Trip report (7/13-7/23) Day nine: A Busy Day in Paradise
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Here goes another installment - and it's about time, isn't it?? I know, I know, I'm reporting on our mid-July trip and it's almost October now - my how time flies! I know it has taken awhile, but I didn't want to skip any of the details. So without further ado, here is my long-awaited day 9 report:
I was up at 5:30 this morning - well before the alarm which was set for 6:00. Today was going to be jam-packed, but also promised to be fun-filled and exciting. Our plan today called for (in this order): gather belongings and check out of the villa; move belonging to Cruz Views for the day; return rental car to Courtesy (all before 8:30 AM), meet Captain Nate at Nauti Nymph for our USVI/BVI day trip (8:30 - 4:30), retrieve belongings and check into the Tamarind Court, clean up and taxi back to the Westin in time for our sunset sail at 5:45. Whew! To me this seemed like WAY TOO MUCH to cram into one poor innocent day, especially after spending the past week on island time, but it was the way things worked out, so we would have to go with it.
I had spent some time packing up the night before, so we were in pretty good shape. All that had yet to be packed was the food, which wouldn't take too long. I wanted to be sure I would have time for coffee on the balcony one last time - sniff! 🙁
This morning a small cat was watching me from the garden below, presumably looking for a hand out. A passing shower left a beautiful rainbow in its wake - picture time! I got some nice shots of both the the rainbow and the cat. I was tempted to take the cat and go right then and there to look for that pot of gold (which would buy him a lifetime supply of kibble and me at least another week in paradise - tempting!), but alas, Captain Nate would be waiting for us...
Okay, time to get moving! We gathered the rest of our stuff, had a quick breakfast (i.e. finished up some leftovers), packed up the kitchen, slathered on the sunscreen, packed up the jeep, made one last pass through the villa, and headed out just before 8:00. First stop - drop me and the daytrip stuff (snorkel gear, cooler, towels, etc.) at the Westin lobby to check out; second stop - Cruz Views to drop the luggage, etc. at Rod & Amy's place for the day; third stop - Courtesy to return the poor car (it served us well, poor thing). And the day was off to a whirlwind start.
Hubby dropped me off at the lobby; I checked out and waited for him to return. At about 8:25 Rod pulled into the front circle of the Westin lobby and dropped hubby off so we could meet up with Captain Nate at Nauti Nymph. The last stop of the day for us would be the fuel dock in Cruz Bay, so we decided it made the most sense to park the Jeep in town so that would be within walking distance. So far, so good...
We met Nate right on time and boarded the 26' power catamaran that would be ours for the next few hours. Departed the Westin dock and motored to Cruz Bay to pick up Rod & Amy. We were underway!
The first item on the agenda was fishing, at least for the guys - I was happy to watch. The bait was 6 in. Ballyhoo wearing what looked like a fluorescent hula skirt - seriously. Hubby's fish was wearing a green skirt, and Rod's wore a pink one - there's no dignity for the poor dead fish. We trolled in US waters between Lavongo and Congo Cays. After an hour or so without any luck, the guys gave up on the fishing for awhile so we could tour the north side of St. John. Nate was good about identifying the smaller cays as we passed, as well as pointing out some of the sights, such as Kenney Chesney's place on Peter Bay, etc.
After a bit of sight-seeing, we headed to Jost Van Dyke for a break. We anchored in White Bay in front of the Soggy Dollar - guess it's time for a pain killer already! White Bay is picturesque and very laid-back. We wandered the the beach; I bought batteries for my camera a a small store, so I could keep taking pictures of absolutely everything. We wandered a bit further to Seddy's One Love where we were greeted by Seddy's children Lilly (~3) and Isaac (~2). Lilly was quite a happy to have visitors and talked to us about anything and everything. She brought out some books which Amy read to her. Isaac wasn't much of a talker yet, but did enjoy showing off his jumps from the picnic table. Seddy retrieved the kids after awhile (I think he thought they were bothering us) so we said goodbye to them and meandered back in the direction of the boat.
