New Year's EveDecember 31, 2016 in British Virgin Islands
Happy New Year to you all!!!
Our sail back from Vieques proved uneventful, long and windy. Windseeker showed her weakness in windward sailing, and her strength under motor. St Thomas grew on the horizon and soon enough we made landfall. We picked up groceries, two humans and more distaste for the wasteful consumerism that rots America and it's colonies.
There is no recycling on the islands, rubbish is rubbish. There are very few water refill stations (you're expected to buy more plastic). Packaging is excessive. Bars serve disposible glasses only. Cars are oversized and boisterously loud. It's such a shame to see this unsustainable behaviour and even worse to be forced to be a part of it.
Cat and Dave were welcomed aboard swiftly at a much calmer Red Hook, St Thomas. They'd met up in the airport prior and bussed to meet us, it was great to see them! We were again racing the sun, only this time for a change we had both started at the same time. A beer, a rope tow and another delightful evening in paradise later, we made Great Harbour, JVD.
It was packed like I've never seen a harbour before. As the saying goes, it was worth writing home about - so I will. Picture a bite from a sandwich, a deep one. Scale it up to the size of a downtown block. Fill it with water and throw in around 150 boats. Ranging from about 25 to 200 feet long. That was Great Harbour on NYE. If you thought watching boats launching at boat ramps provided entertainment, think again. Punter after punter, idly threading the needle between millions on millions of dollars worth of boat. Anchor chains crossed, anchors dragged, channels were blocked, swing paths interlinked like a venn diagram on crack and exchanges of profanities and bitter faces became increasingly common as the anchorage congested. Dinghys, ferries, paddleboards, kayaks, swimmers and inflatable swans were also par for the course on a venture from the yacht.
We found ourselves a spot, in 50 feet of water and hooked in amoungst the chaos, anxiously watching the proximity of our neighbours at each turn of the wind. We wined and dined and entertained ourselves with the abundant shenanigans around us.
The next day, after a slow start, I was fortunate enough to get to visit my friends at customs again. I was hoping for some smooth sailing, 'scuse the pun, as there were heaps of people to clear, not much time to do it, and it was the festive season after all. Painstakingly, this was not the case. After waiting 20 minutes, they told us all to come back later as they had to leave to go to the ferry terminal and clear in ferry passengers. Glad to get out of the hustle, and with permission to go ashore, we resumed our day.
Later that afternoon, I returned and was greeted with more incompetence. During a previous immigration, customs had written the wrong boat name on my passport stamp. Somehow Scotty and Jools who had arrived on the same boat, had been given the correct name. After explaining our story to three seperate agents (two of whom were wrong), completing a whole new set of papers, waiting in line four times, I finally got our stamps. Turns out all I really needed was a bottle of bubbles and a home cooked Christmas cake, as was proven by several others during my wait.
Alas, the last day of 2016 was rapidly disappearing (as did the other 364 of them) and there was yet much fun to be had. Rapidly disappear it did, as the afternoons swimming and snorkelling blurred into cocktails, beers, bubbles, roast chicken (credit: Scotty), and several rounds of liars dice as all real pirates would.
Arriving ashore at Jost was impressive. Bars and restuarants overflowed onto the beach, dinghy docks three abreast, all kinds of dress up outfits, all kinds of crazy people, a stage and temporary concert area - the place was the buzzing! The rest of the night stays on tour but we'll have you know we woke up next morning and still had five crew aboard. Great success!Read more