Of all of the things I should be doing to recover from being gone for a week blogging is not one of them, but I just can't resist posting a few pictures and journaling about the trip we just returned from. It was amazing! We hope to do it again someday and hope that our friends will be able to do it too so while I can still remember where we went, here is my best attempt to journal the experience.
On Thursday the 24th of July we took a redeye flight to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. We began the trip with our friends Shawn and Lisa and spent two nights in St. Thomas. Unfortunately we lost our camera after the first few days so our pictures in St. Thomas are currently limited, but we had a great time. We ate some of the best food we have ever tasted at Glady's Cafe, Cuzzin's Caribbean Restaurant, and Hook, Line, and Sinker. We stayed at a quant little bed and breakfast called the Green Iguana. I couldn't believe all of the Iguana's we saw all over the island. They were so big I would almost call them dragons.
The first night we enjoyed the sunset on Magen's Bay.
We toured the Island in our cute little Jeep Wrangler.
We saw some fantastic views of the Virgin Islands from the mountaintops. It is amazing how close together the islands are. At any given time on the trip you could see islands in every direction.
While in St. Thomas we snorkeled at Coki Beach, which is where Josh and I learned that 45 minutes in the sun without sunscreen is way too long. Needless to say I applied 50 sunscreen over every exposed part of my body at least twice a day for the rest of the trip. We sang Karaoke on Saturday night at Iggies Beach Bar.
We learned to appreciate the price of groceries here in the states as we shopped for provisions on the boat. For a gallon of milk it was $8 just to give you an idea. One thing we don't get here in Utah is fresh mango's and banana's growing on the wayside which we took occasion to pick and eat. It is ironic that Josh would work to get a banana sense he doesn't even like them, but I think it was the adventure he liked.
We also found coconuts off of a beach. Josh put his determination to work and got this one husked and amazingly it even tasted awesome.
We attended the small branch on Sunday morning and were total inspired by the faith of the saints on the island. Following church we loaded our catamaran, The Moon Shadow, for five nights of sailing. Just in case you don't know what a catamaran is following is a picture of ours. Ours is 42 feet sailboat (with two motors if you don't want to sail). Ours slept 10 and we had it almost maxed out with three other couples (our long time friends Dave and Erica, Shawn and Lisa, and Spencer and Amy) and our skipper, Daniel. Sunday afternoon we left St. Thomas for our first destination on St. John.
On our way to Leinster Bay, where we anchored the first night, our Skipper/Caption Daniel stopped at his favorite Lobster hole and caught us an all you can eat fresh lobster dinner. The size of these lobsters would put any Maine lobster I have ever seen to shame. They were unbelievably large. You can see in this picture that they spanned almost the entire dingy.
Having Daniel as our Caption proved to be a highlight of the trip. His expertise of the islands was impressive. He has been a skipper for nine years. Also, being the son of two scientist, having grown up in the Virgin Islands, exploring the islands with his parents on weekends, he knew the in's and out's of every stop. He also has a master’s degree in marine biology. Snorkeling with him was like entering an underwater petting zoo. We snorkeled almost every day and he would bring up creatures of the sea that we would have never seen. We saw sharks on occasion and he took the opportunity to pull on their tail so that we could see them swim away. He taught us the difference between "good" and "bad" jelly fish. We even gained the courage to pet the "good" ones, but always preferred not to run into them by surprise.
Unfortunately, none of us had an underwater camera to capture the snorkeling experience, but take my word for it - it was the best I have ever experienced.
Monday morning before leaving Leinster Bay we went on a hike and explored an old sugar mill. It was fascinating and beautiful. We picked fresh key lime's for the trip and some other local fruit that Dave called Gobstoppers and the rest of us referred to as snot covered balls, natives call them genips. (They don't taste bad, and they don't taste good, it is the texture that got most of us.)
Sugar Mill Picture to be added shortly.
We spent the afternoon at a beautiful white sand beach at Sandy Cay. Everyone, except me, enjoyed an intense game of ultimate Frisbee. I enjoyed bobbing weightlessly in the water while they ran their legs off on the beach. Then Daniel taught us a beach game of his childhood, NASCAR Racing. It is played by creating a track in the sand with obstacles. Then you use a round nut and flick it through the track. Dave was the winner by a landslide. You can see our well designed track in the picture below.
We spent that night at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands and headed off Tuesday morning for Guana Island where Josh and Shawn scuba dove and the rest of us snorkeled.
We ended that day at Spanish Town of Virgin Gorda where we filled our water storage and got a few provisions. Up to this point we had not even been around other people. We had been eating on the catamaran and sticking too secluded island gems.
Wednesday morning we were just a stones throw from The Baths, which was a highlight of the trip for some of us. Daniel was up making us a pancake breakfast before dawn and we were to the baths by about 6:30 in the morning. We left at about 10:00 just as people began to arrive. It was awesome to be there by ourselves. The baths are a geographical phenomenon where house size granite boulders come up to the sea creating beautiful pools. As always Daniel showed us things we would have never found on our own. He took us to a spot where we could jump from a bolder into the ocean and then swim under a tiny hole in the rocks. I was going to abstain from this activity as Daniel joked I may have plugged the small hole that you would swim though to get back onto the trail. I did prove him wrong by swimming through to see everyone jump, but I didn't feel a need to jump myself.
There were some tight squeezes for my big belly, but I was able to participate in everything at the baths except a hike that I understand was so scary jumping from bolder to bolder that I probably would not have liked it anyway. There is just no way for pictures to do justice to how big or how beautiful this place was.
It was worth the time spent sailing to see the Baths!
After leaving The Baths we set sail for Norman Island where we had one of our two meals off of the boat. We went to Willy T's a floating ship for burgers. It was a fun atmosphere, and a few of us jumped off the second floor of the ship into the bay. The awesome part of Norman Island and a highlight for me was snorkeling in and around the caves that inspired Robert Lewis Stevenson’s, Treasure Island. The snorkeling was unbelievable and the fish flocked to the bread and granola bars we brought with us.
Our final full day of sailing took us from Norman Island to Honeymoon Beach on St. John via the Indians and, against the council of Daniel, Trunk Bay. (Trunk Bay was beautiful but much more crowded than the other bays we had been too which is why Daniel advised against it.) We did capture some beautiful pictures at Trunk Bay. You can see our catamaran in the background.
The Indian's were the best snorkeling spot of all for some with breathtaking rock walls covered with coral and only accessible via boat. Staying at Honeymoon Beach we were a short dingy ride from Cruise Bay where we had dinner at the Lime Inn.
Nothing Like nine adults in a little overloaded dingy. The poor thing got us around.
Friday morning some of the group went for one last snorkel run while the rest of us took a last opportunity to sleep in. (We woke up early every other morning.) We returned our catamaran to CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) Charters by 10:00 in the morning ate in St. Thomas and prepared for a very long trip home.
Each day we had time on the boat while we were sailing. Some people had to concentrate to avoid getting sick, but others of us found great ways to entertain ourselves.
The more adventursome found that they could get a huge lift from the waves as they jumpped on the tramp on the front of the boat.
Each night we mixed drinks (virgin of course) while we played cards and visited. We were surprised by how early it gets dark, but it was fun to socialize on the boat after dark. As you can see inside the boat was small for Josh, but he coped well.
What can I say; it was the trip of a lifetime! If you are interested in seeing a map of where we went and different pictures you can go to Erica's blog at http://ericalow.blogspot.com/. I love her perspective.