Sunday, January 25, 2015

No More Disneyland Sailing

View from Hassel Island, USVI.  The island is great for hiking.

And here is Maria hiking above Charlotte Harbor in the distance from Hassel Island.

Dutch graves on Hassel Island from the 1800's.

Maria, Michele (from Tarentela), Laurie and Dawn (from Cat Tales) take a break from hiking.

Our friends on Tarentela waiting for us to arrive and eat turkey wings!

A happy hour on Cat Tales in their spacious catamaran cockpit.  It is really nice to lounge here!

Captain Steve transferring things from our old dinghy (on the left) to our new Highfield dinghy on the right.  It is like trading in an old vehicle for a new vehicle.  Did I mention that our old dinghy would not stay inflated more than three days?  Besides, we wanted a lighter dinghy so the new one has an aluminum hull and is about 50 pounds lighter.  Nice for our backs!

S/Y Aspen – January 26, 2015 – Log #125
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 02’ N  063 degrees 05’ W
Sint Maarten, Caribbean

Venus is still aligned with Aspen, or so it seems.

We had a nice motor-sail from the British Virgin Islands to Sint Maarten, only 82 nautical miles south but a world away.  Our friends on the catamaran Cat Tales and the monohull Silk Pajamas sailed with us and kept us company during our daylight crossing of the sometimes treacherous Anegada Passage.

The night before we left there was a dinner party on a friends boat, Tarentela with Al and Michele.  They cooked turkey wings.  The things were monsters and they were enough to feed the 7th fleet we thought.  It was a great sendoff.

The US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands are our version of Disneyland sailing.  It is so nice and easy there with lots of beaches, bars and restaurants everywhere.  Parts are easy to fly in from the US to fix all our essential items on Aspen too, as we explained in the last blog.

The temperature has risen the further south we sailed and now we have sunburn to watch out for.  Maria simply browns while Captain Steve just turns bright red and suffers.

Coming through the bridge into Sint Maarten's Lagoon what was the first boat ahead of Aspen? 

Venus, Steve Job's boat that we last saw in the Virgin Islands.  Wow, his spirit is following us so hopefully that is a good sign (see the photo from the last blog).

Restaurants are plentiful on Sint Maarten/St. Martin, the dual Dutch and French islands, and our evening meal is planned around what kind of food we desire.  The rum is still cheap and the people are friendly to us.  We are in tourist heaven and the locals appreciate the income and visitors.  What could be better?

With so many little bays to explore it will be time to exit the Lagoon where the boat parts places proliferate and wander around this enchanting island, looking for new places to discover, remote beaches to bask and local foods to sample.

Disneyland lies to the north of us but more enchanting islands are calling us to the little latitudes where we are headed.  We won't linger here too long so stay tuned!

Oh, some people have asked us how the book reviews are going for Voyage Into Hell.  We are pleasantly surprised by the nice comments from friends and strangers who have read it.  That makes us feel like the book was worth the effort.  I hope to treat Maria to a Big Mac at McDonalds from the royalties!

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

Monday, January 5, 2015

Life in the Tropics During Winter

Santa found Aspen and left lots of goodies!

Shark attack!!!

Captain Tim telling Steve where to steer.

An "easy" St. John hike, according to Captain Steve??

The boys sailing along, sailing along.

Zach on a pretty BVI beach.

The famous Foxy on Jost Van Dyke.

Sir Timothy looking for reefs.

The whole group in the Virgin Islands.

Tarentela's crew on New Years Eve.

I have reached the pinnacle of awe inspiring chance meetings while sailing. Most people might see the motorcycle crossing the photo. Yet what I see is the vessel in the background called Venus. She was anchored in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, near Aspen. Venus belongs to the late great Steve Jobs, of Apple. Wow, his spirit lives on...

S/Y Aspen – January 5, 2015 – Log #124
Aspen Position: 18 degrees 29’ N  063 degrees 00’ W
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

We sit in wonder, watching the weather reports from snowy Colorado and the frigid north, so far away from the gentle rolling of Aspen in the little latitudes that we call our winter home.

The trade winds blow, usually a lot stronger than we like.  Things keep breaking on Aspen too.  Since we have been onboard we have fixed the navigation system, refrigeration system, galley fresh water faucet, shower pump, generator, replaced all our batteries and a few other essential items to keep Aspen working and afloat.

Of course between all the work there have been times of carefree joy.  Zach, Heidi, Nik and Sir Timothy spent Christmas on Aspen where we visited many islands in the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.  Getting passports stamped from a foreign port was a lot of fun, not to mention snorkeling in the realm of pirates from an era gone by.  No treasure was found but memories of the adventure linger in the minds of youth.

We seasoned sailors merely enjoyed tropical drinks, watching everyone bask in the warm Caribbean sunshine.

The New Year found Maria and myself rubbing noses with Venus, the late Steve Jobs superyacht in the Virgin Islands.  Pricey jets lined the runway in St. Thomas, waiting for their guests to return and fly someplace new.

Most days we spend Happy Hour and numerous hikes with friends from Cat Tales, Tarentela and Silk Pajamas, our cruising friends from Canada and the southwest US.  They also lend a sympathetic ear when problems happen on Aspen and remind us that we are not alone.  Boats need a lot of repairs and that happens to everyone, all the time.

Do those distant horizons beckon Aspen and ourselves to sail forever westward and forsake our beloved and beautiful Caribbean?

No friggin' way!!!!  Maria answers that.  Any questions?

Sail on, sail on Aspen…