June 7, 2015
VIPs Kay, Olivia, Capt. Mark, Timmy, and Claire
This mommy was happy to have her “little” girl in her arms—or was it the other way around?
Good times are guaranteed with this smile around!
May 19-27 were special days for the crew of Nancy Lu! Our daughter, Claire, and her two friends, Kay and Olivia, were VIP (Very Important Persons) on board Nancy Lu for a VIP (Virgin Islands Playground) VIP (Vacation in Paradise)! We had fun fulfilling our respective roles as Captain, Crew, Cruise Director, and Cook with a little bit of Mommy and Daddy mixed in. All of the girls were already veterans to Nancy Lu when they joined us at Red Hook, St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands (USVI). Claire spent 9 months aboard Nancy Lu between high school graduation and her freshman year at Baylor, as well as summer vacation after her freshman year of university. Kay had visited Nancy Lu in the Bahamas twice, and Olivia had visited Nancy Lu once in Maine!
I was thrilled to greet them when they all arrived by dinghy late on a rainy afternoon. Thank goodness, that was the only rain we had to deal with the whole time they were with us other than showers in the middle of a few nights and once as a welcome refreshment on the way back down from a 2 mile, uphill hike on St. John. Back home in Texas was a different story—major flooding the whole week they were here!
As soon as we dropped the mooring we’d “borrowed” in Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI while we waited on the girls to arrive, we headed over to Hawksnest Bay, St. John, USVI. I fed the girls a dinner of what Olivia calls a “Mrs. Kathy Classic”, Tuna Salad Polynesian. These girls are good eaters, so it was a joy to feed them the whole time they were here. We ate dinner out only once. My menus included some old “Mrs. Kathy Classics” (MKC) and some “New Mrs. Kathy Classics” (NMKC): Chicken Salad with Grapes and Almonds (MKC), Eggs in a Ham Cup (NMKC), Grilled Teriyaki Pork Chops and Bananas (NMKC), Mexican Caviar (MKC), Mom’s Spaghetti (MKC), Quinoa Enchilada Casserole (NMKC), Teriyaki Turkey Burgers (MKC), BBQ chicken with Homemade Potato Salad (MKC), and Turkey Chili over Rice (NMKC). Kay and Olivia jumped on my daily-breakfast-bandwagon of yogurt, fruit, and uncooked oatmeal—what I call YO&O, which I look forward to eating EVERY morning!
Oh, and for their last lunch aboard Nancy Lu, while moored at Christmas Cove, Great St. James Island, USVI we treated the girls to PIZZA from Pizza Pi!! It’s run by two transplanted NY, NY Chicks, and is open for business in Christmas Cove on most week days from 11am to sunset! Kay, the newly graduated Suma Cum Laude math major and soon-to-be high school math teacher liked the name! She dinghied over with Capt. Mark to order our pizza.
We didn’t spend much time at our intended first overnight stop, Hawksnest Bay, St. John, USVI due to the ridiculous amount of roll caused by a north swell tossing us from side to side. We ended up dropping our mooring after dark and motoring over a few bays to Francis Bay with me standing at the bow shining a flashlight ahead, scanning for obstacles in the water. After we got moored there, the girls giggled and shrieked like children as they shined the flashlight in the clear water and attracted dozens of huge tarpon with their eyes glowing ORANGE in the light while they were feeding on little sea creatures and flying bugs that were also attracted to the flashlight. The shrieks came when the tarpon occasionally jumped out of the water after the bugs. This was not the only night for “flashlight-fishing”! On another occasion, while moored on the south side of St. John, USVI, the girls attracted not only bugs and tarpon, but also BATS—more shrieks and giggles! At first, Livie was as much into the fun out on the deck as Kay and Claire were, watching what they all thought were birds swooping close to Nancy Lu. As soon as they figured out the winged, swooping creatures were actually bats, Olivia was down in the cabin lickety-split!!! About that time Claire exclaimed to Kay,“We’re pretty much attracting ALL the Virgin Island wildlife to our boat for dinner!” -Fun times! Part of what makes St. John, USVI special is the fact that two-thirds of it is maintained and preserved as a US National Park.
The girls’ first morning “wake up call” at Francis Bay was Mark alerting them to the fact that there was a big sea turtle right beside the boat! All the girls came running to see. Kay didn’t have to run far since she slept out in the cockpit the first night of the girls’ VIP (Vacation in Paradise) and a couple other nights to take full advantage of the stars overhead!
After our first snorkeling trip to nearby Whistling Cay in our VIP (Virgin Island Playground) and a post-snorkeling lunch served on the bow, we moved Nancy Lu over to Cinnamon Bay, St. John, USVI. There, we dinghied ashore and
explored the ruins (I don’t know how we missed most of what there was to see when we were there with UNO and Glass Slipper, but there was so much more to see, including a sugar mill manager’s home), we got smoothies at the Cinnamon Bay Camp Grounds’ restaurant,
we saw some wild life, I checked out the really good little museum housed in a plantation greathouse near the beach,
and we all relaxed on the beach before snorkeling our way back to Nancy Lu, escorted by Mark in the dinghy.
