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Cruising Tales: Down Time Between Charters

Your charter is over and now you have a long break before the next one. What to do? Watch that porn movie? Have sex? Eat a big meal out? Sure, all of the above, but don’t forget to make time for “an adventure.”

The usual plan is to work but also have fun between projects. Yeah? That NEVER EVER pans out unless you go to an island where there are no marine stores at all.  If you forget a vital part, then that project can’t be done, leaving more time for an adventure!

In 1972, Mike and I anchored Avenir II in Leinster Bay on the north side of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands where the road ended at the Annaberg Sugar Mill. There we worked on the boat in the cooler mornings, then hopped on our trusty Red Shoe, our Honda 100. We explored St. John and had adventures getting lost.

Have you ever ended up in a pig sty? Or at the edge of a precipitous cliff? Or at a mangrove swamp? All these interesting “adventures” await you but you must follow strict rules: no planning, no road map and no asking for directions.  Just go where your whim guides you.

First, we had to get the Honda aboard in St. Thomas.  We laid it into the dinghy and hoisted it aboard with the main halyard. At the National Park dock at Cruz Bay, St. John, we rolled it off the deck onto the dock. Mike rode the bike to Leinster Bay while I took Avenir II there, anchored it and picked him up with the dinghy at the beach near the Annaberg Sugar Mill.

The plan to work a little and play a lot went well. We discovered ruins crouching in tight little forests of St. John, braved the horrendous unpaved boulder-strewn road out to East End, gave right of way to the donkeys and made new friends.

As always, there are those hitches that turn well-laid plans into chaos. When we had to return to St. Thomas, I took Mike in the dinghy to the place where we had parked the Honda. There we discovered several park rangers who were about to hoist our Honda into a truck. They had noticed the bike parked there every evening, assumed that it had been abandoned and were taking it to the Visitor’s Center.       

After being assured that we were the owners, they left and Mike took the
Honda to the Park Service dock. Meanwhile, I returned to the boat to meet him.  Simple, yes?  Uh-uh. During an adventure something often goes wrong when you least expect it. It did.

After leaving Leinster Bay and going through the Narrows and past Johnson Reef, I was about to enter the narrow, rocky passage between the Durloe Cays and Hawksnest Point on St. John. The engine overheated and quit abruptly. I was in a tough position. If I anchored, the boat’s stern would probably swing into the rocks off Durloe. The jib was not a roller-furling one so there was not enough time to unbag it, hank it on, hoist it and fly it.

Luckily a small motorboat took my bow line, towed me through the passage and let me loose. There was enough way on to drift into Scott Bay next to Caneel Bay where I anchored and retrieved Mike in Cruz Bay. After the engine cooled we found the impeller shot due to overheating from a clogged heat exchanger.

See? Adventures happen when you least expect them!

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