Thursday, February 23, 2012

A New Captain, Boule, Blackbeard's Tower

Trying to sail off of Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke without any wind.

We have been all over the Islands this week and are getting super familiar with the names of places, how the trade winds work, evening squalls, prices for tourist's vs locals and so much more. Last week I left you guys off when we were back in Soper's Hole in the BVI's. From there we crossed back into the USVI's through customs in Cruz Bay. We grabbed provisions and headed straight for a town called Red Hook on the eastern tip of St Thomas Island. The bay is not protected from swells from the North so it was a rough two days but we pushed through as usual. The atmosphere of the town was super cool along with ridiculously cheap "Happy Hour" ( really three or four hours long ) with dollar hotdogs right off the grill. We also found some cool pirate gear in some of the local shops.

I have been scouring old shipyards for any type of dinghy we could possibly purchase to replace our highly missed Sea Eagle. I found Old Yellow here in the back of a rusty pick-up truck at the Independent Ship Yard. After Cathy, the manager of the shipyard, smoked four cigarettes back to back while we negotiated a fair price for the Kayak she just gave up and told me to take it. I thanked her and asked if I could at least repay her in cigarettes and booze. She said, "I drink way too much already" and walked away. I smiled and pulled my new prize off the back of the truck and started paddling towards the dinghy dock. Then I realized the giant crack on the stern of Old Yellow and almost sank.
The view from Lizzy Belle's mast in Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.
The beach at Great Harbour.
Although "Old Yellow" was my find I decided it was time for Evan to Captain his own vessel. He has come a long way since he first got his sea legs back in Nova Scotia and he has earned a promotion. So, he is now the proud owner of an old beat up, cracked sea kayak. Congratulations dude! I hope there are no Mutany's on your vessel. Hahaha
Feeling proud of his accomplishment as Captain.
Evan had some work ahead of him. Nothing Duck Tape, Tuck Tape and a little effort can't fix.
The final product! She doesn't take on a drop of water.
I bought the Boule game from Dougie at the Boatlocker in Lunenburg. He let it go for $50 and then later looked it up online at a price of $250. Thanks again hommie!
After about an hour of reading the official rules of the game we were off. Boule quickly draws attention. Here is Greg and Andrew from Toronto, Ontario in an intense match with Jess and Evan. I'm pretty sure the Nova Scotians took care of the business.
An action shot. Like I said, Boule is an intense game. It's hot out there on the beach! hahaha We all played until the sun went down.
These are our judges. Mel got really into his job and made sure we all had cold refreshments. Thanks again dude!
I'm always messing around with the Engine. She's a 28 year old 8 Hp Yanmar 1 Cylinder Diesel. Simple and awesome to learn on. I'm cleaning up making a new gasket seal here for the exhaust.
We woke up one morning and this guy was swimming around Lizzy Belle with a horse. Not sure if this is a common thing or not but it was the first time we had ever seen anything like it. The dude was super happy and as we looked at him speechless and said, "Only in the VI'S" while smiling on the back of his horse.
A hard day at work...
This could possibly be the image that was taken right before I dropped my $2400 L series Canon 14mm lens into 200 feet of water. I looked directly at Evan and said, "Oh My God" and looked down at my camera body which was now lensless. All good though, that's the name of the game. She went straight to the bottom.
A Hermit Crab now has the fanciest home on the reef. Enjoy it buddy!

LB playing chicken with a giant cruise ship. There were 5 of them in Charlotte Amalie this day.

These steps are called 99 steps. I guess the Dutch would bring the stones over as ballast for their boats. They would take them out after crossing the ocean and built these steps with them. Kinda cool.
Blackbeard Pirate Tower. A view from the bay as we sailed in.
We walked up for a closer look but they were charging a ton of money to go in and look. I managed to snap this image through the doorway while Jess distracted the gatekeeper with questions. There was a pretty cool statue of him in the entry way.
Cool authentic pirate treasure for sale. I think the large coins were around six hundred dollars. Too pricey for us but really cool to see.
Lizzy Belle feels at home here in Lindbergh Bay in front of Mike's bar ( guy with the huge catamaran in the past blogs) on the beach. Jess took off today and headed home to Toronto to prepare for her internship in Boston. Good luck Jess and all the best from Lizzy Belle and her crew. It was a time to remember for sure!