After leaving White Bay, we headed back to US waters where the guys made another attempt to fish. This time the only luck they had was with the Frigate birds. Frigate birds inhabit the small cays west of JVD. They are fairly intelligent and will follow fishing boats with the hope of snagging a fish, or in our case, the bait. As soon as one of the Frigate birds got its talons on a ballyhoo, it seemed as though an announcement had been made on Frigate Bird Island because the airspace above the boat was suddenly filled with circling Frigate birds. One after the next, the Frigate birds would grab one of the Ballyhoo and parasail behind the boat. Nate would gun the engine which usually caused the bird to drop the fish. This gave another Frigate Bird a chance to try. After flying a few bird-kites behind the boat, the guys decided it would be best to give up on the fishing for the time being. They reeled in what remained of the hula-skirted bait, but it took awhile longer for the Frigate birds to finally give up and leave us alone.
All the excitement left us hungry, so we decided to clear customs and have lunch at Foxy's. We docked in Great Bay and were met by a small peg-legged dog who showed us the way to Foxy's - quite a welcome! As captain of our vessel, Nate had the authority to clear customs for us, so we placed his lunch order with ours so that it would be ready when he arrived, which was only about 10-15 minutes later. Nate seemed to be a Foxy's regular; the staff and the other charter crews all knew him. I guess if you have been doing this regularly for eight years, people get to know you. Nate told us he moved to from Vermont to St. Thomas right after his high school graduation and has been enjoying every minute ever since. He commutes to work on St. John in his own boat and thoroughly enjoys being a Captain. I'm thinking that beats I-495 by a long shot!
For lunch Amy had a grouper sandwich, hubby and Nate had chicken salad, and Rod and I had the chicken roti - all were very good. We all (except Nate) had some of Foxy's beer (brewed on the premises) as well - Lager and Mutt Brown, both excellent especially if you're a fan of microbrew. We hung at Foxy's for awhile, checked out the gift shop, made the obligatory t-shirt and hat purchases, and took in the sights. Hubby wandered around back (looking for the brewery, no doubt) and happened upon Foxy. They had a lively conversation on the state of the world, etc. Hubby said Foxy is an interesting man.
We left Foxy's at about 2:30 and made a beeline to the Caves for some snorkeling. I don't think it took more than 20 minutes from Great Bay to the Caves in that boat - and what a smooth ride it was. When we arrived, a Limnos charter was already there. Nate looked at his watch and said that they'd be blowing the whistle in a few minutes and then most of the people would leave. He was right - within 10 minutes we had the Caves practically to ourselves. The snorkeling was quite good there as always. We snorkeled until about 3:45. At that time we had a choice to make before heading back - either a very quick visit to the Willie T, or one more chance to catch a fish (hopefully without our winged friends this time). The guys opted to fish, so out went the hula-fish for one last attempt. We trolled along the south side of St. John. We passed Ram's Head and the Lameshurs and were heading toward Reef Bay, Rod finally got a bite! He reeled and reeled and reeled... he must have had a half-mile of line out. Finally we got a glimpse of the fish - a 1.5 ft. Jack. Rod was just tickled, even though Mr. Jack would have to go back after the Kodak moment. I took a few pics, we said goodbye to Mr. Jack, and headed to Cruz Bay Harbor to refuel.
It was 4:45 when we arrived at the fuel dock. We thanked Nate, collected our belongings, and walked to the car. Hubby and I had 45 minutes to pick up our luggage at Cruz Views, check into Tamarind Court, clean up, catch a a taxi to the Westin, and board our sunset cruise. It would be a rush, but I think we can make it if we try.
Rod dropped me off at Tamarind Court so I could check into the room, then he ran hubby back to Cruz Views to get the luggage. The office was closed, but check-in was incredibly easy since they left our key in an envelope which was pinned to the bulletin board outside the door. I went to the room and waited for hubby to return. We had the first room around the corner from the courtyard on the laundromat side (can't remember the number). It seemed small after living in a villa for a week, but actually the room was fairly good-sized. The bathroom was a bit on the small side and could use updating, but would be fine for a couple of nights - after the accommodations we had for the week, I was spoiled.
