Days 70-73: Off the the Virgins

Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Virgin Islands US  , St. Thomas,
Friday, February 4, 2011

We've come as far east on Puerto Rico as we could so it was time to head to the Virgin Islands. The first stop was Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands. The waters around here have many deep water shoals, therefore great for fishing. The line goes out in the morning and sure enough before noon Nate is reeling in a tuna. Not too bad. He gets it off the hook and sends the line back out. As we're all admiring his catch and commenting on the fact that it's too small to feed the 4 of us, the reel starts running again. Same process; Nate reels it in and sure enough another tuna. Perfect a meal for 4. That night I cooked up tuna steaks. Delicious.

The next day we sail from the private cove where we anchored for the night into the harbor of Dewey. The sailing was perfect and so was the fishing. Another fish, this time a snapper. He turned out to be just as tasty as the tuna. The rest of the day was spent checking out the little town of Dewey. From the boat we saw a dock we could tie up to in front of a restaurant called The Dinghy Dock. It always feels good pulling up to a crowded restaurant with the 4 of us in a dinghy way too small for 4 coming from a boat that 2 people would get crowded on. Anyway we definitely turned heads and were just in time for happy hour. To our surprise they had draught beer, something we haven't seen since Florida. We take advantage of this luxury, happy to not be drinking watered down island beer for once. And good beer it was. A few pitchers later and we zigzag our way back to the boat for a good nights sleep.

We left Culebra the following day around noon and make the short hop to Culebrita. We find out about some local gem called the jacuzzi's on the edge of this island which is a bunch of cliffs with pools below them. The winds have been picking up and so have the seas so the waves were crashing into the pools and rocks creating more whitewater than usual. Nonetheless, we decide to swim anyway. I go first and get knocked by a wave right for a rock covered with sea urchins. I avoid the porcupines of the sea but the water was rough enough to knock out my contacts. Pete and Nate follow but are a bit more bold and jump off a big 20 ft cliff into the rough sea frantically swimming trying to avoid being splattered against the rocks. As always they pull it off perfectly. The rest of the day was spent climbing on and around all these rock cliffs and Nate showed his fearlessness climbing several 30 ft cliffs with nothing below but sharp jagged rocks. Pete and I take pictures and cheer him on as Becca screams his name at the top of her lungs scared for his life. (A brief note on the couple: Becca makes Nate buy her something every time he, in her opinion, "almost dies." He's up to about a half dozen on the trip so far and I think this day racked up at least 2 more.) Like said, the seas were getting a bit rougher and our anchorage was exposed to the northeast and were getting some of the swells. It was by far the roughest anchorage we've had yet and much rougher than most days at sea. The boat was swaying back and forth to such an extent that nothing could be left on the counters or else they'd fall. I went on cooking up the snapper into some tasty fish tacos trying to avoid getting seasick. So far I've yet to get seasick and if I puke up my lunch of empanadillas while at anchor I think it might shoot me pretty far up the list.

The next morning were all up at first light since none of us slept well at all. The wind did not die down at all over night and the sea was just as rough if not rougher. We had about 15 miles due east to St Thomas right into the wind and waves. This proved to be some of the roughest weather yet. 8 feet plus seas with gusts of wind well over 30 knots. We were crawling east at no more than 2 knots for the first few hours. We're all starting to get more and more miserable getting annoyed with the conditions and then Pete spots what would make the whole day worthwhile. "There she blows!!" And sure enough no more than 200 yards off our port bow 2 wales surface. We ignore the roughness were experiencing and for about 2 minutes watch as they swim around, then see their tails surface signaling their return to the depths. Almost immediately after this the seas begin to calm and we have a much easier time finishing out this leg to St Thomas. Thank you whales.
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