Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dinghies Disturbances and Dongles


Elephants Child came with a slightly faded Caribe RIB dinghy and an aged Johnson 15hp 2 stroke. Which is a good thing. I do not need to obsess over security like the owners of brand new dinghies with shiny 4 strokes. Yes it will still get nicked if someone needs a new prop for that model or wants a ride back to their boat and can't be bothered waiting for the others to return from the bar.

It still gets locked up on the town quay but I don't lift it aboard every night like some feel they have to.

You can tell the long term cruisers by their dinghies, this was taken at Red Hook and I am sure that the owners of these have all been cruising for years.


Elephants Child had been at anchor in Benner Bay for about a week while I got on with fitting the Lofrans Tigres Anchor Windlass I had treated myself to. I finally got the job done and had tested it out without actually lifting the anchor but was expecting no problems there. We had planned a trip round to Magens Bay for Christmas but the weather gods were not very cooperative and the forecast showed a strong cold front coming through and a big northerly swell setting up.

So the decision was made to sit tight and see what it looked like after the front. However along came a local member of the armed constabulary who told us we had to move now and now meaning within the next 10 minutes. When we asked for more time he said we had to be gone within 30 minutes and at that point questioned our right to anchor here at all. He was working on the previous USVI registration for anchoring which showed the boat in Choclate Hole on St Johns.

So we upped anchor and took ourselves across to the closest anchorage, Christmas Cove. In retrospect we should have gone back to Charlotte Amalie but the forecast for the cold front did not say that it was a particularly strong one. The sun was shining as we anchored and the snorklers were hard at work in the cove as we cooked tea and settled down for the night.

The front arrived later around midnight with a serious squall. We do not have an anometer so it is only a guess but 40 knots plus is a fair bet. It continued to squall all night with copious rain and a very disturbed sea. I was glad I had worn my Extra Careful Jones hat the night before and laid a second anchor out although I don;t think we ever laid to it. The primary doing it's job all night. Several other boats in the cove dragged and had to re-anchor so there was much shouting, revving of diesels and clanking of chain. I do not think anyone in the cove got much sleep that night.

Anyway Carol finally decided next morning that the sailing life was not for her and Hemel Hempstead was calling her home.

So it was back the Charlotte Amalie and a flight home to the UK for her.


I had just got the papers through to prove deregistration of the boat from the US registry so I took the opportunity of having good coms available, [ the WIFI in BADASS COFFEE always works if the power is on ] to get some paperwork done, registering the boat on SSR and changing the EPIRB over to my name and looking through the impressive cabinetfull of documentation that came with the boat. I also have to register the windlass, TV, HF radio and some other minor stuff.

I was working away on this, head down, when I realised someone was on the boat! Sticking my head up I was greeted for the second time by a pair of shiny black shoes and a uniform asking me to move. This time it was for the New Years firework display. So this disturbance was for a good reason. I heard the forecast and yet another weather disturbance was forecast for the end of the year so I moved early and settled down just off the waterfront. Again I enjoyed standing on the bow and watching the anchor being whisked from the depths by the windlass, no more sweated labour on the manual Seatiger.

So here I am today the 30th and the disturbance has arrived. The hills behind Charlotte Amalie protect the harbour from the direct blasts of the squalls but the wind is swirling atround the harbour and the boats are all dancing around their anchors.

This disturbance like the last one has bought a lot of rain and the dinghy will be filling up. I am using this as an opportunity to check for deck leaks and so far so good.


One of the things I bought for the boat and am trying out for the first time is a little WiFi booster with a rubber duck aerial. Even sat on the table, down below, it has allowed me to connect up from the middle of the harbour when the cruise ships are in.

The cruise ships have their own very powerful wifi set ups which blanket the weaker signals the local transmitters provide.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't feed the iguanas [ So the sign said. ]

Out for lunch at the yacht club bar and restuarant [ all right the waterfront shack ] we suffer the baleful stares from no less than 5 hungry iguanas we clearly had their beady eyes on Carol's lettuce.

We also got lucky and spotted the much less common green iguana while we were walking in the centre of the island.

On the way back to the boat we took a trip around the mangroves and spotted a roost of little herons

and some diving pelicans.

The mangroves are also home to a variety of boats in a variety of states of repair. I was offered this one for 'only' $6000 with a solid lead to the sunken mast.