Everything was color-coded for the girls’ VIP (Vacation in Paradise). Olivia had green everything (towels to water-bottles), Kay had blue, and Claire had pinkish—It just worked out that way; I’m not OCD or anything!
What do over 21 year old adults do after they’ve had a rum smoothie? …Build sandcastles with their cups, of course!!
Focus, Claire, focus.
The adults who DIDN’T get rum in their smoothies
An artistic shot…Claire never really got into the sandcastle building.
Later, we moved Nancy Lu over to Leinster Bay and had dinner. That was it for the first day of the girls’ VIP (Vacation in Paradise)!
While the girls watched a movie that first night,
I started making these. They’re nature journals!! I finished them the next morning before breakfast and gave them to the girls…I just can’t help myself (I’m a teacher at heart).
The second day in this VIP(Virgin Island Playground) included hiking up the Johnny Horn Trail to the Murphy House ruins at Leinster Bay, St. John,USVI and taking advantage of great photo opportunities! It’s easy to imagine Elizabeth Swann from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” looking out over the sea from this house!
Livie can only take so much posing for pictures…but these two…
After the hike up to the ruins and taking a million pictures,
we snorkeled! The girls had their first experience swimming with a sea turtle here—so exciting!! That was definitely a bucket list check-off for them. I wonder if they recorded it in their nature journals, hmm… I should have checked!
Later, that second day, we sailed over to Soper’s Hole, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI), checked in with customs and immigration, and did a little souvenir shopping… and picture taking, of course! We sailed off our mooring at Soper’s Hole and on to Jost Van Dyke, BVI…
where the girls ended the day with their first game of Rummikub on their VIP(Vacation in Paradise)…What’s with the face, Olivia? It looks like you’re winning…Oh yeah, she’s not that into posing for pictures, and sometimes this is what you get instead of a smile!
The highlights of the third day of the girl’s VIP(Vacation in Paradise) and fun in their VIP( Virgin Island Playground) was a hike up to the bubbly pool at Jost Van Dyke, BVI and
a night out for dinner and dancing at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI. This is at Myett’s.
We started out the fourth day in this VIP(Virgin Island Playground) with a sail to Monkey Point, BVI for some snorkeling! Then it was on to Trellis Bay, Tortola, BVI to visit Aragorn’s Studio and Art Center (There are a bunch of pictures of it in my last blog post. I was glad that the girls liked Aragorn’s as much as I thought they would. In fact, that was true of everywhere we took them! Each new place became someone’s favorite!
On the way to Trellis Bay, Claire and Kay played a little Checkers with the homemade Checkers set that my sister-in-law, Judy, made us for Christmas!
We also had a little internet time and refreshments at De Loose Mongoose at Trellis Bay, Tortola, BVI.
I posted this selfie on facebook that day!
The fifth day of our VIP(Very Important Persons’) VIP(Vacation in Paradise) was unforgettable with a trip, first thing in the morning, to The Baths on Virgin Gorda, BVI! Huge house-sized boulders form pools, tunnels and caves to explore.
We all went snorkeling at The Baths, and it was awesome. As you look out toward the deeper water, the huge boulders that you see are “just the tip of the iceberg”. We could see the whole thing snorkeling! The snorkeling was awesome when we went a little bit beyond the beaten path. That’s the beauty of being your own cruise director on your own boat!
After lunch, Kay and Claire did a little more snorkeling off of Nancy Lu at her mooring…
…while Livie relaxed with her kindle!
That night, we anchored at Haul Over Bay at Cooper Island, BVI. It was just as rolly as the first time we anchored there, but we had no choice—all the moorings were taken at Manchioneel Bay in front of the beach resort, and there was no room to anchor, oh well.
The sixth day of the girls’ VIP(Vacation in Paradise) was chocked full of adventures!! We got up early and traveled to the site of the wreck of the RMS Rhone, an English mail ship that sank in 1867 (think RMS Titanic, but smaller—330ft.). It is touted as one of the 2 best dive sites in the BVI. Even for mere snorkelers, It was awesome! There were SCUBA divers there while we were snorkeling, and it was fun to swim in their bubbles! This was the first time since we’ve been cruising that I thought SCUBA diving might have more to offer than snorkeling. There was so much to see of the wreck and lots of sea creatures, coral, and fish!
Next, we went to Road Town, Tortola, BVI so Captain Mark could check us out of the BVI while I got lunch ready.
After lunch, we sailed to the Indians (so named because these rocks look like an Indian headdress—maybe if you squint?) to snorkel at the other best dive site in the BVI. It did not disappoint, either!
We sailed off our mooring at the Indians and on to Great Lameshure Bay at the south side of St. John, USVI where we picked up another mooring.
