Posted by: hunterwaters | September 16, 2010

Bareboating in the BVI – The Movie

Posted by: hunterwaters | September 13, 2010

Liberace Museum to close – 5 wierdest museums you can still visit

Liberace Impersonator at the Museum

The museum dedicated to all-things Liberace (candelabras and outrageous outfits) is coming to an end.

After opening in 1979, the museum houses all of his famous posessions, including his flamboyant wardrobe like his “rhinestone-lined, full-length Black Diamond Mink cape and a 200-pound “King Neptune” costume, along with the world-famous red, white and blue hot pants suit.”

Fear not!  There are still some amazing and unique museums out there, like these five:

5. Leila’s Hair Museum (Independence, MO) – Among the questions answered here are (1) who is Leila and (2) whose hair is being saved?  This place also serves as the “national headquarters for the Victorian Hairwork Society.”  So, two for the price on one.

4. Spam Museum (Austin, MN) – Dedicated to all things Spam-related. Includes “16,500 square feet of SPAM® artifacts, history and fun,” and its FREE! Its also fun to say… Spam Museum.

3. Museum of Toilets (New Delhi, India) – Ever wondered about the evolution of toilets?  Then you’re in luck!

2. Meguro Parasitological Museum, (Japan) – Over 300 specimens are showcased at this museum for those who like to learn more about blood-sucking parasites.  No Vampires here, though.

1. Torture Museum (Netherlands) – For the sadist in you, check out this archive of some of the most outrageous instruments of torture ever.  Curious, though, if the macarena is continually played here?

Day 7 – Coral Harbour, St. John to Road Town, Tortola

Coral Harbour, St. John to Road Town, Tortola

Our final day aboard “Waypoint II.”  Wanting one last snorkel/swim on our way back to Tortola, we found a small island just north of Norman Island called Pelican Island. Best. Snorkel. Ever.

The variety of coral and diversity of fish we saw were better than any other place we visited. Some of us saw a sea turtle eating his breakfast of coral, and some saw an actual shark.  Couldn’t have been a better way to close out the trip.

As we entered Road Town Harbor to dock the boat, preparations were underway as Hurricane Earl would be bearing down on the BVI within the next 24 hours.  Luckily, my wife and I were able to depart on our scheduled flight.  However, Captain Rick and Skipper Sarah’s flight the next day was cancelled so they stuck out the storm in a hotel watching “Shaft.”

With that, I leave you with a pictorial tour of the “Jolly Ship of Fools” aboard ‘Waypoint II.’

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Day 6 – Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke to Coral Harbour, St. John

Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke to Coral Harbour, St. John

Our next-to-last day brought great weather, decent wind, and 2 separate snorkeling stops.  As our morning ritual continued (fruit/coffee, leading to morning snorkeling swim, and then breakfast), we made our initial stop at Long Bay between Jost Van Dyke and Little Jost Van Dyke.

Barracuda under the boat

While the snorkeling wasn’t amazing (that would be for later), we were treated to the sounds of a goat onshore, and for the second straight day, we had a barracuda take shelter right beneath our boat.  This time, we snagged a picture of it through our “escape hatch” (should we capsize, there’s a hammer next to this ‘window’ that we use to break it).

Soper's Hole, Tortola

Off we sailed to the western point of Tortola to check out Soper’s Hole, to re-stock our supplies for the last 24 hours of our trip.  Given the impending hurricane, coupled with it being the down season, there wasn’t a lot of activity and some shops were closed.

Making a last minute decision, we thought it would be nice to try and stay at St. John for our last night of the trip. We chose Coral Bay“the other town” on the island (the other being Cruz Bay, where all the cruise ships dock). Before setting anchor, we stopped at nearby Hurricane Hole for our afternoon snorkeling, and it proved to be much better than our morning stop. Never have we seen more starfish (in fact, the only time we saw any in the BVI), and the mangroves were quite eery to look at underwater).

Sunken Sailboat in St. John

Cruising over to our night stop, we dropped anchor at Coral Bay, which turned out to be like a mobile-home park on the water, with more than a few dilapidated sailboats anchored. Later we came to find out that a lot of people live on these boats (as we did see one person doing his laundry off the side of his boat, with his cats on board watching over him). Before heading ashore, we took a quick tour of the harbor and concluded that it also served as a boat graveyard. If nothing else, this place has character.

Being back in the U.S., we consulted TripAdvisor.com and found a top restaurant, Acqua Bistro, which quickly became one of our favorites of the entire trip. Not only was the food amazing (kudos to the mushroom risotto), but the shops nearby were pretty spectacular. I only know this because my wife says so.  She bought her prize of the trip, a white turquoise necklace. Well, she picked it out. I bought it.

For our last night in the Caribbean, we were showered with some great shooting stars before the almost-full moon came up.

Question of the day: Can you illegally migrate back in to your own country?  There were no customs office in Coral Bay, so we didn’t officially check back in with customs… Apologies to DHS, but rest assured we did everything legal on our departure from the BVI back to the US.

