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I am back on the mainland and blogging from Seattle with South Austin in the rearview mirror. Don't worry Virgin Island fans, I will most certainly be back in the Caribbean for visits if not full-time. And I'm sure St. Thomas will creep it's way into many future posts. For now, it's all about living in the Pacific Northwest!

September 23, 2010

Hurricane Schmurricane ?!?

This post is courtesy of the Rhoadster who is currently "livin" the dream in St. Thomas! 
Thanks for the images (and the pics too)!

So recently here in the northern Caribbean we had this little thing to contend with known as a "hurricane" -- in particular, one named, somewhat benignly, Earl. I think that's a name that should be reserved for grandfathers, rednecks, and bait shops, but hey, I don't make the rules.

In preparation for Earl, we were forced to abandon our wind-tunnel-esque anchorage in lovely Elephant Bay, St. Thomas, and head up the channel to Virgin Gorda. There we tied up in the marina, which is located in the capital city of Spanish Town. The actual commercial district of Spanish Town comprises pretty much... well, the marina. It's not what you'd call a happening place. For two days we sat around, tightened lines, and watched the wind whip through the palm trees.    

Oh, and I got very drunk once because there was not much else to do. During the storm one tree lost its top and the marina convenience store lost its sign, but other than that, Earl appeared to have lived up to its non-threatening name.
And that was the general concensus of everyone in the marina and what we continued to believe until we left and headed up to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda two days after Earl. The North Sound is a relatively small body of water, but still home to such well-known yachting destinations as The Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, Biras Creek, and Leverick Bay Resort. As we made our final turn into the sound, between Mosquito and Prickly Pear Islands, we thought, "Hmmm.... seems pretty quiet..." We did a loop around the Sound and noticed first that the one establishment on Prickly Pear Island appeared to have been destroyed by Earl. Then we noticed that the dock at Saba Rock was ... submerged, shall we say. Then we noticed that the docks at Bitter End were either gone completely or underwater, and there was the added bonus of an entire sailboat sitting up on the seawall. That could not have been planned.  


After our initial loop around North Sound, we opted to grab a mooring ball off Vixen Point, Prickly Pear Island. There was literally NO ONE ELSE AROUND. Not one boat, not one person. At night we could hear the generators running at Bitter End, but there were no actual people to be seen. It was, to say the least, eerie. Leverick Bay opened a few days later and even served food, but there was no one else there but us, the bartender, and one local guy.  

About four days into our stay, an 80-foot powerboat cruised in to the North Sound. Since the decal on the stern proudly boasted its San Juan birthright, it was no surprise that with NO ONE ELSE AROUND, this giant boat full of Ricans picked up the mooring ball RIGHT NEXT TO OURS. Never mind that vessels over 60 feet generally are too large for mooring balls. Never mind that there were, oh, only about 25 others to choose from in that particular anchorage that would not have placed their boat on top of ours. These Ricans were determined to be neighbors, even though they never actually talked to us. They spent a couple of hours swinging haphazardly around, and Ben spent this time waiting for the inevitable crash of their boat into ours. Finally, they swung a little too close for comfort and opted to leave.
What is this line attache to?

Apparently, we were wrong. They were there for much more than a beach barbeque. They were also there to loot beer from the storeroom at the abandoned (and decimated) beach bar on Prickly Pear Island. I guess they figured no one else was going to drink it...? Around 5 p.m., hamburgers devoured, they grabbed two cases of Presidente from the back storeroom, pulled their stern anchor on board, and took off. Where in the hell they were going at that time of day, I have no idea. All they left behind was footprints in the sand and the odor of greasy, Taco Bell-grade beef. Ah, life in paradise...
One week after arriving in the North Sound, we headed back down to Spanish Town to do some work on the boat. My feelings about Hispanic and Asian cultures having been confirmed -- neither one has any respect whatsoever for personal space -- I think I will be steering clear of Puerto Rico as much as possible in the future. You can't get much further from PR than Virgin Gorda and still be in the Virgin Islands. Maybe next time we'll hide out in the only further place, Anegada.

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