As for Evan and I. We are doing laundry, making repairs and cleaning LB up for the arrival of the legend himself. Chris Belts! Looking forward to next weeks adventure.

Peace out my friends,

Welsford and Evan

Friday, February 17, 2012

RIP Sea Eagle...The only sad day in the Caribbean

Beautiful light on LB's full sails. On our way to Anegada, BVI's.

Anegada is the most Northeastern Island in the BVI's stretching 10 miles long with it's highest point only reaching 28 feet high. The Island is guarded by a reef that is 18 miles long called, "Horseshoe Reef" which has claimed over 300 known wrecks ( not including Lizzy Belle ).

We set out on an early morning cruise. Since the Island is not volcanic and only 28 feet high you cannot see it from our departure point, Virgin Gorda. The weather was super calm but we could see huge squalls on the horizon. I'm not going to lie, I was looking forward to getting fresh water on my face from the rainstorms.
Jess and Evan taking their first squall like champs. Lizzy Belle loves it because it washes all the salt off her decks and sails. All my sailing mentors; Michelle Steven's, Doug Philip and of course Gracie Walker taught me that when you see a squall coming, take your sails down early so you do not have to scramble when it hits you. I dropped the main my friends, we cruised through and happily met a rainbow on the other side. Straight awesomeness.

Love this shot because you can almost see the entire hull of LB and most of her sails. We were cruising at 6.5 knots, NE to Anegada.
Getting used to all the combination of sails LB has to offer. Three sails and two masts give us options.
Evan enjoying the 16 mile cruise.
Jess took the tiller and was learning pretty quickly. I only panicked once... ha
Evan climbed the mast once we were anchored and took this photograph. Shortly afterwards we had an original Lizzy Belle Dance Party. Anyone remember Chester Race week 2011? Yeah, we threw it down again! All the surrounding boats were stopping by to get a closer look.
Straight camping style. I have these camping candle lights and they create an awesome glow once the sun goes down.
Hanging out in Anegada around 7pm. We usually crash around 8:30 each night after long days in the sun but we stayed up this night, watched the stars and all fell asleep at our own pace.
Oh yeah! We bargained for these babies. The price was 45 dollars a piece and we threw down a 20, straight cash. They loved it and so did we.
Remember the Island is only 10 miles long. We max these moped's out at 35/40 miles an hour. We covered everything in three hours...twice. It was a time for sure!
These were Honda Ruckus Bikes. My old man has the same one at home in Mahone Bay. Although ours is camouflage and faster for sure.
Alright, I have to skip ahead. We sailed back from Anegada, and eventually ended up hanging out near Dead Chest Island. Here is the story: Blackbeard marooned 30 of his most mutinous pirates here with only one bottle of rum. The Island has no fresh water. He came back one month later and found them all dead. We all agreed we would have swam the half mile to Peter Island which is right beside it. Not sure what they were thinking.