Ipod theme song of the day: None.  Something is going wrong with our generator and batteries. Luckily, it is the last night we’ll need power, but we want to keep the food cool in the fridge/freezer, so no unnecessary power draws tonight.  That includes the ipod speaker.

Day 5 – Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda -> Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke

Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke

Still reveling in our chance encounter with Sir Richard Branson, we jumped in our dinghy and headed past Bitter End and Saba Rock towards Branson’s Necker Island and spent the morning snorkeling around Eustatia Island.

Guana Island

As the August heat beared down on us, and with very little wind, we motored along the north coast of Tortola and stopped for a afternoon swim/snorkel at Guana Island and “accidently” grabbed a private mooring… when a lovely barracuda took shelter directly underneath our boat.  After a bit of hesistation, we jumped in for what turned out to be one of the most spectacular snorkel areas of the trip, where we saw more stingray than any other place so far.

The day ended at Great Harbour in Jost Van Dyke, which turned out to be a pretty popular place even in the down season.  Our drinks and dinner at Foxy’s rivaled that at Trellis Bay Cafe, minus the conch.  Finished off the day as every pseudo-pirate should, with some tasty rum and a spectacular cigar (thank you Kelly L for that one).

Sarah at Foxy's

For those wondering, during the trip we did try out a couple of different rums, a couple of different ways.  Based on straight taste, here’s how we’ve ranked them from best-to-worst: Cruzan Aged Dark Rum, Appleton Estate 12 Year, Pusser’s Rum, Callwood Spiced Rum.  Callwood would have been ranked higher if it was Christmas-time.  The clove and cinnamon were way too pungent for a hot August trip.

Question of the day: If a storm is approaching, why is there no wind?  I don’t think there was even a breeze, as soon-to-be Hurricane Earl headed towards the BVI.

Random ipod theme song: Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” - let me first add this disclaimer: this song is NOT on any of our ipods.  After witnessing some young kids at Foxy’s actually doing a conga dance to this song in the middle of the restaurant, it had to be our song of the day.

Day 4Trellis Bay, Beef Island -> Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda

After a morning snorkel/swim around Trellis Bay, we bid farewell to Payton and Kate, who jetted off to Europe. Luckily, getting them to the airport was a breeze… the tarmac of the airport dead ends in to Trellis Bay. As long as your mast doesn’t exceed 50 feet, you don’t have to make your presence known to the airport tower.

Payton and Kate departing BVI

Passing ‘the Dogs’ that we had snorkeled around the day before, we heading back to Virgin Gorda – this time to the northern part of the island and Leverick Bay.

In reading about Leverick Bay Resort, we were certainly looking forward to “The Restaurant at Leverick Bay,” which promised mouth-watering dishes like conch ceviche, lobster ravioli and fois gras.

One of the down sides of sialing the BVI during off-season, though, is that some places close.  “The Restaurant” is one of those places.

Leverick Bay

We resolved to try out the ONLY place open at the resort (Jumbies Beach Bar), and quickly found that everything we wanted to order (lobster quesadilla, prosciutto pizza) was not available… Couldn’t imagine that anything would turn the night around until low and behold, who walks by our table but Sir Richard Branson!  After that, we realized if Jumbies is good enough for Branson to leave his private island (Necker Island), then it was certainly good enough for us.

Question of the day: If this is the ‘down season’ for the BVI, then what is Sir Richard Branson doing here?  If our waiter at Jumbies has anything to do with it, this “political” problem of having a down season will soon be remedied through his marketing skills.

Random Ipod theme song: Queen, “One Vision” – also the theme song to the ’80s movie, “Iron Eagle” – sadly, we didn’t go nearly as fast as the fighter jets in this movie.

Day 3 – Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda -> Trellis Bay, Beef Island

You don’t realize how much fresh water you truly use until you have to refill your tanks on the 2nd full day of a week-long cruise.  I guess we’re drinking way too much coffee, because we’re certainly not taking a lot of showers

Jumping off the boat

After filling up our water tanks at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, we headed off to The Dogs,” a group of islands off the coast of Virgin Gorda. Specifically, “Great Dog.” On the advice of our aunt who had just been weeks before (thanks Aunt Pat!), Great Dog was a great day anchorage for spectacular snorkeling and swimming… and a little dare-deviling.  It is also becomming a great routine to wake up, eat a piece of fruit, and then snorkel before having breakfast.

Trellis Bay

Heading back towards Tortola, we raced along with an afternoon rain shower hovering over us (to which Payton and I decided to take advantage of the fresh water and attempted to soap up and rinse off). We arrived to our new mooring for the night in Trellis Bay on Beef Island, right next to “The Last Resort,” a tiny island restaurant that was closed for the season.

Taking the dinghy ashore, we were promptly asked to help ‘carry’ a newly acquired sailboat from the shore to the water by one of the locals… who then turned out to own the only restaurant open, Trellis Bay Cafe.