The windlass is fitted and works OK but the terminals are shorting out on the casing so I need to turn them upside down to give more clearance. I should get it finished tomorrow then we are off to Magens Bay for Christmas. It is supposed to be one of the top ten in the world. Carol says " We'll see"

Friday, December 18, 2009



Carol is now enjoying driving the dinghy around the anchorage. People no longer appear with fenders at the ready when she approaches.

The boat came with a manual anchor windlass and even though it was a two speed jobbie it was hard work and took a while to get the anchor up and stowed so it had to go. Here is it's replacement, a Lofrans Tigres and I am working away fitting it on to the foredeck. I had to drill a couple of holes and the core samples from the plugs were reassuringly dry and solid.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


We went over to Hassal Island on the south side of Charlotte Amalie harbor hoping for a walk on promised paths, amongst the relics of the Danish colonial past. No luck on the paths but there were relics of a sort to be found.

A sail makers business was running out of a large old shed and as we walked up to it there were all sorts of artfully displayed rubbish from days gone by. Even the broken down little harbor we tied up in had wrecked boats and bits from sunken boats littered around the place.

It had a curious sort of charm but there was little else to see except this local who was keeping a watchful eye on us.

We could not find a path out of the area so it was back home to Elephants Child.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


We walked through the town, and practically every shop is a jewelery shop, this is for the hoards of cruisers that pour into St Thomas most days. They are all very samey, except that I found a small jewelers in a back street. I bought a necklace that I managed to knock down from $79 t0 $60. I mentioned casually that I had done some silver smithing and was interested in a good Tanzanite. This is a stone from Africa ( Tanzania ) and is a violet blue, depending on which way you turn it to the light. There is only one mine in Africa, and it is owned by a group of businessmen. The Jeweler brought me several rings to look at, but I didn't like the setting on any of them. I don't have my equipment with me to make my own setting . so he took me to a little local shop that custom makes pieces. I had chosen one particular stone that was already set, so they took it out of it's setting and made up a ring to my design at a fraction of the normal price.

These are the sort of businesses that I like to find, rather than get something the same as everyone else.

there is a little local market here, with happy go lucky vendors selling mostly Caribbean stuff made in china, so you have to look for local made goods. One lady was selling silver, and told us she used to live on a boat, but it got shipwrecked on a deserted island. They were there 7 months rebuilding the boat , before they could get home. Not very encouraging for a new cruiser.

Haven't hit the boat again with the dinghy, just a brick wall

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I can at least stand up now, without feeling I need to go and lay down again. I have been practising with the dinghey, slowly. It's a good job it's rubber, as I seem to keep hitting the boat with it. We sit up top of an evening and watch the cruisers coming and going, before going to bed.
One of the worries I had from the Trek was the mattress, it was memory foam. This is one of the most unhygienic bits of furniture I have ever come across. apart from being hot, it is absorbent with no air circulation. We now have a proper sprung mattress, that is very comfortable, and unusual for a boat. As we can sleep with all of the hatches open, there is plenty of air circulating, and I have no problem with my claustrophobia.
We had to get some propane gas. this involves disconnecting the tank and humping it to the " nearest" filling station. " Just down the road" turns out to be a hike, so we grabbed a stray shopping trolley and set off. Half way there the heavens opened, with raindrops as big as peas, so we got soaked.
The canister was heavy, so the trolley was a good idea, but we looked like a couple of tramps , trolling along. especialy John with his baggy shorts and well ventilated under the armpits T shirt. I'm shacked up with a drop out, and I don't look too fashionable either.
Once I've got the hang of the dinghey, I have to learn to handle the boat, and learning to swim may not be a bad idea either. It surprised me, how many people on boats can't swim , and they have been a lot further than I have.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Well it was a tough introduction to the cruising life for Carol. After a few quiet days with winds in single digits the reinforced trades, often called the Christmas winds arrived and it is blowing hard and a big surge is causing us to roll at anchor.

So she was feeling queasy and wanted to lay down and get the world to stop moving.

Suddenly there was a load bang and the bung fitted into the toilet outlet hose blew across the small bathroom followed by a load shit, yes that all to common boating disaster a sanitation device failure had occured. It was a really impressive shit spray, it even sprayed the ceiling. We were just lucky yhat there was no one in the small loo at the time.

So lots of cleaning and then headscratching to work out what went wrong and to get a working toilet. It was at this point we heard from the previous owners and discovered that although they had lived aboard and cruised the boat for months at a time, they had never used the plumbing! They used a solar shower pouch to shower and the bucket and chuckit method for the loo. The marine loos were in place and there are 3 shower stations on the boat but they did not use any of them.

