Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Blood Family Visits

IMG_1993David’s brother Michael, his wife Janae, and daughter Sydney flew into the USVI’s, to spend a week on board with us and visit the USVI and BVI’s.  We had a great time catching up and playing together.  We missed their son Sam, but he was on a fun school trip to DC and NYC. 

They caught an early flight in, so we still had a whole day ahead of us.  So we packed up and headed to a beautiful beach on the North side of St. Thomas, USVI.  Megan’s bay has a beautiful long beach with gorgeous soft white sand.  It was a great afternoon in the sand and sun and beautiful blue water.  The Beach was 10 miles from where we had anchored, and the winds had shifted south making it the perfect time to check out this great beach.  After we arrived back at the boat, we moved to the peaceful Maho Bay anchorage on the north side of St. John.  The water was calm and the view was gorgeous.   DSCN3672DSCN3685

The next day brought us a few surprises.  During the night Benjamin had fallen out of bed and broke his collar bone, (for that story—see that specific post)  so David and I abandoned the gang early in the morning to head into St. Thomas for xrays and Dr’s visits with Benjamin.  We left the little dinghy for the rest of the gang to use to visit some of the close by beaches.  We returned late in the afternoon to find out that the gang had visited Cinnamon Beach, snorkeled around and had a pleasant day.  They had a few trials trying to anchor the dinghy and Calvin ended up driving it around by himself chauffeuring the beach goers  between the beach and boat.  He’s a great kid!  We enjoyed a great dinner on the back deck of the boat and watched the beautiful sunset over the islands.IMG_2037IMG_2075

IMG_2089The morning of day 3 took us to the British Virgin Islands.  With our dog on board we had to make arrangements with the head vet to meet us at customs to clear in to the country since the BVI’s is Rabies free, they are particular about letting in foreign dogs from countries that have Rabies.  When we arrived at the port there was no where to anchor in less then 80 feet, so I kept the boat holding while David and Mike took the passports, paperwork, and Jessie into the customs docks for clearance.  About 20 minutes later they returned with stamped passports and clearance for Jessie.  We headed on our way to the nearby island of Jost Van Dyke.  We anchored on the east end for a day stop at Sandy Cay.  It was a little rolly, but we weren’t planning to spend the day the on the boat anyhow.  Sandy Cay is a small picture perfect island.  It has a beautiful beach and palm trees lining the small wooded area you can hike thru to the other side.  The sand here, while white and beautiful, is made from coral being smashed to bits against the rocks.  The waves were wrapping around the small island and would then roll up to the beach creating a little surf.  The kids had fun riding the boogie boards on the waves, but it made me a little nervous because it was rocky below the water.  The water was deep all the way up to the beach, so no one was hurt, but the waves could really push you around.  On the south end of the Cay the sand was really steep, where the water must come up that high at times.  The kids decided to try sliding down the steep end into the water.  Late in the afternoon we packed up our beach day and headed back to the boat.  It was time to find a calmer spot for the night. IMG_2120IMG_2167

IMG_2102We decided to tuck in closer to Jost Van Dyke,  There was still a little swell making it into the bay, but it was much better than the exposed area of Sandy Cay.  We anchored out near a huge beautiful sailboat and a mega yacht behind us.  The Mega Yacht, Lady Christine, even had a helicopter on board.  Crazy! 




The restaurant’s mensroom sink.  David thought it should be captioned “There!  I fixed it!”

That evening we made reservation to visit one of the local restaurants on the Island.  Jost Van Dyke has few residents, especially on the east end near us.  We took the tender into the next bay over and had a fun dinner at a restaurant that was barely more than the back deck of a local’s house.  In fact when we arrived, and we were the first of their dinner guests to arrive, the owners were out back taking their laundry off the line.  The owners were very friendly and helpful.  The lady came out and helped us tie up and then showed us the fresh lobsters in the cage, in the water at the dock.  Janae and I ordered lobster for dinner.  For a medium portion they took a very large lobster, cooked it and cut it in half.  It was delicious.  The lime butter sauce that came with it was so good.  Michael tried a conch dish, and David ordered the BBQ Chicken.   The restaurants policy is “you make your own drinks”.  There is a “bartender”, but his job is to just show you where the things are, then you make it yourself.  Michael made me a Shirley Temple, of 7up and grenadine juice.  Janae tried a Caribbean local Mauvi soda, which tastes a little like root beer with a bite that gets you after you swallow.  It is made from the bark of a tree.  We sat at a picnic table on one of their docks and had a great time.  Great food, great company, makes it a great night.




