Saturday, December 27, 2014

more work.... and my first circumnavigation of St John (written Dec 22)

Well! Lots more work done here
>matching color (roughly) of the gel coat and patching lots of little nicks and dings
>installing the doors on the anchor locker to keep sunlight off the anchorline and keep big waves out of the locker
>installing a new anchor roller (to keep the chain from ripping up the side of the boat when raising or lowering anchor)
>lots more!
My most recent major adventure was my first circumnavigation of the island, although it started out as a run to St Thomas to buy a piece of teak and some plywood for a couple projects.

​ Early in the morning, I headed out into the east, sun lighting up the clouds from below the horizon, wind gently wafting me out of the harbor.
 Quickly the wind rose until I heeled a bit going around Johnson Reef and south to the cliffs of Goat Head, a place where a beautiful charter boat recently made its final landfall.

Turning west, downwind, I swept past Saltpond Bay and Kiddel Bay and, glancing up from my book, saw a flock of flying fish perhaps fifty foot off, a hundred or so little silver bodies sailing through the air far far beyond anything dictated by gravity to normal fish. Even after perhaps 30 seconds and over a hundred feet they flew on, skimming low over the small waves. The white cliffs to the east of Reef Bay came next, then aqua incognita: now I depended on charts and eyes rather than memory.

Wind rose, as did the waves and whitecaps. The boat tried to jibe frequently, reading got put on hold. Since it was Saturday, I figured the boat yard would be closed and decided to skip St Thomas and sail around St John. I turned north to follow the coast, heading into the area I knew would be full of ferries and shoals, hazards galore. Looking frequently at the ipad chart and watching for other boats, Dorado headed across the straits, the 4' to 6' waves of the open ocean replaced with little 1' ripples.

So many boats! Often I could see five or ten at a time vs one boat on the entire south shore. So many shoals! At least three times shoals un-attached to any nearby island blocked my route. And in all this, I saw perhaps three sailboats with sails raised, the other twenty or so boats I saw were motorboats or motoring sailboats, even in this sheltered sound.

​Tacking back and forth up the north side of the island, passing between islands and around shoals, ferries and pleasure craft buzzing by, I found myself in Francis Bay and, as I explored the anchorage and marveled at the several-story mansions some folks motor about in, glanced at the sail to find a nice rip. Dang!

​ Apparently the old, nearly shot sail did not appreciate the rough winds and wild treatment on the south side. Fortunately, the rip was below the second reef, so I tied a double reef, leaving the rip tied down to the boom and no longer subject to the forces of sailing.

Setting off out of the bay and up The Narrows I found progress on the chart and with landmarks to be slow, but sure: in an hour I had gained five hundred feet. But then I began slipping back, with every tack my GPS tracks lapped older and older ones, scribbling a tale of futility on the screen.

Should I try sailing around Great Thatch Island and then through a channel near Leinster Bay? With less than two hours to dark, I decided to give up for the day and took a mooring in Francis Bay for the night, cooked a nice pot of lentils and peas, and fell asleep to the wild rolling of the boat.

Pre-dawn, the thought struck me: could I research the currents? Perhaps another had information, advice, or thoughts. Holding my wifi booster in one hand to catch the signal from atop a hill, I typed "currents in the narrows St John" I found "the currents are tidal in nature" and "maximum speeds of 2kts to 4kts". Aha! This meant that the increasing current started sweeping me backward and, if I could find the opposite current, it would sweep me through! And the time of sunrise seemed as though it would likely be perfect.
At sunrise, breakfast eaten, ocean wind checked from an online buoy (20kts, plus gusts!), reef still in, I slowly made my way off the mooring. As soon as I pulled away from the shelter of land the winds hit, some gusts heeling Dorado over to 45 degrees, crockery in the sink clattering. By the second set of tacks in The Narrows we had passed my farthest point of the prior evening. Tide at my tail, wind in my face, waves heaping and streaming white, we made our way up the channel. By Leinster Bay the waves reached five feet or more and Dorado occasionally dove deep, a wave rushing over the deck and up onto the mast.... and I delighted in the newly-reset doors of the anchor locker keeping all but a gallon or two out of that potential bathtub. Soon we rounded the east end of the island and headed into Coral Bay and, before noon, pulled the mooring line onto the deck and scrounged lunch.

So, what to do about the sail? Hmm... I guess I'll go see Manfred, the sailmaker on St Thomas. If he says forget it, I'll see what else he can offer or buy a used sail online. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New bow chainplate! And so very very busy...

