Buffing Up on the Way to Charlotte Amalie

Sunday February 1, 2015

Charlotte Amalie harbor

So I’m still on my little kick to meet up with as many of my cruising friends as possible which means I wanted to get my butt to Christmas Cove in St. John ASAP, but first we had to do that pesky thing called checking into a country.  Also, I had mail waiting for me!  Little gifts from my mom that I have been waiting months to get, such as guitar strings so I could replace the ones that have rusted off mine, and a new computer charger since at the moment I have a barely working charger and battery which means I can only use my computer when it’s plugged in, and if I move a half an inch the stupid thing shuts off on me.  Very annoying.

Since I knew Charlotte Amalie had a Post Office right in town, that’s where we decided to have our mail sent and to get ourselves checked into the country.  The sun was shinning when we got up this morning and even though it’s been said that going on the north side of St. John is a calmer passage, we wanted to take the more direct route to get to this harbor on the south side of St. Thomas.  Pulling out into ‘open waters’ again we did notice that the waves went up…from about 1 ft to 3 or 4.  After the high seas we spent way too many weeks suffering in this past six months it was child’s play and still a completely comfortable ride.

With a good 3-4 hour sail ahead of us and barley any boats to keep an eye out for anymore I decided it was high time to kick up my beauty routine once more.  The past year or so has not been very kind to my skin and partially because I probably haven’t been wearing sunscreen as much as I should.  Lesson.Learned.  Always wear a SPF 30 or higher on the face at all times and for god’s sake, me, try, oh please try, to get some of that on your arms and legs too!  Maybe if I got a sunscreen sponsor I’d be more apt to wear it every day.  Hmmm….   Any takers?

Anyway, it was time for me to get to work on fixing the damage already done.  In my arsenal I had a Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System which I then followed up with a Yes To Cucumber hydrating mask.  Finishing with a bit of my Lancôme lotion that I’ve blogged about before and still can’t speak highly enough of, I could feel my skin thanking me.  I’m sorry skin, I promise to take much better care of you in the future.

Just as I was rubbing in the last bit of revitalizing cream to my skin, the sun was traded in for clouds and it looked as if there were showers just hanging over St. Thomas.  Hanging out in the cockpit to watch the incoming weather system I took a look at the chart plotter and noticed a ship on AIS that was flashing bright meaning it was going to come too close to us.  Let me remind you that we had it set for open ocean where if a boat was going to come within two miles of you it was a cause of concern, but now that we’re in a major cruising territory we can come within 100 feet of most boats and not blink and eye.

Looking up it’s information just for fun and to see our ‘collision course’ I noticed the name of the vessel was very familiar.  Kasablanca.  Wait a second…this was the same name of a boat that left from our home port of Muskegon last year with a couple near our age on it.  I hadn’t met them before, but my friend Jackie had turned me on to their travels.  If I remembered right they were also in this area since the first mate Felicia and I had joked on Facebook about how funny it would be to maybe accidentally run into each other while there.

Hailing them on the radio we switched to a talk channel and I felt kind of silly as I asked “Is this the Kasablanca with a home port of Muskegon Michigan?”, in case I got a confused or rude No in return.  When the answer came back yes I fell into full geek mode and began rambling a mile a minute.  ”Oh my god!  This is Jessica from Serendipity!  We’re about to pass each other on a starboard tack!  So you’re in the USVI’s?  We totally need to hang out!  We can talk about cruising and about Muskegon!!”.  Yeah….  Matt just affirmed my lack of poise with a roll of the eyes as if to say ‘You’re such a dork’.  Yes I am.  Proudly so.

Jessica with face mask

s/v Kasablanca

After I found out that Felicia and Steve were headed to Christmas Cove themselves and should hopefully still be there when we arrived a few days later, I went back to watching out for boats that would come nowhere near us and zoom in on the chart as we got closer to Charlotte Amalie.  The rain showers that were hanging over St. Thomas did capture us in it’s holds until we were just about to the harbor entrance but let up just in time for us to bring the sails in and motor through the channel.

One thing I noticed straight away as we made our way in was the number of boats at anchor.  No mooring balls here.  We had been warned that it could be a little rolly in this port at times, but when we dropped the anchor and began putting the sail cover back we felt nary a ripple in the water.  Looks like it was going to be a good enough spot for the next few days at least.

That evening we enjoyed yet another beautiful Virgin Islands sunset as we took it in from the cockpit with a cocktail in hand.  As the sky grew darker the hills began to light up with homes and hotels shining in the dark blue sky. As a good beat thumped from a club on shore I settled further in my seat to enjoy the nighttime show around me. I could get very used to this life.  Why did we ever leave the Caribbean in the first place?

Charlotte Amalie harbor

Chartlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

entrance to Charlotte Amalie harbor

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2 thoughts on “Buffing Up on the Way to Charlotte Amalie

  1. Matt, Jessica, a new convert to your website. May I inquire please as to how you learned a few skills that see very important to the cruising lifestyle: navigation and weather. Where did you learn to navigate? IE: yep you can plug in coordinates to the GPS, but compass and your brain is the fallback. Am interested in the compass and brain portion. Weather? Listen to a public broadcast? access a URL? Utimately how do you decision a weather report for impact to where you want to go. IE 10 to 14 day window to get to Florida. How did you know there was a 10 day window and what the conditions would be for the 10 day window.

    Thanks very much, Mike

  2. Hi Mike! We learned both of those skills through research and good old practice. For navigation we do mostly rely on our chart plotter for showing our direction and course. We rarely navigate by the compass alone just because we haven’t had to. I actually don’t even think we could find our position without GPS unless we were near shore and there were landmarks we could match up to on a map.
    For weather we normally use Passageweather.com to get all of our wind and sea information. It gives a 7 day forecast although we know that 3 days out is really the only accurate part of it. For a long time we never had passages longer than that so it was good enough. For anything longer than that (like our Atlantic crossings) we have an SSB receiver which we would use to download forecast which would be turned into GRIB files in which we could see a surface map with pressure, wind and seas. We could download these in increments of 24, 48, and 96 hours out. This came in extremely handy on our Atlantic crossing heading east as we were able to alter our course to dodge stationary fronts and save ourselves from a lot of bad weather. We were actually the only boat that pulled into Horta without damage when we were there last year.

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