In the morning we decided to take advantage of the beautiful beach in front of the anchorage.  Sandy Spit, a completely separate island from nearby Sandy Cay, is another picture perfect spot.  It is very small, hence the name “spit”, instead of cay.  It is beautiful white sand and just a handful of palm trees.  You can walk the whole island in about 5 minutes.  We enjoyed the morning playing in the sand and water.  Michael and Janae did a little snorkeling, but with the waves there was a lot of sand moving in the water which made the visibility poor.  A couple more mega yachts came into the anchorage and we watched them get out their toys.  One even set up a big waterslide from their top deck.  David came and picked us up from the beach, but only the little ones hitched a ride back with him.  The rest of us swam back to the boat from the beach.DSCN3707  IMG_2306_thumb[1]

Once all of us were on board, we hoisted the anchor and set out for a new spot to explore.  We planned to anchor off Guana Island north of Tortola and spend sometime at a nearby snorkeling spot, but the anchorage had a little roll.  We decided to try a different anchorage around the corner, but it also was a little rolly and put us a little closer to some rocks then I felt comfortable, so we headed even further east and ended up anchoring behind a busy mooring field off Marina Cay.  The Lady Christine anchored nearby again too.  Another night of staring at the huge mega yacht and their fancy helicopter up top.  David took the Blood’s and those who wanted to go for a tender ride around the area.  They also went across the way to Trellis bay on Tortola to check out the village there.IMG_2248DSCN3718

The next morning we headed off early to Virgin Gorda and the infamous Baths.  We found a spot to anchor a little north of the Baths where the water was a little shallower.  I have been surprised at how deep so many of the anchorages are here.  It is a new experience for us to anchor in 40-50 foot depths regularly.  Previous to the Virgin Islands, the deepest we had anchored was around 45 feet, and only like twice before.  Usually we pick spots that are 15 feet or less.  The deeper the spot, the more line we have to put out which means the more area you could possibly swing.  Which always makes me nervous anchoring near other boats.  But on to the fun stuff…

DSCN3748The Baths were amazing!  It’s a super popular place to visit here in the BVI’s, and now we know why. We arrived early in the morning, and the boats were filling in, one right after the other, like a parking lot of water park on a super hot day.  Our  friends back in Puerto Rico drew out a map of the Bath area and what to check out.  Mainly the trail.  Looking at the area from the boat is beautiful.  Large boulders climbing up out of the water, stacked and leaning, while water moves around and thru them.  It’s very alluring.  There are 2 Beaches in the Bath’s vicinity, and between the 2 beaches is a trail to hike, scramble, or swim thru to get to the other beach.  We started at the North beach and tied our tender to the dinghy tie up and had to swim in.  I knew it was a swim in, so we left Madison on board RCabin with Benjamin (and his broken Collar bone) and Alexander, who is too little too swim.  We put on our snorkel gear to swim in to the beach.  Even Matthew got out a set of snorkel gear, he had never worn any before, but it was to cute to resist when he pulled out a mask and fins and said he need his “Dolphin on”, so cute, so we put them on him.  He swam in on my back and didn’t even put his  masked face in the water.  DSCN3724

