A couple of weeks ago we headed West along the south coast of St John bound for Christmas Cove because Magnus had a vet appointment the next morning in Red Hook on St. Thomas. Nothing wrong with him, just more papers. This time for Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgin Islands.
We had a brisk NE wind putting us on a broad reach with full main and genoa. The sailing was nearly perfect with 15 to 17 knots apparent wind and we were moving along well. Then last few miles turned out to be a great early birthday gift as the winds built to 18 to 19 with gusts to 22 and shifted to a close reach (one of the best points of sail for Altera) as the winds funnelled between St Thomas and St John. Now normally I put the first reef in around 18 knots (sometimes less depending on the sea state), but we were only about 3 miles from our destination and Altera is a better built boat than some, so I figured there would be no harm in having fun and Chrissy didn’t object as we got briefly up to 9 knots!
We pulled into the anchorage, set the anchor and then I took Magnus to shore for a swim and some fetch. On our return to the boat we cruised around the anchorage and I recognized the boat Mary Christine from the blog www.wherethecoconutsgrow.com where Peter and Jody told me about the superbowl party at the yacht club over on St Thomas. Despite not being a football fan or even knowing who was playing in the game, Chrissy and I dinghied over to the party anyway. Turns out Peter and Jody have a knack for meeting all who cruise so they introduced us to a number of other cruisers too, all who were anchored in Christmas Cove! We met crews from www.saltykisses.net (these guys did eastern Canada last year and are planning a northwest passage on their 65′ steel boat with the entire family, and are looking for crew if you aren’t tired of winter yet), www.lahowind.com whom we met a few weeks ago in the BVI’s and the crew from Kasablanca. A few days later we met www.mjsailing.com who have been cruising on a 34′ Sabre for several years now and even crossed the pond. They also recently updated their cost of cruising for those of who wonder what it costs to live the dream.
A couple days later Chrissy had a girls night with many of these crews and also met www.itsanecessity.net. So, needless to say we had a great time meeting new friends and socializing with people who are also taking a break from the rat race. Interestingly there were 3 mechanical engineers in the bunch doing our best to shed the stereotype that engineers are nerdy, boring and uber responsible people.
Otherwise, while we were hanging out our water supply was running low so employed a low water consuming dishwasher. Too bad we didn’t know at the time how gassy taco meat would make him for the following 24 hours.
This Barracuda seemed undeterred by Magnus’ stench and was seen for quite a while hovering just off our bow in the anchorage. Hate to say it but, you don’t see this stuff in your cubicle at work.
And seeing as Benner Bay is just a half an hour by dinghy from Christmas Cove and they have a Budget Marine we went to find some teak deck caulking and LED bulbs for the galley light fixture. Benner Bay has a collection of unique live aboard and semi abandoned boats like this one:
The dinghy dock left a bit to be desired but we found our LED bulbs and caulk so we were happy.
While filling the dinghy tank we chatted with a local at the gas dock who got fead up with doing the same tourist dive site every day so he opened his own adventure diving business and gave us a few good snorkel spots to check out.
Somehow chugging along with an underpowered dinghy outboard is far more enjoyable than commuting on the 401 ever was.