This is a quick trip report on the first week September 6-13, 2014 we spent on our new (to us) sailboat De Life. Christine and I bought De Life with our St. Thomas friends Jay & Debbie in May. De Life is a 2009 Beneteau Oceanis 40 that spent three years in the mooring fleet and a year sailing the Caribbean with a Norwegian family before we bought her. I had spent a couple of days on her when we moved her from Tortola to St. Thomas, but this was the first time that Christine & I were taking her out.
Day 1 - Travel and St. Thomas to St. John
We flew into St. Thomas on a full United direct from DC. Jay and Debbie picked us up at the airport. “We thought we might go out with you tomorrow?” “Why wait, lets go today.” So, we did. We hit Food Center near Independent Marina and were under way briskly.
Steve & Leslie had moved to St. John and they joined us at Francis Bay, St. John for the night and steaks on the grill.
The Francis Bay anchorage was deserted and our playground.
Day 2 - St. John to Jost Van Dyke
Gourmet breakfast, bloody marys, mimosas and a bit of dinghy maintenance (thanks Jay) got us started. A quick sail to Jost Van Dyke and we were at the Soggy Dollar on White Bay by lunch time.
We had to wear our De Life crew shirts from customsailingshirts.com
It was a very quiet day on White Bay.
Jay, Debbie, Steve & Leslie headed back to the USVIs on the ferry. Christine and I visited Rudy’s Supermarket for ice and had a very quiet night on the boat. One catamaran motored over after dark and anchored near us. The rest of the harbor was empty of visitors.
Day 3 - Jost Van Dyke to Trellis Bay
We had a nice sail with winds out of the southeast, pretty much one tack up to the channel between Guana Island and Tortola. This was our first day sailing De Life on our own and Christine did great on the helm. De Life loves sailing ridiculously close to the wind with her big keel. White Bay, Guana Island was a great lunch spot. We motored towards Trellis Bay through the channel between Little Camenoe and Great Camenoe.
Trellis Bay was a bit busier with some boats visiting for the Full Moon party tonight. We grabbed a mooring ball and dinghied to the market for ice. Things were so quiet in Trellis Bay we decided sundowners on our boat was more exciting.
The moonrise over happy hour on De Life.
We headed into Trellis Bay for dinner and the Full Moon Party. Things were very quiet, so we had some drinks and walked about.
We had the West Indian buffet, which ended up being a very tasty prepared plate of food with jerk chicken, pork ribs, goat curry, peas and rice, vegetable lasagna, mac&cheese and salad.
The fireballs were lit.
The water features were lit up under the moon. All 25 us proceeded to relax as we watch the guys keep the fireballs burning. It was so exciting that we stayed up until 10pm (late).
Day 4 - Trellis Bay to Leverick Bay
We called Leverick Bay to see about staying on the dock tonight. We were referred to Nick, who is the resort manager, but was running the marina today. Nick told us to get in by 4PM since things were quiet. Not wanting to interfere with his happy hour, we headed on after breakfast.
We motored through the Scrub Island passage and had a delightful sail out towards Anegada. One tack and we were through the channel into North Sound. De Life was really showing us how easy it was to sail her well. We spent time learning how to trim her sails and seeing how she sailed close hauled and on the beam. Sweet Christine is a sail fast girl, so she was on the helm again and I got to play with the sail trim.
Leverick Bay is really one of our favorite places to spend the night. We called the dock on the radio and Nick answered. He guided us in and helped us tie up. This is the first time that Tito was not there to greet us, but Nick will do!
We hit Jumbie’s Beach Bar for a conch fritter snack and some beverages We had a feline friend join us. The conch fritters were hot and spicy. The cat was sneezing with the spice, but he kept asking for more. Island cats know how to beg and they seem like a wee bunch, or stay slimmer from chasing lizards for lunch.
Dinner was back to Jumbie’s for $8 pizza night. We had a great server and the place actually got a bit busy. The DJ was playing some very old songs that Christine and other patrons were enjoying. I (actively) missed the disco era, so it was all new for me. The bar got pretty giddy as each song got (worse) more interesting. Really, it was pretty funny and Christine loved it.
We headed back to boat pretty early and sipped rum cream while we listened to a disco serenade.
Day 5 - Leverick Bay to St. John
We had a leisurely breakfast and got off the dock with the help of our dock hand Nick. This was one of those Forrest Gump days where we just felt like sailing. So sail we did 32 nautical miles past Virgin Gorda, the minor islands, Cooper Island, Peter Island, Norman Island and down the south side of St. John. I kept asking Christine if she wanted to stop at Cooper, Peter, Norman - "I feel like sailing." So we sailed. It was a great sail. De Life was wonderful sailing downwind and it was a very relaxing day with great sailing conditions.
