and have bumped into them on several occasions in various anchorages throughout the Caribbean. We sailed to St. John in the USVI (about 1nm from Tortola) to rendezvous with other sailing friends. We met up initially at Lameshur Bay on the southern side of St. John and then caught up with each other again on St. Thomas and yet again in the BVI. Brad and Susan Schaff had joined Wes and Suzanne onboard Sea Tiger for about a week. Brad and Susan co-own Sea Tiger with Wes and Suzanne. The Turtons and the Schaffs acted as mules and brought some boat goodies to us from the states. After Wes and Suzanne left, Brad and Susan stayed for a couple of additional weeks and had other friends join them.
While in the USVI we also had the opportunity to see Cy and Kate of  S/V CruiseNautic. It’s another Lagoon 42, the same model as Ocean Song. We first met Cy and Kate in Minnesota about 5 years ago. We connected over the internet because we were both buying new Lagoon 42s. We found out they lived near Minneapolis and on a visit to Handley’s (our daughter) house in St. Paul, we met them for breakfast one morning and talked boats and sailing. They operate CruiseNautic as a charter boat and live aboard full time. It was fun hanging out with them on the islands! It was quite different than our initial meeting in Minnesota!
We spent a month in the USVI and enjoyed it. Although separated by only 1nm and an imaginary line running through the Sir. Francis Drake Channel, the vibe in the USVI is very different from the BVI. We anchored in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor on St. Thomas for a few days. Charlottee Amalie is a relatively large town and the capital of the USVI, far different than small Road Town on Tortola, the capital of the BVI. St. Thomas is a lot like being in the states, McDonald’s. Home Depot, Pizza Hut, NAPA Auto Parts, and big grocery stores.

Ocean Song at Waterlemon Bay, St. John USVI.

St. John, also part of the USVI, is completely different. About 65% of St. John is a national park. The anchorages are well managed by the park service and not crowded like so many of the BVI anchorages. In the national park there are strict rules, but the rules are well thought out and reasonable. Virtually no actual anchoring is allowed, only mooring to protect the coral and seagrass. No underwater lights because they draw the bottom dwellers up and make them easy prey for predator fish, like tarpon. The bottom dwellers help keep the seagrass beds clean, growing, and healthy. The seagrass attracts turtles. There are several other rules, and we did our best to follow them all. Mooring fees in the national park are $26 per night, but at 63 years old I qualified for the senior citizen’s discount, so it was only $13 per night!

After a month in the USVI it was back to the BVI for a few weeks. During our time in the Virgin Islands, we’ve spent a lot of time snorkeling, hiking, scuba diving, and had some very nice sailing days. We are starting to plan for our passage south back to Grenada for storm season.
We arrived in the Virgin Islands thinking that we would not return to the Virgins next season. Now, after having such a good time here, we’re rethinking things and intend to return.
Unfortunately, we had to make an unscheduled trip to North Carolina in early April due to the death of my dad, Raeford Woodall. Daddy was 93 years old and had a very good life. He had serious health challenges the last 5 years, but now he is at peace.
More back posts about our first full cruising season will follow.
What about the Future – One our most asked questions is ” So where are you going next?”
We are trying to avoid making plans that project too far into the future. In the cruising world, it’s difficult to project where one might be only a few weeks into the future; therefore, Linda and I try to avoid making anything resembling concrete cruising plans. With that caveat, we will probably spend two more seasons in the Caribbean. As mentioned earlier, we hope to return to the Virgin Islands next season (starting in late November or early December) and then cruise slowly through the southern/eastern Caribbean from the Virgins to Grenada. This year we have only skipped through the islands, next year we hope to spend significantly more time on many of the islands we’ve only visited briefly to date.
We are also starting to entertain the idea of a run up the U.S. East Coast after we’ve “really cruised” the Caribbean. If we are still having fun, we will then contemplate going through the Panama Canal and cruising the South Pacific to Australia. One of the biggest challenges cruisers face when cruising the Pacific is the tremendous distances between islands. In the Caribbean, islands are separated by anywhere from a couple of miles to a couple of dozen miles. In the Pacific, islands are separated by a couple of hundred miles or sometimes a couple of thousand miles. That will be a big commitment from the outset, but something we “believe” we will attempt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *