Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #1 Greetings from Paradise!

No, we haven’t exactly dropped off the face of the earth, or into the ocean. We have just been “incommunicado” here in the British Virgin Islands, where communication hasn’t moved much past the coconut telegraph. Actually, that isn’t really true. They do have phones and internet connections, but they are both very costly and confusing. We FINALLY figured out how to get our laptop computer on-line, so now we can send e-mail without counting the minutes. We’ve used a couple of cyber cafes, but only reading our mail, not downloading it, because we could only use their computers, not ours. And we’ve had to pay anywhere from $2 to $5 for 15 minutes. Yesterday we spent $30 to finish catching up on our e-mail and paying our bills on-line. With the cyber café we found today we’ll still have to pay for time, but at least we can upload and download from our laptop, so we can write our messages ahead of time. So that’s why we haven’t written sooner.

September went by in a blur. We lived with my mom for the first two weeks after moving out of our house. The house sale was pending and was supposed to close on 9/30. During the two weeks when we were packing our stuff for moving down here we were also dealing with whether or not to put a new roof on the house to close the deal. The last week I was about ready to delay leaving for a week, thinking it would take an act of God to get everything done. But stress can help in accomplishing amazing things and somehow we managed to get the house emptied and all our stuff packed, stored, sold, or given away. On 9/17 we took 9 pieces of checked baggage (including 4 Rubbermaid tubs tied up with wire ties and duct tape!) and several loaded carry-ons to the airport, expecting to have to open them for security inspection. For once things went like clockwork. We breezed through security, had no late flights so we made all our connections, and—miracle of miracles!—ALL of our luggage arrived in Tortola with us! Even our printer made the trip intact!

We spent 2 weeks on Caloosa Spirit for her last charter to assess what needed to be fixed, repaired, changed, improved, etc. We found that September is really low season for good reason. The weather was not your typical Paradise-type weather. Instead of one trip over to St. Thomas to pick up shipped equipment (life raft, new propeller, weather meter), we had to go twice. After we got there the first time we had to return to the base to prepare for Tropical Storm Lily. So we got a taste of Caribbean-style blustery, rainy weather for several days. On the other days we had lots of clouds and no wind, so we didn’t sail much. Also, nobody is here at this time of year, and many places are closed up. The upside was that we never had to worry about crowded anchorages.

On 9/30 we moved off the boat and into a hotel room at the base—and we moved, and we moved, and we moved. (Yes, that’s ONE hotel room with a mini-kitchen.) It was amazing how much stuff we carried up 3 flights and stuck into a closet! The ocean view is spectacular, the breeze blows through constantly, we wake up to the sun shining in, and fall asleep to the sound of the surf. The downside is we haven’t had hot water since we moved in, and it’s getting fixed on island time. However, what’s a few cold showers in Paradise? This will be home for a month, maybe longer.

Hotel room view

We rented a car this week!! What a great experience! I wonder if my knuckles will ever regain their natural flesh-tone color! We drive on the left down here, and try not to hit anyone coming around the roller-coaster hills and turns. However, other drivers aren’t quite as conservative as we are, so we never know what we’ll meet coming the other way. Pedestrians are also a hazard. Some of them have 2 legs (people and chickens), but many have 4 (cows and goats). Jim has been a real trooper about driving. We both paid for temporary driver’s licenses, but I think we wasted the money for mine. I’d like to keep my last nerve intact, not shattered! The car is really ugly, but it gets us up the hills and around the curves. I always have to wait for Jim to open my door from the inside because the passenger’s door handle doesn’t work, but what’s a little inconvenience in Paradise?

Incidentally, through intermittent—read EXPENSIVE—phone calls to Lauri we have tried to keep abreast of the status of the house sale. If all goes well the house will change ownership with closing next Friday, 10/11, presumably without our paying for a new roof. But the way our bank account has been hemorrhaging with living expenses down here, maybe we wouldn’t even notice the roof expense. But what’s a little extra spending in Paradise?

The weather has improved and is presently beautiful. When we swim in the pool, sit in the sun, and have all the doors and windows open for the breeze we’re conscious of why we wanted to come here. But we really do miss all our family and friends back home. Next Thursday, 10/10, is World Mental Health Day. They have a big banner about it downtown. I guess maintaining one’s mental health is a big deal in Paradise! We’re trying to hold onto ours as we learn to function in “island time”.

Gorgeous BVI sunset

Until next time, fair winds and following seas,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Friday October 4, 2002

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