Lucky for us, this turned out to be our favorite meal of the trip so far. We ended up over-ordering food (best Conch fritters to date, calamari, lobster sandwiches with a Hennessey dressing, grilled grouper and ‘Cay Lime’ pie).  Of course, the drinks were spectacular… especially the Pusser’s Punch.

Kate's Dark & Stormy

Question of the day: What is the correct way to drink a Dark & Stormy?  Better ask Kate, as the owner advised her of a specific way but we’re keeping this posting PG rated.

Random Ipod theme song:  Some strange Arabic pop song I think titled “Habibi” on Payton’s ipod… That’s what happens when you travel with this crew… where’s Phil Collins when you need him?

Day 2 – Road Town, Tortola -> Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda

Lounging on the net

By far, the best spot of any catamaran under sail has to be on the front netting.  It’s a hammock situated between each of the pontoons, gets the best breeze, and a slight ocean spray keeps you cool.

Following a half-day sail, we moored near The Baths,” an interesting rock formation along a sandy beach on the southwest part of Virgin GordaAmazing snorkeling to be found, but the most surprising find was on land.

'The Baths'

A small sign pointing to “Devil’s Bay” introduced a small hiking trail, with a warning that you would have to crawl, wade and climb your way to the end… with no entering after 4:30pm (or you turn in to a Gremlin?).  I’m sure it had to do with the tides…

We tried to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner, and after a short walk from our Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, we ended up at “The Rock.”  Upon entering, a Sammy Hagar look-alike peeked up at us from his dinner at the bar, wearing a sequin “Fleur des Lis” shirt.  Later, as we regrettably experienced, he was the evening’s entertainment.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Afroman’s ‘Because I Got High’ on a piano, show-tune style.  With a lead singer that my tone-deaf wife could out-sing (she readily admits this).

Question of the day: If hens and roosters are the females and males of the species, then what is a chicken?  Sometimes, there’s a lot of time to kill while under sail…

Random Ipod theme song: Postal Service, “Take a Look at Me Now” Phil Collins cover.  Somehow Mr. Collins has taken over our vacation…. To be remedied tomorrow.

Posted by: hunterwaters | August 30, 2010

Bareboating in the BVI – Day One: Road Town Harbor, Tortola

Day One – Road Town Harbor, Tortola

Fully expected a “Big Ass Fan” upon arriving Beef Island Airport in the British Virgin Islands (Liberia airport in Costa Rica sports one in the baggage claim area), but alas the small airport could never accommodate one.  The upside?  Very small lines for customs and taxis, even if you’re the last one off your plane.

Short, winding road along the southern coast of Tortola took us to Road Town Harbor, where my wife and I met up with the following characters:

Gallant Crew of 'Waypoint II'

Rick, “Master of the Vessel” — Sarah, Skipper of Waypoint II — Payton, Semi-Retired Member of the Gallant Crew — Kate, Member of the Gallant Crew

Rick's Certificate

Carib at Road Town Harbor

After a late lunch, a couple of Caribs and fruity cocktails onshore while the “Master of the Vessel” and “Skipper” learned the ways of the boat.  Luckily, Rick was granted a cruising permit and we, as his “Gallant Crew,” or as we called ourselves the “Jolly Ship of Fools,” set sail and moored in Road Town Harbor for the night.

We made good use of the dingy (aka smaller boat for those nautically challenged), although it was certainly not made to hold all of us.  Like a group of Swiss Navy Seals, we stormed the shores of “The Moorings” for dinner… and quickly decided that if we actually had to storm anything, we’d have at least a 50% casualty rate.

Question of the day: Is it safe to swim in a harbor where all boat waste is discharged immediately after ‘use’?  Half of us think so… we’ll let you know if we get sick.

Random Ipod theme song: Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight” – c’mon, is there any better beach/boat related song out there?  Can you see images of Crocket & Tubbs in the air… tonight?  Now, just try not to get it stuck in your head.

As previously mentioned, a week will be spent ‘crewing’ the 42-foot catamaranWaypoint II, in the British Virgin Islands.

Half-jokingly, but in preparation for the trip, I’ve done some serious research on the deadliest things to eat from the ocean, as well as the worst maritime disasters ever.

Now, I give you the ROGUE WAVE – “In oceanography, they are defined as waves whose height is more than twice the significant wave height” – aka monster waves.  They are not to be confused with tsunamis, nor can they be accurately predicted… they just come out of nowhere.

While very little concern has gone in to any of the above issues, most effort has been spent on what to bring onboard.  Luckily, there are some provisioners on the island that will deliver your food order directly to your ship.

For six people – some fruit, bread and deli meats will suffice.

Thankfully, we’re not having to load up like some huge cruise ship.  The MS Freedom of the Seas has to stock 20,000 lbs of beef, 1,400 lbs of lobster, 28,000 eggs, 1,500 lbs of coffee, and 1,500 gallons of milk.

Compared to our 3 lbs of deli meats, 24 eggs, 1 lb of coffee and 1 gallon of milk.

I guess we’ll just have to catch our own lobster.

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