Pandora’s not in Kansas any more. Inching closer to home.

Nope, not in Antigua, I’m back in the U.S.S.A.   Actually, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m in St Thomas, Charlotte Amalie, the largest port in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Yesterday I dropped Craig off at the airport in Tortola, capping a week together and a run from Antigua to the BVIs with a stop in St Martin along the way.

It was nice to spend time with Craig and great to have help to bring Pandora the 200 miles back to the BVIs where I will be meeting crew for my run north to CT in mid May.

I was even able to save Craig the cost of a cab ride as I took a mooring near the airport.  So near in fact, that it was only a one minute walk to the terminal from the beach.  That’s close.  I’ll bet that this isn’t a normal view of a walkway to the terminal when you head out to catch a flight.  Me neither.Brenda and I had heard about a “full moon party” that was held in Trellis Bay Tortola, the harbor where I dropped Craig at the airport, put on by some artist guy named Aragorn in a spot aptly named “Aragorn’s Studio”.  Aragorn?  I saw the guy and it seemed to me that he looked more like a “Burt”, albeit with an artist flair.   I wonder if he changed his name?  Actually, his real name is Dick. Hmm.  Surely “Dick’s full moon party” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Here he is working in his studio.  He’s the guy on the left.  He invited me into his studio, sand floor and all.    So much for OSHA safety regulations.  “Don’t worry, you’re in the islands mon.”  This link will tell you a bit about his background.
So, twelve times a year he throws a “full moon party” a sort of cookout in celebration of the full moon.   There are twelve full moons a year and twelve parties.  Get it?  Pretty symmetrical.

So Dick, AKA Aragorn, is a sculptor and makes all sorts of metal sculptures.  His work is very unique.  For the full moon party, he has made some huge open sculptures that he apparently stuffs with flammable stuff and lights them on fire, out in the water.This is what it looks like when the party is in full swing.   Well, I’m sure it looks great, but I guess you had to be there.  Perhaps next winter. And, there is a “full moon guy” too.   As you’d expect, the parties are held on the full moon so they happen on the lunar calendar verses the tourist calendar.  Even though there is a “real” full moon that same night, he provides a large round white sculpture that I think has spotlight projected on it to simulate the, not surprisingly, “full moon” just in case it’s not going to rise at a convenient time on the appointed evening.   As you’d expect, the “full moon guy” faces Aragorn’s (Dick’s) “moon”.   Aragorn is clearly a showman.  I’m impressed.

His studio is out back and is a jumble of materials and partially finished pieces. Clearly, he draws inspiration from nature in the Caribbean. With a marine theme throughout. This piece is about 8′ wide.  While there’s plenty for sale in his shop, the grounds are littered with much of his work as well as that of other artists that share his space. A lot of his work is fabricated from “found” items.  Once a cargo net?  Now, who knows but it is very purple.
I liked this driftwood “lizard”.  Or, perhaps it is a dragon.  I guess it’s up to you and perhaps how many rum punches you’ve had. Certainly, his signature pieces are the “fire balls” that star at his parties and this is how they start out.  He told me that they are mooring buoys and that finding them is getting harder and harder.  He gave me his card and asked me to keep an eye out for more like these.  I’ll bet that there would be an “Aragorn T shirt” in it for you if you find some.
I dropped Craig off and then had to decide what I was going to do with myself for the next five days until I headed back home for a two week visit prior to returning to the BVIs with crew to run Pandora north.   Those that know me understand that “alone” isn’t something that I do very well.

Not to repeat myself, but I really only want to be all alone while I am in the bathroom and that assumes that it doesn’t take too long.  “Brenda, can you come in with me and sit for a bit?  I need company.”

I was also a bit anxious about managing a 47’ boat, Pandora, for anchoring and picking up, horrors, a mooring if that’s the only option by myself.  The constant struggle for Internet and phone access is beginning to wear on me so I was also focused on being in a place where my T-Mobile phone was going to work consistently.  Oddly, in spite of that service having an “international plan” we found that it just didn’t work well in the BVIs or Antigua.   In other islands, it worked fine and provided excellent, if a bit slow, Internet access.

As the American Virgin Islands were only a few miles away I decided to make a run for the main harbor in St Thomas, Charlotte Amali.  Perhaps not the most scenic spot but convenient and provisioning there for the run north will be easier than Tortola, not known as the “gastronomic hotspot” in the Caribbean.  Did I mention that we love the French islands?   Can I have another baguette?

