Wild Horses is over 20 years old now and with constant moving (and bouncing through waves and swells), new problems seem to come out of the woodwork far too often. Most times these are small issues and quicky fixed. Other times, not so much. In St. Thomas, USVI, we took a mental inventory of the current woes of Wild Horses.
Yeesh. We knew some of these issues could only be fixed once we could get to a proper marine store in St. Martin. But, for many of the problems, we still had to troubleshoot the cause. Time to call in our boat buddies! Dave (Indigo Lady) is a retired physics teacher and Barry (Caretta) is an electrician by trade. Talk about a dream team! Slowly but surely Dave, Barry and Mike worked together to resolve most of our boat issues.
Their successes include:
The biggest issue, and the most challenging for our dream team, was finding the stray electrical current that was depleting our engine zinc. The solution to these types of issues is usually found using a process of elimination. With a multi-meter, you test wire after wire, connection after connection, until you finally find the stray current. Yikes! There are a lot of wires on Wild Horses – this could take awhile. Thankfully, Mike had a good starting point. We had been having a weird buzzing noise with our water temperature alarm since the Bahamas. Could that be part of the problem? The guys set to work, poring over the electrical schematic for Wild Horses and getting their hands into the circuitry with multi-meters and jumper cables. Watching these guys work the problem was incredible. And, after six hours + missing lunch + many litres of sweat (it was hot!) + a hundred or so engine tests, they found the problem. Let me yell that from the mountaintops - they found the problem! Or, rather, the TWO problems. Problem #1 was a faulty trip breaker and, very close beside it, was problem #2, a burnt connection wire. The burned wire was likely a second victim of our engine issue back in Canada. Wow. I mean, wow.
These guys are incredible and forever in our debt. While thanking them, their response was “but this is what boaters do, help each other” and it is true. Our community is always there for each other. Always. And that is what makes this community so special. We just happen to have a few of the star players in this community as great friends 😉.
And, yes, if you were keeping track, our anchor light issue remains unresolved, but we will get to it. It is just lower on the priority scale. Until fixed, we will just keep our eye on “blinky”.
Even with all the boat fixes, we are still having a grand time and fitting in some pretty cool adventures. This past week, Lisa on Indigo Lady arranged for us to go to a pirate-themed Escape Room in Sint Maarten (Dutch side of St. Martin). Finding the activity was easy, but she also made sure that Ocean could come along. So cool!! This complicated things though – Lisa then also had to figure out how to get all of us plus Ocean from our anchorage in Marigot Bay to the Dutch Blonde Beach Bar (home of the Escape Room) in Philipsburg, a 20-minute drive by car, which we don’t have. Dog-less people have lots of options, of course. There are buses and taxis that run regularly between St. Martin and Sint Maarten. The solution for us? The owner of the Dutch Blond Beach Bar, Sunil Vaswani, offered his services! For just $40, he would come and pick us up (and Ocean) at Marigot Bay and return us at the end of our day. What??? I have to attribute this amazing opportunity to Lisa’s exceptional people skills converging with a restaurant owner who aimed to please. Incredible!
And the car ride to and from the Escape Room wasn’t just a car ride. No, it was a guided tour of Sint Maarten provided by Sunil himself. Not only did he point out various landmarks but we learned about the economy, culture, history and geography of the island. Oh, and then there was the Escape Room. This was a challenging puzzle for the six of us. The concept was that we were captured by Blackbeard and had to escape the room using only the clues around us, many of which were in secured boxes that we had to figure out how to unlock. It was a fun and exciting 60 minutes. We failed to escape but we were super close. Perhaps we would have been successful if Ocean had used her search and rescue talents instead of sleeping through the activity!
This week has been jam-packed and we have thoroughly enjoyed St. Martin. Still, we have to keep moving. A few days ago we decided to move along to the Grand Case anchorage, a little north of Marigot Bay. And today, Friday, we arrived at St. Barts, another French island. We are happy to be on the move!
We keep heading south.! Check out where we are today by clicking the link below.
This week was another jam-packed week of moving the boat, exploring islands, hanging out with friends and, of course, eating some great food!
Last Friday, Wild Horses, Indigo Lady and Caretta moved along to St. John, our last island in the USVI. It was a short one-hour trip from our St. Thomas anchorage where our friends on Bitty Rose were still anchored. We had a great reunion with Kate and Clay the night before, having last seen them way back in Puerto Rico. This is an interesting part of cruising – you meet people, hang out, say good-bye but you know that you will likely meet up once again at another anchorage, another island, or another country even. A few cruisers call this “bungee boating.” It totally fits!
