Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friends and drinks on Jost Van Dyke

A few days after Cynthia left, I needed to get my butt out of the harbor and catch some wind, stir myself to have an adventure. A couple lionfish reported on the south side gave me a good purpose, so at dawn on 11/16 I raised sails, dropped my mooring line, and set off in the light morning breeze. As the boat began to glide away, my neighbor Larry called over that he and Laurie were heading to Jost around ten and I should meet up with them if I liked. I called back that I might just do that and continued on my way.

As the wind increased nicely, I contemplated... and thought of my predilection for turning away from new experiences that make me nervous, especially ones that involve paperwork and people and uncertainty... and I spun the wheel to the north instead of south. I sailed past Privateer Point and Haulover Bay, turned west and headed down-wind to Leinster Bay, then headed north across the international border with the British Virgin Islands, through Sopers Hole and Thatch Island Cut, then headed north across the sound toward Jost Van Dyke and the boats anchored at the nearby beaches of Sandy Cay and Green Cay.

When I reached Green Cay I turned back, heading for home, figuring I would either have a great sail under my belt or would run into Larry and Lauri on Gigi and follow them through customs, learning the ropes by watching. I had just crossed back into US Virgin Islands waters when the familiar colors of Gigi caught my eye, so I sailed over, had a brief shouted conversation, and headed back with them toward Jost.

We caught moorings* at Great Bay, then motored to shore and walked to the police station where we dealt with customs and immigration, paid fees, and got our passports stamped. Then back to Foxy's where we ordered Painkillers (the drinks, not the pills), and visited Foxy and others my companions had not seen since their last visit. I chatted to Rafael, the bartender, about fishing charters and catching dorado (mahi mahi), then we headed back to Gigi where we ate cheese and salad, drank red wine, told stories, and laughed as the stars came out.

The next day we piled into Gigi's dinghy and motored ten minutes along the shore to White Bay and the famous Soggy Dollar.
Lauri and Larry at the Soggy Dollar
I had heard that this bar & grill had been so named because people swam to it and had been under the strong impression that it, like Angels Rest, floated. Wrong! It is a perfectly normal land-based place and tourists sometimes swim from their boats to shore.... although most now pay with perfectly dry currency since they are ferried to shore. Well, this place would have had to be HUGE to deal with the tourists, so building on land works better. And it is far easier to grow shade trees...

We ordered drinks since it was nearly noon (painkillers, again: not as tasty, perhaps because the nutmeg was mixed in rather than left to float on top), then sat down and chatted with each other and strangers. We enjoyed chatting with Frank, Tom, and Mary
(they had been brought over on a nice catamaran that landed them in knee-deep water) and helped with their excess spiced fries. By mid-afternoon we had each had another drink and lunch and we headed home.... and lionfish, the breeze, and the open water called to me irresistibly.

I climbed onto Dorado, thanked Larry and Lauri, raised sails, and set off for Henley Cay, a small island in US islands just off the NW corner of St John. Mild winds tempted me to shake out my reef and gain more sail, but the impressive shower heading my way stayed my hand. It brought some decent winds and a little rain, but most hit Great Bay and I reached Henley at sunset, dark clouds and occasional distant lightning making things far darker than normal. Still.... the reported lionfish awaited, so I jumped in and hunted... without success... until darkness and the vertigo and nausea from a non-equalized ear drove me from the water.

After a long night, a beautiful dawn greeted me.

I entered the water again and swam to the reported spot.... and there was the 14" lion, lord of all he surveyed, choosing breakfast! One minute later, after a slow stalk and a meaty "THUNK", I placed him on my kayak.
 Ramgoat Cay tempted me from a couple hundred yards away, so I paddled over and swam around that, finding another large (12.5") lionfish and bringing it aboard. Most satisfactory! I dropped the mooring and headed for Coral Bay with fairly light winds. It took nine hours of mostly tacking (I did a lot of reading, sewing (new zipper),
 and listening to podcasts), but sunset saw Dorado back on its mooring.

Adventure, water, sailing, simplicity, learning, friends, laughter.... these are good.

*We could have anchored and saved $30 each, but the private mooring field for transients took up all the desirable anchorage area and offered security and simplicity. Next time I may scout the sandy shoals along shore and anchor there, in perhaps six feet of water.


  1. Good for you going to a new place, meeting people and dealing with paperwork. It's all a grand adventure with you!

    1. Well, Helen Keller said "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" and I prefer the adventure. Nothing will come along for all of us soon enough: carpe diem!