The Burnetts are spending Christmas on a mooring ball in Little Lameshur Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands. We are the only ones here at the moment. We don’t have any snow, but we sure have rain. I’m sure “I’m Dreaming of a Wet Christmas” would be a great hit down here.
Christmas in the tropics, to be honest is, well, a bit lame. None of the traditions make sense down here, especially on a boat. This is a particularly challenging location. Our paper Alpine Christmas Village almost blew away when a squall came up before we could close our doors. There are no stockings up, as Mel stored all of the socks in the bilge five months ago and now she can’t find them. There is certainly no fireplace and no roasted chestnuts. Couldn’t find chestnuts in the stores anyway. If Santa came by and managed to not get stuck in a hatch, we’d probably find a saltwater-soaked, sweat-stained, fur-lined velvet hat on the floor Christmas morning, with a note attached saying, “Just keep it.” Anyway, if his reindeer landed on our topsides they would slide ride off, bounce once on the trampoline, and plunge into the water with a terrific splash. We would all awaken abruptly, shouting, “Whale!”
However, halfway through this Christmas Mel realized that her proportions were all off. The winter holiday traditions are part of it, but the makeup of Christmas (for us less religious folk) is more like 90% Family, Charity, Goodwill, and Food, and 10% Creative Distractions Because Winter Sucks. With family visiting, Wi-Fi for online donations, and a 10 pound turkey that actually fit in our oven, we were able to take care of most of the 90%, with the exception of some notable family absences. So Merry Christmas, from Christmas Island!
Of course, because we have not had good Wi-Fi for a while, Mel is a bit behind on the blog. So here is a “bonus post” on the days leading up to Christmas, which I wrote while at Soper’s Hole Marina in Tortola, BVI:
We have had a whirlwind time the last few days. Mel just typed the word, “whirlwind” while a huge gust of wind blew down on her from the mountains of Tortola, shaking the new hammocks Greg strung up in the aft cockpit. Cool. Mel will try that again. Whirlwind. Whirlwind. Holy crap it worked!
Mel had a lovely birthday on the 19th, consisting of two dives in the morning followed by a great meal with her family at the Cooper Island resort, with cake and presents. Mel wore a lot less clothing on this birthday than in prior years. Think about it; it is not as exciting as it sounds. This was a significant birthday for any nerd: 42. If you don’t know why, well, then, you must not be a nerd.
Now officially 42, Mel dove off of the boat with Greg and explored the wrecked RMS Rhone just off of Salt Island. The ocean gave us the quick version of the tour due to a monstrous current, and Mel and Greg found themselves holding hands to stay together, flying over the coral-encrusted stern 60 feet down in 10 seconds like Superman and Lois Lane. During our flight we spied one giant rock lobster that attacked us in slow motion, waving his 3 ft-long antennae and his juicy tail at us. Maybe one day we will meet again, Rocky…
We then spent a couple blissful days anchored in Little Harbor on Peter Island on flat, lake-like water, doing lake-like things like kayaking and floating without choking on waves. This was the first time we had to tie our stern to a tree with a line – and the first time Mel cleared a fouled prop. We will do it a different way next time. Sea stories.
The contrast in atmosphere was significant when we next picked up a mooring ball on Norman Island, supposed inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which Mel made Tommy read over the summer. The wind was quite noisy spilling down from the mountains, capable of drowning out the ruckus at Willy T.’s, the floating restaurant where you can get a free T-shirt if you jump from the roof naked. Unfortunately, no one onboard has a T-shirt now. Mel is afraid of heights.
Our new game on board is called, “Spot the charterers.” We played this in the Bight. Usually, at anchor these folks have not zipped up their sailbag and their mainsail is still halfway up the mast. Their booms flop high and wildly in the wind. If they do hang clothes on the line, it is attractive and bright “resort wear,” towels, and bikinis, not UV-faded T-shirts and Tilley hats. One can spot the charterers early in the morning in their dinghies, retrieving the noodles and cushions that blew overboard overnight. Finally, many have forgotten how to do a proper cleat hitch or bowline, so they do very interesting things with their dinghy painters. Ah, the bliss of having no downstream responsibility for your actions…
And so at Norman Island, surrounded by about 40 charter boats, we were alerted while dining at Willy T’s of a rogue dinghy. Oh dear, poor charterer, we thought, watching the dingy drift randomly in the bay. They must not have secured it properly. Then suddenly, “Wait a minute! That’s our dinghy!” came out of Greg’s mouth, as we spotted Susie’s distinctive console and non-ABness, rarities around here. Fortunately some nice folks at Willy T.’s rescued it for us. We will never know what happened, but we have a better bond with the charterers now. But zip up your sailbags, people! That sun is harsh!
And so we decided to rest a bit at a marina on Tortola. Amongst the cute pink and purple shops lining the marina, Allie found some chartering kids to practice telling her own “sea stories” to, and we entertained some Havanese-owning fellow sailors with Glenfiddich and Greg’s knowledge of WWII. And that is how we rest in the BVI’s.