Evan all geared up to snorkel the RMS Rhone. The Rhone was a Royal Steam Ship which transported cargo between England and the Caribbean. In 1867 the ship was docked off of Peter Island in the BVI's when the barometer dropped. It was October so the Captains were not worried about a hurricane so they figured it was a Northeasterly storm. As they headed over to Road Town, Tortolla a hurricane struck from the south. They powered through and hit the eye of the storm. The crew thought they were in the clear when the second half of the storm hit and washed them up on the rocks of Salt Island. 123 people were killed. We spent the morning snorkelling above her. She had a huge prop which was very easy to point out under water. The water was clear and I could hold my breath long enough to get down to see her up close. Great snorkelling for sure. Everyone was pumped after this snorkel.
Alright, so Jess bought a Fishing Licence and we were gearing up to go until we read the rules. Pretty much with my gear and her licence we need to head off shore to catch the fish I'm looking for. I have had enough offshore sailing for this year. I mentioned to Jess to get a fishing rod and she might have better luck with her licence. Sorry friend. I made a mess of the 100 pound fishing line Kevin Fraser bought before we left Nova Scotia. Evan worked it out for me. It reminded me of Tyler Hill Camp and untangling lines all day at the fishing dock. Those who know what I'm talking about will understand. Hahaha
Awesome breakfast. Omelettes, fresh bread, avocado, oranges and grapes.
Jess hanging out on the main boom. Doug Philip from the Lunenburg Boat Locker (, little promo for you Dougie ) helped me gear up the Lazy Jack's before I left NS. They work awesome dude, thank you!
So... we had to say goodbye to the Sea Eagle ( the dinghy my old man hooked us up with to get back and forth from shore, which I'm sure was expensive...sorry old man ). Anyway, we came home late one evening after enjoying spirit's and fine wine on shore while listening to classical jazz and dressed in our finest only to find the Sea Eagle had been taken ( or I didn't tie her up properly, whoops ). We were outraged and quickly began to reminisce on our past experiences with the Sea Eagle. She wasn't the most sea faring vessel and we now realized we had taken advantage of her with our jokes about her soft bottom and how you could barely row her anywhere in the wind. We find ourselves swimming in and out of shore lately and are always wet ( but never cold, hahahaha, yeah Caribbean warmth ). After and extensive search of the coastline with the local Yacht Club's Boston Whaler we had to give up on her and move on. Luckily for us, the club offered us this double kayak for a case of beer and a bottle of rum. Done deal! Each day we remember the Sea Eagle for what she was and not what we took her for. Good luck Sea Eagle...wherever you are. :( Side note: MaryGwen Stackhouse please help us with a new Sea Eagle my old man didn't look very impressed when I told him...hahahahahaha just kidding! We are searching all the local boatyards for the dirtiest thing we can find.

As for right now, we are back at Soper's Hole and are clearing out of customs to head back to the USVI's. Jess is heading out in a few days and we are about to pick up one of Tyler Hill Camp's finest. Stay tuned my friend's, this guy will surely push the adventure along!

Peace out,
Welsford, Jess and Evan

Friday, February 10, 2012

Keep Calm and Sail On!

Evan and Jessica on an early morning sail to Virgin Gorda.

You might not believe it but it has been a busy week. Last Monday Evan and I finished off the repairs we needed to make on the forestay (the metal wire that holds the mast up on the bow of the boat). Evan has proved himself as a solid deckhand time and time again on this adventure. His tasks go far beyond pulling ropes and folding sails. He is at the point where I can take a rest below and am comfortable with him fully taking control of the helm, navigating and trimming the sails when necessary. On top of that he has been taking care of maintenance on Lizzy Belle like it is his day job. We discuss everything and then execute. Evan has worked both as a carpenter and in a fiberglass plant which makes his skill sets perfect for Lizzy Belle's wood and fiberglass hull. It truly makes life easier aboard a boat built in 1968 with nonstop repairs. I'm not going to lie though, I believe we enjoy fixing her as much as we do sailing her.

Alright onto the good stuff. Last Sunday evening Jessica Myra joined Lizzy Belle's crew. Jess has been a longtime friend and has been hanging out with me since preschool. In between finishing up her Masters in Sweden Jess had some time before she begins her internship in either San Francisco or Boston. Nice work for sure! Jess had been following the blog and I threw it out there for her to join us for a week or two if she pleased. The next email was labelled: I'll be there on Sunday. Good for you Jess for embracing the opportunity and making it happen.

Lizzy Belle anchored in Trellis Bay, Tortolla in 10 feet of water. LB only draws 3.5 feet of water which allows us to anchor where many of the charter boats can't. Every time we drop anchor Evan or I get our snorkel gear and check both anchors. This way I can sleep at night. I still wake up every time it gets windy or rains though.
Not only does Jess have sailing experience but she apparently did her research before flying down and knows all the technical terms. While she's asking me questions like, "Are we on a Broad Reach or Beam Reach Welsford"? I just look at Evan with a smurk and reply, "I dunno, I just do it". Jess has been teaching us the lingo though and we appreciate it.
Sunrise. My favorite sailing is when we get up early before the sunrise and prep Lizzy Belle to take off at first light. I always wake everyone up doing the dishes.
My reflection in the Starboard Cowl Vent. These vents help keep solid airflow through LB to keep her cool. Let me tell you, it is still quite hot in the galley below decks.
A shot from mid mast.
Great light on a great morning, equals an awesome sail.
From the bow looking aft.
Every time we Tack or Jibe I write down our new heading, estimated speed, our compass heading and any other details that seem fit. This way I can log my hours at sea and have proof for when I go for my captains licence.
This log book was given to me by Ramrod's ( Tyler Veinotte's ) mother. Super good gift.

