After a fabulous trip to Puerto Rico, we focused on our last preparations for the Big Trip. Every sailor should prep for such a trip, just to get their boat in order. For that matter, every person living should prep for a big move, or other such event, to tie up loose ends and finish lingering projects. There’s a satisfying feeling to knocking things off the To Do list.
So, we mixed up fun with tasks for the next week. The St Thomas Carnival at night was a treat. Although we missed the parade, we enjoyed meeting this wild lady who was still in costume.
Alembic was torn apart in order to inspect the chain plates. Each shroud is attached to the hull with these oversized plates which can corrode or crack over the years. Luckily ours looked fine and we only saw the need to remove and reseal two. We also remounted the whisker pole, varnished the cockpit, fixed two leaky stanchions (water makes its way down the bolt holes), sewed main cabin sheets and a cover for the aft companionway, and rebuilt the instrument enclosure. Whew! The list is getting shorter!
Charlotte Amalie, the largest harbor on St Thomas and in the USVI, was full of action. Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Belle was one of the many famous yachts sharing the harbor with us. This boat was used to ferry supplies to some of the hardest hit areas after the hurricanes Irma and Maria. Planet Waves was also here, actually beside us in the anchorage, and we “took care of Johnny” while Shelley flew back to Miami for a few days. Then we enjoyed both of them when she returned. We surely will miss them when we part ways again. They plan to sail north to New York when we sail east. Luckily, we never say Goodbye, just “See you next time!” as there will certainly be a “next time”!
Next, we sailed to Christmas Cove again, and briefly met Jody, a former Whitby 42 owner. We also fit in a fabulous snorkel at Honeymoon Beach. Moving the next day to St John, we took a Safari (a very small bus) to the mountains and hiked to see the Petroglyphs, a private beach, and a sugar plantation.
The following day, we hiked along the shore to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins and snorkeled Water Lemon Cay. We wished we had our camera here, as we saw a huge barracuda, lots of lobster, a snake eel, an elusive Drum, stingrays, and a huge turtle who small along with us, staying only six feet away!
Our final excursion was to Road Town Tortola to join a Women Who Sail group. They were beginning a one week charter with 8 boats and 43 women! Bill was the only guy at this lively first night dinner in town, but he seemed to enjoy being surrounded by women, and grateful to get back to Alembic that night, where he only had to deal with me!!
The harbor was filthy, and filled with so many wrecked boats; I was grateful that this bunch of women had arrived to bring a shine to the island!
A quick downwind dash back to Charlotte Amalie for last minute tasks was energizing. Final emails at our favorite wifi spot, and a few more projects (do they ever end??) occupied our last hours. Going online connects us to all that we have left behind, which brings me to tears often, while it also allows me to feel more free to carry on with our travels. Ironic. Missing our kids and our families tops the list of heart wrenching realities. Luckily, we have super supportive families; our own children, as well as our siblings and my parents. While I try to be involved in my parents’ moves and other big events, my sister and brothers do a fabulous job taking care of them always.
Here are four of them, Dan, Al, Charlie, and Paul, helping Mom move. And they keep me up to date on the important events that I miss, like my Dad’s 82nd birthday.
Sometimes I wonder how my heart can conjure up so much joy, while also trying to keep in check the sad longings for more time with those I’ve left behind. For certain, I am always grateful for all that I experience with Bill, Alembic, our families, and all the dear friends we have made along our lives’ journeys.