After I removed the stem fitting (bow chainplate) on Thanksgiving I had to decide how to replace it. There is a good machinist, Bruce, at Independent Boat Yard, but I wondered about cost and the inconvenience of having to go over there. Another option would be to send the old one to CatalinaDirect and have them make one up to fit my boat based on a pattern that works well for my model.... and the cost, including shipping, would be about $250.
First move: I called Catalina Direct to ask about how soon they could have it back to me.
"Well, at this time of year we are probably looking at early January."
"Oh, ok. Thanks, but I need to get sailing sooner than that. Have a good one!"

I took a morning to deliver it to Bruce on St Thomas.. who was out, so I left it on his desk. When I called later from my boat he told me: "I'm very busy right now, so it might take nearly a week.... if I have the right material..... um... and I don't: I have everything around that size, but not that. You could pick it up for me at Sub Base Haulout, or I could go get it when I have a chance in a week or two."

The next morning I once again caught the bus, the ferry, another bus to Sub Base, and then wandered around getting directions and misdirections until I finally found the place, bought 20 inches of 0.25"x1.5" stainless steel bar for $20, then returned it to Bruce and made my way back home via ferry and bus.

He said he hoped to have it for me early this week and to call him about progress. Sure enough, Tuesday at ten he had it done and said to come on over. The deck plate and anchor roller had cracking and other damage, so he had made the simplest possible fitting. I paid him $100,  brought it home, installed it that evening, and, yesterday, connected the stay and tightened the rigging until it sang the right notes.
(new and old chainplates)

​What else? Well, bought a fitting to replace the cracked on on the aft stay and replaced it last night.
Bought a couple missing bits of my roller furler and that should now work much better. Tightened the fore-stay so that the cable that had unwrapped is much tighter and, I pray, much less likely to create trouble.
(before and after pictures)
 Installed a U-bolt in the deck to secure the foot of the furler. Patched the old deck holes and coated the repair with gelcoat (too white, but better than rust stains and holes. I'll match some gelcoat soon.).
 Ordered a new anchor roller. And THAT is just my list to do with the replaced bow chainplate!
I've also set up my anchor with new line and stainless steel chain (so, so beautiful!), installed a new solar PV controller with a meter so I can see what is going on at a glance... and use power more effectively, collected more coconuts (now have seven on my shelf), bought safety shutoff valve for my propane system, installed a pad-eye to secure my propane tank in place, tossed out a moldy suitcase, etc, etc. My days are just packed and that is satisfying!

This morning I've already been working on re-installing the doors for the anchor locker and climbed the mast to check the forestay. A homeowner's work is never done! And found nice spot to view the harbor at sunrise....

Friday, December 12, 2014

First lion(fish) hunt! Eat the invaders!

Tuesday, I waited for hours until the sky lightened with the approaching sunrise, then paddled ashore, tied up my kayak to a mangrove, and hiked from Coral Bay over the Johnny Horn Trail to Brown Bay carrying my mask and snorkel. The day before, I had seen a lionfish off the first point east of the bay,,-64.70309,200m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
so I scrambled down a bank and along the shore, watching for wait-a-minute shrubs (a kind of thorny acacia) on land and urchins in the shallows, waded in a bit, removed excess clothing (shoes, shirt, etc) and placed them on top of a rock, then slipped into the water.
This reef is one of the nicest I've seen. Seldom visited, the corals and creatures seem to be doing quite nicely. Two 4-inch fish, jaws locked together in a fight for several seconds, pushing each other back and forth, then they released and backed away, perhaps considering honor satisfied and point made. A cow-nosed ray swept silently by, eight feet from nose to tail-tip, wings spanning perhaps four feet. I nearly bumped into a barracuda, mouth open and hanging still above a coral head, sharp teeth on my mind as I swam past and away.
One coral head had perhaps a hundred 2" fish flocking about it.... and a beautiful striped, camouflaged predator drifting like a toxic cloud above it, nearly a foot long and fins encompassing a similar width. I swam on another hundred yards, finding many coral heads loaded with fish, then came across the most beautiful and populated of all.... with two six-inch lionfish hunting over it, drifting about until they could corner and pounce upon breakfast.

