Tuesday, May 13, 2014

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Our friend Brit from Halcyon took this rare family shot for us.
We arrived in St. Thomas on a Tuesday, when a couple of gigantic cruise ships were in town. Downtown Charlotte Amalie was swarming with cruise ship passengers as the jewelry, liquor, and T-shirt stores vied for their attention. After a short time, we had had enough of the crowds and the repetitive stores. The oppressive heat and humidity didn't help either. On the other hand, with tourism as the country's main source of income, we can appreciate the financial benefit that the cruise ships provide. It was also nice to duck into the stores to catch small breaks in air conditioned comfort.

St. Thomas harbor. There's our boat, right...there.
On Wednesday, we went on the hunt for nuts (food, not hardware), which is the one thing that we weren't really able to stock up on in Puerto Rico because they were still so pricey. We picked up a few almonds because they were the least expensive we have found so far but we struck out on walnuts. The next time we're at a Costco in the States, we're squirreling away half a boat load of nuts. The U.S. Virgin Islands are also duty-free, so we picked up some cheap rum to knock out all the fish we're going to catch.

Since then, it's been raining. A lot. If you look at the radar, there's a huge swath of green (and yellow and red) that has just been sitting over the area. Fortunately the lightning has been sporadic. Although it has been wet, at least the boat is the cleanest it's been in a while. It's also much cooler and less humid, which is a relief.

Also, Matt has been dutifully crossing off items on the boat's ever-present to do list, including replacing the starboard engine's bilge pump. Unfortunately, there are always new surprises to add to the list. Matt found a stray nut (hardware, not food) laying on the ground in the port engine compartment and after some investigation figured out that one of the four bolts that holds the propeller shaft to the transmission had fallen out again, less than a year after resolving the same issue. Because reattaching the bolt requires pulling off the entire shaft coupler, Matt tried briefly to rationalize to himself that maybe the three remaining bolts would be good enough. Commonsense won out over being sick of boat work and he fixed it. We have also learned that apparently Loctite isn't strong enough to stand up to the vibration of our engine.

Then one morning our second brand-new freezer controller (again, less than a year old) decided to die. Fortunately, a refrigeration company in town had one and we didn't have to try to save a freezer full of meat and fish or wait a week for the part. The controller is under warranty and the manufacturer is sending a new one out, so we will carry it as a spare in case it breaks again. I am starting to think it would be easier to go vegetarian than keep this hunk of junk freezer. It's been nothing but trouble since we had it installed. But...ice. And ice cream.

"99 Steps" - Matt and Brit actually counted
102 steps. It's a huge scam.
During a break in the rain, we did some touristy things with our friend Brit on Halcyon. It was a Friday, which apparently means that there are no cruise ships in town and, probably as a result, lots of touristy things are closed (Blackbeard's castle, the cable cars, the museum). It felt like we had the town to ourselves. That is until we went to the store and encountered the gridlock from Friday afternoon rush hour traffic.

Cat on a...you know where I'm going.

When the squalls clear up, we'll head to St. John's and then over to the British Virgin Islands.

In case it's not obvious, there are some steep hills here. Matt
and Brit on one of the steepest roads of this length I've seen.

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