Past few weeks have had Victoria and I island hopping down the Leeward Islands. Our trip has been relatively uneventful, weather cooperative, with many wonderful and magical sites of the islands. Each island is unique to itself, with its own personality. Montserrat was particularly incredible with its active volcano. The local population seems to take it in stride! Hiking to the top of the lookout overlooking Les Saintes was amazing. Past few days we have been in Dominica, where the terrain is the most rugged I've seen anywhere short of the Grand Canyon. Waterfalls, hot springs and cool river pools. Ferns as big as trees! And of course, the little critters abound. Next stop...Martinique.
BTW, Victoria is also keeping a blog, and you can find her blog at: www.aboardthebelami.blogspot.com
Hello all, greetings from Bel Ami Voyages. Been a while since I last communicated. Life has a way of movin on whether you are on board or not. Currently hanging on the hook at Village Cay Marina, Island of Tortola. Dave Gibson, marine electrician extrodinaire who I met while on the hard in Nanny Cay, spent the afternoon successfully trouble shooting my marine radio (ICOM 802 Single Sideband). Man’s a genius with electronics!! My crew Victoria is currently cooking up our dinner as I type this: Blackened ahi tuna, polenta with beans, and salad. OK…, with Victoria onboard, I’m not going hungry!!! We are en route to St. Martin, waiting for a good weather window to cross the Anegada Passage. Weather has been less than cooperative lately, and we have found ourselves sailing in 30 knots winds on the nose…not very pleasant. Next few days things should improve.
Lots has happened since Carnival in St. Thomas in May (see post below). Bel Ami was hauled out at Nanny Cay for refit (check out the pics above…especially the ac unit in the aft stateroom hatch!). Took all of 3 weeks, during which time I enjoyed the Nanny Cay facilities to the max, including some great open Mics at the local bar (imagine, me an accordion rock and roll star!). Made some good friends along the way, especially Johnny Wallis, who invited me up to one of the most spectacular houses on Tortola. Ah….the lives of the rich and famous! Actually just called Johnny, and he and friends are at the bar at Village Cay, so I’ll soon wrap this up and join him for a few!!!
Towards the end of my stay at Nanny Cay, spent a long weekend partying with the Aqua Action crowd at Jost Van Dyke. Diane and Sam were wonderful hosts, and Ivan’s Stress Free Bar was the place to be for that weekend.
End of May I picked up my crew Victoria, and for the past month we have been making preparations to sail south for Hurricane season. Our plan is to visit many of the islands of the Lesser Antilles on our way to Trinidad and Venezuela. In the meantime, we spent time at honeymoon bay, Leinster Bay, Cruz Bay for the steel drum concert, and took some great pictures (see slide show above).
I am also in process of creating a charter boat company so that when I return to the Virgins in the fall I will begin chartering Bel Ami…stay tuned for details. Speaking of Charters, I had my first “official” charter with very much in-love honeymooners Sam and Cody, who spent much of the day sailing with us. We dropped them off in Cruz Bay and picked them up in Reef Bay after they hiked down the Reef Bay trail. Sam and Cody, best wishes for a glorious life together!
Carnival St. Thomas!
On May 1st Captain Bob White and famous Hula Mary joined me on Bel Ami and we sailed from the east end of St. Thomas to Charlotte Amalie for Carnival. Flew the kite (cruising spinnaker) most of the way with great success (sail didn’t get fouled, nobody got hurt….). After a wonderful sail, we spent the day in town negotiating the crowds, heat, noise…but eventually ended up in Glady’s Café in the AC with closed circuit TV! Also ran into St. Thomas friends Dave, Lynne, Bert, Mis-sea, Bobby and Sherry. Later in the afternoon, we went back to Bel Ami which was anchored nearby, had a great dinner onboard complete with fantastic fireworks. Was a day to remember!
Its been about 1 year since Bel Ami sailed into Ensenada Honda, the well protected anchorage on the Island of Culebra. Things haven't changed too much since last here! Ha!!! Victoria from Toronto joined Phil and I onboard on April 4th, flying into Provo in the Turks and Caicos. The three of us sailed Bel Ami southeast 185 miles to Samana Bay on the northeastern end of the Dominican Republic. This was a 2 nite passage that saw winds gusting up to 30 knots and heavy seas which pounded Bel Ami unmercilessly. Finally reaching Samana Bay was a welcome respite from the weather. We found good internet access in the local Chinese restaurant up on the hill overlooking the bay, ate Dominican Chop Suey (making sure there were lots of dogs and cats around the neighborhood...come to think of it, there were lots of dogs but no cats...!) as we continued to monitor the weather, waiting for the weather to allow us further passage east. After about a week of waiting, Phil decided not to wait any longer and flew back to Wisconsin. A couple days later we got our weather window and Victoria and I shoved off 4 AM Wed morning the 14th of April with a favorable (albeit rough) forecast calling for northerly winds 15-25 knots, and sailed about 240 nautical miles bound for St. Thomas, crossing the Mona Passage and the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Bel Ami flew like a freight train. We hoped to arrive in St. Thomas by Thursday evening, but decided to divert to Culebra to arrive at safe anchorage before dark. And so here we are, enjoying and exploring Culebra while we wait another few days for good weather to sail on to the US and British Virgin Islands. Victoria flies back to Toronto on April 25 from St. Thomas, and Bel Ami is due to get hauled out for bottom job and insurance survey. Never a dull moment!!
Oh, what a time it was...
Phil, Patty and I converged back to the Bahamas in Georgetown on March 23. Phil flew in from Wisconsin, Patty from New York, and me from Florida. Said goodbye to Georgetown bound for St. Thomas via Turks and Caicos. We did some island hopping to Long Island, Conception Island, back to Long Island/Clarencetown, then 30 hours overnight to Provo. Patty, who had never been at sea before, was a real trooper!! On the way caught a Mahi as well as a Big Eyed Tuna, so we ate VERY WELL!! Patty flew to Toronto on April 1st for her Dad's 70th b-day, and we pick up new crew from Toronto (Victoria) tomorrow, who plans to be onboard for 3 weeks. Phil's time onboard is indefinite at this point--might be turning him into a real sailor!! Although 80 degree temps in Madison are beckoning him. Last nite Phil and I watched Master and Commander on the big screen (53 inch by 37 inch) and pigged out on pop corn. Weather is here, wish you were beautiful (huh???!!!)--
Finally made it to Bimini to visit friends from Wisconsin Layne and Joan. Friend Larry Stange left his wife Kitty on their boat Saildreamer in Marathon and decided at the last minute to fly over to Bimini and join me for several weeks. In Bimini we had an absolute blast making new friends, including Dave Keppert who was visiting Layne and Joan as well as the owners of a great bar restaurant hotel The Thirsty Turtle, Brent and Jo-an ( who was dancing on the bar at the Beach Bar for Kareoke!). Then Larry and I sailed Bel Ami back to Nassau on a full moon over the banks--was very cool. Boat sailed like a freight train and we made it in record time. In Nassau I showed Larry around Paradise Island and the Atlantis resort, and bribed a couple of cuties to take a picture with Larry. Larry also ate conch salad despite the fact that it is so healthy for you. Ended the day with me posing with some cutie posters. Great fun all and all. Tomorrow we head south to the Exumas.