Chilled by nearly an hour in the water, I turned back and, just before I emerged from the water, found the fish I had seen the day before: four lionfish in an hour! I headed up the trail toward home, my mind whirling with thoughts and ideas. The park does not allow anyone to carry a spear unless they have special permission/training, so I would call about that. Lionfish only eat live fish, so hook and line might be hard, but could I snag them with a treble hook on a rod while snorkeling? And I've never seen anyone in the water there, much less any sign of Park or official personnel.... should I simply bring the spear? And, like a wasp, might a lionfish attack me if disturbed?
Spear in hand, I set out yesterday... although a bit later than Monday. Lionfish are visual hunters, so it makes sense that they would be out early for breakfast, then retreat to their hidden spots to digest... so the early fisherman sees the lions.Checked the first lionfish.... nothing: was I too late in the morning or looking at the wrong spot? Swimming awkwardly, spear in hand, I spotted the big lionfish and, as I approached, it plunged and (one assumes) engulfed a fish. For the first time, I pulled back the Hawaiian sling spear, took aim from a couple feet.... and missed, the point striking rock beside the lionfish.
Lionfish have no predators, no fear. It ignored my spear and contemplated the fish it had eaten while I reset, took aim, and shot again... with a most satisfying thunk. I swam to shore, dispatched the creature, then began cutting it open to free the recent meal.... until I had second thoughts: what if it wiggled and stuck me with a venomous spine or I impaled myself on one? Was the life of the little fish worth the risk? So I left the lion on shore, mentally marked the spot, and swam on.
The final coral head target.... but where were the two lions? I looked and finally found one relaxing in a nook, probably already full. A moment later it wiggled on my spear and remained there while I fruitlessly looked for its partner-in-predation, then retrieved the larger one and headed home, leaving the spear hidden in a bush on shore, the two fish in a container made from a discarded water bottle.
First step with lionfish: cut off the venomous spines with scissors... and toss them overboard! Even detached they are dangerous! Then just clean them like regular fish... and, appropriately, I poached them. Tasty.... and very, very satisfying. And everyone who sees them or hears about it gives a big thumbs up and smile, even the DPNR officials checking the harbor boats to make sure everyone was legal skipped me after I showed off my catch. Most amusing.

Next time perhaps lionfish sushi? ( ) I know Peter is good at making sushi... He also has piles of limes, so maybe ceviche..

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankspigging, races, clear waters, and finding weakness in the best way possible

The Thankspigging party turned out well, although I wished I had more tolerance for noise and crowds and had a couple extra stomachs. The meat courses (mostly pig and deep fried turkey) all got eaten up, as did the humus and veggies I brought. They needed some spice rub on the turkey, but still tasty.
Some time back, I hitched a ride with a fellow named Anthony who told me about a movie being made based on his experience in on a fishing boat in NY. He had woken to take his shift and found himself alone, his partner having fallen overboard. His partner managed to find a navigational buoy and tied himself to it. After over ten hours the search effort found him. Amazing story! And another fellow I met here, Rob, told me about a fishing boat he worked on in the summer. On the day he said goodby to his mates and headed down here for the winter, one of his friends fell over and the other, name of Anthony, managed to get the coast guard onto the right track to find him. Small world... small island. Anyway, Anthony and Rob brought scallops and oysters from NY that they cooked up as part of the feast. VERY tasty!

Each year there is a singlehanded race on the day after Thanksgiving, so I pulled out my biggest jib since the forecast called for very little wind. It needed some repairs, then I raised it, furled it, and climbed the mast to check the fit. I checked the bottom of the roller furler and, just where a shadow always falls, found a gaping smile in the stainless steel of the bow chainplate (aka "stem fitting"): if I had tried to sail in heavy wind it soon would have broken, perhaps dropping the mast and creating other minor inconveniences. I am so grateful to have found it with so little associated trauma and now will be far more conscientious about keeping an eye on things.

Smiley face!

When I awoke Friday morning I glanced at the water.... and saw something I've never seen before in the harbor: the bottom! A day of stillness had caused the mooring chains to cease their endless stirring and the mud had settled, giving me a fairly clear view of the bottom 14' below. Amazing! I even saw a nice 3' barracuda and schools of smaller fish.

The singlehanded races went fine and the light wind made me fairly glad I was not racing, even though sitting on the committee boat brought a new level of meaning to "tedium". The next day's races had similarly light winds, but the mathematics involved in handicapping all the boats and in keeping track of start and end times made it far more interesting. Folks raced everything from a little trimaran to an old steel smuggling ship from the great lakes. Fun.