Concordia Eco Resort on Nanny Point, St. John
Rams Head St. John
We moored at Lind Point and got to Customs & Immigration at 5:10PM, no problem. It took five minutes to check in and we had a cocktail at Cruz Bay Landing. Todd popped over to say hi, its nice to be recognized by the proprietor. We headed back to the boat to clean up since we had rushed in. We also moved the boat closer to Honeymoon Beach in the hopes that the ferry wakes would bounce us around less. We were the only boat in the anchorage.
We headed back to Cruz Bay for a walk around to check who was open. About half of the restaurants were closed, but the town was busy with tourists and locals. We hit Quiet Mon for a beverage and then went back to Cruz Bay Landing for dinner.
Dinner at Cruz Bay Landing was fun. Christine’s grilled mahi tacos were great. Steve Simonsen, well known St. John photographer, was bragging on their burger so I had that. Both were great. We met first time visitors Ravi and his wife and ended up talking a bit of technology shop. Ravi and Steve hit it off and were talking about a photography kickstarter idea at the end of the evening. Cruz Bay Landing is great.
I don’t like spending the night at the Caneel Bay anchorage because the ferry wakes roll you around so much. But, we had a quiet night and it worked out nicely.
Day 6 - Honeymoon Beach St. John and Christmas Cove, Little St. James
Breakfast on the boat and dinghy in to Honeymoon Beach for a beach day. We haven’t done much beach time since we started sailing. This needs to change, we had a great time. Honeymoon was pretty active and we had fun chatting with the other beach goers.
Honeymoon Beach with De Life in the background.
In the afternoon we moved over to Christmas Cove. We took our time and sailed a few tacks until it was time to take the sails down and head through Current Cut between St. Thomas and Little St. James. It’s a very nice spot and is calmer than Caneel Bay, with a great breeze. We saved a pasta meal for our last night and it went great with the rest of our leftovers.
Relaxing at Christmas Cove
Sunset on 9/11 over St. Thomas from Christmas Cove
Day 7 - Boat Cleanup and back to Independent Marina
De Life is getting hauled out and her bottom painted soon. So I took the chance to clean her up. We gave both heads and the shower a deep clean as well as the galley and the cabins. We took the engine off the dinghy and placed it on the rail mount and hoisted the dinghy onto the foredeck with the spare halyard. It felt great to have a private swim after a lot of scrubbing.
We headed back to the marina in the afternoon. We were a bit anxious about backing into the slip on our own. We talked it through and had all of the lines and bumpers ready. After a bit of a dance to get turned around, we backed into our slip. Christine did great getting the lines around the pilings. Our next door neighbor Cornelius tossed us a stern line. Just as we finished getting everything tied down Debbie, then Jay, came by for some play time.
De Life back at Independent Marina on St. Thomas.
Christine & Debbie had cocktails at Cariga’s while Jay and I went over to Budget Marine. I had to buy a new boat hook to replace the one that we bent and broke. Jay was looking for a couple of electrical components, but decided to hit ebay instead when he saw the prices.
Dinner at Fish Tails was great. We had three groupers and a wahoo and the food went fast. I was very happy with my fried grouper. This is the one fish that I really like fried and this generous portion was delicious. The wine list was reasonably priced and we enjoyed a couple of bottles of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc.
Jay & Debbie dropped us off at the Marina to sleep aboard. Jay left us his island car to drive to Tickles in the morning for brunch and to drop off our laundry at the laundry service. It was a nice quiet night with the a/c running.
Day 8 - Heading home
We got moving early to get the boat hosed off and cleaned up. We had a dozen swallows spend the night on our mast in Great Harbor, so there was a bit of cleanup to be done. I grabbed a shower right before we left and the water tank ran dry. No fun switching water tanks covered in soap!
Tickles has a great brunch. Along with Bloody Marys and big Mimosas, we had Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict, Biscuits & Gravy and a traditional breakfast plate. I was very happy with the Eggs Benedict and Christine said she would get the Huevos Rancheros again.
Debbie showed us where the laundry and the mail service are. Its great to be able to drop off the boat linens and Debbie & Jay pick them up clean.
Off-off-season at the airport was silly easy with nobody else going through customs & immigration or security. Back home on the United direct flight to DC.
Having our own boat was great and I think it will get better with time. Travel down is a lot easier since we can leave a lot of stuff on the boat. We’ll bring down a bag to keep personal items like shampoo, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. on the boat. The snorkel gear is already there. We have a to do list for the boat, and she’s hauled out now for her bottom cleaning and paint. We’ll see her again during Halloween week.
Sailing the Virgins in De After Life, De Life was declared a total loss. Soon come.