Now for some good news, the natives are friendly at least these ones were although we did feel that they begrudged us every mouthfull even the tiny one.

We went out for lunch and this fellow plus his big brother came out to watch us eat, again I felt guilty as these poor starving iguanas needed feeding up.

However there were signs up everywhere saying " Don't feed the iguanas.

In the bacground we had the Carlos Aquilar match races going on in the harbour.

The teams racing in identical IC 24's were out on the water today and returned soaking wet, it wasn't from the crystal clear waters of Charlotte Amalie, it was from sweating. Everyone is taking this Grade 3 Open event and Grade 1 Women's Match Race very seriously and is practicing their spinnaker sets and take downs with a vengeance.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Barrels Customs and Charlotte Amalie Harbour.

Four barrels of “stuff” that we had accumulated on the RV were shipped down to the USVI and languishing in bond in Charlotte Amalie. So the job was to deal with customs and then get them to the boat and pack it all away.

I had heard that customs here could be difficult even for a yacht in transit so I prepared a pretty detailed shipping manifest emphasizing the used nature of nearly everything and where ever possible down playing the value of individual items. What a waste of time. They never even looked at it. I got the paperwork from the shipping company who applied a most impressive stamp confirming that it was for a yacht in transit, they took my word for this, no paperwork required and the Customs officer signed off on it without barely a glance.

Once I knew I could get it out of bond it was a case of finding a space in a marina and getting the barrels moved alongside the boat. Thanks to the staff of Crown Bay Marina who let me use their megayacht dock at miniyacht hourly price I was able to lie alongside and thanks to Kelvin who moved the barrels for me. Then it was three hours of sweat to hump it on board and then down below and finally break it down into some kind of system in the lockers. Elephants Child has lots of lockers, a proper cruising boat. So I made a plan, numbered the lockers and cross referenced everything.

Then it was out of the Marina and through the haulover cut and into Charlotte Amalie main harbour. On the way up to the sheltered anchorage near the cruiseship dock I had to watch out for the seaplanes that use the centre of the harbour.

However I was soon at anchor and watching sail training boats jinking through the anchorage and cruise ship departures with a Cuba Libre in hand.

This is the life, however now I have to clean up as Carol arrives tomorrow. I am sure I have a sponge somewhere, let me look it up in the cross reference, I know I saw a sponge. Argh no sponge!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I had a day off from tinkering with the boat and went a mile or two along the coast to Red Hook to do some laundry and check out the boat supply stores.

Lunch was taken in the most Caribbean of establishments an Irish Pub called Molly Malones an of course it had Guiness on tap. As well as big signs saying don't feed the iguanas. I relaxed with my diet coke while waiting for my veggie stir fry and thought "Ha, not an iguana in site" However ten seconds after my plate was placed infront of me I got that your being watched feeling.

There he was and grudging me every mouthful.

A couple of people have asked where the boat name comes from. Well I did not name her but I like the name and intend to keep it, I remember reading the story by Rudyard Kipling as a child on a very wet day on holiday somewhere on the west coast of Scotland and as well as the gist of the story, one line stuck in my mind to this very day.

'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,

Anyway here is the Kipling tale from the Just So stories in full. Also known as how the elephant got it's trunk.

IN the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant--a new Elephant--an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his 'satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon, spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!

One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes this 'satiable Elephant's Child asked a new fine question that he had never asked before. He asked, 'What does the Crocodile have for dinner?' Then everybody said, 'Hush!' in a loud and dretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.

By and by, when that was finished, he came upon Kolokolo Bird sitting in the middle of a wait-a-bit thorn-bush, and he said, 'My father has spanked me, and my mother has spanked me; all my aunts and uncles have spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity; and still I want to know what the Crocodile has for dinner!'

Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, 'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out.'

That very next morning, when there was nothing left of the Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to precedent, this 'satiable Elephant's Child took a hundred pounds of bananas (the little short red kind), and a hundred pounds of sugar-cane (the long purple kind), and seventeen melons (the greeny-crackly kind), and said to all his dear families, 'Goodbye. I am going to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to find out what the Crocodile has for dinner.' And they all spanked him once more for luck, though he asked them most politely to stop.

Then he went away, a little warm, but not at all astonished, eating melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick it up.

He went from Graham's Town to Kimberley, and from Kimberley to Khama's Country, and from Khama's Country he went east by north, eating melons all the time, till at last he came to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, precisely as Kolokolo Bird had said.

