Friday morning having returned the car we went into Mollys for breakfast. When I logged on to check Thursday’s purchases had gone through OK we realised that our credit cards had been suspended…. Oh no…. Talking to them via Skype they said they had been suspicious of all the activity and wanted to go through each transaction individually to ensure they were genuine. Relieved there were no dodgy dealings we got our cards quickly restored to their proper status. Phew. We also promised not to spend more than £200 in the next few days – I think we can manage that. After breakfast we headed over to the bank for a final ATM withdrawal and that card got refused too!!!! Frustrated we head back to Mollys for another sparkling water – feeling quite hydrated at this point LOL – and Skyped the bank. Cleared through all the security questions and got this quickly resolved too… Double phew….
Back on board we got Morphie ready to go sailing and left the slip in Red Hook for the final time…. And, of course, there was no wind. We motored through the Current Hole Passage – with no ferries this time thankfully – and then turned west towards Charlotte Amalie. The seas were pretty flat and we made good time – pulling into the main anchorage area at 3pm. The anchorage was busy so we ended up quite a long way out and directly opposite the cruise ships – two in today.
We then prepped the boat for varnishing by removing the stainless steel rubbing rails, getting the ropes out of the way, and snubbing our anchor across the front of the bow rollers to keep the rails clear. Job done we got ourselves cleaned up, dropped dink, and then headed into the marina where we had a few drinks in the Fat Turtle before coming back to Morphie for dinner and an early night.
Saturday morning we were up really early – in fact so early we watched the cruise ships come into harbour and the sun rise – and then we started working.
By 4pm we had sanded down, cleaned up and varnished – we just need the weather to hold for the night. Fingers crossed this time! Here’s a sanded down picture….
During the day we had been distracted a couple of times by some type of ride on the cruise ship opposite – is that the equivalent of the naughty step for those that don’t go ashore????
At 5.30 pm we went on board Cutter Loose for a reunion with Eric and Pat and another island packet couple Pam and AD who are down here on their boat called Pappy’s Packet. Had a lovely evening and I really enjoyed Eric’s rum punch – which is great praise indeed as I don’t tend to drink rum!
Sunday morning and we awoke to a grey sky. Thankfully there was no rain during the night – so we admired the newly varnished wood. Looks good and we think we’ll leave it at that now. Hurrah!!!!
We waved off Pat and Eric as they left for Culebra – and we decided to be tourists for the day. So we wandered the shops and went up the Skyride to see the view down over the anchorage and the marina….. Wow Morphie looks tiny! Stunning…..
On the way back we settled into the coffee shop to pick up wifi – the only place around here with a constant signal – and caught up on a few things like paying bills! Oh yes, and check out this photo Eric sent us with Morphie being dwarfed by Quantum of the Seas pulling into the dock…. Great shot!
Later on we headed back to the Fat Turtle for happy hour and then returned to Morphie for the evening.
Monday morning and it’s another busy day…. We cleaned off all the blue tape and its sticky residue; cleaned up the stainless steel; and restored all the ropes and lines to their proper place…. Phew – hot work! It took us all day and we were shattered so didn’t even bother to go ashore. Just a quiet night on board and a very early night!
Tuesday morning and things to do – we have to meet the guys from Reefco to pick up our delivery of gauges, gas containers and a Merlin controller – all to help us manage Morphie’s refrigeration systems ourselves going forward. We also have to go to Pueblo to pick up some fresh produce….. to be followed by a visit to Customs to clear out of the USVIs for Wednesday’s departure. Sitting in the cockpit having a cup of tea – not having slept very well at all because of a large swell in the anchorage – we were listening to the music from the Disney cruise ship when we spotted dolphins in the anchorage. Fantastic – and of course it is really difficult to get a photo – but I managed one just to prove it!!! Love these creatures….
Out to town – jobs accomplished – and we went back to Morphie to drop off our purchases.
Then we went ashore again to the Fat Turtle for a snack and a couple of beers. After about two hours we left and struggled to get into dink because of the motion on the dock. Back on board – having to time the leap from dink onto Morphie to coincide with the height of the wave – and we lifted dink quickly onto his davits to get him safe. We then settled down for an early night but of course sleep was pretty elusive in those conditions!
Wednesday morning and the forecast changed overnight for largish seas and high winds with a small craft advisory in place. But we are committed to leaving as we have already checked out. So after the cruise ships had come in we motored out through the channel and then, having realised that it was pretty breezy, we raised the genoa and the main with reefs in both. It actually was around 23-25 knots with lumpy seas – but the annoying thing was that the wind direction was SW not NE – so, guess what, we are close hauled beating into it…. Should have been a lovely downwind sail! Oh well….never mind….we had fun anyway. Goodbye St Thomas.
As we approached Sail Rock a cruise ship – Freedom of the Seas – was on a collision course with us and then we realised that he had changed course to give us safe passage. What a nice man! So I radioed him to thank him – and he was very pleasant and moved a few more degrees to port to accommodate us… That was a bit of excitement!
We had to drop our sails as we approached the reef strewn entrance to Dewey, Culebra, as we couldn’t hold the angle any more. We motored through the markers and came into Ensenada Honda – a bit of a hurricane hole. It was lovely and flat inside – you could never guess the conditions outside. Made a lovely change after the washing machine action in Charlotte Amalie and the 25 mile bumpy and wet sail here….
As required, we telephoned the customs guys and after a number of calls we were told to report to the airport with our papers. We went ashore to the Dinghy Dock bar and restaurant – locked up dink – and wandered up to the main road. A golf buggy – driven by two women from New York – came by and offered us a lift, so we gratefully accepted.
Entering the airport building we found the Homeland Security Office and entered…. The two guys working here were very funny – a real double act – and the whole process, although drawn out and bureaucratic, was very efficient. Culebra is part of Puerto Rico which, in turn, is a US territory – so they granted us a 12 month cruising permit which enables us to enter Florida at no cost later in our trip. It only cost $37 – a real result! We also found out about the rules as we move around Puerto Rico in future weeks – telephoning as we move ‘zones’ and checking out at our last port of call. Was the best experience we have ever had with US customs and immigration officials! Helped I think by their love of Top Gear and the naughtiness of Jeremy Clarkson LOL…
We walked back from the airport – about 20 minutes – to the Dinghy Dock restaurant. We had just opened our first beer and Eric and Pat turned up! So we spent some time with them before returning to Morphie for a quiet night on board and our first Culebra sunset.
This morning – Thursday – we are feeling much more refreshed having had a reasonable night’s sleep and a bit of a lazy morning. Later on we are going on a fact finding mission hoping to hire a golf buggy tomorrow so that we can explore this island.
Bye for now