I don’t want to give the impression that St Thomas, with it’s fine T shirt shops, hasn’t got any good dining but I don’t believe it’s chock full of patisseries and I sincerely doubt that I’ll find a fresh baguette for $1 in these parts.  However, at least I’ll be able to visit an “American style” grocery to stock up on food for the trip north.  Can you say “Guys, how about soup for dinner tonight?  No? Hamburger helper?”   What do you expect from a country where cheese “American Cheese” named after the country isn’t even cheese?

So, here I am in St. Thomas and as luck would have it, my friends Bill and Maureen on Kalunamoo are here too.  How convenient and now I have Maureen to keep me on the straight and narrow while I am away from Brenda.   “Down Bob, down Bob, only one ice cream per day for you.”   No, I’m exaggerating, if only this once.   Maureen would never say that.  She likes ice cream too.  It’s terrific to see them again.

My mother always says that I generally luck out.   What are the odds that some of my favorite cruising buddies would be here too?  For me, pretty good it seems.  Lucky me.

When Craig joined me in Antigua, we spent a few days seeing the sights albeit at a faster pace than Brenda and I have been at the last few months.  And, with only one week to move Pandora the nearly 200 miles from Antigua to the BVIs we had to keep moving.

Given the short timeline for our trip we opted to make the 100 mile first leg run from Antigua to St Martin at night.  We had a great run with a 16-20kt wind on the beam and made the run in 12 hours, an average of 8kts.  It was quite a ride and I always marvel at the amazing stars on an overnight passage.

From St Martin to North Sound in the BVIs, a somewhat shorter run, also took us about 12 hours as that run is nearly due west so the easterly trade winds were behind us.  However, we were also able to make that leg under sail the whole way.  It’s great to be able to run 200 miles in two legs and to be able to sail the entire time.   This was Craig’s first experience with “trade wind sailing” and he was liking it.  We even caught a small bonito tuna on our last day as we passed between some smaller islands in the BVIs. It’s much different than sailing in New England where winds always seem to be blowing from exactly where you want to go.

We arrive in North Sound BVIs at 04:00 and picked our way into the anchorage.   After a few hours of sleep we cleared in and took a mooring at the Bitter End Yacht Club, a very nice resort.   It’s very well manicured with paths along the water.  There are also plenty of “villas” up on the hill and plenty of spots to sit and relax. Perched on the hill, some of the villas look more like tree houses. Here’s Pandora on her mooring off of the beach.  We chose mooring “0” as it was the closest to the dock.As the sun set Pandora looked lovely framed by the palm trees. That evening a yacht, more like a ship, pulled up nearby. It was nearly 300’ long.
Savanna, doesn’t have a traditional transom. Actually, nothing about this yacht is traditional and her name is spelled out in cushions on the aft deck.  How trendy.  She sports a plumb bow and looks like she means business.Savanna sports a crew of 20.   A few of them on the dock give a feel for the scale of this boat. So what does it take to be able to afford such a yacht?   The answer is a net worth of $1,000,000,000.  Did I get the number of “0s”right?  That’s a billion.  And they say that when considering how much to spend on your yacht assume that you should not spend more than 10% of your worth on such an endeavor.   It seems that’s exactly what Lukas Lundin did when he had her built as it’s estimated that it cost him $100m by the time Savanna was launched in 2015.

His father was a co-discoverer of a very large oil field in the middle east and he’s now chairman of the company that bears his name.  Good thing as I’ll bet that Savanna has a pretty health appetite for oil.   Before you get too jealous of good old Lukas, he’s divorced.  I guess that a billion dollars can’t buy marital bliss.

However, he does have Savanna and she’s a remarkable vessel.  Unfortunately, she can’t be chartered so you won’t be able to see for yourself.  This article has some great shots of her interior.

So, here I am, back in the good old US of A, sort of.  Unfortunately, while I can make “local” calls on my T-Mobile international phone, I can’t get wifi over the phone so here I sit in a coffee shop typing away.

The harbor here in St Thomas is quite large, with room for many boats as well as huge cruise ships.    This one came in this morning and maneuvered itself up to the dock. As it turned to back into it’s berth it looked like it was going to sweep a few boats away in it’s wake.  It looked precariously close to this powerboat but probably wasn’t.I am told that sometimes there are four of these monsters in residence with one having to anchor out and use it’s stern thrusters to keep from swinging into the anchored boats.

I’ll be here for a few more days and then will head back to the BVIs where Pandora will be on a mooring for a few weeks till I return to bring Pandora north in mid may.

No, I am not in Antigua any more, or Kansas, but I am getting closer to home, inch by nautical inch.


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