That's all for now. Oh.... here is an urchin test I hung from the ceiling over an LED light:

Goodnight, all! I hope your Thanksgivings were as happy and eventful as mine.... and I hope you got a lot more hugs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ups and downs

Life continues. A couple days ago I paddled ashore in the gray pre-twilight to go walk up a mountain and, upon stepping ashore, found myself accosted by a large land crab. Like giant fiddler crabs, normally they scuttle into their holes at the approach of a human, but I had caught this one foraging on the windrow of sargassum seaweed on the beach and it had no choice but to stand and defend. I pinned it with a shoe and picked it up. One claw measured about six inches from body to tip and about 1.5" in largest cross section: tempting, but I had a walk calling me and released the critter. No picture, sorry, but this google search should give you a good idea:
The day before that I had sailed out of the harbor and into the ever-increasing winds and waves and rain, finally having enough and turning tail, surfing down the six-foot, white-capped waves toward my mooring. About then I heard a noise that sounded like the sudden release of high-pressure water.... perhaps something had broken loose in my boat? I listened further, but the roar of wind and wave made things difficult.... and then I saw a creature surface along the port side beam. Shark? A minute later I saw the back again. I stood on the seat to get a better look into the glare of the sun and, a couple minutes later was rewarded by the sight of a porpoise peeling away from the Dorado and heading off.  My second porpoise sighting in the islands and the first alongside! No picture of this either.
The wind also seems to have been a factor in securing the wreck of the Aurora on Monday. Apparently they somehow managed to end up too close to a lee shore and the trio of happy chartering couples had their trip abruptly truncated. My neighbor speculates that autopilot was involved, but I know nothing.
I sailed well offshore to dump my waste tanks yesterday, turned on the pump and heard it working away for a minnute until..... clunk.... and silence. NOT the sort of thing one wants to hear, especially since it means I either need to do horrible work or hire someone to do it. Well, I hemmed and hawed and finally told myself that I would buy myself a pint of Ben and Jerry's Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz once I finished the job. Two hours later I had a Pratchett book in one hand and spoon in the other. In the meantime, however, I discovered that sea water had gotten into the electronics of the pump.... and there were other issues as well. Anyway, the pump now works.... somewhat... and I need to decide whether to try a new pump ($200) or rip out the toilet and tank and install a Nature's Head composting head (toilet) for $1000. The composting toilet weighs less, smells far better, and never clogs. I am sorely tempted, but am reluctant to spend the money. Well, I'll contemplate...
Wild wind tossing my boat at night and making it creak and groan against the mooring line, rain showers driving me indoors, and occasional strong coffee ice cream have made sleeping a bit disturbed lately. One night I walked about, half asleep, contemplating where to go back to sleep.... and my eye fell upon the sail bag stuffed with an old jib and my mind recalled happy childhood naps curled up on similar sails in the cabin of our Bristol 29. A few minutes later I was sound asleep on it and did not awaken until the sun had risen high in the sky. Very nice.
Today I will go to my first Thankspigging party, bring my potluck contribution and enjoy the roast pig, various foods, and company. We shall see how long I can stand the noise and crowds.

And here is a rainbow I saw yesterday: it was far brighter in reality.

And a coconut I found on my way to the grocery.

Life continues, life varies, and life is good.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Tuesday, my friend Carrie brought her friends Anya and Scott (a very nice couple from CO) aboard and we all sailed to Princess Creek in Hurricane Hole, caught a mooring, and snorkeled the local reefs. I discovered that the kayak does not do well with too much weight: it becomes very unstable. I also found that there are beautiful mounds of reef about 30' or 40' down that I should investigate, should I ever get scuba certified.

So, how did the snorkeling go? Well, not badly, although I should have brought us to a more sheltered spot for inexperienced folks on such a windy day. Eventually, tired, thirsty, and hungry from the long swim, we returned to the Dorado, climbed aboard, and they pulled out snacks and beer. I offered gin and tonics (my neighbor Peter has been supplying me with limes from this year's bumper crop) and soon stories and laughter filled the air, continuing until the sun dropped low and I raised the mainsail and we headed for home. I was certainly sorry to see the end of a fun day.