We were looking forward to our visit to St. John as the majority of the island is a national park. A little remoteness, trail walks, and snorkelling sounded wonderful. Arriving in Cruz Bay, St. John, it quickly became clear that the harbour anchorage was extremely full and extremely busy with ferries and tour boats. Hmmm, not really the tranquil setting we were expecting. No worries! We just moved a little more north to Caneel Bay, an anchorage that gave us dinghy access to the town of Cruz Bay but the quietness of the park. Each boat picked up a mooring ball ($26 USD a night), and then we launched our dinghies and headed into town for lunch. The town of Cruz Bay is hopping. The busy ferry from St. Thomas brings tourists, vacationers and locals back and forth. The shops and restaurants are full and there is constant activity on the streets. It was a fun place to just take in the island vibe.
On our way back to our boats, we were pleasantly surprised to see that our friends Matt and Lisa (and pup Rex) on Bye Felicia had also just arrived. Ocean was very happy to see her boyfriend Rex again! After a quick greeting, all four boats made plans to meet up for a drink on Indigo Lady in the evening.
Thanks to Indigo Lady, we also fit in some snorkelling off Mingo Cay.
We knew our time in St. John would be a little short-lived though. A weather window to head to St. Martin had opened up for the following week and all three boats agreed that we should take advantage. Our weather router, Chris Parker, was giving this window the thumbs up but saying it would close tight by the end of the week, meaning we could be waiting several weeks for another opportunity to make the 93 nautical mile journey to St. Martin. On Monday morning we got into our dinghies and headed into Cruz Bay once again, this time to get our USVI departure papers. We were heading to St. Martin the following morning.
With departure papers in hand, we moved our boats to our staging anchorage at Coral Harbor, just 10 nautical miles away. This is a big anchorage with access to town and, even more important, home to “Lime Out VI”, a floating taco stand! Yum! We treated ourselves to three large and savoury tacos – ceviche for me, surf and turf for Mike and a third, blackened tuna, to share between the two of us. Truly the best tacos we have ever had!
The next morning, we prepared Wild Horses for our 10am departure. But, uh-oh, in checking the engine room Mike found water under our propellor shaft. Yikes! It wasn’t enough water to stop us in our tracks but it was concerning. I mopped up the mess, knowing that I would have to do this repeatedly while underway for the whole 24 hours to St. Martin. Ugh.
Of course, once again, the wind was directly on the nose so we had to motor along, first past the end of the USVI and then by the British Virgin Islands (BVIs). The day was starting to bleed away and the last of the BVIs were still in sight when a couple of seabirds (Boobies) landed on our bimini top and decided to hitch a ride to St. Martin. They were an entertaining pair of stowaways and, thankfully, also considerate enough to miss our dinghy when “doing their business”. Outside of the Boobies and my hourly mop up of sea water from under the engine, our trip went very smoothly. Neither of us completely enjoy overnight sails but this was an easy 21-hour motorboat ride.
We arrived at the beautiful island of St. Martin (French side)/Sint Maarten (Dutch side) at 0700 and by 0815 we were checked into the country. We had purposefully chosen the French side of the island due to the informality of their Customs and Immigration, especially for our pup Ocean. No pet import permit or fees here! In fact, she laid beside us during the check in process. There wasn’t even a space on the form to declare we had a dog. Easy!
We will spend at least a week here, enjoying all that St. Martin/Sint Maarten (commonly referred to as “SXM”) has to offer. French wine, food and friendly locals. This is going to be fun! And, yes, we will also need to trouble shoot that pesky water under the engine issue. But first, we will enjoy some brunch in town and then back to the boat to catch up on our sleep.
We are still on the move. Click the link below to find out where we are today!
We had arrived in St. Thomas, USVI last Saturday and we were ready to explore. The very next morning (Sunday), we left our first anchorage on the far eastern shore of St. Thomas and headed for Charlotte Amalie, a very busy harbour that welcomes cruisers, local boaters and is also a port of call for many big cruise ships. We anchored just off the cruise ship dock, which happened to be empty that night. This was a very rare day in Charlotte Amalie! Instead of sharing the town with a thousand or so tourists, it would just be us, our buddy boats and a handful of other liveaboard cruisers.
What was up next on our agenda? A tour around town and a lovely lunch with our boat buddies. We walked to the tourist area and picked up a few fun things like water shoes and a dog collar for Ocean.
It was an extremely hot day so we were relieved that most of the shops had air-conditioning and Ocean was extra happy they allowed dogs! They even let her ride on the open-air town bus 😊.
Although Charlotte Amalie was interesting, we were all craving a bit of remoteness and the chance to do some snorkelling. Early on Monday morning, Wild Horses, Caretta and Indigo Lady weighed anchor and headed off for Christmas Cove.
The trip to our anchorage was a bit sportier than we had hoped for. The wind was a few knots stronger than expected and right at our nose, so no sailing for us. Making things even more uncomfortable was the high waves and ocean swell. The forecast was for 1-foot seas and we were definitely getting 4-5 feet, right at our bow. It was a one-hour hobby horse extravaganza.
Arriving at our anchorage, right off the coast of Great St. James Island, we knew it was all worthwhile. Pretty sandy shorelines, lots of rock outcroppings for snorkelling and that bright blue clear water that we love so much. We were wowed.
