January 2008 Letter

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We didn't get the wind we needed in order to sail from St. Martin to St. Croix, so we ended up motoring all night.  There was a heavy swell which made us roll back and forth all night.  We anchored in St. Croix by late morning, then slept all afternoon.  LaVonne and Daryll from s/v Temptation invited us over for sundowners on their boat.  We rented a car with them the next morning and spent the day touring the island of St. Croix.  See the photo album for the highlights of our day, which included buying beers for some beer-drinking pigs.  Mike's hit an all-time low buying beers for pigs now!  We finished our day with a fabulous dinner at Elizabeth's H2O Restaurant.

Fuel is incredibly cheap in St. Croix and we wanted to fill our tanks here.  But we got some dirty fuel in Antigua (we think) and we scheduled to have it "scrubbed" in Tortola.  The fuller the tanks are, the more it will cost to pump them out.  So we sailed to Tortola to pay an exhorbitant price to have our fuel cleaned, then paid an even more outrageous price to have the tanks topped off with new fuel.  We're not sure how the fuel got so dirty in the first place.  We started having problems after we filled up in Antigua.  However, that is also when we started having rough sea conditions.  If our fuel tanks got mucked up from sitting all summer on the hard in Trinidad, then the bouncing around underway could have stirred it up.  In any event, our tanks and fuel are clean now, and our wallet is lighter.

We spent several days anchored in Little Harbor, Peter Island.  It is one of our favorite little anchorages.  The only sound you hear is the occasional crying of the baby goats on the island.  Larry and Mary (s/v Berkeley East) and Anton (s/v Sukha) joined us at this pretty and peaceful spot.  A large turtle swam with us when we snorkeled along the shore.  It was so cool! We took the underwater video camera with us when we snorkeled the next day, but didn't see the turtle.  Darn it.  But we did see a sting ray and a barracuda of which Mike managed to get some footage.  Dinner on Aquila was lasagna, and dinner the next night on Berkeley East was Mexican ... fajitas, margaritas, music and all the fixins.

On Tortola, Mike and I got to spend an afternoon with Frank and Patty at their home over Cane Garden Bay, watching football and eating BBQ ribs.  A former business associate of Linda's (the one who introduced us to Frank and Patty years ago) was visiting.  It was fun to see Mike again and meet his wife Vanessa.

After a couple of days of partying with all our friends, we needed to get going.  We must be in Key West by early February, and it's over 900 miles from Tortola.  So we said our goodbyes and sailed off.  Stopped to anchor at St. Thomas for the night, then continued on to Puerto Rico.  We anchored at the undeveloped island of Cayo Icacos for the night before heading into San Juan.  Cayo Icacos is very beautiful and dramatic.  We tucked safely behind the island and watched the force of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks and reef adjacent to us.  The beach itself was perfectly calm, as was the anchorage.  Should have spent more time here, but we were on a tight schedule and had to move on.

We were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It has it all.  From the big city to the old village.  We took a walk over to Old San Juan to tour the ruins of Fort El Morro.  The walk felt good.  And what a fabulous coastline!  Very dramatic.  Old San Juan was a nice surprise.  Touristy, but in a nice way.  Lots of places to eat and shop while enjoying the ambiance of old Spain.  We toured the fort then enjoyed a late lunch at a sidewalk cafe.  Drank beer and wine, and ate calamari, shrimp and mahi mahi.  What a fun day!

On January 29, we set sail for Key West, Florida.  It would take us a full 7 days and 7 nights to reach our destination.  Of the entire week, we only motored about 5 hours.  The wind was at our stern and we were running with the main sail only.  The wind wasn't strong enough to keep the genoa full when the rolling of the hull dumped the air out of it.  We ran the mainsail with a preventer to hold it out as far as possible without rubbing against the shrouds.  It's great that we could sail the entire distance, but it was exhausting.  A fairly large swell hitting us abaft the beam kept us rolling constantly.  Usually, sailing downwind is a more comfortable point of sail because you don't heel over like you do when you're close reaching into the wind.   In this case, I would prefer the heeling to the rolling.  It was impossible to prepare meals, or just do anything without getting thrown back and forth.  Mike enjoyed the fact that we were making 9 knots through the Old Bahama Channel on our sixth day.  We must have had a current helping us along.  Unfortunately, that put us ahead of schedule and we arrived in Key West at midnight.  What a stressful entry in the dark!  All those lights and buoys everywhere.  It was so confusing.  We decided to just follow the chartplotter and trust it to get to the anchorage.  Thankfully, it was accurate and we were dropping the hook by 1:30 a.m.  Mike drank his voyage-completion celebratory beer and we hit the sack.  The next day we motored over to King's Point Marina on Stock Island and into the slip which will be our home for the month of February.  Sean, Keni and our granddaughter Kailyn will vacation with us here, as will Mike's long-time friend and fellow retired agent Ray from San Diego.  But all that is for the next update!  Until then ... peace and love.   (click here to see photos)

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