Monday morning I said goodby in the predawn darkness to another visitor, my friend Cynthia from Cape Cod. During her few-day visit we had swum in the warm harbor water at night, galaxies of sparks forming around our hands; she hooked two tail-walking tarpon in the north side of the island; she used her knife skills to open and clean four conchs we harvested and then cooked them up for lunch; and we sailed and swam by day and lay awake at night watching stars while warm winds buffeted us... or while mosquitoes attacked me and ignored her when wind died. We even got to snorkel at Flanagan Island when the winds and waves had died and rough places became accessible: wonderful corals and caves and fish! And we swam with four tarpon at Rob's mooring in Johnson Bay, watching as these huge beautiful fish swam within six feet of us, curious about these intruders into their realm.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Rain, rain, rain, and bananas

Friday it rained frequently and I filled my tanks, buckets, pots, and jugs. Saturday it simply rained and thundered. The usual clouds sail in from the south-east and sweep curtains of rain across us for five to fifteen minutes, leaving us with rainbows,

This storm spread across the entire radar map and sprinkled, showered, poured, and soaked the region while blowing lightly from the north. Tendrils of brown runoff carrying debris from land intruded into the green harbor waters, then spread and merged until the entire harbor looked like milk chocolate. And still it rained.

 My nice tight boat eventually leaked and I spread towels to catch the drips, wringing out the rags in the worst spots at a couple port lights. Reading and sleeping and laundry and having a space in the cockpit covered with a sail/tent kept me sane.... well, from becoming much less sane.... but I felt great relief at finding no rain this morning, at seeing the clouds part and sunshine break through, at having the chance to dry out everything. Instead, the wind rose and blew and blew and blew, but that (and recovering things that the wind stole) is another story.
More rain forecast after noon today! Let's see if I can go walking and exercise before it hits.

In other news, I found a couple coconuts dropped on the road by the wind and someone took a whole bunch of bananas to the dumpster, so I snagged a nice big hand and they tasted excellent after a few days.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lights out..... and the water lights up! Sorry, no photos :(

I woke this morning at my usual time (2:30) and noticed darkness and flashes of light. I looked about and the constellation of houses on the hills and the sodium vapor beacons spreading their yellow light across the harbor were gone, replaced by perhaps twenty lights in toto, lightning flashing in retreat over the western hills. The normally bright harbor enjoyed unaccustomed darkness and the stars shone above.... and sparks of living light flashed in the water. I turned the boat for better breeze, shifting the mooring line to a stern cleat, and saw the flashing created by the moving line. I shook it and the shock created a diffuse rod of light that lead into the depths. I splashed water and sparks tumbled across the surface. Best I've ever seen.

Then I lay on the deck for a bit, watching the sky and feeling the caress of the breeze. A bright meteor flashed.  Clouds built up and occluded the stars. A few drops fell and the wind began to rise, so I flipped the boat end for end again and went inside to listen to the rain.

And, after an hour or so, the lights came back on. And the roosters began crowing: the locals complain that the roosters crow all night and now I think we know a large reason.

I wonder if we could get the lights turned off now and then, even just for an hour? Probably not, we may just need to enjoy the darkness when it comes. May all of you get the chance to experience dark skies and glowing waters.

Sunrise sailing (written November 1)

Four of the last five days the water lay flat and mosquitoes and midges visited me in the night..... so, why not spend Thursday night at Flanagan Island? I began sailing at 8am, got to Flanagan in short order, swam, relaxed...... and thought "maybe I should sail around St John..." Five minutes later, the boat pulled away from the anchorage and headed south. Wimpy wind kept speeds low and I turned back just before I reached the west end of the island, heading for a peaceful night at Flanagan. My anchor dropped below the surface just after the sun.
I don't want to say much about the night, except that the wind increased rather than died and sleep visited only for brief moments. But by gray dawn the wind had died and I shook out the reef I had tied in the night and set out. Incredible sunrise behind me, warm wind moving me along..... very nice. I'm sure the camera did not do it justice, but this is what I caught....

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bouncing like a pinball, ending up back in St John

A defective light flickers (note to self: replace with LED) on my keyboard at 1AM as the song of the frogs sounds across the still and silent harbor. The weather map shows clouds moving north to the west and to the south to the east, but here we are in the eye of the slowly rotating storm.... and stillness rules. Yesterday morning, too often, was still & hot... even sultry, although the wind picked up enough to have a great sail with Rob (fairly new friend) in the afternoon and I managed to take my first sail (sails often hanging limp) in the morning to and from Johnson Bay where I cleaned bottom and admired a tarpon a few meters away as it yawned once, then swam languidly into the dim distance. I have been spending about an hour or so each day cleaning the boat bottom, getting out when I get tired even though the water is warm enough that I could probably swim comfortably for hours (but beware the sunburn!).

This is very different from Cape Cod, where the temperatures are dropping, leaves changing color, and everyone and everything is preparing for the approaching winter. A fiberglass patch on the red kayak may keep the water out.... if it remains attached: cross fingers!

