Buddy Boats and New Tricks

Buddy Boats and New Tricks


I knew that we’d probably lose touch with our group of 6-10 buddy boats once we hit the Virgin Islands and  it’s true that we haven’t seen any of them since Culebra, except one, Vagabond. We’ve officially bond-ed with the Canadian, single-hander, Dan. A 47′ sailing vessel is hard to handle alone; I don’t care who you are. He rotates out crew, such as Steve, and friends from home. It’s part of his journey. His daughter, Lindsay, is coming this week along with a couple of female professional hockey players. Should be interesting!

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Boys club! Luke, Trent, Steve and Dan.

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Dan on the bow, Trent, Irmgard and Steve on the deck.

I’m just glad we’ve found someone who’s very like minded and that Trent and I both enjoy being around. Dan’s easy to navigate with and is extremely kind above all. Plus, we seem to have the same general plan about continuing on through the Panama Canal. It would be nice to have someone alongside who you can really depend on. We could be together a long time. Now, when I mentioned this idea to Dan a couple of weeks ago he wasn’t too sure but now he’s just like part of the Armstrong family. He wants to travel with us and recently brought the subject up on his own. Sweet! Sometimes, you see, you get boat buddies that you don’t want and it can drive you crazy.

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Sapphire Beach had lots of critters.

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I finally captured this phenomenon. It’s a seagull sitting on a pelican. The pelican just dived on a fish.

There really hasn’t been a lot of navigating lately due to the lack of choices on which way or where to go. We just sailed with the herd. Anchorages have been limited and few and far between, until now, the options are absolutely endless. By default, I know enough about navigating and what makes for a good anchorage that I’m stepping up to the helm and planning an our sail through the Virgin Islands. The guys are taking a back seat, and rightfully so, they’ve done it for months, and I just want to make everyone happy. Trent’s brought me to the Virgin Islands and this former event planner is excited to take the lead on this and teach herself some new tricks.
We’ve dinghied over to the condo every morning to be with the family but since I get up at 5:30 a.m. or so, when the first ferry flies by, I sit at the settee and spread out the chart and guide books to do some research. Friends from Texas, Alabama, cruisers and followers have given us recommendations and I’ve collected them onto a notebook so not to forget one comment. Island by island I pick through the guide book and examine the chart to select the best options for the direction the wind is most likely to blow. Questions I try to ask myself: What’s the draw? Is there good swimming/snorkeling? Cheap food or happy hour? Public or private beach? Is is inhabited? Are we likely to need provisions or water? Does Pepper need parts? Gas? Diesel? Is is a safe area? Is there a free dinghy dock where we can lock up? How’s the holding in the anchorage? Remarkably, I’m answering all of these questions without internet, the old fashioned way, with maps and books.

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Trent made some friends at Virgin Island National Park. He used to have 3 himself, imagine that!

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Water as clear as the Bahamas at Virgin Island National Park.

I plan for about an hour every morning the last 10 days and so far I’ve only decided on 7 stops. We all sailed Vagabond over to the Virgin Island National Park yesterday on St. John and can check that one off this list. It was  just as pretty as a post card. Once we leave St. Thomas our first stop will be Jost Van Dyke to treat ourselves to some rum punch at the famous Foxy’s. Jost Van Dyke is in the British Virgin Islands so our first day on the island will be spent checking into customs and immigration, then onto Foxy’s. There’s a couple of other things we hope to do while we’re there but once we leave the USVI’s we won’t come back because the Canadians would have to clear in, though we’ll pass by St. John again. There’s a lot to take into consideration. A week after leaving St. Thomas we’ll drop off some of Vagabond’s crew in Tortola and pick up another crew for the next week.
So here’s what I’ve got planned for us so far.
Great Harbour at Jost Van Dyke / check into the British Virgin Islands, sip some rum at Soggy Dollar Bar and Foxy’s
Little Jost Van Dyke at Manchioneel Bay / play in the Bubbly Pool near Sandy Cay
Norman Island at Bight Bay / this place has a very rich pirate history, some of the best snorkeling in the world and of course Willy T’s
Peter Island at Deadman’s Bay / snorkeling galore
Salt Island at South Bay / dive or snorkel on The Wreck of Rhone and hike to the Salt Pond
Cooper Island at Hallovers Bay / snorkel around Cistern Point and Black Point
Road Town in Tortola (capitol of the BVI’s) / Pusser’s Outpost, sightseeing, provisioning and Dan will swap out his crew here
Love to go to Anegada and St. Croix…we’ll see which way the wind blows us next!

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Brothers! Our dinghy is tied to a line out behind us because we weren’t allowed to anchor or pull the dinghy up on shore. It’s to protect the park. Vagabond was on a free mooring ball.

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All the A’s at Sapphire Beach.

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Sapphire Beach family picture!

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7 Comments

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  1. Kent

    Wow, living the dream! It’s like you are in all these areas daily we all only dream about and go to a few times in our lives. Lobster, rum and fun! Otherwise, living the dream here at work, stress, sandwiches and water! Send more photos!

  2. Steve Thompson FBG

    Hey you’s guys… so cool to see how far ya’ll have come along in your journey and glad to see your family is getting to share in the adventure. I wish I could be enjoy some time there with you. Miss ya both.. stay safe.

    Steve – back in Austin now.

  3. Scott

    Just thought I would let you know…. Mobile Bay is still brown!! I get happy everything I see you’ve posted something new. Great pics and great writing!

  4. Mike

    You didn’t mention The Baths on Virgin Gorda and you can’t miss that. It is the most photographed site in the BVIs. You hike from one beach to Devil’s Bay through boulders as big as houses. It is definitely something to see. You can tie up to a day mooring ball for free (no overnight), and take your dinghy to a line for tie-off. The North Sound on Virgin Gorda is cool for an overnight stop.

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