Now you must know and understand, O Best Beloved, that till that very week, and day, and hour, and minute, this 'satiable Elephant's Child had never seen a Crocodile, and did not know what one was like. It was all his 'satiable curtiosity.

The first thing that he found was a Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake curled round a rock.

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but have you seen such a thing as a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'

'Have I seen a Crocodile?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, in a voice of dretful scorn. 'What will you ask me next?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but could you kindly tell me what he has for dinner?'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake uncoiled himself very quickly from the rock, and spanked the Elephant's Child with his scalesome, flailsome tail.

'That is odd,' said the Elephant's Child, 'because my father and my mother, and my uncle and my aunt, not to mention my other aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my other uncle, the Baboon, have all spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity--and I suppose this is the same thing.

So he said good-bye very politely to the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, and helped to coil him up on the rock again, and went on, a little warm, but not at all astonished, eating melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick it up, till he trod on what he thought was a log of wood at the very edge of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees.

But it was really the Crocodile, O Best Beloved, and the Crocodile winked one eye--like this!

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but do you happen to have seen a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'

Then the Crocodile winked the other eye, and lifted half his tail out of the mud; and the Elephant's Child stepped back most politely, because he did not wish to be spanked again.

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile. 'Why do you ask such things?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but my father has spanked me, my mother has spanked me, not to mention my tall aunt, the Ostrich, and my tall uncle, the Giraffe, who can kick ever so hard, as well as my broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my hairy uncle, the Baboon, and including the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, with the scalesome, flailsome tail, just up the bank, who spanks harder than any of them; and so, if it's quite all the same to you, I don't want to be spanked any more.'

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'for I am the Crocodile,' and he wept crocodile-tears to show it was quite true.

Then the Elephant's Child grew all breathless, and panted, and kneeled down on the bank and said, 'You are the very person I have been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you have for dinner?'

'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'and I'll whisper.'

Then the Elephant's Child put his head down close to the Crocodile's musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.

'I think, said the Crocodile--and he said it between his teeth, like this--'I think to-day I will begin with Elephant's Child!'

At this, O Best Beloved, the Elephant's Child was much annoyed, and he said, speaking through his nose, like this, 'Led go! You are hurtig be!'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank and said, 'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before you can say Jack Robinson.'

This is the way Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little haunches, and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled.

And the Elephant's Child's nose kept on stretching; and the Elephant's Child spread all his little four legs and pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose kept on stretching; and the Crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant's Child's nose grew longer and longer--and it hurt him hijjus!

Then the Elephant's Child felt his legs slipping, and he said through his nose, which was now nearly five feet long, 'This is too butch for be!'

Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank, and knotted himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant's Child's hind legs, and said, 'Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck' (and by this, O Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), 'will permanently vitiate your future career.

That is the way all Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.

So he pulled, and the Elephant's Child pulled, and the Crocodile pulled; but the Elephant's Child and the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake pulled hardest; and at last the Crocodile let go of the Elephant's Child's nose with a plop that you could hear all up and down the Limpopo.

Then the Elephant's Child sat down most hard and sudden; but first he was careful to say 'Thank you' to the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake; and next he was kind to his poor pulled nose, and wrapped it all up in cool banana leaves, and hung it in the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo to cool.

'What are you doing that for?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but my nose is badly out of shape, and I am waiting for it to shrink.

'Then you will have to wait a long time, said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'Some people do not know what is good for them.'

The Elephant's Child sat there for three days waiting for his nose to shrink. But it never grew any shorter, and, besides, it made him squint. For, O Best Beloved, you will see and understand that the Crocodile had pulled it out into a really truly trunk same as all Elephants have to-day.

At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk and hit that fly dead with the end of it.

''Vantage number one!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Try and eat a little now.'

Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant's Child put out his trunk and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean against his fore-legs, and stuffed it into his own mouth.

'Vantage number two!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mear-smear nose. Don't you think the sun is very hot here?'

'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears.

'Vantage number three!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Now how do you feel about being spanked again?'

''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but I should not like it at all.'

'How would you like to spank somebody?' said the Bi- Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.

'I should like it very much indeed,' said the Elephant's Child.

'Well,' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, 'you will find that new nose of yours very useful to spank people with.'

'Thank you,' said the Elephant's Child, 'I'll remember that; and now I think I'll go home to all my dear families and try.'