DSCN3742DSCN3755We climbed up the small beach and found a place to drop our snorkel gear and headed off for our hike, except we followed David—who picked the wrong trail.  We ended up at the restaurant and exit to the parking lot, where they charge an entrance fee to get back in.  We turned around and headed back down that trail, back to the beach, where we took the right trail to Devil’s Bay.  It was loads of fun wandering thru these boulders.  The Baths are like a water park, but all natural, made by volcano’s and earthquakes, rather than humans. It is amazing to explore how this part of the earth was created and the beauty we have.  We climbed up to a look out point.  At other points we crawled under boulders to get to the other side, we watched the tide wash in lots of water at once and the splash it created as it funneled thru tight spaces.  We swam thru the boulder created pools.  About an hour later we reached Devils Bay.  A beautiful sandy beach, with boulders strewn about. The surf was up and the kids had a great time playing as the water would rush up the beach and thru the boulders.   The boulders were created by a Volcano, millions of years ago.  It really is amazing and so much fun.  It is definitely a MUST DO, if you visit the BVI’s.  DSCN3783


DSCN3824It was lunch time, so David, Matthew and I hiked back thru the boulders to the beach where we left the tender.  We swam out to it and then drove around to Devil’s Bay to pick up the rest of our kids to head back to the boat for lunch.  Michael and Janae took Sydney out for lunch at the restaurant where they sampled some local cuisine.  I stayed behind on the boat to feed the baby, and put him and Alexander down for a nap.  Benjamin and I had a few rounds of UNO too.  The other kids, David, and Madison grabbed a quick lunch and then headed back to the beach to meet up with the Blood’s for more fun at the Baths.  DSCN3832




Late in the afternoon everyone returned to the boat and took a few jumps off the boat from the flybridge.  Our own version of cliff jumping.  Michael even tried out a flip.  It was then time to pull up the anchor and head to a calm anchorage for the night—Peter Island here we come!

We found a nice spot in the big calm bay of Great Harbor on Peter Island.  We dropped anchor, then settled down for the night.  We had dinner on the back deck as the sun set over the islands.  It had been a beautiful day. 





The next day we put out our trampoline for the kids to play on.  David took the kids tubing on the hot dog.  Sydney loved it! Matthew on the other hand, hated it.  We are proud of him for giving it a try! 


IMG_2595In the afternoon once the little kids were down for a nap, we loaded the older kids, Michael, and Janae in the tender, and headed out for some great snorkeling.  First stop was the Indians and the Pelicans.  Benjamin and Savannah hung out in the tender.  We brought Benjamin, just to get him out for a bit, with his collar bone broken he hadn’t left the boat in a few days, and Savannah wasn’t interested in snorkeling.  There were lots of fish and beautiful color to see in the area.  Along with lots of sea fans and soft corals.  As we loaded back into the tender, Michael pulled out his phone and laptop to get some quick work done.  We hadn’t found a great internet connection at the anchorage, and at the Indians we were just a few hundred yards from St. John—USVI, his phone quickly connected to a US AT&T tower so he could hop online and make some domestic calls.  After a few minutes of work, it was off to the next snorkel site on nearby Norman Island at the Caves.  There are a few caves to swim in and snorkel.  One goes quite deep into the island, we turned around when we got too scared from the dark, although David said he made it all the way in to the back.  There were beautiful orange and purple sponges all around and plenty of fish to watch. 



We then headed back to the boat where the kids played off the back on the trampoline.  That evening, we had a date night for dinner at the Cooper Island Beach Club, where I had a delicious tuna, Janae had snapper, and both Michael and David had the Roti—a local dish.  All of our food was delicious.  We tried a few desserts, and they were just okay.  But no worries, we had frozen Peanut Butter pie and Coconut Ice Cream on the boat for later.  IMG_2586

The next morning—our last day with our guests on board.  We offered up a few ideas for the morning, and the kids voted for more tubing time.  Even Michael joined them for a ride on the hot dog.  After a few rounds on the hotdog, they happily played on the trampoline until it was time to get ready to head to town.  They had an early flight in the morning, so they were going to take the ferry that afternoon from Roadtown, BVI to Charlotte Amalie, USVI.  This way they could clear in to customs and spend an evening touring Charlotte Amalie.  They would stay in a hotel that night and then catch their early flight to head back home.  IMG_2744


We had a great time having the Blood’s on board!  It was fun to visit with family, explore somewhere new, and watch the kids play together!  We hope they will come back again, and maybe Sam will make it next time too.IMG_2631

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