Oh, and the pizza! Incredible!! Huh? Well, let me back up a bit.
First, you have to know that we are pizza-loving people to the extreme. Actually, that is a massive understatement. We are pizza-fanatics! Back home, during our land life, we would have pizza at least once a week. And we love all kinds of pizza – New York style, deep dish, artisan, homemade. Truly, we rarely meet a pizza we don’t like. Since leaving Canada last September, we have devoured many a pizza. For us, cruising is eating pizza in exotic locations! 😉
Second, we love new, unique and interesting stuff. I mean, that is part of the reason why we are living on our boat! And, when those two loves come together in one place? Well, you get The Pizza Pi, a real-life floating pizza boat! Right in our anchorage! Oh my! Later than evening the motley crews of Wild Horses, Caretta and Indigo Lady enjoyed a fun evening of pizza, beer and “guess that tune” (supplied by Barry’s uber-eclectic playlist) aboard Indigo Lady. Lots of laughs and full bellies!
We finished off our time at Christmas Cove catching up on boat chores and letting Ocean get in some much-needed time swimming off the boat. Also, on the agenda was getting Ocean to the nearby veterinarian at Canines, Cats and Critters. She needed a booster for a few of her vaccinations and also to get an up-to-date international Health certificate for our trip to St. Martin. It looks like a weather widow may be opening up early next week to make the 93 nm hop further south to our first French island so we want to be ready.
But before we head to St. Martin, we have one more island in the USVI to explore – beautiful St. John. We weighed anchor this morning and made the short trip over there for the weekend. More exploring ahead!!😊
Yes, we keep moving along! See where we are today by clicking the link below!
We arrived at the island of Culebra last Monday and loved it immediately. It is beautifully green with perfect sandy beaches littering the coastlines. The coral reefs around this island are known to be some of the healthiest in the area so our plan was to start the day outside of the main town and get snorkeling.
But, small glitch in our plan. Mike had tweaked his back earlier in the morning, just before we weighed anchor. Ugh. He could move around but it was limited. Snorkeling would have to wait. So, onto Plan B! Our buddy boats went on to the chosen snorkeling site while Wild Horses continued for another hour to the main town’s huge lagoon. Here Mike could rest and our buddies would catch up to us the next day. Perfect!
Downtown Culebra is very walkable, with lots of restaurants, cafes, and stores. Even a really great gelato cart with beautifully served gelato. Passion fruit and cherry with a twist of coconut. Yum!
Our boat buddies arrived the next day and we quickly made plans for exploring Culebra, visiting the nearby smaller island of Culebrita and also for doing some snorkelling and diving in the area. Mike’s back was healed and we were ready to have some fun. Our friends Dave and Lisa on Indigo Lady offered to play chauffeur for our three-boat play dates (Wild Horses, Caretta and Indigo Lady). Awesome! Indigo Lady is a beautiful boat. Dave and Lisa purchased it as a sailing catamaran several years ago but quickly converted it to be solar electric powered. It does not disappoint! On the few days we were on the boat, it was moved entirely on solar. Incredible! You can see more about the conversion of Indigo Lady here.
Our first adventure was to take Indigo Lady to Culebrita. This island is home to incredible walking trails, beautiful natural baths and, oh my gosh, also to a hoard of bees! Thousands of them to be exact. The area is suffering from a lack of rain so these poor bees were looking for any and all sources of fresh water. For those that know our pup Ocean, well, this is a problem. She loves to eat bees. Yes, you heard that correctly. She actively hunts them down. Now, with hoards of them in the picture, it was just too much for her and she did get the bitter end of a few of them. Getting stung didn’t deter her though! With a swollen nose and jowl, she kept right at it. For the rest of us, the bees weren’t an issue. They only wanted the fresh water and we had beers in hand (and not water) so they left us alone!
On Thursday, we rented golf carts so we could see more of the island of Culebra. Caretta and Indigo Lady climbed into one cart and Wild Horses took the other. It was an awesome day of touring the island, including an incredible day at Flamenco Beach, one of the world's most beautiful; beaches.
Friday we continued the adventure! We set off on Indigo Lady once again and headed around the north west shore of Culebra to explore one of the many island dive sites. Dave and Lisa launched their Hookah dive system (surfaced supplied air system), Andrea and Barry jumped in with their dive tanks, and Mike and I slipped below the waterline with our snorkel masks and fins. And Ocean you ask? Well, she did her exploring in her birthday suit with just a simple life jacket on. Four ways into the water and we were all plenty happy with it all!
Whew, what a jam-packed three days of exploring the Spanish Virgin Islands!! But all good things must come to an end, but only so you can enjoy other good things! And that is exactly what we did. On Saturday we all weighed anchor and headed off to St. Thomas in the USVI (United States Virgin Islands). We will explore the islands of St. Thomas and St. John as we look for a good weather window for heading to St. Martin. More fun awaits us! 😊
Want to find out which island we are exploring today? Click the link below!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.