So the Elephant's Child went home across Africa frisking and whisking his trunk. When he wanted fruit to eat he pulled fruit down from a tree, instead of waiting for it to fall as he used to do. When he wanted grass he plucked grass up from the ground, instead of going on his knees as he used to do. When the flies bit him he broke off the branch of a tree and used it as fly-whisk; and he made himself a new, cool, slushy-squshy mud-cap whenever the sun was hot. When he felt lonely walking through Africa he sang to himself down his trunk, and the noise was louder than several brass bands.

He went especially out of his way to find a broad Hippopotamus (she was no relation of his), and he spanked her very hard, to make sure that the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake had spoken the truth about his new trunk. The rest of the time he picked up the melon rinds that he had dropped on his way to the Limpopo--for he was a Tidy Pachyderm.

One dark evening he came back to all his dear families, and he coiled up his trunk and said, 'How do you do?' They were very glad to see him, and immediately said, 'Come here and be spanked for your 'satiable curtiosity.'

'Pooh,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I don't think you peoples know anything about spanking; but I do, and I'll show you.' Then he uncurled his trunk and knocked two of his dear brothers head over heels.

'O Bananas!' said they, 'where did you learn that trick, and what have you done to your nose?'

'I got a new one from the Crocodile on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I asked him what he had for dinner, and he gave me this to keep.'

'It looks very ugly,' said his hairy uncle, the Baboon.

'It does,' said the Elephant's Child. 'But it's very useful,' and he picked up his hairy uncle, the Baboon, by one hairy leg, and hove him into a hornet's nest.

Then that bad Elephant's Child spanked all his dear families for a long time, till they were very warm and greatly astonished. He pulled out his tall Ostrich aunt's tail-feathers; and he caught his tall uncle, the Giraffe, by the hind-leg, and dragged him through a thorn-bush; and he shouted at his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and blew bubbles into her ear when she was sleeping in the water after meals; but he never let any one touch Kolokolo Bird.

At last things grew so exciting that his dear families went off one by one in a hurry to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to borrow new noses from the Crocodile. When they came back nobody spanked anybody any more; and ever since that day, O Best Beloved, all the Elephants you will ever see, besides all those that you won't, have trunks precisely like the trunk of the 'satiable Elephant's Child.

Having just read the story again after some fifty or so years I wonder at what level was he writing; after all " promiscuous parts " and all that spanking plus some serious payback, or maybe 1902 was just that much more innocent than today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On board and at home at last!

Well it is Monday the 23rd November 2009 and I am in possession of and finally on board Elephants Child. There are some details to be sorted out as there is a mismatch on the registration number but it is just the last digit in a long sequence that has been missed from an official document.

The owners have taken a weeks holiday, so I am sorting things out on my own. I knew from my previous inspection that they were working on the plumbing to the loos and showers but was a little dismayed when I found that no loo was connected and no shower worked as well. Fortunately I found a bucket and a solar shower so I could make do if needs be.

However everything is new or rebuilt and I keep finding new stuff yet to be fitted lurking in drawers and lockers. When I looked at the boat on the hard it was not possible to get everywhere due to the amount of gear stored below.

The solar panels are putting out an impressive 20+ amps and the batteries are topped right up so refrigeration is a definite YES and according to the sellers they could run the watermaker most days so I will have something new to learn to use. I had said that I did not want the hassle of a watermaker but they make it sound simple to use so I may as well get on with it.

The bits and pieces from the RV arrive on Tuesday so I may as well sail over to Charlotte Amalie and pick them up. Just as well as there is not a pot, crock or plastic teaspoon on board. So I am camping out with a multi tool and some recycled tin cans as pots till I get the stuff through customs and unpacked.

It was great to sit in the cockpit and watch the sun set, with a faint creak from the mooring lines and the Chocolate Hole turtle poking his head up alongside every few minutes. When onboard you are supposed to maintain a listening watch on VHF channel 16 and an interesting exchange developed in the evening between the US coastguard and a sailing vessel somewhere to the North of the Virgins who seemed lost. I could only hear the coasties side of the exchange and while they were unfailingly polite and helpful it did seem that they were slightly put out at having to reassure some wandering yotties trying to make landfall. Mind you when they did the Persons On board roll call with DoBs it turned out that they were 62, 69 and 76. It was odd that they did know their exact position from a GPS but did not know where they were. I wonder if they were one of the many who rely totally on electronic charts and have no paper charts to fall back on.

I am making a to do list and high on it is a wifi aerial and booster unit. I can see a wifi router but am not strong enough to ping it.

Bed time. The first time onboard in twelve years.