Or Ipswitch, where a walk with a good friend and her dogs on the beach involved some decent bundling up against the strong chilling wind. The region seems very nice and, although I never got out on the water, I loved trying new (to me) varieties of apples: the suncrisp (or, if one wants to be formal, NJ55) seemed especially spicy and delicious.

Or DC, where the leaves have barely started to turn and I took long walks with Peter and his family in the beech, oak, maple, and tulip poplar forest in Rock Creek Park. Rory is now reading the Calvin and Hobbes books her older bother has been devouring for years. One morning she plopped down on my bed and began to read, so I carried her (still completely focused on sharing the story) downstairs to breakfast, where Peter shot a few pictures.

And we found this weird, soft-bodied bug at the birthday party at Rock Creek Park, an hour before I departed. Anyone want to identify it?

Or Boston.... although I must confess that I only saw it in the dusk, arriving from DC, making my way to the farewell party friends were throwing for Jen and Mick, then to their apartment where I snagged a couple packages and several hours of sleep, then back to the airport (had to catch a taxi since the T does not start until 6am Sunday!) before first light. I am sorry to see them leaving Boston as I have always enjoyed seeing them and will miss their hugs. And I owe them several nights accommodations, should they decide t drop in on me down here!
The boat is in chaos as I slowly assemble drawers, deal with the few remaining leaks, unpack, replace the pump on the head (yay!), and tackle a multitude of other tasks, all at once. I am pleased at progress and think the time has come to do some actual cleaning and completing so that things look and feel better.

And I hope the forecast rain comes soon so I can relax outside in the cockpit under the tent made of an old sail.... but I think it is going to skip us just as Gonzalo did.

Hmm.... what to do next...

Monday, October 13, 2014


Argh! And ARGH!!!! This is not good, so not good: first hurricane is going to hit my boat tonight. Outwardly calm, inside I feel full fight/flight.... and I can not even call my neighbor Peter until first light.

OK, here's the story: a few days back, the forecast showed a hurricane well to the north and a couple systems of interest drifting toward the islands. The next day, the winds forecast showed a sharp peak and a sharp change in direction, as if there were a pretty good certainty about the storm track....but a half day later the peak had softened and become more chaotic: As of 2pm Sunday the max wind forecast was 20mph. What a relief!

Apparently, I relaxed too soon.
Last night I went off with a friend to jump my parent's car, then continued on for an evening of adventure: hiked in the dunes, picked wild cranberries, and enjoyed a Provincetown walk and dinner.... and got home close to ten pm. Fighting against sleep, I carelessly turned on the weather page.... to see Tropical Storm Gonzalo coming in tonight....and winds of 50mph. And when I woke, 4:30 AM today, the winds are now predicted to be about 60mph when the storm reaches max.

So, I am going to ask Peter to drop another anchor if he can, ask him to pull the kayak off the deck and stick it in the mangroves, and I am going to cross fingers. By 2pm tomorrow the worst will have passed and we shall see if I still have a home in the islands.

As Donkey said "I need a hug!"

Notes: the web sites I use are

UPDATE: noon Monday: the forecast now calls for sustained winds of 75mph tomorrow morning. OMG. (note: too serious for an exclamation point.)

UPDATE: 5am Tuesday
Peter called me after sunset last night, telling me he had engine trouble and so would be spending the night on his mooring... with a couple extra anchors in for insurance. He also put in one of his anchors for me and I thanked him and wished him a safe night. He was not looking forward to it, especially with the hurricane due to hit in the middle of the night.
This hurricane acts oddly. Last night it went from a tight ball of nasty to a broken dissipated thing....and this morning shows a serious kink in the track. The wind forecast graph also shows actual wind for the last few hours.....and keeps showing nearly nothing. And all weather stations that I can find in the USVIs show winds under 20. I even looked up how to decode the METAR reports and checked those and they say the same thing: normal winds. Most peculiar. Could it be that the system broke up for the night, sparing St John, and will re-form and strengthen as it goes on? Wouldn't THAT be amusing! I do not trust the reports, however, and look forward to getting a report from Peter in the morning.

UPDATE: 1pm Tuesday
That was the most bizarre thing EVER: the storm essentially broke up, changed direction, and reformed.....skipping St John entirely. Apparently all the information I had about actual, unbelievably normal winds was accurate. Peter told me that there was a couple inches of rain in the dinghy and average winds. Everyone had been scurrying around yesterday, preparing. Hurricane Hole was full of boats....and the thing just skipped the island like a tornado skipping one house and hitting the ones on each side.
Thanks for all your good wishes.