Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #13 Listening In

Okay, so the laundry and grocery shopping aren’t very interesting adventures, but how about this? Today when we returned to the boat from our shore excursion (to K-Mart, Western Auto, Office Max, and True Value) there was a submarine anchored in our anchorage at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. It has caused some concern, especially with all the security issues and 3 cruise ships in the harbor. The yacht anchored next to the sub called the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16 to report its existence and position, and to get some reassurance that someone in the authorities already knew about it. When they finally got connected on the same channel on the second try, the conversation went something like this:
Ayacanora Skipper: There is a submarine anchored next to my boat in Charlotte Amalie Harbor. It isn’t flying any flag and I think it’s a Russian sub. I’d like to know if anyone knows about it in view of the cruise ships here.
Coast Guard: What’s your concern, sir?
Ayacanora: I repeat. There is a submarine anchored in Charlotte Amalie Harbor right next to my boat. I served on a submarine, and I think it’s Russian. Can anyone tell me why it’s here?
Coast Guard: Would you spell the name of your boat, sir?
Ayacanora: A-Y-A-C-A-N-O-R-A.
Coast Guard: Would you repeat the spelling of the name of your boat?
Ayacanora (with exasperation): A-Y-A-C-A-N-O-R-A. I want to know why the submarine is here!
Another Voice: It’s a Colombian sub and is here for a friendly visit. There’s no problem. The harbor pilots know about it.
Ayacanora: The harbor pilot I talked to didn’t know anything about it.
Another Voice: There’s more than one pilot.
Ayacanora: Well, then I’ll just sign off.
So we wonder who the other voice belonged to—A senior Coast Guard officer? The sub skipper? DEA?—and why didn’t he identify himself? And was the “spell the name of your boat, sir” a delaying tactic? We hope the Coast Guard Radio Operator has more on the ball than he sounded like! But we doubt that the sub was in the harbor for shopping and touring! We expect it to be gone in the morning.

The submarine is still here. It appears that the crew has been on shore leave after all. So far they’ve been exemplary guests in the harbor. Ayacanora, however, departed early yesterday morning.

Submarine in Long Bay anchorage

We went to church this morning at Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church here in Charlotte Amalie. The church was established in 1666 by the Danish West India Company, and the building was constructed from 1789 to 1793. While the church itself is very old, the service had a very modern flavor, from the music (with drums) to the pastors’ demeanors to the radio broadcasting. We got a very warm welcome, and although it was another long service (1½ hrs.), it was very enjoyable. We’d like to go back to hear the senior pastor preach. We understand he uses no notes and a portable mike! Sounds warmly familiar, eh? During the fellowship hour after church we met a couple in their mid-seventies who have a 40’ O’Day Sailboat and have been wintering here for 16 years. They also maintain a waterfront home in N.J. where they have a 23’ Sea Ray powerboat tied up. Because of advancing age, they have decided to give up the sailboat here, but not the powerboat up north! We also met one of the leaders of the local USO who asked us how we liked having a Colombian sub for a neighbor. She said the crew has visited the USO and has been very nice. They asked her what she thought of when she thinks of Colombia. Of course she said drugs, and then they proceeded to tell her about the poverty and poor educational system. Apparently, even here in Charlotte Amalie, much less Colombia and Nicaragua, it is not unusual for students to be using photocopies of texts in school.

That was the good part of the day. The bad part was unclogging one of the heads (toilets)—the most disgusting cruising activity so far! But at least after borrowing a plunger and another trip to K-Mart for a plumbing snake, Jim was successful. And we’re really grateful that we have two heads—toilets, that is.

We stayed on board to do some odd jobs and recoop from running around town the last several days. We started making a list of equipment to order, in order of priority, and how to get it ordered. Such an awesome task! At least here in Charlotte Amalie we can use the phone and e-mail regularly, and they are both necessities for our orders. It just means we have to go into town each day to do that. The submarine left yesterday.