Tuesday Wednesday. On Tuesday I mustered the courage to disentangle Elephants Child from the four separate anchor lines and raised sail on my own for the first time. We were heading almost dead downwind so I just unfurled the jib and made for Benner Bay via Current Cut. She picked up her skirts and the GPS was showing 5 to 6 knots without any fuss.

Dave Macall, the broker, works out of Benner Bay and has allowed us to use his address for mail and parcels and had promised to introduce me to whatever skilled artisan I required. I chickened out at trying to anchor in the incredibly crowded anchorage inside the protected section and finally dropped the hook in the open part of the bight. Unfortunately the swell gets reflected round the point and every so often it got really rolly. So not much sleep was had. On Wednesday I got some advice on where to anchor inside and was able to find Skip the rigger who replaced the lifelines and included an opening gate where the boarding ladder is situated. As the old lines were cracked and had rust weeps everywhere it was odd that the previous owners had not replaced them considering that almost everything else had been replaced or upgraded.

Skip is quite a character and I was regaled with stories from his days as a coastguard and his times at sea as a specialist rigger on some of the last big sailing ships. Even his swaging tool came with a story. It seems that on US WW2 bombers they carried wire and spare ends so that in the event of the control wires being broken by enemy fire the engineer could fabricate new ones in flight swaging the ends as required. Skip was adamant that he had obtained his through proper channels but you have to wonder how many of these useful tools were liberated from “Liberators” on their way to the scrapyards.

Thursday is Thanksgiving and it turns out that many islanders have added Wednesday and Friday to this public holiday and not much is getting done at a bureaucratic level including processing of my paperwork so I guess it will be Monday before I can liberate our stuff from bond.

So I had a quiet day today as did many others.

I liked this guy working his dinghy round the anchored yachts and through the mangroves forbidden to any IC powered dinghy.

I went ashore and watched The Green Bay Packers destroy the Detroit Lions.

Back on Elephants Child the hatches were open drawing in the cooling breezes and here in a quiet anchorage I have a banging wifi connection, a full 5 bars. Hence the blog post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ticked off as I can not get aboard.

I was hoping to get onboard Elephants Child on Sat. but the wire transfer did not make to the broker by Fri. 4.30 pm despite going out of my bank at 11.00 am. Guess some bank somewhere wanted to play the money market with my money over the weekend.

So I got to play tourist in St Thomas over the weekend. There was a cruise ship docked in Charlotte Amalie so the taxi touts were in overdrive mode and the street vendors were out in force.

Spotted this 1801 cannon now recycled as a bollard.

I decided to get out of town but being a tight Scots git I took a local "Safari" and went round the Northern part of the island. These are open buses built on pick up trucks and usually run continously on loop routes. See the green one just to the right of the cannon.

It was a usefull recce as I now know where the Cost-U-Less and the Kmart are and how to get to the big chandlery for boat bits.

I stopped off at Independent boatyard for lunch and chatted to the new owners of one of the other boats had considered. They had just bought it and found themselves doing some major essential work which involved removing the engine to redo the bearers and repairing big cracks in the keel. Ah the joys of boat ownership!

It was late when I got back and I was hot from climbing the hill and steps to the Galleon Hotel so it was pool time!

The WiFi in my shack of a room is coming and going so is driving me mad but at least the cable TV is working and I will get a last dose of NFL for a while.

Carol is due to fly in to St Thomas next week and we will get to work learning the systems together.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I bought Elephants Child, a New Bombay Explorer 44 yesterday.

An elegant and fast old lady!

She was built on a racing hull redesigned into a live-aboard cruising yacht. Her spacious interior has a large salon, two cabins, two heads, the forard one is enormous and a corridor galley. The large deck area, numerous opening hatches and huge cockpit makes her very appealing for cruising. Elephant's Child had undergone an extensive refit from 05 to 07 and has been meticulously cared for by two very careful and through owners. Everything is properly done and labelled and before the sea trial the only things I had concerns about were deck gelcoat cracks and some rippling in hull but the initial surveyors report on those two items while not totally reassuring convinced me that I should go ahead.

The sea trial went well and the surveyor picked up one serious fault which is being repaired by the seller so although I begrudged spending the money for the survey he found something that I had missed, a crack in a piece of new stainless steel between the roller furling drum and the deck fitting so he more than proved his worth. When it broke the mast would have come down.

The Surveyor Bill Bailey a fellow Scot.

Jan and Mike the sellers looking a little wistful.

I will be in the USVI for a few weeks fitting an electric anchor windlass, doing a few small jobs and pootling about getting to know the boat.