This is a little bit of an off-the-beaten-path-destination, and a place we loved when we chartered sailboats here years ago! It was great to be back, and it was just as beautiful as we remembered it! I’ve already described the shenanigans with the tarpons and bats that took place our first night here. The girls and Mark also played some Rummikub that night.
The next morning, we took a 2 mile hike up to the petraglyphs—pre-Columbian (as in Columbus) carvings in rock done by the Taino Indians. I had been looking forward to this hike; it is something that I enjoyed doing when we chartered years ago! There are old 18th or 19th century rock walls along the trails once used to terrace the hills for planting sugarcane and so many other interesting things to see!
I know I wasn’t supposed to take anything but pictures….but there were so MANY along the trail….and I Ioved it so much…His name is Little John and he loves his little home that I knitted for him!
Nature is providing Livie a little fun along the way!
We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go!
A wrong turn along the trail took us to the ruins of the Reef Bay Plantation great house. I later researched and found out that it had been partially renovated by the National Park Service in 1994.
Another wrong trail that only I ventured down took me to these beautiful sights. I also saw a deer jump over the wall, but I wasn’t quick enough with the camera!
I soon made it back to the correct trail, and met up with this girl!
It took us over 2 hours to get to the petraglyphs. It’s a strenuous hike, but we made it!
On the way back, Mark found something(some rather large pink panties) that he chose to be a good citizen and carry out to dispose of properly…the girls gave him a little bit of a hard time (ewwww!) about it, but I was proud of him!
We’ve still got a ways to go to get back to Nancy Lu, but the little rain shower cooled us off!
The whole endeavor took about 3 hours!
We were tired and hungry for lunch when we got back, but that didn’t stop us from snorkeling later that evening!
Mark and I got up at about 5:00 the next morning, the girls’ last day of their VIP(Virgin Island Playground), VIP(Vacation in Paradise), and motor-sailed to Cruz Bay, back on the north side of St. John so that we could be at US Customs there at 7:00 to check back into the US. We then sailed on to our last stop with the girls—Christmas Cove, Great St. James Island, USVI, very close to St. Thomas from where the girls would depart Nancy Lu. The fun wasn’t over yet, though. We had until about 2:45 before we had to dinghy the girls about 4 miles over to Red Hook to catch a Safari (a $1 bus) into town where we would then get a taxi for them to the airport—Plenty of time for some SNORKELING!!
I was excited to introduce the girls to the turtles (Green Turtles) and Spotted Eagle Rays that I knew live here! We found them! There were actually 3 spotted eagle rays!
I must confess that I’ve come to see myself as somewhat of a snorkeling guide. This new identity was more fully realized having the girls to snorkel with every day, showing them the different creatures that I’ve learned about in
these two awesome books that Mark bought me, and I actually nerdily study before bed some nights! I’m kidding about the snorkel guide thing…well…yeah, I’m kidding, but since I don’t have the girls to snorkel with anymore, I can’t help but point out things that I see to anyone who happens to be near me. Like the other day, I was snorkeling around a woman who was part of a tour group that had been dropped off at Honeymoon Beach in Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI. I came upon 4 cute little squid and asked her if she’d seen them. She hadn’t, so I pointed them out to her and dove down and made them change colors for her. Then I couldn’t resist asking her if she’d ever seen the little tube worms that look like Christmas trees or flowers. I told her that if you cause a little disturbance in the water by them with your fin, they’ll suck back into their tube (it always makes me giggle). She said she hadn’t, so I told her I’d see if I could find some—they’re everywhere. I found some and did a little demonstration. She loved it, and thanked me—so satisfying for an aspiring professional snorkeling guide like me!
Back to the VIP(Very Important persons) at the end of their VIP(Vacation in Paradise)—Well, after snorkeling and pizza from Pizza Pi, it was time to get the girls started on their journey home.
While they packed, I made some of the treasures that they had found into anklets for them to wear as a remembrance of their time with us in this VIP(Virgin Island Playground), and we left Nancy Lu to help them on their way back home!
Mark and I still miss them! They were a JOY to have on Nancy Lu!!!
I’ll close this blog post with some pictures of some awesome underwater creatures. One of these days we’ll figure out how to get video on here:
Brain Coral with two little Christmas Tree Tube Worms living on it. See that white dot to the right on the Brain Coral…That’s a tube worm that has sucked himself back in his tube, hehehe.
This picture was taken at Henley Cay after the girls left—lots of healthy coral there! See the Blue Tang swimming among the coral.
Hello Mr. Parrot Fish!
Star Coral with a little tube worm on the left that looks like a white and pinkish flower!
Sea Fan Coral
More star coral with some little Christmas Tree Tube Worms…I SO have the urge to wave my fin in front of them to watch them slurp themselves in.
Another good picture of a Stop light Parrot Fish
The purple (well it was purple in real life—it looks more blue in the photo) tube looking creature is a Turncate, but the flower looking thing next to it is a tube worm. the mustard colored coral with white tips is Fire Coral.
Last but not least: I love swimming with the sea turtles!!