The cyber café we’ve been using is right next to the cruise ship dock, and it always has a very international flavor. Many crew and passengers of varying nationalities come in off the ships to use the phones and computers, so we hear a variety of languages and dialects. I try to attend to our own computer business and not eavesdrop, but occasionally a nearby conversation is too captivating to ignore. The other day a couple in full wedding garb came in to use a phone, presumably to call the groom’s family in what sounded like Australia. Today a family (dad, mom, and pre-teen son) entered the café to use a phone. All were wearing attire that screamed tourist. The café attendant showed them to a phone near where we were sitting and asked about the weather. Mom said it was hot walking around. Then dad said, “But e-it’s pro’bly freezin’ in Noth Ca’lahna!” When dad got on the phone the comments went something like this (and I’m not making this up!):
(Dad on the phone): Whazzup!! E-it’s Tra-imp! Hahr ya’ll doin’?...Yeah, e-it’s hot here, Mama…We’re in St. Thomas…Bin seein’ all th’ saghts…Came to a phone store where’s e-it’s $.50 a minute, ‘stedda se-ix nahnty-nahn on the she-ip…Wanna talk to (mom’s name)?
(Mom gets on the phone): Hah, Mama. Yeah, e-it’s hot here…Yeah, we’re jest doin’ ever’thin’ up…Jest wanted ta say “Hey”. Wanna speak ta (son’s name)? Here he is. Luv ya, Mama.
(Kid gets on the phone): E-it’s too hot here. Ah got me a sun-burn…Ah de-id!...Here’s daddy.
(Dad gets back on the phone): Well, we gotta go, Mama. Jest wanted ta call and say Ah luv ya, Mama. Bah!
When the family left they got charged $1.50 for their call. Dad said, “A dollar fe-ifty? Thait’s a good de-al!” Little did dad know that just across the street was an AT&T center where with an AT&T Sam’s Club phone card, he could have called home for just $.05 a minute! The card we have has been great for calling businesses in Florida and California.

Long Bay at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Later in the day we joined a group of cruisers going to the free Wednesday night Paradise Point Tram ride to Happy Hour at the top of the hill. We engaged in good conversation and listened to suggestions about going to Trinidad for the hurricane season, as well as about other good down-island ports. Don’t worry. We still plan to return to the States. We also talked with the 70-year-old owner of a charter company in Bayfield, Wisconsin, who’s planning to sell the company. It’s apparently been a very profitable business. Any takers out there?

Today we got up early to leave Charlotte Amalie and head to Independent Boat Yard to get the last part of our refrigeration repair completed. Fortunately, prior to departing, we listened to our cell phone voice mail to learn that our appointment needed to be delayed until tomorrow. We decided to go anyway, so began weighing anchor. However, it weighed more than it was supposed to! Something on the bottom had snagged the chain, and held us fast…or slow, depending on how you looked at it. We spent the next 45 minutes maneuvering the boat to release the chain. Diver Paul happened by and suggested that he could go down to clear the snag later in the day, if we were still stuck then. During Jim’s conversation with Diver Paul the boat drifted in just the right direction to release the chain. So we quickly went on our way, happy that we didn’t need Diver Paul’s services this time. His quote of $60 didn’t sound too bad, but we’d rather spend it on other things. Now we are comfortably anchored in Christmas Cove off St. James Island, just 30 minutes from Independent Boat Yard. The water is clear enough to see the anchor on the bottom, and we know it’s only snagged on sand!

We got the refrigeration repair finished. Dave is very thorough. Now we’re sitting in Jersey Bay outside of Independent Boat Yard so that we can get some other work done on Monday (not to the refrigeration, however). One of our first times anchoring after getting the new feathering propeller that gives us more speed and control, we managed to bend both the anchor and the bow roller! Both have been working okay, but we’d feel better having them straightened. So we can get both fixed in one day (it says in the fine print), but in the meantime we’ll have to anchor the boat with our secondary anchor on the other bow roller. Jim says it will be no big deal; I hope he’s right.

While Jim worked on figuring out the details of our up-coming wind generator pole installation, I spent a good part of the day in the galley baking. Once I started I kept going to avoid using excess water for clean-up and propane for cooking. So I made banana bread (the bananas were going bad), bran muffins, and pecan pie. I don’t think I ever baked that much at one time when I lived in a house!

While Alice read her novel, Jim replaced the belt on the Seafrost compressor only to learn that trying to put on a shorter belt to create better clearance in one spot creates clearance problems elsewhere! Jim barely got it on even though it was only 3/8” shorter. He had to lever the belt in place, which is a “no-no”. That was before lunch, so after lunch, we pulled up the 44# Delta and anchored on our 20# HT-Danforth with lots of line out so we could remove the Delta and the bow roller. Hopefully, both will be straightened tomorrow. Jim will deliver them at 8:00 am to try and assure it will happen in one day. We also contracted for wood retainer strips which will keep our books on the shelves on either side of our master cabin. They may be done tomorrow, sooner than we expected.

We’re still anchored in Jersey Bay. Nope, the anchor and bow roller aren’t done. (surprise, surprise!), but the wood retainer bars are finished. Right now we’re sitting at a dentist’s office for Jim’s appointment. No emergency. He’s supposed to see a dentist more regularly than most folks, so hopefully this will be just a routine cleaning. The rest of the day will be spent on e-mail, phone calls, and begging the metal shop to finish the anchor TODAY! If the weather forecast is accurate (which it frequently isn’t), our present anchorage could get unpleasant. We’d like to move, but can’t go without the anchor and bow roller.

Thanks for “listening in” to our Virgin Islands adventures! Fair winds until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Wednesday March 12, 2003

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