Last month started with a 1,500 NM rally from Hampton, VA, USA to one of our favorites – North Sound, Virgin Gorda, hosted by the Salty Dawgs. Joining us were friends Gloria Borrego and Simon Garland and no sooner had they jumped on board than we were informed by weather guru Chris Parker to leave now or wait a week. We bolted. I was more than ready to swim again in blue clear waters!
We motored for 3 days, caught our breath, relaxed, got into the long distance passage rhythm with our new crew, and when the wind finally caught up to us had some glorious sailing. The last day was perfect – Tigger was hoisted as we saw the Virgins on the horizon. Once we entered the channel we dropped anchor and jumped in the clear blue warm refreshing sandy bottom water next to Prickly Pear Island! Trebuchet, a Switch 51 had been sailing alongside us for a few days and they joined in the celebration.
We stayed in the harbor for a week greeting fellow rally friends and before Thanksgiving sailed to Anegada, the Baths, Norman Island, and finally St Thomas where we left El Gato on a mooring at the St Thomas Yacht Club.
Good buddy and local cat sailor Teri McKenna was our babysitter and made sure we had energy to keep the food from spoiling while we continue to replace the faulty solar panels with stronger and better.
Flying home is always a treat even if only for 5 days. What we call home is confusing at times. The boat is our home while we’re on it and we were on 95% of the time this year, but if we talk of San Diego we call that home. Tongue in cheek we’ve decided to call SD our vacation home. And someday, when we finish all this world traveling on El Gato the plan is to take her with us to SD and keep her at the SDYC as our vacation home. No idea when that will be as we have so many places to still explore and discover!
Meanwhile, we made the decision to stay south in 2017 instead of making the big trek north. No America’s Cup, no cold or brown water, no easy access to internet, no 1st world! Instead of lobster traps and the land of plenty, we will be south of the hurricane path and practice our ABC’s – Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Cartagena among others.
Sailing to Charlotte Amalie to watch the Carlos Aguilar Regatta hosted by the Women’s International Match Racing Tour we found Nicole Breault, a good friend and coach for the Berkeley Sailing Team which son Eric has been captain of. It was too late to cheer her team on – we got there as her team (Sarah Lihan, Eliza Richartz, Local Sarah) was eliminated in the round robin series but they still finished in 5th out of 12 on this world tour event. After a brief stint of commentating her team and the hilariously fun Finnish team sailed back to STYC and swam at Christmas Cove on the way. The girls had a chance to forget about the racing and play. We heard more than once the sail on El Gato took the sting out of not winning. Their smiles and laughter said it all.
After too may work days (cruising is defined as spending too much money fixing your yacht in exotic places) we dashed over to St Croix. It was the perfect getaway! Only 35 miles out, a beam reach, and we caught a Dorado on the way!
After renting a car
and finding some fun local spots and teaching other American’s how to play dominos at the Domino Club,
we learned our application to go to the famous Buck Island Park was accepted.
From here we return to St Thomas, then wait for a weather window to head east to Antigua with a stop or 2 on the way. Saba? Nevis? The weather will dictate but if it’s possible Saba is high on the list!
Home for the holidays and back in January with all systems 100% ready to go!
First charter in 2017 is mid January off Antigua.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year!