We call this winch "MaryGwen Stackhouse" because she made a great donation last summer to Lizzy Belle and is just awesome like her daughter Gracie. Evan and I were talking about how much better they are than our original winches. Thanks again guys for everything!
Evan on the Tiller. I can tell he is starting to feel Lizzy Belle as we sail rather than just look for problems. Big deal for sure.
Thinking he is a big deal. Hahahahaha
When we sail everything down below goes to hell. We took all the netting down because it was super cramped with it all up. Maybe that was a bad idea...all good though.
Never ending gross feet issues. Whatever, I figure it just adds character.
The Gill Gloves save our hands. Highly recommended for you Pat South.
Alright, Jess bought this Mahi Mahi fish tail fresh right of some dudes boat as they came in from fishing. It weighed three pounds for 20 bucks. I learned how to fillet fish from my grandfather as a kid back in Nova Scotia but wasn't sure how to tackle this one so I had a few locals help me out. Our new friend Dwayne took care of one side and I did the other. It turns out it is the exact same as the small mouth bass at home. Jess made some Avacado Salsa and I cooked up some potatoes while Evan manned the BBQ. We fed Dwayne as well and he said we did a great job. Best meal yet of the trip by far.
We pulled into Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour to make arrangements for LB's time in the boat yard for the summer. Evan took advantage of the electricity and made some repairs for LB. It looks worse than it is but we definitely had to take a big rotten chunk out of her deck. All fixed up now.
It was like soup in there. Super wet and rotten. This is why Lizzy Belle loves us so much though. We help her and she takes care of us.
They let Evan use the wood shop at the boatyard. I gave the dude five bucks for a beer after work for his time. Super nice people here. It will be a great place to lay LB up for the summer and do repairs next fall.
Evan taking care of LB's forestay back in Road Town. I sat in the shade and drank beer. Hehehehe, it's good to be the captain.
A few of our products from "Arts and Crafts". I made this necklace out of shells from the beach and beads called Tiger Eyes I had purchased a few years ago in Costa Rica. Super happy with this necklace.
Evan relearned how to tie hemp and created this gem. Super good work. He drilled out each bead so he could get the hemp through and used a piece of coral he found on a beach back in Viques, PR. We figure eventually we will start our own company and put the locals out of business. hahahahaha stay tuned to this idea incase we run out of money early.
Chilling on a hammock for the afternoon in Trellis Bay. I told you guys it had been a busy week!
Trellis Bay holds a full moon party every month where local artist's come and do demonstrations and display their work. Super cool stuff and super cool environment to hang out in for an evening.
This Aragorn dude seems to be the big attraction. I'm actually quite inspired by some of his work. His story is; one day a large metal steel ball floated up onto the beach in Trellis Bay. A light bulb went off in his head and he began marking on them with chalk...
As the idea developed he began cutting out some of his drawings with a plasma torch. I think it would be a plasma torch? That or a cutting torch. I'd have to ask Ramrod (Tyler)...
Then the crazy dude made fires inside them and put them in the ocean at every full moon to attract tourists and build a community of artist's in Trellis Bay. Super awesome idea if you ask me.
They had a giant burning man. Which I imagine is the same idea as that festival in the desert near Vegas.
Oh, the giant steel balls are mooring balls for huge container ships. I like how he is using found objects to make art. The story alone is a huge part of the work. Love it!
This is a great pic of it all. I imagine I'll make something like this one day for our beach at home in Mahone Bay. I actually think my old man has one of these mooring balls in our backyard already. I'm going to carve Lizzy Belle in it though.

Alright guys, that is all we have for now. We are headed to the further most island in the BVI's tomorrow morning. It's called Anegada and only has 250 people living on the whole Island. The island is also surrounded by a giant reef and might be tricky to navigate. I'm pumped for the challenge.

Talk soon my friends,

Evan, Jess and Dave