I stood in the doorway watching for Rod to return hubby with my suitcase. I waited and waited... What on earth was taking them so long??? It was 5:15 and I still had to get cleaned up. I couldn't even shower because hubby wouldn't be able to get into the room if I did. So I waited. Finally at 5:20 Rod pulled up. Hubby hopped out of the car fully dressed and ready to go! He had showered at Rod & Amy's after a quick dip in the pool! And here's the icing on the cake: He asked me why I wasn't ready yet! "Because I didn't have shampoo or clothes and you wouldn't have been able to get into the room if I had been in the shower!" Ugghhhh!!!!
I grabbed my stuff and took what was the fastest shower of my life I'm sure. I ran a comb through my dripping wet hair, threw on clothes and flip flops (luckily it doesn't take much to get ready to go out down in the islands), and we ran out to find a taxi to the Westin. As soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk, we saw a taxi coming down the street - thankfully! He dropped us at the front circle of the Westin at 5:40; we had 5 minutes to get to the dock - it looked like we were going to make it!
We boarded the Island Spirit, a 62 foot catamaran painted a very patriotic red white and blue, at 5:43 (whew!). We were the last passengers to board, but we made it. We set sail almost immediately, Hors d'oeuvres and an open bar were provided and I felt myself slipping right back into island time. Ahhhh!
We sailed out into the Pillsbury Sound, made a wide counter-clockwise circle, stopped and drifted as the sun set behind St. Thomas, and then we slowly made our way back to the Westin dock. It was a nice, relaxing way to end a very busy day. Thank you Dana and crew!
We taxied back into town (Woody's again, go figure), got a drink to go, and strolled around town for a bit looking for a quick bite. We ended up back at Woody's - for some reason seafood fritters and shark bites sounded good to both of us. At about 9:00, Dana and crew showed up and we thanked them for an enjoyable cruise. We meandered back to the Tamarind shortly after 10:00 after a very very busy, but extremely enjoyable day in paradise.
Ya know, this slow-roll of Trip reporting is working. It keeps the reports coming. Although, *some of us* have planned, visited for the better part of a month, returned, written and pubished reports and are planning our next return in the time it has taken yo uto get through this ...(scream with laughter!).
The hula skirts on the fish was hilarious. The parasailing frigates sound like something that your pain-killers caused for you. And, your hubby taking a pool dip and a shower while you waited patiently for him and worried sound oh-so-typical!
Please share how much you spent on Nauti Nymph, incl gas. I chartered one of their boats, captn incl, about 6 yrs back and it ran about $550. I wonder how much more it is now. I would love to do it again!
Keep 'em coming - slooooowly, of course. Maybe I'll read the next one over Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂
I know, I know, it hasn't been exactly timely, but I'm getting there - I think subconsciously I'm resisting completion as a way of hanging on... I have to admit, it is fun to go back, read my notes and refreshen my memory 🙂 And Blu, I won't forget to include the appropriate holiday greeting in my next report, whatever that may be 😉
You should have seem me laugh when I first saw the hula-fish; the guys looked at me as though I had 3 heads. - "Come on, don't you know anything about fishing???". A couple of cool cucumbers, they were (I'm sure they were laughing on the inside though). And those frigates are pretty agressive - and smart! (of course I laughed during that whole ordeal as well).
We paid exactly $550 for the boat & captain, but gas I'm not sure about, as Rod put that on his card. I suppose gas can vary anyway, but I wish I could at least tell you how many gallons we burned; hubby might know - I'll ask...
Ok, thanks. I am guessing that your gas ran about $200-$250. Ours was just over $100 when we did it - when gas was much cheaper than it is today. That would bring the charter up to about $800 plus tip. Thanks - that's what I was looking for.