|Kathy took this photo from the dinghy, |
as Ed was taking our friends back to shore.
To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.
Our haul out at the beginning of December was utterly pleasant compared with the one in June, since Ed was able to work on the boat this time. We found another hole in the hull – we sanded through solid rust. A welder put in a new plate of steel. Our antifouling paint had failed not long after our last haul out, so we put on two coasts of antifouling this time. We were launched again after only one week. We sailed directly to Caneel Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Kathy and Bill arrived the next day. Good friends from Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’d decided to meet up with us in the islands. For some reason (go figure…), they opted to stay at a luxurious resort, rather than rough it on Tropic Moon. Their room at the Caneel Bay Resort overlooked the bay where we anchored. They treated us to dinner one night at the hotel’s restaurant. It felt like we’d only been apart for a couple weeks, rather than a couple years, as we quickly got reacquainted. For the four of us to get in step for the week together, Kathy and Bill slowed down the pace of their lifestyle, and we speeded up ours.
|Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Internet photo.|
We swam, and snorkeled, and one day we hiked into the town of Cruz Bay. We took Kathy and Bill on two sails. The first was to Leinster Bay, where we hiked to the Annaberg Sugar Mill. The second sail was to Great St. James Island, at the east end of St. Thomas, with a snorkeling stop at Christmas Cove. While they enjoyed the sailing, Bill preferred to be in the water. There was some great snorkeling in the little bays between Caneel and Hawksnest Bay.
We were returning from our second day sail, and were off Caneel Bay, when the Coast Guard ship hailed us. We were approached by a launch with three crew. As they came alongside, one man said, “Prepare to receive a boarding party.” The Coast Guard can only cite you for violations while you’re “operating a vessel,” which was why they boarded us while we were underway.
Two men climbed on Tropic Moon. It was mostly an inspection, though I'm sure they had their eye out for drugs. While we didn’t get written citations, we did get written warnings. The two charges cited were that our horn wasn’t operable, and that we didn’t have a sticker (10” x 12”) declaring that it was a $5000 fine to dump oil overboard. One man gave us an oil sticker to post.
|Annaberg Sugar Mill. Postcard.|
Right after we were boarded, it started to rain. Ed and one guy were below, leaving the other guard on deck with Bill, Kathy and me. Bill was at the wheel, but the wind was fluky, and he was having problems. I told the Coast Guard fellow we’d been planning on going in to the bay to anchor. He gave his permission, so I started the engine and we motored in.
I decided to try anchoring Tropic Moon myself, since I’d watched Ed do it hundreds of times. I left Bill at the wheel, while I went forward to take down the genoa and the mainsail. Then I had Bill motor to what looked like a good spot. I signaled him to idle in neutral, with the bow pointing into the wind, and I dumped the anchor overboard and fed out the chain and rope. The next step was for Bill to put the engine in reverse, to see if the anchor was holding. The whole operation went very smoothly. Kathy was duly impressed! It was the first time I’d ever taken down the sails, or anchored the boat, and one of the first times I’d done something without Ed’s supervision.
|Caneel Bay Beach Lounge. Internet photo.|
After Bill and Kathy headed back to winter in Michigan, we returned to the British Virgin Islands. We had a great sail from Caneel Bay back to Road Town. We had all sails up, including the genny. We hit 10 knots a few times, but were mostly doing 8-9 knots – really flying! (Our normal speed was 5-6 knots.) What a difference a clean bottom makes…. We covered the 23 miles in a little over three hours.